Islam: The Religion of War (I)

The hoary slogan of “Islam is peace” has been drowned by bomb blasts amidst chants of “Allahu Akbar!” in Nigeria, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Central Africa and other parts of the world. For years, many people have argued that Islam is basically a good religion but has been hijacked by some “hot headed” radicals. Some Christians who have neither read the Quran nor the hadiths even assert that “Islam is peace because I have peaceful Muslim friends and neighbours!”

It must be noted however, that it is the examples and teachings of religion’s founder that determine whether these peaceful adherents are the norms or exceptions. So in order to answer that question, let’s take a brief look at the life of Muhammad and his teachings.

Muhammad began his Medinan career by attacking rich Meccan caravans passing near his base. The first 3 assaults failed while the fourth succeeded because his victims didn’t expect an ambush during Ramadan. Arab tribes refrained from aggression during their pagan “holy month,” but Muhammad received a “revelation” authorizing him to plunder and murder in Allah’s name (Q 2:217). It’s curious that the same Allah who commanded Muhammad to raid people didn’t teach him how to do it. He had to learn it by trial and error like any greenhorn thief.

On March 16, 624 near Badr, he led 300 warriors in a vicious attack against a large Meccan caravan protected by 800 men. At last, 40 Meccans were killed and 60 taken as prisoners. Only 14 Muslims died. Verses quickly “descended” to absolve his men of the murders: “Ye slew them not, but Allah slew them” (8:17). Muhammad proved his prophethood with the sword and sealed his apostleship with blood.

One of the Meccans captured at the battle of Badr was Al-Nadir – Muhammad’s enemy – who pleaded with his tribesmen, now Muslims to spare his life. (The Quraish tribe do not kill war captives) He was told that the tribe bonds are now broken by Islam and since he had ridiculed Muhammad years before, it’s payback time. After he was killed, Muhammad recited a verse to justify it: “It is not for any Prophet to have captives until he had made slaughter in the land” (Q 8:67).

Muhammad arrived at Medina a poor man, but within a few years, he and his gang became wealthy. Their wealth came by robbing and killing the Jews in Medina, causing the disappearance of the Jewish communities from Arabia. This genocide was also justified by some verses (Q 33:26-7).

Poets who criticized Muhammad were not spared – from Asma bint Merwan to Abu Afak, to Kab Al-Ashraf. Muhammad justified their assassination by reciting that all poets were “inspired by Satan” (26:221-7).

Some Muslims in Medina (who apparently didn’t agree with jihad) built a mosque and invited Muhammad to bless it. He burnt down this mosque and recited:

“As for those who put up a mosque by way of harming and disbelief, and to disunite the believers, and as an outpost for those who warred against Allah and his messenger aforetime … Allah bears witness that they are certainly liars. Never set foot in it” (9:107-108). This set a precedent for Muslims destroying mosques that they judge to have deviated into heresy.

Allah’s dogmas in the Quran are clear:

Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not” (Sura 2:216).

And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-Muslims] … but if desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.” (Sura 2:191-193)

Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority” (Sura 3:151)

Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.” (Sura 4:74)

Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil. Lo! the devil´s strategy is ever weak” (Sura 4:76)

They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (from what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.” (Sura 4:89)

The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement.” (Sura 5:33)

I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” (Sura 8:12)

O ye who believe! When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless maneuvering for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey’s end.” (Sura 8:15-16)

And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah.” (Sura 8:39)

If thou comest on them in war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember” (Sura 8:57).

O Prophet, exhort the believers (Muslims) to fight…” (Sura 8:65).

Lo! Allah loveth them who battle for His cause in ranks, as if they were a solid structure” (Sura 61:4).

In total, there are 100+ verses related to war in the Quran. Some Muslims try to evade these by saying: “These verses are only for the battlefield.” This argument is demonstrably false.

1. The Quranic war verses are explicitly offensive e.g

Q 4:77 “Have you not seen those to whom it was said: Withhold your hands, and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate; but when fighting is prescribed for them, lo! a party of them fear men as they ought to have feared Allah, or (even) with a greater fear, and say: Our Lord! why hast Thou ordained fighting for us? Wherefore didst Thou not grant us a delay to a near end? Say: The provision of this world is short, and the hereafter is better for him who guards (against evil); and you shall not be wronged the husk of a date stone

From this, it can be deduced that even Muhammad’s followers were initially reluctant to wage war against non-Muslims, but Muhammad convinced them to believe that this was Allah’s injuction which must be obeyed.

Q 47:4  “Now when ye meet those who disbelieve, smite their necks until when ye have slain them greatly, then make fast the bonds; then, thereafter let them off either freely or by ransom, until the war layeth down the burthens thereof. That ye shall do. And had Allah willed, He would have vindicated Himself against them, but He ordained fighting in order that He may prove you one by the other. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He shall not send their works astray

Some English translators have slotted in “in war” after “when ye meet those who disbelieve” to make it seem like defensive war, but such an effort lacks textual basis and is self-defeating. In this verse, we are told that if Allah willed, he could have fought his own enemies himself to defend his name, but he just choose to use human slaves for his nefarious works. That is a self-admission of how weak Allah is.

Q 9:41 “Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah! That is best for you if ye but knew

This is not self-defense but a call to offensive war.

Q 9:5 “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…”

This is indicting that unless the non-Muslims embrace Islam they are to be slain. Note also that the Arabic word “quateloo” which means “kill” was used here. Some English translators have censored the text to read: “Fight against the idolaters.”

2. From the contexts behind these verses, Muhammad and his army were the aggressors. They were the ones who initiated battles against non-Muslims. It is recorded that they fought a total of 63 battles with Muhammad personally leading 27 raids. Of all these wars, only two were defensive – the battle of Uhud and the battle of the Trench (or Confederates).

3. From an overall look of the Quran, it’s clear that the god of Islam relishes wanton destruction of lives and it is inconceivable that such a violent god would inspire a religion of peace.

4. The early Meccan verses which call for peace have been abrogated by the later verses of the sword. The earlier verses typify when Muslims are a minority while the latter exemplify when they become a majority. Therefore, Islam has a bifurcate form depending on its political or military strength in a geographical location.

The feeble attempts of Muslims to project their jihad mentality onto Christianity does not stand up to Biblical knowledge, theology and sound interpretation.

The Quran says Muhammad is the “perfect example” for all Muslims and all Muslims who love Allah must follow him (33:21). Thus, true Muslims must fight as he fought, kill as he killed and take women captives as he did, otherwise they are hypocrites (munafiq). No rational mind should expect anything better from a billion people who not only take a terrorist as a role model, but also follow, condone and defend his crimes.

On the other hand Christians have a perfect example in Jesus Christ who told no lie nor murdered His critics (1Pet. 2:22-3). Those who follow Him act like Him and for a Muslim to truly follow Christ, he must reject Muhammad.

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The Nation of Israel: God’s Prophetic Sign

Since this past Wednesday when the U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a hoopla has erupted in both the traditional and new media. So far, there have been denunciations from various political and religious quarters. The Coptic Pope cancelled the meeting with Pence over this issue whilst Arab nations are mounting a pressure on Trump to back down on his decision.

There have been clashes leading to the deaths of few persons. Many Palestinians have taken to the streets to protest at the US embassy in Lebanon. I saw a picture of protesting Muslims in Morocco and their visage was of pent-up rage. The hornet’s nest has been stirred up. Our Muslim friends are now getting bent out of shape, throwing fits of rage, foaming at the mouth and attacking their keypads like a hungry bird pecking at a juicy worm.

Even the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) who have otherwise been insouciant about the murderous rampage of Fulani herdsmen and reports of Muslim Arabs enslaving Nigerians in Libya, suddenly found the voice to urge world leaders to reject Trump’s declaration over Jerusalem. The chains of mental slavery that bind many African Muslims compel them to automatically support Arab politics – no matter how irrational – even though these Arab Muslims view them with pure disdain.

Pope Francis, a man who tries to project an image of a “revolutionary thinker” has also (like his predecessors) taken sides with the Palestinian Arabs against Trump’s decision. The Vatican Radio says “the Holy See reiterates its conviction that only a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians can lead to a stable and lasting peace and guarantee the peaceful coexistence of two states within internationally recognized borders.”

Some ask, “Why is this such a controversial issue? Does it really matter who occupies Jerusalem? Can’t the Jews just give up the land for the Arabs  for peace to reign?” To answer these questions, we need to take a brief look at the Biblical history of the nation of Israel.

In Isaiah 43:10, God declares the Jews as His witnesses to the world that He is God. The specific Bible prophecies interwoven into their history are irrefutable evidence of God’s existence, purpose for man and the authenticity of the Bible:

1. God promised a land of clearly defined boundaries to Abraham (Gen. 12:1). He renewed that promise to Isaac (Gen. 26:3-5), to his grandson Jacob (Gen. 28:13) and to their descendants forever (26:3-5, 28:13, Lev. 25:46). He fulfilled this promise by bringing these chosen people into this “Promised Land” through a series of miracles (Dt. 7:6). Note: God didn’t give Ishmael or his descendants any promised land.

2. When the Jewish people entered the Promised Land, God warned them that if they practiced the idolatry and depraved sexual sins of the land’s previous inhabitants whom He had destroyed, He would also cast them out as well (Dt. 28:63; 1 Kgs. 9:7). This was what precisely happened.

A scholar noted that: “During the reign of Jehohakim’s, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar first invaded Judah ([2 Kings] 24:1). The Lord sent other raiders – Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite – against Judah during his reign … just as the prophets had long ago foretold.” [1]

3. God declared that His people would be scattered “among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other” (Dt. 28:64) and they would become “a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples” (1 Kgs. 9:7). This happened just as foretold. A reference work explains that: “God gave Zedekiah and the nation [of Israel] many warnings through Jeremiah and the other prophets, but they were all ignored. The judgment that came spelt death or exile for the whole nation. The exile lasted until the Persians took over the Babylonian Empire.” [2]

4. God warned that wherever the Jews wandered, they would be “an object of cursing … of scorn and reproach” (Jer. 29:18) “a thing of horror and an object of scorn and ridicule to all the nations” (Dt. 28:37). This has been true of the Jews down through history. They have been maligned, hated and treated as scum, not only by Muslims or anti-Semitic political figures, but also by those who claim to be Christians.

A historian recorded that: The [Catholic] “Council of Vienne (1311) forbade all intercourse between Christians and Jews. The Council of Zamora (1313) ruled that they must be kept in strict subjection and servitude. The Council of Basel (1431-33) renewed canonical decrees forbidding Christians to associate with Jews … and instructed secular authorities to confine the Jews in separate quarters [ghettos]…” [3]

Muslims have mistreated Jews far worse for a total of 1300 years.  In Morocco, for example, a historian writes that rape, looting, burning of synagogues, destruction of Torah scrolls and murder were “so frequent that it is impossible to list them.” [4]

5. In spite of being scattered throughout the world, God promised to preserve the Jews as an identifiable ethnic, national group (Lev. 20:26; Jer. 30:11; 31:35-37). The Jews had every reason to intermarry, change their names and hide their identity by any possible means in order to escape persecution. There was no reason for them to have preserved their bloodline when they had no land of their own, when their race imposed cruel disadvantages on them and most of them didn’t really believe the Bible. Yet, they didn’t get absorbed into the nations because God’s promises stand sure.

6. God said through His prophets that He would bring the Jews back into their own land in the last days prior to the Messiah’s second coming (Jer. 31:8-12, Ezk. 11:17; 28:25). This prophecy was fulfilled after 19 centuries since Jerusalem was destroyed (in 70 A.D.) when the nation of Israel was reborn in 1948. This restoration of a nation after 25 centuries is a striking event unparalleled in the history of other peoples. It is beyond mere chance or natural means; only God could have done it.

7. God foretold that the Jews would have hostile nations surrounding them (Zech. 12:1-14) and that in the last days before Jesus’ second coming, Jerusalem would become “a cup of trembling” and “an immovable rock for all people” (Zech. 12:2-3). At the time Zechariah uttered this prophecy some 2,500 years ago, Jerusalem lay in ruins and was surrounded by wilderness and so it remained century after century.

This prophecy seemed absurd even after Israel’s rebirth in 1948, since Israel occupies about one-sixth of 1% of the land area the Arabs possess. Nothing could have indicated that the land of Israel would be a centre of worldwide concern, but today we see fulfillment of Bible prophecy as a terrible war over the city of Jerusalem looms on the world stage.

Today, Jerusalem has become a “burdensome stone” around the necks of all nations of the world who fear what would occur there. It’s the most perplexing problem the United Nation faces currently and it is a sign of the last days. These Biblical prophecies offer us sufficient proofs of God’s existence and the sign of the times we are in. God’s “sign” to the whole world is the land and people of Israel.

There are two main reasons why Muslims want the Jews to give up Jerusalem and their entire promised land.

(a) The Quran is an anti-Semitic book. It says that some Jews were turned into apes and swines by Allah (2:65; 7:166). The Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies says Jews “are people of the Sabbath, whose young people God turned into apes, and whose old people God turned to swine to punish them. As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews … while the swine are Christian infidels of the communion of Jesus.”

Speaking of the Jews, Sura 2:61 says: “And humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them and they were visited with wrath from Allah.” Sura 98:6 says Jews and Christians are “the worst of creatures.”

The hadith says that the path of “those who earn your anger” in Sura fatiha Muslims recite daily, refers to Jews while “the path of those who go astray” refers to Christians (Bukhari 1:12:749). Sura 5:64 says: “The Jews say: Allah’s hand is tied up. ‘Be their hands be tied up and be accursed for the (blasphemy) they utter … Amongst them we have placed enmity and hatred till the Day of Judgment.”

Muhammad said: “The last hour will not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or tree and a stone or tree would say: Muslim…there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him…” (Muslim 41:6985)

That’s why a Muslim scholar, Yusuf Qaradawi said: “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler … This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be in the hands of the believers [i.e Muslims].” [5]

(b) Muslim leaders intend to maintain their hold on Jerusalem so as to sustain the mythical link Muhammad made up to tie his cult to Abraham. Muslims are told that Ishmael was the promised son who inherited Abraham’s covenant promise. But the Quran disproves this long-held theory.

Sura 11: 69-72 say Isaac was the promised son: “And his wife standing by, laughing when We gave her good tidings (of the birth) of Isaac, and after Isaac, of Jacob. She said: Oh woe is me! Shall I bear a child when I am an old woman, and this my husband is an old man?”

The Quran re-tells this story in Sura 37:101-108 where Abraham asked for a righteous son and: “Then when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said ‘O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice. Now see what is thy view. (The son) said ‘O my father! Do as thou art commanded. Thou will find me if Allah so wills…”

The Quran clearly says it was the same “righteous son” that Abraham asked for that God promised He would give, and God later demanded that the same son be sacrificed to Him. Nowhere in the Quran is the “promised land” given to anyone else other than the Jews, so the land of Jerusalem rightfully belongs to the Jews and they alone.

Notes

[1] John Sailhamer, NIV Compact Bible Commentary, Zondervan, 271-272.

[2] The Lion Handbook to the Bible, 1983, eds. David and Pat Alexander, London, 303.

[3] Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Simon and Schuster, 1950, IV, 729.

[4] Andre Chouraqi, Between East and West: A History of North Africa, PA, 1968, 51.

[5] MEMRI, Feb. 3, 2009