Islam: A Religion of Peace or Violence?

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Welcome back friends!  Are you ready to launch into deeper water today?  Let’s go!

Yesterday we took a brief look at the history and theology of Islam.  Today, let’s get back to this week’s big question: “Is Islam a religion of peace?”

Where do you go when you want to learn the true meaning of a word or an idea?  You go to a reliable source, don’t you?  Muslims might say that the Qur’an is a reliable source, while Christians would say that the Bible is a reliable source.  The two contradict, so how do we know which source is reliable?  We need to do a little research!

First, let’s examine a few passages from the Qur’an relative to appropriate interaction between those of Islamic faith and others.

Sura 2:193: And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they resist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors.  (Context of verses 190-195: Fighting for the cause of Allah.)

Sura 4:89, 91: They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper… therefore if they do not withdraw from you, and (do not) offer you peace and restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and against these we have given you a clear authority.  (Context of verses 87-91: goodness of Allah, Allah’s casting outsiders to disbelief, seize and kill those who do not adhere to Allah’s teaching.)

Sura 9:5: So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.  (Context of verses 5-12: protection of idolaters, as long as they are true to Allah.)

Sura 9:29: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.  (Context of verses 28-30:  Allah’s wrath on those who disbelieve.)

Based on these verses, what actions are followers of the Qur’an to take against those who do not believe in Allah?

In fairness, I conducted a search of the Qur’an for the word, “peace.”  The search through three translations turned up 69 references.  (Repeat the search.)  Several have to do with relationships between a husband and wife, which are honorable.  Most others refer only to those who believe in Allah.

Let’s compare that to the teachings of The Bible.  First, Holy Scripture teaches that Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and the God of peace (Romans 15:33, 16:20; Philippians 4:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Hebrews 13:20).  Thus, His character is peace, and we are to be like Him.  Our greatest resource in finding out the true essence of peace is Jesus Himself, made known through His Word!

Let’s review some of the Lord’s instructions regarding peace:

How does the Qur’an differ from Biblical teaching regarding peace?  Whereas Islam seems to practice violence to convince people to follow Allah, Jesus seems to draw believers to Himself through peace.

Before we move on, we need to be reminded of a basic principle of study.  Context is important.  A passage of any writing, taken out of context, has the potential to be twisted to mean something it is not intended to mean.  For example, if you happened upon a letter written between friends and you read a statement saying, “I had no choice but to throw that child out the window,” it would likely cause some degree of horror.  However, if it was contained in the following paragraph, you would interpret that statement in an entirely different light:

“Time was running short.  As flames engulfed the building and rescue crews prepared a safe place for us to land, I knew I had no choice but to throw that child out the window.  I soon followed by dropping myself six feet into the safety net, rejoicing that the ordeal was over.”

Context, context, context!  When studying Scripture or any other text, it is important to understand setting and context.  For example: Who is speaking?  To whom is the text written?  What is going on at the time of the writing?  What is the motive and purpose of the writing?  What message is the writer intending to send?

The Bible differs from all other holy books in several ways.  One key difference is that the overarching context of the entire Bible is one of redemption and love of the One True God toward His creation.  The Bible is a book that draws us into relationship with its Author.  The thread of God’s perfect love – sending Jesus Christ to this earth to live a perfect life, to die for our sins, and to defeat death and sin on the Cross on our behalf – is woven into every single book of the Bible.  No other holy book draws man into a loving relationship with the God of love.  Thus, the context of our Holy Bible is one of redemption, and of God drawing all mankind to Himself.  Unlike the Qur’an, Scripture never advocates using violence as a means of spreading its gospel message.

My fellow believers, we have traveled many miles today!  Great job!  Tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at the Shi’ite determination to usher in the Islamic messiah.  Before we close for today, though, can you think of at least 5 distinct differences between Islam and Christianity?

Good work today!  Come back tomorrow to explore the Iranian agenda.


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