DBAHC: Wank Christianity and Islam

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Mort the Reaper, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. Mort the Reaper Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2019
    I've always found the various Abrahamic religions interesting, and Christianity and Islam are no exception. Of course, they're both minor religions, with only a few million followers each. So my challenge is this: make them both more prominent. Bonus points if you can give at least one of them over a billion followers.
     
  2. Landmass Wave Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2017
    Location:
    Landmass between New Orleans and Mobile
    Maybe have them be more open to syncretism? Imagine if Islam co-opted the pagan winter solstice holiday, for example. You could exchange presents on December 21, decorate with lights, have bonfires, all that fun stuff most of us do. Tie that to an event in Mohammed's life where we don't know the exact date and Islam might become highly popular.
     
  3. RiverDelta They/Them

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2017
    Location:
    The Big MT
    Maybe you could have more Romans become Christians instead of just the upper crust? The mystery cults and Sol Invictus, along with pagan reconstructionists, persisted heavily in OTL.

    Get rid of that, you could get a pan-Christian identity across much of Europe.
     
    Aloha likes this.
  4. FillyofDelphi Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2017
    Seriously? Have you READ the Three Gospels? The Romans are lambasted throughout the entire story of their Christ, getting blamed for everything and treated by absolute sadists while their hero has no control over his emotions and goes to his death begging to be spared while his father forsakes him. No way the stoic Romans would take on such as sissy as Messiah. You'd have to have them do a total rewrite of their sacred text to cast their Jesus as an entirely different person. All-Father Wodin didn't scream out when he gave up his eye to gain wisdom for humanity.
     
  5. RiverDelta They/Them

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2017
    Location:
    The Big MT
    Well, I mean, it's not like Buddha and Laozi have been understood entirely accurately in China, and different cultures interpret myths different ways. Besides, the 'stoic Romans' is only partially true. Individual Romans might be more willing to accept the Gospel. Anyway, you do make the point that Jesus in the Gospels was portrayed as a victim of the Romans. You could either have the Romans figure that someone else got him killed, or you could have him be taken on as a symbol by one of the enemies of the Romans.
     
  6. FillyofDelphi Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2017
    It's more than Jesus just not meshing with the Roman culture though. Mohammed's Allah and the Toric depiction of Yahweh... those gods have power like a god should. Jesus is an emotionally unstable figure who's teachings are muddled and humble and barely can work more magic than a minor nature spirit. Who are earth is going to accept something so pathetic as capable of being their divine savior and protector who created all the universe? He just doesn't fit the bill for an authority figure, just a hermit in backwoods Judea with some pleasent sounding ideas. Hell, he only appears in even Jerusalem a grand total of ONCE, and there he gets killed because his closest friend betrayed him for a bit of spending money.

    Again, look at ANY religion in Europe. The gods are LEADERS. Maybe Jesus could make his way in the Indian philosophical tradition, but he's getting into a crowded field there
     
    KaiserWilhelm and RiverDelta like this.
  7. dannythegreat Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Location:
    Acadia, Canada
    You could always have the Manichaens lean further into their Gnostic Christian roots. If Manicheaenism syncretises more with Christianity instead of Zoroastrianism, maybe it could come to be viewed as merely a branch of Christianity. That would get you a (very divergent) Christian Iran and eastern Mediterranean. Furthermore, modern European polytheism has a lot of Manichaen influence, despite some people's unwillingness to admit it. Maybe this more Christian Manicheaenism would be seen as less Persian and therefore have more success in the Roman Empire.

    Alternatively, either faith could break on to the steppes, spreading far and wide across Eurasia. Again, much like the OTL Manichaens, who reached as far as Japan in this fashion. This option is difficult to accomplish though, considering the Abrahamics would have to first convert or conquer the Romans or Persians, and neither of those seem at all likely - Armenia isn't going to conquer either of them, and the Arabian desert is hardly a good base for an empire. Maybe some missionaries sneak through on to the steppe? It's a long shot considering that they'd have to compete with polytheists, Manichaens, and Buddhists when they get there, but it would make for an interesting TL.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
    RiverDelta likes this.
  8. Mort the Reaper Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2019
    I've heard it suggested that an Islam/Manichaeism syncretism might have been successful. Thoughts?
     
    Ameck16 and RiverDelta like this.
  9. Ameck16 There are too many Rabbits in my head.

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2014
    Location:
    London UK
    Yeah if by few you mean an entire nation of 50+ million, that also control the single largest oil deposits in the world. And around 14-16 million people scattered across the Indian Ocean basin.

    Basically if you want Islam to expand you need a different Kalipha after the death of Mohammed. His son in law didn't capitalise of the impressive victories against the Persians and Romans. You see the Kaliphate of Ali (first ever Islamic nation state), at one point controlled the levant, Babylon and Egypt. But gave it back in separate peace treaties to the wastern romans and Persians for massive amounts of gold which is seen today as one of the worst decisions in history.

    One thing you have to understand is prior to the Kaliphates expansion both the eastern romans and Persian fought a bitter and costly war to a stalemate, they nearly destroyed each other and left a power vacuum in all but name and Ali to his credit exploited that, but when he gave back the lands he'd conquered he gave back both empires bread baskets. Which allowed them to rebuild, yes did it take over 4 decades for them to return to what they were before the wars. But by then any advantage the Muslims had vanished, they were outnumbered, in men, money and material. No wonder the Islamic world turned to trade after altheir expansion route north was blocked.

    This may work for Christianity, and one can say Arianism is just a branch of Christianity, that was Germanised. But I don't think Islam can ever synchronise with other believes. islam Chrystalised into what it is today during the time of the Prophet Mohammed and reign of the first Kaliph Ali. That's because unlike any other religion in the first 100 years Islam was able to quickly stand out, resist outside aggression and expand like no other religion on recorded history. No religion can say it created a state that brought the 2 super empires in its region to there knees simultaneously and bankrupted them within the first 30 years, if someone said you'd enter a 1379 year long coma at the year 640ad, you would have expected the world to be fully Muslim when you woke up, because that how on the cusp of conquest they where. And remember Islam in its early days was good at getting people to convert if it wasn't for Ali's terrible decision to give back the breadbaskets of his now defeated enemies for money, nothing would have stood in their way until they reached china.
     
  10. Mort the Reaper Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2019
    There's an argument to be had about whether monolatry/henotheism is compatible with Islam, but I don't want to start a religious flame war, so let's just agree to disagree.

    But yeah, back in the 7th Century, it'd be hard to believe that Islam would have such a hard time against the various Near Eastern pagan revivals.
     
    Quimporte, KaiserWilhelm and Ameck16 like this.
  11. SeaCambrian Alien Space Bat Gone Fishin'

    Joined:
    May 28, 2018
    Christianity and Islam described as separate religions? That's a first. I've always seen them categorized as two major sects of Anti-Romanism.
     
    KaiserWilhelm and RiverDelta like this.
  12. Landmass Wave Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2017
    Location:
    Landmass between New Orleans and Mobile
    There are slight differences. Christianity believes Jesus was fully human and fully divine, and was the son of the Hebrew deity Yahweh. They have a concept called the Trinity where Yahweh, Jesus, and something called the Holy Spirit were the same god in three persons. Little too confusing to draw a large number of followers. Might be more successful if all three were distinct.

    Biggest obstacle is having too many rules, though. Christianity is less strict than Judaism or Islam, but still limits sex to marriage and frowns upon materialism. That's why the followers they do have are generally late in life converts - you're already married or if not, too old to worry about clubbing, and the sharing communities are a good retirement plan.
     
    KaiserWilhelm, RiverDelta and Ameck16 like this.
  13. Ameck16 There are too many Rabbits in my head.

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2014
    Location:
    London UK
    Christianity, Islam and Judaism are grouped together as part of the Abrahamic family. While similar they are all distinct from each other.

    To summarise all three differences, Jews followers of Judaism believe the messiah has yet to come, while Christians followers of Christianity believe the messiah did come in the form of Jesus the son of god, while Muslims followers of Islam believe that Jesus wasn't the son of god but a prophet and that god sent the angel Jabril (Gabriel) to Mohammed in order to be his last prophet.

    And finally apart from Christianity I would not say Islam or Judaism are anti Roman.
     
    KaiserWilhelm and RiverDelta like this.
  14. FillyofDelphi Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2017
    I hardly think that's a fair assertion. Islam's ability to avoid heterodoxy was rather dependent on its narrow geographic reach the full consolidation of religious with secular-civic authority in a single stable Empire. If the Islamic Empire had expanded behyond the confines of the Near East, where it could hook directly into the pre-existing hierarchical and centrally managed religious and legal structure of the Romans and Persians, or had made inroads into coverting populations outside the eye of Ali's priest-judges, no doubt local elements would have seeped in and there's little Mecca could have done about it.
     
    Ameck16 and RiverDelta like this.
  15. Ameck16 There are too many Rabbits in my head.

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2014
    Location:
    London UK
    Fair point. I won't argue against it, right now we in a situation where we've never seen a religion expand without giving some concession to the newly conquered/converted.
     
  16. dannythegreat Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Location:
    Acadia, Canada
    Ali had essentially no choice but to sell back his conquests. His early rule was so shaky that an early coup attempt by Mohammed's father-in-law was almost successful. He only managed to become Kalipha after a bloody succession struggle in which he lost plenty of his own manpower against Khalid al-Walid in the battles of Najd. The victorious wars with the Romans and Persians secured Ali's dynasty politically, but it had cost dearly in manpower. By 640, the Muslims were just as battered as the two empires they were fighting, ruling over a rebellious Manichaen population, and with no hope to recover as fast as the Romans or Persians. The Muslims would have inevitably lost their conquests within a generation or two; Ali's decision to sell the territory back was inspired and the vast quantity of gold it secured is what allowed the Muslims to turn to trade with such aplomb. If he had chosen to fight on, there is every possibility that Islam would not even exist today.

    A succesful Muslim empire outside Arabia is basically ASB, I wish people would stop using this POD. It requires that there is no civil war after the death of Mohammed, that the Muslims somehow win every war forever against the two great powers of the day without bankrupting themselves, and most ASB of all it requires converting the Near East to Islam. There is no way that the Egyptian and Aramaic speaking peoples will convert to a religion that prohibits translation of its holy text from Arabic. Sure, a few enclaves around the Indian ocean make sense due to the enduring wealth of the Muslims, but you can't expect entire nations to abandon their native languages just to learn the Qur'an. They would revolt, and the Romans and Persians would move in to reestablish control.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
  17. Mort the Reaper Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2019
    Even if they were able to conquer one or both of them by some miracle, how could they hold on to them? I think even in a best-case scenario, the Kaliphate would have fractured like Alexander the Great's empire did before too long. The Muslims would leave their mark, no doubt, but these stories about them building a massive empire that lasts for decades or even millennia are about as ASB as you can get without involving anything physically impossible.

    Speaking of which, I have to admit the Khalid Saga book series is what I consider to be one of the better takes on this idea. Yeah, it can be implausible and cliched sometimes, but I will give it this: it actually acknowledged that a "Great Kaliphate" would need some enormous advantages to be feasible.
     
    Ameck16 likes this.
  18. FillyofDelphi Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2017
    It's a pretty good series, yah... but it's certainly edging on fantastic. Loki's Laughter, the "dreams" the author uses as an excuse for the flashes of insight the Kalphs receive throughout the series tiptoes around literally giving them divine intervention to go along with their claimed divine mandate. Still, the way they seamlessly integrate the Eastern Roman administration into their Empire and use "Janissaries" as a way to basically stamp out later-day Spartian units en-mass out of populations normally too poor and isolated to be easily taxes or converted was a clever way to get around the lack of line infantry problem the Arabs always had
     
  19. Mort the Reaper Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2019
    Yeah, I liked the Janissary idea too. Now I'm wondering if there are any Christianity-wank stories with similar clever ideas...

    But anyway, back on topic. What would you change about Christianity to give it more appeal among the Romans?
     
  20. Ameck16 There are too many Rabbits in my head.

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2014
    Location:
    London UK
    Have you read Deus Vult by Kepa Azerbalaga. It's set in the late 11th century in a world were Christianity is wanked. The background goes that During one of romes many civil wars a Greek general stationed in Britannia named Constantine (nothing to do with our Constantine) marches south and claims the throne and is convinced to convert after a Christian priest tells him to have his soldier paint the Chi-Ro symbol (the underground symbol of the religion) on their shields. During the last major battle of Constantines March on Rome his enemy army is struck by a meteorite. After the war he declares Christianity to be the official religion of his empire.

    The book is set around 700 years later, the premise is that the Roman Empire collapsed into many squabbling kingdoms, some owe religious fealty to either the Pope in Rome (basically Kaliph of Christianity) and other the "Patriach" in Constantinople (same as the pope but speaks Greek instead of Latin). The story goes that Western Europe and Mauritania follows the catholic branch of Christianity and the Eastern Europe and the Middle East followed the orthodox branch of Christianity with Egypt having it own branch that the Patriach claims is under his jurisdiction but the Egyptian don't agree. But when a powerful Turkic nomadic army sweeps aside the Persians then capture the Middle East and threaten Constantinople. The patriarch ask for help from the pope when Jerusalem the holy land is captured. The pope calls for a crusade (holy war) to take back Jerusalem and many knights both catholic, orthodox branch and Egypt answer the call.

    The first trilogy of books follow the resulting holy war which results in a Pyrrhic victory for the Turks but in the end they decide to withdraw. The next trilogy of books follows the aftermath of the war as the catholic decide not to return Jerusalem to it previous rulers citing their failure to protect it in the first place. Instead they elect their own king of Jerusalem an young French named Baldwin, the nephew of the king of France and German emperor. In the end Baldwin is forced to marry 40 year old sister of the previous king of Jerusalem. With each new king of Jerusalem not allied to follow his fathers branch. Many expected Baldwin to the only western king of Jerusalem as his wife was supposed to be barren and he took her nephew as his heir. But Baldwins wife managed to get pregnant thrice giving him 4 sons. Baldwins son refused follow the orthodox faith upon to his ascension to the throne. This leads to a series of clashes over it that escalate into a war. Currently on the first book of the second trilogy has been released. And from news sources I trust Azerbalaga has sold the rights to his books to a Spanish tv channel so we may see a tv adaptation and in the future.
     
    Mort the Reaper likes this.