Please note that “love” in the Qur’an is quite different than the unconditional love of God in the Bible. Because the Qur’an says Allah loves not unbelievers, his love is only for good, righteous, just Muslims. Allah’s “love” is completely conditional on obedience to his laws even for Muslims.
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.
Many Westerners assume the Qur’an is the Muslim counterpart to the Christian Bible, but if all a Muslim had was a Qur’an, they could not practice Islam.
One of the best illustrations to help Christians understand what the Qur’an is about is to imagine taking all the words of Jesus (the red letter verses in some versions of the Bible) out of context, randomly mix them up and arrange the passages in a book. The result would be similar to the Qur’an. The Qur’an lacks historical and biographical detail unlike the Bible, which contains the gospels with details of the life of Jesus.
Further, and significantly, the Qur’an was authored by one man, Muhammad, over the course of a single lifetime while over forty writers authored the Bible over a period of almost 1600 years. Despite being written by different authors, the Bible does not contradict itself and unlike Islam external tests are not necessary to practice Christianity.
The Hijra of Muhammad – the migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD marks a significant shift in the tone of the Qur’an. Muhammad arrived in Medina with approximately 150 followers, but by the end of Muhammad’s life the number of Islamic followers had increased to nearly 100,000. Once Muhammad had moved to Medina, the nature of his revelations changed dramatically. The early Qur’an written in Mecca is considered peaceful. “There’s no compulsion in religion” (Sura 2:256) and “Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion” (Sura 109:6). But when Muhammad migrated to Medina the message became much more militant. “I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite their necks and smite of them each finger. That is because they opposed Allah and His messenger” (Sura 8:12-13).
In Islam there is a doctrine of abrogation. This means that the later passages that Muhammad received in Medina take precedence over the Mecca passages. In a way the later revelation supersedes the previous one, however that does not mean the earlier verse is incorrect. Because the Qur’an is considered the actual words of Allah and Allah cannot be wrong, the early Mecca revelations cannot be wrong. So when a Muslim states that Islam is a religion of peace, he can also fully believe that it is okay to “smite” the necks of disbelievers.
Pray that Muslims will be quickened to realize that the vast majority of their teachings do not come from the Qur’an itself – and pray they will explore the life of Muhammad and his words and deeds.