Arab News this morning informs us that in an address to senior military commanders, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan, “second deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, has denounced what he called a smear campaign against Islam and the Kingdom and said it was an outpouring of jealousy of its resources and Islam.”
“We are neither terrorists nor parasites,” Sultan declared. But then he added: “We believe in Islam and in other revealed religions. We believe in the Torah and the Bible.”
This is how Islamic rhetoric snares multiculturalists. Sultan sounds at this point something like the cinematic Mahatma Gandhi saying, “I am Christian! I am Jew! I am Muslim! I am Hindu!” — in other words, like a contemporary New Ager or an “open minded” admirer of “all the world’s great faiths,” courageously rejecting what he perceives as the narrow-mindedness of exclusivist faiths.
But then the Prince reveals that he is a first-class Muslim exclusivist, calling upon Jews and Christians to behave like good dhimmis: “As we believe in Moses and Jesus, so they (Jews and Christians) should also believe in our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Holy Qur’an.”
This is a common but false comparison. Muslims believe in the Moses and Jesus of the Qur’an, who are quite different from the Moses and Jesus of Jewish and Christian tradition. In the Qur’an, Moses and Jesus are prophets who taught a message identical to Muhammad’s — a message which in the traditional Islamic understanding was perverted by their followers to form what are known today as Judaism and Christianity. But their true message was Islam.
So what Prince Sultan is actually saying, under the guise of generosity and open-mindedness, is that Jews and Christians should abandon their religions and embrace Islam. If Jews and Christians accept the prophethood of Muhammad, they are not just being open-minded — they’re abandoning their faiths and becoming Muslims. This kind of deceptive appeal is part of the reason why multitudes in the U.S. and Europe think that Islam is somehow more tolerant than the faiths that form the spiritual heritage of the Western world.