A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Islamaphobia?

A friend of mine sent me an anti-Islamic story that is making the rounds. Some online investigating found the story to have no basis. But below is my response to the overall fear of Islam that grips some evangelicals today.

The story goes that a imam was asked whether Muslims were called to kill Christians and he had to admit yes. But the imam's response is not believable, especially with the number of Quranic passages which speak of respecting the other person, including religious minorities.

"Goodness and evil are not the same. So repel evil with goodness, then the one who had enmity between you becomes a trusted and dear friend" (41:34)

"And fight in the cause of God those who fight against you, and do not commit aggression. Indeed God does not love those who are aggressors," (2:190 )

"And if they (an unbeliever) incline to peace, then incline to it and trust in God; surely He is the Hearing, the Knowing." (8:61)

"there is no compulsion in religion," ( 2:256)

I assume that reading the Qur'an is like reading the Bible. Either you need to have these verses cohere or at least you need to decide how you plan to read the text. Will you read it in a way that increases love of God and of neighbor? Or one that does not?

After all, the Bible also has passages that praise the slaughter of people of other religions.2 Kings 23:20-25 speaks of King Josiah who is clearly a hero in this story.

"He executed the priests of the pagan shrines on their own altars, and he burned human bones on the altars to desecrate them..Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since"

Now we could read the Bible as saying that the above action is ok, or we might look to the passages in the Gospels where Jesus speaks of love of neighbor and enemy. Matthew 5-7 and use that as our guide. I'd go with the latter. And most Muslims go with the verses that I quoted from the Qur'an.

I've had the pleasure of working with Muslims and people of other religions through the Carbondale Interfaith Council and they have demonstrated the kind of charity and regard that would serve as a model for others of any faith.

Of course there are bad apples in both religions who will use the Bible and the Qur'an for whatever hateful purpose they want from the KKK to terrorist groups. But why impugn a whole religion or a whole people over a misreading of their scriptures or by the actions of a few? How does that increase our love of God and of neighbor?

17 Comments:

At 11:27 AM , Blogger Jonathan said...

"It is the same whether or not you forewarn them [the unbelievers], they will have no faith" (2:6).
"God will mock them and keep them long in sin, blundering blindly along" (2:15).

A fire "whose fuel is men and stones" awaits them (2:24).
They will be "rewarded with disgrace in this world and with grievous punishment on the Day of Resurrection" (2:85).

"God's curse be upon the infidels!" (2:89).

"They have incurred God's most inexorable wrath. An ignominious punishment awaits [them]" (2:90).

"God is the enemy of the unbelievers" (2:98).

"The unbelievers among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews], and the pagans, resent that any blessing should have been sent down to you from your Lord" (2:105).

"They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in the hereafter" (2:114).

"Those to whom We [God] have given the Book, and who read it as it ought to be read, truly believe in it; those that deny it shall assuredly be lost" (2:122).

"[We] shall let them live awhile, and then shall drag them to the scourge of the Fire. Evil shall be their fate" (2:126).

"The East and the West are God's. He guides whom He will to a straight path" (2:142).

"Do not say that those slain in the cause of God are dead. They are alive, but you are not aware of them" (2:154).

"But the infidels who die unbelievers shall incur the curse of God, the angels, and all men. Under it they shall remain for ever; their punishment shall not be lightened, nor shall they be
reprieved" (2:162).

"They shall sigh with remorse, but shall never come out of the Fire" (2:168).

"The unbelievers are like beasts which, call out to them as one may, can hear nothing but a shout and a cry. Deaf, dumb, and blind, they understand nothing" (2:172).
"Theirs shall be a woeful punishment" (2:175).

"How steadfastly they seek the Fire! That is because God has revealed the Book with truth; those that disagree about it are in extreme schism" (2:176).

"Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage. . . . [I]f they attack you put them to the sword. Thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded: but if they desist, God is forgiving and merciful. Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme. But if they desist, fight none except the evil-doers"(2:190–93).

"Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not" (2:216).

"They will not cease to fight against you until they force you to renounce your faith—if they are able. But whoever of you recants and dies an unbeliever, his works shall come to nothing in this world and in the world to come. Such men shall be the tenants of Hell, wherein they shall abide forever. Those that have embraced the Faith, and those that have fled their land and fought for the cause of God, may hope for God's mercy" (2:217–18).

"God does not guide the evil-doers" (2:258).

"God does not guide the unbelievers" (2:264).

"The evil-doers shall have none to help them" (2:270).

"God gives guidance to whom He will" (2:272).

"Those that deny God's revelations shall be sternly punished; God is mighty and capable of revenge" (3:5).

"As for the unbelievers, neither their riches nor their children will in the least save them from God's judgment. They shall become fuel for the Fire" (3:10).

"Say to the unbelievers: ‘You shall be overthrown and driven into Hell—an evil resting place!'" (3:12).

"The only true faith in God's sight is Islam. . . . He that denies God's revelations should know that swift is God's reckoning" (3:19).

"Let the believers not make friends with infidels in preference to the faithful—he that does this has nothing to hope for from God—except in self-defense" (3:28).

"Believers, do not make friends with any but your own people. They will spare no pains to corrupt you. They desire nothing but your ruin. Their hatred is evident from what they utter with their mouths, but greater is the hatred which their breasts conceal" (3:118).

"If you have suffered a defeat, so did the enemy. We alternate these vicissitudes among mankind so that God may know the true believers and choose martyrs from among you (God does not love the evil-doers); and that God may test the faithful and annihilate the infidels" (3:140).

"Believers, if you yield to the infidels they will drag you back to unbelief and you will return headlong to perdition. . . .We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. . . . The Fire shall be their home" (3:149-51).

"Believers, do not follow the example of the infidels, who say of their brothers when they meet death abroad or in battle: ‘Had they stayed with us they would not have died, nor would they have been killed.' God will cause them to regret their words. . . . If you should die or be slain in the cause of God, God's forgiveness and His mercy would surely be better than all the riches they amass" (3:156).

"Never think that those who were slain in the cause of God are dead. They are alive, and well provided for by their Lord; pleased with His gifts and rejoicing that those they left behind, who have not yet joined them, have nothing to fear or to regret; rejoicing in God's grace and bounty. God will not deny the faithful their reward" (3:169).

"Let not the unbelievers think that We prolong their days for their own good. We give them respite only so that they may commit more grievous sins. Shameful punishment awaits them" (3:178).

"Those that suffered persecution for My sake and fought and were slain: I shall forgive them their sins and admit them to gardens watered by running streams, as a reward from God; God holds the richest recompense. Do not be deceived by the fortunes of the unbelievers in the land. Their prosperity is brief. Hell shall be their home, a dismal resting place" (3:195–96).

"God has cursed them in their unbelief" (4:46).

"God will not forgive those who serve other gods besides Him; but He will forgive whom He will for other sins. He that serves other gods besides God is guilty of a heinous sin. . . . Consider those to whom a portion of the Scriptures was given. They believe in idols and false gods and say of the infidels: ‘These are better guided than the believers'" (4:50–51).

"Those that deny Our revelation We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. God is mighty and wise" (4:55–56).

"Believers, do not seek the friendship of the infidels and those who were given the Book before you, who have made of your religion a jest and a pastime" (5:57).

"That which is revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase the wickedness and unbelief of many among them. We have stirred among them enmity and hatred, which will endure till the Day of Resurrection" (5:65).

"God does not guide the unbelievers" (5:67).

"That which is revealed to you
from your Lord will surely increase the wickedness and unbelief of many among them. But do not grieve for the unbelievers" (5:69).

"You see many among them making friends with unbelievers. Evil is that to which their souls prompt them. They have incurred the wrath of God and shall endure eternal torment. . . .You will find that the most implacable of men in their enmity to the faithful are the Jews and the pagans, and that the nearest in affection to them are those who say: ‘We are Christians'" (5:80–82).

"[T]hose that disbelieve and deny Our revelations shall become the inmates of Hell" (5:86).

"[T]hey deny the truth when it is declared to them: but they shall learn the consequences of their scorn" (6:5).

"We had made them more powerful in the land than yourselves [the Meccans], sent down for them abundant water from the sky and gave them rivers that rolled at their feet. Yet because they sinned We destroyed them all and raised up other generations after them. If We sent down to you a Book inscribed on real parchment and they touched it with their own hands, the unbelievers would still assert: ‘This is but plain sorcery.' They ask: ‘Why has no angel been sent down to him [Muhammad]?' If We had sent down an angel, their fate would have been sealed and they would have never been reprieved" (6:5–8).

"Who is more wicked than the man who invents falsehoods about God or denies His revelations?" (6:21).

"Some of them listen to you. But We have cast veils over their hearts and made them hard of hearing lest they understand your words. They will believe in none of Our signs, even if they see them one and all. When they come to argue with you the unbelievers say: ‘This is nothing but old fictitious tales.' They forbid it and depart from it. They ruin none but themselves, though they do not perceive it. If you could see them when they are set before the Fire! They will say: ‘Would that we could return! Then we would not deny the revelations of our Lord and would be true believers' 6:23–27).

"But if they were sent back, they would return to that which they have been forbidden. They are liars all" (6:29).

"Had God pleased He would have given them guidance, one and all" (6:35).

"Deaf and dumb are those that deny Our revelations: they blunder about in darkness. God confounds whom He will, and guides to a straight path whom He pleases." (6:39)

"[T]heir hearts were hardened, and Satan made their deeds seem fair to them. And when they had clean forgotten Our admonition We granted them all that they desired; but just as they were rejoicing in what they were given, We suddenly smote them and they were plunged into utter despair. Thus were the evil-doers annihilated. Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe!" (6:43–45).

"[T]hose that deny Our revelations shall be punished for their misdeeds" (6:49).

"Such are those that are damned by their own sins. They shall drink scalding water and be sternly punished for their unbelief" (6:70).

"Could you but see the wrongdoers when death overwhelms them! With hands outstretched, the angels will say: ‘Yield up your souls. You shall be rewarded with the scourge of shame this day, for you have said of God what is untrue and scorned His revelations" (6:93).

"Avoid the pagans. Had God pleased, they would not have worshipped idols. . . . We will turn away their hearts and eyes from the Truth since they refused to believe in it at first. We will let them blunder about in their wrongdoing. If We sent the angels down to them, and caused the dead to speak to them, . . . and ranged all things in front of them, they would still not believe, unless God willed otherwise. . . . Thus have We assigned for every prophet an enemy: the devils among men and jinn, who inspire each other with vain and varnished falsehoods. But had your Lord pleased, they would not have done so. Therefore leave them to their own inventions, so that the hearts of those who have no faith in the life to come may be inclined to what they say and, being pleased, persist in their sinful ways" (6:107–12).

"The devils will teach their votaries to argue with you. If you obey them you shall yourselves become idolaters. . . . God will humiliate the transgressors and mete out to them a grievous punishment for their scheming" (6:121–25).

"If God wills to guide a man, He opens his bosom to Islam. But if he pleases to confound him, He makes his bosom small and narrow as though he were climbing up to heaven. Thus shall God lay the scourge on the unbelievers" (6:125).

- - - - -
I understand your post, Dwight, but honestly the examples you gave are entirely different.

These verses are direct commands, and they are applicable to daily life. The commands Josiah, and even the Hebrews recieved were specific commands for a specific purpose.

Even the lifestyle of Muhammad affirmed his acceptance of agressive force. It is not difficult to see that there is hostility in the Koran between Islam and anyone that does not conscript to their belief.

Whether or not the actual incident you began your post with is true or not, the point remains. There is certainly a lack of response to radical Islam from contemporary muslims.

Where as mainstream Christian leaders and organizations will willingly condemn the crazy acts of an abortion bomber, Islamic leaders have been unable to do the same.

 
At 11:28 AM , Blogger Jonathan said...

PS.

In the future, I would appreciate a conversation on the subject of Creation, rather than attacking creationism and then ignoring my remarks. I was dissapointed that you were unwilling to personally respond to anything I said, either in agreement or disagreement; and if in disagreement to show reasons why.

 
At 12:12 PM , Blogger John Shuck said...

Quite thorough, Jonathan.

But you missed Dwight's point entirely. It is easy to see the speck in someone else's eye and ignore the beam in our own.

BTW, it is his blog. He doesn't have to respond to you or anyone. We are guests here.

 
At 12:49 PM , Blogger Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

First, John I agree with your response to Jonathan who has visited my blog and done the same.

But back to Dwight's post. The best way to understand Islam today is to get to know Muslims -- as Dwight has done. Yes, there are Muslims who are terrorists -- but there are Christians who are as well (oh I forgot the people fighting in Northern Ireland aren't really Christians, real Christians wouldn't do such things would they!?). My personal experiences with Muslims have been great!

 
At 1:12 PM , Blogger Jonathan said...

I apologize, I didn't mean to demand his response, and I shouldn't have. I apologize profusely. It was my attempt at furthering communication in the future, rather than just a two pointed monologue.

I fail to see the "beam" which you are referring to. If you could find half of the amount of verses that I displayed that generally teach Christians to physically attack non-believers, I would appreciate it and be more knowledgeable of the entire situation.

Also, in no way am I saying that all Muslims are bad people that want to kill everyone that disagrees with them. I am friends with a muslim, and I enjoy conversations with him. We get along great.

But that doesn't negate the fact that there is much hatred, anger, and physical agression preached in the Koran. You can't hide from that. We shouldn't have to, and we shouldn't have to find ways to run away from their teachings. Rather, we should have an open, honest conversation about the true meaning behind these verces, and how peaceful contemporary Muslims would reconcile these many verses.

And there are many. The illustration I used was only through the 6th Sura.

 
At 12:38 PM , Anonymous Michael S said...

Jonathan, aren't listening to what others say, so I can see why you'd think they aren't listening to you.

Your rationalization of the molten sea, etc., are no more of a stretch than my rationalisation of Adam and Eve as metaphor. The big difference is that mine has the pedagree of church and rabbinic tradition.

If you want to be a biblical literalist, that's fine; to each his own. But you need to understand that not everyone is. You aren't going to "prove" you're right by appealing to your own standards of authority, namely, *your interpretation.* The Christian tradition's authority is not raw scripture interpreted by the individual, but scripture as interpreted collectively in the light of tradition and reason.

"Whether or not the actual incident you began your post with is true or not, the point remains. There is certainly a lack of response to radical Islam from contemporary muslims. "
Just because Fox news isn't covering it doesn't mean it's not there. :-| Meanwhile, I'm not sure how vocal Christians are about Christian fanatics. Perhaps there's a degree of "Obviously that person isn't part of us!" For example, when Pat Robertson recommended assasinating the south american leader, I don't recall seeing anywhere on the news that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church called a press conference to disagree with him. Maybe it happened; but it wasn't news.

 
At 1:35 PM , Blogger Jonathan said...

"Jonathan, aren't listening to what others say, so I can see why you'd think they aren't listening to you.

Your rationalization of the molten sea, etc., are no more of a stretch than my rationalisation of Adam and Eve as metaphor. The big difference is that mine has the pedagree of church and rabbinic tradition."


I'm not sure what you're even talking about at this point. And somehow you think that traditions supports your point better? Well, CURRENTLY the majority of Christian scholars agree with Creation and it's premises.

"If you want to be a biblical literalist, that's fine; to each his own. But you need to understand that not everyone is. You aren't going to "prove" you're right by appealing to your own standards of authority, namely, *your interpretation.* The Christian tradition's authority is not raw scripture interpreted by the individual, but scripture as interpreted collectively in the light of tradition and reason."

Actually, we all make decisions based on our beliefs. You have debated with me on your points from your belief. The difference is you seem to think lots of people agree with and no one agrees with me. That couldn't be farther from the truth.

And this isn't about majority rule. This is about right and wrong. And from a non-literal perspective, the Bible cannot be take seriously.

"Just because Fox news isn't covering it doesn't mean it's not there. :-| Meanwhile, I'm not sure how vocal Christians are about Christian fanatics. Perhaps there's a degree of "Obviously that person isn't part of us!" For example, when Pat Robertson recommended assasinating the south american leader, I don't recall seeing anywhere on the news that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church called a press conference to disagree with him. Maybe it happened; but it wasn't news."

I have SPOKEN with Islamic imams. I have tourned mosques. I have wateched interviews. I have heard the accounts of friends in similar situations.

In each case, none have condemned the jihadists.

 
At 3:03 AM , Anonymous Nocturnal said...

"Of course there are bad apples in both religions who will use the Bible and the Qur'an for whatever hateful purpose they want from the KKK to terrorist groups."

Fiction can so easily be coerced into something it's not by deviant mentalities. In other words, the bibles (yes plural, yet one God so the story goes) are manufactured by Humans, not God.

Funny how so many people overlook that simple fucking fact.

 
At 1:09 PM , Anonymous Eli said...

I have to agree with Jonathan on one very basic fact, where is the outcry from moderate Muslims concerning the carnage that is happening. The carnage is mostly Muslim against Muslim, not Muslim vs. Christian.

The question is not Islam vs. Christianity or Muslim individuals vs. Christian individuals, but an all-loving God vs. a judging, narrow sighted God.

It seems as Christians we strain very hard to see the good side of people, which can be a great attribute. The same attribute is not so positive if others are suffering in part due to this attribute.

 
At 11:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"from a non-literal perspective, the Bible cannot be take seriously"

See, here is the fundamental difference. Some people (such as you, Jonathan, I gather) believe that taking scripture seriously means taking it literally. Others (such as me) found that we only began taking scripture and our faith seriously when we let go of that notion. When I took scripture literally, I had no faith in God, only faith in a text that I turned to like one would turn to a Miss Manners handbook for a quick, straightforward, easily understood, always correct answer for every situation. When I learned how scriptures (Christian and non) function differently from other texts in our world, I began taking the Bible much more seriously, and my faith grew as a result. You might think it is a bad thing. I wouldn't trade my ever-deepening relationship with God and the Christian tradition for your approval, though.

 
At 11:31 PM , Blogger Virginia said...

I'm confused by the list Jonathan posted, and I'm tempted to ignore it, but my curiosity is getting the better of me. I find parallels to almost every one of those verses in my own Bible. And very few of those verses are calling for human action against other humans. Did this list get nabbed from a Christian fundamentalist website somewhere? It certainly doesn't seem to apply to this post. I'm just trying to figure out why certain things were included in the list. "Who is more wicked than the man who invents falsehoods about God or denies His revelations? (6:21)." This was included because...??? Surely this list was not created by somebody who read and understood the original post, since this item and several others were not calls to violence.

On another point:
"In each case, none have condemned the jihadists." I am guessing that you want a verbal statement of condemnation, and their hospitality toward you, the way they have lived their lives differently from said jihadists, is irrelevant? You are demanding a response on your terms? People can say anything. I know what a person believes by how they direct their hearts and lives. The Muslims I know condemn the violence every day by living their faith in love. When I volunteer as a clinic escort, I don't have to tell every patient being harassed by "Christians" on the sidewalk that I condemn those actions and that they are not representative of the Christian faith. I simply show the women love and respect by offering them welcome and some measure of protection from that spiritual, psychological, and yes, potentially physical violence. Having grown up in this culture of warring ideas and an emphasis on words, I have to resist the urge to always tell every person who discovers I am a Christian "oh no, no, no, I don't align myself with those people who try to take legal protection away from same-sex couples and who want everybody to convert to the same religion." I live my life. I live my faith. They see the difference. Of course, many times, I do resort to the defensive condemnation of the actions of those who share my faith name. But I don't believe I should be compelled to do so by those outside this faith family simply because they aren't willing to look closer at me and are eager to judge the whole faith family by the actions of radicals.

 
At 8:36 AM , Blogger Jonathan said...

Virginia:
I'm sorry you don't like all of the verses. I can pick one if you'd like:

"Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage. . . . [I]f they attack you put them to the sword. Thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded: but if they desist, God is forgiving and merciful. Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme. But if they desist, fight none except the evil-doers"(2:190–93)."

Anyways.

That's great that you live your life to the fullest. But if someone were to ask you point blank if you agreed or disagreed with a pyscho Christian bombing and killing people, would you not condemn his/her actions? I am not asking them to walk around with a sign condemning terrrorist jihad, I am asking them to tell me what they are doing is wrong.

They are not initiating the conversation. I am. I respect the right of them to ask questions regarding my faith, and I certainly would hope they would be willing to answer my questions regarding jihad, the hateful parts of the Koran, and the actions of radical Islamic terrorists today. I have yet to hear such a simple response.

 
At 10:59 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

Jonathan
Promising hellfire and judgment against folks is the theme of what you posted from the Qur'an. But those are actions of God, not of humans. Unlike the Josiah piece. And there is no shortage of hellfire language in the Gospels. It's not that such language is excusable in either case, but they are part of our sacred texts and so we need to come to terms with it, make sense of it.

I appreciate what Virginia said, about what does it mean to be always expected to say some condemnatory word about a co-religionist. I also think we can look to the example of how most Muslims live their lives here in our own communities as an indication of their faith.

 
At 11:07 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

The Southern Baptists recently selected someone for leadership who defended the actions of a man who shot up an abortion clinic. So in terms of mainstream religion, I think some Christians may have a way to go in being forthright on these issues as well. religiousliberal.blogspot.com/
2007/05/pro-life.html#comments

 
At 11:20 AM , Blogger Jonathan said...

There's certainly a difference between the message of God reminding humans of the consequences of sin and a lack of salvation...and then the Koran teaching to kill infidels. You cannot find that in the Bible.

As for the southern baptist electee, I could find no information on the subject, so I was wondering if you would find that article.

 
At 5:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jonathan -
Here are a couple verses for you to check out. Deuteronomy 13:6-16, Luke 19:27 Of course, I have taken them out of context and out of the tradition much like the Koranic verses you mentioned. But I'm sure some Muslim is out there saying "And then the Bible teaches violence against non-Christians! You cannot find that in the Koran!"

 
At 3:47 PM , Anonymous jeremayakovka said...

The fact that Dwight is asking this question is a point in favor of why Judeo-Christianity is superior to Islam.

Another recent one is that Jewish and Christian doctors don't go around intentionally malpracticing on their "infidel" patients.

Efforts to trace "Islamophobia" are diversions from repelling efforts to stop "Islamotopia" (i.e., an expanding, imperial caliphate).

 

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