Similarities between Islam and Mormonism: the 3rd and 4th “Abrahamic” religions
This study is somewhat off-topic from what I usually write about, but hopefully it will interest and benefit some people out there.
Some of the things they have in common are not (Biblically speaking) heresies, although the heresies/deviations/differences they have in common are the main focus.
[ To see a version of this list read on the air on Heart of the Matter, click here ]
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Forbidding alcohol: In effect making Christ a sinner and bad example (cf. Luke 5:33-34.)
Multiple heavens, (being in and of itself scripturally defensible, but) the Messiah is specifically not in the highest heaven: According to the Muslim Hadiths he is in the 2nd of 7 heavens, and according to Mormon scriptures he is in the 2nd of 3 heavens. In the Bible, he’s at the right hand of his Father in the very highest heaven, (which is probably the 3rd.)
Forbidding marriage in some instances where it may be Biblically lawful, and permitting/commanding it in instances where it may not be Biblically lawful.
Polygamy. Joseph Smith actually had around 30 more wives than Muhammed.
Afterlife: View of the afterlife which includes sex in paradise / celestial kingdom, including polygamous sex; furthermore some Muslims believe the houris in paradise can’t get pregnant, though some (especially the further back in time you go) did believe this, making their view equal to the mormon view of eternal procreation.
Origin: Founded (or reinstituted, in the view of their believers) by one prophet,
who was both a religious and political leader,
who was (supposedly) foretold in the Bible,
who failed to appoint a successor,
and who failed to raise up a son to fill his shoes.
The claim of a final / new dispensation of prophecy, (in which) the founding prophet was the paramount prophet.
The claim that the Bible has been significantly altered / corrupted, resulting in the loss of many plain and precious things, often blaming the Jews for this.
In reality, whatever tampering there may have been with the scriptures appear to be primarily in the form of additions and interpolations, rather than removals of text from a given book.
The claim to know what the original, incorrupt Bible said, in the instances it supposedly diverges with the modern Bible, although the manuscripts containing these supposed divergences have not been produced.
Referencing of “lost books,” prophets and miracles not mentioned in the Bible.
Referencing of “lost books” written specifically by Abraham and Moses. (Sura 87:18-19)
Referencing of lost sayings/writings specifically of the Messiah.
The claim that God owes it to everybody to speak in their own language.
The claim that people will lose power in their respective land or nation if they act unrighteously, making worldly power a measure of righteousness. In reality, those who have power in this world tend to be the most unrighteous of all.
Literary and rhetorical characteristics: Eloquence / style over substance. Extreme verbosity, poeticism, repetativeness.
Abrogation: Adding, removing or otherwise altering one’s own scriptures over time, especially to fit changing political purposes.
Revisionist history in regards to both secular and religious matters. Notably, Islam teaches that all the Biblical prophets were Muslims; and Mormonism that the Biblical prophets were Mormons.
Justification / salvation by works, whether predestined or not. In my view, to draw upon the models I used for my writing on Paul, I would classify Mormonism as teaching “freewill earning of salvation” and Islam as “predestinated earning of salvation.”
Invalidation of the atonement upon the cross as the only efficacious sacrifice for sins, thus lessening the role of Christ.
In Mormonism, Christ’s sacrifice is expanded to include his anguish in the garden of Gethsemane, whereas in Islam, Christ is said to have been saved from the crucifixion and taken into heaven without dying or being resurrected first.
Supernaturalization of the natural world, removing the veil between heaven and earth as it were, leading to superstition, and the sanctification of what is actually fallen nature and fallen humanity, calling holy that which is unholy.
Reversion / Pre-existence: Muslims believe all human are by nature Muslims, so the conversion of a non-Muslim to Islam is called a “reversion”, as in reverting to the first natural state; Mormons believe in a pre-existence where every human was a Mormon, and then, in being born on the earth, passed through a veil of forgetfulness; in both instances, the religion is being presented as a former state to which one must return, rather than as a “new thing.”
The claim that there are “temples” besides the temple of Jerusalem (and the temple in heaven), including the sacred Qibla in Saudi Arabia, and the Mormon temples in north America.
Both the Quran and the book of Mormon include stories set in the same location; the first 18 chapters or so of the book of Mormon actually take place in the Arabian peninsula.
Both Muhammed and Joseph Smith claimed contact with one primary and named heavenly messenger, namely Gabriel and Moroni.
Mormonism teaches the Messiah visited America; Ahmadiyya Islam teaches the Messiah visited India.
Identity of Biblical characters:
The Quran conflates Miriam sister of Moses with Virgin Mary.
The Book of Mormon and other Mormon standard works see Esaias, the Greek form of Isaiah, as referring to a different prophet, and so on with the other Greek versions of Hebrew names found in the New Testament.
The claim to have met the Biblical characters, including Abraham, Moses, Christ, etc, either in vision, or due to chronological issues (as with Miriam and Mary.)
Referenced in the Bible:
Both Muhammed and Joseph Smith see themselves mentioned in the Bible.
For instance, Achmad, the Quranic name for the “helper” prophesied in the Bible, (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:7) is taken to refer to Muhammed.
The “prophet like unto Moses” (Deut. 18:15, Acts 3:22, Acts 7:37) is taken to refer to Joseph Smith (and in fact each of the subsequent Presidents of the LDS church).
Both Muhammed and Joseph Smith specifically appeal to Isa. 29:11-12 as describing something from their life.
Both Muhammed and Joseph Smith refer to themselves in the 3rd person in their revelations, as well as referring to themselves by indirect or subtle means:
Muhammed, an orphan, counsels his listener to not mistreat “the orphan” (singular), and, being known to wear green, refers to a story about a prophet called Al-Khidr, meaning “the green one” who was superior to Moses.
Joseph Smith refers to himself all throughout the book of Mormon and other standard works of the Mormon church by such titles as Gazelam, “the choice seer”, Root of Jesse, etc., and implies his own physical descent from Christ.
There were various prophets and prophetesses operating in Arabia at the time of Muhammed, which is interesting.
(These include: Al-Aswad Al-Ansi, Tulayha, Sajjah, Saf ibn Sayyad, and of course Musaylimah, all prophets of Allah, Musaylimah even calling himself Rasulallah, as did Muhammed.)
It’s usually the case when one religion arises, that it arose in an environment where other religions were starting out and competing, and usually only one makes it (in each particular area and era.)
People are often surprised at how many similar religions were being born around the same time, and Mormonism too is no exception, having arisen in an environment where restorationism and claims of Israelite origin of native Americans were popular.
As with my other points, this doesn’t prove that Islam or Mormonism are false religions, but are meant to illustrate their unexpected and fascinating similarities.
CONCLUSIONS / COMMENTS
The similarities, as well as the differences, between these two Abrahamic religions are, at least to me, quite fascinating.
Whereas Islam is generally more in line with the Bible as regards doctrine, with a few important exceptions, it has been linked to more political, social and otherwise turmoil and militarism than Mormonism, which in my estimation is less Biblically orthodox, but then again more harmless.
Is Mormonism too stupid of an idea to inspire large numbers of people to fight and die for it?
Putting myself in the shoes of the believers, I’d be hard pressed to choose between stability and good doctrine (since I’m assuming both are ultimately not the true religion).
Potentially, there are forms of Islam, say Sufism, or even offshoots like Bahai, that might fare better in such a comparison.
(Incidentally, Bahai and Mormonism were both created in the 1800’s.)
I would like to end by saying I respect all the Abrahamic religions very much; nevertheless I, like the adherents of these religions, understand that the greatest competition and threat to my beliefs are the other Abrahamic religions, as opposed to say Hinduism, which historically hasn’t been in ideological competition or otherwise with Christianity. Any Muslim will tell you the real threat to Islam is the other monotheistic faiths, especially the opposing forms of Islam (Sunni vs Shia), and any Catholic will tell you the biggest threat is (or at least used to be) Protestantism and before that, the Orthodox and Cathars. Likewise, early Christianity and Judaism were each other’s biggest nemesis, exaclty BECAUSE of what they had in common.
~~ Abel Zechariah, 27 Nov. 2012
The following similarities between Islam and Mormonism were contributed by Ali on the Heart of the Matter forum:
“Being a child of an orthodox sunni muslim man who grew up in Utah I thought I could add a couple other similarities between Islam and Mormonism:
One of the defenses the followers use when referencing their respective “prophets and their scripture” is that it is hard to believe that such a young uneducated man as Muhammed or Joseph Smith could make it all up.
Both however have great evidences to being highly intelligent, resourceful synthesizers of information.
Both religions have prescribed formulas for prayer and focus on ones worthiness, which leads to some very spiritually broken people who are sick inside from lack of communication and sanctification from the True and Living God.”
He makes some further observations that I find perceptive:
“In my 5 read throughs of the book (of Mormon), I could not get past the Anachronisms, direct plagerism, and redundant language nor the compelete fanciful stories that are not supported by archeology, linguistics nor genetics. Even the Koran does a better job of claiming to be scripture in the Arabic language although it is plauged too with many of the same problems.
The man Mohammed at least was cunning enough to not include history that could be disproven later. He didnt write about Men riding Kangaroos nor pumpkins as the principle crop of the Arabian pennisula, cuz who would believe that. I however am pining for the day when I can visit the exhibit for the Hill Cumorah battle site. ”
ADDENDUM 2: Inquiry into the meaning of the name “Gazelam”
According to Mormon sources:
“In earlier editions of the Doctrine and Covenants (before 1981), the code-word Gazelam was used to denote the prophet Joseph Smith (D&C 78:9; 82:11; 104:26, 43). He is apparently the “servant Gazelem” to whom Alma 37:23-25 refers:
“And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations. And now, my son, these interpreters were prepared that the word of God might be fulfilled, which he spake, saying: I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land.”
According to D&C 17:1, Joseph Smith received the same urim and thummim given to the brother of Jared on the mount. The Alma passage implies that the “interpreters,” which some have termed urim and thummim, shone in the dark. The idea is confirmed by David Whitmer, who wrote that, in order to use the seer stone, which operated like the interpreters, Joseph Smith would place it in a hat, evidently to exclude the light in the room. Then, “in the darkness the spiritual light would shine.” A similar description is given of the urim and thummim mounted in the breastplate of the Israelite high priest, and through which he consulted the Lord (Exodus 28:30; 39:6-7; Leviticus 8:8; Numbers 27:21; Deuteronomy 33:8; 1 Samuel 28:6; Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65).
The etymology of the word Gazelem is uncertain…”
So the word “Gazelam” or “Gazelem” is used in Mormon scripture as a name for Joseph Smith.
Let’s analyze the title God supposedly gave Mr. Smith, and see what God is trying to tell us:
“gazal”: to tear away, seize, rob, robbery
Original Word: גָּזַל
Phonetic Spelling: (gaw-zal’)
Original Word: עַם
Phonetic Spelling: (am)
“Gazelam” = גָּזַלעַם
meaning: Robbery of the People / To Rob the People
If we accept that God actually gave Mr. Smith this undesirable title, then we would be wise to consider the meaning of it, and guard ourselves from the heresies of a glass-looking, land-speculating, bank fraud perpetrating robber.
~~ Abel Zechariah