Violence in the Bible and Jihad in the Quran

This article was originally published in the Muslim Sunrise, in September of 2011. Muslim Sunrise is the oldest Muslim publication of North America.

By Khaula Rehman MD

Many Christians and Jews, perhaps unconsciously, consider the Quran standing in absolute contrast to the scriptures they themselves cherish. In the minds of ordinary Christians – and Jews – the Quran teaches savagery and warfare, while the Bible offers a message of love, forgiveness, and charity. For the prophet Micah, God’s commands to his people are summarized in the words “act justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Christians recall the words of the dying Jesus: “Father, forgive them: they know not what they do.” Likewise, there are verses in the Holy Quran to promote tolerant and kind behavior. The Holy Quran says, “And good and evil are not alike. Repel evil with that which is best. And lo, he between whom and thyself was enmity will become as though he were a warm friend.” (Al Quran 41:35) This article is to give the Christians and the Jews a balanced view of the two scriptures, the Bible and the Quran.

There are no verses in the Holy Quran to trigger and promote genocide, but there are in the Bible: 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.[i] (Deuteronomy 20:10-17)

There are no verses in the Holy Quran to destroy polytheism with sword and kill all polytheists and even their livestock, regardless of whether they are at war or not, but in the Bible there are: If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely,both its people and its livestock. You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt. (Deuteronomy 13:12-16)

There are no verses in the Holy Quran to kill people for sexual misconduct but there are in the Bible: If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10) And: If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire. (Leviticus 21:9) There are no verses in the Holy Quran ordering to attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. There is nothing in the Quran ordering, ‘do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys,’ but there is in the Bible: Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’” So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. … But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed. (1 Samuel 15:1-9)

There are no verses in the Holy Quran describing Allah as a Man of war but in Exodus 15:3, the Bible tells us the Lord is a man of war. Such war verses are not limited to the Old Testament only. In Mark 7:9-10, Jesus is critical of the Jews for not killing their disobedient children as prescribed by Old Testament law. In Luke 19:22-27, Jesus orders killed anyone who refuses to be ruled by him. The New Testament quotes Jesus Christ, “Think not that I am came to bring peace on earth: I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10: 34) At another place the New Testament quotes Jesus, “Then said he unto them, ‘But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise his knapsack: and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” (Luke 22: 36) The Holy Quran does not prescribe death sentence for the sin of arrogance but the Bible does: Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the Lord your God is to be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12) The Holy Quran does not prescribe to kill witches and fortune-tellers but the Bible does: Do not allow a sorceress to live. (Exodus 22:18) And: A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads. (Leviticus 20:27) The Holy Quran gives freedom of speech to followers of all other religions and does not prescribe killing them for preaching their religion but the Bible does: If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again. (Deuteronomy 13:6-11) The Holy Quran does not prescribe capital punishment for stubborn and rebellious children but the Bible does: If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

Now, the Christian apologists could be writhing in pain and anger and asking a host of questions, for example, why are you cherry picking? Why don’t you take the holistic picture and appreciate the message of compassion in the Bible? Why do you not hear the message of Jesus Christ of turning the other cheek? Muslims can say yes we accept Jesus as a kind hearted prophet of God and the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the Quran has been called as a mercy for the whole mankind, based on his conduct towards all people that he dealt with in his life time.[ii] Now I can hear through the grapevines, the Christian apologists offering host of explanations, for these verses! They are saying statements like, there are different explanations of these verses in different Judeo-Christian traditions and sects, the Old Testament has been superseded by the New Testament, do not take these verses literally in our present times, look at the context of these verses in time and history. I say yes my dear, yes indeed, the Muslims have explanations also, for the so called ‘sword verse’ of the Holy Quran and other similar verses that sometimes hatemongers like to obsess about and the USA national media unilaterally comments on, fairly regularly![iii] Let the discussions begin, as we hold hearings about the Holy Quran in different juries across the West, let us be fair and reasonable and put the Bible on trial as well. Last but not the least, the Christian apologists tell me that even if these verses are there in the Bible, so what, we do not take Bible seriously anymore and do not act on the Biblical injunctions anymore. But I remind them that according to a recent poll, more than 60% of the USA population still takes the Bible to be literal word of God.[iv] So, let us talk, let us talk about both the Bible and the Holy Quran in a grown up fashion. According to the Holy Quran, Jihad even when it means armed struggle, it implies only defensive war and not a pre-emptive strike. Let me introduce two Exhibits in defense of the Holy Quran.

My Exhibit A: Fundamental versus allegoric: War and Peace in Islam.

Exhibit B: War Verses of the Holy Quran.

References

[i] All Bible references and quotes are from New International Version.

[ii] Al Quran 21:108.

[iii] Al Quran 9:5.

[iv] http://legacy.rasmussenreports.com/2005/Bible.htm

24 Comments

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  1. ziahshah

    “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.[a] Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles[b] and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”. (Deuteronomy 7:1-6)

  2. ziahshah

    “When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the wilderness where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it. Twelve thousand men and women fell that day—all the people of Ai. For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed[a] all who lived in Ai. But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the Lord had instructed Joshua.So Joshua burned Ai[b] and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day. He impaled the body of the king of Ai on a pole and left it there until evening. At sunset, Joshua ordered them to take the body from the pole and throw it down at the entrance of the city gate. And they raised a large pile of rocks over it, which remains to this day.”. (Joshua 8:24-29)

  3. Saoul

    First of all, what many Christians should have told you (and i am directing this to the author of this article) – is that the commands given by God in the old testament to kill, are SPECIFIC to ANCIENT ISRAEL. The commands that God gave to ANCIENT ISRAEL, he made it CLEAR are NOT to be UNIVERSAL laws. This is the difference between the God of the Bible – the TRUE GOD, and the God of the quran. The quran calls this brutality a UNIVERSAL ORDER, that all people and nations should abide by, and that is evil. The God of the Bible gave this order ONLY to ANCIENT ISRAEL and for this deep spiritual reason: because ancient Israel had come to know God, and because they had come to know God, they were more guilty for not doing what they KNEW GOD delights in. And the devil was immediately cast into hell from heaven, because he was in front of God, and he knew God, and opposed him, whereas human sinners are forgiven unto 70 times 7 (Matthew 18:22) – by our LOVING and TRUE GOD YAHWEH. All of this is supported even by Jesus words, when he says: Luke 12:47-48

    47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

    So do you not see that the reason that ANCIENT ISRAEL had been given these brutal measures, is because they were deserving of it, because they KNEW VERY WELL BETTER what was right and what was wrong, because they had come to KNOW GOD and he had REVEALED himself to them. Whereas most people, dont know God as well as they did, and this is why God gives them far more patience and endurance and gentleness and leniency, because the God of the Bible is indeed a loving and fair God, as shown in Matthew 18:22.

    This shows a clear explanation and refutation of your false effort to claim the falsity which states that the God of the quran is the God of the Bible. Furthermore, you said Jesus was only a “prophet” appointed to Israel (which is absolutely false), and that your false prophet was for all mankind (which again is absolutely false). Proof that JESUS is the universal LORD of hosts, and that he was NOT just for Israel, but JESUS is the one who was for all mankind is as follows:

    Matthew 28:19-20

    19 Therefore go and make disciples of ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the FATHER and of the SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT, 20 and TEACHING them to obey everything I (Jesus) have commanded you. And surely I (Jesus) am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    The above verse shows that Jesus is INDEED for ALL the nations of the world, and not for Just Israel, and the above verse also shows that Jesus indeed taught the trinitarian doctrine of God. The above verse also shows that Jesus is INDEED GOD as he is OMNI PRESENT, as he claims to be with ALL the believers in him (and there are Christians all around the world) – at ALL times. Only GOD can accomplish this.

    So you say the quran is from God…but the quran falsely states that Jesus was just for Israel. So quran clearly made a MISTAKE (as it makes thousands upon thousands). Can God make a mistake?? Does your God make mistakes

    Jesus is LORD. Islam is false.

    • EmeraldFire

      You, like many chritians, seem to be so upset when Muslims say Jesus (peace be upon him) was only a prophet and one of the mightiest messengers of God. But at the same time, you guys are so quick to tell Muslims that the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:18 is absolutely about Jesus. And you say Jesus is absolutely the lord. But God says in 18:18 : “I will raise them up a PROPHET like unto thee (Moses).” In any version in the bible it says “I will raise them up a PROPHET” not “I will raise them up a Lord/God” and furthermore, God is saying that this prophet will be like Moses. Moses was not a Lord/God. He was a prophet. Moses brought a law for his people. A law that Jesus said he was not sent to destroy but to fulfill. You say Jesus was the “only begotten son of God” Was Moses also the “only begotten son of God”? Time to use that brain of yours. Start thinking.
      By the way, the Quran was not mistaken about the what Jesu’s task was. Jesus himself says in Matthew 15:24 :” I am not sent but for the lost sheep of the house of Israel”
      You boldly claim that the Quran has thousands upon thousands of errors in it. I challenge you to find One. And for any one you think you have found, any Muslim can easily refute and then give you a whole list of inconsistencies in your bible.
      ” Do they not consider the Quran with care? Had it been from any other than Allah, surely therein they would have found much discrepancy” Quran: 4:82

  4. ziahshah

    I agree with you that there is more in the scriptures, then meets the eye on the first blush. But, here the goal is that this courtesy should be extended to the Holy Quran as well and not just the Bible. Thanks for your comment.

    The Quran did not make any mistakes about Jesus. He says similar things about himself in the New Testament also, but, many a Christians, in their obsession with the person of Jesus of Nazareth are not immediately able to see it.

  5. ziahshah

    Allow me to keep augmenting my list from the Bible, so that never again a Christian or a Jew dares to take a cheap shot at the Holy Quran:

    “If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.” (Deuteronomy 25:11-12)

  6. Naeem Ahmed Sarmad

    Great work Dr.
    If 21st century Christians do not understand the illogical, irrational and unreasonable Pauline dogmas in the name of Jesus then they should wait a bit more! Lets see what happens then?

  7. Naeem Ahmed Sarmad

    Saoul!
    I have only one question? Had or Have Christians (after advent of so-called only son of God) come to know God much closer and profoundly OR those ancient Israelis ? If those ancient people then what was the purpose of Jesus deputation and alleged sacrifice ? And if Christians have come to know God more then why God’s law has changed ?

  8. ziahshah

    Noah’s Drunkenness according to the Bible

    The Holy Quran describes all prophets as paragon of virtue. To complete the list of many a limitations in Biblical morality, I am going to add a few comments here, quoting from the Bible:

    Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.

    When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,

    “Cursed be Canaan!
    The lowest of slaves
    will he be to his brothers.”

    He also said,

    “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem!
    May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
    May God extend Japheth’s territory;
    may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
    and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.” (Genesis 9:20-27)

    Biblical teachings about alcohol are ambivalent at best. In another post, I have collected every thing that the Bible has to say about alcohol.

  9. ziahshah

    If a woman is raped

    If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[c] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives. Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

    An easy recipe for criminals to marry any woman they want.

  10. ziahshah

    How Jacob (Israel) stole the blessing according to the Bible

    The Holy Quran presents prophets as paragon of virtue, here I am focusing only on some of the Biblical account only.

    When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.”

    “Here I am,” he answered.

    Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”

    Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”

    Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.”

    His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”

    So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.

    He went to his father and said, “My father.”

    “Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?”

    Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”

    Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”

    “The Lord your God gave me success, ” he replied.

    Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.”

    Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him. “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked.

    “I am,” he replied.

    Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.”

    Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.”

    So he went to him and kissed him . When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,

    “Ah, the smell of my son
    is like the smell of a field
    that the Lord has blessed.
    May God give you heaven’s dew
    and earth’s richness —
    an abundance of grain and new wine.
    May nations serve you
    and peoples bow down to you.
    Be lord over your brothers,
    and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
    May those who curse you be cursed
    and those who bless you be blessed. ”

    After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”

    His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”

    “I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau. ”

    Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed! ”

    When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!”

    But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”

    Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

    Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”

    Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud.

    His father Isaac answered him,

    “Your dwelling will be
    away from the earth’s richness,
    away from the dew of heaven above.
    You will live by the sword
    and you will serve your brother.
    But when you grow restless,
    you will throw his yoke
    from off your neck. ”

    Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” (Genesis 27:1-41)

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