Islam – Lectures on Calvinism by Abraham Kuyper – Part IV

Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism, Islam
Portrait of Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (1876-1909). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Islam made it’s appearance in the seventh century, it’s humble beginnings belied it’s future influence. By Abraham Kuyper’s time, under the Ottoman Empire, Islam was practiced over a large portion of the world including many places, such as Syria and Asia Minor, that had been Christian for hundreds of years earlier in history. Though the Ottoman Empire was in it’s final decades by the time Kuyper delivered these lectures, Islam would live on.

As we continue to look at Abraham Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism given at Princeton University in 1898, we’ll now consider his views on Islam and how that belief system answers the three life-system questions.

How Does Man Relate to God?

In paganism we saw that God is indistinguishable from the creation. Kuyper sees Islam as the antithesis of this. In Islam, there is no contact between the creature and God. As Kuyper puts it, in Islam God’s role is to “avoid all commingling with the creature.” This leads to Islamic beliefs about heaven or paradise being a place of personal sensual indulgence and pleasure rather than a place where man is in the presence of God.

How Does Man Relate to Man ?

One need only look around to see that there are many differences among men. According to Kuyper a belief system must explain why that is and their explanation of that translates into how other people are treated. He says of Islam:

Under Islamism, which dreams of its paradise of houries, sensuality usurps public authority, and the woman is the slave of man, even as the kafir is the slave of the Moslim.

In other words, if heaven is a place where sensuality is king and that is achieved by subordinating some people to others, the same attitude will reign on earth. If it’s going to be a woman’s job to cater to my sexual needs for eternity in paradise, why should I see her as my equal here and now?

How Does Man Relate to the World?

Islamism places too low an estimate upon the world, makes sport of it and triumphs over it in reaching after the visionary world of a sensual paradise.

It was a bit difficult to draw out Kuyper’s beliefs about Islam in this work since he deals with it less than any of the other belief systems. However,he later wrote a more extensive work dealing with Islam. If you’d like to explore Kuyper’s teaching on this topic some more, it can be read at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library:

The Mystery of Islam by Abraham Kuyper

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