Is Mormonism a Knock-off of Islam?

August 20, 2012

A knock-off = “Imitation or Counterfeit”.

Was Mormonism a knock-off of Islam? the answer might be yes, but contrary to the usual implication of “knock-off,”  the American prophet, Joseph Smith, will have produced a superior product *

* If not a prophet, Mohammed would have proven to be a superb poet and a marvelous dreamer. And he would still have exceeded by far the artistic capacity of Smith. See an earlier reflection on Milton and Mohammed.

Gabriel and Moroni

Thanks to a better (more modern) science and to an unusually great audacity Smith perhaps accomplishes an imitation of Mohammed except that Smith does it better. After age 40 Mohammed starts his dictations and that goes on for about 20 years. Smith, while still in his early twenties, comes up with the Book of Mormon which is equal in volume and complexity to that of the Quran. Mohammed and Smith both report having celestial visitors that no one else sees, but while  the illiterate Mohammed has to memorize what his Gabriel-in-the-cave dictates (who in turn has read the complete Quran in the presence of God) Smith (after personally meeting his Jehovah-in-the-woods and being led by the angel Moroni) has the physical book itself on golden plates (so written that it could be translated via special glasses provided him into every known language) and is able to read it without trusting in voices (as Mohammed has to do) and has witnesses* to the physical existence of this book (before it was taken back up into heaven) while no one else ever saw or heard Mohammed’s Gabriel except Mohammed.

* These “very credible” witnesses swore on their souls that the Golden Book was real.

A Paradise versus A World

Smith explains the universe with its multitude of planets as destined to be the abodes of gods. And men, who abide by the golden plates, will themselves become such gods. This is of much greater appeal than merely having a paradise with some 70 girls per man per Mohammed’s Gabriel. Each Mormon god has countless wives and  innumerable children and his own planet to populate and manage. And in this way Smith accounts for the trillions of planets in the universe.

Forcing God’s Hand

A speculation: I think Mohammed and Smith both found it unfathomable that there was such a diversity of opinion about God. How could this be? How could it be that an omnipotent God couldn’t make clear to humans what he wanted? Perhaps then each decided to take on the task himself and to dictate on behalf of God what was required and then to leave it up to God to confirm the message through success of the respective prophet or else to deny it through defeat. In other words, throwing down the gauntlet before God, i.e., “confirm what I have proclaimed or deny me success” (and both were very successful in obtaining followers).*

* This is essentially the Muslim acting “in faith”, where a Muslim will suspect a command of Allah to slay some innocent child**, for example, and will consult with another sincere and knowledgeable Muslim and, if agreed to by both that there is sufficient reason to think this might have come from Allah, will undertake to commit the act with the understanding that if this is not the will of Allah, then Allah will stop the act before completed.

** See Sura 18:60-84.

Two Practical World Orders

Both Smith and Mohammed conceived of a practical world order where all people thought as the prophet did and would enjoy a healthy and peaceful life. All people would be told what God required and the incentive would be either paradise in the case of Mohammed, or godhood and possession of a personal planet per Smith.*

* While both Mohammed and Smith had many wives (and Smith many more than Mohammed) and while the Muslim males can still practice polygamy, the Mormons received a revelation through their prophet in Salt Lake City in the 19th century discontinuing the practice,** apparently in order for Utah to be admitted to the American union as a state.

** A great advantage of the Mormons is that they can receive new revelations at all time, e.g., admitting black males to the priesthood (who were earlier prohibited). The Muslims have to make do with the existing sources and can make changes only via new interpretations. The Mormons can be far more flexible and take better advantage of situations.

Security Of Transmissions

Both introduced their dictations in a way that explained and built upon the existing religious state of affairs. All the religious records at their respective times were seen as containing some corruption of the divine communications given before them. The causes of these corruptions were explained as the work of men, and that God, through the respective prophet, was now going to make it crystal clear and beyond question.* This leads to Mohammed’s memorization of the dictations of his Gabriel-in-the-Cave and Smith’s translation of the Golden Book itself before it was returned to heaven. And hence the obvious inconsistencies and errors associated with the Old and New Testaments will have been eliminated in each revelation, or so we are to understand.

* Smith was able to have his revelation accord much better with the Jewish and Christian reports than Mohammed who finally came to accuse the Jews of deceit and the Christians of confusion in writing their scriptures.

Conclusion

The notion of divine communications raises the more general question of how people are able to distinguish an authentic communication from the fake. In both cases (Mohammed and Smith) these supernatural beings (Gabriel and Moroni) are reported to have just popped into view and since the two revelations are contradictory (one speaking of a single god and the other of many gods), it is clear that at least one must be false. And if one is a fake and we can’t tell which one, it means that both could be fake. And so how does any human tell whether he is confronted by an angel or a demon or his own hallucination?! See Discerning the Divine and Take On Islam.

Recommendation

See also a suggestion for the Europeans (and indeed all non-Muslim nations) to consider in dealing with Muslims.

Author contact

pmr#$kantwesley.com, where #$ = @

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