As a result of textual analysis it has been asserted that the Old and New Testaments are both more violent than the Koran. The latest video looks at this assertion. Can it really be true that Islam actually is the religion of peace?
Whenever there is a Muslim atrocity committed the automatic first response from Western politicians and media is to assure us that ‘Islam is a religion of peace’. No matter how horrendous, no matter how vehemently the perpetrators proclaim that they are doing this in the name of Islam, no matter how often we hear the cries of ‘Allah Akhbar’ as AK 47s rattle and bombs explode, we are sure to hear proclaimed the same message ‘This has nothing to do with Islam, Islam is a religion of peace’. To which most of us respond with our own version of the Scots ‘Aye – right’ one of the few instance in any language where two positives actually do make a negative.
Having no real argument to refute the self-evident connection between the Koran, Islam and Islamic violence progressives cry out ‘What about the violence in the Old and New Testaments’. This is classic ‘Whataboutery’. Whataboutery is almost always irrelevant. The Bible could be soaked in blood from page to page but that would not mean that the Koran was a peaceful book.
But which is the most violent, the Koran or the Bible? Tom Anderson has subjected the Koran, the Old Testament and the New Testament to textual analysis to determine which sacred text is the most inherently violent. Lo and behold – The Koran is least violent, closely followed by the New Testament then it’s that seething mass of hatred and intolerance the Old Testament. “Killing and destruction are referenced slightly more often in the New Testament than in the Quran (2.8% vs. 2.1%), but the Old Testament clearly leads—more than twice that of the Quran—in mentions of destruction and killing (5.3%).” Anderson
Anderson’s textual analysis seems to prove the point that compared to Judaism and Christianity it is Islam which is actually the religion of peace. Aye right.
Anderson has little conception of theology, or how language works. He proceeds from presumption that all religions are the same and that bare words matter without context. One religion was spread by non-violent martyrs who spread a message of love and, like their Lord, died forgiving their enemies; the other was spread by armies bent on violent imperialistic land grab who went to their deaths hating their enemies. Within a few decades of its creation Islam had spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, we can be sure that this was not through a particularly effective method of tract distribution and neighbourhood coffee mornings.
Undoubtedly the Old Testament contains much violence, but Anderson doesn’t realise the difference between description and prescription. Genesis 4:15 is cited as a text indicating anger. True, but it indicates God’s anger at Cain’s murder of Abel, far from condoning violence it is an expression of God’s abhorrence of violence and the taking of life. Many violent passages in Old Testament, are given as factual accounts of what happened, they are essentially history. They don’t excuse the warfare nor, and this is important, do they say “go thou and do likewise”.
In the New Testament, when Jesus spoke in parables about possible violent events, such as a bad king killing people, He was a warning against such behaviour, not inciting violence. Merely referencing violence does not necessarily teach it. In passages such as the Sermon on the Mount the New Testament urges peace and forgiveness to a daunting level. Yes Jesus does use the word ‘enemies’ which according to Anderson is a violent word. But He urges us to love our enemies and to turn the other cheek, the very opposite of violence.
The Koran, on the other hand, urges violence towards all non-Muslims as a political method of achieving mastery over them and imposing Sharia. Conquered infidels are given three choices – death, conversion, or to live as dishonoured second class citizens and be forced to pay a heavy tax. In this IS represents pure Islam. Quran (9:5) – “So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive 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.”
Early on in his campaigns, when outnumbered and militarily weak, Mohammed urged peaceful cooperation. Later, when his forces were stronger, he urged that no quarter be given to his adversaries. According to the Islamic doctrine of abrogation the later verses, superseded the earlier less warlike verses.
The basic teaching of the Koran has influence. Whilst most western Muslims live peaceful lives underlying attitudes are influenced by teaching. In a 2015 poll for the BBC Comres found that 45% of British Muslims believe that Muslim clerics preaching violence against the West represent ‘mainstream Islam’. A CPS poll in the USA found that 29% of American Muslims say violence against those who insult Mohammed or the Koran is acceptable.
Adherents of the religion of peace riot at perceived insults, harbour resentments and think themselves persecuted if they are not given special treatment. Criticise another religion and what happens? Jehovah’s Witnesses tend to be firm in their beliefs. Burn a copy of the Watchtower and they just might ring your doorbell and bore you to tears. Stage a musical satirising Mormon beliefs and do we find riots in Utah? No, a couple of well dressed young men might shake their heads and pray for you. Criticise Islam, and … You know what will happen.
We become Christians by a voluntary act. Having become one, you can also of your free will – leave it, criticise it and renounce it. Unfortunately some do. Islam, however, is designed, from its outset to be imposed, by the threat of violence or death. Once one becomes a Muslim, or if one is born into it, exiting is considered apostasy, and automatically results in a death threats.
That many Christians do not live up to the high ideals of Christ is a matter of regret. That many Muslims do not live down to the ideals of Muhhamed is a matter of relief.
When it comes to the religion of peace whom do we believe: the flawed conclusions of context free textual analysis or the evidence of our own experience? Islam is a religion of peace? Aye right.