Today’s essay veers off on a meditation in uncharted territory—at least uncharted here. This meditation on Islam as Satanic will, more than most of my other essays here, indulge in speculation rather far removed from the security of data that would endow it with an ostensible connection to verifiability. The concern even for plausible indications, then, let alone conclusive proofs, will be held in abeyance as I explore in this meditation some implications of a hypothesis.
That hypothesis is, simply put, that Islam is not only “Satanic” in a loosely poetic or rhetorical sense—an adjective likely to be interpreted even among many in the still inchoate anti-Islamic movement as hyperbolic—and not only even a Satanist cult (albeit the largest, longest-lasting and most successful such cult in history), but positively and directly a creation of Satan himself.
And not only that: today’s essay will explore this rather egregious premise by presuming to palpate the mind of Satan himself.
A caveat to the reader: I embark upon this meditation from the perspective of an imaginative agnostic, not as a follower of Christianity or any other religion. My years of having informally studied the history of Western religions and Judaeo-Christian theology—along with the symbology of mythopoetics of the philosophers Eric Voegelin, Simone Pétrement and Paul Ricoeur, as well as the historian Jeffrey Burton Russell and the anthropologists Mircea Eliade, Henri Frankfort and Thorkild Jacobsen—will have doubtlessly helped me here and informed this little exercise in many ways, some obvious, some subtle. Furthermore, I refract my meditation through a Christian lens, so to speak, for the cogent reason that Islam’s theology is really an anti-theology based on repudiating Judaeo-Christian theology and supposedly correcting it.
I employ the word meditation in an old-fashioned, pre-New-Agey sense, as denoting (according to the 1923 Webster’s dictionary) “a discourse treating of a subject meditatively” where it involves “close or continued thought; turning or revolving of a subject in the mind”.
Why do this meditation? The answer is that it is a noetic exercise prompted by something that has occurred to me about Islam for quite a while now. As I put it in a recent article here:
I am at a loss to explain the genesis of Islam—and its ongoing historical career of grotesquely ghoulish behaviors from the beginning in the 7th century A.D. right up to our present—without it. It seems to make the most sense, for all other explanations seem to beggar the phenomenon—the full, malevolent, horrific dimensions of it—which they are trying to explain.
What can we say about Satan?
First, he is flexible and open to try new tactics: he is a “multi-tasker”. He does not rigidly adhere to one method of trying to subvert God’s Creation. He will try anything that might work toward this twisted end.
Thus, we do not rule out that Satan has “fingers in many pies”—i.e., he has many different human historical contexts in which he can try to work his mischief. So when we say—as is the showpiece of this essay—that Islam is Satan’s masterpiece, we are not thereby saying that he does not also “diversify” his business ventures in other venues. Of course he does. There is plenty of evil in the world that is non-Islamic. However, that said, that should not detract from giving him his due for this particularly spectacular work of art he has managed to create.
Secondly, he is psychotic and pneumopathological, and his psychosis and pneumopathology reflect a center that is an incoherent vortex centripetally unified only by hatred, not by reason. Though there may be logic to this hatred, there is no reason to the logic. This is true of any psychosis and pneumopathology—and all the more so when it comes to the supremely eminent source of all psychosis and pneumopathology, and the massive contradiction of his project to fight and defeat God.
It may well be that defeating God is not Satan’s ultimate aim, because he knows he cannot defeat God, so he sets his sights one step lower—merely to try to destroy as much of Creation as possible, out of the motive, again, of sheer hatred. Knowing he is ultimately (i.e., eschatologically) doomed, he nevertheless desires to bring down as much of Creation with him as possible before that time. This would be a rather tangential point that does not detract from our overall diagnosis of Satan’s psyche and its effects.
According to the New Testament, when God became Man in Jesus Christ, this was a moment in history that particularly wounded Satan. Things had been going swimmingly for him up until then. The Ecumene was devolving into a bewildering confusion of religions, sects, philosophies, mystery cults and so forth. On top of this, collisions of Empires—first the Macedonian vs. the Persian, then the Roman vs. the Persian and others—were causing enormous dislocations, materially and existentially. People were losing hope, or were flailing about sampling from the cafeteria of meanings of life in a desperate attempt at trying to recapture the former stability of belief offered by the previous pagan mythologies. The birth, life and mission of Jesus Christ, Son of God, threatened to spoil, if not ruin, this rampant welter of misery and confusion that had so pleased Satan.
One of the first things Satan did, then, was to try to seduce Jesus to betray God—an irrational tactic, seeing as Jesus was part of the Godhead. In the account of the Gospel of Luke (4:1-13), this attempted temptation of Jesus follows immediately from his baptism by John in the previous chapter and the spectacle of God’s voice announcing from Heaven His blessing on Jesus and proclaiming his divine mission (3:22). Furthermore, the context of this baptism is the eschatological salvation and its imminence which John is preaching and baptizing to help usher in. So, in Luke’s account, directly after he has been defined as the culmination of God’s soteriological plan for the world, Jesus feels compelled by the “spirit” to go into the “wilderness”—likely to concentrate through prayer and meditation in solitude and austerity, as he was wont to do rather many times during his life. This time was particularly intense and severe, lasting 40 days—and it was also momentously significant, for it was the inauguration of his eschatological mission to save the world. Thus, Satan, like a bird of prey or a desert jackal, seizes upon him—not to attack him physically, but to beset him on a spiritual level, to lure him away from his divinity.
That Satan would wait until Jesus was out in the desert wilderness may be explained simply by the fact that he wanted to tempt Jesus in a secluded locale, out of the way of witnesses. Or, perhaps this indicates that Satan tends to dwell, naturally, in deserts—such as this desert near Jerusalem, as well as the more notorious deserts of Arabia.
In Luke 4:3, seeing that Jesus is starving of hunger after a long self-imposed fast, Satan contemptuously asks Jesus the same rhetorical question, in essence, which Muslims often ask those defending orthodox Christology: “If you are of God, command this stone to turn into bread.” I.e., the Muslims ask, if Jesus really is God, why did he suffer in various ways like a human? (This challenge occurs again just a few verses later, in Luke 4:9-11, where Satan lifts Jesus up onto a high pinnacle and dares him to leap down and let angels of God save him, to prove he really is “of God”.)
Re-entering the psychology of Satan, we can speculate that Satan either already knows the answer to this rhetorical challenge—but is cleverly trying to undermine the Incarnation by trying to demonstrate its supposed incoherence—or it could be that he himself cannot comprehend its significance, and so he tends obtusely and belligerently to deny it, based on the crude expectation that God must only and always exert Himself in obvious power—for He is Omnipotent, isn’t He?—never in paradoxical and mysterious condescension and self-abasement. For, such self-abasement—the kenosis or "emptying" of God to become like us—is through and through selfless Love, and this not only confounds Satan, it enrages him with a rage all the more furious because he cannot understand it; or because in the nadir of his spirit he feels the revolting pain of his shrivelled nut of a long-buried conscience that is, so to speak, the subconscious knowledge of Love being forever held stifled.
This obtusely limited comprehension of divine power is reflected in the other temptations Satan attempts against Jesus—and is, on a broader scale, reflected also in Muslim psychology by which the power of conquest, along with the power of Strong Men who rule those areas which Muslims have usurped, justifies itself by its obvious and visible material gains. The common leitmotif of Islamic zeal—to wit, “We love death more than you love life”—seems on the surface to vitiate this lust for power and material gains, apparently echoing the contemptus mundi eschato-psychology of Christian piety. However, one look at the Islamic goal and reward for this contempt for this life—viz., Islamic Paradise—would put that comparison to rest. Islamic Paradise as it is envisioned in various writings of the Sunna (and suggested here and there in the Koran) is a massively crass testament to the lust for material pleasure and power. Thus, Islam inculcates a stubborn incomprehension of, and indeed hostility to, Christian virtues such as humility, meekness, self-abasing charity to others, strength in weakness, wisdom through suffering, and the sublimation of the appetite for power and material pleasure even in the context of the ultimate eschatological rewards. (It is of interest to note that Hitler also expressed bitter contempt for these Christian virtues—and at least once in a context of expressing admiration for Islam!)
This Satanic—and Islamic—penchant for expressing right through might, and in turn, might through material displays of what power can deliver, is found then in Satan’s enticement to Jesus in Luke 4:5-7 and what he will gain by rejecting his divine suffering:
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
In the aforementioned short article I wrote on this blog, I called attention to an interestingly disquieting similarity between this enticement of Satan—more specifically, the synoptic version of it in Matthew 4:8-9 which does not differ in substance from Luke’s account—and the following passage from the Koran offering to its slavish followers an enticement in the ultimate satisfaction of their material appetites which they shall receive as the reward for their fanatical submission:
And when you behold Paradise, you will see all around you delights and a vast kingdom.
And how did Jesus respond to this enticement?
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (4:8)
As I concluded in that aforementioned article (to paraphase):
Perhaps what happened is that Satan, licking his wounds from his abysmal failure to seduce Jesus—not only as manifested at that pivotal moment in the history of Creation, but also in subsequent centuries as Christianity slowly but surely waxed in influence throughout the Ecumene, within 300 years converting the Roman Emperor himself and only growing more and more influential in the centuries after that—recoiled back into his natural habitat, some cave or hole in the desert, there to lurk, hunker down, and stew in his malignant juices plotting some way to get back at God.
Somehow, some way—perhaps it was his diabolical genius, which should not be underestimated, deformed as it is—he at last devised a way: to create a vast following, a vast army, of slaves to worship him against God. But this vast army should not be blatantly Satanic, no: that would be too easily exposed and vilified by most of Mankind. This new counter-religion should not be a mere Satanic cult, which will always command only a marginal following, or some confused Gnostic cult that, however nicely its creed mangles the truth, nevertheless seems only to succeed in attracting a few eccentric souls here and there. No: the new world religion to counter God’s religion has to masquerade as God’s True Religion, over and above all other attempts at worshipping God. And furthermore, it has to denounce all other religious attempts—especially Judaeo-Christianity—as twisted corruptions of the One True Religion of which only it is the True Vehicle; even as it cleverly and deceitfully claims to be their "true fulfillment" correcting their "corrupted books" and the "wicked errors" flowing from their misguided loss of the original "Guidance of Allah" given to Adam and Eve and all the Prophets of Israel, now preposterously Arabized. (Thus Islam, in a brazen act of theological latrociny, affects to usurp the religions it is violently attacking, proverbially adding insult to injury.)
And this new True Religion of God should not merely stop at denunciations of other religions: it must actively fight them until there is no religion other than it—for, after all, the Ultimate Absolute Truth and its survival against hostile enemies surrounding it on all sides is that important, isn’t it?
And that’s not all. Satan benefits not merely from successfully starting up his own religious software and operating system to compete with God’s Word, and drawing millions of subscribers and submitters for centuries. While of course he enjoys the sheer pleasure of having millions of followers, Satan needs more. The hearts and minds of these millions of followers must be degraded, corrupted and possessed into zealously pursuing a twisted mirror-image of righteousness that in reality is evil. This will be the actualization of the counter-religion they follow: Just as this new counter-religion is the diabolically diametrical opposite of God’s religion but has the infinite gall—and wicked genius—to arrogate to itself the title of the One True Religion, so too its daily practice must entail a similarly twisted reversion of ethics, whereby its followers engage in demonic pursuits while fanatically believing they are pursuing a Godly piety.
And the pièce de résistance to this perverted inversion is the supremely and wickedly arrogant arrogation of Jesus Christ's defiant repudiation of Satan we quoted from Luke's gospel—Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve—as the central tenet of this new and final religion dedicated to Satan under the guise of Allah. Satan must be infinitely pleased, he must shudder with a frisson of delight, every time one of his millions of minions of Muslims—let alone the millions gathered in fanatical numbers as one formicating mass at the annual Hajj—recites that perversion of Luke 4:8 in the Shahada.
Thus, their perennial religiousity in its slavish pursuit of submission to their darker source not only leads them eventually to his eternal abode—a mirage of paradisaic gardens camouflaging infernal damnation—; but also manages to wreak the havoc, mayhem and misery of a Hell on Earth in the long and winding meantime of history and the news between the beginning and the end.
When Muslims become belligerently indignant at the charge that Islam is Satanic, the Devil in them has warped their minds in a deliciously perverse way: for, instead of proudly owning their Satanism, their indignation stems from their inculcation in the lie that they are actually anti-Satanic. What more delightfully twisted way for Satan to disport himself, than to create minions of followers who pursue the delusion that they are against him and for God, when in fact, they are his slaves, and against God!
A note on the artwork:
The first is an illustration by the British poet and painter William Blake (1757-1827) titled “Lucifer”, his rendering of Canto XXXIV in Dante’s Inferno (the first book in his trilogy, the Divina Commedia)—specifically, one surmises, from verses 34-36:
S’el fu sì bel com’elli è ora brutto, e contra ’l suo fattore alzò le ciglia, ben dee da lui proceder ogne lutto.
My loose translation:
If Lucifer was once as beautiful as he is now ugly, and seeing how he gave the finger to God, no wonder that all mayhem and misery has its source in him!
The second, appropriately, is William Blake’s rendering of Dante’s placement of Mohammed in Hell, titled “Sowers of Discord”, from verses 22-36 in Canto XXVIII of the Inferno. In Dante’s story, Virgil has been leading Dante on a tour through Hell, and they are now in one of the worst levels down there, the Ninth Circle of Hell, where Virgil shows Dante the spectacle of the damnation of both Mohammed and Ali (the latter the founder of Shia Islam).
This time, I will use Mandelbaum’s translation (with a couple of minor adjustments):
No barrel, even though it’s lost a hoop or end-piece, ever gapes as the one whom I saw ripped right from his chin to where we fart:
His bowels hung between his legs, one saw his vitals and the miserable sack that makes of what we swallow excrement.
While I was fixated on watching him, he looked at me, and with his hands he spread his split chest open and said:
“See how I rend myself open: See now how maimed Mohammed is! And he who walks and weeps before me is Ali, whose face is opened wide from chin to forelock. And all the others here whom you can see were, when alive, the sowers of dissension and scandal, and for this they now are cleaved.”
And speaking of Sowers of Discord and Scandal:
A Muslim group in Italy in June of 2001 apparently demanded the removal or destruction of a medieval fresco from a chapel in Bologna, Italy. It seems they were “offended” by that fresco depicting Mohammed in Hell, its artist, 15th-century Giovanni da Modena, inspired by Dante’s Inferno. (Unfortunately, I have not been able to pin down the actual source of this news story, from either the Corriere della Sera, Milan edition, or from The Times of London, whence it was supposed to have originated; the story having been simply bandied about from one blog to another in the Blogosphere, echo-chamber-wise.)
In 2002, it was revealed that an Islamic terror cell with a network of members in Italy, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain had plotted to blow up this same chapel in Bologna because of its blasphemous fresco.
Then in 2006, it was revealed that another Islamic terror cell had planned to blow up the same chapel in Bologna, along with the subway system in Milan.
To see the fresco in question, click here.
Islam's darker source
Satan and Islam: another reverberation