St. Thomas Aquinas on Mohammad and Islam

by Steve Ray on December 2, 2018

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Prince of Theologians had some things to say about Mohammed and Islam:

“He (Mohammed) seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh urges us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure. In all this, as is not unexpected; he was obeyed by carnal men.

As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity.

He did not bring forth any signs produced in a supernatural way, which alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration; for a visible action that can be only divine reveals an invisibly inspired teacher of truth. On the Contrary, Mohammed said that he was sent in the power of his arms – which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants.

(Picture to left: painting in Santa Maria in Sopra Minerva, “St. Thomas Aquinas Destroys Heresies”)

What is more, no wise men, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from the beginning (1). Those who believed in him were brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Mohammed forced others to become his follower’s by the violence of his arms.

Nor do divine pronouncements on part of preceding prophets offer him any witness. On the contrary, he perverts almost all the testimony of the Old and the New Testaments by making them into a fabrication of his own, as can be seen by anyone who examines his law.

It was, therefore, a shrewd decision on his part to forbid his followers to read the Old and New Testaments, lest these books convict him of falsity.

It is thus clear that those who place faith in his words believe foolishly.”

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 1, Chapter 16, Art. 4. Footnote: 1. Sura 21:5, Sura 44:14; Sura 16:103, Sura 37:36

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Govern January 28, 2016 at 4:17 PM

That’s my man!! Wish I were as smart as my Name Saint!

Donald Link December 27, 2018 at 11:22 AM

Unfortunately, despite Thomas’ warning and wisdom, Europe failed to unite against the menace, much as it fails today and the world pays the price.

R.C. December 27, 2018 at 12:12 PM

Well, yes.

Mohammed — presuming for the moment that the historical record of his life preserved (in heavily-edited and redacted form) by Muslims is accurate (a thing by no means certain) — was not Arabia's version of Moses or Jesus.

He was much more like Arabia's version of Shaka Zulu. He was a warlord whose visions of sexual debauchery in the afterlife and practice of taking captured women as sex-slaves constituted the perfect system of incentives for assembling and governing an army of thieves and pirates.

His chief advantage over Pol Pot was that the latter didn't have access to the religious traditions of Diaspora Judaism and Nestorian Christianity upon which to draw. By cribbing verses from others' holy books and liturgies, and then simplifying away anything that was confusing or unsuited to the mentality of a conquering army, Mohammed created a good first draft of the Perfect Religious Tradition For Preserving Order In A Conquering Empire. Once he died, Abu Bakr and then Uthman redacted any inconvenient parts, and the second draft was even better-suited to the goal. That's how "originalist Islam" was formed.

The problem with the modern, peaceful, good-neighbor practice of Islam is that it isn't originalist Islam, and idealistic teenagers are always apt to frown on the hypocrisy of their parents. To the degree that any teenaged son of Muslim parents in the West becomes aware of what the Quran, the Hadiths, and the Sira actually SAY, he quickly scorns his parents lack of faithful practice and begins to support jihad against the kafir.

Which makes sense, because that's exactly how Mohammed, Abu Bakr, and Uthman architected the thing.

The question is, how ought we to talk about these things with our peaceable Muslim neighbors?

On the one hand, if you tell them what originalist Islam is actually like, they may abandon the thing. On the other hand, they may instead opt to become more zealous in the practice of it, which is not good.

Tough call.

STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks For your astute comments. [My earlier response had said “stupid comments“ because I was dictating it and spellchecker changed the word “astute” to “stupid”. My apologies and I have quickly corrected it.

Maris Stella December 27, 2018 at 12:53 PM

Let the Truth be made known.

Mchicha Wacheza December 27, 2018 at 2:20 PM

All true. Islam is rotten to the core

koda December 27, 2018 at 6:14 PM

We do not have proof Mohammed, as we know him, ever existed. Islam also is a cheap counterfeit of the bible, the reason why, is that Islam came from the heretical beliefs of Gnosticism and Arianism. Islamic scholars in the past brought up the fact there is no proof of Mohammed’s existence and early development of the religion until the 3rd Caliph, years after the alleged humble beginnings.

R.C. December 28, 2018 at 10:37 AM

NEW EDITORIAL COMMENT FROM STEVE RAY: I figured out the problem to my own embarrassment. I was dictating my response while flying to Israel. I did not go back and double check my dictated response and instead of the phrase “asture comments“ spellchecker made it “stupid comments“. My apologies!

STEVE RAY HERE COMMENTING ON COMMENT BELOW…

I have no idea what RC is referring to since I completely agreed with him on his first post and on the second one as well. Somehow he thought I was criticizing him but it was quite to the contrary.

R.C.WRITES:

I'm genuinely surprised by Steve Ray's response to my earlier comment.

First, I entirely agreed with the original post.

Secondly, I added to it a series of items which I assume St. Thomas himself would have agreed with:

1. Mohammed preached for decades in Mecca and his new religion, cobbled together from bits of Nestorian Christianity and Diaspora Judaism, grew to only about 150 followers. Then he went to Medina, became political and violent, and altered his doctrines to encourage his followers to take the property of unbelievers, enslave or kill them, and capture their wives and daughters as sex slaves. After making that decision, his following grew by several thousands in only a decade. This is all based on the Hadiths and is uncontested by any school of Islamic scholarship.

2. Mohammed is therefore not primarily to be viewed as a religious teacher: At that, he failed. But he was a very successful Arabian warlord. He created an army and incentivized it to a ruthless effectiveness. To that degree, he is comparable to Shaka Zulu. Mohammed's religious doctrines would never have become widespread had it not been for his success at conquering, as his earlier failure-to-launch in the Meccan period demonstrates.

3. Islam's early growth after Mohammed followed the same pattern: It grew through conquest, not by convincing people of its truth. Meanwhile the standardization of the Quran, and the redacting of the Hadiths, were done under the supervision of the first few caliphs. The resulting norms of Islamic practice are really very-well architected for uniting and expanding an empire through conquest of its neighbors. And the proof is in the pudding: The Islamic caliphs conducted constant warfare against Christian North Africa until the land of St Augustine became the land of the Barbary Pirates. None of that is controversial.

4. Mohammed, a slave-taking, child-bride-deflowering, conquering marauder, is held to be the example of behavior for Muslims. That, too, is core Muslim teaching. Consequently jihad (by money, by propaganda, and sometimes by violence) is an irrevocable religious obligation in Islam. Likewise is the subjugation of the kafir, the unbeliever. Likewise compelling the kafir to pay the jizya. Likewise the permissibility of taqiya (religiously-motivated lies to advance Islam) and of taking sex slaves. Any form of Islam which removes those items is NOT originalist Islam.

5. But that means our Muslim neighbors, if they are peaceable, are NOT practicing originalist Islam, either because they are consciously ignoring that part of the Islamic teaching, or because they don't know about it. As a practical question, should one try to convince them that, to be good Muslims, they ought to be more jihadist than they are? Probably not! …but, then again, knowing what Islam actually is might help them see that it's false.

Now, everything I just said is a reiteration of my earlier post.

What's "stupid" in all of that, Mr. Ray?

As a fellow Catholic convert, and as a reader of your books, I'm willing to listen if I've made some major blunder. What's my big, inexcusable error?

R.C. December 28, 2018 at 11:12 AM

Heh. All is well!

Thanks for your kind words, Mr. Ray, about my earlier comment (even if they didn't look so kind at first!).

Funny how technology helps with so many problems in our lives, only to create a fresh crop of unexpected ones!

STEVE RAY HERE: Indeed, and thanks for your good comments and graciousness.

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