When you criticize Christianity or Judaism sharply, you may be deemed impolite or politically incorrect. But when you hurl similar criticisms at Islam, you may well endanger your life and precipitate an international crisis. Dacey understands, but never gets to the heart of this essential difference.This confused me, as I devote an entire chapter to Islam, as well as an extended discussion of how its inherently political nature sets it apart from other faiths.
From its beginnings, Christian thought placed a wedge between the temporal order and the spiritual order: “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” With the Christianization of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, God and Caesar found themselves sharing the same throne. Increasing interference by Rome the Empire in Church affairs spurred Christian leaders to define the civil and ecclesiastical roles more sharply. In the early fifth century, Augustine described Christians as dual citizens dwelling in the earthly City of Man but belonging to a heavenly City of God, the community of all saved souls. . . . This foundational Christian dualism has no analogue in Islamic civilization. . . . Muhammad was simultaneously the spiritual, civil, and military leader, a tribal chief. Whereas the first Christians kindled the light of their prophet in cellars, catacombs, and caves hidden from the sword of earthly power, the first Muslims followed their prophet into battle, conquering cities, then empires, for him. Where they went, they would become the earthly power.