By Charles Upton, An Interfaith Initiative to Deal with Islamophobia

Posted with the author’s permission. Charles Upton is a poet of the Beat generation, a student of Lew Welch, a writer on Traditionalist topics, and an American Muslim living in Kentucky.His recent works are published by Sophia Perennis Press, earlier work of his has been featured in City Lights Anthology and other sources. Jennifer D. Upton, his wife, is a writer and author, and a Traditionalist Christian practicing Eastern Orthodoxy.

I support their initiative, and I too believe a committee of American Muslims should publicly express support for the right of St. Nicholas’ parish to rebuild it’s church, destroyed in the 9/11 attacks, asking the City of New York to consider issuing the pertinent permits.

It is not well known that the City has presented numerous hardships to St. Nicholas’s parish, and such a declaration would express very real common ground and mutual interests shared between Traditional Muslims, and Traditional Orthodox Christians, while serving as a light of clarity defusing some of the interfaith conflict surrounding the factitious issue of the “Ground Zero Mosque.” Many Americans are not aware of the real agenda behind the Ground Zero Mosque, or the interests its framers represent, just as they are often ignorant on particulars concerning 9/11 itself. So too the vast majority of Americans, both Muslim and non-Muslim, are not aware of the difficulties the church has been experiencing with the City of New York.

I agree with the Uptons that this situation has not received the media attention it deserves.

An Interfaith Initiative to Deal with Islamophobia

Public relations campaigns to address Islamophobia and quid-pro-quo negotiations with non-Muslim groups are definitely worth pursuing, but their effectiveness will probably be limited. What is needed is unencumbered action that cuts against the prevailing lines of both interfaith conflict and established interfaith dialogue.

Most Muslims do not seem to know that many many churches are continually being burned in this country; the Christian Defense Council estimates an average of 100-150 churches are hit with arson every year. What if Muslims were to pledge to express support for any Christian congregations whose churches are torched, without asking for anything in return? Now that Terry Jones has demonstrated that any unknown person can get attention from the President of the United States himself just by threatening to burn the Qur’an, things have decidedly taken a turn for the worse: this is a bad idea that won’t go away, and I believe it needs to be addressed with vigorous action. In order to gain insight into people like Rev. Jones and the threat they pose, we need to understand their grievances; and the fact is that many of the churches burned in the U.S. every year are rural churches with conservative beliefs. Support for Christians who have had their churches burned is the best way I can think of to improve relations between Muslims and Christians, particularly conservative Christians.

My authority for this proposal is the Prophet Sunnah. In 628 C.E. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) granted a Charter of Privileges to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery near Mt. Sinai; here is the text of it:

This is a message from Muhamad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.

Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).

Charles Upton
Lexington, KY 40503-2121
cupton (at sign)

A Commentary on this Initiative

in Light of the Transcendent Unity of Religions

I consider the initiative proposed above to be an example of the “United Front Ecumen-
ism” I called for in The System of Antichrist, which I specifically envisioned as the proper exoteric expression of the Transcendent Unity of Religions. Liberal ecumenism can only be a parody of the TUR, since it emphasizes Unity at the expense of Transcendence; an obsessive, repetitive, and largely useless horizontal dialogue between religious institutions replaces the vertical dialogue between the soul and God. And since Unity is conceived of not in Transcendent but in worldly terms, there is a tendency to seek a lowest common denominator of “those things we agree upon” and then elevate this area of “agreement” to the rank of a spurious meta-principle. This process is aided and abetted, seeded and funded by those globalist forces who wish to press elements from all the major religions, and from the Traditionalists/Perennialists as well, into the service of their agenda to federate the world religions under a non-religious authority, and ultimately to create a One World Religion to pacify the “particularist” or “tribalist” masses—the traditional religious believers—so as to stabilize and solidify the New World Order.

United Front Ecumenism, on the other hand, does not seek doctrinal common ground between the religions (or deny it either, when it exists), but rather concentrates upon, and moves to counter, the actions and influences of those forces of secularism, overtly globalist in many cases, which stand as the common enemy of every revealed religion, the enemy of Transcendence itself. Those who channel such forces know quite well that the best way to prevent the religions from uniting against them, while simultaneously hiding their actions and agendas, is by setting up contexts in which the religions can unite under their patronage. The more the attention of believers can be directed by these secularist outsiders toward a barren and purposeless interaction—one that is just as likely to produce interfaith conflict as interfaith amity (and the forces of secularism know quite well how use both reactions)—the less likely believers will be to pay attention to them, to the non-believing interlopers who seem to be so interested in their common welfare. If their attention were to shift in that direction, they might begin to understand how they are being manipulated and co-opted by people who see religion as nothing more than a system of social indoctrination and control, a system they wish to dominate and employ for their own ends.

Liberal/secular ecumenism destroys Transcendence in order to create a spurious interfaith unity, and then attempts to employ this false unity so as to erect, as its unifying principle, a false transcendence: the “transcendence” of the social engineers. That way lies Antichrist. United Front Ecumenism, on the other hand, doesn’t attempt to artificially create interfaith Unity—which, if all true religions are revealed by God as the doctrine of the Transcendent Unity of Religions maintains, already exists in the Unseen, the Transcendent, perfectly formed and in need of no help from us—but rather posits this Unity, and then proceeds to serve it and draw upon it by taking action against a common enemy. Such action requires no doctrinal agreements, negotiations or adjustments whatsoever, but posits the Transcendent Unity of Religions by the apophatic method as it were: by taking the visible, exoteric existence of a common enemy as the outer sign of a silent, hidden, esoteric Unity that need not be explicitly defined and articulated—simply intuited, accepted as already established in the mystery of God’s Will, and then acted upon. It is in the act, not in the definition and the articulation, the endless speech-making of religious politicians and the interminable yammering of academics who have no sense of what is happening on the ground, that the true Transcendent Unity of Religions is employed, and served.


5 Comment

  1. i finally understand what this post is all about. very interesting.

  2. Dharmic Feminist says:

    Merry Christmas!

    What about non-Abrahamic faiths that employ the use of icons (idols) in their practice?

  3. I shot an email off to Charles, to invite him to personally comment himself. For I cannot speak for him.

    But as I understand it his views can be seen as “perennialist traditionalist” (a simplification of his nuanced positions, but it roughly fits. One of the chief thinkers in his school of thought, Ananda Coomarswamy, was a Hindu for most of his life (though his son Rama Coomarswamy converted to Roman Catholicism, and Ananda himself was a Muslim at some point of time in his later life)

    The intellectual founder of the school, Rene Guenon, though a Muslim probably wrote more on the Vedanta than on Sufism.

    Such Traditionalists aim at the areas in which the various religious traditions find unity and accord, and typically scorn communalist partisan politics.

    As such Upton has written considerably, with great respect, on non Abrahamic faiths, and as I understand his position it is exactly the same when it comes to non-Abrahamic Faiths. He has written extensively on Hinduism, Buddhism, and other non Abrahamic Faiths in his books.

    Having posted his views on my blog my position is in accord with his on substantive points, though I would quibble in specific details.

    His article primarily addresses Christianity for an important reason, as I see it – frankly America is a Christian Majority country, the tone of interfaith dialogs in America are going to be more heavily weighted towards discussions of Christianinty. Muslims as religious minorities in America and Europe are engaged primarily in interfaith dialogs with Christians, naturally the emphasis in this particular article was on Christians, but really it applies to any Traditional religion, Abrahamic or non-Abrahamic.

    There are two types of groups interested in such topics today, a sapiential and intellectual, and a communalistic identity based and emotional.

    The former are better able to see through forms and arrive at understandings of places of possible mutual accord, or respectfully places where no mutual accord is possible. The later I’m not concerned with. The Traditionalists aim at the level of the intellectual and sapiential.

    In this world of globalist power politics in which various groups are played off against each other like pawns, in accordance to their limited conditioning, to fulfill greater ends, the approach of the Perenialists is not without some usefulness and cogency,

  4. Omar, It took me a few times to really understand what Charles was getting at myself.

  5. Also thank you for the holiday greetings

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