In an attempt to refute the statement, “Islam is a religion of violence,” a Christian website made the following statement, “Reality: Islam as a religious system has not been any more violent than Christianity or Judaism.”
This is an argument often used by Muslim apologists in the West to divert conversation regarding the violence in the Islamic texts. Far too often this puts an end to the discussion and those who are unfamiliar with history and the foundational texts tend to believe that all three religions are equally as violent.
Often quoted passages from the Bible that Muslim apologists use to prove Judaism’s violence and intolerance are found in the story of the military conquest of Canaan by Israel.
“But of the cities of these peoples which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your God has commanded you, lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 20:16-18).
“So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded” (Joshua 10:40).
It is true the Israelites conquered Canaan, but the commands to annihilate other people groups were recorded in the Bible as history. The events were for a specific time and place, and never became part of Jewish law. While the Biblical accounts described the events, the violent conquest never became part of every day Jewish life.
Conversely, certain aspects of Islamic violence and conquest commanded in the Qur’an were not only historical battles that Muhammad led, but they also became part of Islamic law.
“Fight those who do not believe in God, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden, nor abide by the religion of truth-from among those who received the Scripture-until they pay the due tax, willingly or unwillingly” (Sura 9:29).
Modern Islamists demonstrate that they still believe this passage is a command from their god. “Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those who say this are witless. Islam says: ‘Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter their armies’” – The Ayatollah Khomeini (Iranian Supreme Leader 1979-1989).
When one looks at Christianity, it is impossible to find verses inciting violence in the New Testament. In fact, Christians are commanded to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Have their been atrocities perpetrated in the name of Christianity? Sadly, yes, but violence is never commanded by the teachings of Jesus or others in the New Testament.
Pray that both Muslims and non-Muslims will see the clear difference between the historical violence in the Bible and the theological violence in the Qur’an.