Educate Yourself on Islam, CAIR Tells Santorum

January 23, 2012 - 5:08 AM
Santorum

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Charleston, S.C. on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

(CNSNews.com) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations says it will send Rick Santorum a copy of the Qur’an this week to help the Republican presidential candidate to “educate himself about Islam” after he was quoted as implying that Muslims do not worship the Judeo-Christian God.

The advocacy group targeted the former Pennsylvania senator just days after condemning fellow GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich for his negative views on shari’a (Islamic law).

Addressing supporters in South Carolina on Friday night, Santorum said that the concept of equality emanates from “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” – not from Islam or eastern religions.

Since equality comes from God, he went on to say, people should “live responsibly in conforming with God’s laws.”

“So don’t claim His rights, don’t claim equality as that gift from God and then go around and say, ‘Well, we don’t have to pay attention to what God wants us to do. We don’t have to pay attention to God’s moral laws.’”

Although the reference to Islam was only a passing one, Santorum hit a nerve by alluding to one of the most sensitive of issues regarding the way adherents of Christianity and Islam perceive each other’s faith.

Muslims, and many Christians, contend that Muslims and Christians worship “the same God.” Islam is considered one of three “Abrahamic” faiths because Abraham’s son, Ishmael, was a forefather of Mohammed and in line with the Islamic precept that Abraham and all major biblical figures were Muslim prophets.

Islamic doctrine holds that Mohammed, a 7th century resident of Arabia, was the last in a long line of prophets of Islam stretching back to Adam, and including Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, Jonah, John the Baptist – and Jesus. It is this belief that lies at the heart of Islamic claims to sites that had been revered by Jews, and to a lesser degree Christians, for centuries before Mohammed was born.

Many evangelical and other Christians strongly disagree with the “same God” notion, pointing to the significant differences in the Christian and Islamic conceptions of God, beginning with the doctrine of the Trinity and of God becoming man in the form of Jesus, versus the Qur’anic injunction that Allah “begets not, nor is he begotten.”

Santorum’s comments in Boiling Springs, S.C., drew a sharp rebuke from CAIR’s communications director Ibrahim Hooper.

“The Qur’an, Islam’s revealed text, is the best refutation of Mr. Santorum’s inaccurate and offensive remarks, which are unbecoming of anyone who hopes to hold our nation’s highest office,” he said in a statement.

“Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship the same God and share religious traditions that promote justice and equality.”

Hooper went on to quote several verses from the Qur’an, which he said stressed “racial and gender equality.”

“We suggest that Mr. Santorum educate himself about Islam and the American Muslim community by reading the Qur’an that we will send to his campaign headquarters next week.”

‘Diametrically opposed’

The God-Allah issue has sparked disagreements among Christians as well as between Christians and Muslims.

In 2007, a Dutch Catholic bishop suggested in a television program that Christians should start referring to God as “Allah,” saying this would promote better relations between adherents of the two religions.

Other Catholic leaders in Europe distanced themselves from the statement, and in an article reacting to the bishop’s call, Soeren Kern, a scholar at the Strategic Studies Group in Madrid, cited both historical and theological evidence to argue that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God.

“Archaeology provides irrefutable evidence that Allah, far from being the biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was actually the pre-Islamic pagan moon-god,” he wrote.

Muslim prayers

Many Christians do not believe that Muslims and Christians worship the same deity. In this file photo, Muslims attend Friday prayers in the Shi’ite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq on Aug. 5, 2011. (AP Photo / Karim Kadim)

Kern argued that the Bible and the Qur’an “present ideas about God (especially about His character) that are so diametrically opposed that any reasonable observer would conclude that each book refers to a distinct deity.”

When that same year a group of Islamic scholars in an open letter to Christian leaders declared that Muslims and Christians believe in the same God, some church leaders welcomed the initiative, but a senior evangelical in Britain pointed out that “Christianity is built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, the God who became flesh and lived among us,” and noted the centrality to the Christian faith of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Islamic scriptures teach that Jesus was a prophet – not divine – and say that he was not crucified (Qur’an 4:157). Elsewhere the Qur’an states, “the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah … may Allah destroy them.” 9:30).

In 2003, President Bush replied to a press conference question by saying that he believed Christians and Muslims “worship the same God.” Some evangelical leaders took issue with the statement, and a leading Southern Baptist figure called the president “simply mistaken.”

“The Bible is very clear about this,” Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote at the time. “There is only one true God and His name is Jehovah, not Allah. Furthermore, the Bible tells us that Jehovah’s only begotten Son is Jesus Christ, of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, born of the Jewish virgin Mary. And this Jesus, the Son of the only true God, has proclaimed in no uncertain terms, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’ (John 14:6).”

Around the time of President Obama’s inauguration, the head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – a bloc of 56 mostly Muslim-majority states – in a letter to the new president warned him that “pernicious myths” about Islam had proliferated over the past decade.

Islam, wrote OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, is neither intolerant or exclusive.

“It is an integral part of the history of world religions. Along with Christianity and Judaism, Islam emanates from the same part of the world, comes from the same God, and holds to the same prophets, mainly Abraham.”