Why Islam is a Cult

by Richard Hobbs (March 2014)

A recent article on cults identified the 15 separate traits that the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) identifies as common among cults. According to Michael D. Langone, Ph.D., concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships.  Many members and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused – some would say brainwashed. The list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group to help determine if it is in fact a cult. Langone states that this list is not a definitive checklist but is an analytical tool to determine if a specific group is a cult.

Studying the 15 traits is informative when considering Islam.

1.  The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.

This quite accurately describes Islam which is a totalitarian ideology with a façade of religion. Its leader, Muhammad who is probably a myth, is proclaimed to be the perfect man whose example every Muslim should follow. Everything he supposedly did or expounded is considered perfect and cannot be challenged or changed upon threat of death. This idolatry, which Islam professes to decry, is exhibited in the total obeisance and repeated use of the expression “Peace Be Upon Him” – PBUH every time his name is even mentioned. Sharia, Islamic law, is derived from the Qur’an and the actions and sayings of Muhammad (taken from the sira and hadiths).

The supremacy (or arrogance) of the concept of Muhammad is that he is supposedly the last prophet – there can be no more prophets (this was in the sixth century in a very backward part of the world), and the extreme arrogance of the claimed statement by Muhammad, “Every prophet was sent to his nation but only I have been sent to all mankind.”

Islam is the Arabic word meaning submission (to Muhammad’s “god” – Allah) and is derived from a word meaning peace. Muslims are those who have submitted. For Westerners, the clearest expression of that submission is the bowing down with the head on the ground in daily prayers. Total submission to Allah (or Muhammad) results in fatalism resulting in not taking responsibility for one’s actions. Muslims regularly rationalize their actions, or inactions, or events as InshAllah (also In Sha’ Allah) – “Allah’s will.”

The Qur’an is purported to be the exact word of Allah as transmitted to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel.  Therefore, it is not open for discussion, analysis, or critique, even though it contains grammatical and historical errors, is completely illogical in that surahs (chapters) are arranged based on length, not chronological context, there are parts which no one understands, and there are many contradictions. It was written in the poetic style of the desert, which is not fully translatable, and the Bedouins had little concern for chronology such as placing Moses and Jesus together in time. 

Islam is a totalitarian ideology covering every aspect of life, is considered perfect, and calls for its imposition on everyone in the world whether they want it or not.

2.  Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

It is a crime to criticize, doubt, or disagree with Islam. This is blasphemy and the sentence is death. It is a crime and a sin to leave Islam. A Muslim who rejects Islam is an “apostate” and the punishment for apostasy is death (and eternal damnation in hell thereafter). Under sharia, it is forbidden for anyone to try to convert a Muslim to another religion.

When Islam is defamed in any way, Muslims should violently defend it. Even in a cartoon! But Muslims can and should defame Jews and Christians in Muslim newspapers, the internet, and television, and they should defame any infidel or enemy, as they defame the US today.

3.   Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

There are five “pillars” of Islam: profession of faith, prayer, fasting during Ramadan, religious tax, and the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). [Jihad was almost a sixth pillar.] Every Muslim must pray five times a day. This repetition helps dominate a Muslim’s life, infusing his daily routine with Islam. It would be impossible to forget anything you deliberately do so often. Five times a day, every day, a Muslim must bow down and pray to Allah. The more effort a person expends for a cause, the more he is likely to believe and value it. This also helps make believers out of people who became Muslims through coercion.

4.  The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth). 

Every imaginable aspect of life is dictated by Islam from how to go to the bathroom, to all aspects of personal hygiene, how to place the feet to pray properly, what can and cannot be done including photography, television, drinking, eating pork, charging interest, gambling, playing stringed instruments, depicting animate life, the clothes to wear, and what women are permitted to do, what their testimony is worth, what they can inherit, how they can get to paradise, and that they can be beaten (or killed).

5.  The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

Muslims consider all non-Muslims and non-Muslim culture useless and see their goal to make the whole world Muslim. Everything before Islam is jahiliyya or ignorance, of no value and should be destroyed, such as the Bamiyan Buddhas. 

We have already noted how special Muhammad is so that everything he said or did is revered. Muslims are permitted four wives, but Muhammad was “permitted” unlimited wives and he was permitted to marry Zeinab, the wife of his adopted son (both revelations from the Qur’an).   

Under Islam, non-Muslims must pay a large tax. Once Muslims conquer a country and convert the government to Islamic law, non-Muslims have the choice to convert or die. However, Christians, Jews, and some Zoroastrians have the choice between becoming Muslim or becoming a dhimmi. Dhimmis are allowed to practice their non-Muslim religion if they pay the jizya (a tax). If they convert to Islam, they no longer have to pay a tax, so there is a practical incentive to convert. This was a brilliant idea from the early days of Islam. The tax took money away from the non-Muslims and their competing systems and gave that money to support Islam. The income from those taxes (usually a 25% income tax) helped fund the Islamic conquests during the first two major jihads. This third class citizens/slaves status under Islam is called Dhimmitude.

Several ideas within Sharia law extend this effect. For example, non-Muslims are not allowed to build any new houses of worship. They're not even allowed to repair already-existing churches or synagogues. This puts the houses of worship of any competing religion or ideology in a state of permanent decline. Also, non-Islamic prayers cannot be spoken within earshot of a Muslim — again, preventing Muslims from being infected by a competing religion. No public displays of any symbols of another faith may be shown either. All of this prevents the spread of any competing religion or ideology, and makes them die out over time. That's why today there are so many "Muslim countries." Most of the Muslim countries are now at or near 100% Muslim. Almost all other countries in the world are made up of many different religions. Also, non-Muslims are not allowed to own weapons of any kind. 

The Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia have been and still are pouring money into building mosques all over the free world, including extensive construction in the US. But in Saudi Arabia, no non-Muslim religious structures are allowed to be built. Muslims all over the world protest loudly and violently when anyone in Europe or America resists the building of more mosques in their countries. Islamic supremacists don't see the irony in it. They don't feel strange having such an obvious double standard. They are, after all, Allah's followers and everyone else is deluded. Fairness and equality with such unworthy infidels would seem very out of place. A double standard seems completely appropriate from that perspective.

The double standard principle is a key part of Islam, and it has been a great advantage in the spread of Islam (and the suppression of competing religions or ideologies). Muslims demand concessions and accommodations but they refuse any reciprocity. They demand respect but show no respect to non-Muslims. Their arrogant intolerance stands them against the rest of the world.

It is forbidden to kill a Muslim (except for a just cause). It is not forbidden to kill an infidel. This causes a bond between Muslims, fear in non-Muslims, and motivation to become Muslim.

6.  The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.           

Islam is dualistic: humanity is divided into believers (that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the prophet of Allah) and kafirs (all non-Muslims or unbelievers). A kafir is hated, ignorant, evil, a liar, disgraced, unclean, cursed, a partner of Satan, and can be beheaded, enslaved, raped, mocked, confused, terrorized, deceived, annihilated, robbed, killed, crucified, plotted against, made war on and humiliated, and a Muslim cannot be his friend. [Each of these is from Islamic texts.]

Islam divides the world, which belongs to Allah, into the Dar al-Islam (land of submission) and the Dar al-Harb (land of war). That is that Islamic lands are good and the rest of the world should be subjugated. It is the duty of the faithful to gain control of any parts of the world that are not following Islamic law and establish sharia. It is a sin to let it be.

Islam must always be defended. This idea is a primary linchpin that gives justification for war with almost anybody. After the enemy is defeated, of course, Muslims are required to establish an Islamic state. Islamic writings teach the use of pretext to start wars. The use of pretext tends to make the West defenseless against the Islamic invasion now underway. Muslim terrorists are not naïve people. They are smart, educated, well-funded, and being used by a very clever ideology.

7.  The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).

Muhammad was supposedly the perfect man, answerable only to Allah if anyone, but Allah seems to be an invention of Muhammad or whoever invented Muhammad. There is no central authority in Islam. Thus various imams, mullahs, ayatollahs, sheikhs, and other leaders often add their own interpretations to theocratic and political questions. Al Azhar University in Cairo is regarded as a top center of Sunni Islam and the supreme leader or ayatollah in Iran tries to represent Shiites, but there are still other groups: Alawites, Ismailis, Sufis, Druze, Deobandis, etc.

8.  The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).

Islam has explicit double standards:  one standard for Muslims and a different standard for non-Muslims, which always gives the advantage to Muslims and within a Muslim country, it provides incentives to convert.  There is no right and wrong in Islam; there is NO GOLDEN RULE IN ISLAM. What advances Islam is good; what impedes the advance of Islam is bad. Islam must be free to spread around the world, but other religions cannot try to spread their religion.

The Qur'an counsels the use of deceit when dealing with infidels. According to one of the hadiths, Muhammad instructed one of his followers to lie if he had to. The principle was clear: If it helps Islam, it's okay to deceive non-Muslims. This is taqiyya. It has been used historically and is still used: Islamic leaders saying one thing in English for the Western press, and saying something entirely different in Arabic for their Muslim audience.

The Qur'an says, "War is deceit" and since Islam is at war with the non-Islamic world until the whole world follows sharia, all non-Muslims living in non-Islamic states are enemies. So deceiving Westerners is totally acceptable. It is encouraged if it can forward the goal of the spread of Islam.

One of the most embarrassing events of Islamic history, or mythology, is when Muhammad had up to 900 Jews of the Banu Qurayzah tribe in Medina beheaded before their wives and children for refusing to convert to Islam after the Battle of the Ditch. Beheading has been a hallmark of Islam as well as rape, torture, dismemberment, and castration. Professionals who have studied this behavior state that Islamist mutilation is a ritualistic crime, a deliberate desecration of the enemy, to alleviate shame and restore honor. For Islamists, honor is the male characteristic of courage and bravery while dishonor is a female characteristic signified by weakness and submissiveness. Shame comes from hypersensitivity to real or perceived humiliation. Thus compassion symbolizes weakness while brutality and violence symbolize strength and are viewed as heroic. Islamists can therefore commit crimes which otherwise would be considered atrocities by civilized nations and still be hailed as heroes by Islamists all over the world.

Giving money to charities which have later been shown in courts to be supporters of Hamas and HezbAllah has been widespread in the US Muslim community. Hamas was created in 1987 by the International Muslim Brotherhood and it ordered the Brotherhood chapters around the world to establish Palestine Committees. The trial of the Holy Land Foundation revealed that CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) had been created as part of the US Palestine Committee and CAIR and its founder Omar Awad were named as unindicted co-conspirators.

9.  The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.

The pressure to conform is intense starting with the affirmation that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger and then bowing down in complete submission five times a day in prayer. Not conforming brings great shame to a family, which is unacceptable in tribal societies. To criticize Islam is a death sentence and to in any way bring dishonor to a family is so critical that honor killing, mainly of women (mothers, daughters, sisters), is acceptable, even demanded. The psychological term for such behavior is brainwashing.

10.  Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.

A Muslim is not supposed to be friends with non-Muslims. This extends to family if members are not Muslims. This in-gathering is seen in Jamaat ul Fuqra, Muslim terrorist training camps, communes of primarily black American-born Muslims. They have established more than 35 of these “Jamaats” in 22 states and Canada.

11.  The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

Under Islam, it is a holy requirement that the whole world should be brought under Islam. There can be no “peace” until everyone is a Muslim. [This is a bad joke since even if the Muslims could gain power, they would fight among themselves.] This dates from the Qur’an and has been repeated regularly over the centuries. Ibn Khaldun reiterated it in the 15th Century: “In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the (Muslim) mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force... Islam is under obligation to gain power over nations.” This is echoed in the writings of Sayyid Qutb and other Muslim writers and to the present with Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

12.  The group is preoccupied with making money.

Money is the key and the power behind jihad and expansion. The success of Islam finally took off only after Muhammad’s raids on caravans and they gained wealth from non-Muslim sources from plunder. Muslim groups are not averse to using extortion, kidnappings, crime, and the drug business to finance their endeavors.  

There was relative calm in Islamic action between the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the dissolution of the caliphate after World War I and the vast oil income that befell to the Arab states after World War II. The enormous flow of oil money allowed the Muslim states to export their ideology and move against non-Muslims.

13.  Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.

The requirement to pray five times a day is time consuming and controlling. Muslims are also supposed to attend Friday prayers at the mosque (during which they are often fired up and incited to riot afterward as seen repeatedly in recent years). The mosques are usually also community centers for activities, jihadist training, and for training youth. The pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj, is a onetime requirement for all Muslims who can make it.

14.  Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.          

A Muslim is forbidden to make friends with an infidel. A Muslim is allowed to pretend to be a friend, but in his heart he must never actually be a friend to a non-Muslim. Muslims in non-Muslim countries tend to stay together and form ghettos. The ghettos have become so closed in parts of Europe that they have become No-Go Zones into which firemen and police will not enter without escort. These closed communities impose sharia and crimes are not reported to the authorities. Non-Muslims are ordered to stay out.   

15.  The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

Islam is a total ideology of submission to Allah (or Muhammad). Muslims are the only acceptable people. All others are kafirs, of no value. The reprisals are strong for even thinking against Islam, blasphemy, or daring to leave, apostasy. The penalty for both is death.

Islam seems to fit the ICSA criteria for a cult. Since Allah is deemed to be unknowable, Islam seems to better fit as the cult of Muhammad. Muslims refer to Allah, but they seem to have deified Muhammad. Everything is about Muhammad. One strong indication of this is that the Sacred Law is not the law of Allah but the Sacred Law of Muhammad. Throughout the Qur’an, it is “Allah and his Messenger,” but sometimes it is just the Messenger. In Reliance of the Traveller [‘Umdat al-Salik from the 14th Century], a Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law updated and certified by Al Azhar in 1991, it is stated it rather clearly. Allah sent Muhammad, “the Qurayshite unlettered prophet, to deliver His inspired message to the entire world, Arabs and non-Arabs, jinn and mankind, superseding and abrogating all previous religious systems with the Prophet’s Sacred Law, except for the provisions of them that the new revelation explicitly reconfirmed. Allah has favored him above all the other prophets and made him the highest of mankind, rejecting anyone’s attesting to the divine oneness by saying ‘There is no god but Allah,’ unless they also attest to the Prophet by saying Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’ He has obliged men and jinn to believe everything the Prophet has informed us concerning this world and the next, and does not accept anyone’s faith unless they believe in what he has told us will happen after death.”

The interesting aspect of the Cult of Muhammad is that he probably never existed. Muhammad was born two hundred years after his birth. That is the conclusion of Norbert Pressburg in his book What the Modern Martyr Should Know [a good companion work to Robert Spencer’s Did Muhammad Exist?]  Pressburg establishes that there is no record of any Muhammad from the seventh century – all of it dates from the eighth and ninth centuries. Also the word “muhamad” is a gerund, meaning “the praised one” [often referring to Christ], and could not possibly be understood as a name. The birth of Islam took a long time. Christendom had split off from Judaism. At that time there were considerable differences in the Christian world over the real role of Jesus. The Arab Christians (Arabs were really the people of Greater Syria and Mesopotamia [Iraq] not the Bedouins of the desert of the Arabian Peninsula) had their own views of Christianity and eventually separated themselves from Greek Christianity. However, they needed their own holy book and prophet. Over hundreds of years, the Aramaic liturgical book, the Qeryan, a Christian book, was transformed into the Islamic Qur’an when Jesus lost his special status. There were many authors of the new book with different political agendas and often with limited understanding of the languages involved. This separation was seen coming in the sixth and seventh centuries but did not take place until the eighth and ninth centuries. The traditions of that first two hundred years of Islam are mostly mythical or as Pressburg suggests, “tales from the East.” What we now know as Islam was not completed until the twelfth or even the thirteenth century.[The Qur’an was not printed until 1802 in Russia.] By the third Islamic century (the 900s), Islam had transformed into “an excessive personality cult,” now the trademark of Islam and what they had been so strongly against in the beginning. 

That is the Cult of Muhammad.



Richard Hobbs is a retired combat infantry officer, professor, and businessman. He has worked, taught, and written in the international arena for over 55 years including the Pentagon, the State Department, and in international operations for a major corporation. His books include Radical Islam at War with the World, Do we want Dhimmitude – third class citizens/salves under Islam – or do we want to be free? It is Our Choice and Death by a Thousand Cuts, Islam, Fiscal Irresponsibility, and other Threats to Destroy America. For more information visit coldoc.com and to contact the author, go to [email protected].


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