7 – Major differences in reference to violence
Major differences between Christianity and Islam regarding the notion of violence.
The Qur’an has many verses that allow, demand violence applicable to those who are not believers.
The Bible, from Jesus arrival, clearly teaches against all forms of violence independently of contexts, situations. Before Jesus arrival it allows violence under specific circumstances, directed not toward those who lack belief but to those who practice evil consistently.
Violence is taught by the Qur’an along with peace… and practiced (see more here on Taliban/AlQaeda). In the Qor’an those who fight the infidels and die will have their own sins forgiven.
The Qur’an, unfortunately, does tell muslims to kill and go to war to fight for Islam: Quran, chapters (Surahs) 9:5; 2:191; 2:193; 3:118; 4:75,76; 5:33, 8:12; 8:65; 9:73,123; 33:60-62.
“Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil. Lo! the devil’s strategy is ever weak,” (Quran 4:76).
“The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter.” (Quran 5:33).
“Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful,” (Quran 9:5).
“O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil),” (Quran 9:123).
“Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens…” (Quran 47:4).
“Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure,” (Quran 61:4).
Jesus, on the other hand, taught only love including for one’s enemies. Was it practiced by all His followers? Clearly not. But His teachings are clear regarding the complete rejection of violence and His true followers do practice it.
Even before Jesus arrival, the violence present in the Old Testament, refers to God punishing specific groups of people for specific circumstances and practices –child sacrifices, cruelty, incest, bestiality, cultic prostitution etc. Studying the Bible, one can see that this violence is limited in time and space for specific situations (more here).
In one of his books ex radical Muslim Reza Safa asks:
‘If islam is a religion of peace then:
why Muhammad has participated in 47 wars?
why can one find in the Qoran so many verses that ask believers to kill all the people who do not believe or those who stand against Islam?
why there is not even 1 single Muslim country which guarantees the freedom of religion or expression? Not even one.
who inspires such a terrible violence to the hundreds of Islamic groups throughout the world who kill in the name of Allah if this religion is about peace as it says?’
‘The cross seems the way of defeat, but it is the means to victory.’
Ravi Zacharias said: ‘I have found that if you build a proper foundation for what the Christian faith is all about, as you lead up to the cross, the listeners sit in stunned silence. They immediately recognize that Christianity stands in stark contrast to everything that other worldviews affirm and assert. They know that true power is being expressed in the cross -restraint, mercy, forgiveness, all when the very One who is offering those things had the capacity to counter instead with force and with domination.
In contrast, consider the radicals in the Islamic movement, for whom power is always present, always political, always military and always violent. The cross will always be a stumbling block to them because it challenges the very core of their thinking. Jesus’ way is completely different from theirs. In Jesus’ way, winning comes through love and a change of heart.
So the way of the cross is in counter-perspective to every other belief system. The cross seems the way of defeat, but it is the means to victory. It shows meekness, yet it is the ultimate expression of strength. It brings everything that is of eternal value into current perspective.’ Ravi Zacharias, 2002.
(Sources: Bible, Qur’an, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries)