Monday, 28 September 2009

McChrystal Unclear

I think it's best if you keep it shut, Stan

In this article at the Washington Post, we are treated to the "wisdom" of Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan.

McChrystal's willful blindness to the hard realities of Islam is painfully clear. Having originally decided that the best course of action was to win the Afghans' "hearts and minds", which didn't work because Islam teaches hatred of non-Muslims and the Afghans are particularly devout in their Islam, Stan The Man Without A Plan has now turned his dull eyes to giving the people "'trust and confidence' in themselves and their government." Which means, in essence, nothing at all.

Then - and this is the real corker - McChrystal seeks to expose what he calls the jihadists' "flagrant contravention of the principles of the Koran", including indiscriminate use of violence and terrorism, and attacks on schools and development projects.

One can only assume that this fool hasn't actually read what the Qur'an says about violence against unbelievers, or what Islamic law teaches about terroristic acts such as the slaughter of civilians and suicide bombing.

This is what our troops are fighting and dying for?

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Israeli Snake Strikes On The Way?

Argh! Jewish snake assassin!

Here's what Islam does to your brain:

Palestinian Muslims believe that Israel is training snakes to attack them as assassins.

No, really.

And nor is this the first time those crafty Zionists have utilised animal power to attack Muslims. The Palestinians have previously accused Israel of using rats to drive Palestinians out of their homes. Meanwhile, Iran has actually arrested peeping pigeons and secret squirrels for being Israeli spies. And don't forget the wild boars.

Such conspiracism is funny, but it also represents a festering Muslim hatred for Jews which goes back to the inception of Islam. Long before the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which many in the Muslim world still take as gospel truth, Jews have been accused of engaging in conspiracies to either take over/corrupt the world or, more specifically, destroy Islam.

It begins in the Qur'an, where Jews are accused of "spreading corruption" in the land (5:64), and most notably murdering or attempting to murder prophets (2:61), including Jesus (4:157). This theme culminates in the allegation that Muhammad's final illness and death in 632 AD were caused by his poisoning by a Jewess at Khaybar two years earlier. For example, Ibn Sa'd, a noted biographer of the Prophet, wrote the following about this incident:

“She poisoned the goat putting more poison in the forelegs…The Apostle of Allah took the foreleg, a piece of which he put into his mouth...The Apostle of Allah sent for Zaynab Bint al-Harith [the Jewess] [and]…handed her over to [those] who put her to death…The Apostle of Allah lived after this three years, till in consequence of his pain he passed away. During his illness he used to say: I did not cease to find the effect of the poisoned morsel I took at Khaybar.”

Since then, the conspiracy theories have kept coming. The famous Muslim historian Tabari (d.923) was influential in spreading the allegation, still believed by some Muslims today, that the entire Sunni/Shi'ite divide was created by a renegade Jew as part of a larger plot to destablise and destroy Islam. Later, when the Jew Sa'd ad-Daula was appointed as vizier to the Mongol Emperor in thirteenth-century Iraq, outraged Muslims (outraged because sharia law forbids infidels from obtaining positions of power over Muslims), levelled all kinds of calumnies and libels against him. One of these accusations was that he was planning to cut down ancient trees in Baghdad and use them to build a fleet so he could attack Mecca and convert the Kaaba into a heathen temple. This incitement led eventually to Sa'd's murder.

Anti-Jewsh conspiracism serves to justify the fiercest and most murderous kind of hatred towards Jews, and it is vital to remember that the sources for it pre-date non-Islamic sources of antisemitic hate by over a thousand years.

Monday, 21 September 2009

An Islamic State In Palestine

Official Palestinian TV broadcasts an image of Israel coloured with the Palestinian flag

Leftists frequently insist that the Palestinians sincerely want peace in their conflict with Israel. And they are right, of course, because many of those Palestinians, such as "moderate" PA Prime Minister Salam Fayad, want to turn the entire region into an Islamic state, governed by sharia law, with Jerusalem as its capital.

So the Leftists are indeed correct. Because once Israel is an Islamic state, the Palestinians wouldn't have any need to fight it anymore.

And then there would be "peace".

Absurd Britannia

Sharia courts may be actively functioning in Britain now, but it seems that sharia is no longer confined to the four walls of the courtroom.

Consider the following: A Christian couple have been charged with a criminal offence after taking part in what they regarded as a reasonable discussion about religion with guests at their hotel. Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang were arrested after a Muslim woman complained to police that she had been offended by their comments. They have been charged under public order laws with using ‘threatening, abusive or insulting words’ that were ‘religiously aggravated’.

And what did they say that was so "aggravating"? Although the facts are disputed, it is thought that during the conversation the couple were challenged over their Christian beliefs. It is understood that they suggested that Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was a warlord and that traditional Muslim dress for women was a form of bondage.

The latter is a matter of opinion and the former is an indisputable fact - Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad's earliest and most esteemed biographer, records that the Prophet “took part personally in twenty-seven (T. six) raids...He actually fought in nine engagements”. But criticism of Islam, no matter how firmly grounded in truth, is prohibited under sharia. Was the anonymous Muslim complainant one of the approximately 40% of British Muslims who would like to see Islamic law become the law of the land in this country? To ask such a question is rapidly becoming "threatening, abusive and insulting" to Muslims.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Protect Rifqa Bary Against The Slanderers

Over the last few weeks, I have looked on in complete disbelief (and controlled fury) as the media and criminal investigators betray an innocent young girl.

I am referring to Rifqa Bary, the American Muslim girl who fears for her life after converting to Christianity, and angering her family in the process. Previously, I have dealt with the Islamic death penalty for apostasy and its implications for Rifqa here, as well as focusing on why it would be lethal to send the girl back to her home in Ohio.

But investigators and the media have ignored voluminous evidence of the threat to Rifqa's life, using every excuse in the book just so they can say that there is no problem with Islam or sharia law. See, for example, this post at Diana West's blog dissecting a hopeless piece of "coverage" of the Rifqa Bary story in TIME magazine.

At FrontPage today, Jamie Glazov interviews Dave Gaubatz, the first U.S. civilian Federal Agent deployed to Iraq in 2003. He is currently conducting a 50 State Counter-terrorism Research Tour (CTRT), and is collecting a huge amount of evidence relating to the extent that Muslims in America support the death sentence for apostasy. "I have visited over 200 Islamic Centers throughout America," he says. "The vast majority teach the worshippers ‘Apostates should be killed’ because it is a major sign of disrespect to Allah, the family of the Apostate is dishonored, and it may lead others to leave Islam."

Gaubatz is promising detailed documentation of his findings in the near future, but he provides one example during the interview:

Over the last three years I have conducted extensive research at Dar Al Hijrah Mosque in Falls Church, Va. Islamic leaders and some of their worshippers provided me materials to understand ‘Pure Islam’. One such manual is “The Hudud” (Mandatory Punishments for specific crimes). The Arabic word for Apostasy is ‘Riddah’. Below are a few quotes from the manual recommended to me to study Islam and how to be a good and pure Muslim. Note: In 2007, I went through a ‘pseudo’ conversion (revert) to Islam at Dar Al Hijrah in order to obtain more in depth first-hand intelligence. A popular Islamic leader Yusef Estes was visiting Dar Al Hijrah and was my witness to the conversion. My complete discussion with Estes will be made available on my site as well.

From the Hudud:

[1] “Death for hudd punishment for riddah (apostasy).

[2] “Whoever renounces his religion, kill him.”

[3] “The Muslim who converts his religion, kill him.”

Nowhere in the manual obtained in Virginia does it inform a Muslim father to not kill their daughter in America if she were to leave Islam (as Rifqa Bary did). No where does it inform the Muslim reader to not seek death for the Islamic sin of apostasy. Contrary, the manual does state there is no “obedience due to” any state or ruler who contradicts the laws of Allah.

Real, honest investigative reporting is uncovering this sort of thing all over the place. Here is another example from none other than Harvard University. The mainstream media should be utterly ashamed of themselves for their failure to uncover and comprehend such obvious truths.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Voting For More Islam

During the recent Afghan elections, most Western media outlets focused on allegations of electoral fraud. But considerably less attention was paid to the reasons that people voted in the first place. Naive and simplistic journalists in the West have expressed hope that voters turned out in defiance of the Taliban, or that the voting represents the successful "democratisation" of Afghanistan.

Now, a new report from the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit shows that these conclusions do not take into account the whole picture.

As the report makes clear, Afghan voters had a number of reasons for turning out, one of the key ones being Islamic identity. A common view of voters was, “We vote for a candidate who is first a Muslim, second an Afghan and finally, someone who can serve his people.”

This placing of religious identity above national and societal values exemplifies the way that, for many Muslims, their being a Muslim is more important to them than anything else, even their own nationality. Under such a worldview, there can never be hope for a secular outlook towards morality and law - religious principles always come first. Such tendencies are expressed even by supposedly secular Muslim "reformers" such as Tariq Ramadan, who has said: “I accept the law, provided it does not force me to do something in contradiction with my religion.” And: “If, to be a good citizen, you must be a bad Muslim, the answer is no.”

This religious fanaticism is also evident in the fact that, according to the report, "among older, more rural voters, democracy was condemned as embracing western values and moving away from tradition, reflecting more widespread concerns with the meaning of democracy in Afghanistan." Now, I thought it was only greasy Islamophobes who said that democracy is incompatible with Islam!

Actually, that's an important point. As, once again, the report notes, "Participation in elections does not necessary mean a wholehearted endorsement of democracy or democratisation in Afghanistan." A true democratic state would require the jettisoning of Islamic sharia law, which denies individual freedom and human rights to women and non-Muslims, and amounts to a theocratic, totalitarian regime akin to the Taliban's.

Polls in the Islamic world, most notably this one, have shown that the majority of Muslims actually support the implementation of strict sharia law in all Islamic countries. Afghanistan is not likely to be an exception. That means that whatever the Afghan people have been voting for, it certainly isn't real freedom.

And that's ultimately the reason why the US-led war in Afghanistan has, from the start, been so misguided. This is not to say, of course, that the Taliban should not have been ousted from power; but Bush and company never understood that their democratisation project in the country was doomed to fail, because they made no attempt to deal with the fundamental Islamic identity and values that would serve as barriers to such a project. Had they known what they were doing, they would not have allowed the Afghans to put in place a Constitution which states that "no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam." The practical implications of this were the fact that Abdul Rahman was put on trial for apostasy after converting to Christianity and, more recently, a law was passed making it legal for men to starve their wives if they refuse to have sex with them.

Any attempt to transform an Islamic country into a Westernised democracy must begin with a confrontation of Islamic law and values, and a thorough re-education of the people. It is a shame that neither Bush nor, now, Obama understand this. The price for their ignorance has been the pointless blood of our soldiers fighting the wrong enemy.

It's not the Taliban; it's Islam.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Indonesia Becomes a Target For "Fascists"

Textbook anti-fascism

Indonesia's province of Aceh has passed a new law making adultery punishable by stoning to death, a member of the province's parliament has said. The law also imposes severe sentences for rape, homosexuality, alcohol consumption and gambling.

The basis for stoning to death in Islamic countries is Muhammad's own example. On one occasion he encountered a group of Jews in Medina who had arrested an adulterous couple. The Prophet of Islam asked them what the prescribed punishment was for adultery in the Torah. They tried to dissemble, claiming that the Torah prescribed only lashes, an indication that the Jews of Muhammad's day no longer took the judicial proscriptions of Mosaic law literally – and indeed, Islam is the only religion which has continued to practise this punishment for thousands of years. One of Muhammad's followers challenged them on this, so one of the Jews began to read from the Torah, but he deliberately covered the part about stoning with his hand. On exposing this deception, Muhammad said, “Woe to you Jews! What has induced you to abandon the judgement of God which you hold in your hands?” Then he had the couple stoned to death (Bukhari v.4, b.61, no.3635; see also Ibn Ishaq). On another occasion, a woman came to him and admitted that she had committed adultery, and asked for his forgiveness. He forgave her – and then had her stoned to death. (Muslim b.17, no.4206)

Muhammad's example, or Sunnah, is a major criterion for determining right and wrong in Islam. For this reason, stoning is considered a legitimate method of punishment under Islamic law to this day, even though it isn't actually mentioned in the Qur'an.

Anyway, the BBC article says that "[t]he governor of Aceh, a former rebel with the Free Aceh Movement, is opposed to strict Sharia law. He had urged more debate over the bill."

Which means, if you believe John Denham, that he must be a fascist.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

A Lesson For John Denham On The Meaning Of "Fascism"

John Denham, grinning like the idiot he is

You will probably have read by now about communities minister John Denham's outrageous statement that "Right-wing" groups who claim to oppose Islamic extremism are trying to provoke violence on Britain's streets, and are comparable to the fascist followers of Oswald Mosley.

It is telling how Denham assumes that one must be "right-wing" to oppose Islamic jihadists (although it is certainly true that Leftists don't have a great record when it comes to leaning in that direction). But for their part, the English Defense League (EDL), one of the main targets of Denham's statement, have issued an official response, which reads in part:

"The EDL exists precisely because extremist Muslim groups are being allowed to tour the UK unchallenged, corrupting the minds of young and impressionable people, undermining community cohesion and causing gratuitous offence to non Muslims....Your comparison of the situation in Harrow yesterday (to which the EDL were not party) with the Black Shirts of Oswald Moseley is farcical, intended only to legitimise the violent response of Muslim and government sponsored counter demonstrators, and to demonise a group of people who feel that the actions of Anjem Choudary and his ilk must be opposed. Failure to do so will result in further alienation as these extremists are allowed to preach their hatred of the UK, our people and our way of life."

And indeed, Denham's idiotic comparison is symbolic of the tendency of the entire Western political class to get the facts completely backwards.

Let us assume, for a moment, that the movement we dub "Islamic extremism" is a corruption of a peaceful and tolerant faith called Islam, and not (as is actually the case) a mere extension of its mainstream, orthodox teachings. This movement is pushing a powerfully presented ideological and political challenge against the West. In its imagined utopia, non-Muslims and women would face institutionalised discrimination; homosexuals are put to death; freedom of conscience is denied to those who wish to leave the Islamic religion; freedom of speech is denied to those who wish to speak out against the dominant ideology; and wars are declared with the express purpose of imposing all of these conditions on non-Muslim nations by force.

Regardless of whether this jihadist movement represents "true Islam" or not, it is undeniably totalitarian in nature. Of course, a larger issue is that Islam itself is, in its traditional form, fascist, as Ibn Warraq has brilliantly shown.

And what does it mean if you oppose this fascism and advocate resistance to it, along with promotion of Western values of freedom and democracy? Why, in John Denham's world, it means you are a fascist.

In his 1920 Theory and Practise of Bolshevism, philosopher Bertrand Russell openly compared Islam to Soviet Communism:

Bolshevism combines the characteristics of the French Revolution with those of the rise of Islam.

Marx has taught that Communism is fatally predestined to come about; this produces a state of mind not unlike the early successors of Muhammad.

Among religions, Bolshevism is to be reckoned with Mohammedanism rather than with Christianity and Buddhism. Christianity and Buddhism are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines and a love of contemplation. Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of the world.

Almost 90 years later, the moronic John Denham would do well to take note.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Eight Years On And We Have Learned Nothing

In one sense, there is no need for me to have to tell you what today means.

But in another sense, the situation as it prevails today is in urgent need of addressing, for it is a situation that should not be.

It is now eight years since Islamic jihadists, explicitly in the name of Islam, committed the mass murdering atrocities that would come to be collectively known as "9/11". One would have thought that those events, and subsequent events piled on top, would have opened Western leaders' eyes - and those of lay people - to the threat of a rapidly expanding movement that aims to subjugate the entire world under its totalitarian rule...and will wreak all kinds of havoc - much of it deadly - in the process if it has to. One would think that eight years on, our determination to fight, to defend ourselves, would be stronger than ever.

But it is not. Instead, the leaders and their people have chosen to close their eyes and go back to sleep, for comforting illusions are preferable to hard realities.

The cost of this laziness, this cowardice, could be astronomical.

Consider the following.

The British government has so far given £48,000 to the Muslim Brotherhood for the purpose of helping it "prevent extremism" in the Muslim community. And who is the Muslim Brotherhood? Why, it just so happens to be the original Islamic terror organisation, founded in 1928, from which most similar groups, such as Hamas, have sprung. Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, openly avowed that he wanted to see Islam take over the world, and also wrote that "Jihad is an obligation from Allah on every Muslim and cannot be ignored nor evaded. Allah has ascribed great importance to jihad and has made the reward of the martyrs and the fighters in His way a splendid one."

The Muslim Brotherhood is also engaged in a plot to undertake, in its own words, "a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."

With this knowledge foremost in our minds, why is our government giving this group money?

The situation in the US is no better. Over there, the FBI is actively working with a number of groups who are directly associated with the Brotherhood, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and allowing such groups dangerous access to the White House and the intelligence services.

A recent poll in the US found that the number of Americans who believe that Islamic doctrine encourages violence against unbelievers (a fact that is beyond dispute to any objective observer) has dropped, meaning that Americans are failing to understand the core ideology driving those who have declared war upon them and are intent on eradicating their entire way of life, which is based on Western principles of democracy, human rights, individual freedom and equality...principles that would be overturned by Islam should it ever establish dominion in that land.

And meanwhile - and most tellingly - a new survey gauging Muslim attitudes indicates that backing for suicide bombings against civilians, while generally down from earlier years, remains significant in some Islamic countries – challenging the assertion that Muslims supporting terrorism constitute a “tiny minority”.

And that's what it boils down to. Islamic doctrine and law unequivocally teaches that it is the duty of the Muslim community to compel unbelieving nations to adopt Islamic law, at the point of the sword if necessary. While most Muslims do not heed these teachings, they nevertheless have a substantial level of support among Muslim communities worldwide. Checking the news every day will expose the increasing body count that Islam is accumulating. As the counter in the top-right corner of this blog attests, we have now exceeded 14,000 Islamic terror attacks around the world in just the last eight years.

Islamic jihadists - who wield substantial numbers and support, as well as religious orthodoxy behind them - have declared war on Western civilsation. Eight years on from 9/11, that declaration must not go unheeded.

Please, never forget.


Thursday, 10 September 2009

Just Slayin' Some Idolators...

Unreported by major Western media establishments, recent days have seen numerous cases of vicious and murderous Muslim persecution of Eastern religious groups, particularly Hindus and Buddhists.

In the past four years, some 5000 Hindus have fled from Pakistan due to increased persecution by Muslims, including forced conversions, kidnapping and rape.

Yesterday, Islamic jihadists shot and killed three Buddhist men in Thailand, setting the body of one of the victims on fire

And the populations of non-Muslim minorities, including Hindus and Sihks, have also fallen dramatically in Bangladesh in recent years due to persecution know who.

Why is all this happening? Because the Qur'an, the Muslim holy book, says: “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.” (9:5)

Of course, Western Muslim practicioners of taqiyya, and their non-Muslim useful idiots, will insist that this verse doesn't really mean what it says, or that if it does, no one takes it seriously anymore. And it's certainly true that the vast majority of the world's Muslims have no interest in slaying idolators. But as the above examples demonstrate, it only takes a "tiny minority" of believing Muslims to take such verses seriously to result in the human rights violations of thousands of infidels.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The BBC (Sort Of) Admits Reality

In this story at the BBC today, we learn that a leading Saudi cleric has called upon Muslims to stop praying for the destruction of unbelievers.

In a slip which is unusual for the BBC, Auntie admits that "A supplication to that effect [i.e. curses against unbelievers] is often reiterated at the end of every Friday prayer in Arab countries". Eventually even the Beeb has to admit that, greatly at variance with the sanitised fantasy upheld by many on the Left (and, for that matter, on the Right), "mainstream Islamic preaching" is largely responsible for the increased fanaticism of Muslims around the world. The article adds that this mainstream hate-preaching is "something critics say can radicalise youth". As they say: No Shit, Sherlock.

Of course, there are the usual qualifiers about the Saudis practising a "conservative" and "puritanical" form of Islam, but no mention of the fact that many parts of the Qur'an itself are, by any standard, hate speech.

The article ends thusly:

He said praying for the destruction of the unbelievers runs against God's law, or Islamic sharia.

However, he added that praying for their destruction should be allowed only if they were harming the interests of Muslims.

But in a climate where Muslims are widely perceived to be under attack in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian territories, Sheikh Salman's appeal will have little or no impact on those who think that jihad against the Americans or the Israelis is a perfectly legitimate exercise.

For them the problem is not Islamic preaching, but rather an unjust world where Muslims are oppressed by foreign powers.

Thus, in the end, the Sheikh seems to legitimise the jihad in Iraq and Afghanistan and, possibly, the killing of British and American civilians in the West. But, even if he was talking about legitimate self-defense, he apparently remains unaware that the Qur'an mandates offensive jihad, also, and thus that even if the Muslim world was not being "oppressed by foreign powers", it might continue to wage jihad against the West anyway.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Islam Vs. Christianity: Equivalent Traditions? (Part 3)


All of what we have discussed so far in this series is of theological and historical interest, but the more important issue is how much violence is being committed in the name of Christianity and Islam today. And the indisputable fact is that there are no Christian terror groups – or groups of any other religion – in existence today who commit acts of violence against unbelievers and quote scripture to justify their actions. Some point to examples of Christian terrorists in the modern day, but these comparisons with Islamic jihadists do not stand up for a number of reasons.

A purveyor of moral equivalence once said to me during a debate, “For every Muslim suicide bomber, you will find a Christian blowing up an abortion clinic.” But this is blatantly not true. There have been almost fourteen thousand terror attacks by Muslims since September 11th, 2001, alone. During that same period, there has been only one murder of an abortionist by a Christian.

Other “Christian terrorists” that are often mentioned include the IRA and the Ku Klux Klan. But once again, the comparison is faulty. The IRA were a political group fighting in a political conflict: Unionists vs. Loyalists. While they were nominally Christian, they did not have a Christian charter or invoke Christianity to justify their actions. Some try to cast the conflict as a sectarian schism between Catholics and Protestants, but while this may have played some role in the background of the fighting, it was not the primary reason for the conflict. Meanwhile the KKK, while professing to be Christian and having the support of some Christian churches, could not ground their ideology in the Bible or the teachings of any orthodox Christian sect, and didn't have the support of major Christian authorities.


The attempts to demonstrate moral equivalence between Islam and Christianity, fuelled by multiculturalism and political correctness, are hysterical and belied by the evidence. While there are no Christian groups calling for the forceful subversion of the Western (or Islamic) world under religious law and using the Bible to justify themselves, there are hundreds of such groups of Muslims who openly admit that they want to destroy Western civilisation and impose sharia law upon it – and they directly invoke traditional Islamic understandings of the Qur'an in doing so.

Political correctness is causing the West to lose sight of the real threat. The threat is not “religious fundamentalism” in general; it is Islamic jihad, and no amount of denying this – or bleating about “anti-Muslim bigotry” – will make this reality go away. The West must open its eyes and confront this.

It is overwhelmingly clear that all sects of Christianity teach peace and co-operation with other faiths, while Islam does not. Jesus taught:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

“Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39)

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

“Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. ” (Matthew 26:52)
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)

These words and others militate against the barbarism of the Old Testament, and there is no Christian sect that teaches anything to contradict these ideals. By contrast, Muhammad taught (and practised) war, and Muslims throughout history have followed his words literally. To this day, all the schools of jurisprudence still teach warfare against unbelievers. Nothing like this can be found in Christianity.

In closing, here are two quotes from Christian and Islamic authorities. The first is from the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to non-Christian Religions, from the Second Vatican Council of 1965:

“The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, colour, condition of life or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to 'maintain good fellowship among the nations' (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men, so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.”

The second quote is from Al-Muntakhab Fi Tafsir al-Qur'an al-Karim, a 1985 Qur'an commentary endorsed and contributed to by Cairo's Al-Azhar University, the highest authority in Sunni Islam and the closest Muslim equivalent to the Vatican:

“O you believers! Fight the unbelievers, namely the People of the Book...they do not embrace the True Religion, i.e. Islam. Fight them until they believe, or force them to pay the jizya humbly and obediently, not grudgingly, so that they contribute to the Islamic budget.”

These two quotes adequately demonstrate that Christianity is not equivalent to Islam in its capacity to incite violence today. Those who deny this in the name of political correctness are causing the West to lose its focus on defending itself against the genuine threat of Islamic jihad.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Islam Vs. Christianity: Equivalent Traditions? (Part 2)

Following on from part 1, here.



To say that Christianity does not justify violence seems laughable when we are confronted with one simple fact: Christians have waged wars, witch-hunts and Inquisitions in the name of their faith for centuries. In the face of this, how can we not draw the conclusion that both Islam and Christianity are equal in their capacity to inspire violence in their followers?

It cannot – and should not – be denied that Christians have done terrible things in the name of their religion, just as people have done terrible things in the name of all belief systems. But as should be clear by now, their actions were not supported by traditional interpretations of the teachings of Jesus and Christianity, and it is for this reason that they did not even attempt to justify their actions by appealing to their scriptures in the way that Muslims have done for centuries. They couldn't, since there has never been a Christian tradition or authority which used these verses to formulate a developed doctrine and theology of holy war equivalent to jihad.

Compare this to the ferocious jihad campaigns waged against infidel non-Muslims in the centuries following Muhammad's death. The Muslims who waged these expansionist wars based their actions on the Qur'an and the teachings of Muhammad. For example, Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second caliph to rule the Muslim community after Muhammad's death, is reported to have said to his lieutenant regarding his invasion of Iraq in the seventh century: “Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them (this is to say, accept their conversion as genuine and refrain from fighting them), but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency.” In this, Umar was quoting almost verbatim the words of Muhammad himself:

“When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them...If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them.” (Sahih Muslim b.19, no.4294)

This view has been perfectly echoed fourteen centuries later by Osama bin Laden. In 2002, bin Laden wrote a scathing response to a group of Saudi theologians who had written letters to the U.S. government advocating peaceful coexistence with the West. After quoting Qur'an 9:29 and the hadith tradition quoted above, he summarises: “There are only three choices in Islam: either willing submission [i.e. conversion to Islam]; or payment of the jizya, through physical though not spiritual submission to the authority of Islam; or the sword – for it is not right to let him [an infidel] live. The matter is summed up for every person alive: either submit [convert], or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die.”

When have Christians ever made statements of this kind?

Clearly, any powerfully presented ideology can be used and abused to foment violence – as history attests. In this light, the violent history of Christianity is no surprise: strong faith-based belief systems, if allowed to wield power over men, will result in abhorrent acts committed in their name, regardless of the tenets of their ideology. That is just the way human beings are.

But imagine how much more difficult such violence is to eradicate from societies governed by Islam, which promotes war and violence as part of its central doctrines. This is the major difference between Christianity and Islam: traditional Islam inherently mandates warfare and supremacism, and so will continue to produce adherents who live out these doctrines, while Christianity has no such traditions, and thus can be continually refashioned and secularised until it becomes fully compatible with modern liberal democracy.


In any discussion of historical Christian violence, two major examples spring instantly to mind: the Crusades and the Inquisitions.

The Crusades are often falsely depicted as unprovoked attacks on a peaceful Muslim world, during which Muslims were forced to convert to Christianity. But in fact, the Crusades were a late, limited and ultimately unsuccessful response to Islamic jihad attacks which began 450 years before the First Crusade. By 1095, over half of Christendom had been brutally taken by waves of Islamic conquests. Hundreds of thousands were killed, converted or subjugated by the Islamic invaders, and those who survived often faced fierce persecution. The Crusades were originally intended to recapture this land, particularly Jerusalem, which was taken by the Muslims in 638, and bring aid to the oppressed Christians in the Holy Land.

The exact nature and purpose of the Crusades has been hotly debated, but whether you consider them to be offensive or defensive, just or unjust, it is absurd to compare them to Islamic jihad, for two main reasons:

  • They lasted for two hundred years (only about twenty years of which consisted of actual military campaigns) and only targeted lands that had formerly been Christian, whereas the jihad conquests lasted for over a millennium and targeted the entire world and all non-Muslims
  • The Crusaders did not, and could not, quote the Bible to justify their actions. In his speech at the Council of Clermont in 1095, Pope Urban II, who called the First Crusade, quoted a handful of Bible verses to show that Christians should be loyal to God, but he did not quote a single verse from the Bible to support the assumption that warfare in the name of Christ is justified.

Certainly the Crusaders committed many atrocities which cannot be excused, but for their part, they generally did not resort to forceful conversion of Muslims, and those Muslims who lived in the Crusader states were mostly left alone and allowed to keep their property. For example, one twelfth-century Spanish Muslim, Ibn Jubayr, admitted rather begrudgingly that Muslims actually preferred to live in lands controlled by the Crusaders than in their own lands, since the Franks treated them better than their own rulers did:

“Upon leaving Tibnin (near Tyre), we passed through an unbroken skein of farms and villages whose lands were efficiently cultivated. The inhabitants were all Muslims, but they live in comfort with the Franks – may God preserve them from temptation! Their dwellings belong to them and all their property is unmolested. All the regions controlled by the Franks in Syria are subject to this same system: the landed domains, villages and farms remain in the hands of the Muslims. Now doubt invests the heart of a great number of these men when they compare their lot to that of their brothers living in Muslim territory. Indeed, the latter suffer from the injustice of their coreligionists, whereas the Franks act with equity.”

Although the Crusades failed at their primary objective – to reclaim the Christian lands – it may be that they achieved something much more important. During the period in which Christians controlled territories in the Holy Land, between 1099 and 1291, there were no further Muslim incursions into Europe. It is quite likely that had the Crusades not been fought, the Muslims would have swept across Europe much earlier, and probably Islamised it. Only the Crusaders, who marched thousands of miles from home to keep the Muslim armies held up in the Middle East, kept Europe from potentially being a much different place than it is today. Without their efforts, it is likely that many more would have suffered.

The Inquisitions, which began in 1478, were a completely inexcusable display of murderous intolerance on the part of the Catholic Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, who were willingly aided in their efforts to cleanse Europe of heresy by the Church. However, once again, their actions were in clear transgression of the teachings of the New Testament and of the early Church Fathers.

In the Parable of the Tares, Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven as containing tares among the wheat, and directs that the weeds not be uprooted, “because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.” (Matthew 13:24-30). Working with this basic assumption, numerous early Church Fathers spoke out against forced conversion, emphasising that religion must be discovered through free will and not coercion. Early Christianity also appears to have benefited from the absorption of ancient Greek and Stoic ethics into its theology.

For example, Tertullian (d.220) wrote to a Roman pagan that “it is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that every man should worship according to his own convictions: one man's religion neither harms nor helps another man. It is assuredly no part of religion to compel religion – to which free will and not force should lead us.”

Origen (d.254), one of the most distinguished of the early Church Fathers who was heavily influenced by neo-Platonism, pointed out, as discussed in the previous post, that the Mosaic Law was no longer binding on Christians: “We must refer briefly to the difference between the constitution which was given to the Jews of old by Moses, and that which the Christians, under the direction of Christ's teaching, wish now to establish...For Christians could not slay their enemies, or condemn to be burned or stoned, as Moses commands, those who had broken the law.”

Another Father, Lactantius (d.320), who was influenced by Cicero, declared that “[r]eligion cannot be imposed by force; the matter must be carried on by words rather than by blows, that the will may be affected.” He also wrote poignantly:

“Oh with what an honorable inclination the wretched men go astray! For they are aware that there is nothing among men more excellent than religion and that this ought to be defended with the whole of our power; but as they are deceived in the matter of religion itself, so also are they in the manner of its defense. Religion is to be defended not by putting to death but by dying, not by cruelty but by patient endurance, not by guilt but by good faith...If you wish to defend religion by bloodshed, and by tortures, and by guilt, it will no longer be defended but will be polluted and profaned.”

This conception began to change as the Church accumulated (and abused) greater political power, but even then there was no consensus. Saint John Chrysostom (d.407), one of the most influential Church Fathers of all, wrote that “[i]t is not right to put a heretic to death, since an implacable war would be brought into the world.” And Saint Augustine wrote: “For we do not seek to revenge ourselves in this world...we love our enemies, and we pray for them. It is not their death, but their deliverance from error, that we seek to accomplish”.

It is, of course, inexcusable that Christians ever resorted to violence and murder at all, but in any case invoking the Spanish Inquisition does not establish what apologists wish it established. While the murder of even one person is a horrendous crime, the numbers killed in the Inquisition do not amount to the kinds of fantastical figures some people envision. Estimates of the death toll generally don't reach any more than a few thousand, taking into account that only a tiny percentage of those processed during the Inquisition were actually executed. The rest were made to do various good works, such as church-building. Given that this took place over three hundred and fifty years, this is a minuscule number compared to some of the crimes of Islam. For example, Indian historian K.S. Lal has estimated that between 1000 and 1525, Muslim armies massacred almost eighty million Hindus on the Indian subcontinent. No Christian crime can equal this. And more people have been killed by Islamic jihadists in the few years since 9/11 than died in the entire Spanish Inquisition. This demonstrates that historical Christian violence was not as widespread as some would have us believe, and certainly did not amount to any kind of continuous campaign of violence akin to the jihad.

Tune in for the third and final part, coming soon...

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

200 More Reasons To Ban The Burqa...

An Afghan soldier stands guard over a burqa used by a male Taliban suicide bomber to attack government buildings in Paktia Province.

At FrontPage, Daniel Pipes meticulously documents what, to my count, amounts to around 200 recent incidents (although I am admittedly somewhat mathematically-challenged) in which Islamic burqa-style covering was used by criminals and terrorists to disguise themselves in the act. Pipes then sensibly concludes that "these hideous, unhealthy, socially divisive, terrorist-enabling, and criminal-friendly garments" should be banned from public places.

Please note that when Pipes says at the end of the article that "
Islam requires that women wear neither niqab nor burqa", he is wrong, as I noted in this post, although he is absolutely correct in his immediately following admonition that "public welfare emphatically requires their public prohibition."

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The Truth About The Noor Islamic Centre (Including Our Friend Salam Al-Marayati)

The legal team representing Rifqa Bary, the American teenager who fears for her life after enraging her family by converting from Islam to Christianity, has released a report detailing the alarming connections to Islamic radicalism and terrorism of the Bary family's local Noor Islamic Centre, of which the family are devout members. The report proves that Rifqa would be in danger if she was sent home to Ohio not only from her family, but from the entire local Muslim community there.

A brief summary of the report's contents is as follows (taken from the document itself):

There are four primary concerns related to the Noor Center:
The leader of the mosque, Dr. Hany Saqr, was previously an imam for another area mosque at the same time the largest known Al-Qaeda cell in the U.S. since 9/11 was operating out of the mosque...
A former Islamic scholar associated with The Noor Center is Dr. Salah Sultan, a
cleric that has been photographed with terrorist leaders designated as such by
the U.S. government...

A number of extremist speakers have been featured at recent Noor Center
events who are on record making statements in support of violence, terrorism
and extremism...

The Noor Center has also been directly tied to the ongoing nationwide
investigation into Somali-American youths who have left the U.S. to train in
terror camps operated by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab terror organization...
There is much more information on all this and more at the link provided.

Among the dangerous Muslim radicals associated with the Noor Islamic Centre is Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a mainstream and influential cleric who endorses suicide bombings, wife-beating, and...the death penalty for apostasy.

And hang on a cotton-pickin' minute, what's this? Also connected to the Centre is a certain Salam al-Marayati, whose deceptions I skewered here only the other day. As the legal report notes, Marayati has previously defended Hizballah and Hamas, and "On the day of the 9/11 attacks, Marayati was interviewed by a Los Angeles radio station, where he blamed the attacks on the Israeli government". Charming fellow, then.

Anyway, do be sure to read the whole thing. It also contains a written testimony from Rifqa Bary herself at the end.

Islam Vs. Christianity: Equivalent Traditions? (Part 1)


Islamic apologists frequently insist that we should not judge an entire religion based on a few apparently violent verses in its holy book, or on the actions of a few “extremists” who misinterpret their faith based on a “selective reading” of its sacred texts.

And almost invariably, these apologists maintain that Christianity is just as violent a religion as Islam. After all, there are violent verses in the Bible, too, aren't there? And Christians have done terrible things in the name of their religion, just as Muslims have, haven't they?

While these statements are technically true, this doesn't necessarily mean that both religions have equivalent traditions, or that they have the same capacity to inspire violence in their followers.

It is certainly true that no group of people, whether Muslim, Christian, or atheist, has the monopoly on evil. But it is also true that not everyone who commits violence in the name of their religion actually does so in accord with the core teachings and principles of that religion. Human beings seem predisposed to war and violence, and will justify their actions in many different ways. They may commit violence in the name of Christianity, or Islam. But this does not mean that all religions are essentially the same, a mish-mash of “good” teachings and “bad” teachings that allow anyone to justify anything. The words on the pages of holy scriptures have meaning, and that meaning gives rise to core traditions and assumptions that define the differences between religions. If all religions were really the same, we would not be able to delineate one from another.

This series of posts will examine and compare the teachings of both religions (focusing particularly on Christianity) in order to determine whether people who commit violent acts in their name are really transgressing against the core principles of their faith.


At first glance, there are many passages in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, which are cause for concern. Apologists most often point to verses like these:

“When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations – the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you – and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.” (Deuteronomy 7:1-2)

“When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby. However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them – the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites – as the LORD your God has commanded you.” (Deuteronomy 20:10-17)

“Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” (Numbers 31:17-18)

There are similar passages littered throughout the Pentateuch. Elsewhere, we read how God commanded the prophet Joshua to sack Jericho. Joshua and his men “destroyed with the sword every living thing in it – men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.” (Joshua 6:21) Joshua massacres the entire populations of at least ten other cities at God's command, and it all seems to be celebrated as something heroic.

As an atheist myself, I share the sense of revulsion many secularists must feel when reading such passages. But are they really equivalent to the violent verses in the Qur'an?

The answer is no. All of the examples quoted above depict God sanctioning violence against specific peoples at a specific time, until the Israelites had reclaimed land He had allocated for them. Modern Christians could not find a Canaanite or a Jebusite in the world to kill even if they wanted to. As abhorrent and immoral as the violence in the Old Testament is, it is limited to past-tense accounts of God and the Israelites smiting His enemies in a limited, circumscribed manner. It does not call for a permanent war against all non-Christians for all time.

By contrast, the Qur'an contains a number of passages which call on Muslims to fight while not specifying anywhere that only a certain people are to be fought, or only for a limited time:

“Say to the Unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from Unbelief), their past would be forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a matter of warning for them). And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do.” (8:38-39)

“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.” (9:5)

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya [non-Muslim poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (9:29)

“O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty (unto Him).” (9:123)

Taken at face value, these verses command unlimited warfare against unbelievers until the entire world is submitted to Islam.

However, it is not enough to simply read the texts by themselves, because this says nothing about how Christians and Muslims have interpreted them, in the mainstream, over the years. And the fact is that Christians have never taken the verses quoted earlier, or others like them, as commands to wage war on non-Christians. It has always been believed by Christians throughout history that these verses are descriptive, not prescriptive – that is, they describe acts of violence, but they do not tell Christians to emulate them. For example, the Catholic edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible says that “the physical destruction of an enemy in obedience to the deity...must be seen in light of the imperfect state of moral development reached at that time.” Likewise, the Navarre Bible, a popular Spanish commentary series, says that Biblical violence to us “seems quite incomprehensible, savage and inhuman”, but that it “needs to be seen in its historical context and to be set in the framework of the gradual development of revelation.” It goes on to quote Jesus' admonition to “love your enemies”.

The story is very different in Islam. Traditional, orthodox Islamic scholarship understands jihad as being a permanent war to establish Allah's religion on earth. For fourteen centuries, there has been a scholarly consensus (ijma) on the necessity of this jihad, based on a mainstream understanding of the Qur'an. The idea that the violent verses in the Qur'an are applicable for all time, and not just for one specific time, is an interpretation put forward by many of the greatest and most influential Muslim scholars and thinkers throughout history, including today. Within two centuries of Muhammad's death, Islamic jurists had formulated an entire legal superstructure of jihad against unbelievers, and they used these verses to justify their rulings. For example, the great Muslim philosopher Averroes (d.1198), who was also a legal theorist, explained the purpose of jihad according to all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence: “The Muslims are agreed that the aim of warfare against the People of the twofold: either conversion to Islam or payment of the poll-tax (jizya).” To support this, he quotes the Qur'anic verse 9:29.

There has never been even one Church Father, let alone an entire movement or institution, who has quoted the above Biblical passages to justify holy war. It is also important to note that these Old Testament passages have never been used to justify the actions of Christians who were waging war, either.

But what of verses such as this: “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.” (Exodus 22:20)? Is this not a universal command to kill all non-Christians?

This passage, and many others like it in the Old Testament, was part of the Law of Israel decreed by Moses. Almost all Christians believe, and always have believed, that this Law only applied to the Israelites, and no one else. This is clear from another verse:

“If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant (emphasis added), and contrary to my command has worshipped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky, and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel (emphasis added), take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death.” (Deuteronomy 17:2-5)

The qualifiers “violation of his covenant” and “in Israel” make it clear that these laws were directed at a specific people, in a specific place, at a specific time.

Saint Thomas Aquinas (d.1274) explained the traditional Christian view that God's law is divided up into three aspects: moral, ceremonial and judicial. The moral precepts, such as the Ten Commandments, bind forever; however, Jesus is believed to have “fulfilled” the ceremonial and judicial precepts of the Mosaic Law, based on his words, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.” (Matthew 5:17) Aquinas explained: “The Old Law contained precepts, moral, ceremonial, and judicial...But Our Lord fulfilled the Law in some respects...The judicial precepts did not bind for ever, but were annulled by the coming of Christ.” Thus, penalties of death as prescribed in the Old Testament were no longer applicable: “It is unlawful for clerics to kill [evil-doers]...because clerics are entrusted with the ministry of the New Law, wherein no punishment of death or of bodily maiming is appointed: wherefore they should abstain from such things in order that they may be fitting ministers of the New Testament.”

Moreover, when Jesus showed mercy to the adulteress, saying “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7), he clearly set aside capital punishment in such matters. A commentary on this story at the popular Bible Gateway website explains:

“We see Jesus upholding the law's teaching that adultery is sin while also setting aside the specific regulations concerning the community's enforcement of that law. The implication is that the law contains revelation of right and wrong, which is true throughout history, as well as commandments for embodying that revelation in the community of God's people, which are not true for all times and places.”

Of course, Aquinas himself never quite lived up to his own words, and in his Summa Theologica advocated the execution of all heretics. But it is telling that in the section in which he writes that heretics “deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death”, he does not quote any passages from the Old Testament to support his position.

It is for this reason that whenever Christians have committed acts of violence, they have not invoked verses like this to justify their actions.

Those who claim moral equivalence between Islam and Christianity claim to find verses of violence even in the New Testament. The main criticism centres around these words of Jesus: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-35). Is Jesus, then, sanctioning holy war?

Obviously not. While some Christians have taken the “sword” in this passage to be literal, the more common view casts it in an entirely different light – a light that should have been clear based on the larger context of the passage in question. This view was enunciated aptly by the first-century pope Clement of Rome (d.~99), who stated:

“For it is necessary that, for the sake of salvation, the son, for example, who has received the word of truth, be separated from his unbelieving parents; or again, that the father be separated from his son, or the daughter from her mother. And in this manner the battle of knowledge and ignorance, of truth and error, arises between believing and unbelieving kinsmen and relations. And therefore He who has sent us said again, 'I am not come to send peace on earth, but a sword.'”

In other words, the “sword” in this verse is metaphorical, and Jesus is saying that in order to truly follow him, a person will have to forsake their own family. As morally dubious as this may seem to the secularist, it is not equivalent to the Qur'an's jihad, especially since even if Jesus is calling for literal violence, then it would appear to be only intra-familial rather than a holy war.

And this is a key difference between the Qur'an and the Bible. Muslims understand the Qur'an in a very literal way: it is, after all, the perfect and unaltered word of God. But when Christians say that the Bible is the Word of God, they do not mean the same thing. Rather, they believe the Bible was written by human authors who were inspired by God. This leaves much more room for interpretive freedom than the Qur'an, and as a result Christians tend to see much of the Bible as non-literal, containing poetry, metaphor and allegory. This militates against a literal understanding of the Bible's more violent passages.

This is reflected in popular scriptural commentaries on the Bible. For example, one notorious Psalm ends: “Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rocks.” (Psalms 137:9) It would thus appear that the Bible glories in the brutal murder of children. However, this passage has traditionally been interpreted as meaning no such thing; rather, it is read as a metaphor. Saint Augustine of Hippo (d.430), for instance, wrote of this Psalm: “What are the little ones of Babylon? Evil desires at their birth...When lust is born, before evil habit gives it strength against you, when lust is little, by no means let it gain the strength of evil habit; when it is little, dash it. But you fear, lest though dashed it die not; 'Dash it against the Rock; and that Rock is Christ.'” Thus, through poetic interpretation, this passage is no longer problematic.

The bottom line with regard to Biblical and Qur'anic violence is this: jihad has been central to the thought and writings of prominent Muslim theologians and jurists since the inception of Islam, into the modern day. In the 8th and 9th centuries, Islamic jurists developed the doctrine of jihad directly from the Qur'an and hadith, and institutionalised them into a fixed part of the Islamic legal system. These laws have remained essentially unchallenged by the majority of contemporary Muslim scholars. Despite any number of apparently violent verses in the Bible, Christianity does not have a doctrine comparable to jihad, and never has done.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon...