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WI: Muhammad was a Christian

Circle of Willis

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Christianity was known to have penetrated into Arabia by the time of Muhammad: the Chalcedonian Christianity of the Romans wasn't particularly popular in the region to my knowledge, but Miaphysitism (Coptic Egyptian & Ethiopian Christianity), Ebionism (the remnants of the Judaizers) and Nestorianism (the Assyrian Church of the East) had all attracted significant numbers of Arab converts by the 7th century. In particular the Ghassanids, the Eastern Romans' principal Arabic allies, were fierce Miaphysites while their Persian-aligned Lakhmid rivals finished converting to Nestorianism, and there may have been Ebionite communities in Arabia as late as the 11-12th centuries. Also, Muhammad's first wife Khadija was possibly a Christian herself, and certainly had known Christian relatives such as Waraqah ibn Nawfal.

So - what if, instead of founding Islam, Muhammad had been a convert to one of these branches of Christianity instead?
 

Buba

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I assume that "Muhammad is a pious and successful Christian businessman of Mecca who goes to Church every Sunday" scenario is not exactly sexy?
To make things interesting Muhammad could be a reformer/missionary. Question is - does he do it inside existing structures - Miaphysite, most likely, or outside - like Luther or Smith?
 

Circle of Willis

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Honestly, I think even a 'Muhammad is a peaceful Christian and there is no sudden Arab expansion in the 7th century' scenario could be interesting. That at least would probably mean the continued survival of the full-strength ERE with its Levantine & Egyptian borders, the Sassanid Persians (I've read that Zoroastrianism was losing favor by the time Islam came knocking, some Sassanid princes like Anoshazad had become very sympathetic to Christians and that Nestorianism had briefly become the largest religion in Persia, so...Christian Iran & Central Asia in the long term, perhaps?), and the balance of power between them.

That said, Muhammad being some sort of early Arab Luther/Calvin could work too. IIRC Christian iconoclasm first became a big thing in response to the Muslims' battlefield successes against the Byzantines, but the seeds were sown as early as the huge spread of religious icons under Justinian. Some sort of iconoclastic, but still clearly Christian, sect replacing Islam as the religion of the Arabs if they still go on their conquering spree would make for a very different Arabic empire indeed, though other than Ebionism (adoptionist Judaizers) I'm not sure what other doctrines they might follow or come up with outside of the already-established Miaphysite and Nestorian ones.
 

The Immortal Watch Dog

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Wouldn't he an unholy fusion of Martin Luthor and Oliver Cromwell? He was never going to just be a leader in someone else's religion and he'd still be a warlord right?

You'd probably end up with a similar history of bloody conflict with the crusades and the Moorish conquests of the South of Spain but it would likely be in the name of this new Church.
 

Buba

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Honestly, I think even a 'Muhammad is a peaceful Christian and there is no sudden Arab expansion in the 7th century' scenario could be interesting.
Well, I agree that it is interesting in the "world history changed beyond recognition" sense.
But same can be achieved with a "no Islam" POD :)
IIRC Christian iconoclasm first became a big thing in response to the Muslims' battlefield successes against the Byzantines,
LOL!
I'm fresh after reading Wiki on iconoclasm and - although there is no scholarly consensus (not that it means anything if 99 out of a hundred scholars are wrong) Islamic influence on the whole mess is considered to have been nil or minimal.
Some sort of iconoclastic, but still clearly Christian, sect replacing Islam as the religion of the Arabs [....] I'm not sure what other doctrines they might follow or come up with [...]
Ooooo, I'd love me adoptionism going big!
Marcionism (which I believe was still around, even if vestigal) would be delicious too :)
 
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Circle of Willis

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Wouldn't he an unholy fusion of Martin Luthor and Oliver Cromwell? He was never going to just be a leader in someone else's religion and he'd still be a warlord right?

You'd probably end up with a similar history of bloody conflict with the crusades and the Moorish conquests of the South of Spain but it would likely be in the name of this new Church.
I agree that that's the likeliest case if Muhammad's personality isn't also changed. If *Arabic Christianity (for lack of a better term) still carries over certain aspects of OTL Islam, like the iconoclasm I mentioned before and/or the lack of a centralized top-down religious hierarchy, and especially if it's rooted in Ebionism (which in turn was deeply rooted in the Judaizers among the early Christians) we could easily end up with something that strongly resembles the later Puritans. Basically an iconoclastic, fervently austere church - albeit one born in the desert sands rather than the forests of Germany and England - which makes concepts like Biblical literalism (which incidentally the Muslims also had a RL counterpart to) and presbyterian/congregational organization mainstream (at least in the areas it conquers) centuries before OTL.

Also, regarding an *Arabic Christianity that grows out of Ebionism, there's at least one scholar who argued that they may have believed in a dynastic succession to Jesus. I don't think that's a 100% certainty, but it would make for a good way to tie Islam's dynastic aspect (particularly the Shiite reckoning) to *Arabic Christianity. Just have Muhammad and his descendants claim descent from Jesus' cousin or something, and you can have Taiping-esque sayyids to lay claim to familial leadership over the new sect as well.
Well, I agree that it is interesting in the "world history changed beyond recognition" sense.
But same can be achieved with a "no Islam" POD :)

LOL!
I'm fresh after reading Wiki on iconoclasm and - although there is no scholarly consensus (not that it means anything if 99 out of a hundred scholars are wrong) Islamic influence on the whole mess is considered to have been nil or minimal.

Ooooo, I'd love me the modalism you've mentioned! I'm a fan, of dynamic modalism in particular.
Marcionism (which I believe was still around, even if vestigal) would be delicious too :)
It's been a long time since I read up on the iconoclastic controversy, but IIRC the Byzantines being smacked around by the iconoclastic Muslims contributed to it (even if it wasn't the sole cause), as Christian iconoclasts blamed said defeats on the ERE having supposedly turned away from God via increasing icon-veneration. I might be totally wrong and/or more recent scholarship may have discarded that theory though, like I said, it's been years haha.

I'm not sure about Marcionism, a quick look at their Wiki article tells me that while that sect had spread to Khorasan and was encountered by Muslims, it doesn't seem to have been strong in Arabia or the Levant. If *Arab Christianity is nontrinitarian and as strict about God's oneness & supremacy as Islam IRL is though, I could imagine some sort of neo-Marcionism (with its dualistic understanding of God & the devil/Demiurge) becoming one possible way for Persian & Central Asian converts to religiously differentiate themselves from the Arabs down the road.
 

Buba

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have Muhammad and his descendants claim descent from Jesus' cousin or something,
No problem - Jesus' brother was head of the Church in Jerusalem for some time - have HIS descendants go to Mecca. So Muhammad claiming to be a descendant of Jesus is easy ...
And James (Jacob?) is only one of several brothers ... and Jezus had sisters too!
Marcionism, a quick look at their Wiki article tells me that while that sect [...] it doesn't seem to have been strong in Arabia or the Levant.
All it takes is one person to meet with The Prophet and get him going ... :)
 
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ATP

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Christianity was known to have penetrated into Arabia by the time of Muhammad: the Chalcedonian Christianity of the Romans wasn't particularly popular in the region to my knowledge, but Miaphysitism (Coptic Egyptian & Ethiopian Christianity), Ebionism (the remnants of the Judaizers) and Nestorianism (the Assyrian Church of the East) had all attracted significant numbers of Arab converts by the 7th century. In particular the Ghassanids, the Eastern Romans' principal Arabic allies, were fierce Miaphysites while their Persian-aligned Lakhmid rivals finished converting to Nestorianism, and there may have been Ebionite communities in Arabia as late as the 11-12th centuries. Also, Muhammad's first wife Khadija was possibly a Christian herself, and certainly had known Christian relatives such as Waraqah ibn Nawfal.

So - what if, instead of founding Islam, Muhammad had been a convert to one of these branches of Christianity instead?
Maybe he was ?
byzantine writers from his times for first 50 years or so treated islam as christian heresy,not new religion.And current version of Koran was writen at least 100 years after his death.
In Yeman german found older version - and they varied from canon.

But if he not only were,but lived long enough for people to remember that - we would probably have some new kind of christian conquering world anyway.
Question is,would they be more or less orthodox .
.
 

Circle of Willis

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Good question. I've mentioned before that Muhammad was likeliest to convert to one of the non-orthodox branches of Christianity, since those were the ones strongest in and around Arabia. However, that doesn't necessarily rule out the Arabs accepting Chalcedonian Christianity at a later time, after they make contact with Rome and much more plausibly if any initial tensions between them cool down.

If an Arab monarch were to end up converting to the Chalcedonian Church, aligning with the ERE and making an imperial match or several for himself & his kin - perhaps amid any of said empire's many civil wars and succession disputes he could be accepted as a latter-day Philip the Arab, a Christian Arab Emperor of the Romans, and adding whatever domains the Arabs have conquered (possibly from the Byzantines themselves among others) back to said ERE. If we assume the Arab conquests take a similar trajectory as OTL and the 'redeemed' Arab empire is about the size of the Umayyad one, or even just the late Rashidun Caliphate, that'd mean this Romano-Arab union would actually exceed the conquests of Justinian - he never took out Persia altogether! This road is quite the contrast to the other possibility of a puritanical and decidedly anti-orthodox *Arab Christian empire being discussed earlier.
 

Navarro

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Christianity was known to have penetrated into Arabia by the time of Muhammad: the Chalcedonian Christianity of the Romans wasn't particularly popular in the region to my knowledge, but Miaphysitism (Coptic Egyptian & Ethiopian Christianity), Ebionism (the remnants of the Judaizers) and Nestorianism (the Assyrian Church of the East) had all attracted significant numbers of Arab converts by the 7th century. In particular the Ghassanids, the Eastern Romans' principal Arabic allies, were fierce Miaphysites while their Persian-aligned Lakhmid rivals finished converting to Nestorianism, and there may have been Ebionite communities in Arabia as late as the 11-12th centuries. Also, Muhammad's first wife Khadija was possibly a Christian herself, and certainly had known Christian relatives such as Waraqah ibn Nawfal.

So - what if, instead of founding Islam, Muhammad had been a convert to one of these branches of Christianity instead?
Best POD for this is that the Ethiopian-Yemeni invasion of Mecca shortly before he was born succeeds and isn't struck down by a plague.
 

ATP

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Good question. I've mentioned before that Muhammad was likeliest to convert to one of the non-orthodox branches of Christianity, since those were the ones strongest in and around Arabia. However, that doesn't necessarily rule out the Arabs accepting Chalcedonian Christianity at a later time, after they make contact with Rome and much more plausibly if any initial tensions between them cool down.

If an Arab monarch were to end up converting to the Chalcedonian Church, aligning with the ERE and making an imperial match or several for himself & his kin - perhaps amid any of said empire's many civil wars and succession disputes he could be accepted as a latter-day Philip the Arab, a Christian Arab Emperor of the Romans, and adding whatever domains the Arabs have conquered (possibly from the Byzantines themselves among others) back to said ERE. If we assume the Arab conquests take a similar trajectory as OTL and the 'redeemed' Arab empire is about the size of the Umayyad one, or even just the late Rashidun Caliphate, that'd mean this Romano-Arab union would actually exceed the conquests of Justinian - he never took out Persia altogether! This road is quite the contrast to the other possibility of a puritanical and decidedly anti-orthodox *Arab Christian empire being discussed earlier.
And such Empire would probably retake former Western Empire,or at least Spain and part of Italy.Eastern Europe would be their vassals,not HRE,which in that scenario never would exist.
If they follow technological progress - not impossible-then we could have now Earth united by them and colonies on Mars.Maybe even fighting aliens in other systems...
 

stevep

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Not sure how accurate they are and it was some time ago but have seen some suggestions that while religious fevour played a part in the early Arab/Muslim conquests a surplus of manpower and also a desire for loot - and possibly also prestige and power also played a part. As such even a Christian Muhammad could then have resulted in a violent outpouring of Arabs from the peninsula into neighbouring lands.

Assuming he didn't convert to the Chalcedonian variant then you could easily see him and his successors at least as hostile to the ERE as OTL simply because he saw them as heretics. Or a vague Christianity which as OTL overruns Syria and Egypt could end up largely Miaphysitism which would fit in with the bulk of their new subjects, or at least the Christian ones.

Of course either way it really depends on the Phocas mutiny and Sassanid invasions occurring and leading to a long war that crippled both enmpires as OTL otherwise its probably going to be difficult for them to make significant progress. Even with the way the population of Syroan and Egypt felt about Greek/Chalcedonian domination.
 

Navarro

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Not sure how accurate they are and it was some time ago but have seen some suggestions that while religious fevour played a part in the early Arab/Muslim conquests a surplus of manpower and also a desire for loot - and possibly also prestige and power also played a part. As such even a Christian Muhammad could then have resulted in a violent outpouring of Arabs from the peninsula into neighbouring lands.
It's noteworthy that in this TL Arabia would be essentially the periphery of the Ethiopian sphere of influence, so an Arab expansion may head primarily southward instead of northward.
 

Buba

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Miaphisite (Eastern) is so like totally different from Catholic Orthodoxy that you weep while squinting to see the differences. The split was more political than not. Nevertheless sectarian hatred can exist.

Nestorianism (Oriental) - that's more divergent - Theokotos versus Chistokotos was (is?) a Big Thing - but again politics played a role, i.e. Persian Monarchs imposing this brand of Christianity on their subjects as it was already condemned as heretical in Rome.

The Abyssynian angle supports Arabia going Miaphisite. Another aspect is language - all the pertinent literature is available in Aramaic (Syriac) and in abjad.

Now as to Nestorianism - wasn't the Hejaz under Persian influence (control?) sometime around 600AD? Or was it Yemen?
 

stevep

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It's noteworthy that in this TL Arabia would be essentially the periphery of the Ethiopian sphere of influence, so an Arab expansion may head primarily southward instead of northward.
Don't think so. Unless your referring to the suggestion of Ethiopia [Axum I think it was at the time] maintaining control of the Yemen region and extending it up into the Hejaz?

Even then I would think an outpouring of Arab expansion would be more likely to go north than south as its easier to expand by land than by sea normally. Plus if the two great powers to the south have shattered each other with a long war their weaker and also have some very rich lands.
 

stevep

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Miaphisite (Eastern) is so like totally different from Catholic Orthodoxy that you weep while squinting to see the differences. The split was more political than not. Nevertheless sectarian hatred can exist.

Nestorianism (Oriental) - that's more divergent - Theokotos versus Chistokotos was (is?) a Big Thing - but again politics played a role, i.e. Persian Monarchs imposing this brand of Christianity on their subjects as it was already condemned as heretical in Rome.

The Abyssynian angle supports Arabia going Miaphisite. Another aspect is language - all the pertinent literature is available in Aramaic (Syriac) and in abjad.

Now as to Nestorianism - wasn't the Hejaz under Persian influence (control?) sometime around 600AD? Or was it Yemen?
I don't think the Persians every controlled the Hejaz. They did break Ethipoian control of Yemen but can't remember if they actually controlled it. - Checking wiki for a quick rough guide the country seems to be under Persian influence but only a couple of areas under direct control form ~570 AD. Prior to this there seems to have been bitter fighting between Christian and Jewish groups in the region with the latter losing out.
 

Circle of Willis

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Re: Persian meddling in Arabia, it looks like the Persians never conquered the Hejaz even at the height of their power, though they did kick the Ethiopians out of Yemen (which they invaded in the first place, led by who an Unbiased History-inspired vid calls the most based black man to ever live, to oust a Jewish king who was persecuting the local Christians) and installed their own governor in the 6th century.

Assuming Muhammad and the Arabs are still inclined to expand northward against the Sassanids and Byzantines, I think converting to Miaphysitism makes the most sense (from the perspective of an ambitious warlord anyway), since that puts them in alignment with the Ethiopians (vs. the Persian garrison in Yemen) and the non-Chalcedonian majority in Egypt & Syria. Since Khosrau II suppressed the independence of the Nestorian Lakhmids in 602, I doubt Muhammad's Arabs would want to forge a relationship with Persia that's any stronger than short-term alliances of convenience - the Persians will have already demonstrated the dangers of getting too close to them in a way that even the Byzantines never did with their own Ghassanid allies.
 

Doomsought

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The thing is, he was, sorta. Early Christianity has a habit of exiling various heresies into the area we now call the middle east.

Islam, like Scientology, is a religion designed with a goal in mind. Except intstead of a financial exploitation, it is to create an army of fanatics. So when Muhammad created his army, he basically combined all the heresies with a few of his own ideas in order to create a death cult to discipline his army of bandits and camel thieves.
 

ATP

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The thing is, he was, sorta. Early Christianity has a habit of exiling various heresies into the area we now call the middle east.

Islam, like Scientology, is a religion designed with a goal in mind. Except intstead of a financial exploitation, it is to create an army of fanatics. So when Muhammad created his army, he basically combined all the heresies with a few of his own ideas in order to create a death cult to discipline his army of bandits and camel thieves.
Yes.Exactly like soviets - they steal,murdered,raped - and belived that they are doing good things.But soviets were stupid - they promised earthy paradise and common property,when Mohammad promised 72 used virgins after death and loots here on Earth.
 

The Whispering Monk

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Aside from the conflict or not with European Christianity, the bigger story for me would be Arabic Missionaries heading farther East.

India...China...

Hitting those empires in those time frames could REALLY alter the world history.

Emperor Daozong James I of the Liao Dynasty...egads mate the butterfly effect!
 
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