Damien F. Mackey
Historians are beginning to realise that the city of Mecca, Islam’s most holy place,
and thought to have been built by Abraham, was not in fact built until about
the fourth Christian century, some two millennia or so after Abraham!
So, can Islam’s view of history really be trusted?
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, in his highly prophetic article “Mary and the Moslems” (http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2009/fsheen_maryandislam__jun09.asp), will – quite understandably (though differently from my opinion) – take the conventional view that Islam (or “Moslemism”, as he calls it) is a uniquely “post-Christian religion”:
Moslemism is the only great post-Christian religion of the world. Because it had its origin in the seventh century under Mohammed [sic], it was possible to unite within it some elements of Christianity and of Judaism, along with particular customs of Arabia.
Moslemism takes the doctrine of the unity of God, His Majesty and His Creative Power, and uses it, in part, as a basis for the repudiation of Christ, the Son of God. Misunderstanding the notion of the Trinity, Mohammed made Christ a prophet, announcing him, just as, to Christians, Isaias and John the Baptist are prophets announcing Christ.
[End of quote]
Here Archbishop Sheen pointed to certain beliefs common to Islam and Christianity, whilst also telling of the notable opposition between the two – the same sort of contrasts that we read about again in the Second Vatican Council’s document Nostra Aetate (# 3), but couched in the Council’s typically more rounded and conciliatory tone:
- The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.
[End of quote]
I fully respect the Council’s words which focus upon the commonalities between Christianity and Islam and which urge for mutual respect. Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort (c. 1700 AD), by contrast, bore a more Crusader-like attitude to the Moslems as so typical of his time. Referring once again to the great end-time Marian saints, he wrote: “These are the great men who are to come; but Mary is the One Who, by order of the Most High, shall fashion them for the purpose of extending His Empire over that of the impious, the idolaters and the Muslims”.
What is certain, and what Saint Louis himself wholeheartedly believed, is that the ultimate victory of Christianity, defined by the Second Vatican Council in terms of a spiritual, rather than a military, conquest, will belong to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The saint’s confidence in this regard was shared by Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the Primate of Poland, quoted by John Paul II in his Testament (# 1): “When victory is won, it will be a victory through Mary”.
She, as Our Lady of Fatima, will play a meaningful part according to Fulton Sheen (op. cit):
Mary is for the Moslems the true Sayyida, or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself [sic].
But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: “Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary.” In a variant of the text, Fatima is made to say: “I surpass all the women, except Mary.”
[End of quote]
I, whilst indeed accepting at least the religious and the evangelical aspects of things in relation to Islam, find, nevertheless, that there are immense problems with the conventional view of Islam as an historical phenomenon. There are many articles currently surfacing that support a view that the historical claims of Islam are quite false and inaccurate, with no underlying archaeology to support them.
‘A funny thing has happened on the way to Mecca’ – for it is most curious that, according to this recent scholarship:
- “Archaeology of Mecca – the History of Mecca”. There is no archaeological evidence that suggests that Mecca is an ancient town that existed before the Christian era, or even that it existed before about the 4th century A.D. ….
- “Did Abraham Build the Kaaba?” The body of this paper will deal primarily with places and destinations, not theology or personality. I will examine the Biblical accounts of Abraham in the natural and sequential order in which they are preserved in the Bible, while I examine and compare a small sampling of the similarities and differences in the Quran and other Islamic sources. In doing so, I’ll point out the several fatal contradictions in the Islamic perspective and leave the reader to determine whether the Islamic version is truth to be believed or fable created to connect a pagan Arabian shrine to the Biblical patriarch of the Israelites. I will cover the ancient evidence and promptly dismember Islamic dogma as inauthentic and based on inadequate grounds. ….
- “Islam: In Light of History”. Studies by Classical Writers show that Mecca could not have been built before the 4thD.” There is no mention of Mecca in the writings of any classical writer or geographer. This fact is an important argument against Islam’s claim that Mecca has existed since the time of Abraham. We have complete records of Greek and Roman writers, as well as many geographers who visited Arabia from the 4th century B.C. through the 3rd century A.D. Some of these people drew maps of Arabia telling us about every city, village, tribe, and temple existing there, yet none mentioned Mecca. If Mecca did indeed exist at the time of any of these geographers and writers, surely someone would have told us about this city. …. (http://amaicprophetnehemiah.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/296/)
- “Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry Into Islam’s Obscure Origins”. There is, in fact, considerable reason to question the historicity of Muhammad. Although the story of Muhammad, the Qur’an, and early Islam is widely accepted, on close examination the particulars of the story prove elusive. The more one looks at the origins of Islam, the less one sees.…. (http://www.frontpagemag.com/2012/jamie-glazov/did-muhammad-exist-an-inquiry-into-islam%E2%80%99s-obscure-origins/)
Islam’s early ‘Mecca’, where Abraham was, is most likely (in our new context) Jerusalem (Arabic al-Makdis) itself.
Whilst Islam’s ‘Medina’ probably stands for Midian – a name which also got confused as ‘Media’ in copies of the Book of Tobit.
Dr Rafat Amari, writing in “The History and Archaeology of Arabia show that Mecca did not exist before the advent of Christianity”, exposes the falsity of claims regarding Islam’s most venerated site of Mecca (http://amaicprophetnehemiah.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/287/):
The richness of the archaeological findings and inscriptions of many regions of Arabia.
Islam claims that Mecca is an ancient historical city which existed long before Christ, dating as far back as the time of Abraham. A powerful argument against this claim is the absence of any inscriptions found on monuments, or in any archaeological records dating back to those times.
The ancient cities and kingdoms of Arabia do have rich histories which survive to this day through monuments, the inscriptions they bear, and in other archaeological documents. These historical records have given archaeologists a highly-integrated and, in some cases, complete record of the names of kings who ruled these cities and kingdoms. These records have also given archaeologists important information about the history of the wars fought over the kingdoms and cities of Arabia.
In most cases, inscriptions and monuments in various cities – especially in the western and southwestern portions of Arabia – even give the names of coregents who ruled with the kings.
Yet, even with this rich collection of historical and archaeological information, there are no inscriptions or monuments, or other archaeological findings whatsoever, that mention Mecca.
Regarding the richness of the archaeological findings in Arabia, Montgomery says that Assyrian inscriptions did not provide as much detailed information as the Arabian inscriptions did. ….
[End of quote]
What is going on here?
According to my explanation, admittedly controversial, Islam is essentially an Old Testament religion based upon an original Judaïc matrix – hence it is saturated with, as Fulton Sheen had noted, “elements … of Judaism”. Its difference from Judaïsm, though, lies in the fact that it has been filtered through Arabia – the reason for its now “particular customs of Arabia”.
Obviously, then, we cannot accept that Islam is, as according to convention, a “post-Christian religion [having] its origin in the seventh century” – though it has, in the process of its centuries-long evolution, absorbed, as Sheen rightly noted, “some elements of Christianity”.
According to my previous efforts to determine the biblical origins of the Prophet now claimed by Islam, Mohammed, I had concluded that he was something of a composite scriptural character, including bits of Moses, of Tobit and his son Tobias, of Jeremiah and Nehemiah, and even of Jesus Christ himself. This I do not find surprising considering what I have already described as the long evolution of Islam from its original Judaïc foundations in the Old Testament, and then on through the New.
Most extraordinarily, there was a second Nehemiah, a Jew, supposedly in 614 AD (the era of Mohammed), to whom a Persian general had entrusted the city of Jerusalem – just as “King Artaxerxes”, thought to have been an ancient Persian king, had allowed the biblical Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and to restore the damaged city. This supposedly later Nehemiah “offers a sacrifice on the site of the Temple”, according to Étienne Couvert (La Vérité sur les Manuscripts de la Mer Morte, p. 98. Translated). “He even seems to have attempted to restore the Jewish cult of sacrifice”. Just like the biblical Nehemiah, another template for Mohammed.
Most assuredly, a funny thing has happened on the way to Islam’s Mecca!