Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Islamic Supersessionism

Islamic Supremacy Alive and Well -Diana Muir Appelbaum

Supersessionism refers to the belief that Christians have superseded Jews in a new covenant with God. [Note: not all Christian subscribe to this belief...some Christians maintain that both covenants are active]

Islam, too, sees itself as superseding all previous divine revelation but, unlike Christianity, which canonized the Old Testament embedding long centuries of pre-Christian history into the Christian narrative, Islam freely erases history itself.

Islamic supersession can be understood in two senses, as replacement and as erasure. Going forward, Islam will supplant all other faiths. But Islam also controls the time before the birth of Muhammad; it claims to have preexisted all other faiths with the Qur'an preexisting all other scripture. Because Islam has always existed, all children are born Muslim although their parents may rear them in another faith. The proof text is in the reported words of Muhammad: "Every child is born according to God's plan; then his parents make him a Jew, a Christian, or a Magian [Zoroastrian]."

The claim that Islam has always existed effectively erases all that went before Muhammad. The notion that Islam is the final, true faith, divinely ordained to rule everywhere, has driven Islamic imperialism for 1,400 years.

Supersessionist erasure can also be enacted on the landscape. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem was superseded by the erection of the Dome of the Rock, bolstered by the myth of Muhammad's "Night Journey" to Jerusalem, erasing the pre-Islamic history of the temple and, with it, all Christian and Jewish claims. In later cases, however, sites are incorporated into Islam as symbols of Islamic imperial triumph. So it was when the great cathedral of St. Sophia in Constantinople, originally built in 360, was converted into a mosque by Sultan Mehmet II in 1453.

The fact that Christians and Jews continued to live under Muslim rule reinforced Islamic triumphalist beliefs because as "protected people" (dhimmis), they publicly acknowledged their legal and institutional inferiority to Muslims. But with the rise of European nationalism during the nineteenth century, Islam encountered Christians and eventually Jews who claimed political and religious equality with Muslims and even rights to sovereignty in lands that had hitherto been part of the domain of Islam. Christian or Jewish sovereignty and equality challenge Islamic supersessionism.
[Middle East Quarterly]

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