“Are Mormons Closer to Muslims or Christians?” (Part 5)

“Are Mormons Closer to Muslims or Christians?” (Part 5) May 13, 2018


Sultan Hasan and al-Rifa‘i
In the background are, on the left, the fourteenth-century Madrasa and Mosque of Sultan Hasan and, on the right, the Mosque of al-Rifa‘i, which was completed in the early twentieth century. They are two of my favorite buildings in Cairo. The woman in blue is standing on Cairo’s Citadel, looking roughly westward toward the Nile.     (Wikimedia Commons)


Finishing up my comments on a 2012 Huffington Post article by one Eliza Wood:


“All three of these faiths,” writes Ms. Wood of Islam, her brand of Christianity, and the Mormon brand of Christianity (which she seeks to exclude from Christendom), “have scores of excellent people, possibly some who would make excellent American leaders and even U.S. presidents. But, the next time you read in the press about how Mormons are really Christians, you might want to put on your critical thinking cap.”


I hope you’ve already put it on, so that you won’t be taken in by Ms. Wood’s garbled misinformation.


“It rarely is the religion but the candidate’s behavior that determines if she or he is a good person,” Ms. Wood concludes, “and that is what Americans really care about, but getting a bit snowed is getting a bit old, don’t you think?”


Yes, it had already grown a bit old by the time she published her article in 2012.  So one has to wonder why Ms. Wood was still attempting to snow people.  My suspicion, given the fact that Islam worries and even terrifies many Americans, is that she’ was attempting, in a not very subtle and not very ethical way, to demonize Mormonism and to damage Mitt Romney by linking them with Muslims and terrorism.  Which, if true, was both disingenuous and irresponsible.


P.S.  I note that, in one of her responses to the comments following her article, Ms. Wood asserted that both Muslims and Mormons consider themselves Christians.  This is absolutely, flatly, unambiguously false.  Muslims do not claim to be Christians, any more than Jews, Hindus, Buddhists or Sikhs do.  Islam, though plainly part of what might be called the Abrahamic tradition — Arab Muslims often term Judaism, Christianity, and Islam together al-adyan al-samawiyya (“the heavenly religions”) — is a separate and distinct faith and does not claim otherwise.


P.P.S.  A friend has written to suggest that I be explicit about my qualifications to comment on Mormonism and Islam together, and perhaps I should:  I’m a Mormon or Latter-day Saint myself, a former missionary and an ordained bishop in the Church, and a rather extensively published author on Mormon topics (including a book, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints, on whether Mormons are Christians).  I’m also a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University, the Church’s flagship school.  I’ve lived in Jerusalem for a year and in Cairo for four years, and visit the Middle East and the Islamic world every year (so far during the past twelve months, on three separate occasions).  I hold a Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles in Arabic and Islamic intellectual history; teach courses on Arabic, Middle Eastern history, and Islam; founded and, for years, edited a series of dual-language classical Islamic texts that was distributed by the University of Chicago Press; and, among a fairly large number of other relevant things, have published a biography of Muhammad.


Posted from Cairo, Egypt



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