Islam and Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups
This article explores Islam and its possibility as a cult, based on established and accepted characteristics of cultic groups.
- 1 Analysis
- 1.1 Leadership, Truth and Law
- 1.2 Doubt and Dissent
- 1.3 Mind-Altering Practices
- 1.4 Thoughts, Actions and Feelings
- 1.5 Elitism
- 1.6 Us-Versus-Them
- 1.7 Accountability
- 1.8 Unethical Behaviour
- 1.9 Shame and/or Guilt
- 1.10 Altered Goals and Activities
- 1.11 Population Growth
- 1.12 Money-Making
- 1.13 Time Consumption
- 1.14 Family and Friends
- 1.15 Reprisals for Apostasy
- 2 Conclusion
- 3 External Links
The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments is from Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups, by Janja Lalick, Ph.D. and Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.
Leadership, Truth and Law
The Islamic Ummah exhibits this characteristic. More so than other religious groups, Muslims generally display excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its founder, Prophet Muhammad (despite the fact that he is dead), and regard the Qur'an and the Sunnah as the Truth and as law.
Doubt and Dissent
"O ye who believe! Ask not questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if ye ask about things when the Qur'an is being revealed, they will be made plain to you, Allah will forgive those: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing. Some people before you did ask such questions, and on that account lost their faith." (Qur'an 5:101-102)
It is quite possible that the stringent demands placed upon Muslims, such as 5-times-a-day salah and the repetitious chanting of the Qur'an, could be considered "mind-altering practices".
Thoughts, Actions and Feelings
Muslims will be the first to tell you that Islam is a "complete way of life". Islam dictates dress code, diet, hygiene, financial matters, relationships, sexual behaviors, etc. The rules regarding women are the most controlling. Muslims are even commanded in the Qur'an to live in places that adhere to Islamic law (Qur'an 5:44).
Muslims consider Muhammad to be the Final Messenger and the Seal of the Prophets. It is his way of life (the Sunnah) and his revelations (the Qur'an) that define Islam. Belief in him as a prophet of Allah is required for people to go to heaven because it is one of the five pillars of Islam along with belief in Allah.
"Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Say: Obey Allah and the messenger. But if they turn away, lo! Allah loveth not the disbelievers (in His guidance)." (Qur'an 3:31-32)
"Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors." (Qur'an 3:110)
This is definitely a characteristic of Islam. A Muslim is in a constant state of struggle (see Terrorism) against the evils of the world. The Qur'an sets the stage for the Believers vs. Disbelievers, and Islamic jurisprudence confirms the Dar'al Islam vs. Dar'al Harb.
Muhammad was accountable to no one but Allah. He set the standard and established a rule of law. When questioned, he "received" revelations admonishing those who would doubt him and absolving him of any guilt (see Qur'an 33:50).
Shame and/or Guilt
The Islamic theology of slavery to Allah, the threat of eternal torture, and the constant cycle of sin-and-repentance can suffocate a person in a mire of anxiety and guilt.
Altered Goals and Activities
Converts to Islam who have non-Muslim spouses are expected to divorce them if their spouses refuse to convert (unless the spouse is a female Christian or Jew). Muslims may no longer listen to music, dance in public, attend gatherings where males and females are together, or dress in a manner inconsistent with shariah law. Of course, for those converts in Western nations, adherence to shariah law is not enforced by the governmental authorities and so their practice of Islam can be rather lax.
"One of the purposes of marriage in Islam is to have children and increase the numbers of the ummah." (Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 20597)
Zakat has always been an important aspect of Islam, nevermind the looting of caravans and ransom and enslavement of conquered peoples that helped further the cause of Allah during the 7th century AD. There is also the Jizyah.
Muslims are required to spend quite a bit of time performing ablutions and salat throughout the day and are encouraged to spend large amounts of time reading the Qur'an.
Family and Friends
Reprisals for Apostasy
As mentioned previously, apostasy warrants the death penalty. There are countless cases of ex-Muslims being persecuted by members of their community and even their own families when their apostasy is made public.
Islam fits every single criteria required for the identification of a cult. Perhaps the only reason it is not labeled a "cult" by most authorities in the field of cult studies is because over a billion people are members of it.