View Full Version : Gnostic influence on Islam?

02-23-2020, 01:29 AM
One of the doctrines of a certain sect of Gnostics was adopted by Mohammed. They taught that Jesus was a mere man, and that the Son of God descended upon him at the baptism, and abandoned him at the time of the Passion. In support of this view they appealed to the text: ‘My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?’ – a text which, it must be confessed, Christians have always found difficult.

The Gnostics considered it unworthy of the Son of God to be born, to be an infant, and, above all, to die on the cross; they said that these things had befallen the man Jesus, but not the divine Son of God. Mohammed, who recognized Jesus as a prophet, though not as divine, had a strong class feeling that prophets ought not to come to a bad end. He therefore adopted the view of the Docetics (a Gnostic sect), according to which it was a mere phantom that hung upon the cross, upon which, impotently and ignorantly, Jews and Romans wreaked their ineffectual vengeance.

In this way, something of Gnosticism passed over into the orthodox doctrine of Islam. - from Bertrand Russell History of Western Philosophy

(been posting some stuff from this tome since I have been reading it to completion these past few weeks)

Some contrary views on Wikipedia:

Some scholars accept that Islam was influenced by Manichaeism (Docetism) in this view. However the general consensus is that Manichaeism was not prevelent in Mecca in the 6th- & 7th centuries, when Islam developed. - source (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Docetism#Islam_and_docetism)


02-23-2020, 03:11 AM
Probably the only people who may say something really interesting on the subject are those with a very good Greek, a very good Coptic, a very good Arabian, a relatively good knowledge of early Gnosticism and a truly good knowledge of ancient Islamic History... my assumption is that there are probably more people who have the philosopher's stone nowadays than people who unite all the previous conditions.

Other than that, the influence of Gnosticism on Religions of the Arabian world can be discussed (Sufism, Yazidism, Druzes, etc)... but I do not think that mainstream Islam is (or was) Gnostic EVEN if that influence was real (which is not something I can know).

A similar example: Trinitarian Christianity was certainly a Gnostic invention, probably by Valentinus himself (if not, some people who followed Valentinus)... and it became the "official" doctrine of the Catholic Church. So the Catholic Church has that Gnostic influence, but such thing does not really make the Catholic Church become a Gnostic institution or practitioners of a Gnostic religion. I believe the situation is similar.

Michael Sternbach
02-23-2020, 04:52 AM
And yet it could be argued that every religion (which deserves to be called such) has both an esoteric and an exoteric side.

Florius Frammel
02-23-2020, 10:37 AM