How Mormons feel about Islam

Muhammad receiving revelation from the angel GabrielJoseph Smith receiving the gold plates from the angel Moroni

A couple of weeks ago, I had the misfortune of watching parts of the hate-filled anti-Muslim film made in the United States and promoted by Pastor Terry Jones—the spark that set off the recent flames of anti-Western rage in Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Jones, in case you don’t remember, is the same bigot that planned to burn copies of the Qur’an on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The film is horribly offensive. There have been offensive films made about Mormons, too, but nothing quite like this. It is truly trash, both artistically and as an expression of hate against Muslims.

Mormons have much in common with Muslims, and were subject in the 19th century to much of the same kind of ridicule as Muslims. Therefore, I think that Mormons are less likely than many evangelical Christians to join in Muslim-bashing. Also, there are many differences between Mormonism and evangelical Christianity that might tend to make Mormons more tolerant of Muslims.

First, unlike evangelicals, Mormon do not believe that Muslims are destined for hell unless they convert to Christianity and accept Jesus as their savior. To be clear, Mormons do believe that Mormon theology represents an exclusive path to the highest heavenly realm. However, in 1836, the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith said that he had a vision in which he was told, “All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it had they been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God.” (D&C 137:7). “This gospel” refers to the doctrines of Mormonism. Thus, according to Smith’s 1836 teaching, any Muslim who was not familiar with Mormonism, but would have accepted it had they known about it in their lifetime, would be automatically saved in the heavenly kingdom. Statistics would suggest that there ought to be far more Muslim-born people in that kingdom than Mormon-born.

A few years later in 1840, Joseph Smith introduced the practice of baptism for the dead, by which Mormons could be baptized as proxies for those people, including Muslims, who had died without Mormon baptism. Mormons today understand that in the afterlife, such people will have the choice as to whether or not to accept that baptism done on their behalf.

In Mormonism, all people including Christians are required to accept a Mormon baptism as a condition for salvation. Thus, as far as salvation is concerned, Mormon theology does not fundamentally distinguish between someone who died as a Muslim and someone who died as a Methodist.

Second, although Mormons believe that the “keys” to an effective baptism have been entrusted only to Mormon priests, they are not in generally opposed to the idea of non-Mormon or even non-Christian prophets. Mormon theology teaches that God “is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in.” (Alma 26:37). A very influential early 20th century Mormon scholar and leader named B.H. Roberts wrote in 1907 that Mormonism:

“is one of God’s instrumentalities for making known the truth yet he is not limited to that institution for such purposes, neither in time nor place. God raises up wise men and prophets here and there among all the children of men, of their own tongue and nationality, speaking to them through means that they can comprehend. … All the great teachers are servants of God; among all nations and in all ages. They are inspired men, appointed to instruct God’s children according to the conditions in the midst of which he finds them”

Muhammad would have been one of these non-Mormon prophets to whom God revealed his truth. In 1978, the LDS Church issued an official statement that Muhammad and other great religious leaders “received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.”

Therefore, there is not much excuse within Mormon theology for Islamophobia, and there are enough outward similarities between Islam and Mormonism that one would not expect Mormons to be overly intolerant toward Muslims. Anti-Islam sentiment undoubtedly exists among some Mormons, as in any group, but I really believe it to be rare.

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8 thoughts on “How Mormons feel about Islam

  1. Just because Mormonism shares many errors with Islam does not make either praiseworthy. Promoters and defenders of Islam fail to note the historic doctrinal evils of Islam which are legion. Why are the huge majority of terror attacks around the world inspired by and in the name of Islam? Could it be Islamic doctrine? Yes it is. So-called “radical” Muslims are not radical at all. They are practicing their Islamic ideology.. Telling the truth about Islam does not constitute bigotry or persecution. It is just informing. Mormons would do very well to distance themselves from Islam as far as they could get.

  2. I don’t understand why people both Mormon and other branches of Christianity think we are similar. We really have nothing in common except revelation through angels. I thank you for being tolerant of us but I fail to see any parallels between our religions other than they are both religions. We don’t need Joseph Smith or anyone else’s approval of our prophet. And we certainly do not accept that he is been given some sort of celestial exaltation. We believe you are Kafir. Sorry but its true. Our beliefs toward you are apparent in the Quran in Surat al-
    Kafiruun: Lakum dinukum wa liya deen (You have your beliefs and I have mine). According to the Islamic perspective, Mormans believe in multiple gods. I realize that you only worship one but you evidently are not familiar with the most important Ayat of Quran. Surat til-Iklas.

    Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem (In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.)
    Qul Huw-Allahu Ahad (Say: He is Allah, the One!)
    Allah-us-Samad (Allah, the eternally Besought of all!)
    Lam yalid wl lam yulad (He begetteth not nor was begotten.)
    Wa lam yakul lahu kufuwan ahad (And there is none comparable unto Him.)

    This Surah or Chapter forms the basis of our religion and is so important that to recite it is as you have recited all of the Quran. How can we be alike if the basis of your belief is opposite with the principle of Tawheed (The belief in the oneness of Allah)? Starting from the first verse we differ. As we belief Allah is one, you believe your god is one among many. Verse two is violated when you end every prayer with “In Jesus’ name.” In verse three, the foundation of exaltation is the direct opposite of this verse because you belief that God is begotten and begets. And since you believe that God was a man and you can become a god, this could not be true in your religion. As you have written, Joseph Smith had some kind admiration of Mohammed (salaa alayhee wa salam.) I can guarantee to you that this admiration is not reciprocated. While we commend you for you moralistic way of life, we can not admit you to Heaven based on that. Furthermore, there is no place in heaven for people like you. Allah swt is one. There is no might or power except Allah swt. I ask Allah swt to show you the path of righteousness and Tawheed and save you from consequences of shrik. Ameen.

    • I was not arguing that Mormonism is the same or similar to Islam. I was just arguing that Mormonism probably has more in common (historically, in particular) with Islam than does the rest of Christianity, and particularly evangelical Christianity. Notably, for instance, the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith identified with Muhammad, while at the same time influential Mormon writers like B.H. Roberts could conceive of Muhammad as being a prophet. Moreover, Christians of Smith’s era compared him with Muhammad–not that this is, by any means, a perfect or particularly close comparison. And as a result, Mormons should have reason to be more tolerant and less hateful toward Muslims than are other Christians.

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