Christianity versus Islam

To a certain extent, everybody creates their own personal religion and people can focus on certain teachings and ignore others. They usually ignore ones that are difficult to fulfil. Both Muslims and Christians have commandments they prefer to forget. Some of the difficulties for Christians include:

  • Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; – Matthew 5.43-47
  • Don't worry about anything, seek God instead – Philipians 4-6
  • For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and to lose his soul? – Mark 8:36
  • It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. – Mark 10:25

The early verses of tolerance and peace in the Quran that were "revealed" in Mecca are overruled or abrogated by the many demanding non-Muslims be attacked and conquered and either accept an oppressed life as dhimmis, convert to Islam, or be killed. Muhammad's violent and treacherous legacy began conquests that were only halted by defeat of Islamic armies. Thankfully most Muslims don't wish to obey these commands. Muhammad knew many would dislike it but ordered them to it anyway:

  • Jihad [fighting in Allah's Cause] is ordained for you [Muslims] though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know. - Quran (2:216)
  • kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. - Quran (2:191-193)
  • fight them until there is no more fitnah [disbelief] and worship is for Allah alone. - Quran (8:39)
  • As to those who reject faith [Islam], I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter - Quran (2:51)
  • Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers … their abode will be the Fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers! - Quran (3:151)
  • Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward. - Quran (4:74)

There are so many verses in the Quran commanding Muslims to violence that this is only a smattering. An extensive list with commentary is available here.

It's undeniable that Christians have behaved as badly as Muslims in their violence towards others but there is a profound difference. Christians do it in spite of the explicit commandments of their God while Muslims do it obeying the explicit commandments of their God. The ideal Christian society is one where you "treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about." Anyone attempting to imitate Jesus and live according to his teachings will find it nearly impossible to use violence against others.

The ideal Muslim society is one under Sharia. The majority of Muslims today want to live under Sharia but Sharia includes the enforced oppression, extortion and humiliation of non-Muslims which Muslims call "protection." Anyone attempting to imitate Muhammad and live according to his "revelations" will find it nearly impossible not to use violence against others and this is what we are seeing today with al-Qaeda and ISIS. These so-called "radicals" and "fundamentalists" are merely obeying Muhammad's commands and imitating Muhammad's actions despite the likelihood that they will be defeated and killed and go straight to heaven and enjoy sex with many, many virgins and be able to drink wine legally. That is what Muhammad demanded and what Allah promised in the Quran, Surah 78 (The Great News), Ayat 31-34. Jesus taught nothing like that. St Paul taught nothing like that.

Charlton Heston As Moses

There are any number of parts of the Old Testament available to make YHWH (Yahweh is the name of the God of the Old Testament) appear a monstrous, genocidal God but the reality is that the Israelites were a small, powerless group at the mercy of the great empires of the day (Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, etc) and the Torah texts are myths attempting to shore up the power of the Jerusalem priesthood by creating a false history of conquest by the power of YHWH. According to the priestly myths these conquests were dependant on the Israelites only worshipping YHWH, something the Old Testament admits was rare. They have little or no basis in events of the real world of the times. The ancient Israelites did not escape from Egypt after God murdered all the eldest Egyptian boys and neither was the Egyptian army drowned while pursuing millions of escaping Israelites. Joshua did not conquer Jericho or the land of milk and honey. Archeological evidence shows a different history altogether. * The Israelites were as nasty and vicious as humans have always been but were too weak and powerless to do much but be conquered on a regular basis.

Jesus Returns

Finding meaningful quotes from the New Testament advocating violence or warfare is impossible though there are some that prophesy a little nastiness during the future apocalyptic destruction of the world by God in the so-called "Book Of Revelation" which is the goto book for Christian crazies. All early Christian writers condemned killing which made offensive warfare a definite no-no for Christians. Many Islamic apologists quote Jesus saying " I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." These verses are obviously metaphorical unless apologists actually think he was really demanding sword fights to the death in kitchens between mothers and daughters and mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. As we know, the early Christians did not begin military campaigns to conquer the world at the behest of the Gospels unlike the results of "revelations" of the Quran which began over 1200 years of warfare to conquer the world and enslave non-Muslims which only ended when Islamic military power collapsed. Or has it ended?

Counting of specific words of the Quran and the Bible and making judgements from this data about the extent of violence in each text is ridiculous. The Old Testament is a pseudo-historical document containing many blood-thirsty stories about specific, ancient historical events and in fact these events did not occur, they are mythical. Violence recounted in the New Testament is violence that occurred to the Jesus and his followers, not violence they perpetrated. In the one act of violence by a Christian in the New Testament when a disciple cut the ear of a soldier with a sword Jesus miraculously reattached the ear and forbade further violence.

The ancient Israelite conception of God is 1200 to 1500 years older than Muhammad's ideas yet Allah has not progressed ethically from Yahweh of that time. The Quran's violence is prescriptive ie Allah is ordering Muhammad to attack and conquer "the other." He is not talking about Cain killing his brother Abel. Allah is ordering Muslims to jihad until there are no non-Muslims or all non-Muslims are conquered, humilated and have accepted a fourth class status in a Muslim world. Obviously there's no time limit on Allah's commandment, it's ongoing.

* References:

  • Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can't Ignore the Bible's Violent Verses - Philip Jenkins
  • The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts - Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman
  • The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel - Israel Finkelstein & Amihai Mazar
  • David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition - Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman
  • The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia - and How It Died - Philip Jenkins
  • Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, A History - James Carroll