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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #44 of 52: The Indian Religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen) | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #46 of 52: Gnostic Religion »

April 04, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #45 of 52: The Semitic Religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam)

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- The Semitic religions are the religions founded by the Semitic race. These three religions are all similar: worship of one God. In Indian categories they are Bhakti religions, that is, they posit a father figure in human form and worship him, sing praises to him and hope that if he is pleased that he would receive the worshippers into his heaven.

The three Semitic religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Most Africans are probably aware of these religions, so I will only spend a few lines on them.

Tradition, or is it mythology, has it that Abraham, the founder of these three religions, was born in today’s Iraq. He left his hometown and settled in what is now Israel. He claimed that God promised him that land. He and his offspring displaced the other Arabs living on that real estate (then called Canaan) and took it over.

Abraham is claimed to be the father of both Jews and Arabs. He apparently had one legitimate wife and a concubine and had one son from each woman. He had one son, Isaac, from his legitimate wife. He had another son from his illegitimate wife; that son was called Ishmael. The Jews trace their lineage to Isaac and the Arabs trace their lineage to Ishmael.

For our present purpose, these Semitic folks had a conception of God as their father figure, a man who loves those who worship him and punishes those who do not. They had a monotheistic religion.

Judaism comprises of the approach to God delineated in thee Old Testament portion of the Bible. The Jews holy book is the Old Testament portion of the Bible. (Torah)

Christians combine the Old Testament and the New Testament. The New Testament delineates the activities of a Jewish rabbi called Emmanuel Ben Joseph, whom the Greeks called Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Jesus taught his followers that he and his father are one. He taught that he, the Son of God, has a right to forgive sins.

Apparently, the traditionalist Jews believed that he committed blasphemy by seeing himself as one with God, and presenting himself as able to forgive sins. Apparently, they schemed to have him killed.

(There is no empirical evidence that any of these actually took place. There was no Pontus Pilate in Jerusalem when Jesus was allegedly crucified and there is no historical record of him being tried and crucified. Let us then call all these quaint mythologies.)

Paul took the gospel of Jesus to the then known world, the Roman Empire and after three hundred years that religion wore down the empire and replaced it.

The triumph of Christianity meant the demise of Greek rationalism. Faith replaced incipient Greek science. Europe went into the reign of primitively, Dark ages, until the Arabs reintroduced Greek rationality into Europe.

If Christianity is taken literally, it is a silly religion; in fact, it is more primitive than African religions. Imagine, God permitted his beloved son to be killed for the sins of the world. What arrant nonsense. I do not want any one to be killed for my sins.

If Christianity is seen as a metaphor, now we are talking. The metaphor is of man, symbolized as Jesus, dying to his separated self, the ego, to regain awareness of his true self, unified self, the Christ, the Atman, the part of God who is one with God, and then it makes some sense.

The story of Jesus is the tale of death of ego (selfishness) and resurrection to Christ consciousness (shared living), the giving up of separation to attain union.

Along the line, Jesus said some interesting things. Saul/Paul transformed what was essentially a sect of Judaism, a Jewish religion, into a universal religion. Paul said some useful things and some idiotic ones…such as asking slaves to obey their masters.

Before Jesus died, he promised to send to his followers a counselor to be with them. Traditional Christians believe that the counselor came in the form of the Holy Spirit, who descended on the apostles on the day of the Pentecost. Others believe that he was Mohammed the seal of the prophets.

Mohammed (570-622AD) was an Arab, like Jesus, and had experiences that led him to found a new religion.

Briefly, young Mohammed worked for a rich widow called Khadija. Apparently, he later married her but she was past childbearing age. In the meantime, now that he was married to a rich woman and now that money is no longer a worry had time to devote to spiritual matters and would go to the caves to pray to God. There, he had visions and had the Angel Gabriel tell him to take down some notes. Since he was illiterate he had his friend Abu-Bakr takes them down.

The notes became his teaching. Meccans did not like what he was teaching about one God, Allah and the need to submit to him (Islam). They chased him out of their town. He ran to medina. (Hajira) There, he found a more receptive audience and eventually formed an army and used his army to conquer Mecca and forced the people with the sword to embrace his religion. (Jihad)

Mohammed’s followers followed his example and used the sword to take his religion to all over Arabia. Then they swept into North Africa and took it from the Christians. They swept into Spain and southern Europe, Sicily, Constantinople (now Turkey) and so on. They went east and got as far as India. Indeed, they went to Afghanistan and even into China and Indonesia. In Africa, they were stopped by the great Sahara desert otherwise they probably would have imposed their religion on all Africans. However, through trade contacts many parts of Sahel West Africa became Moslem.

I do not see much difference between Islam and Judaism and Christianity. All three believe in the same father figure God and worship him. All three want to please this man and hope that if they succeed that he would receive them into his heaven and that if they fell that they would be cast into hell.

Mohammed enjoined his followers to submit their will to God and to face Mecca while praying. They are to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, if they can afford it. They are to pray five times day. They are to fast during certain periods of the year (Ramadan).

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the same religion and we need not beat a subject that does not need beating. If you find Christianity suitable to your temperament, the chances are that you would find Islam suitable to your temperament.

These religions appeal to worshipful persons.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at April 4, 2006 01:43 AM

Comments

informative but replete with mistakes, e.g. Arabs being Abraham's cannanite hosts as well as his descendants? (2)Abraham had more than two women that gave birth to more than five sons. (3)in the context you put it, God does not punish any one for not "worsipping" him, otherwise he wouldn't have been dealing with his very worshippers, chief of whom are the jews. Etc, finally, as light is different from darkness, so is christianity different from islam.

Posted by: CID Oguagha at June 8, 2006 01:33 AM

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