Islam and the Destiny of Man

by Gai Eaton, 1985

 I found this book by accident roaming through the library, but I’m very glad that I did.  This book is an ideal introduction to the religion and civilization of Islam.  The author, Gai Eaton, is a western convert to Islam with an obvious love for his new faith, but with a marked respect for the other Abrahamic religions as well.  In fact, one of the attractive features of this book is that Eaton realizes that Christians aren’t his primary enemies.  One of the few rebukes in this generous book is directed at liberal Muslims who, he says, are stripping away what they imagine to be impurities in Muslim society and replacing them with western Marxism.  He thinks that, if the Israel-Palestine conflict had not distorted the perspective of so many of his co-religionists, it would be obvious that Islam should stand with the United States against the godless Soviets, and with the Christians against revolutionaries of all sorts.   His respect for Christianity allows him to make some interesting observations. For example

As [others] have pointed out, the only legitimate comparison would be between the Prophet and Mary on the one hand and on the other between the Quran and Jesus.  For Christians the Word was made flesh, whereas for Muslims it took earthly shape in the form of a book, and the recitation of the Quran in the ritual prayer fulfils the same function as the Eucharist in Christianity; at the same time, Mary gave birth to Jesus without passing on to him any taint of earthly sin, and Muhammad acted as a channel for the Word without lending it any taint of merely human wisdom.

Speaking of the Quran, we have all heard that Muslims regard only the Quran in Arabic as the inspired word of God, and that one can’t really understand it in translation.  Eaton explains why this is.  Every Arabic word has a verbal root of consisting of three consonants.  One forms a word by taking a root and then adding vowels, prefixes, and suffixes.  All of the words built up from a particular root are understood to be related to each other as variations on a theme.  Therefore, each Arabic line of the Quran contains allusions, built into the word structure itself, which a translation couldn’t hope to capture.

Islamic civilization desires that every aspect of life should be placed under God’s sovereignty.  According to Eaton, Muslims reject the idea of a secular realm:

…the nearest equivalent we can find in the West to a society of this type is the monastic community…One of the things that Christians and occidentals in general seldom understand is this mighty effort, this jihad, waged to prevent any element of earthly life from escaping and taking on a separate existence of its own, or flying off…into the empty space which we call the secular or profane realm.  Even men and women quite lacking in natural piety are, through integration into this theocentric community, carried along the road which leads to salvation, their daily lives penetrated by a transcendent perspective which, as individuals, they may be incapable of perceiving, let alone of understanding.

Eaton claims that the desire to affirm God’s sovereignty also explains why the occasionalism of Al-Ash’ari has been so popular among Muslim philosophers.  To admit secondary causes and “laws of nature” would invite the danger of giving things a separate intelligibility apart from God.  Eaton is even pleased that Islam has not “succumbed” to science like the West.

These are just a few of the fascinating observations in this book.  Go out and buy it now so that you too can learn to admire the magnificent religion and civilization of Islam.

7 Responses

  1. […] this book explains, for a Muslim to deny that the Koran comes directly from God is equivalent to a Christian […]

  2. […] (A good “Islam-for-conservatives” book is Islam and the Destiny of Man, which I review here.)  Mr. Roebuck made an intriguing rebuttal:  yes, he acknowledges, Islam is less spiritually sick […]

  3. Salam… check this blog for beautiful Islamic pictures, artworks, quotes and lot more!

    http://majesticart.wordpress.com/

  4. can someone give complete version of book Islam and destiny of man

  5. Islamic civilization desires that every aspect of life should be placed under God’s sovereignty? The difference between Muhammadims / Roman Catholics and Christianity is that Christians KNOW every aspect of life IS already under God’s sovereignty. And any God who is God does not need YOU to do it for him.

    Here’s the difference… Muhammadims and other “catholics” (“catholic” is a term which means “universal” – look it up in any dictionary) want to force Utopia right here on Earth through fascism and a vicious and inflexible Church-State government ruled by men. This mandatory Utopia’s creation of course is going to be resisted. And therefore requires and “justifies” the initiation of Sin and violence and complete violation of all God’s Commandments against others for “the.. ahem.. “greater” supposed “good” to be achieved.

    Christians do not desire a world made by our own hands. And choose rather the things of God (OBEDIENCE to God’s Commandments. NOT forcing others, persuading them willingly, gaining their VOLUNTARY cooperation.) over the things of this world. (Things such as ALL the ruthless and oppressive actions of those who would build a “one-size-fits-all” Utopia – taking the SELF-Righteous form and unreasoning intolerant “ends justify the means” stink, and pure and unrelenting confidence that the rest of us perceive as the most truculent, tireless, intractable EVIL).

    John 18:36 – “Jesus answered, MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”

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