The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
05th of July, 2014

On Arabic Poetic Forms, Abraham Kuyper, and the Image of God

You know, I recently spoke of an Arabic song that I found to be very beautiful—even a legitimate education of my World music tastes, which already have a brave and varied exposure.
The problem was that it was also an Islamic song, so I never linked to it. But since then, I have mentioned its name—Jaljalat—that those who are interested may find it. Aside from being Islamic and therefore evil in theology and consequently in content. It is about murder and pillaging of Christians, and it is a big hit across all sorts of corners of the Arabic-speaking Islamic Internet. I am still organising to pay for a translation, to see what such a well-executed war anthem is saying exactly. (My Arabic only goes so far as to recognise certain nouns. I can’t bear to learn the language.)

Anyway, this song is one side of Arabia that has come out looking good, in spite of itself. This is what Abraham Kuyper saw in his contemporary Roman Catholics and declared “common grace.” Abraham Kuyper was wrong, of course, because there is no such thing as “common grace.”
(Kuyper and his followers essentially said that God gives some grace to every human being, and that it is what is responible for humans not being as depraved as left-brain Calvinism said they should be. “Look,” they would say, “Fallen Man has all the light in him turned to darkness. Yet listen to the music the heathen Muslim Mandé play! Divine, even! And the anasheed of the anti-Christian Arabs? And the pure, selfless altruism of the European Muslim jihadis, in spite of how misled it is? Are these people not clearly infused with a certain light—the ‘common grace’—in spite of their devil-worshipping madness?” —Or saint-worshipping madness, in Kuyper’s case. Well, the answer is: no. There is no “common grace.” On this, Abraham Kuyper and his followers were wrong.)

Before we go on, see this Muslim cleric declaring physical war against Christians, and declaring an allegiance of faith with all sorts of Islamist anti-Christian groups. I am not giving you the video because of its content, which is outright wicked poison, but rather because of the cleric’s sheer poetic ability.
I would link to Lil’ Wayne if he were this good at some point. But Lil’ Wayne is of Mandé extraction, anyway, so I expect rhyming excellence and fluidity of him as much as I expect lean muscle. This cleric is not a Mandingo (but is certainly of Berber admixtrue). 3, 2, 1,

Co-feel his pure glee when his crowd notices his masterful wrestling of the panicky Arabic tongue. The third attempt that is captured on camera is the one that ultimately delivers his best poetic assault. I guess if you try often enough … You know, it is like the crowd knows him, expects a sudden and random rhyme at times like this, and on the third try the cleric delivers, at the crucial point when all-out war is declared on the previous and prevailing non-Islams; the rhyme starting at 50 seconds into the video, when he redeclares Muhammad’s ambition against Christendom, and it goes on for a geniunely masterly, poetic 20 seconds. I wish I could pretend it was accidental, but clearly he is working at it. I guess this is what little humanity (“ubuntu” in Mandela’s tongue, “‘buntu-‘bulamu” in Luganda, literally “living-human-ness”, “εικονα θεου” in the Septuagint) may be found in a situation where living humans are still present even as the agency has been seized by the horrible super-demon that posessed Muhammad.
(I guess that, since he is possessed by the same stuff, we can judge the poetic quality of Muhammad’s book from extrapolations of this video alone. Hmm … Not worth the bandwidth.)

The thing responsible for the persistence of humanity, even in a man entirely possessed by the devil, is that God made Man in His image. So even a Hitler in the womb would not be a candidate for abortion, because Hitler—just like Muhammad—was made in the image of God.
In Genesis 9, God actually gives His reason for the higher value of human over merely-animal life: “for in the eikona theou I made man.” Those who disregard this and murder, He hands to their fellow humans and their divinely-instituted death penalty. Meanwhile, He approves of (and, in the previous chapter, blesses) the slaughtering of animals for the service of humanity, the eikona theou (such as covering nakedness, feeding, ritual, musical instruments). The difference is not in the physical. To the prevailing materialist metaphysics, ultimately, yes, humans are an animal composed of the same dirt that every other animal was made from. But the animals were made out of their own forms, and we in the image of God.

Abraham Kuyper could not be cleaned up by taking all the parts where “common grace” infected the thought, and “the image of God” put in its place, since the image of God is a mere fact about us that doesn’t invest us with any further virtues. (The capacity for technology is not a virtue; as a legitimate part of the image of God, though, it is present in fallen man.) It is manifestations of the image of God that made Kuyper conclude “common grace.” The things he cites as the result of “common grace” could also be found even in the Qur’an simply because its conduit happened to be a human, made in the image of God. And not just poetry, because Muhammad’s humanity couldn’t let him ignore his fellow-orphans and bastards[1], so there is a thick core of altruism in Islam, and the cult does sometimes breed a remarkably selfless piousness and a perhaps-fitting privileging of the spiritual over the material. But does that credit Islam at all? Not any more than the cleric’s rhyming: essentially, not worth the bandwidth. (I am saying I would rigidly censor all Islamic content on a network I control. All Islamic content. By censor, I mean modify or block the content. Hey, I am doing the same to our own Abraham Kuyper.)

So, no: there is no such thing as “common grace.” For better or for worse, the Calvinists are correct, and Abraham Kuyper is wrong.
But, yes: the image of God is prior to our fall, and in spite of it. Being in the image of God confers upon us such abilities as music, order, mathematics, execution of the ghastlier state duties and their hard justice (“I will require the blood of ever man at the hand his fellow-man … for in the eikona theou I made Man.”) or, for that matter, loving and generous sexual relationships.
And, yes: if it weren’t for that, the image of God and the abilities it implies upon us, we would literally be the most-savage of animals, and not unlike what the Darwinist heresy wrongly claims we are.

Due to the image of God, we can always find something worth preserving in even the most-base of lives. Look how the image of God may flickered forth one good thing in that cleric’s sermon, or, for that matter, in the hateful, diabolical, and heretical poetry of Muhammad. And perhaps Hitler was a skilled orator, or whatever. There are things that will shine about man, regardless of all other factors. Total depavity doesn’t mean that these things are not there, but rather than we are thoroughly wicked even in spite of them. Shouldn’t the Arab jihadis notice that lyrics of beheading don’t blend with such life-celebrating vocal performance? “For ever since the creation of the universe God's invisible attributes—his everlasting power and divinity—are to be seen and studied in his works, so that people have no excuse; because, although they learned to know God, yet they did not offer him as God either praise or thanksgiving.”

And now that I have given you that, why do I still segregate against Jaljalat:
It means “thunder” in Arabic. Remember, the cult doesn’t allow them musical instruments. Can you imagine it?

But what would I do with these Muslims, these humans, made in the image of God, if they showed up on my door? —Perhaps even singing Jaljallat?
I would shoot them several times until they were thoroughly aborted, and then I would probably use them to heat the corridors of a hospital. See, I am no better than those other humans. Even though I am of the right faith, I am capable of more ruthlessness than some of these jihadis can contemplate. I am able to be entirely base and devoid of honour and pity. —And I would still be the image of God, no more and no less than I am now, when I am an opinionated writer at a keyboard. Grammar is of the image of God.

[1] “Ahmed” is actually the first title that Muhammad picks in the Qur’an, and then later settles for “Muhammad.” They mean roughly the same thing, and they are both merely titles, not names. His real name is most-likely “Qathem”, from his grandparents, who were convinced that he was a bastard, since his alleged father, Abdullah, had died years before he was born.