Yesterday, I read the following comments on Muslims by an LDS Apostle:
I am aware it is not without a great deal of prejudice that we as Europeans, and Americans, and Christians in religion and in our education, so called, have looked down upon the history of Muhammad, or even the name; and even now we may think that Islam, compared with Christianity as it exists in the world, is a kind of heathenism, or something dreadful…
… For my part, I hardly know which to call the idolatrous side of the question, unless we consider Islam Christianity, in one sense, and that which has been called Christianity, heathenism.
Islam included the doctrine that there was one God-that He was great, even the Creator of all things, and that the people by right should worship Him. History abundantly shows the followers of Muhammad did not take the sword, either to enforce their religion or to defend themselves, until compelled to do so by the persecutions of their enemies, and then it was the only alternative that presented itself, to take up the sword and put down idolatry, and establish the worship of the one God; or, on the other hand, be crushed and cease to be, on account of the idolatrous nations around them; they seemed to act on the defensive, although it might legally be considered aggression.
The Greek and Roman Churches, which have been called Christian, and which take the name of Christian as a cloak, have worshiped innumerable idols. On this account, on the simple subject of the Deity and His worship, if nothing more, I should rather incline, of the two, after all my early traditions, education, and prejudices, to the side of Muhammad, for on this point he is on the side of truth, and the Christian world on the side of idolatry and heathenism.…
…Inasmuch as He and His Father are organized with body and parts, with limbs, joints, flesh, and bones, that are immortal and eternal, they have no part or lot, or communication whatever, with that imaginary being which is recognized in the principal creeds of Christendom as their God, a god without body, parts, or passions. Therefore, in that sense, in the very foundation of their creeds, they are idolators; and instead of saying that Islam prevailed against Christianity, and that Christianity was in danger of being done away by its prevalence, we would rather say, that where Islam prevailed it taught and established one truth at least, viz., the true and living God, and so far as this went, it did preserve people from worshiping idols. And had the crescent waved on the tower of London, or on the church of St. Paul, instead of the cross, and had the Muhammedean religion been enforced instead of the Roman religion that was enforced for a series of generations, and had tradition riveted what the sword enforced, then that nation and the surrounding nations would have been worshipers of one true God instead of idols; they would have recognized it in theory at least, whether they would have recognized it in theory at least, whether they would have worshiped Him in spirit and in truth or not. But now they do not recognize Him in theory, for they acknowledge as their god an imaginary being without body, parts or passions.
… The Muhammedean operations, in the hands of the descendants of Abraham and Ishmael, seem to have warded off that deception and mystery of iniquity in some measure, so that it has not entirely overrun their country, morals and institutions. Though Muhammedean institutions are corrupt enough, and need reforming by the Gospel, I am inclined to think, upon the whole, leaving out the corruptions of men in high places among them, that they have better morals and better institutions than many Christian nations; and in many localities there have been high standards of morals. There are, no doubt, sections of country, and different localities in Asia, where the people have not walked strictly according to the regulations and laws given by Muhammed, and observed by his true followers.
…We would do well to look into the bearings of the history of nations, and the dealings of God with them, as impartially as we can, at all times, and cull out all the good there has been, is or may be, and acknowledge the hand of God in all things, in His dealings with the nations as well as in other things. I acknowledge His hand even in this Gentile reign, whose corruption I have been hinting at. It has had its day, which has been a long and dark one; the nations have groaned under its sway; all nations have felt its withering power; all nations have been deceived by its darkening and mysterious influences, they have groaned in ignorance and corruption under the hand of oppression, and tyranny, and wrong, until the head and heart are sick, and they are ready to wake up and seek something better.
I haven’t included the full text of the address this comes from, which is principally a criticism of the idolatry of traditional Christianity, but if someone can guess which apostle, I’ll be glad to point the source (and I will provide the citation regardless before closing the comments).
Given the amount that is said both in the news and in public forums like T&S, I thought the comments above were an interesting counterpoint to today’s debate.
[I should also mention that I have made some small changes in the text to normalize terms and spellings.]