In the week of Eid Ul Adha Muslims honor Abraham, the man who was told by God to sacrifice his own son as a test of his willingness to submit. A man who is considered a leader of three major religions and his story shaped all of them significantly.
But history is full of men who thought God wanted them to murder their own sons. Never ended well. Not something we should be celebrating. How is it a good thing to obey a God who demands you sacrifice your own blood and flesh? What kind of God would reward such a “thought experiment”? If anything, Abraham should have been punished for obeying such a stupid command blindly.
In light of Eid, I was thinking about Abraham and these are my realizations:
Abraham is the archetype of everything wrong with religion. The willingness to take innocent life in the service of a deity. This can’t be considered praiseworthy. It’s exactly what religious madmen do today while thinking they’re doing something good.
Does it matter that he didn’t actually kill his son? NO. Because he was about to do it. It’s like if you aim a gun at a police officer, and shoot, but you miss, can we say “congratulations, you didn’t kill him. Well done!” It’s absurd, isn’t it? To think this is the pinnacle of morality, that this was the right thing to do. No, it was not and is not.
One of my Jewish friends took offense to this, saying that child sacrifice was actually quite common back then and actually this was a way for God to end child sacrifice. This would be like a teacher asking their student to do something unethical, and then actually letting them do it but then the teacher jumps in and says WAIT, DONT DO IT. I was just testing you! Congratulations on being a blind fool, for obeying me even though I told you to do something horrible! You passed the test.
Would we consider this a good teacher? It sounds more like a gang initiation ritual, doesn’t it? In order to join the gang, you have to do something really bad. Abraham was allowed into the gang for doing what no sane person would ever do. To kill not just any innocent child, but kill his own son.
The funny thing is if this was a test by a good god, he should have wanted Abraham to actually refuse to do it. What kind of lesson is he teaching humanity? That the ends justify the means, right?
If I was a parent, and one of those hidden camera tv shows came where there was an opportunity to take advantage of an innocent person and steal their money that they “forgot”, I would get angry at my kid if he was caught stealing, hurting someone, or doing something wrong, even if it seemed like there were no consequences. I would expect better.
Where have we heard this before? That the ends justify the means? From religious extremists of course. People who will gladly take the law into their own hands. Like the people who killed the former president of Egypt Anwar Sadat, because he made a peace treaty with Israel. Or other deplorable like ISIS.
Where do you think they get their thinking from? From this very example of Abraham, who submitted to God by doing exactly what he was commanded. This is the type of thinking that creates monsters because it elevates an ideology above human decency.
We humans always could have made a choice to rebel against a dictating evil god. Even if we had no ability to fight back, we could die trying. That would be the moral choice.
I was taught as a Muslim that Abraham was doing “Islam” (aslama) when he sacrificed his son. I never considered that we could have any choice in the matter, but I now realize that of course, we do. We always have a choice. In fact, a true and kind god would never expect obedience to such terrible commands.
And that is the crux of Islam. Submission. What better example can you ask for when you want to command your followers to willingly sacrifice their wealth their lives and families’ lives for you? Muhammad was sure to latch onto this story and make it a core of his teachings. Any good cult leader who wants absolute obedience would love this story.
Like it says in Quran 24:51
“The only statement of the believers when they are called to Allah and His Messenger to judge between them is that they say, “We hear and we obey.” And those are successful.”
You don’t have a choice in Islam. You just do what Momo says.
Why is it that Islam (and religion in general) values obedience over critical thinking? Why is it that the best Muslims are the ones like “Abu Bakr” who we are told blindly believed Muhammad without any evidence? That’s why he was given the title “As-Siddiq”.
What kind of god wants that? Well, a man-made god of course! Muhammad has always been worshipped more than Allah, at least in terms of obedience and praise. Insult Allah and nothing happens. Insult Muhammad and there will be war. But Muslims don’t want to admit that Muhammad is an object of their worship and idolatry. Muslims don’t want to admit that Muhammad used them to empower and enrich himself. That he used the story of Abraham to brainwash and mold his followers into complete submission.
In conclusion, Abraham, the common patriarch, the one who the three religions are named “Abrahamic religions” is no example. Whether he existed or not is another story, but it really doesn’t matter. We can judge the content of what is said about him without it matter if he existed or not.