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A Cognitive Analysis of Islam

On the surface, it may appear that the theology of the world’s major religions is random. However, if one approaches the topic from a cognitive perspective, then a different picture emerges. I suggest that the core doctrines of each of these religions express a different fundamental method of programming and operating the mind. I have used this approach to analyze the core doctrines of Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, and in each case, it appears to be mentally natural for such a religion to emerge.

I should emphasize that this type of analysis applies to the core doctrines of a religion and not to all of the details. For instance, the religion of Islam began by telling the Muslim to face Jerusalem when he prays, and then changed this to having the Muslim face Mecca. From a cognitive perspective, the specific location to which one prays is irrelevant, as are the precise movements which one carries out when praying. However, what does appear to be cognitively significant is the emphasis upon regular prayer, the use of repetitive actions and words when praying, the addressing of one’s prayer towards a specific location, and the fact that this location changed as the religion developed.

Before we start looking at Islam, I should mention that I found An Abridged Koran, The Reconstructed Historical Koran edited by Bill Warner to be very helpful. The Koran was originally put together after Mohammed’s death by Zaid ibn Thabit, Mohammed’s primary scribe, who collected all of the sayings of Mohammed which had been either written down or memorized. Later, Utman, one of the first Caliphs, commissioned Zaid and others to compile a definitive Koran, which is the copy that we have today. Utman then had all previous manuscripts and fragments destroyed, leaving his official version of the Quran as the only version.

The chapters of the Koran are not in chronological order. Instead, the chapters have been arranged from longest to shortest. However, the actual chronological order of these chapters is still known. In addition, several official biographies of Mohammed exist that were written shortly after the time of Mohammed. Bill Warner has taken the chapters of the Quran, put them back in chronological order, and then connected these chapters with events in the life of Mohammed as recorded by his biographers.

In Warner’s words, “The Korean that Uthman [the Caliph who] produced was not the Koran of Mohammed. In the historical Koran each chapter followed the other as Mohammed’s life unfolded. This is the Koran that has the original time sequenced and includes events Mohammed was involved in at the time. The historical Koran was easy to understand. An illiterate Arabian could understand it because each verse was in the context of what was happening at the time. If that original historical form is reproduced, then the resulting Koran can be understood by anyone who reads it.”

The Shahada

We will begin our analysis of Islam by looking at the core tenet, known as the Shahada, which is the declaration that ‘There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the prophet of God’. According to traditional Islamic schools, a single honest recitation of this phrase in the original Arabic language is sufficient to make a person a convert to Islam. I suggest that one finds within the Shahada an inherent tension that exists within any system of revelation which claims to make universal statements, whether this is a holy book telling truth about God or a science textbook teaching about the laws of nature. The first half of the Shahada is making a universal statement about a universal being: ‘There is no god but Allah’. In contrast, the second half of the Shahada refers to a specific, finite person: ‘Mohammed is the prophet of God’.

Hidden within this obvious difference is another less obvious one: God is an invisible being—who may or may not exist. Thus, in order to learn about God, one must form a mental image of God, and that mental concept of God will affect personal behavior—whether that God actually exists or not. Mohammed, in contrast, was a visible person. People during Mohammed’s time could interact with him physically, and even now it is possible to visit the tomb of Mohammed, and read biographies about his life.

Let us turn now to the theory of mental symmetry. This theory suggests that the mental concept of a monotheistic God emerges when a universal theory in Teacher thought applies to personal identity in Mercy thought. Islam places a strong emphasis upon the doctrine of monotheism, telling us that such a universal Teacher theory does exist within the mind of the Muslim believer.

Mental symmetry suggests that there are several ways of mentally forming a universal theory of personal identity. One possibility is to come up with a general paradigm that canactually explain all of the various aspects of personal behavior, which describes the path which we are attempting to follow with the theory of mental symmetry. Obviously, this is the most difficult alternative, because it means taking the various pieces of personal behavior, working out their ‘shape’, and fitting them together in a logically coherent manner.

However, there are other ways of forming a universal theory. Mental symmetry suggests that abstract thought involves the cooperation of Teacher mode and Perceiver mode. Summarizing briefly, Teacher thought works primarily with words and finds emotional pleasure in general theories. Thus, Teacher strategy is emotionally driven to state its verbal descriptions in the most general terms possible. For instance, think of the statement “Today is Saturday and it is raining.” Because of Teacher emotion, there is a natural tendency to restate this in a more general form such as “It always rains on weekends.” Perceiver thought comes up with the meanings for Teacher words, and it uses its knowledge of facts and meanings to restrict the generality of Teacher statements. For instance, Perceiver thought may be reminded of the event of last Sunday, when a stroll was taken around the lake in glorious sunshine. This Perceiver fact provides a counterexample which will prevent Teacher thought from stating its description about rainy weekends in universal terms.

Thus, the easiest way to form a universal Teacher theory is by getting Perceiver thought out of the way. I suggest that this summarizes the method of Buddhism, which one could call the method of overgeneralization. Buddhism brings order to the complexity of existence by asserting that ‘all is one’, and it gets rid of Perceiver counterexamples by insisting that the physical world of objects is ultimately illusion and that one ‘achieves cosmic unity’ by ‘going beyond logic’. In general terms, whenever a religion states that God is incomprehensible, transcendent, encountered through intuition, or goes beyond logic, then I suggest that Teacher thought is being given the mental freedom to overgeneralize by getting Perceiver thought out of the way.

Note that the specific words which are being used are irrelevant, because Perceiver thought assigns meanings to words, and when Perceiver thought has been vanquished, then words have no meanings. Thus, as long as words have vague meanings, it does not matter whether a religion talks about Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Allah, or Fred Flintstone. What counts is the attitude of mysticism. For instance, Sufism appears to be a form of Buddhism which clothes itself in the language of Islam. The goal of mysticism is to become emotionally united with God. Because the purpose is emotional, the easiest way for a person to achieve mystical union with God is by taking existing words about God and religion which already have emotional connotations, and then applying the attitude of Buddhism to these words.

The method used by Islam can be inferred from the characteristics of the Shahada. If Mohammed is the prophet of God, then he is a person who reveals perfect truth about God. This means that Perceiver facts about God which come from Mohammed are always right and never wrong. But, if these facts are always right, then this means that no counterexample to any of these facts will ever be encountered. And, if no counterexample will ever be discovered, then Teacher thought can generalize fully on the basis of these facts without ever being limited by the discovery of some contrary fact by Perceiver thought. This describes the approach of blind faith. By placing blind faith in some source of ‘eternal truth about God’, it is possible to form the mental concept of a monotheistic God.

But, what if a counterexample is encountered? Then, the counterexample must be wrong because ‘Mohammed is always right because Mohammed is the prophet of God’. As Warner puts it, “Mohammed said repeatedly that the Jews and Christians corrupted their sacred texts in order to conceal the fact that he was prophesied in their scriptures. The stories in the Koran are similar to those of the Jew’s scriptures, but they make different points. In the Koran, all of the stories found in the Jewish scripture indicate that Allah destroyed those cultures that did not listen to their messengers. According to Mohammed, the scriptures of the Jews have been changed to hide the fact that Islam is the true religion.”

One finds Mohammed’s accusation that the Jews changed their scriptures to conceal any reference to Mohammed described in the Sirat Rasul Allah, the first biography of Mohammed written by Ibn Ishaq[1]: “‘And believe in what I have sent down confirming what you already have, and be not the first to disbelieve it’ seeing that you have knowledge which others have not about it. ‘And fear Me and do not mingle truth with falsehood nor hide the truth which you know,’ i.e. do not conceal the knowledge which you have about My apostle and what he has brought when you will find it with you in what you know of the books which are in your hands... ‘Do you not understand?’ i.e. would you forbid men to disbelieve in the prophecy you have and the covenant of the Torah and abandon it yourselves? i.e. when you deny that it contains My covenant with you that you must pronounce My apostle to be true, and you break My agreement and you contradict what you know to be in My book.” [367]

Similarly, the Koran states: “Children of Israel! Remember the favor I have given you, and keep your covenant with Me. I will keep My covenant with you. Fear My power. Believe in what I reveal, which confirms your Scriptures, and do not be the first to disbelieve it. Do not part with My revelations for a petty price. Fear Me alone. Do not mix up the truth with lies or knowingly hide the truth.” [2:40]

However, the Koran does not confirm the Jewish Scriptures, because the stories told in the Koran about people such as Abraham, Joseph, and Moses differ in many details from similar accounts in the Torah. Whether the Torah is right or the Koran is right, the Torah is different than the Koran, and when one comes up with something which is different, then by definition one is not confirming.

Duelling Paradigms

So, why would Islam insist that the Koran confirms the Jewish scriptures when even a cursory reading indicates that the stories and doctrines are significantly different? I suggest that there is a Perceiver reason and a Teacher reason for this assertion.

Looking first at the Perceiver reason, I suggest that revelation about God that is based in blind faith is self-reinforcing. Notice that I said self-reinforcing and not self-consistent. Self-consistent implies that logic is being used, while self-reinforcing suggests that a specific mental circuit is being emphasized. Anything that continues to emphasize a specific mental circuit will resonate within the mind and be self-reinforcing. As a result, a person will find it mentally natural to hold on to it—even if it is logically inconsistent.

One of the main functions of Perceiver thought is to look for connections that are repeated. Mental symmetry suggests that truth is simply a set of connections that are repeated. For instance, if I say “That is John’s knife”, I am asserting that a connection exists between John and the knife. Similarly, if I say that “God is love”, then I am asserting a solid, repeatable connection between God and love. At a more basic level, when I use the words such as God, love, John, or knife, I am referring to a set of elements which remain connected together. A knife, for instance, always contains a blade connected to a handle, while John refers to a collection of physical and mental characteristics that I repeatedly encounter together.

Mental symmetry suggests that there are two different ways of establishing Perceiver truth. First, Perceiver thought can examine the facts to look for connections which are repeated. Second, Mercy emotions can be used to mesmerize Perceiver thought into ‘knowing’ what is true. The first method looks at the content of the message; the second method evaluates the status of the messenger; the first describes the method of critical thinking; the second corresponds to blind faith. For instance, suppose that my father tells me that ‘the moon is made of green cheese’. Critical thinking will use a telescope to look at the moon in order to see if a connection between ‘moon’ and ‘green cheese’ actually exists. Blind faith, in contrast, will accept or reject the fact based solely upon the emotional respect which I have for my father.

Now let us turn our attention to Teacher thought. An image of God emerges when a general theory explains personal identity. Science looks for general theories which describe natural processes. Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions describes how scientists with their current general theory treat people who held on to earlier general theories: “Partly by selection and partly by distortion, the scientists of earlier ages are implicitly represented as having worked upon the same set of fixed problems and in accordance with the same set of fixed canons that the most recent revolution in scientific theory and method has made seem scientific. No wonder that textbooks and the historical tradition they imply have to be rewritten after each Scientific Revolution.” Thus, just as the scientist tries to fit the work of earlier scientists into the current scientific paradigm, so Islam views the Jewish scriptures as being confirmed by the Koran. And, just as the scientist tends to rewrite scientific history to make it look like previous scientists believed in the currentgeneral theory, so we find Mohammed rewriting the Jewish Scriptures to make it look like Jewish heroes believed in Allah and the Koran.

In the words of the Koran, “Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but a righteous man, a Muslim, not an idol worshipper. Doubtless the ones who follow Abraham are the closest to him, along with this messenger and the believers. Allah is protector of the faithful. Some of the People of the Book try to lead you astray, but they only mislead themselves, although they may not realize it. People of the Book! Why do you reject Allah’s revelations when you have witnessed their truth? People of the Book! Why do you cover up the truth with lies when you know that you hide the truth?” [3:66]

Mental symmetry suggests that the reason for this behavior can be found in the nature of Teacher thought. I have mentioned that Teacher strategy feels good when it can come up with a general theory. Saying this more generally (which should make Teacher thought feel good), Teacher thought appreciates order-within-complexity—when many distinct items can be explained by a simple explanation. Conversely, Teacher thought feels bad when there is an exception to the general rule—when some distinct item sticks out and is inconsistent with the simple explanation. Thus, when one scientific paradigm encounters another scientific paradigm, then each will act as an exception to the other, because each claims to be a universal theory. Similarly, when the holy book of one religion encounters the holy book of another religion, then each will act as an exception to the other, because each claims to describe a universal being—both present a way of using the word ‘God’ to explain the complexities of personal life. Teacher thought, both in the mind of the scientist and in the mind of the religious believer, will feel the emotional urge to extend the current general theory to ‘swallow up’ competing any competing theories.

I suggest that the way in which one theory ‘swallows up’ another will depend upon whether Perceiver thought is functioning or not. If Perceiver thought is functioning, then the goal will be to compare one holy book with the other to see what is common. The Sirat Rasul Allah describes Jews who are attempting to follow this method: “Is it true, Muhammed, that what you have brought is the truth from God? For our part we cannot see that it is arranged as the Torah is.” [399] The Jews being described here are comparing the content of the Koran with the content of the Torah.

In contrast, if blind faith is being followed, then the words of the true expert will be used to replace the words of the false expert. One sees this approach illustrated by the quote from 3:66 of the Koran. And emotional status will also be used to reinforce this message. One sees this combination in the following passage from the Koran: “To those of you to whom the Scriptures were given: Believe in what We have sent down confirming the Scripture you already possess before We destroy your faces and twist your heads around backwards, or curse you as We did those who broke the Sabbath for Allah’s commandments will be carried out.” [4:44] Paraphrasing (but only slightly): My holy book explains your holy book and if you don’t believe me I will break your neck.

Notice the self-reinforcing nature of blind faith: Blind faith uses emotional status to mesmerize Perceiver thought into ‘knowing’ that the words of some religious expert describe a universal being. When other words from other religious experts are encountered that also claim to describe a universal being, then Teacher thought will want to explain these other books. Blind faith will then use emotional status to mesmerize Perceiver thought into ‘knowing’ that the words of the other religious experts are being ‘confirmed’. Any inconsistencies that are present will not be noticed because Perceiver thought is the part of the mind which looks for discrepancies and Perceiver thought is mesmerized. And, if others use Perceiver thought to point out discrepancies, then emotional status will be used to attempt to mesmerize Perceiver thought in their minds as well.

Summarizing, there is only room for one universal Teacher theory. Therefore, all competing theories must be made subsets of this universal theory. The hard way to do this is to compare the theories and use the universal theory to explain competing theories. The easy way is to rewrite competing theories to make it look like they are subsets of the universal theory. Thus, Islam claims that references to Allah and Mohammed cannot be found in the earlier Jewish and Christian scriptures because they used to be there but the Jews and Christians corrupted the scriptures by removing these references.

Notice that we are dealing here with two different levels of intellectual interaction. At the level of specific Perceiver facts, any fact from Mohammed trumps a conflicting fact from another source. At the level of general Teacher theories, any competing general Teacher theory is viewed through the lens of the Koran, and if it does not fit, then the assertion is made that it originally did fit but became distorted.

A similar mental approach can be taken with any discrepancies that exist within the holy book itself. There are several cases in the Koran where one verse is inconsistent with another verse. Muslim scholars reconcile these internal contradictions by applying the principle of abrogation: If there is any factual discrepancy between one part of the Koran and another, then the earlier verse is replaced by the later verse. In Islamic terms, the original verse is known as a ‘mansukh’ and its replacement as a ‘nasikh’. As a search on the Internet will show, exactly how many of these verses exist is open to debate. According to the Wikipedia article on abrogation, medieval jurists cited over 200 cases of abrogation, while modern Islamic scholars suggest that far fewer examples exist.

What concerns us here is neither the number nor the nature of these abrogations, but rather the cognitive implications of proposing a doctrine of abrogation. John Burton makes the following comments in Islamic Theories of Abrogation: “The Supreme Being imposes or forbids what He chooses. Nothing is either good or evil per se; God does not command ‘the good’ and prohibit ‘the evil’. What God commands is good and what He forbids is evil. God is under no compulsion to any external moral imperative. Adherence to what He commands will be rewarded; performance of what he forbids will be punished. Both command and prohibition being tests of human obedience, God may naskh what He chooses.” “The Creator and Sovereign Lord of the Universe shares His absolute power with none. To test man’s obedience, God may order them to do whatever he chooses, or to desist from whatever He wills. He may command what was never previously required or forbid what was previously unregulated; equally. He may prohibit what He Himself had actually commanded, or command what He Himself had previously prohibited...Nor may men question anything that God requires of them. They must only identify what God has commanded or forbidden and act immediately to demonstrate their creaturely status and humble obedience.”

In other words, Islam states that it is not possible to use Perceiver thought to describe the nature or behavior of God. Allah is not subject to any rule of law, neither is he governed by any Perceiver concept of consistency. Instead, he uses his supreme emotional status to impose any content which he chooses upon Perceiver thought whenever he wishes. Thus, we see again that blind faith is self-reinforcing. In fact, we see here that the attitude of blind faith has become a universal characteristic which describes the essential nature of God.

Similarly, one phrase that one find repeated continually within the Koran is some variation of Allah saying, “If we wished, we could have done whatever we wanted”, indicating the concept of a God who is capable of destroying or altering Perceiver facts upon a whim. Obviously, this is a concept of God that lacks Perceiver consistency. Logically speaking, this is a contradiction, because a universal statement is a statement which applies to many situations, but here we see the universal statement that no universal statements can be made about a universal being. However, if Perceiver thought is mesmerized, then this logical inconsistency will not be noticed, because Perceiver thought is the part of the mind which recognizes logical inconsistency, and Perceiver thought is mesmerized. Thus, even though the statement is logically inconsistent, it is mentally self-reinforcing, because an attitude of blind faith is being used to support an attitude of blind faith.

In contrast, one of the basic principles in Christian exegesis is that the meaning of a Biblical term can be clarified by comparing its use in one passage with another, and that the first use of a certain word sets the context which determines how that term should be defined in succeeding passages. Again, what matters to us here is not the correctness of the content but rather the mental approach that is being used. In the Islamic case, Mercy status is being used to overwhelm Perceiver thought, while in the Christian case, Perceiver thought is being used to work out a common meaning.

This negation of Perceiver thought can also be seen in the definition of a Muslim. Remember that one becomes a Muslim by stating with sincerity the Shahada in the original language. Thus, what matters is not the Perceiver meanings of the words but rather the Teacher words themselves. Perceiver meanings can be used to translate the words of one language into another language. If Perceiver meaning defined Islam, then it would be possible to make a statement of faith in any language. But, the words themselves act as a ‘magic formula’ which produces the religious transformation. Similarly, it is generally maintained that the Koran itself cannot be translated and that it must be memorized and recited in the original language. There is also an insistence upon using the Arabic term Allah to refer to God. Compare this with the Christian approach which attempts to translate the Bible into as many languages as possible. In this case what matters is Perceiver meaning, and terms such as God, Gott, Dieu, or Hananim are all viewed as equivalent.

Going Beyond Blind Faith

So far, our analysis may have given the impression that only Islam practices blind faith. However, I suggest that all education begins with blind faith. A primary student places blind faith in the words of his teacher, and he ‘knows’ that his teacher is always right. Thus, the real problem of education is not avoiding blind faith, because blind faith is unavoidable. Rather, the real question is how to go beyond the starting point of blind faith.

For a person observing blind faith from the outside, the answer is obvious: “Stop accepting facts blindly and start thinking for yourself.” That is because the outsider does not share the deep emotional respect which the believer has for his source of truth. When strong Mercy emotions are not present, then it is easy to use Perceiver thought. Learning how to use Perceiver thought in the presence of strong Mercy feelings is much more difficult. I suggest that the solution involves replacing one form of emotion with another. (As we shall see later, this is because we are dealing with mental networks.)

Notice that two forms of emotion are inherently contained within the Shahada: ‘There is no God but Allah’ teaches the doctrine of monotheism, which states that a single, universal being called God lies behind all of the complexities of human existence. The concept of a universal God produces positive Teacher feelings of order-within-complexity. In contrast, ‘Mohammed is the prophet of God’ assigns Mercy feelings of emotional status to the person of Mohammed.

Blind faith, by definition, is based in the Mercy status of the source of ‘truth’—it focuses upon the messenger. In contrast, the message of a monotheistic God, by definition, teaches the concept of universality, which leads to Teacher feelings of order-within-complexity. Thus the Teacher feelings contained within such a message make it possible for the mind to let go of the Mercy feelings that have been assigned to the messenger. That is what I mean by replacing one form of emotion with another.

Thus, if a holy book actually teaches about a monotheistic God—if it really contains a valid description of a universal being, then it is possible to let go of blind faith in the source of the holy book by comprehending the character of the universal being described by the content of the holy book.

Thus, the way to go beyond blind faith in ‘Mohammed is the prophet of God’ is to learn about the message ‘There is no God but Allah’. However, in order for this to happen, the content of the Koran must contain a coherent, consistent message about a universal being. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. To start with, we have already seen that Islam views God as a universal being about whom no universal statements can be made.

Similarly, one scholar of the Koran has made the assessment that “The final process of collection and codification of the Quran text was guided by one over-arching principle: God’s words must not in any way be distorted or sullied by human intervention. For this reason, no serious attempt, apparently, was made to edit the numerous revelations, organize them into thematic units, or present them in chronological order.... This has given rise in the past to a great deal of criticism by European and American scholars of Islam, who find the Quran disorganized, repetitive, and very difficult to read.”[2]

Notice that a Koran which is difficult to understand reinforces the approach of blind faith, because it ‘proves’ that God is ‘beyond logic’ and that one must use blind faith to comprehend Allah. But, this also prevents the Muslim believer from going beyond blind faith.

But, why is it so hard to understand the content of the Koran? One major reason is that the order of the chapters of the Koran was changed to be from longest to shortest. The main thesis of Bill Warner is that if the chapters are put back in chronological order, then the result is a coherent message. But, does this rearrangement of the chapter produce a coherent message about Allah, the monotheistic God? No, rather it produces a coherent commentary upon the life of Mohammed, the prophet of God. That is because the chronologically rearranged chapters of the Koran only make sense if one lines them up with the corresponding events in the life of Mohammed—and then they make complete sense. Whenever some event occurs within the life of Mohammed, there is a corresponding revelation from Allah in the Koran.

In other words, when critical thinking is applied to the Koran, it does not lead us to the conclusion that ‘there is no God but Allah’. Rather, it leads us to the conclusion that ‘Mohammed is the prophet of God’. Saying this another way, the Koran illuminates the life of a finite human rather than the character of an infinite God. It is really a story about Mohammed, and not a description of God. As we quoted from Warner earlier, “In the historical Koran each chapter followed the other as Mohammed’s life unfolded. This is the Koran that has the original time sequenced and includes events Mohammed was involved in at the time. The historical Koran was easy to understand.” Thus, we see again the reoccurring theme of self-reinforcing blind faith.

Blind Faith in a Monotheistic God and Mental Networks

Now let us look at the effect which this has upon the mind of Muslim believer. In order to understand this, we have to look at the behavior of mental networks. This concept is described in detail in God, Theology & Cognitive Modules, and will be summarized here. Basically, any collection of related emotional memories will eventually turn into a mental network and begin to function as a unit. When a mental network is triggered and encounters input which is compatible with its structure, then it generates what I call hyper-pleasure. In contrast, when a mental network is triggered and it encounters input which is inconsistent with its structure, then it will generate hyper-pain. If this inconsistency continues, then the mental network will eventually start to fall apart and generate the hyper-pain of fragmentation. One sees this when attempting to break a bad habit. As long as the urges of a habit are carried out regularly, then there is no mental discomfort. But if the habit is suppressed, then the urge to carry out the habit will get stronger and stronger, until either the habit breaks—because the mental network falls apart, or else a person removes the discomfort by giving in to the urge and providing the mental network with compatible information.

Both Mercy experiences and Teacher theories can form into mental networks, and both kinds of mental networks will generate hyper-pain if they start to fall apart. Think, for instance, of the way that a loved one continues to ‘live’ within one’s mind after that person has died. That is an example of a Mercy mental network. However, a general Teacher theory can also form into a mental network. Thomas Kuhn says in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that “Once a first paradigm through which to view nature has been found, there is no such thing as research in the absence of any paradigm. To reject one paradigm without simultaneously substituting another is to reject science itself.” In other words, a scientist cannot live without a general theory because his paradigm has formed a mental network within Teacher thought. When a mental network becomes large enough, then the only way to become mentally free of it is by replacing it with another mental network. We saw this earlier when discussing how a paradigm allows a person to become free of blind faith. In that case, a Mercy mental network formed out of emotional experiences related to the messenger of universal ‘truth’ is being replaced by a Teacher mental network generated by the universal nature of the message.

Now let us look at what happens when a concept of a monotheistic God turns into a mental network within Teacher thought. A mental network generates hyper-pain when it encounters incompatible information. So, what is incompatible with a truly universal theory? Nothing—because the theory is universal. For instance, how often does one see the universal law of gravity being violated? Never.

But what if a universal theory is defined as belief in a universal theory? Then any person who does not believe in the theory will be seen by the theory as a counterexample that threatens the universality of that theory. This may seem like a subtle distinction, but it is actually quite significant, so we will define it carefully before adding the concept of mental networks. Consider, for instance, the law of gravity. Does it stop being universal if people do not believe in it? Of course not. The law of gravity continues to function universally whether or not people accept that it is true. But, what about the theory of mental symmetry? On the one hand, I have found that it appears to apply to every aspect of human behavior which I have examined. Thus, as far as I can tell, it is a universal theory of human behavior. But, on the other hand, not very many people know about this theory. Thus, in terms of belief, it is not a universal theory, because not that many people believe in it.

Whenever one is dealing with any form of revelation, then I suggest that what will matter is not the theory itself but rather belief in the theory. That is because revelation is always revealed to people. This applies to both a religious concept of God and a rational theory. If it is a school of thought, then what matters is how many people subscribe to this school of thought. A school of thought increases in generality as it gains audience share; it becomes universal when everyone believes in it. Similarly, a believer in a holy book will be driven by Teacher emotions to gain converts because they increase the universality of his revelation.

When blind faith enters the picture then what also matters is the emotional respect that is given to the source of ‘truth’. That is because a person will only believe the ‘truth’ if Perceiver thought within his mind is mesmerized by the emotional status which he assigns to the source of this ‘truth’.

Applying this to Islam, the Koran is not a description about God. Instead, it is a revelation about Allah. A description introduces a person to something which can be observed and studied elsewhere. For instance, the law of gravity is a description of how the natural world functions. In contrast, a revelation is a source of truth. It tells you about something which cannot be discovered elsewhere. Thus, the goal of Islam is not to study the world to learn more about the universal nature of Allah. Rather, it is to gain converts to Islam and have more people believe in Allah.

Going further, the Koran is not just a revelation about Allah; it is a revelation about Allah that was revealed by the prophet Mohammed. Mohammed is the final source of ‘truth’ about Allah. Thus, the goal of Islam is to have more people place blind faith in Mohammed so that they will ‘believe’ in Allah. I suggest that this sort of emphasis will occur whenever blind faith reveals ‘truth’ about God. The ultimate goal will be to get more people to place blind faith in the source of ‘truth’ so that more people will believe in God. Thus, the concept of Allah does not become more universal as a believer learns more about the nature of a monotheistic God, but rather the concept of Allah becomes more universal as more people accept that ‘Mohammed is the prophet of God’.

Now let us add mental networks to the equation. Suppose that one uses blind faith to form the mental image of a monotheistic God and that this mental image of God turns into a mental network within Teacher thought. We now have the contradiction of a vulnerable ‘universal’ theory. I have mentioned that Teacher thought feels good when many items fit together. By the same token, Teacher thought feels bad when it encounters an exception to the general rule. A universal Teacher theory will demand that its universal rule be applied everywhere. If this universal Teacher theory turns into a mental network, then any lasting exception to the general Teacher theory will cause that mental network to feel the hyper-pain of impending fragmentation.

So, what has the power to threaten the integrity of a concept of a monotheistic God that is based in blind faith? First, any friend who is not a believer will be viewed by Teacher thought as a contradiction to the general rule. Suppose that John is my good friend. Emotional experiences with John will cause a Mercy mental network to develop within my mind that represents John. If John does not believe in my God, then Teacher thought will view John as a contradiction to my universal concept of God, and because John ‘lives’ within my mind, it will be a lasting contradiction, and any lasting contradiction to a Teacher mental network will threaten the integrity of that mental network.

Thus, the Koran makes it clear that a Muslim believer is not supposed to make friends with non-believers. For instance, in 3:28 it says, “Believers should not take non-believers as friends in preference to other believers. Those who do this will have none of Allah’s protection and will only have themselves as guards. Allah warns you to fear Him for all will return to Him.” Going further, Umar, the second Caliph, expelled all Jews and Christians from the land of Arabia. Even today, it is forbidden to build a church or synagogue in Saudi Arabia, and non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the cities of Mecca and Medina.

A non-believer who is a friend provides a lasting contradiction to an image of God that is based in revelation. However, when revelation about God is based in blind faith, then the greatest threat to the ‘universal’ theory occurs when the source of ‘truth’ is belittled or blasphemed. One can see how this works by examining the behavior of the typical teenager. A child believes everything that his parents say; a teenager typically believes nothing that they say. The difference lies in the emotional status which the child assigns mentally to the mental networks within his mind that represent his parents. When this emotional status drops below a certain threshold, everything that is said by parents will fall into question. Thus, the greatest threat to the religion of Islam occurs when Mohammed is belittled or blasphemed. This explains why the Muslim community responds so vehemently when it senses that the person of Mohammed is not being revered. In general terms, any system of thought that is based purely in blind faith will crumble if the emotional status of the source of ‘truth’ is questioned. But, when the image of a monotheistic God is based in blind faith, then questioning the emotional status of the source of ‘truth’ will cause the mental concept of God to crumble. In other words, if the Muslim questions that ‘Mohammed is the prophet of God’, then he will also stop believing that ‘there is no God except Allah’.

So, how does a mental concept of God respond when the mental network upon which it is based is threatened with fragmentation? Remember that any mental network which starts to fall apart will respond with the hyper-pain of fragmentation. But, when a mental network that applies universally falls apart, then this hyper-pain will be felt everywhere, because the theory applies everywhere. The mind will then conclude that denying God or living apart from God means experiencing universal, continual, personal hyper-pain. What do we call universal, continual, personal hyper-pain? Hell.

Warren says that “Hell is mentioned 146 times in the Koran. Only 9 references are for moral failings—greed, lack of charity, love of worldly success. The other 137 references to Hell involve eternal torture for disagreeing with Mohammed.” Thus, the Koran illustrates the mental effect of basing a monotheistic concept of God in blind faith in the prophet of God. Those who reject the prophet of God are repeatedly told that God will send them to hell.

Warner has analyzed the Koran for the presence of what he calls the Koranic Argument. According to Warner, a Koranic Argument contains a description of some group or person and what they have done wrong, a threat of violence against that group in response, and a word of support from Allah to support his messenger Mohammed. During the first half of the Koran, Mohammed was in Mecca preaching his new religion. Warner has calculated that 2/3 of the Koran from this first phase of the Koran is composed of examples of the Koranic Argument.

For instance, one type of phrase which continually reappears in the Koran is “Many messengers who came before you were mocked. For a long time We allowed the unbelievers to go unpunished, but finally We punished them. Then how terrible was Our punishment.”

Cognitively speaking, this means that the Shahada of ‘There is no God except Allah and Mohammed is the prophet of God’ formed a mental network within the mind of Mohammed, and this mental network responded with hyper-pain whenever it experienced a violation—especially to the second half of the Shahada. This mental effect was so strong that 2/3 of the Meccan Koran was motivated by Mohammed’s mental network of God lashing out verbally in hyper-pain.

The emotional power of this Teacher mental network can be seen in what is known as the Satanic Verses. Mohammed was experiencing religious persecution in Mecca and a number of his followers had fled to Ethiopia for protection. Therefore, Mohammed decided that he would soften his stand on monotheism and have a religious service at the Kabah in which Allah was worshipped along with three of the other local accepted Gods.

As the History of Al-tabari puts it, “It came to him that the three gods of the Quraysh could intercede with Allah. Mohammed said, ‘These are the exalted high flying cranes whose intercession is approved.’ The Meccans were delighted and happy. When Mohammed lead prayers at the Kabah, all the Meccans, Muslim and non-Muslim, took part...But then, trouble. The Koran revealed that Mohammed was wrong. Meccan gods could have no part in his religion. Satan had made him say those terrible words about how the other gods could help Allah.” In other words, the experience of worshipping other gods contradicted Mohammed’s Teacher theory of God—the mental network was being ‘fed’ incompatible data, and this mental network responded with hyper-pain.

As far as I can tell, this is the only time when the Koran openly rebukes Mohammed. In every other case, the revelation from the Koran appears to back up the behavior of Mohammed. This tells us that the Teacher mental network behind Mohammed’s concept of God is limited to the statement of the Shahada: “There is no God except Allah and Mohammed is the prophet of God.” Mohammed’s concept of God always backs up the concept that ‘Mohammed is the prophet of God’, except in the case where Mohammed violates the principle that ‘there is no God except Allah’.

This principle also appears to explain the second time when the Koran corrects Mohammed. During the period when Mohammed preached in Mecca, no one was killed. The first deaths occurred when Mohammed was in Medina and his followers carried out a raid on a caravan. The Sirat Rasul Allah tells us the story from the perspective of Abdullah, the leader of this raid: “‘The apostle has commanded me to go to Nakhla to lie in wait there for Quraysh so as to bring him news of them. He has forbidden me to put pressure on any of you, so if anyone wishes for martyrdom let him go forward’...A caravan of Quraysh carrying dry raisins and leather and other merchandise of Quraysh passed by them...The raiders took council among themselves, for this was the last day of the Rajab, and they said, ‘If you leave them alone tonight they will get into the sacred area and be safe from you; and if you kill them, you will kill them in the sacred month,’ so they were hesitant and feared to attack them. Then they encouraged each other, and decided to kill as many as they could of them and take what they had.” [424]

The story continues, “When they came to the apostle, he said, ‘I did not order you to fight in the sacred month,’ and he held the caravan and the two prisoners in suspense and refused to take anything from them. When the apostle said that, the men were in despair and thought that they were doomed. Their Muslim brethren reproached them for what they had done, and the Quraysh said ‘Muhammed and his companions have violated the sacred month, shed blood therein, taken booty, and captured men.’...The Jews turned this raid into an omen against the apostle.” [425]

Mohammed then received a revelation from Allah which is recorded in the Koran: “You are commanded to fight although you dislike it. You may hate something that is good for you, and love something that is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not. When they ask you about fighting in the holy month, say: Fighting at this time is a serious offence, but it is worse in Allah’s eyes to deny others the path to Him, to disbelieve in Him, and to drive His worshippers out of the Sacred Mosque. Idolatry is a greater sin than murder.” [2:216]

The Sirat Rasul Allah adds the following commentary: “If you have killed in the sacred month, they have kept you back from the way of God with their unbelief in Him, and from the sacred mosque, and have driven you from it when you were its people. This is a more serious matter with God than the killing of those of them whom you have slain.” [425]

In other words, the integrity of a mental network is literally a matter of life and death. When a mental network falls apart, then a person experiences mental ‘death’. When a believer in a monotheistic God of blind faith encounters a non-believer who continues to flaunt a disbelief in this God, then this open rebellion will threaten the believer’s mental image of God with ‘death’. Allah tells Mohammed that physically killing a person is less of a crime than refusing to believe in Allah—that preserving the mental life of a concept of God is more important than preserving the physical life of another human being.

Allah also tells Mohammed that belief in Allah trumps any existing religious taboos or rules of conscience. In other words, nothing is more important than acknowledging that ‘There is no God except Allah’. That describes the mental power of a concept of a monotheistic God which is based in blind faith which has turned into a mental network: It has the power to reprogram conscience, justify murder, and overturn even religious taboos.

In the words of Ali Bakr, the first caliph, “You (Quraysh) count war in the holy month a grave matter but graver is your opposition to Mohammed and your unbelief. Though you defame us for killing Amr our lances drank Amr’s blood. We lit the flame of war.”

I have suggested that all education begins with blind faith. I suggest that the religion of Islam is locked within an attitude of blind faith, and we have looked at several ways in which the blind faith of Islam is self-reinforcing. I would now like to step back and attempt to look at what caused Islam to become stuck within an attitude of blind faith. It appears that there are a number of historical factors which naturally caused Islam to take this form. The list of factors which we will examine is probably not complete, but I suggest that the factors which are mentioned are significant.

The Historical Background of Mohammed

Let us begin by asking why Mohammed become the prophet of God. We have seen that mental networks play a major role in guiding personal behavior. If one wishes to change behavior, then it makes sense that existing mental networks should be as weak as possible and that new mental networks should be formed. This principle definitely applied to the life of Mohammed. Mohammed was orphaned three times as a child. First, his father died when his mother was pregnant. Then his mother died when he was five, and his grandfather took care of him. Finally, his grandfather died and he was raised by an uncle. The strongest mental networks in the mind of the child are the mental networks that represent parents. In Mohammed’s case, these were all quite weak. In addition, Mohammed was raised in a polytheistic society. 360 different gods were worshipped at the Kabah which now forms the focal point of Islam, and different tribes worshipped different gods. Allah was the main god among these 360, supported by three other high gods. Thus, existing religion in Mecca would not have lead to the formation of any single potent mental network, but rather would have resulted in a number of competing mental networks, each associated with the members of some tribe.

Finally, the Sirat Rasul Allah tells us that when Mohammed was eight years old, his uncle took him on a caravan trip to Syria, where he had a significant encounter with a Christian monk. [115] Later on, he was hired by a wealthy widow to take a caravan to Syria and he ended up marrying this widow. [119] Thus, at an early age he had experiences that associated the relative wealth and prosperity of a thriving city with the doctrine of monotheism. This must have had a lasting impression upon him (which would have led to the formation of a mental network), because The History of al-Tabari tells us what happened when “Mohammed, his wife and nephew, Ali, started praying at the Kabah with their new rituals of ablutions and prayer with prostrations. A visitor asked about this new ritual and was told that is was a new religion and that Mohammed said that he would receive the treasures of Rome and Persia.”

Second, why would Mohammed be attracted to the method of blind faith? Because, Mohammed lived in a tribal society in which your tribal connections meant everything. In Warner’s words: “A person was not an individual as much as he was a part of a tribe. Blood relations were everything, and when someone met someone outside the tribe, the first question was what is your tribe and your lineage? Your name gave a portion of your lineage. Without your tribe you were fair game and very weak.”

The website says that “the Arabs never acknowledged any authority other than the authority of the chiefs of their tribes. The authority of the tribal chiefs, however, rested, in most cases, on their character and personality, and was moral rather than political.” “The only protection a man could find from his enemies, was in his own tribe. The tribe had an obligation to protect its members even if they had committed crimes. Tribalism or ‘asabiyya (the clan spirit) took precedence over ethics. A tribe that failed to protect its members from their enemies, exposed itself to ridicule, obloquy and contempt. Ethics, of course, did not enter the picture anywhere.” Thus, Mohammed naturally used Mercy status to determine universal Perceiver ‘truth’ because he lived in a society which used Mercy status to determine all personal, moral, and governmental Perceiver ‘truth’.

And, what was the emotional status of Mohammed as a person? He was a member of the Quraysh tribe, regarded as the nobility and priestly class of the city of Mecca, which was responsible for taking care of the sacred shrine of the Kabah. Five years before Mohammed began to receive his revelations from Allah, he was the one who was chosen from his tribe to perform the religious ritual of placing the sacred black stone into its resting place in the Kabah. Thus, Mohammed was already revered as a religious leader before he started the religion of Islam; he was already a priest of god before he became the prophet of Allah.

Mohammed was not the first citizen of Mecca to embrace the concept of monotheism. The Sirat Rasul Allah describes four men before Mohammed who formed a pact and agreed that they would abandon polytheism. Three of these men converted to Christianity, while the fourth, Zayd bin Amr, adopted some of the basic tenets of Judaism. Mohammed was asked by his relatives about Zayd. The Sirat Rasul Allah relates the story: “I was told that his son, Said bin Zayd , and Umar bin al-Khattab, who was his nephew, said to the apostle, ‘Ought we to ask God’s pardon for Zayd bin Amr?’ He replied, ‘Yes, for he will be raised from the dead as the sole representative of a whole people.’” [143-145]

Thus, we see that the background of Mohammed naturally led him in the direction of becoming the prophet of Allah. But, when a finite person becomes the source of truth about an infinite being, then there is an inherent tension between finite and infinite. I suggest that the attitude of the ‘prophet of God’ will play a major role in determining how this tension is resolved. A finite person is different than other people, whereas an infiniteperson ties together all people. If the prophet preaches the message that ‘God is love’, then he is teaching the concept that God builds bridges between one person and another, which will emphasize the infinite nature of God instead of the finite nature of the prophet of God. However, when the main message of the prophet is that ‘God judges his enemies’, then this will emphasize the distinction between one finite group or person and another, leading to a focus upon the finite nature of the prophet of God rather than the infinite nature of God.

One sees a similar tension in Judaism, which also teaches the doctrine of monotheism. Is the Jewish God a universal God of everyone and over everything, or is he a tribal god who sticks up for the Jews and opposes other tribes? I suggest that the way that this tension is resolved depends upon whether the Jewish mind focuses upon the Jews being a ‘light to the nations’ or upon God giving the Jews victory over other nations.

Warner has analyzed the verses of the Koran for references to love and fear. He says that “while there are over 300 references in the Koran to Allah and fear, there are 49 references to love. Of these references, 39 are negative such as the 14 negative references to love of money, power, other gods and status. Three verses command humanity to love Allah, and 2 verses are about how Allah loves a believer. There are 25 verses about how Allah does not love non-believers. This leaves 5 verses about love. Of these 5, 3 are about loving kin or a Muslim brother...There is not a verse about either compassion or love of a non-believer, but there are 12 verses that teach that a Muslim is not a friend of a non-believer.”

Why would Mohammed emphasize fear instead of love? Probably because he lived in a society dominated by tribal warfare. Even the cities were divided into tribal ghettos, with the various sections of a city warring with one another. For instance, three Jewish tribes and two Arab tribes lived in the city of Medina, each occupying its own walled and fortified portion of the city. The website adds, “Since Arabia did not have a government, and since the Arabs were anarchists by instinct, they were locked up in ceaseless warfare. War was a permanent institution of the Arabian society.” “In the event a crime was committed, the injured party took law in its own hands, and tried to administer ‘justice’ to the offender. This system led very frequently to acts of horrendous cruelty.”

Moving on to the third point, if most of the Koran that was written in Mecca consists of judgment upon religious enemies, and if the book itself only makes sense when placed within the personal context of the life of Mohammed, then why would such a book be accepted as a holy book?

I suggest that there are two obvious answers: First, there were no other Arabic books. The Koran is the first book that was ever written in Arabic. Thus, the Koran had no competitors; it was unique simply because it was a book written in Arabic. As a result, it would be natural for the followers of Mohammed to regard the Koran as the written revelation of God, because at the time of Mohammed, it was the only Arabic book. The content of the book did not matter; the mere existence of a book was sufficient proof.

I have suggested that Teacher thought looks for order-within-complexity; Teacher thought feels good when many items fit together to form a coherent package. I have also suggested that words form the basic building block for Teacher thought. A book is a physical illustration of a general Teacher theory, because a book takes a collection of Teacher words and arranges them to form a coherent package of sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. And, words, by their very nature, are more universal than physical objects. The word ‘house’, for instance, is a general term that can refer to all kinds of human dwellings. Thus, even though the content of the Koran does not convey the concept of a monotheistic God, the fact that this content is presented within the form of a book—the first book ever written in Arabic—does encapsulate the message of a universal being of order and structure.

The second obvious reason for Arabs to accept the Koran as a holy book was that the Koran was written in Arabic poetry. This is significant for two reasons. First, as explains, the Arabs of Mohammed’s time were infatuated about poetry: “Pre-Islamic Arabs took great pride in their language and in articulate and accurate speech, the latter being one of the main requisites for social prominence. On this particular point, Professor Hitti writes: ‘No people in the world manifest such enthusiastic admiration for literary expression and are moved by the word, spoken or written, as the Arabs. Hardly any language seems capable of exercising over the minds of its users such an irresistible influence as Arabic.’ What made this phenomenon even more remarkable is the near absence of other forms of artistic expression such as music, painting, and drama. The sole elaborate form of artistic expression available to the pre-Islamic Arabs was the art of the spoken word. Eloquence and the ability to compose articulate prose or poetry were foremost among the traits of a worthy bedouin.”

The second reason this is significant has to do with the cognitive mechanism behind poetry. Much of the Koran is written as a form of poetry with rhythm, rhyme, and formal structure. Rhythm is interpreted by Teacher thought, and a repeated rhythmic pattern will produce Teacher feelings of order-within-complexity. Similarly, placing words within a formal structure, such as the form of poetry, will also generate Teacher feelings of order-within-complexity. As for rhyme, when two sentences with different words end up using a rhyming syllable or set of syllables, then verbal complexity is being followed by verbal unity—another example of Teacher order-within-complexity. The point is that poetry is a way of adding Teacher order to words, not based upon the Perceiver content or meaning of these words, but rather upon the way in which these Teacher verbal elements are assembled. Putting this another way, the presentation of the Koran demonstrates Teacher generality.

The Koran’s View of Holy Books

When the chapters of the Koran are put in chronological order, one notices a progression in the way that the Koran regards itself and Mohammed. In the following quotes, the number in the square brackets indicates the chapter and verse in the Koran, while the number after the brackets indicates the chronological order of that chapter.

Initially, listeners found Mohammed’s message of monotheism new and shocking: “They are skeptical that a messenger would come to them from their own people, and the unbelievers say, ‘This man is a sorcerer and a liar! Has he combined all the gods into one Allah? That is an amazing thing!’” [38:4]38

They then said that he was writing fables with the help of others: “The unbelievers say, ‘This [the Koran] is nothing but a lie which he [Mohammed] has created with the assistance of others producing slander and injustice.’ They say, ‘These are ancient fables that he has written down. They are dictated to him morning and night.’” [25:3]42

Mohammed also had to contend with the fact that Jews and Christians already had their own holy books. At first, the Koran backed up its statements by referring to the opinions of Jewish experts: “This Book has come down from the Lord of the worlds. The faithful spirit [Gabriel] has come down with it upon your [Mohammed’s] heart so that you may warn others in the clear Arabic language. Truly, it is foretold in the ancient scriptures. Is it not a sign that the learned men of the Israelites recognized?” [26:192]47

Mohammed said that some Jews were actually secret Muslims: “Those [some of the Jews] to whom We gave the Scriptures before do believe in it [the Koran]. When it is recited to them they say, ‘We believe in it for it is the truth from Our Lord. We were Muslims before it came.’” [28:49]49

Mohammed told questioners to check the Koran with the other holy books: “If you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those who have read the Scriptures [Jews, Christians] before you. The truth has come to you from your Lord. Do not be one of those who doubts.” [10:94]51

In general, Mohammed responded to non-believers in a judgmental manner, but he did not address his judgmental statements to believers of other holy books: “Those who reject the Book and the revelations with which We have sent our messengers will soon know the truth. When the yokes and the chains are on their necks, they will be dragged in the boiling waters then they will be thrust in the Fire and burned.” [40:70]60

Instead, his warnings were directed to the Arabs of Mecca: “So We have revealed to you an Arabic Koran so that you may warn the mother-city [Mecca] and all around it, and warn them of that day of the gathering.”[42:7]62

Mohammed’s social status was also questioned in connection with the Koran: “They say, ‘Why was this Koran not revealed to a great man of one of the two cities [Mecca and Taif]?’” [43:30]63

Again, we find the Koran looking to a Jewish expert for support: “I follow what is revealed to me through inspiration, and my charge is to warn you [the Meccans]. What do you think? This Scripture is from Allah, and you reject it, and a witness [a Jew, bin Salama] from the Children of Israel testifies that he has seen earlier scripture like it and believes it, while you proudly show scorn. Surely, Allah does not guide the unjust.” [46:9]66

Mohammed insisted that the Koran confirms the Jewish Scriptures: “But the unbelievers say, ‘If the believers’ scriptures were true, we would have had them first.’ And they refuse the scriptures; they say they are a legend, a lie. Before this Book [the Koran] was the book of Moses, a rule and a mercy. This book confirms in Arabic the warning to the unjust and the good tidings to the just.” [46:11]66

However, Mohammed’s audience accused him of making things up and getting his facts from foreign sources: “When We exchange one verse for another, and Allah knows best what He reveals, they say, ‘You are making this up.’ Most of them do not understand. Say: The Holy Spirit has truthfully revealed it from your Lord so that it may confirm the faith...We know that they say, ‘It is a man that teaches him.’ The man they point to speaks a foreign language while this is clear Arabic.” [16:101]70

Again, his audience accused him of making up the words: “This Book is without a doubt a revelation sent down from the Lord of the worlds. Do they say, ‘He [Mohammed] has made it up’? No. It is the truth sent from your Lord so that you may warn a people who have not yet been warned so that they may be guided.” [32:1]75

Mohammed emphasized that some Jews believe in the Koran: “So it is that We have sent down the Book [Koran] to you [Mohammed]. Those [the Jews] to whom We have given the Book of the law believe in it, and some other Arabians there believe in it. None, save the unbelievers, reject our signs.” [29:47]85

The first half of the Koran was written when Mohammed was preaching mainly to Arabs in the city of Mecca. When Mohammed moved to Medina, then his tone changed. Instead of referring to Jewish experts for support, he now started to accuse the Jews of corrupting their scriptures:

“Children of Israel! Remember the favor I have given you, and keep your covenant with Me. I will keep My covenant with you. For My power. Believe in what I reveal [the Koran], which confirms your Scriptures.”[2:40]87 “Can you believers then hope that the Jews will believe you even though they heard the Word of Allah and purposefully altered it after they understood its meaning?”[2:75]87

This is when the concept of abrogation was introduced into the Koran. We have seen that the Koran accuses the Jews of changing their Jewish scriptures. Curiously, one finds the Koran saying at the same time that Allah has the right to change any of the scriptures in the Koran: “Whatever of Our revelations We repeal or cause to be forgotten, We will replace with something superior or comparable. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things?”[2:106]87

The Koran then ‘swallowed up’ the Jewish religious heroes by stating that they were actually followers of Allah: “They say, ‘Become a Christian or a Jew, and you will be rightly guided to salvation.’ Say: No! We follow the religion of Abraham, the upright, and he was no idol worshipper...Say: Will you [the Jews] argue with us about Allah, knowing that He is both your Lord and ours?...Will you say, ‘Truly Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes, were all either Jews of Christians’? Say: Do you know best, or does Allah? Who is more evil than one who receives a testimony from Allah and hides it?”[2:135]87

This is when the first killing occured in the name of Allah: “Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out of whatever place from which they have driven you out for persecution [the Meccans made Mohammed leave] is worse than murder. But do not fight them inside the Holy Mosque unless they attack you there; if they do, then kill them.” [2:191]87

The Koran then stated categorically that the founder of the Jewish religion was a Muslim: “Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but a righteous man, a Muslim, not an idol worshipper...Some of the People of the Book try to lead you astray.”[3:66]89

And, the followers of other holy books were called liars because they rejected the Koran: “People of the Book! Why do you reject Allah’s revelations when you have witnessed their truth? People of the Book! Why do you cover up the truth with lies when you know that you hide the truth?”[3:70]89

Anyone who did not accept Mohammed’s corrected version of the holy scriptures was threatened: “To those of you [Jews and Christians] to whom the Scriptures were given: Believe in what We have sent down confirming the Scriptures you already possess before We destroy your faces and twist your heads around backwards, or curse you as We did those [the Jews] who broke the Sabbath for Allah’s commandments will be carried out.” [4:47]92

Mohammed then declared that he would no longer talk to unbelievers: “He has already sent down to you in the Book that when you hear Allah’s revelations rejected and mocked by unbelievers you should not sit and listen to them until they talk about something else, for if you stayed you would become like them. Truly Allah will gather all the hypocrites and unbelievers together in Hell.”[4:140]92

The doctrine of abrogation was then applied to the concept of holy books in general, with each age having its own holy book: “For every time period there is a Book revealed. Allah will destroy and build up what He pleases for He is the source of revelation.” [13:38]96

Followers of other holy books became lumped in with other non-believers and they were all condemned to hell: “The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the idolaters will burn for eternity in the Fire of Hell. Of all the created beings, they are the most despicable.”[98:6]100

The founder of the Jewish religion became the mascot for Islamic jihad: “Fight valiantly for Allah’s cause as it benefits you to do for Him. He has chosen you, and has not made hardships for you in the religion; it is the religion of your father Abraham.” [22:78]103

And, Allah was now a God of war: “Truly Allah loves those who fight for His cause and stand together in battle array like a solid wall.” [61:4]109

Finally, the Koran was lifted up as the revelation of purity: “He sent to the people of Mecca a messenger from among their own to reveal His revelations to them, to make them pure, and to teach the Scriptures and wisdom, although before not they were clearly in error as well as the others among them who have no yet accepted the faith.” [62:2]110

While those who believe in other holy books were seen as rejecters of Allah and wrongdoers: “Say, Oh, people of the Book [Jews and Christians], do you not reject us only because we believe in Allah, in what He has sent down to us, in what He has sent before us, and because most of you are wrongdoers?”[5:59]112

Summarizing, at the beginning there is a response to Mohammed’s new doctrine of monotheism, but after that the focus appears to be on the personal source of truth and not upon the truth itself. First, people are questioning Mohammed as a source of truth. Then, Mohammed is appealing to Jews as a source of truth. Next, Mohammed is telling the Jews and Christians that they are a corrupt source of truth. Finally, Mohammed is declaring that he is the only source of truth. In simple terms, the progression in Mohammed’s message is: I am not wrong; the Jews say I am right; the Jews and Christians are wrong; I am right. Notice how the concept of blind faith in Mohammed the prophet is growing and developing. Note also that Mohammed accuses the Jews of abrogating passages in their holy scriptures while at the same time claiming the right to abrogate passages in the Koran.

Salvation by Works

Let us move on to the next point. One of the basic tenets of Christianity is the doctrine that ‘salvation is by faith and not by works’. According to this doctrine, one cannot do anything to merit God’s favor but instead one comes to God through belief and belief then results in action. This concept is analyzed in detail in God, Theology & Cognitive Modules. In terms of mental symmetry, Christianity says that Perceiver thought comes first and then Server thought. In contrast, Server actions play a foundational role in Islam. In fact, the new religion of Islam began with the Server actions of repetitive ritual. As was quoted earlier from The History of al-Tabari, “Mohammed, his wife and nephew, Ali, started praying at the Kabah with their new rituals of ablutions and prayer with prostrations. A visitor asked about this new ritual and was told that was a new religion.”

The Sirat Rasul Allah describes this in more detail: “When prayer was first laid on the apostle it was with two prostrations for every prayer; then God raised to four prostrations at home while on a journey the former ordinance of two prostrations held.” [157] “Gabriel performed the ritual ablution as the apostle watched him. This was in order to show him how to purify himself before prayer. Then the apostle performed the ritual ablution as he had seen Gabriel do it. Then Gabriel said a prayer with him while the apostle prayed with his prayer. Then Gabriel left him. The apostle came to Khadija [his wife] and performed the ritual for her as Gabriel had done for him, and she copied him. Then he prayed with her as Gabriel had prayed with him, and she prayed his prayer.” [158] This ritualistic prayer was noticed by others: “While I was with him in Mina there came a man in the prime of life and performed the full rites of ablution and then stood up and prayed. Then a woman came out and did her ablutions and stood up and prayed. Then out came a youth just approaching manhood, did his ablutions, then stood up and prayed by his side.” [158]

This initial behavior of Mohammed is described in the third chapter of the Koran: “You [Mohammed] wrapped up in your robe, awake half the night, more or less, to pray and recite the Koran in a measured rhythm, because We will send down to you a weighty message.” [73:1] Notice how he is ‘reciting the Koran in a measured rhythm’.

This relationship between prayer, recited words, and ritualistic movement forms the second of the five ‘pillars of Islam’. The first pillar of Shahada involves verbally reciting the statement of faith. We have already seen how the Shahada uses blind faith in the prophet of God to form the concept of a monotheistic God. The second pillar of Salat tells the Muslim to pray five times a day. During each of these prayers, he repeats the following paragraph between two and four times: “In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. The Lord of the Day of Judgement. Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone we seek for help. Guide us to the Right Path. The path of those upon whom Thou has bestowed favors, Not of those who Thou has cursed once nor of those who have gone astray.” Each of these verbal repetitions occurs within the context of a Raka’ah, a prescribed set of actions in which the person bows and prostrates himself before God and acknowledges his fellow believers.

Let us look now at the mental effect of such ritualistic prayer. We have seen that the concept of a monotheistic God emerges when a universal theory in Teacher thought applies to personal identity in Mercy thought. We have also seen that blind faith in some source of absolute ‘truth’ can give Teacher thought the illusion of a universal theory, because Perceiver thought will ‘know’ that the words of that person are always right and never wrong. However, when words are used to build a general Teacher then that theory will lack mental stability. That is because words have no substance; they fade from memory and they vanish in the air. However, words—and general theories which are constructed using words—can be given mental stability through repetition, either by repeating the words themselves or by associating these words with actions which are repeated. This repetition adds Server stability to the Teacher words.

Both the words of the prayer and the actions of the Raka’ah will give mental stability to the concept of a monotheistic God: First, this prayer talks about a universal being, and words are the basic building blocks of Teacher thought. Second, this prayer is addressing a universal Teacher theory in personal terms, which ensures that the universal Teacher theory will turn into a mental image of God. Third, the words of this prayer convey an attitude of absolute devotion, reinforcing the mindset of blind faith. Whether such a God actually exists or not, repeating the words of the Islamic prayer seventeen times a day during five episodes of prayer will definitely create the mental concept of a monotheistic God.

One sees a similar theme in the actions of the Raka’ah. One is physically bowing before an imaginary person in unison with other believers, and then one is physically acknowledging by looking left and right that other believers believe in the same God and worship and bow before the same God. Thus, the actions of the Raka’ah will mentally reinforce the repeated words of the prayer.

The problem is that the resulting mental concept of God is both compatible with blind faith and reinforces an attitude of blind faith. First, it is possible to say anything and do almost anything. If one repeats the phrase ‘Joseph Smith is the prophet of God and the book of Mormon is a revelation about God’ seventeen times every day and accompanies this with a set of ritualistic, reverential movements, then this will also create a concept of God within the mind—with Joseph Smith as the prophet of God and not Mohammed. Thus, the Salat will convince the Muslim worshipper of the validity of his concept of a monotheistic God because it is mentally self-reinforcing and not because it proves anything.

Second, words and actions that are repeated endlessly make it more difficult to apply critical thinking. For instance, suppose that one drives to work every day along the same route. If one takes part of this route and then decides to go somewhere else, then it is easy for the mind to fall in a rut and instinctively continue following the normal path to work: “I just about turned left at the intersection because I always turn left at this intersection.” In terms of mental symmetry, when a sequence of words or actions is burned into Server thought, it is difficult for Perceiver thought to ‘wake up’ and start thinking about facts, results, and destinations. Thus, we see again our familiar pattern of self-reinforcing blind faith.

Physical action is also emphasized by the fifthpillar of Islam, which is the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. The pilgrim performs the action of traveling to Mecca, and when he is in Mecca, he performs an officially prescribed set of actions.

Religious Self-Denial

The third pillar of Zakat tells the Muslim to give money to the poor. Like ritualistic prayer, giving is also an action that is performed. However, there is another aspect to Zakat which involves the concept of religious self-denial, which I suggest is an inevitable by-product of blind faith.

The mental mechanism behind religious self-denial is fairly simple. Perceiver thought in my mind will only remain mesmerized if the source of ‘truth’ has far greater emotional status in Mercy thought than I do. Going further, if a mental image of God is based in revealed ‘truth’, then that image of God will only remain intact if the source of ‘truth’ retains its emotional significance within my mind. We saw previously that this is reflected in the attitude of reverence which the Muslim believer gives to Mohammed, because any attempt to regard Mohammed as a normal person is regarded as blasphemy. As was mentioned before, a concept of God which is based in blind faith will experience mental fragmentation if the source of ‘truth’ is belittled. Religious self-denial is simply the flip side of this coin: If my source of ‘truth’ has great emotional status, then this implies that my personal identity has low emotional status. ‘Truth’ that is based in emotional status will fall into doubt either if my emotional respect for the source of ‘truth’ drops sufficiently or if my personal emotional status rises sufficiently.

An attitude of religious self-denial can be found in many of the practices of Islam. One sees it in the name Islam which means ‘peace through submission’. One also sees it in the Raka’ah, typically performed seventeen times every day, in which the Muslim believer prostrates himself in prayer before God. As was mentioned, personal self-denial is present in zakat, the religiously ordained giving of alms to the poor. And, during the Hajj, the male pilgrim wears only two white sheets and a pair of sandals while he is in Mecca, physically demonstrating an attitude of personal self-denial. Finally, one sees personal self-denial in fourth pillar of Islam, which is fasting in the month of Ramadan, during which the believer abstains from food, drink, alcohol, and sex during daylight hours, and is supposed to give extra to charity. Islam itself connects the self-denial of Ramadan with the concept of revealed truth, because it teaches that the Muslim fasts during Ramadan because the beginning of the Koran was revealed to Mohammed during this month.

Summarizing, the Hashada statement of faith connects monotheism with blind faith, the Salat uses repetitive words and actions to reinforce this concept of God using an attitude of self-denial, the giving of Zakat combines action with self-denial, the fasting of Ramadan uses blind faith as a justification for self-denial, while the Hajj is an action which one performs to demonstrate one’s devotion to God.

Religious Self-Denial and Revelation

Let us turn now to the historical background. Why do physical action and personal self-denial play such a defining role in Islam? In order to answer this question, we need to look more closely at the concept of self-denial. I suggest that the religious self-denial which accompanies blind faith always has two sides. There is the person who practices the self-denial and there is the person who receives the self-denial. The person who is practicing self-denial may think that he is a nobody, but not the individual who is receiving this self-denial. For instance, I remember one neighbor of my parents who often received personal assistance from others. Most of this help was motivated by a desire to ‘deny oneself for Jesus’. The neighbor who was receiving the help, in contrast, was quite demanding, and did not exhibit any attitude of religious self-denial. However, she was quite happy to be the beneficiary of the self-denial that was being practiced by others.

Applying this principle to religious revelation, when some person is the only source of truth about a monotheistic God, then that person has effectively become an absolute dictator over the followers of his religion. His followers will say that they are submitting themselves to God, but in practice they have become slaves of the prophet of God. We have already seen how the Koran documents Mohammed’s rise in personal self-esteem. At the beginning of the book he is apologetic about his personal qualifications, while at the end he demands absolute obedience from others. For instance, when he moves to Medina and starts fighting, then he tells his followers: “Believers! Be obedient to Allah and His messenger, and do not turn you backs now that you know the truth. Do not be like the ones who say ‘We hear,’ but do not obey.” [8:20] Notice how the demand for obedience is now coming from Allah and His messenger.

A few verses later, he continues, “Believers! When you confront their army stand fast and pray to Allah without ceasing so that you will be victorious. Obey Allah and His messenger, and do not argue with one another for fear that you will lose courage and strength. Be patient for Allah is with the patient. Do not be like the Meccans who left home bragging and full of vainglory.” [8:45] Notice both the explicit and the implicit message. The explicit message tells the Muslims not to regard themselves as emotionally significant but rather to recognize the supreme status of Allah. But, buried within this is an implicit message of ‘submit to Mohammed and kill those who don’t agree with Mohammed’.

One sees this illustrated in a quote from the Sirat Rasul Allah describing an incident which occurred soon after Mohammed moved to Medina: “The Apostle of Allah said, ‘Kill any Jew who falls into your power.’ Thereupon Muhayyisa bin Masud lept upon Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant with whom they had social and business relations, and killed him. Huwayyisa was not a Muslim at the time though he was the elder brother. When Muhayyisa killed him Huwayyisa began to beat him, saying, ‘You enemy of God, did you kill him when much of the fat on your belly comes from his wealth?’ Muhayyisa answered, ‘Had the one who ordered me to kill him ordered me to kill you I would have cut your head off.’ He said that this was the beginning of Huwayyisa’s acceptance of Islam. The other replied, ‘By God, if Muhammad had ordered you to kill me would you have killed me?’ He said, ‘Yes, by God, had he ordered me to cut off your head I would have done so.’ He exclaimed, ‘By God, a religion which can bring you to this is marvellous!’ and he became a Muslim.” [554]

In other words, it appears that the only practical difference between a gang leader telling a follower to kill a member of an opposing gang and Mohammed ordering a believer to kill a Jew—or telling a believer to murder his brother, is that the religious believer carries out his assigned task with greater conviction and has less regard for emotional ties. Using the language of mental symmetry, the gang leader backs up his commands with a Mercy mental network based upon his personal status, while the commandments of a prophet of a monotheistic God are backed up by the Teacher mental network of a ‘universal’ theory.

One sees a similar story on page 290 of The Life of Mohammed by Sir William Muir. Mohammed had an adopted son Zaid, and one day Mohammed went to the house of Zaid and saw Zaid’s wife Zeinab in a thin dress. He was smitten by her beauty and said, “Gracious Lord! Good Heavens! How thou dost turn the hearts of men!” She related the incident to her husband, and he immediately went to his adopted father Mohammed and said that he would divorce his wife Zeinab so that Mohammed could have her. Mohammed said no, but Zaid went and divorced his wife anyway.

According to traditional Arab laws, adopted sons were treated as blood relatives and thus Mohammed’s marriage to Zeinab would have been viewed as incestuous. But, Mohammed received a revelation from Allah which overruled traditional laws of adoption and gave Mohammed permission to marry his son-in-law’s ex-wife. Mohammed responded by marrying Zeinab, even though he already had more than four wives. As the Koran says, “Allah has not...made your wives whom you divorce to be like your mothers, nor has He made your adopted sons like your real sons.” [33:4]. It continues, “It is not the place of a believer, either man or woman, to have a choice in his or her affairs when Allah and His Messenger have decided on a matter. Those who disobey Allah and His Messenger are clearly on the wrong path. And remember when you said to your adopted son [Zaid], the one who had receive Allah’s favor, ‘Keep you wife to yourself and fear Allah,’ and you hid in your heart what Allah was to reveal, and you feared men [what people would say if he married his daughter-in-law], when it would have been right that you should fear Allah. And when Zaid divorced his wife, We gave her to you as your wife, so it would not be a sin for believers to marry the wives of their adopted sons, after they have divorced them. And Allah’s will must be carried out.” [33:36]

This passage comes up frequently when discussing the Koran, so we will look at it purely from a cognitive perspective. I have mentioned that the concept of a monotheistic God emerges when a universal theory in Teacher thought applies to personal identity in Mercy thought. A universal theory contains general statements such as ‘do not commit incest’ or ‘adopted children are blood relatives’. A universal theory will not contain specific statements such as ‘believers may marry the wives of their adopted sons after they have divorced them’ because these statements are far too specific to produce positive Teacher emotions. And, a universal being will definitely not make specific statements if this overrules general statements such as ‘do not commit incest’ or ‘adopted children are blood relatives’. However, a specific person such as Mohammed might make such a specific statement—especially if it applies to his specific circumstances. Thus, we conclude that ‘Mohammed is the prophet of God’ has become more important than ‘There is no God except Allah’ because Allah is overturning general statements in order to make specific ones.

In the language of Kant, I suggest that we are looking at a collision between radical evil and the categorical imperative. When the concept of a monotheistic God is based in blind faith in a single prophet of God, then it becomes possible for radical evil to define the categorical imperative. In other words, the specific desire from the source of ‘truth’ about God will be presented as a universal statement from God. However, if one reads between the lines, one observes that Mohammed’s concept of God does appear to be applying a universal principle, which is the principle that ‘Mohammed always gets what he wants’. And, this universal principle appears to be a fundamental aspect of Mohammed’s concept of God, because it is strong enough to overcome Mohammed’s personal apprehensions that are based in cultural taboos.

Let me say this once more using theoretical language. A mental concept of God emerges when Teacher thought comes up with general theories which apply to personal identity. A concept of God acquires mental power when it forms a mental network within Teacher thought. A mental concept of God which has turned into a Teacher mental network has the ability to overturn other lesser mental networks, such as the Mercy mental network of personal identity, or Mercy mental networks of societal taboos. It appears that the general principle of ‘Mohammed always gets what he wants’ has become a fundamental part of Mohammed’s concept of God, because it has the mental power to overturn potent conflicting mental networks.

In other words, a mental concept of a monotheistic God is not some ‘magical being’. Rather, it is simply a universal theory that applies to personal identity. If one clause of this universal theory states that ‘Mohammed is the prophet of God’, then Teacher thought will feel emotionally driven to apply this clause as a universal theory—without exception. But, if Mohammed really is the prophet of God, then this means that the person of Mohammed is the unquestioned source of ‘truth’ about God, which means that Mohammed’s personal desires will turn into universal ‘truths’ about Allah, which effectively means that ‘Mohammed always gets what he wants’. Notice that this mental progression is occurring because Mohammed is the revealer of truth about Allah, because this makes Mohammed the ultimate source of ‘truth’. If Mohammed were the discoverer of truth about Allah, then ‘Mohammed always gets what he wants’ would not turn into a universal theory, because the final source of truth would not be Mohammed.

Now let us turn our attention to the society in which Mohammed lived. tells us that “War was a permanent institution of the Arabian society. The desert could support only a limited number of people, and the state of inter-tribal war maintained a rigid control over the growth of population. The Arabs themselves did not see war in this light. To them, war was a pastime or rather a dangerous sport, or a species of tribal drama, waged by professionals, according to old and gallant codes, while the ‘audience’ cheered. Eternal peace held no appeal for them, and war provided an escape from drudgery and from the monotony of life in the desert. They, therefore, courted the excitement of the clash of arms. War gave them an opportunity to display their skills at archery, fencing and horsemanship, and also, in war, they could distinguish themselves by their heroism and at the same time win glory and honor for their tribes. In many cases, the Arabs fought for the sake of fighting, whether or not there was a cause belli.”

For instance, the Sirat Rasul Allah says that during one of Mohammed’s battles against Meccan forces—a battle which the Meccans won, the Meccan army brought their women along to the battle to cheer them on because they knew that the men would act brave in front of the women. As the men fought, the women beat their tambourines and chanted: “If you advance we will hug you and place soft rugs beneath you. If you retreat we will leave you. Leave and no more love you.” [562] Putting this in modern terms, war was a sport and the women were the cheerleaders. But, what were the women encouraging the men to do. A short passage from the Sirat Rasul Allah will suffice to give us the flavor of this so-called sport: “‘By God, I was looking at Hamza while he was killing men with his sword, sparing no one, like a huge camel, when Siba came up to him before me, and Hamza said, ‘Come here you son of a female circumciser,’ and he struck him a blow so swiftly that it seemed to miss his head. I poised my javelin until I was sure that it would hit the mark, and launched it at him. It pierced the lower part of his body and came out between his legs. He came on towards me, but collapsed and fell. I left him there until he died.” [564]

Looking at this from a cognitive perspective, we see that actions are being motivated by Mercy status. But, these actions have the power to overturn social status by killing opponents, redefine human existence by maiming, widowing, and orphaning individuals, and create mental networks of ‘truth’ through the experience of inhuman atrocities. Psychologists spend years trying to deal with the psychological trauma of abuse; Mohammed’s society made sport out of habitual, death-dealing, personal abuse. Putting this more simply, Mohammed grew up in a culture of extreme gang violence. He simply took the further step of getting an image of God to support him as the ultimate gang leader.

Does this mean that Mohammed chose to follow this path? No. He probably began with higher motives. But when ‘Mohammed is the prophet of God’ becomes more important than ‘There is no God except Allah’, and ‘the prophet of God’ lives in a culture of perpetual gang violence, then it is mentally inevitable that ‘the prophet of God’ will turn into the ultimate gang leader—especially if he has already spent years verbally condemning his religious adversaries to hell. The logic of this conclusion is straightforward: First, we have seen that ‘Mohammed always gets what he wants’ is a natural mental result of regarding Mohammed as the sole source of revelation about a monotheistic God. Second, we have just observed that Mohammed grew up in a society of institutionalized gang warfare. One simply has to put these two factors together.

Turning now to a related factor, people can only judge what they see. Therefore, a culture which is motivated by the giving and receiving of personal status will focus upon performing actions which people can see. Mental content will not matter because no one can see it. In addition, it is almost impossible for Perceiver thought to function when people are repeatedly committing and experiencing atrocities, because traumatic emotional experiences will continually be encountered which will re-mesmerize Perceiver thought. As says, “If the Arab ever exercised any modicum of restraint, it was not because of any susceptibility he had to questions of right or wrong but because of the fear of provoking reprisals and vendetta. Vendetta consumed whole generations of Arabs.”

Thus, it would be natural for the Koran to prescribe a religion of action combined with blind faith. Mental content or cognitive development would not enter into the picture for the simple reason that it is almost impossible for a person to develop mental content or to progress cognitively when immersed in a culture of endless gang warfare.

Islam and Platonic Forms

We have looked at the relationship between Islam and the cultural background of Mohammed. Let us turn now to the cognitive by-products of using Perceiver truth to form the mental concept of a monotheistic God. I suggest that a combination of Perceiver facts and general Teacher theory will lead to the emergence of Platonic Forms. For instance, when someone says the word ‘cup’, one does not usually think of any specific cup. Instead, what comes to mind is an idealized, simplified cup—the Form of a cup. The mental processing which creates this imaginary, idealized image is as follows: Suppose that I see a number of cups. These images will enter Mercy thought as specific experiences. Perceiver thought will notice the similarity between all of these objects and come up with the category of cups. Teacher thought will then become emotionally motivated to take this mental ‘bin’ of cups and bring order to the complexity, which it will do by working out the essence of ‘cupness’ and coming up with the general theory of ‘cup’. This will lead to an idealized, simplified set of Perceiver facts, which will reconnect the Mercy memories in a slightly different way, leading to the mental image of an ideal cup which is different, simpler, more permanent, and more perfect than any real cup.

A mental image of God emerges when a general Teacher theory explains personal identity in Mercy thought. When Perceiver truth is used to build this general Teacher theory, then the indirect result will be a set of idealized, simplified, and more permanent mental images related to personal identity. This leads to the concept of heaven, in which an idealized, simplified, and more permanent version of personal identity lives with God. Notice that we are not trying to prove that heaven exists, but rather we are examining what causes the mind to form a mental concept of living in heaven.

Platonic Forms will only form in the mind when Perceiver facts are adjusted by a general Teacher theory. This means that one can determine the domain of a general Teacher theory by looking for the presence of Platonic Forms. Wherever Platonic Forms are present, the general Teacher theory applies. Wherever Platonic Forms are not present, the general Teacher theory does not apply. Thus, if a person says that he is following a universal Teacher theory, but there are no Platonic Forms, then he is only following the illusion of a universal Teacher theory.

For instance, monasticism played a major role in the early years of Christianity, with monks abandoning civilization to spend their entire lives in the wilderness denying personal pleasure and focusing upon God. From this we can make two conclusions: First, monks were mentally drawn to a monastic lifestyle by the ‘carrot’ of Platonic Forms. They wanted to live in the simplified perfection of the Platonic Forms that resulted from their concept of a monotheistic God. Because the monks attempted to spend their entire existence living within Platonic Forms, this tells us that they really did possess the mental concept of a monotheistic God. Second, the monks were mentally driven to abandon civilization by the ‘stick’ of religious self-denial. Because they attempted to deny themselves so thoroughly, this tells us that their minds really were ruled by blind faith, because they were convinced that their religious ‘truth’ applied everywhere.

In contrast, monasticism does not play a role in Islam; there are no Islamic monasteries. This tells us that the Platonic Forms created by Islam are not extensive enough to draw the believer to monasticism, while the religious self-denial does not motivate the Muslim believer to turn his back upon physical pleasure. Consistent with this, we have just seen that the beliefs and rituals of Islam are limited largely to the physical body. Putting this another way, the doctrine of Islam leads to weak Platonic Forms and limited religious self-denial because it is only ‘skin-deep’. And, because the Platonic Forms are limited, we can conclude that the Muslim believer does not really believe in a monotheistic God.

Let us look first at the religious self-denial demanded by Islam. If one examines the five pillars of Islam, one concludes that the self-denial which they require appears to be skin-deep. For instance, Muslim self-denial expresses itself in the Zakat of giving money to the poor—if one has the financial means to do so, the fasting of Ramadan during which one rearranges one’s mealtimes, and the Raka’ah during which one bows before God in prayer. In each case self is being annoyed, but it is not really being denied.

Obviously, the religious self-denial of jihad or holy war does have life-changing and life-threatening consequences, but again one sees a self-denial which is only skin deep combined with a rearranging of natural desires. When one is fighting for Allah one is not denying one’s aggressive urges but rather expressing them in religiously approved ways. And, dying for one’s religion is a form of extreme self-denial, but it is a self-denial which—by definition—is limited to the realm of the physical body.

The limited Platonic Forms of Islam can also be seen in the Islamic concept of hell and heaven, which are marginally idealized versions of normal life. Hell is basically a more extreme version of dying of thirst in the desert: “Some faces will be downcast that day, troubled and weary, burnt at the scorching Fire, forced to drink from a fiercely boiling fountain, with only bitter thorns for food, which neither nourished nor satisfied hunger.” [88:2]

Similarly, notice how the following description of hell is only a slight exaggeration of normal human misery: “Oh, how wretched the people of the left-hand will be amid scorching winds and scalding water, and in the shade of black smoke, neither cool nor refreshing.” [56:41] “Those who denied and erred will certainly eat from the Ez-zakkoum tree, and they will gorge themselves with it. Then they will drink scalding water and will drink like a thirsty camel!” [56:51]

Heaven is described as a watered garden combined with some nice patio furniture, something which would appeal to a citizen of the desert: “Other faces that day will be joyous, an in a lofty Garden, very pleased with their past efforts. No vain talk will be heard there. There will be gushing fountains. There will be raised couches, and goblets placed nearby, and cushions arranged, and carpets spread out.” [88:8] Again, the description of heaven is only slightly better than normal human existence for the wealthy.

Finally, notice the mundane human details which are included in the following description of heaven: They “will be on decorated couches, reclining on them face to face. They will be waited on by immortal young boys with goblets and ewers and a cup of pure wine that gives no headache nor muddles the mind, and with fruits that are most pleasing, and with the flesh of birds that they desire. In compensation for their past deeds, they will have houris with big, dark eyes like pearls peeking from their shells. They will not hear any vain or sinful talk, only the cry, ‘Peace! Peace!’” [56:10] “The people of the right-hand will be resting on raised couches amid thornless sidrahs [plum trees] and talk trees [banana trees], thick with fruit, and in extended shade and constantly flowing waters, and abundant fruits, neither forbidden nor out of reach.” [56:27]

Summarizing, one notices that the simplifying and idealizing effect of Platonic Forms are barely present in the Muslim portrayal of heaven and hell, and the end result still sounds quite physical and normal.

Compare this with the description of heaven given at the beginning of the book of Revelation: “Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.” And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.’” [Rev. 4:5-11]

Again, we are not attempting to judge the validity of these statements, but rather look at the extent of cognitive processing. The Christian version is full of fantastic, idealistic, generalized imagery. One sees that Teacher thought has been generalizing extensively, because there are beings filled with eyes, living creatures with symbolic shapes, and a fixation upon the universality of God. One gains the impression that one is truly stepping into a realm of Platonic Forms. In contrast, the Muslim version of heaven sounds more like a buffet at a fast food restaurant with cute waiters who are making eyes at the customers.

Similarly, the Muslim concept of bodily resurrection is also quite physical. This is brought forth in a quote from the Sirat Rasul Allah: “Ubayy took to the apostle an old bone, crumbling to pieces, and said, ‘Muhammed, do you allege the God can revivify this after it has decayed?’ Then he crumbled it in his hand and blew the pieces in the apostle’s face. The apostle answered: ‘Yes, I do say that. God will raise it and you, after you have become like this. Then God will send you to Hell.’” [238] Notice the concept of a physical resurrection. The soul of the non-believer is not sent to hell. Rather, he is physically resurrected and then his body is sent to hell.

Those who are in hell will experience continual physical resurrection: “Those who reject Our revelations We will cast in the Fire. As soon as their skins are burnt away, We will give them new skins so that they will truly experience the torment. Truly Allah is might and wise!” [4:56]

Compare this with Jesus’ description of the torment of hell: “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, [where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.] If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, [where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.] If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.” [Mark 7:43-48] As with the Christian description of heaven, there is more symbolism and allegory in this description, and even the punishment is described in generalized, Platonic terms, referring not to the physical body but rather to the ‘worm’ which gives spiritual life to this body.

Suppose that a Muslim believer does attempt to become a religious fanatic so that he can live fully within the Platonic Forms of Islamic religion. Because the Platonic Forms created by Islamic doctrine are limited primarily to physical action and because Islam grew out of a tribal culture, the religious fanatic will be forced to exist within a mental world which is basically an idealized and glorified version of tribal culture. Thus, if a Muslim wants to prove his fanaticism, he is limited to options such as praying more fervently, reciting the Koran more often, implementing jihad with more dedication, protecting the emotional status of Mohammed with greater dedication, and placing his hope in getting 72 virgins by dying in order to spread Islam.

In more general terms, I suggest that being a religious fanatic can be personally and societally beneficial if the imaginary religious world in which one attempts to immerse oneself has sufficient emotional and cognitive depth. But, if one tries to immerse oneself within a religion which is only skin-deep, then one will turn into a skin-deep caricature of a person who attempts to solve all problems using solutions which are only skin-deep.

Islam and Sex

Turning now to the next topic, I suggest that a combination of blind faith, monotheism, and physical ritual will leave the mind vulnerable to sexual temptation. First, we have seen that Platonic Forms in Islam are limited primarily to the realm of the physical body. The result is that an imaginary image of the human body will form within Mercy thought which is more perfect and more simple than real human bodies, which will lead to a desire to see this imaginary image of human perfection realized in physical form. Obviously, this type of Platonic Form existed within the mind of Mohammed because he married his favorite wife Aisha when she was six and consummated the marriage when she was nine. Similarly, the Koran promises that the Muslim believer will have houris as companions in paradise. The Koran describes houris using adjectives such as ‘restraining their glances’, ‘modest gaze’, ‘wide and beautiful eyes’, ‘like pearls’, ‘spouse’, and ‘companions of equal age’.

The description of the houris which is in the Sahih Buhkari is clearly a Platonic idealization of the physical body of a real woman: The houris will be so beautiful, pure, and transparent that the marrow of the bones of their legs will be seen through the bones and the flesh. “They will not urinate, relieve nature, spit, or have any nasal secretions. Their combs will be of gold, and their sweat will smell like musk.”

Because the Platonic Forms of Islam tend to be skin-deep, this yearning for physical innocence and simplicity will not be accompanied by a desire for a deeper Platonic relationship which focuses upon inner perfection and simplicity. For instance, while one can have sex with a nine year old wife and enjoy the innocence of her physical body, it is difficult to carry on any sort of deep intellectual conversation.

We have seen that the limited nature of Platonic Forms will cause the Muslim mind to focus upon the ideals of physical beauty. Let us look now at the mental effect played by blind faith. I have mentioned that blind faith uses Mercy emotions to mesmerize Perceiver thought into ‘knowing’ what is true. If one compares the female mind and body with the male mind and body, the female mind appears to function more emotionally than the male mind, while the curves of the female physical form produce Teacher emotions and the sensitivity and softness of the female body generate pleasant Mercy feelings. The end result is that the emotional experience of seeing and interacting with a woman combined with the emotions inherent in sexual attraction can create emotional ‘truth’ within the mind of the man. Obviously, a similar effect can occur within the female mind, but the male can use his superior strength to impose his version of ‘truth’ upon the female. In addition, the female mind has to learn how to live with emotions, whereas the male mind is overcome by emotions.

This explanation may sound somewhat sexist and simplistic, but exactly this occurred within the mind of Mohammed. As quoted earlier from the Life of Mohammed: “One day Mohammed went to the house of Zaid and saw Zaid’s wife Zeinab in a thin dress. He is smitten by her beauty and said, ‘Gracious Lord! Good Heavens! How thou dost turn the hearts of men!’” As we already saw, this single emotional experience which Mohammed had with Zeinab was sufficient to prompt a new revelation of ‘eternal truth’ from Allah overturning existing laws regarding adoption and incest.

When Perceiver thought has sufficient confidence to function in the midst of Mercy emotions, then the rule of law can govern the relationship between the sexes. Looking at this in greater detail, Perceiver thought organizes Mercy experiences into different categories. One of the most fundamental Perceiver categories for people is the category of ‘my spouse’ and ‘your spouse’. When Perceiver thought is functioning, then Perceiver thought can assert that an attractive man or woman belongs to the category of ‘your spouse’ and does not belong to the category of ‘my spouse’, even when this person is physically attractive. In contrast, when emotions determine Perceiver ‘truth’, then the emotions of seeing an attractive person will overturn the Perceiver category of ‘your spouse’ and replace it with the Perceiver category of ‘my spouse’. This describes what occurred in the case of Mohammed and Zeinab. He saw Zeinab and this experience caused her to move from the Perceiver category of ‘Zaid’s spouse’ to ‘Mohammed’s spouse’.

Putting this together, when Platonic Forms are limited to the physical body, then the mind will find a beautiful human body attractive, and when the Perceiver ‘truth’ that applies to personal identity is determined solely by Mercy emotions, then the man who is emotionally attracted to a beautiful woman will ‘know’ in Perceiver thought that she belongs to him. But, when belief in a monotheistic God is based solely in blind faith, then Perceiver ‘truth’ that applies to personal identity will be determined solely by Mercy emotions, because an image of God is based in general truth that applies to personal identity.

Thus, the Muslim mind will be convinced that men and women cannot be together for fear that this will lead to the act of sex. Summarizing the combination of effects: The Platonic Form of the physical body makes physical beauty and innocence attractive, while the absence of deeper Platonic Forms means that there is no desire to interact with the opposite sex on a more Platonic level. The absence of independent Perceiver thought means that interaction between the sexes will not be guided by the rule of law. Instead, seeing a physically attractive person will mesmerize Perceiver thought into ‘knowing’ that we belong together.

When the emotional experience of seeing a woman has the power to redefine existing Perceiver ‘truth’, then the only way to preserve ‘truth’ is by completely avoiding the emotional experience of seeing a woman, which means shrouding the physical body of a woman in a tent of shapeless fabric. But, mental symmetry and common sense both suggest that this strategy is mentally self-defeating. Perceiver facts will only survive contact with emotions if they are tested under pressure and remain intact. However, if a man never sees a woman, then he will never learn how to interact with a woman in a rational and law-abiding manner. Instead, he will mentally associate the sight of a woman with the act of sex. In the extreme he will conclude that any woman who does not wear the niqab is a whore.

I suggest that the way to solve this problem is not to add more external restrictions to the woman, but rather to place mental restrictions upon the thinking of the man. In crude terms, the male Muslim mind needs to acquire a conscience. But, how can a religion based in doctrinal abrogation and physical ritual teach conscience? Similarly, how can a couple develop a Platonic relationship when the Platonic Forms are only skin-deep?

Islam as the Ultimate Religion

Islam claims to be the final religion which replaces Judaism and Christianity. Mental symmetry suggests that all education begins with blind faith and rote learning and makes a transition to paradigm driven critical thinking. Saying this another way, education starts with some messenger using his Mercy status to mesmerize Perceiver thought into blindly accepting what is ‘true’. However, if the message contains inherent Teacher structure, then the Teacher emotions of understanding the message as a general theory make it mentally possible to escape the Mercy emotions which drive blind faith.

In addition, all education begins with the physical realm and uses this as a starting point to build internal understanding. The beginning student manipulates concrete, physical objects; the advanced student builds internal, abstract concepts.

We have seen that Islam uses self-reinforcing blind faith and rote learning. We have also seen that Islam avoids internal concepts and focuses almost purely upon the physical realm. In educational terms, Islam describes the approach taken by the primary student; it does not correspond to the attitude of the high school student. In contrast, I suggest that it is possible to analyze the fundamental doctrines of Christianity as a paradigm without requiring blind faith in any holy book or prophet of God. This analysis can be found in God, Theology & Cognitive Modules. Thus, even though Christianity tends to be taught as blind faith in a holy book, it is possible to go beyond this initial approach and comprehend the doctrines of Christianity as a general paradigm.

One also sees this transition from physically based revealed truth to internally driven conscience illustrated in the religion of Judaism. This is clearly brought out by the prophet Jeremiah, who preached during the time when Israel was in the process of losing its political independence: “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD. ‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’” [Jeremiah 31] Notice that in the old covenant, God gave Israel political freedom from the country of Egypt, while in the new covenant, he is giving conscience to the individual.

This focus upon internal personal transformation forms the core of the message of the apostle Paul, who was responsible for formulating much of Christian doctrine. In Romans 7, he describes a similar transition from physical to internal: “For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”

Notice that Paul is talking about mentally ‘dying’ to a form of existence which is driven by ‘the flesh’—the physical aspect of personal identity, and ‘coming alive’ to a form of existence which is motivated by ‘the spirit’—the internal aspect of personal identity. This mental transition was triggered by Paul encountering the last of the Ten Commandments: ‘You shall not covet’, a commandment which does not govern physical behavior, but rather addresses personal attitude in universal terms.

Before we continue, I should point out that the goal is not to abandon physical activity for internal thought but rather to have the internal govern the physical. Abandoning the physical realm leads to monasticism, while declaring the physical realm to be evil results in some form of gnosticism.

In contrast, we find Mohammed moving the opposite direction from mental to physical. In Mecca, he condemned his opponents verbally by appealing to their conscience, and no one was killed for disbelieving the message of Mohammed. However, in Medina, he used physical coercion to force people to submit to Islam. Political and religious opponents were killed.

Mohammed faced a choice when the first raid was taken by his followers and the first blood was shed. Would he protect conscience and the rule of law, or would he use force to demand religious submission. In other words, would he focus upon the mental or the physical. The Koran instructed him to use murder to impose religious submission even if this meant violating conscience: “When they ask you about fighting in the holy month, say: Fighting at this time is a serious offence, but it is worse in Allah’s eyes to deny others the path to Him, to disbelieve in Him, and to drive His worshippers out of the Sacred Mosque. Idolatry is a greater sin than murder.” [2:216]

It is interesting to note that the book of Joshua describes a similar dilemma occurring at the beginning of the Jewish invasion of what was then called Canaan. One of the tribe which lived in Canaan pretended to be from far away and made a peace treaty with the Jews. The story continues in Joshua 7: “It came about at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were neighbors and that they were living within their land. Then the sons of Israel set out and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon and Chephirah and Beeroth and Kiriath-jearim. The sons of Israel did not strike them because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD the God of Israel. And the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders. But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, ‘We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. This we will do to them, even let them live, so that wrath will not be upon us for the oath which we swore to them.’ The leaders said to them, ‘Let them live.’ So they became hewers of wood and drawers of water for the whole congregation, just as the leaders had spoken to them.” In this case, we find conscience taking precedence over murder, even though the covenant had been obtained under false pretences.

In contrast, the Sirat Rasul Allah describes the type of Islam that emerged: “Mohammed was now a political force unlike any ever seen in history. The fusion of religion and politics with a universal mandate created a historic force that is permanent. There will be no peace until all the world is Islam. The spoils of war will provide the wealth of Islam. The awe of Mohammed is the fear of Allah.” [484]

The Sirat Rasul Allah also tells us that Mohammed personally attended twenty-seven raids in a period of nine years. During this period, there were thirty-eight other battles and expeditions, leading to a total of sixty-five armed events, not including assassinations and executions, for an average of one skirmish every seven weeks. [973]

Thus, we are forced to conclude that Islam is a cognitive regression from the religions of Judaism and Christianity and not a progression. Consistent with this, I suggest that Judaism and Christianity will resemble Islam whenever they move from the internal to the external and from understanding to blind faith. One sees this, for instance, in the Zionist settlers of Israel, who are attempting to use physical force to hold on to physical land. The Jews used to hold the moral high ground by claiming that they were ‘superior to the Arabs’, but much of the current battle between the Jews and the Palestinians seems to be regressing to the level of tribal warfare. Similarly, one sees a cognitive regression in the American Christian neo-conservative, who is attempting to use blind faith to impose Biblical belief on others and use armed might to fight the religious enemy.

In general terms, I suggest that any attempt to fight Islam by using the methods of blind faith and warfare will be doomed to failure, because it will end up becoming like Islam. This is illustrated by the American ‘war on terror’, because those who ‘fight terrorism’ are increasingly turning into an officially sanctioned group which itself imposes terror upon the American population. Instead, if one wishes to move beyond Islam, then I suggest that a few dozen theologians, logicians, political scientists, and cartoonists can be far more effective than hundreds of thousands of soldiers with high-tech weapons.

Ahmadiyya Islam

It is interesting to note that there is a movement within Islam, known as Ahmadiyya Islam, which is attempting to move past blind faith to paradigm driven understanding, replace physical warfare with internal personal transformation, and integrate all religions in order to construct the concept of a universal God.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community was founded by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in 1889, who claimed to be the promised Messiah who would restore Islam to its original pristine purity.

Quoting from the official literature of their Canadian branch: “The Holy Qur’an encompasses a vast array of teachings and is a comprehensive code of conduct for humanity...Its teachings are timeless and matchless. It forms a complete manual, for all people of all ages and all races. It teaches absolute justice and clearly distinguishes right from wrong. Its teachings contains profound wisdom.” Saying this in the language of mental symmetry, they are claiming that the Koran presents a universal Teacher theory that applies to personal identity. In other words, Ahmadiyya Islam is attempting to go beyond Mercy-driven blind faith to a Teacher-driven paradigm. And, one indication that Ahmadiyya Islam is attempting to go beyond blind faith in its approach to the Koran is the fact that it is translating the Koran into different languages. According to the wikipedia article on the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, they are “the only community to have translated the Qur’an into over 118 languages.”

Mental symmetry suggests that a person mentally emerges from blind faith by using Perceiver meanings to construct a universal Teacher understanding. Thus, the theoretical aspirations of Ahmadiyya Islam are cognitively significant. However, we have examined the theology of Islam and the content of the Koran from a cognitive viewpoint and we have seen that it leads to a mindset of self-reinforcing blind faith. Thus, the goal of Ahmadiyya Islam may be inspiring, but one questions how one can go beyond blind faith when one begins with a religious system of self-reinforcing blind faith.

And, when one probes deeper, one notices that the blind faith mentality of Islam appears to remain intact with Ahmadiyya Islam. Quoting again from the official literature: “Islam is the perfection of the religion instated by God in the beginning of the world, by revealing the Qur’an through the Holy Prophet Muhammed...Islam meets all the spiritual and moral requirements of an ever-advancing human society.” But, how can a religion meet ‘all the spiritual and moral requirements of an ever-advancing human society’ when it remains firmly rooted in the blind faith of ‘Islam is the perfection of the religion’ revealed ‘through the Holy Prophet Muhammed’?

Moving on to the matter of jihad and using armed force to spread religious belief, Ahmadiyya Islam states that “The Promised Messiah declared that ‘Jihad’ involving armed warfare is now prohibited, while the task of fighting the ‘Greater Jihad’ i.e. the ‘Jihad against self’ was all the more imperative.” The official literature continues, “True ‘Jihad’ then is to strive to win the hearts and minds of non-Muslims with the truth, beauty and rationality of the teachings of the Qur’an. ‘Weapons’ to be used here are not swords and guns, but words of love, the power of the pen and, above all, prayers and supplications to Almighty God.” Again, we see a clear transition being made from the physical and the external to the personal and the conceptual. Mental symmetry suggests that this is the correct educational step. However, while the goal is admirable, one questions whether it is cognitively possible to make this transition from external to internal if one begins with a religious system which appears to be only skin deep.

This conclusion is backed up by the Ahmadiyya doctrine of atonement: “According to Islam, Jesus did not preach salvation through atonement of sins by his death on the cross.” “Islam contradicts the assertion that Jesus died an accursed death on the cross.” This teaching is consistent with the Koran. However, mental symmetry—and Christian doctrine—suggest that the ‘Greater Jihad’ which Ahmadiyya Islam strives to achieve can only be accomplished by tearing apart existing mental networks of personal identity and replacing them with mental networks which are guided by rational thought. In religious terms, personal salvation can only be reached by following a mental path which goes through ‘dying to self’. But, Ahmadiyya doctrine—and Islam—teaches that “The Gospels, too, provide extensive evidence of [Jesus] escape from the accursed death on the cross.” If Jesus was able to avoid ‘dying to self’, then the Muslim believer in Jesus will also believe that he can avoid ‘dying to self’. But, if one is to win the ‘Greater Jihad’, then I suggest that one cannot avoid ‘dying to self.’

Finally, Ahmadiyya Islam replaces the hatred of religious warfare with the love of a God who transcends religions: “Islam is a religion of love and brotherhood, based on the bedrock of Peace and Tolerance...The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is known around the world for its motto, ‘Love for All—Hatred for None.’” “The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes in all the prophets and religious teachers appointed by God, including Muhammad, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, and Zarathustra. It regards them all as heavenly teachers set to reform humanity and to establish its communion with God.” I have suggested earlier that this transition from hate to love appears to be a critical step in constructing the mental image of a monotheistic God. If God is a universal being, then he must tie everything together. A God who relates only to my tribe and my religion is not monotheistic.

However, how does one actually build the concept of a monotheistic God who ties together all religions? It appears that this can be done using a cognitive approach: It appears that each of the major religions corresponds to a mental resonance—a type of mindset which is self-sustaining. Thus, it is possible to include all major religions within a universal theory of human thought, leading to the mental concept of a truly monotheistic God. However, some of these religious ‘mental resonances’ can only continue functioning by either overwhelming or shutting down part of the mind. This makes it is possible to evaluate a religion by looking at the mental wholeness which it promotes. And, it is also possible to place various religions into a chronological sequence based upon the stage of education which that religion emphasizes. As Ahmadiyya Islam says, “As a child is taught alphabet, so God taught the religion to the world gradually and little by little. God sent His prophets and messengers at different times and to different people.”

However, Ahmadiyya Islam is still based in the Islamic concept of abrogation: “Islam not only corrects the errors which had found their way into various religions through the times, but preaches the truths that have not been preached before.” How can one build a universal theory of religion in Teacher thought if one still adheres to the Mercy-driven mindset of ‘I am right and you are wrong’?

One can summarize the challenge faced by Ahmadiyya Islam by quoting from Warner: He describes the content of the Koran in the following way: “When Zaid compiled all of the copies of the Koran, he arranged them from the longest chapter to the shortest chapter. Imagine that you took a novel and cut off the spine and rebound the book after you had arranged the longest chapter first and the shortest chapter was last. The plot would have been destroyed...Each chapter has a bewildering array of topics. One topic abruptly ends and an unrelated one begins...There is no context to many verses. Subjects just lurch up in front of you out of nowhere. For instance, there is a verse that says it was alright to destroy the palm trees. This is bewildering because this is the first mention of palm trees...The sum total is that the Koran is confusing, contradictory, makes no sense.” In the language of mental symmetry, one does not find order-within-complexity.

However, Warner claims that “the Koran can be made understandable by using: Chronology—putting the verses in the original historical order; Categorizing—the method of grouping verses around the same subject; Context—using Mohammed’s life to explain the circumstances and environment of the text.”

In other words, from a Teacher perspective, the content of the Koran does not make sense. But, from a Mercy perspective, it does. In particular, it makes sense if viewed from the context of the life of Mohammed. In Warren’s words, “The Koran unfolded as needed by Mohammed. The Koran frequently gives a solution to an ongoing problem in his life. When Mohammed’s life is integrated into it, the Koran becomes an epic story that ends with the triumph of Political Islam.”

But, if a concept of a monotheistic God emerges when a universal theory is constructed within Teacher thought, then how can a book which lacks Teacher order be used to construct a universal Teacher theory? How can a book which makes sense when viewed from the perspective of its human source move beyond blind faith in that human source? Ahmadiyya Islam may claim that “The Holy Qur’an encompasses a vast array of teachings and is a comprehensive code of conduct for humanity...Its teachings are timeless and matchless. It forms a complete manual, for all people of all ages and all races.” But, saying that a book contains a universal Teacher theory is quite different than actually using the content of that book to construct a universal Teacher theory.

Edited May, 2012

[1] We will be quoting from A. Guillaume’s translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, which is titled The Life of Mohammed. The paragraph number will be placed in square brackets after the quote.

[2] Approaches to the Asian Classics, Irene Blomm, William Theodore De Bary, Columbia University Press,1990, p. 65