20 Dec The Antichrist in Muhammad
The following article is the first in a series featured on the Roman Catholic site Catholic Online (www.catholic.com). I have found all of Mr. Greenwell’s articles to be trenchant, compassionate and yet filled with conviction.
We have seen in our prior series entitled “The Heart’s Witness Against Muhammad” how, in his moral fruits, Muhammad can be identified as a false prophet. We will see in this series entitled “The Antichrist in Muhammad” how, in his doctrinal fruits, Muhammad can also be identified as a false prophet twice over. This series is nothing less than an effort to be responsive to the Lord’s warnings regarding false prophets..
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) – In our earlier series on Muhammad entitled “The Heart’s Witness Against Muhammad,” we looked at Muhammad’s claim to be a prophet of God from the perspective of his claim to be the perfect exemplar of humanity, al-insan al-kamil, the best of all mankind, khair ul-bashar, and the perfect model of conduct, uswa hasana.
Muhammad’s acts as contained in the earliest Muslim biographies of Muhammad were then compared to the natural moral law, a universal law of morality that binds all men, including supposed prophets. It was quite readily seen that the claim–supposedly to have been revealed–that Muhammad was the best of all mankind is unsupportable by reason. Reason alone should tell you that Muhammad’s claims–and his supposed revelations in the Qur’an–are not reasonably trustworthy.
Indeed, I think we can reasonably take any Catholic saint at random, compare his or her life to Muhammad, and Muhammad would, in each and every instance, lose the test. Muhammad is morally inferior to any Catholic saint, and, what is more, morally inferior even to any reasonably pious and imperfect Catholic who has not yet escaped the tyranny of venial sins or lesser imperfections.
What is more striking is that each and every one of these Catholic saints or pious Catholics would immediately confess that their moral integrity pales next to the perfect integrity of the human nature of Jesus which was joined to God the Son. None–even St. Francis of Assisi–would claim to be the perfect exemplar of humanity, the best of all mankind, the perfect model of conduct.
Looked at in this manner, we see that Muhammad’s claim is not only unsupportable, but unbelievably pretentious: indeed, even risible. It is perhaps for this reason that Muhammad found so many of his contemporaries lampooning him, and so many Jews and Christians rejecting him.
In his Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:15-23), Jesus warned us of false prophets, and enjoined upon us the obligation to be vigilant.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.”
We have seen how, in his moral fruits, Muhammad can be identified as a false prophet. We will see in this series how, in his doctrinal fruits, Muhammad can also be identified as a false prophet twice over. This series is nothing less than an effort to be responsive to the Lord’s warnings.
Therefore, in this next series of articles entitled “The Antichrist in Muhammad,” we will look at Muhammad from the perspective of the Faith. In particular, we will compare the teachings of Muhammad and his Qur’an regarding Jesus to the Catholic Church’s claims regarding Jesus.
Jesus (in Arabic, ‘Isa) appears in the Qur’an and its supposed revelations, is referred to in generally positive terms, but the little that the Qur’an gives to Jesus with one hand pales compared to what it takes away from Jesus with the other hand.
It may be said that what a Catholic or any Christian holds to be the most significant about Jesus is denied of Jesus by Muhammad. The Jesus of the Qur’an is spiritually and doctrinally emasculated.
So much does the Qur’an detract from Jesus and the Catholic Church’s understanding of Jesus, that, by the end of this series, it will be apparent to any reasonable inquirer that Muhammad’s teachings contained in the Qur’an and the Sunna are deeply anti-Catholic, and, more broadly, deeply anti-Christian. Muhammad’s teachings and the teachings in the Qur’an offend the understanding of Christ not only of the Catholic Church, but also the Orthodox Church and almost all mainline Protestant churches and ecclesial communions.
In this initial article, we ought to explain our title to the series, which some might consider a little offensive. The best place to begin in understanding the choice of title is with the Catholic understanding of the “Antichrist.” Accordingly, we will begin this series with a short review of the Scriptural, Patristic, and traditional teachings on the Antichrist.
Christ comes from the Greek word, Christos, which is the equivalent to the Hebrew word Mashiach (usually transliterated as Messiah), meaning anointed one. In Arabic, the word for Messiah is Masih. Anti, in Greek, is a prefix meaning “against” or “opposed to.” So the term antichrist means “opposed to Christ.”
The term antichrist is Scriptural. We find the term used in St. John’s epistles. We should turn, therefore, to those epistles to understand its meaning.
The teaching of the Antichrist appears clearly to have been part of the oral teachings of the Apostles, and so are part and parcel of the Gospel. “[Y]ou heard,” St. John says referring to the Apostolic teaching, “that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared.” (1 John 2:18).
In the same epistle, St. John elaborates that “every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world.” (1 John 4:3)
It is apparent that the Apostle John distinguishes between the one Antichrist (which appears to be the subject of St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 3:7-10) and is referred to as the “man of sin”) and which St. John identifies with a definite article, and then many antichrists, so-called forerunners of the Antichrist, which St. John identifies indefinitively and in the plural. It is in this latter sense that we use the term antichrist in the title.
In his epistles, St. John gives us some simple tests to help us distinguish the Antichrist, and therefore also those who participate in the Antichrist’s spirit, the antichrists who are the Antichrist’s forerunners:
“Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ, whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the Antichrist.” (1 John 2:22)
“[T]hose who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the Antichrist.” (2 John 7)
These words obviously meant something. In his letter to Pope Damasus I (376 A.D.), St. Jerome neatly summarized the Scriptural teaching as found in St. John’s epistles: “He that is not of Christ is of Antichrist.”
This concept is given a little more breadth by St. Leo the Great, who, in his letter to Leo Augustus (No. 156), referred to anyone who denied the teachings of an infallible Church Council, in particular that of Chalcedon, was an antichrist. Presumably, that term would apply to any one who teaches in a manner inconsistent with any infallible council of the Catholic Church.
St. John of Damascus (645-749 A.D.), in his famous treatise on the faith, De fide orthodoxa, acknowledged that many antichrists were “bound to come” in addition to the final Antichrist, and that any one of many expected antichrists can be identified by the fact that he “confesses not that the Son of God came in the flesh and is perfect God and became perfect man, after being God.”
St. John of Damascus, in fact, identifies Muhammad as a “pseudo-prophet,” pseudoprophetes, and identifies him, or at least Islam (which he calls the heresy of the Ishmaelites), as “forerunner of the Antichrist,” prodromos tou Antichristou.
Even more forthrightly, we might point to Peter the Venerable (1092-1156 A.D.), who, in the prologue of his translation of the Qur’an into Latin, referred to Muhammad as the maximal precursor of the Antichrist and the elect disciple of the devil: maximus precursor Antichristi et electus discipulus diaboli Mahumet.
What this series will do, then, is to take some of the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church regarding Jesus which we know, by the certainty of Faith, are revealed by God. This will include Jesus’ identity as the Son of God (which necessarily implicates the Fatherhood of God, and the doctrine of the Trinity), the Incarnation (which also involves the role of Mary as the Mother of God), Christ’s message and his mission (which implicates the Gospels and the doctrine of Grace), Jesus’ crucifixion and his atoning death (which necessarily touches upon the notion of Original Sin, Atonement, and mankind’s Redemption), the gift of the Holy Spirit, the role of the Church, and Christ’s Second Coming.
We will then take these dogmas–truths revealed by God and which, from a Catholic perspective, cannot be in error–and compare the teachings of the Muhammad in the Sunna (traditions or reports) and the revelations of the Qur’an to them. To the extent Islamic teachings, founded on Muhammad’s teachings and the Qur’an, contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church, one can be assured that the spirit underlying them is not the Holy Spirit, not the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9), but the unholy spirit of the Antichrist.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at [email protected]