An Interfaith Initiative to Deal with Islamophobia

By Charles Upton

Public relations campaigns to address Islamophobia and quid-pro-quo negotiations with non-Muslim groups are definitely worth pursuing, but their effectiveness will probably be limited. What is needed, in my opinion, is unilateral action that cuts across the prevailing lines of interfaith conflict and is not dependent upon the success of interfaith dialogue.

Most Muslims do not seem to know that many many churches are continually being burned in this country; the Christian Defense Council estimates an average of 100-150 churches are hit with arson every year. What if Muslims were to pledge to express support for any Christian congregations whose churches are torched, without asking for anything in return? Now that Terry Jones has demonstrated that any unknown person can get attention from the President of the United States himself just by threatening to burn the Qur’an, things have decidedly taken a turn for the worse: this is a bad idea that won’t go away, and I believe it needs to be addressed with vigorous action. In order to gain insight into people like Rev. Jones and the threat they pose, we need to understand their grievances; and the fact is that many of the churches burned in the U.S. every year are rural churches with conservative beliefs. Support for Christians who have had their churches burned is the best way I can think of to improve relations between Muslims and Christians, particularly conservative Christians.

My authority for this proposal is the Prophet Sunnah. In 628 C.E. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) granted a Charter of Privileges to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery near Mt. Sinai; here is the text of it:

This is a message from Muhamad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.

Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).

A Commentary on this Initiative in Light of the Transcendent Unity of Religions

I consider the initiative proposed above to be an example of the “United Front Ecumenism” I called for in The System of Antichrist, which I specifically envisioned as the proper exoteric expression of the Transcendent Unity of Religions. Liberal ecumenism can only be a parody of the TUR, since it emphasizes Unity at the expense of Transcendence; the interminable horizontal “dialogue” between religious institutions replaces the vertical dialogue between the soul and God. And since Unity is conceived of not in Transcendent but in worldly terms, there is a tendency to seek a lowest common denominator of “those things we agree upon” and then elevate this area of “agreement” to the rank of a spurious meta-principle.

United Front Ecumenism, on the other hand, does not seek doctrinal common ground between the religions (or deny it either, when it exists), but rather concentrates upon, and moves to counter, the actions and influences of those forces of secularism, overtly globalist in many cases, which stand as the common enemy of every revealed religion, the enemy of Transcendence itself. Those who channel such forces know quite well that the best way to prevent the religions from uniting against them, while simultaneously hiding their actions and agendas, is by setting up contexts in which the religions can unite under their patronage. The more the attention of believers can be directed by these secularist outsiders toward a barren and purposeless interaction—one that is just as likely to produce interfaith conflict as interfaith amity (and the forces of secularism know quite well how use both reactions)—the less likely believers will be to pay attention to them, to the non-believing interlopers who seem to be so interested in their common welfare. If their attention were to shift in that direction, they might begin to understand how they are being manipulated and co-opted by people who see religion as nothing more than a system of social indoctrination and control, a system they wish to dominate and employ for their own ends.

Liberal/secular ecumenism destroys Transcendence in order to create a spurious interfaith unity, and then attempts to employ this false unity so as to erect, as its unifying principle, a false Transcendence: the “transcendence” of the social engineers. That way lies Antichrist. United Front Ecumenism, on the other hand, doesn’t attempt to artificially create interfaith Unity—which, if all true religions are revealed by God, already necessarily exists in the Unseen, the Transcendent, perfectly formed and in need of no help from us—but rather posits this Unity, and then proceeds to serve it, by taking action against a common enemy. Such action requires no doctrinal agreements, negotiations or adjustments whatsoever, but posits the Transcendent Unity of Religions by the apophatic method as it were: the exoteric, visible existence of a common enemy is the outer sign of a silent, hidden, esoteric Unity that need not be explicitly defined and articulated—simply intuited, accepted as already established in the mystery of God’s Will, and then acted upon. In terms of its outer expression, it is in the act, not in the definition and the articulation, that the true Transcendent Unity of Religions is employed, and served.

4 Responses to “An Interfaith Initiative to Deal with Islamophobia”

  1. I began reading René Guénon a couple of months ago, having ordered his books before the urgency of the times (and my time) led me to check out the SP website and discover what I’ve needed for a long time but had to wait for in God’s good time. I live in a rural part of the largely rural state of Iowa, but was raised in the East in your generation, Mr. Upton, and so am finding The System of Antichrist to be “right up my alley” (not to mention your other “just what I needed” books!). Over the years I’ve wandered from fellowship to fellowship as in a game of musical churches (always seriously searching, of course), while churches have continued to burn–or burn out, since those which are torched often seem to be those with the smallest membership, whose graveyards long ago outgrew them. I am currently not a member of any fellowship (unless it be the interdenominational folks I sing with) because I have vacillated between a search for the primordial and the fall-back mire of hedonism and neo-paganism–a losing proposition. It would seem therefore that, now as much or more than ever, I should take a stand, however mitigated, with a church that will take me. Remembering Robert Creeley’s lines from “The Way”:

    Oh well, I will say here,
    knowing each man,
    let you find a good wife too,
    and love her as hard as you can.

  2. Thanks for letting me know that my obsessions have not been entirely fruitless. There are a good number of our generation who made it out of the counterculture and put its influences largely behind them; a smaller number were able to do so without simply identifying with all that culture hated; an even smaller number came out with a critical analysis of what they had been through, what had been done to them and what they had done to themselves, and an intelligent willingness to see some good in all that carnage and chaos. I hope I can be numbered in this last group.

    How to be an intelligent Christian in this world? A committed Christian and at the same time a “perennialist”, by which I mean someone who knows that God has sent more than one revelation, but is not hoping for the advent of some humanly-contrived metareligion in which all revelations can be subsumed. My wife Jenny knows more about how to do this than I do because she herself has done it. I’ll point her to your post.

    ~~ Charles

  3. Charles, thanks and sorry for my delay in getting back to this. In the mean time the charge to be an intelligent Christian has led me from Hammering Hot Iron to immersion in the exemplary writings of Rama Coomarswamy, whose magnum opus The Destruction of the Christian Tradition inspired your one Amazon imprimatur. I shall begin on the Tridentine Catechism soon, but I am geographically far enough from a Traditional Catholic church that attendance would be perhaps an annual or semi-annual pilgrimage. I am somewhat closer to several Eastern Orthodox churches but am still baffled as to which of the various branches of Orthodoxy has best preserved the tradition. Maybe Jenny has written about that; I’ll keep reading and praying.

  4. Charles, this also relates to your post wherein you mention miguel de Portugal. Having reached a certain point in my reading of Coomaraswamy which led me to read the Abbé de Nantes, I came back to your reference to migeul de Portugal. That is what I needed. m de P, though of course not infallible, provides the balance I discerned was missing in the traditionalist wing as represented by Coomaraswamy and De Nantes. Thank you for the reference!

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