Preface It was shortly after I had graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1980, with a PhD Degree specializing in fracture mechanics and failure analysis of materials and structures, that I discovered the dire need for this book. This undertaking began to take shape in the early 1980's with the Middle East aflame, devastated by what some viewed as a "holy" war, and with "millennialists" prophesying the end of days by the year 2000 C. E. After publishing and co-authoring 87 scientific and industrial reports, and technical papers, many of which were in national and international magazines on the subject of failure analysis of metals and fracture mechanics of aircraft structures, I came to realize that consequences of failures of the human spirit are far more devastating than failures of metals and aircraft structures. But now at the outset of the 21st century the world is still experiencing turmoil and devastation by wars spreading like wildfire, with Jews, Christians and Moslems at each other's throats in seemingly never ending battles and ugly strife. Some call it "war on terror," others speak of "wars of clashing cultures," "crusades," "jihad," etc., etc., etc. One can't help but wonder how this saga of 99% misery and 1% heroism will ever come to an end. Only the gullible would attempt to explain the ongoing world conflict among "People of the Book": Jews, Christians and Moslems, based on the course of events during the past few years, or even the past few decades. This is where this book comes in with a rigorous, rationalized, and hopefully convincing critical assessment of a never-before-explored, most innate aspect of the human nature, and that is its obsession with hijacking of the religion of God. For better understanding of the root cause of the ongoing conflict among "People of the Book," who are supposed to be worshipping the same God, we need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and reflect rationally, while ignoring all rhetoric and emotional bias in researching the past three thousand years of religious history. And this is exactly what I did in writing this three-volume book. More specifically, this book is addressing the religion of God to whom every human being from among the so-called "People of the Book" today turns in prayer. Whether soldiers or civilians, when they are caught in the midst of the ongoing grisly and devastating wars, some would pray to Yahweh, others call upon Jesus Christ, while Moslem brethren whisper the name of Allah upon taking their last breath. Who is that God? And why is He so shrouded with mystery? Is He truly One and the Same God for all these people? Or are we suffering from some self-delusions and possibly hallucinations that may be the senseless products of our ancient religious fabrications and mythmaking. Going back in time three thousand years brings us to one very special night, when God was said to have come down in person onto Mount Sinai to have "a close encounter" with human beings through direct speech. This three-volume book examines the course of religious events from that magic and apocalyptic moment onwards till this day. It took me twenty years of research to show that men who practiced hijacking long before they had wings have been quite active over the past three thousand years engaging in the lucrative business of hijacking the religion of God. All three religious persuasions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam suffered the dire consequences of miserably failing to heed the words of our Merciful and Patient God. No irony intended here in calling it "a business," and indeed "a lucrative" one, because it brings the hijackers: power, enormous wealth, and often glory, all of which, in the sight of God translate, respectively into: arrogance, greed, and most certainly infamy. In developing the extensive critical review of religion presented herein, detailing the respective histories of the selected three religious persuasions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, I have always aimed at focusing attention on what went wrong and why? The product of this endeavor is a book, which provides easy reading yet thought-provoking, concise, and story-telling exposition of the course of events spanning three millennia of religious history. The book caters to the most general audience of humans seeking truth-in-religion, and requires no prerequisite readings, or special preparation by any one from among its anticipated audience worldwide, which in theory is a huge population segment totaling 3.3 billion people living today. More specifically, as of July 2007 census data base, our target audience is in fact comprised of 2.1 billion people in pursuit of Christianity, plus 1.2 billion people in pursuit of Islam, in addition to 13 1 million Jews worldwide. What the reader will find here between the covers of these three volumes is a non-fiction critical account of the Religion of God that tells it like it is. The author hopes that this, first of its kind, presentation of a uniquely critical and candid outlook on religion will be widely disseminated to such people in search of God, who always look for that long-overdue, rhetoric-free characterization of critical issues of faith whether it is Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. The trigger event, which launched me into this investigation, was my personal struggle with thoughts of atheism, and my doubts about the existence of God. Therefore, I would not be surprised if some atheists, as well as members of other "non-Abrahamic" religious persuasions (such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, etc.) may also take interest in learning more about the Abrahamic religious pursuits, their three-millennia-long anticlimax, and the raging turmoil among members of what was supposed to be the religion of One God: Jews, Christians and Moslems. I have no doubt that many observers worldwide today are wondering why these brethren: Jews, Christians, and Moslems are at each other's throats, engaged in seemingly never ending wars? From recent events I should cite by way of example "the nightmare of promised territories" in the Middle East (Israel versus Palestine), the oil rush by the United States and Britain in the Middle East waging three devastating wars over soon-to-be-exhausted energy source: crude oil. I would like to call such greed-driven quest: our collective worship of the "Black God," reincarnated as crude oil, akin to a demon released by our greed "from beneath the waters under the earth" - to borrow the latter words from the First Commandment? And last but not least, we should not leave out the recently coined slogan by Samuel P. Huntington in his prophecy of a World-War-III erupting as a result of what he claimed to be a pending "clash of civilizations," or in his words "America-versus-Islam," a Huntington-prophesied war along what he called "fault lines of cultures." As an aside the book also critically examines ancient systems of government of four basic categories: (1) State governments dominated by the clergy or particular priesthoods servicing religious doctrines, such as the "Temple State," (2) state governments exploiting religion in the service of monarchial imperial goals, such as many European governments during "the Age of Kings, and the Crusades," and (3) a short-lived Islamic democracy during early Islam, reverting quickly to Islamic Empires as "a way of the world," and finally (4) "the Age of Nation States" with varying degrees of separation of Church and State in contemporary secular societies. As such this book may also appeal to readers engaged in studies of systems of government, and history of political science. And last but not least, Volume 3 of this book, in dealing with the attempted hijackings of Islam, includes the results of our research into comparative Hebrew-Arabic-English linguistics, whereby new discoveries were made providing better understanding of the close relationship between Judaism and Islam, on the one hand, and between the Torah and the Qur'an on the other. These never-before-explored domains of comparative linguistics research into Judaism, Christianity and Islam, may help our reading audience come to grips with what has always been regarded as a mirage, namely that these are but one religion: The Religion of God - the One God, revealing one Book, for all the People...and I mean all 6.67 billion of them inhabiting the earth as of this writing. As a researcher into theology, I feel fortunate to have been born when I did, because during the second half of the twentieth century a considerable research effort into theology was undertaken, and many publications were released spotlighting critical findings and uncovering new issues never before explored. Examples of such rigorous works are as follows: "Who Wrote the Bible (reference here is to the "Jewish Bible" or the Torah)?" by Professor Richard Friedman  at the University of California, San Diego; and "Who Wrote the New Testament?" by Former Professor Burton L. Mack  at the Claremont Colleges in California, where he taught early Christianity for many years; publication of the unabridged issue of "The Torah - A Modern Commentary" Edited by W. Gunther Plaut ; and a mammoth six-volume 4013-page interpretation of the Qur'an by Professor Sayyed Qutb in Arabic ; "Jesus- An Historians Review of the Gospels" by Professor Michael Grant  of Edinburgh University; "Islam Between East and West" by Alija Izetbegovich , the former President of Bosnia, "Islam and the Destiny of Man" by Gai Eaton ; "The Holy Qur'an - Translation and Commentary" by Yusuf Ali , which I used side-by-side with my personal copy of the Qur'an in Arabic  along with "The Koran," a contemporary English translation by N.J. Dawood ; and of course "King James Bible," , and the "Holy Bible - New International Version"  as representative readings of the Christian Bible. My intellectual curiosity and thirst for in-depth course of inquiry were truly challenged upon reading two additional Gospels: Burton L. Mack's "The Lost Gospel,"  and "The Gospel of Barnabas" . I must mention here also my benefiting from several critical, honest and thought-provoking books by scholarly and staunch religious critics of late, such as "A History of God," by Karen Armstrong , Bertrand Russell's "Why I am Not a Christian" edited by Paul Edwards , "Jesus a Prophet of Islam" by Muhammad 'Ata ur-Rahim , "The End of Days" by Gershom Gorenberg , and last but not least "The Writings of Saint Paul" edited by Wayne A. Meeks . Relevant historical accounts that I found invaluable in my 20-year research all of which with one or two exceptions came out in the public domain within that time frame are: "The Oxford History of Islam" Edited by John L. Esposito ; "A History of the Jewish People" Edited by H. H. Ben Sasson ; "A History of the Arab People" by Albert Hourani ; "War and Peace in the Middle East" by Avi Shlaim ; "A Peace to End All Peace" by David Fromkin ; and "The Timetables of History" by Bernard Grun based upon Werner Stein's Kulturfahrplan . Enormous help through the use of "Alim" compact disks  and , utilizing modern computer technology for quick access to the Qur'anic verses and associated commentary substantially accelerated the later phases of my research. This invaluable source additionally contained quotations of Prophet Mohammad's statements and conversations with his audiences and companions called "Hadith," which is a compilation of non-Qur'anic proclamations, advice and mere declarations or statements made by Prophet Mohammad over 23-year period of his mission. In Arabic the term "Hadith" simply means "statements" or "conversations." These tremendous references and valuable contributions to theology were instrumental in enriching my understanding of the issues of monotheism. But there were also many other, equally valuable contributions to this multifaceted subject, particularly those in the fields of science, such as: "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle" by Barrow and Tipler ; Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" ; with its companion book by Boslough, "Stephen Hawking's Universe," ; "The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin ; "What is the Origin of Man"  and "The Bible, the Qur'an, and Science" , both by Dr. Maurice Bucaille; and "Ever Since Darwin" by Steven J. Gould . Hopping back and forth between biology and life sciences, on the one hand, and cosmology, on the other, I found most enlightening and deeply philosophical the book entitled "The Emperor's New Mind" by Roger Penrose , "Infinity and the Mind," by Rudy Rucker , and "Ideas and Opinions, Albert Einstein, With an Introduction by Alan Lightman," . And as we have become accustomed in this modern day and age to accepting the illusion that religion and politics, or alternatively the Church and State, can somehow be kept separate, it was only upon reading two recent books by Noam Chomsky  and  that I was forced to reexamine my original interpretations of historical events from a broader geopolitical perspective, but still unequivocally reaffirming my own earlier conclusions of "humanity's obsession with hijacking of the religion of God." As a distinguished scholar of political science, government and linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Noam Chomsky did not discuss religion in great detail in his books. His two noted publications  and  mainly focused on political science, government and the emerging nation states of the last two centuries, and that is when the United States itself entered the world, first as a "significant" power, then later as "a dominant, hegemonic world superpower," or to use Chomsky's term, "an empire." From Chomsky's presentations and assertions , , I was able to deduce by inference that the history of religion is in fact "a broken record," with the story of humanity continuously repeating itself from the days of, say the Roman Empire till the days of the U.S. Empire. It is all about power, "hegemony or survival" of the fittest militarily, with the exploitation of religion being no exception, whether one is reviewing the days of the ancient Crusades or the Bush-Blair modern, civilizing, or rather "liberating" "Neo-Crusades," with which they launched unjustified "preemptive wars" under the banners of what Chomsky calls "demonic messianism." In more specific terms, what I call here "the religion of God" was not the only instrument being exploited among other equally effective means aimed at gaining hegemony, power, and ill-perceived strife for survivability as blind tyrants take comfort in oppressing their own people, as well as those of other nations. To mention a few such instruments: (a) the misleading and quite effective multimedia of today, catering to special interests and corporate profiteering, especially television controlling and molding the public perception and beliefs on critical and national issues, (b) the use of fear, as Chomsky eloquently puts it: "to whip the population into obedience" by the ruling class especially by those public servants with a conflict of interest, (c) the use of hunger, e.g. cruel trade sanctions imposed for fifteen years on Iraq, and intermittently throughout the twentieth century in Africa, and Latin America spanning several decades, with the sole purpose of guaranteeing dominant superpower control, (d) the so-called "free trade agreements," and other subtle trade measures privatizing public utility services in third world countries, besides sinister high-interest-rate loan practices forcing developing nations into huge debts with the consequences of depriving whole segments of world population of badly needed food, medicine and other essential commodities, (e) mischievous exploitation of foreign aid to promote tyranny in underdeveloped countries, while robbing them of their natural resources by allied superpowers posing as contemporary empires (PAX Americana, and/or PAX Britannica, the combination of which I will call 'endearingly' in this book: PAX Ameritanica). These instruments of destruction of one's fellow human beings by others are discussed in alarming detail in Noam Chomsky's numerous publications, and especially in his enlightening two recent books on the present world political landscape: "Hegemony or Survival-America's Quest for Global Dominance"  and "Failed States" . I found these two books in particular quite helpful in my preparations for writing Volume 3 on Islam, especially in improving my understanding of the present turmoil between the United States of America and the emerging so-called "nation states" with predominantly Islamic populations. In preparing the manuscript of this book over such an extended period of time I must first and foremost thank my wife, Holly Robinson El-Soudani, for her enduring patience during the countless days and nights that it took me to complete this investigation, and to write the manuscript. Without her continued encouragement, love, care and understanding, this endeavor would never have come to fruition. I am also deeply indebted to my son, Robert S. El-Soudani, a Software Engineer, for keeping my computer up and running all this time, and for his continued encouragement. In view of the complexity of the 95-page fault-tree analysis charts, which I developed in order to concisely outline the religious hijacking events, without Robert's help, and the computer use, this manuscript would have never seen the light. Also in conducting the theological research and in preparing the associated documentary I must acknowledge the many valuable discussions with my co-author-artist and daughter Nabawia Jane El-Soudani. In fact her persistent and testing questions forced me to refine and improve my modeling of "the Doctrine of Free Will," using set theory until it attained its level of clarity, which in fact earned her the compliments of numerous viewers of her documentary entitled "My Father My Friend." The theme of this book deals mainly with a critical assessment of what turned out to be an anticlimax, based on clearly manifest, and very poor human performance in relation to a Merciful and Oft-Forgiving God. This is true on all three frontiers of religious persuasion: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Because the hijacking events were so many, and are spanning some three millennia of human history, which is unfathomable and beyond grasp of a normally focused human mind, I have written a poem summarizing the entire three volumes in three pages of poetry, in an attempt to bring to mind the process of hijacking of the Religion of God materialized and expressed in concrete exemplary human conducts, as manifest in the personal histories of three selected prominent hijackers of religion, whom I called in the poem "The Three Brethren Kings." Interestingly the three monarchs selected from among many others for the subject poetic presentation happen to be: One Jewish (Jeroboam Ben Nebat, King of Ancient Israel), One Christian (Emperor Constantine of the Eastern Roman Empire), and One Moslem (King Fahd of the Saudi Arabs). My poem turned out to be "a sad story," and despite the somber tenor which dominated the main body of my book, its ending with the final lines of the poem is in fact optimistic, not only for Jews, Christians, and Moslems, but also for the rest of humanity. This includes with no exception all nations, ethnicities, genders, colors, with all pulling together in order to get through the darkness of the night. And here "the darkness of the night" in my poem is merely my own way of providing a symbolic representation of the fact that our life on this earth is still shrouded with mystery, and pending our acquisition of a better grip on our individual realities, our lives in this world do seem to be driven by fears of the unknown and by the fear of death. Bertrand Russell  named these two fears as the main reasons for humanity's clinging to religion. While I cannot say that Bertrand Russell's conclusions are untrue, in my own poem my final and ultimate message of this book is rather different from that of the eminent philosopher. In fact the last few lines of my poem imply that with faith in God and with our acceptance and consciousness of Him in our lives, we humans, given our adherence to morally sound, kind, and honorable behavior, together we shall overcome the sadness of the human condition on this trivial planet of our milky way. And here it is: The Three Brethren Kings This is a sad story Of three Brethren kings Hijackers of the mind Who obviously need no wings Three snatchers of religion, Three monarchs with ambition My sad story of shock and awe, Began three thousand years ago When calf worship was high and low As Ben Nebat, the King of Israel Took off hijacking Judaism Which is still hijacked by Zionism, But who in his right mind: Could have ever even imagined ? That Ben Nebat's dreadful mission, Was the beginning of a long tradition Of brutal hijackers with ambition, One hijacker following another; Kingdoms competing with each other Till they left the promised land, To a never-never land, Where Exodus is open-ended And the true Torah is suspended As the Sinai Arc of the Covenant Has for long been apprehended And the only true word of God, With no clue, or alibi Is no where to be found; Like a pie in the sky But most sinister of Brethren Kings, Was Roman Emperor Constantine, Forcing the invention of a Trinity God, By inviting the Council of the Nicene, While he kept an undivided, Dearest and nearest Roman Empire, What else a monarch, so cunning, Could have had for his ultimate desire, Then he decreed that the Trinity God, Shall be Master of the Roman Empire, But the irony came on his deathbed, Seeking a priest for a final prayer The Emperor died Unitarian, instead, For it was Eusebius who baptized, Constantine as a dying Emperor, A non-Trinitarian was thus empowered, And entrusted with the high honor Of an Emperor departing a miserable world, In widespread quandary and strife, With never ending schism and confusion, Adding serious threat to life With hundreds of heretics burned to stakes, Others beheaded by an ax or a knife, And while limiting religious freedoms This Trinity God is in fact polytheism, A Doctrine considered by Jews and Moslems, To be "Shirk": just a form of paganism And the last of Brethren Kings Is King Fahd of the Saudi Arabs, Who pretends to be fighting terrorism With abundant petro-dollars Allied with vicious imperialism Oppressing freedoms and scholars A most subtle mask indeed As the mighty rich Saudis, Plagued with tribal family greed, Are hijackers of Islam, In fact audacious King Fahd, Recently declared a real sham, As he went on attacking Islam, Using terms of monarchial deceit, Calling it a government by the elite, Devoid of Western-style Democracy, What ignorance, what hypocrisy! A self-serving declaration, For a dictatorial theocracy, So now the Saudis are carving out Their "Hypocritical Protocol," Bringing down their entire nation Under Saudis' solid control, With their polygamist breeding wives Delivering thousands of Saudi lives, As a one-family-government body Of corrupt men with dozens of wives, No longer armed with daggers and knives, Thanks to their loyal imperial powers, Their arms are missiles and radar towers, Whence their grip on political power, While thoughts of democracy and freedom Leave them ill-tempered and even sour. That was my sad story, Of three brethren kings, Hijackers of the mind, Who obviously need no wings, Exploiters of religion, Three monarchs with ambition. But for now my all-time brothers, And sisters reading my sad story, These hijackers have had their druthers, And some even celebrated their glory; But don't ye grieve or be uptight So long as we all this time get it right; We must reach out and pull one another, So we all can make it through a very long night, Rising above the abyss of dirt and mud, Remembering that with every daybreak, There is a new beginning with God. (c) Sami M. El-Soudani , Los Angeles June, 2005 ??????????????? Sami M. El-Soudani, PhD Cantab. Los Angeles, Friday, October 13, 2006 With Every Daybreak, There is a New Beginning with God
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January 28, 2010
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