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The Bible, the Qur'an and Violence
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Old 24-06-2011
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The Bible, the Qur'an and Violence


Salam George.

Peace be with you!

Thank you for your question.

You have claimed that the Biblical references to killing are sometimes metaphorical; but the Qur'anic commands are literal. This is a moot point; and for the time being I would dispute your contention by citing examples from the Old Testament where killing on a large scale has been done with the help and guidance of Jehovah or Yahweh.

Read the Book of Joshua, Chapters 8 to 11. About four chapters speak of nothing but killing, killing, killing and again killing, as commanded by Yahweh. I quote just the last part of Joshua Chapter 10:

30: and the LORD gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left none remaining in it; and he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.
31: And Joshua passed on from Libnah, and all Israel with him, to Lachish, and laid siege to it, and assaulted it:
32: and the LORD gave Lachish into the hand of Israel, and he took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it, as he had done to Libnah.
33: Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he left none remaining.
34: And Joshua passed on with all Israel from Lachish to Eglon; and they laid siege to it, and assaulted it;
35: and they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword; and every person in it he utterly destroyed that day, as he had done to Lachish.
36: Then Joshua went up with all Israel from Eglon to Hebron; and they assaulted it,
37: and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and its king and its towns, and every person in it; he left none remaining, as he had done to Eglon, and utterly destroyed it with every person in it.
38: Then Joshua, with all Israel, turned back to Debir and assaulted it,
39: and he took it with its king and all its towns; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed every person in it; he left none remaining; as he had done to Hebron and to Libnah and its king, so he did to Debir and to its king.
40: So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.

I understand that 'he left none remaining' means, Joshua killed the men, the women and the kids—even babies. At the command of Yahweh.

And we read this in the Book of Isaiah:

"Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished." (Isaiah 13:15-16)

Here we see how the Bible tells of God's commands to fight and kill.

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is quoted as saying that he had come to bring the sword, to "set father against son and mother against daughter" (Luke 12:53) and called on his followers to kill: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me" (Luke 19:27).
you can see that the parable comes to an end with the previous verse, namely Luke 19:26: "For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him."

It was after this we find these verses: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.

It is clear that he did not want his disciples to put this into effect immediately. And certainly the mission of Jesus in those days did not include fighting, nor was he prepared for it. But it would be naive to say that Jesus did not know the role of wars in the history of humanity. He certainly knew the Law of Moses and the significance of fighting in Jewish history. Didn't he know that the Law of Moses taught the philosophy of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth? And yet what did he say of the Law?

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled..." (Matthew 5: 17, 18).

And from the manner in which he drove out the money changers in the Jerusalem Temple (John 2: 13-15), it is clear that he did not completely rule out the use of force, in establishing peace on earth.

The question is how did the Christians interpret the words of Jesus in their practical life? Most assuredly the import of the parable (quoted above) was not lost upon the Christians of the later centuries. If we examine the history of Christianity, we see the above words of Jesus have been enacted in bloody reality many times - starting when an important political rebellion against the Roman Catholic Church took on a religious slant - leading to the split in European Christendom between Catholic and Protestant. This split sparked off a series of religious wars which were ultimately to be responsible for the death of nearly a third of the entire White race.

If we argue that the essential message of Jesus is "turning the other cheek" even in the face of the worst provocation, then we have to admit that Jesus' avowed followers have belied his teaching repeatedly. Even when their tongues call Jesus "the Prince of Peace", weapons of mass destruction are being forged in their backyards to massacre the non-Christians. Every time a Christian bomb tears apart the limbs of an Iraqi man, woman or child in Baghdad or Fallujah, Christ's teaching is proved to be null and void. It is funny to hear the Christians blaming Muslims for taking up weapons while they themselves had exploded two Christian atom bombs that killed millions; and theirs is the monopoly of manufacturing, distributing and using the most horrible weapons ever made by the hand of man - the followers of the Prince of Peace indeed!

The Qur'an is a continuation and completion of the earlier scriptures like the Torah and the Gospel; and the mission of Muhammad was a reconciliation between the harsh Law of Moses and the non-violent Gospel of Jesus. Consider this Muslim idea in the light of Islam's acceptance of Moses and Jesus as prophets of God and their books as God-given scriptures. Muhammad never claimed that he was preaching a new religion: he said that his mission can be compared to a brick; the last brick needed to complete the construction of a building. All the prophets—indeed thousands of them—had preached the Religion of God before, and every prophet had a mission to fulfill. And when the time was ripe the Last Prophet came and completed the Religion of God.

The Qur'an has said what means:

*{So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates…}* (Muhammad 47:4)

The context of this verse was when the Muslims were to fight their enemies for their very existence. After thirteen years of endurance and patience, the prophet and his companions had to leave their home town of Makkah and to emigrate to Madinah. When the people of Madinah had welcomed him there and he was accepted as a leader there, the Makkans became unhappy. They wanted to eliminate Muhammad and his religion; and so they sent their army to root out Islam. And the crucial battle took place in Badr. It was just before this that Muhammad received the revelation from God to fight:
*{And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.}* (Al-Baqarah 2:190)

This meant that the Prophet and his companions were not to start the fighting; but to defend themselves against aggressors. That was how fighting was ordained; but we must know that once we fight, we fight to defeat the aggressors, so that we can live without fear of molestation and invasion; so that we can live in peace; so that justice is done. Remember God does not command any one to start fighting; rather He permits people to fight in self defense or for the defense of those who are attacked unjustly.

All the passages in the Qur'an referring to fighting have been revealed in the context of the threats of battles from the enemies of Truth and Justice. And when you are told to fight, you are commanded to fight on till justice is established; till the criminals are brought to book, till Peace can prevail.

When DU bombs are dropped from a height of 30,000 ft, how can you turn the other cheek? By their invasions and occupations the people whom the Muslims see as representing the Christians have been proving Jesus' message of Peace irrelevant and meaningless in the world of reality. And then they quote Jesus and ask Muslims not to resist them while they go on brutally maiming and massacring people and demolishing their mosques!



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