Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

The New Abrahamic Religion: Religion in the Service of Politics

The New Abrahamic Religion:
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb (R) offers his condolences to Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II at Saint-Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Cairo’s al-Abbassiya district on February 16, 2015, a day after the Islamic State (IS) group posted a video purportedly showing the decapitation of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.  AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo by KHALED DESOUKI / AFP)

Youssef Sharqawi                                     

The “new Abrahamic religion” issue has been buzzing during the past few days without officially announcing its establishment. It is a project planned for some time ago, based on the common factor between the three religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, as Abrahamic religions, named after the Prophet Abraham.

The project’s stated goal is to “focus on interfaith and disregard anything that causes conflict and fighting between peoples.” Promoting the idea commenced within the context of “establishing peace between peoples and states regardless of differences.”

The issue resurfaced after the Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb spoke about it during his speech at the 10th anniversary of the Egyptian Family House celebration and rejected it and described it as “a pipe dream.” The Sheikh of Al-Azhar wondered whether the purpose of the call was “the cooperation of believers of different religions on their common and noble human values, or the intention of creating a new colourless, tasteless and odourless religion.” He also said that it “appears to be a call for human gathering and eliminating causes of disputes and conflicts, but in fact, it is a call to restrict freedom of belief and choice.”

However, he didn’t mention any political dimension, but others brought it up. The Egyptian Coptic clergyman, hegumen monk Benjamin al-Mahraqi, said that “the Abrahamic religion is a politicised call under the guise of deceit and exploitation of religion.”

The controversy over “Abrahamism” erupted after the normalisation between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel, in September 2021. Former US President Donald Trump sponsored the agreement called the Abraham Accords.

An Old Investment

The symbolism of the Prophet Abraham began to be used by contemporaries in the 19th century. Since 1811, we have read about the Abrahamic Covenant that unites believers in the West. That was before the name Ibrahim became a research terminology for historians in the 1950s. The first to establish it was the French orientalist Louis Massignon in an article he wrote in 1949 titled The Three Prayers of Abraham, the Father of All Believers. Then the Abrahamic religions turned into a field of independent studies itself.

Heba Gamal al-Din, a political science lecturer at the Egyptian Institute of National Planning, also points out that the “Abrahamic religions” is a term that was founded in the early 2000s to refer to the three monotheistic religions. Its proposal came within a new concept of resolving disputes and conflicts based on intertwined religious dimensions; “spiritual diplomacy”.

Gamal al-Din al-Azab wondered if this project aims to reach world peace or is just an alternative to Fukuyama and Huntington that has the same clashing objective that elevates the West hegemony and pursues its interests in the first place.

So, Abrahamism is a melting pot for the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, to produce a new religion. Its advocates claim that peace, human brotherhood, and the religious common will prevail by gathering commonality between the three faiths and setting aside points of contention. The meeting points will be on the Jewish religion only, “as Muslims recognise the three religions, while in Christianity they recognise only Judaism and Christianity, and the Jews only recognise Judaism,” according to the writer Mustafa Ali Muhammad.

In his study published in the Centre for Arab Unity Studies, titled “Abrahamism, between Coexistence and Dominance,” Hani Taleb says that one of the most severe intellectual challenges faced by thinkers, intellectuals, and the general public is the terminology that bears more than one dimension.

That is because the glamour and familiarity of the term hide its ugly face. With its frequent use, papers get mixed up, destructive projects pass, and those who oppose that ugly face become alienated among people. That is the term “Abrahamic religion”, or the unity of religions or global religion, carrying acceptable meanings, such as coexistence and peace.

Still, utilising those meanings is a method to pass false concepts, manifested in its promoters’ objective to tear apart the components and ties of the Islamic and Arab identity, thus simplifying control over Arab countries and their people for the benefit of Israel.

The Abrahamic Commons in the Service of Political Agendas

The New Abrahamic Religion
A billboard by the United Arab Emirates Embassy marking the signing of the US-brokered Abraham Accords are seen along the expressway in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on September 14, 2021. JACK GUEZ / AFP

Religion was the source of clashing, but it changed and evolved into a gateway for a solution and a settlement. The realpolitik school rejected any presence of religion in the political process. Instead, it came up with the “spiritual diplomacy” concept and began to talk about the “world religious peace” to be reached through this notion.

Heba Gamal al-Din al-Azab says in her book Spiritual Diplomacy and the Abrahamic commons: the Colonial Scheme for the New Century: “In the era of nomenclature and terminology boom, one of the most serious intellectual and cultural challenges is the use of terms such as ‘the Abrahamic commons,’ ‘spiritual diplomacy,’ and ‘International Religious Peace,’ has been frequent in the discourse of global diplomacy and the literature of some study centres and universities in the United States and Israel in the recent years. The terms may be bright, apparently merciful. Still, their content is dark and misleading, as they are used to employ religion in the service of American foreign policy and the Zionist project in the region.”

Gamal al-Din al-Azab concludes in her book that the alleged “Abrahamism” advocating “tolerance” paves the way for “erasing the existential contradiction between the racist Zionist colonial settlement project and the historical rights of the Palestinian and Arab people in general.” The term “spiritual diplomacy” only promotes human rights and “peace” and to confront violence and terrorism only to forgive Israel for all its hatred, massacres, and human rights violations.

According to Gamal al-Din al-Azab, talking about the “Abrahamic commons” comes as the most critical defining pillar as a crucial intellectual entryway, supported by successive US governments in research since 1990 with US President George H. W. Bush’s speech on the “new world order”, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the US war against Iraq during the second Gulf War. But at the research level, the matter took a new curve with the new millennium as a launch point of implementation and support, culminating in institutionalisation within the US State Department in 2013.

Here, we must point out that the terms “Abrahamic commons” and “Abrahamic peace” were used, for the first time, in a study published by former US President Jimmy Carter in 1985 in a book titled The Blood of Abraham, with an apparent influence of Christian Zionism, which approaches history from the Talmudic Jewish narratives. According to writer Yasmine Koaik, Carter elaborated on the Abrahamic commonality among the region’s people as a solution to reach “peace”.

According to al-Azab, the objective of the Abrahamic commons is to create new loyalties that renounce borders and allegiances and consolidate the concept of the global citizen on earth so that his loyalty is not tied to the land but rather under a loving and acceptable approach to the soul, which is the spiritual common, i.e., the Abrahamic. Sharing resources (from Arabs and Muslims) and technology (from Israel and Turkey) will lead to establishing an “Abrahamic federation” that will control resources centrally via the federal authority, which is administered by Israel first and then Turkey.

Projects and Initiatives

The New Abrahamic Religion
The former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the former US President Donald Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan pose from the Truman Balcony at the White House after they participated in the signing of the Abraham Accords where the countries of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recognize Israel, in Washington, DC, September 15, 2020. SAUL LOEB / AFP

In 2004, Harvard University launched a project called “Abraham Path Initiative”, supported by the United States. That project comes in the same context of Knights Templar path.

The two paths were chosen on the Arab lands and the Middle East. They converge to achieve “world religious peace” through a melting pot compatible with supporters of various religions. According to Heba al-Azab, what is interesting is that the longest path, the “Abraham Path,” has its geographical borders similar to the geographical borders of Greater Israel.

The University of Florida also introduced the United States of Abraham project through its EMERGY research centre, concerned with studying environmental and future issues, energy’s future, and the sustainability of available natural resources. The proposal was discussed at the centre’s annual conference in 2015.

The project was not presented as a political initiative but rather as a forward-looking vision for the region’s survival threatened by drought and scarcity of resources in the near future, noting that the Middle East is a very arid region. The vision presents a model for a practical political structure and a unifying symbol that brings together all parties in the land between the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile Rivers by establishing a federation that brings together 18 Arab countries, Israel, Turkey and Iran together. That is, what would be known as the United States of Abraham, or simply “the Holy Land”.

The process of federal integration is led by Israel and then Turkey under their possession of resources and technology in the light of Arab “ignorance”. The Gulf countries ‘ burden will be funding the state and the regional linkage because of the “Iranian threat”.

In her book, researcher Gamal al-Dinal-Azab presents the existing geographical link projects with Israel in detail. It is noted in the proposal the absence of the Palestinian cause and its inclusion within the regional proposal, which will take place in the context of removing borders and re-division of states, governorates, and affiliated units.

Objectives

In his study Abrahamism, between Coexistence and Dominance, Hani Taleb mentions that the most important objectives of the call for Abrahamism is fragmenting what remains of the Arab identity and organically integrating Israel into the Arab region, paving the way for it to control the countries, peoples, and capabilities of this region.

According to Taleb, these objectives include criminalising resistance against the Israeli occupation and considering it a form of terrorism, accepting the reality of the occupation, preparing for future concession and internationalisation of more extensive areas of the Middle East on the pretext that they are Abrahamic regions, sponsoring the existing religious conflicts between supporters of the same religion, such as the Sunni-Shiite conflict, to accept the new religion and the Abrahamic commons, falsifying history, distorting the awareness of new generations, and liquidating the Palestinian cause.

Taleb believes that the current events in the region, including the announcement of the Deal of the Century, Arab normalisation, political crises and internal and regional conflicts, are all aligned with implementing the Abrahamic plan, which represents a project to complete American and Israeli hegemony.

While Gamal al-Din al-Azab warns that what is being promoted “is not aimed at world peace, but rather wasting the region and the Arab right of Muslims and Christians together. And that we should not be deceived by the attractive religious slogans, human brotherhood and false tolerance, stressing that awareness and societal resistance is the basis and that cohesion is the key to countering destructive ideas.

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