Wednesday, March 30, 2005

 

Christianity and Islam (1)


It is not religion; it’s the “religious”

Islam has been under much focus in the world following the surge of fundamentalism… and of course 9/11! Many atrocious acts have been committed in the name of Islam. Regular Islam has been said to encourage such behavior by nature of the religion. Regular Muslims who are in contact with other cultures have been mainly on the defensive, defending or justifying their faith. Muslims immersed in their own communities have been on the offensive, defending their faith against what they see as an organized onslaught. Much literature has been written on the subject.

Islam and Christianity

Comparisons between the various religions are almost always futile unless one is considering selecting one or the other, convincing reluctant impartial onlooker… or gathering support in preparation for a war of confrontation. It certainly is not an objective of this essay. I will approach the subject from a much simpler view and try to avoid dreary techno-religious details.

1. When I look at my own aging mother, who is a devout Muslim, I frankly see nothing wrong in her faith. It gives her tranquility, peace of mind, a constant, universal standard of right and wrong, a sense in life, a unified vision of the universe, an attitude towards other human beings, an assurance of her compassion towards the needy, the unfortunate and the suffering, rituals that put order in her life, emotional and spiritual fulfillment… and so on and so forth.

But I am sure that this description fits your own mother, grandmother or some gentle old Christian soul that you know.

2. Compare this image to those people with fiery eyes and long, unkempt beards, wielding swords and beheading ‘infidels’, declaring jihad [religious struggle] against decadence… and seeking to ‘convince’ people to live in bygone times, in the name of Islam.

Across the Atlantic, I am sure that you can also see men with fiery eyes and loud voices dripping venom, vindictiveness and hatred claiming to be the followers of loving, forgiving Jesus Christ…. advocating wars, justifying wars and glorifying the murder of innocents.

3. I also hear and read many criticisms of Islam and its incompatibility with democracy, science, free-speech, liberalism of thought, equal rights and personal freedoms. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t… But my mind goes back to the time when Christianity held sway over people’s (even king’s) lives in Europe and elsewhere.

I remember wars, crusades, where atrocities were committed and blood shed to liberate the birthplace of Christ from the hands of infidels. I remember the Spanish inquisition. I remember burning people alive at the stake under charges of witchcraft. I remember ‘official’ religious views that the earth is flat or is the center of the Universe; or poor Galileo. I remember book burning. I remember slave ships run by God-fearing Christians… and numerous other such things unacceptable to modern thinking.

Has Christianity or the teachings of Jesus changed much over the centuries? Neither has Islam or Mohamed’s teachings.

I am certain that this is not what these religions were intended for. Had this been the case, they wouldn’t have had so many willing followers in so many nations throughout many past centuries.

Everybody is innocent and everybody is guilty.

Hooligans are the problem, not football.

It is not the religion. It is some of the “religious”.


Comments:

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I can only speak for Christianity, which is the religion I have been exposed to ... and the Bible is full of contradictions and incitements to hate. I have no doubt that there are also similar passages in the Koran.

Yet ... there are reasonable people of both religions in the world. The key is in the interpretation of the text, and what one intends to do about that interpretation.

Anybody can pervert the most peaceful religion if they really want to.

--Bruno --
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
I know personally a few Christian 'religious fanatics'. For them, 'Christianity isn't everything, it's the only thing.' They're not talking about the substance of the religion, they are talking about the form of religion.' Here's the catch,

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

This can lead to the idea that if you want to believe, faith will be given to you and to believe you must continually repeat religious texts without attempting to understand them to increase your exposure. This simplistic idea leads to superficiality.
This is why fundamentalism, the first step in faith, is flooding a doubting world.
The Christian religion also puts an emphasis on responsibility and intelligently dealing with the world and this is where the fundamentalist invariably falls short.
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
Every believing adult has an obligation to accept the limitations of both their life and their faith.
 
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"Hello" Anon,

I find your point of "hearing and hearing" fascinating. It is exactly the same technique used by Taliban to teach their students. It is actually how Taliban came into being as a movement!!
 
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This is a great topic!

I agree with you that it is not God that I fear - but rather what people will do in the name of God...

Over the last few years I have tried to learn more about Islam to gain perspective. I am not even a 'beginner' in terms of Islamic theological studies, but I have noticed a few things that seem to differentiate it from Christianity or Buddhism, for example.

I am very interested in your opinion as someone far more knowledgable on the subject.

In reading Islamic texts, one thing that strikes me is its 'dynamism.'It seems to provide a framework that can justify all sorts of military, political, and interpersonal activities. The Christian Bible, on the other hand, is quite vague on matters of 'this world.' One should 'turn the others cheek' or 'render unto Caesar', etc.

While all major religions are full of benign rhetoric about justice, loving your neighbor, and in general conducting yourself in a respectful fashion (thus making civilization possible), Islam seems to have developed a very active political paradigm.

Throughout history, you can find so called Christians who have done unspeakable things to support what they thought was the 'will of God' - or 'Christ' or whatever. But I do not think you will find any case where these people could justify their actions by referencing the actions and words of Jesus.

That seems to me a very big difference. Islamic radicals can draw upon a wealth of words and deeds of the Prophet to justify slaughter, pillage, plunder, rape, torture, war, etc.

Perhaps Christianity simply never 'matured.' Or perhaps Islam was perverted by the Prophet himself - or his followers - to justify their conquests. I don't know.

What do you think?

sorry if this posts twice...
 
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Charles,

Much of what you said in the first part of your comment is true, particularly regarding the involvement of Islam as a doctrine with more details of daily life.

But I have no idea how you can say "Islamic radicals can draw upon a wealth of words and deeds of the Prophet to justify slaughter, pillage, plunder, rape, torture...".

Perhaps you can go back to learn some more... using sources that are a bit more reliable (than MEMRI, for example)?

Your statement "Or perhaps Islam was perverted by the Prophet himself - or his followers " really does indicate that your learning so far leaves a lot to be desired.

Charles, I beg of you. This is not a Red-Blue debate. I have stressed several times that many people feel very strongly about their faith. Offending people is generally not conductive to constructive dialogue.

Can we have a civilized debate... without the propaganda? Please?
 
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Abu Khaleel,

I do not want to turn this into a partizan debate either. I did not intend to offend you with my comments. I admit my ignorance. Enlighten me please!

My point was less about Islam being closely intertwined with daily life (how to greet people, how many times to bathe, etc.), but rather that Islamic fundamentalists can reference the words and actions of their Prophet to justify heinous acts.

The Koran and other books of the Islamic faith are no doubt full of beautiful rhetoric that is in no way less valuable than similar rhetoric from other major/minor religions. I do not want to debate which religion is more poetic, etc.

Do you agree or disagree that a big difference between Islam and Christianity is the former's direct references to what would normally be considered heinous actions? And these actions were purportedly praised and undertaken by the Prophet himself?

My sources are not MEMRI.
 
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From Circular
As a convinced unbeliever with no interest, historical or poetic, in any religion, I’m keeping right out of this.
(Not from any assumed sense of superiority, either - the supposedly non-religious, atheistical regimes of the USSR and Cambodia probably caused more human suffering last century than any religion ever did. I just have a profound lack of interest in supposed supernatural entities that everyone else talks so confidently about but which I have never known or experienced, and which I am very sceptical about to put it mildly.)
I gather Abu Kahleel is similarly sceptical if probably not to the same degree. With indications that religious fundamentalism or fanaticism is going to play an increasing role in the "new" Iraq - e.g. the assault on the students’ picnic in Basra last week, reported attacks on barbers and professional women in Baghdad, etc - I would be interested to know where this places him. In an Islamic country, does a profession of atheism or agnosticism place one at personal risk from extremists? (I presume, by way of contrast, that I could declare my atheism in the most primitive, bigoted township in the US mid-west, and while I might be treated as though I had just farted, I doubt that my life would be at risk. Probably a bit hard to get credit though.)
(I do hope this is not going to descend into a debate about which religion is "nicer," Islam or Christianity. I’ll definitely keep out of that - it will be like New Guinea highland cargo-cultists debating which fetish is most likely to bring back the supply planes of "him fella belong sky.")
Bruno talks above about "interpretation of the text." According to Deuteronomy, if I am fighting with another man, and my wife comes to help me, and seizes him by the private parts (!) then I have to cut off her hand - show her no pity!
Interpret that, mate!
Circular
 
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@ Circ

Nice reference to the 'cargo-cultists.' They are a fascinating lot. Do they still exist? Its been a while since C-47's have dumped green beans and toilet paper up in those mountains.

You are probably in a better position than any to look at the Islam issue. I'm am rather agnostic/neutral - but was raised protestant so my views may be biased a bit.

I know my posts come accross confrontational, but I really want to figure out if there are any fundamental differences between Islam and other major religions.

I readily admit that 'Christians' have been notoriously violent throughout history, and I'm not trying to prove that one religion is better than another. In fact, it could be that Islams dynamic and active involvement in interpersonal activities might make it more viable in the long run.
 
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"Hooligans are the problem, not football." Nice comparison! (Although i still don't like soccer ;)
 
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Charles,
You really appear extremely poorly informed about the 'historical'Prophet Muhammed(there are few if any contemporary accounts of Jesus of any kind, by the way), who is certainly one of the most remarkable persons in human history aside from religious matters. You owe it to yourself ( and others) to read about his life, before even commenting again.
Here's a starter.
"At the conclusion of the life of Mahomet, it may perhaps be expected, that I should balance his faults and virtues, that I should decide whether the title of enthusiast or impostor more properly belongs to that extraordinary man. Had I been intimately conversant with the son of Abdallah, the task would still be difficult, and the success uncertain: at the distance of twelve centuries, I darkly contemplate his shade through a cloud of religious incense; and could I truly delineate the portrait of an hour, the fleeting resemblance would not equally apply to the solitary of Mount Hera, to the preacher of Mecca, and to the conqueror of Arabia. The author of a mighty revolution appears to have been endowed with a pious and contemplative disposition: so soon as marriage had raised him above the pressure of want, he avoided the paths of ambition and avarice; and till the age of forty he lived with innocence, and would have died without a name. The unity of God is an idea most congenial to nature and reason; and a slight conversation with the Jews and Christians would teach him to despise and detest the idolatry of Mecca. It was the duty of a man and a citizen to impart the doctrine of salvation, to rescue his country from the dominion of sin and error. The energy of a mind incessantly bent on the same object, would convert a general obligation into a particular call; the warm suggestions of the understanding or the fancy would be felt as the inspirations of Heaven; the labor of thought would expire in rapture and vision; and the inward sensation, the invisible monitor, would be described with the form and attributes of an angel of God. From enthusiasm to imposture, the step is perilous and slippery: the dæmon of Socrates affords a memorable instance, how a wise man may deceive himself, how a good man may deceive others, how the conscience may slumber in a mixed and middle state between self-illusion and voluntary fraud. Charity may believe that the original motives of Mahomet were those of pure and genuine benevolence; but a human missionary is incapable of cherishing the obstinate unbelievers who reject his claims despise his arguments, and persecute his life; he might forgive his personal adversaries, he may lawfully hate the enemies of God; the stern passions of pride and revenge were kindled in the bosom of Mahomet, and he sighed, like the prophet of Nineveh, for the destruction of the rebels whom he had condemned. The injustice of Mecca and the choice of Medina, transformed the citizen into a prince, the humble preacher into the leader of armies; but his sword was consecrated by the example of the saints; and the same God who afflicts a sinful world with pestilence and earthquakes, might inspire for their conversion or chastisement the valor of his servants. In the exercise of political government, he was compelled to abate of the stern rigor of fanaticism, to comply in some measure with the prejudices and passions of his followers, and to employ even the vices of mankind as the instruments of their salvation....Even in a conqueror or a priest, I can surprise a word or action of unaffected humanity; and the decree of Mahomet, that, in the sale of captives, the mothers should never be separated from their children, may suspend, or moderate, the censure of the historian." And there is much more.

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 50.
[One of the few remotely positive assessments of the 'great men' of history by an impartial and skeptical historian]
 
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Circular --

“Bruno talks above about "interpretation of the text." According to Deuteronomy, if I am fighting with another man, and my wife comes to help me, and seizes him by the private parts (!) then I have to cut off her hand - show her no pity! Interpret that, mate!”

Oooh, ah, ehm … your Bible must have a misprint.

No seriously, I’m also a horrible, nothing – believing atheist, and as a child, it was passages like this, and the contradictions they pose to modern morality, that convinced me that religion was a load of rubbish.

I say ‘contradiction’ in the sense that many Christians that I have debated on this subject explain these nasty passages away with the explanation that in the context OF THOSE TIMES punishments as detailed in Deuteronomy and so forth were really not so harsh, and in many cases kinder than what other peoples would have done. Now, to my mind that’s a fair enough explanation, BUT … if one then still wants to make the case that the Bible is the result of divine revelation and infallible … we have a small problem, because surely God – dictated laws like that should be eternally applicable?

So: is the Bible infallible or not? If it is, then Deuteronomy still applies. If it isn’t, then how can it be the word of God?

I’m sure that a similar case can be made for the Koran, given that I have seen various extracts quoted by rednecks (in an effort to show how backward Muslims are) that are pretty nasty too, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that their own religion contains similar passages in its central text.

Now, the trick is to ignore this contradiction and selectively decide which passages are “valid” and which passages are not. Hopefully one uses common sense to pick and choose, and that is what I mean by “interpreting the text” … basically this means the reader discarding undesirable passages through the application of logic and explanation, while forgetting that the entirety is supposed to be divinely inspired during this sifting process.

Now, a “good” person will concentrate on the “love and peace” aspects of the text, whereas a “bad” person might well dwell on the “punishment and power” aspects of the text … with each one simply ignoring / reasoning the undesirable bits out of existence.

And as we have all no doubt seen, the human mind can go to extreme lengths when trying to shield itself from reality.

--Bruno--

(grr. blogger has forgotten who I am ...)
 
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Hi Bruno,

I could be wrong because I have recently just gotten back to being Protestant but I thought that the Bible was not a divine revelation like the Qu'ran. I thought it was written by men who interpreted God's words.
 
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@Anon,

Yes I am quite uninformed about the life of the Prophet. I have picked up a few tidbits though. Sorry for focusing on the negative.

"there are few if any contemporary accounts of Jesus of any kind, by the way"

Hmmm. I don't want to nit pick but as far as I know the ONLY accounts of Jesus that formed the entire basis of Christendom were written by contemporaries. Jesus didn't write much. The New Testament (The Christian Bible) was written by 4 of his disciples.

What are the different 'Holy Books' of Islam? There is the Koran. What about the books of Mohammed's life?

Were these the Prophet's 'Gospels'?

Tabari, Bukhari, Ishaq?

Bukhari:V4B52N50 “The Prophet said, ‘A single endeavor of fighting in Allah’s Cause is better than the world and whatever is in it.’”
Qur’an 9:88 “The Messenger and those who believe with him, strive hard and fight with their wealth and lives in Allah’s Cause.”
Qur’an 9:5 “Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war.”
Qur’an 9:112 “The Believers fight in Allah’s Cause, they slay and are slain, kill and are killed.”
Qur’an 9:29 “Fight those who do not believe until they all surrender, paying the protective tax in submission.”
Ishaq:325 “Muslims, fight in Allah’s Cause. Stand firm and you will prosper. Help the Prophet, obey him, give him your allegiance, and your religion will be victorious.”
Qur’an 8:39 “Fight them until all opposition ends and all submit to Allah.”
Qur’an 8:39 “So fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief [non-Muslims]) and all submit to the religion of Allah alone (in the whole world).”
Ishaq:324 “He said, ‘Fight them so that there is no more rebellion, and religion, all of it, is for Allah only. Allah must have no rivals.’”
Qur’an 9:14 “Fight them and Allah will punish them by your hands, lay them low, and cover them with shame. He will help you over them.”
Ishaq:300 “I am fighting in Allah’s service. This is piety and a good deed. In Allah’s war I do not fear as others should. For this fighting is righteous, true, and good.”
Ishaq:587 “Our onslaught will not be a weak faltering affair. We shall fight as long as we live. We will fight until you turn to Islam, humbly seeking refuge. We will fight not caring whom we meet. We will fight whether we destroy ancient holdings or newly gotten gains. We have mutilated every opponent. We have driven them violently before us at the command of Allah and Islam. We will fight until our religion is established. And we will plunder them, for they must suffer disgrace.”
Qur’an 8:65 “O Prophet, urge the faithful to fight. If there are twenty among you with determination they will vanquish two hundred; if there are a hundred then they will slaughter a thousand unbelievers, for the infidels are a people devoid of understanding.”
Ishaq:326 “Prophet exhort the believers to fight. If there are twenty good fighters they will defeat two hundred for they are a senseless people. They do not fight with good intentions nor for truth.”
Bukhari:V4B52N63 “A man whose face was covered with an iron mask came to the Prophet and said, ‘Allah’s Apostle! Shall I fight or embrace Islam first?’ The Prophet said, ‘Embrace Islam first and then fight.’ So he embraced Islam, and was martyred. Allah’s Apostle said, ‘A Little work, but a great reward.’”
Bukhari:V4B53N386 “Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah alone or pay us the Jizyah tribute tax in submission. Our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says: ‘Whoever amongst us is killed as a martyr shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever survives shall become your master.’”
Muslim:C34B20N4668 “The Messenger said: ‘Anybody who equips a warrior going to fight in the Way of Allah is like one who actually fights. And anybody who looks after his family in his absence is also like one who actually fights.”
Qur’an 9:38 “Believers, what is the matter with you, that when you are asked to go forth and fight in Allah’s Cause you cling to the earth? Do you prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? Unless you go forth, He will afflict and punish you with a painful doom, and put others in your place.”
Qur’an 9:123 “Fight the unbelievers around you, and let them find harshness in you.”
Qur’an 8:72 “Those who accepted Islam and left their homes to fight in Allah’s Cause with their possessions and persons, and those who gave (them) asylum, aid, and shelter, those who harbored them—these are allies of one another. You are not responsible for protecting those who embraced Islam but did not leave their homes [to fight] until they do so.” [Another translation reads:] “You are only called to protect Muslims who fight.”
Muslim:C9B1N31 “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and believe in me (that) I am the Messenger and in all that I have brought.” Bukhari:V9B84N59 “Whoever says this will save his property and life from me.’”
Qur’an 8:73 “The unbelieving infidels are allies. Unless you (Muslims) aid each other (fighting as one united block to make Allah’s religion victorious), there will be confusion and mischief. Those who accepted Islam, left their homes to fight in Allah’s Cause (al-Jihad), as well as those who give them asylum, shelter, and aid—these are (all) Believers: for them is pardon and bountiful provision (in Paradise).”
Tabari IX:69 “Arabs are the most noble people in lineage, the most prominent, and the best in deeds. We were the first to respond to the call of the Prophet. We are Allah’s helpers and the viziers of His Messenger. We fight people until they believe in Allah. He who believes in Allah and His Messenger has protected his life and possessions from us. As for one who disbelieves, we will fight him forever in the Cause of Allah. Killing him is a small matter to us.”
Qur’an 48:16 “Say (Muhammad) to the wandering desert Arabs who lagged behind: ‘You shall be invited to fight against a people given to war with mighty prowess. You shall fight them until they surrender and submit. If you obey, Allah will grant you a reward, but if you turn back, as you did before, He will punish you with a grievous torture.”
Qur’an 48:22 “If the unbelieving infidels fight against you, they will retreat. (Such has been) the practice (approved) of Allah in the past: no change will you find in the ways of Allah.”
Qur’an 47:4 “When you clash with the unbelieving Infidels in battle (fighting Jihad in Allah’s Cause), smite their necks until you overpower them, killing and wounding many of them. At length, when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind them firmly, making (them) captives. Thereafter either generosity or ransom (them based upon what benefits Islam) until the war lays down its burdens. Thus are you commanded by Allah to continue carrying out Jihad against the unbelieving infidels until they submit to Islam.”
Qur’an 47:31 “And We shall try you until We know those among you who are the fighters.”
Tabari VI:138 “Those present at the oath of Aqabah had sworn an allegiance to Muhammad. It was a pledge of war against all men. Allah had permitted fighting.”
Tabari VI:139 “Allah had given his Messenger permission to fight by revealing the verse ‘And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah.’” [Qur’an 8:39]
Qur’an 9:19 “Do you make the giving of drink to pilgrims, or the maintenance of the Mosque, equal to those who fight in the Cause of Allah? They are not comparable in the sight of Allah. Those who believe, and left their homes, striving with might, fighting in Allah’s Cause with their goods and their lives, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah.”
Ishaq:550 “The Muslims met them with their swords. They cut through many arms and skulls. Only confused cries and groans could be heard over our battle roars and snarling.”
Qur’an 5:94 “Believers, Allah will make a test for you in the form of a little game in which you reach out for your lances. Any who fails this test will have a grievous punishment.”
Ishaq:578 “Crushing the heads of the infidels and splitting their skulls with sharp swords, we continually thrust and cut at the enemy. Blood gushed from their deep wounds as the battle wore them down. We conquered bearing the Prophet’s fluttering war banner. Our cavalry was submerged in rising dust, and our spears quivered, but by us the Prophet gained victory.”
Tabari IX:22 “The Prophet continued to besiege the town, fighting them bitterly.”
Tabari IX:25 “By Allah, I did not come to fight for nothing. I wanted a victory over Ta’if so that I might obtain a slave girl from them and make her pregnant.”
Tabari IX:82 “The Messenger sent Khalid with an army of 400 to Harith [a South Arabian tribe] and ordered him to invite them to Islam for three days before he fought them. If they were to respond and submit, he was to teach them the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of His Prophet, and the requirements of Islam. If they should decline, then he was to fight them.”
Tabari IX:88 “Abdallah Azdi came to the Messenger, embraced Islam, and became a good Muslim. Allah’s Apostle invested Azdi with the authority over those who had surrendered and ordered him to fight the infidels from the tribes of Yemen. Azdi left with an army by the Messenger’s command. The Muslims besieged them for a month. Then they withdrew, setting a trap. When the Yemenites went in pursuit, Azdi was able to inflict a heavy loss on them.”
Ishaq:530 “Get out of his way, you infidel unbelievers. Every good thing goes with the Apostle. Lord, I believe in his word. We will fight you about its interpretations as we have fought you about its revelation with strokes that will remove heads from shoulders and make enemies of friends.”
Muslim:C9B1N29 “Command For Fighting Against People So Long As They Do Not Profess That There Is No Ilah (God) But Allah And Muhammad Is His Messenger: When the Messenger breathed his last and Bakr was appointed Caliph, many Arabs chose to become apostates [rejected Islam]. Abu Bakr said: ‘I will definitely fight against anyone who stops paying the Zakat tax, for it is an obligation. I will fight against them even to secure the cord used for hobbling the feet of a camel which they used to pay if they withhold it now.’ Allah had justified fighting against those who refused to pay Zakat.”
Muslim:C9B1N33 “The Prophet said: ‘I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and they establish prostration prayer, and pay Zakat. If they do it, their blood and property are protected.’”
Muslim:C10B1N176 “Muhammad (may peace be upon him) sent us in a raiding party. We raided Huraqat in the morning. I caught hold of a man and he said: ‘There is no god but Allah,’ but I attacked him with a spear anyway. It once occurred to me that I should ask the Apostle about this. The Messenger said: ‘Did he profess “There is no god but Allah,” and even then you killed him?’ I said: ‘He made a profession out of the fear of the weapon I was threatening him with.’ The Prophet said: ‘Did you tear out his heart in order to find out whether it had professed truly or not?’”
Muslim:C20B1N4597 “The Prophet said at the conquest of Mecca: ‘There is no migration now, but only Jihad, fighting for the Cause of Islam. When you are asked to set out on a Jihad expedition, you should readily do so.’”
Muslim:C28B20N4628 “Allah has undertaken to provide for one who leaves his home to fight for His Cause and to affirm the truth of His word; Allah will either admit him to Paradise or will bring him back home with his reward and booty.”
Muslim:C28B20N4629 “The Messenger said: ‘One who is wounded in the Way of Allah—and Allah knows best who is wounded in His Way—will appear on the Day of Judgment with his wound still bleeding. The color (of its discharge) will be blood, (but) its smell will be musk.’”
Muslim: C34B20N4652-3 “The Merit Of Jihad And Of Keeping Vigilance Over The Enemy: A man came to the Holy Prophet and said: ‘Who is the best of men?’ He replied: ‘A man who fights staking his life and spending his wealth in Allah’s Cause.’”
Muslim:C42B20N4684 “A desert Arab came to the Prophet and said: ‘Messenger, one man fights for the spoils of war; another fights that he may be remembered, and one fights that he may see his (high) position (achieved as a result of his valor in fighting). Which of these is fighting in the Cause of Allah?’ The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Who fights so that the word of Allah is exalted is fighting in the Way of Allah.’”
Muslim:C53B20N4717 “The Prophet said: ‘This religion will continue to exist, and a group of people from the Muslims will continue to fight for its protection until the Hour is established.’”
Bukhari: V5B59N288 “I witnessed a scene that was dearer to me than anything I had ever seen. Aswad came to the Prophet while Muhammad was urging the Muslims to fight the pagans. He said, ‘We shall fight on your right and on your left and in front of you and behind you.’ I saw the face of the Prophet getting bright with happiness, for that saying delighted him.”
Bukhari:V5B59N290 “The believers who did not join the Ghazwa [Islamic raid or invasion] and those who fought are not equal in reward.”
Qur’an 2:193 “Fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief) and religion is only for Allah. But if they cease/desist, let there be no hostility except against infidel disbelievers.”
Qur’an 2:217 “They question you concerning fighting in the sacred month. Say: ‘Fighting therein is a grave (matter); but to prevent access to Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, to expel its members, and polytheism are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they make you renegades from your religion. If any of you turn back and die in unbelief, your works will be lost and you will go to Hell. Surely those who believe and leave their homes to fight in Allah’s Cause have the hope of Allah’s mercy.”
Qur’an 2:244 “Fight in Allah’s Cause, and know that Allah hears and knows all.”
Qur’an 2:246 “He said: ‘Would you refrain from fighting if fighting were prescribed for you?’ They said: ‘How could we refuse to fight in Allah’s Cause?’”
Ishaq:280 “The Apostle prepared for war in pursuance of Allah’s command to fight his enemies and to fight the infidels who Allah commanded him to fight.”
Qur’an 61:2 “O Muslims, why say one thing and do another? Grievously odious and hateful is it in the sight of Allah that you say that which you do not. Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in a battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure.”
Bukhari:V4B52N61 “Allah’s Apostle! We were absent from the first battle you fought against the pagans. If Allah gives us a chance to do battle, no doubt, He will see how bravely we fight.”
Ishaq:398 “Ask them for their help. Thereby make the religion of Islam agreeable to them. And when you are resolved in the matter of religion concerning fighting your enemy you will have the advantage.”
Qur’an 3:146 “How many prophets fought in Allah’s Cause? With them (fought) myriads of godly men who were slain. They never lost heart if they met with disaster in Allah’s Cause, nor did they weaken nor give in. Allah loves those who are firm and steadfast [warriors].”
Ishaq:393 “How many prophets has death in battle befallen and how many multitudes with him? They did not show weakness toward their enemies and were not humiliated when they suffered in the fight for Allah and their religion. That is steadfastness. Allah loves the steadfast.”
Qur’an 3:153 “Behold! You ran off precipitately, climbing up the high hill without even casting a side glance at anyone, while the Messenger in your rear is calling you from your rear, urging you to fight. Allah gave you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for the booty that had escaped you and for (the ill) that had befallen you.”
Qur’an 3:154 “Say: ‘Even if you had remained in your houses, those ordained to be slaughtered would have gone forth to the places where they were to slain.”
Ishaq:440 “Helped by the Holy Spirit we smited Muhammad’s foes. The Apostle sent a message to them with a sharp cutting sword.”
Ishaq:470 “We attacked them fully armed, swords in hand, cutting through heads and skulls.”
Qur’an 61:4 “Surely Allah loves those who fight in His Cause.”
Qur’an 61:11 “Come to believe in Allah and His Apostle and struggle in the Cause of Allah with your wealth and person. This will be good for you…. Allah will give you an early victory.”
Qur’an 8:5 “Your Lord ordered you out of your homes to fight for the true cause, even though some Muslims disliked it, and were averse (to fighting).”
Qur’an 24:53 “They swear their strongest oaths saying that if only you would command them. They would leave their homes (and go forth fighting in Allah’s Cause). Say: ‘Swear not; Obedience is (more) reasonable.’”
Qur’an 4:74 “Let those who fight in Allah’s Cause sell this world’s life for the hereafter. To him who fights in Allah’s Cause, whether he is slain or victorious, We shall give him a reward.”
Qur’an 4:75 “What reason have you that you should not fight in Allah’s Cause?” [Another translation says:] “What is wrong with you that you do not fight for Allah?”
Qur’an 4:76 “Those who believe fight in the Cause of Allah.”
Qur’an 4:77 “Have you not seen those to whom it was said: Withhold from fighting, perform the prayer and pay the zakat. But when orders for fighting were issued, a party of them feared men as they ought to have feared Allah. They say: ‘Our Lord, why have You ordained fighting for us, why have You made war compulsory?’”
Qur’an 4:78 “Wherever you are, death will find you, even if you are in towers strong and high! So what is wrong with these people, that they fail to understand these simple words?”
Qur’an 4:84 “Then fight (Muhammad) in Allah’s Cause. Incite the believers to fight with you.”
Qur’an 4:94 “Believers, when you go abroad to fight wars in Allah’s Cause, investigate carefully, and say not to anyone who greets you: ‘You are not a believer!’ Coveting the chance profits of this life (so that you may despoil him). With Allah are plenteous spoils and booty.”
Qur’an 4:95 “Not equal are believers who sit home and receive no hurt and those who fight in Allah’s Cause with their wealth and lives. Allah has granted a grade higher to those who fight with their possessions and bodies to those who sit home. Those who fight He has distinguished with a special reward.”
Qur’an 4:100 “He who leaves his home in Allah’s Cause finds abundant resources and many a refuge. Should he die as a refugee for Allah and His Messenger His reward becomes due and sure with Allah. When you travel through the earth there is no blame on you if you curtail your worship for fear unbelievers may attack you. In truth the disbelievers are your enemy.”
Qur’an 4:102 “When you (Prophet) lead them in prayer, let some stand with you, taking their arms with them. When they finish their prostrations, let them take positions in the rear. And let others who have not yet prayed come—taking all precaution, and bearing arms. The Infidels wish, if you were negligent of your arms, to assault you in a rush. But there is no blame on you if you put away your arms because of the inconvenience of rain or because you are ill; but take precaution. For the Unbelieving Infidels Allah hath prepared a humiliating punishment.”
Qur’an 4:104 “And do not relent in pursuing the enemy.”
 
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Charles,

Tabari, Bukhari and Ishaq were not contemporaries of Mohammed. Much of what they wrote is contested by a number of major Muslim sects.

You should have stuck to those quotes from the Koran.

It is increasingly evident that you do not seek to learn but that you have an undeclared agenda. To my mind, when someone's agenda is clean and straight, there would be no reason not to declare it.

During your evidently extensive searches, did you find those refernces to your rape and torture?

I do not think this site is the proper venue for your inclinations to compare between those two religions. There must be several hundred such sites representing a variety of view points some of them rather extreme. You may find better company there.
 
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Charles,

it sounds like you are trying to say that Islam is more militaristic than Christianity. Even if it does literally spell it out more in some Islamic texts, Christians took it on themselves to use God to champion military moves. (Also to get into politics.)

My personal favorite Saint,- Saint Joan of Arc had the words Jesus and Mary embroidered on her standard with the french fluer-de-lis.

So what is the difference between the two religions if believers on the one hand read military rules in a holy text or on the other hand if they interpret those rules themselves?

Matthew 10:34-35 says:

"Think not that I come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother..."


Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.

skipping to the last stanza:

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Julia W. Howe 1861

I personally don't think it is wrong to take God into the battlefield with you. This is where Bruno's "...what one intends to do about that interpretation." becomes important.Ie. If you have a just cause and are an honorable soldier...
 
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I thought of something to add concerning "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Christians themselves have apparently been conflicted with the lyrics and whether it is man's duty to enter battle by the will of God or not.

The one verse has changed over time from being: "As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free" to:

"As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free".

Thus, moderate Christians have come to believe, as I'm sure moderate Muslims believe, battle is not always the holiest of choices. And the "battle" in my mind then becomes the struggle to live by example of ones beliefs.
 
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Charles,
I don't dig for quotes in the Quran as I found it rather hard to understand. Instead I decided to read about the life of the Prophet, a remarkable and humane man in the previously mentioned Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbon, a 'historian's' historian. I again invite you to get some 'perspective'BEFORE COMMENTING rather than charge in with some quotes. (I can do the same with your meek and mild Jesus-try Matthew
Matt. 10:34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword.")


As to Jesus, the 4 Gospels( there is a 5th Gospel of Thomas which has been surpressed as heretical-it suggests Jesus was a ghost) were actually written down a century after the Crucifixion. The only contemporary account of Jesus I know of is in Flavius Josephus 'The Jewish War', which some scholars believe to have been tampered with by medieval monk translators and the next references is the accounts of Nero's persecution in Rome(Tacitus, Suetonius). The fact is there are almost no books that old that haven't turned to dust. The contrast is between the sketchy and contradictory Gospels and the well documented history of Muhammed. It is easier to write what you like about an unknown 'nobody' than the ruler of Arabia. I believe it is a contention of Islamic scholars that Christianity was largely made up by Saint Paul, who never knew Jesus in the flesh and introduced the trinty which they consider Greek polytheism as did many early Christians and today's Jehovah's Witnesses.
In the end, the choice is yours whether you want to open your mind or not. I suggest you give it a try.
 
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Abu Khaleel,

You are wrong about me not wanting to learn. I am not a religious propagandist. I do want some answers though. Please don't get so defensive and reduce things to partizan debate. That would be pointless because it doesn't seem like anyone here is trying to say that one religion is better/worse than another.

"I do not think this site is the proper venue for your inclinations to compare between those two religions."

Um. I thought that is what this thread entitled "Christianity and Islam" was about.

There are hundreds and hundreds more controversial quotes similar to the ones I posted. They are from the Koran and other Islamic texts held by many muslims to be 'Holy.'

They seem to paint a picture of a religion that has, in addition to all of its standard poetic monotheistic universals, a very distinct martial and violent paradigm.

If I am wrong just say so. If many of the quotes I mentioned are contested by mainstream Islam, please refer me to the generally accepted texts.

Thanks.
 
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@Anon,

"In the end, the choice is yours whether you want to open your mind or not. I suggest you give it a try."

What are you talking about? I have closed mind because I tried to look into the actual texts themselves, and not rely on some biased secondary sources? You 'invite' me to get perspective? Now that is rich!

I admit I have much to learn - but it seems you aren't even trying.

Again - to all you folks out there - I am not trying to say Islam is bad or good. Like all religions I'm sure its full of lots of good things to satisfy a person's theological cravings.

What I am trying to do is understand in a broad sense what the major theological differences might be, in the hope that these differences may explain what we see going on today in radical Islam.

What is the root of violence in Islam? Is it something the Prophet said or did that other people can refer to and say - 'Well, he did it so it must be ok.' Or, was the original religion perverted by external influences, historical forces, or that age old thirst for power?

Some of the Islamic texts are quite brutal and graphic. To me, that represents a big difference from Christianity. Those violent acts in holy books are considered precedent for todays radical clerics.

Are there any strong voices in Islam that are currently attending to these issues? Are they well received? Or threatened with death? Who are they? What are their names?
 
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Charles,
I don't think Islam is a non-violent(therefore 'better') religion anymore than Christianity or Judaism(Charles..you non-violent? yeah that's what I call rich!:D). What would be better, to read the entire life of Christ or just chop it up into meaningless phrases and try to cobbel together a religion? Am I asking too much?
Jesus never 'authored' anything so it's not an apples to apples comparison of 'words', Quran to New Testament, but a parallel comparison of their vastly different lives may be instructive.

You seem to think that violence acts come from religious texts. You've heard the phrase 'Don't outlaw guns! Guns don't kill, people kill!'(Innocent guns?-killing is their only purpose)

Why don't you give religions the benefit of the doubt, especially as 'Thou shalt not kill' is written all over Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Not even the followers of Buddhism are free from violence.

"Are there any strong voices in Islam that are currently attending to these issues? Are they well received? Or threatened with death? Who are they? What are their names?" There are plenty of Muslim preachers who condemn Bin Ladin and you know it. You really look like a bigot( I mean that in a good way-NOT).
 
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Anon,

Your position seems a bit shallow and far to 'politically correct.'

Would I be a bigot if I disagreed or questioned the actions of the KKK because they claim an affiliation with Christianity? Does that mean I am against Christians?

I can see that from your 'perspective,' we can gloss over all of the differences between the religions because they are minor and not worthy of discussion (excepting bigots of course).

And certainly manifestations of widespread religious violence worldwide emanating from Islamic groups are no cause for concern - 'Nothin to see here folks - just keep moving - go about your business - have a nice day...'

You may be right.

I am not sure yet.
 
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Charles --

Your suggestion that Islam somehow has a seed of violence in it and that this is what marks it as different to Christianity is debatable. Straight off, the last time I checked, the Old Testament is part of the Christian Bible and hence part of mainstream Christian thought. The Old Testament is filled with exhortations straight from God himself, (not to mention a plentitude of various Prophets) for vicarious and unrestrained violence. Really, some passages are pretty sick – indeed, they amount to incitement to genocide. Even the New Testament, as some commenters have pointed out, is not benign.

I’m not contesting the fact that there are similar violent passages to Islam.

What I AM saying though, is that the adherents of a faith choose whether that faith is peaceful or not. Quite frankly, the current “violence” that is being exhibited by Muslims is more a reflection of their political realities and their anger at being continually used as pawns in a greater game. The Islamisation of the violence is simply a reflection of that anger being transferred into religion by people who happen to be Muslim.

If texts alone were responsible for violence then Christians would be on a rampage, right? Yet most Christians I personally know are quite peaceful and mostly normal people.


--bruno--
 
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Initially, it appears that Charles is searching for a particular result as he skims the Islamic texts. But I think he's just trying to get a starting point.

It is also clear that he is asking for some direction and is open. So instead of shutting him down or dismissing him, point him in the right direction. And I ask this out of selfishness as I'd like to learn from such an exchange myself.

There are Christians who think the Bible says that the white anglo saxon man is superior. Some believe the bible says homosexuals are evil. Some Christians cast my own religion (I'm a not-so-good catholic) as being an apostate chuch. Some think the bible says the current conflict in the mid-east is leading up to the judgement day and the second coming. As most here seem to agree, interpretation has more to do with personal agenda than a personal relationship with God.

In this way, Abu's more recent posts are truly resonating with me. And it has been enlightening to read Abu describe his observations in Islamic Iraq. They truly reflect my own observations in Christian America.

I think Buddhism would have a lot of relevency in this discussion. Unfortunetly I don't know much about it beyond this Bhudist core belief structure:

Life = Suffering
Suffering = Desire
Desire = Attachment
Detachment = Enlightenment
Enlightenment = Happiness
Happiness = Ultimate Good

I'm probably butchering it so any Buddhist experts out there, please drop some knowledge.
 
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Charles,

If you visit MuslimWakeup.com you will run across a number of devout Muslims whose views are not represented by the texts you've quoted.
I recommend checking it out.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin
 
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Look - people - don't try to convince me that all muslims are not evil - etc. I do NOT believe that they are. Like most folks raised under any ideology (the vast majority of whom never consciously chose it and were born into it) are just regular people. More or less. Most people who claim affiliation with this or that ideology don't know much about it anyway.

I am just wondering if there is something embedded in Islam that makes it different.

Bruno is right that to a great extent the political or economic context influences how people will act or become radicalized. But the difference seems to become more apparent when we look at what they do when they are radicalized or hyper motivated.

Is one culture or religion more prone to become violent? Do the religious principles that are embedded in the culture in fact increase the likelihood of violence?

Ask the most crazed Christian fundamentalist for the top three reasons why he would murder his sister. He would probably have to be very imaginative to come up with anything at all.

Ask a devout muslim and he will probably rattle off several good reasons.
 
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Charles --

[charles] “Ask the most crazed Christian fundamentalist for the top three reasons why he would murder his sister. He would probably have to be very imaginative to come up with anything at all.

Ask a devout muslim and he will probably rattle off several good reasons.”

Tell me now:

Are these following verses part of your Bible?

Are they any less violent than the Koran?

Or am I severely misguided?

*********

"Samar'ia shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open."
Hosea 13:16

"Now go and smote Am'alek and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."
1 Sameul 15:3

"Then they (the Israelites) utterly destroyed all in the city, both men and women, young and old, sheep and asses, with the edge of the sword."
Joshua 6:21

"...Men'ahem sacked Tappuah and all who were in it and its territory from Tirzah on; because they did not open it to him, therefore he sacked it, and ripped up all the women in it who were with child."
2 Kings 15:16

"Behold the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger...Whoever is found will be thrust through and whoever is caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed in pieces before their eyes, their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished."
Isaiah 13:9, 13:15

"'Pass through the city after him, and smite; your eye shall not spare and you shall show no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women...'"
Ezekiel 9:5

"How shall we do for wives for them that remain?..... And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the woman and the children. And this is the thing that ye shall do. Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man. And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying by any male; and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead."
Judges 21:7,12

And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, 'If thou wilt give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord's and I will offer him up for a burnt offering.'
[...]
"Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And when he saw her, he rent his clothes, and said, 'Alas, my daughter! you have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me; for I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.' And she said to him, 'My father, if you have opened your mouth to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone forth from your mouth, now that the Lord has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites.' And she said to her father, 'Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions.' And he said 'Go.' And he sent her away for two months; and she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had made. She had never known a man. And it became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel went year by year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year."
Judges 11:29-40 (Revised Standard Version)

[courtesy of Brooks]

*********

Now, whatever else I may think of you, Charles, I doubt that you have ripped open any pregnant women, dashed any infants or burnt your daughter as an offering to God for success in battle lately.

Why is that?

Yet I seem to recall, at a time when Christianity was at it’s strongest in Europe, that women (and men, and children) were routinely subjected to unspeakable horrors in the name of Christianity. Horrors that make Zarqawi seem like a good-natured buffoon by contrast.

Yet - those times are universally rejected by Christians today as unrepresentative of the message of the Bible.

Why is that?
 
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Hi Bruno,

I agree that the old testament is full of nasty - 'slaughter thy neighbor' stuff.

In comparing Christianity to Islam, I was referring to the new testament (about the life and teachings of Christ). Perhaps we could consider Christianity a reaction to the older texts. It was a seachange in fact. Islam came about 700 years after Christ and as it was implemented in many cases, seemed to be more of an elaboration of many of the bad parts of the old testament.

I have also agreed whole heartedly that so called Christians have done some pretty awful stuff in the name of Christ. My goodness, the Popes of old were very avid 'oppressors.'

My point is simple that the vast majority of the teachings of Christ as represented in the new testament will not provide any fodder from which so called Christian oppressors/baddies can feed and use as a reference for their terrible acts.

These terrible acts contradict the core teachings of Christ.

The whole concept of 'turn the other cheek' seems intellectually radical. When Jesus said 'render unto Ceasar', it seemed he was denouncing any sort of active 'material' revolution in this world. Even to this day this intellectual thread of disengagement is hardly considered practical and is probably adhered to by a tiny number of people - if at all.

But the kernel of pacifism, non-violence, anti-revolution, etc., do exist at the core of Christianity and in the words and deeds of Christ.

I do recall an episode where he lost his cool inside some temple where people were trading and involved in other 'not so holy activities.' I think he yelled and flipped over some tables, etc. No one is perfect I guess.

But that is a far cry from the reported violent acts of the Prophet.
 
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Charles-

are you from New England or England? What American says "baddies"?

Or is this a term that has migrated across the pond?
 
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Charles --

“In comparing Christianity to Islam, I was referring to the new testament (about the life and teachings of Christ). Perhaps we could consider Christianity a reaction to the older texts. It was a seachange in fact. Islam came about 700 years after Christ and as it was implemented in many cases, seemed to be more of an elaboration of many of the bad parts of the old testament.”

Hmm. The discussion begins to get interesting now.

Tell me, do you then reject the Old Testament as part of the Christian Bible? Has it then nothing to do with the New Testament? I was under the impression that they were two halves of a whole ...

I agree with you that the New Testament is a virtual 180’ turn from the Old Testament. This is one of the reasons that I rejected Christianity at a very early age. I could not reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New. The God of the Old Testament is more akin to Satan in his morality than to something holy.

This vast contradiction in attitude led me, among other things, to these conclusions: God changed his mind, hence He is neither all knowing, nor perfect. Hence he is not divine. Hence the Bible was written by men. Hence, I will take whatever wisdom I can from it, while keeping in mind that those who wrote it, wrote it a LONG time ago, without the benefit of our modern knowledge and empirical techniques.

But, OK, I’m really not here to engage in a Christianity-is right-no-its-not debate.

My point is: the Old Testament is still part of the Bible.

On to more interesting and relevant things:

The most intriguing aspect is that Jesus is indeed a very important figure in the Muslim faith as well. Now, (heh, heh, rubbing my hands in glee at stirring some trouble) do Christians discount what Jesus says in the Koran as mere fabrications? Conversely, do Muslims discount what Jesus says in the Bible as mere fabrications? How do the two accounts mesh? If the one account says something that the other account flatly rejects as false, what do we do then?

Should we, for the sake of argument, (assuming that we agree that the Jesus is the same one and that both Books have equal weight) insist that Christians must read he Koranic verses applicable to Him, and that Muslims read the relevant Biblical verses as well?

I’d really like interested parties’ opinions on this.
 
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Absolutely, Bruno, I think we should read each others holy texts about Jesus. For Mohammad and Jesus were 1) related, 2) believed in learning, and,3) Mohammad himself believed in Jesus.

We of the faiths are creative thinkers in that we can make that "leap" -Jesus said: blessed is he who does not see but still believes.

I say that learning holy texts adds to our "quickening" or hyper-spirituality that is so amazing since the learning is a big cycle and the goodness of the texts embeds itself in you and you see nothing but the good in life, the positive.

With that I see only the positive outcome from learning from a brotherly religion to mine. As a matter of fact, I admire Osama Bin Laden's strident faith. I would hope he would at least think I was attempting mine in a good way.
 
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I got carried away with my own passion for the faith that I forgot to say that I believe also that God revealed Himself to different people at different times and in different ways.

Therefore, there must be a reason why God revealed what appears to be differing stories about Jesus to different people. For He is all-knowing. He can see beyond man's realm and knows what man needs. That is the beauty and that is the total generosity of the Almighty.

And I will stir things up by saying that I believe we could even combine the two religions and I hope that another prophet comes to do so-but that just may happen with the second coming!! And the people said:
Amen and Hallelujah!
 
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Bruno,

"Tell me, do you then reject the Old Testament as part of the Christian Bible? Has it then nothing to do with the New Testament? I was under the impression that they were two halves of a whole ..."

I don't accept or reject. I'm not very religious. I suppose they are all linked by typical cultural inertia.

Whatever kernels of truth that the prophets brought forth have been since filtered and distorted by ethnic, political, economic, and just about every other human force that could be brought to bear to mess things up. some of these forces were intentional, some unintentional.

Why are Christians into symbolic cannibalism? I don't know. Why do Muslims detest pork chops? You got me (although I have heard the explanation that since pigs in fact compete with humans for food, it might not have been practical to promote their domestication - not to mention various diseases, etc.).
 
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[ohio]Absolutely, Bruno, I think we should read each others holy texts about Jesus. I say that learning holy texts adds to our "quickening" or hyper-spirituality that is so amazing since the learning is a big cycle and the goodness of the texts embeds itself in you and you see nothing but the good in life, the positive."

I personally postulate that reading other texts would be adding to your spiritual growth *because you are a good person*. Whether the process can convert a 'bad' person to a 'good' person is debatable, IMHO.
 
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For anyone interested, if you have trouble reconciling the Bible with the Q'uran; or with how God could be such a seemingly merciless God or why bad things sometimes happen to good people, here are some words of encouragemnt:

Isaiah 55:8-9
(New Living Trans.)

"My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine." For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Thus we cannot know all answers to seeming discrepencies.

and I ask myself why Jesus and Mohammad had to die the way they did as well as so many great human beings and I read:

Isaiah 57:1-2

The righteous pass away; the godly often die before their time. And no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For the godly who die will rest in peace.

and lastly:

Isaiah 57: 16-18

For I will not fight against you forever; I will not always show my anger. If I did, all people would pass away--all the souls I have made. I was angry and punished these greedy people. I withdrew myself from them, but they went right on sinning. I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them and comfort those who mourn.

May the peace of the Prophets be with you.
 
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Amen, Abu Kahleel. It is not the religion, it is the "religious", as you say.
It is not Christianity that fosters the promiscuity and immorality that Iraq sees in America. That is the ways of the unbelievers. But unbelievers will usually identify with a religion, and think they are Christians or whatever their relatives are, even if they never go to church or pray, or read the Bible.
I don't think "Bruno" or "Anonymous" can speak for Christianity, as they are obviously not Christians. The Bible is not full of contradictions!! And the only incitements to hate are to hate evil. Islam and Christianity have the same roots. Our Old Testament, which is the larger part of our Bible, is the same as Muslims believe, beginning with Abraham. Where we split is with Jesus and Mohammed.
"You" think of Christians as promiscuous..."We" think of Muslims as possible terrorists.
I think of the ones who committed suicide attacks as extremely devout believers of Islam, who truly believed they were serving God and would be greatly rewarded by God. I try to imagine Jesus facing them at their deaths and telling them they have been decieved, and they are wrong in their beliefs. It seems terribly sad, and I wonder if Jesus will cast them into the lake of Fire, or somehow forgive them because they didn't know....?
 
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Ohio, Anonymous –

[ohio] “"My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine." For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Thus we cannot know all answers to seeming discrepencies.”

[anonymous] “I don't think "Bruno" or [other] "Anonymous" can speak for Christianity, as they are obviously not Christians. The Bible is not full of contradictions!!”

That’s exactly why I’m not going to pursue the matter any further. Simply, I have learnt that (a) no matter what logical contradiction or internal contradiction I can point out from the Bible or from what the consequences of Biblical statements imply – God always knows better and always knows more and (b) belief and logic are entities that while not always directly contradictory, are also not directly linked.

Secondly, while I am not a Christian, I was taught Bible Education throughout my Primary and High School education as a compulsory subject. I have read the Bible from cover to cover (not recently though ;) ) more than once and I know what I’m talking about. Yes, there are contradictions, and discrepancies! There are also stretches of belief required that I cannot make.

Nevertheless, I’m not going to get drawn into a theological debate about the Bible.

It’s pointless.

People will just get angry, and to what scope? Trying to convince you that you are incorrect will be both fruitless and probably earn me your collective enmities. Obviously Christianity is a positive force in your lives; why should I try to shake that belief ?

Unlike some faiths, atheists are not necessarily evangelical, LOL!
 
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OK, Bruno....I hear you. However, try reading the Bible again, with a full understanding that things changed after Jesus died for the sins of the world, and all the rules and laws in the Old Testament were no longer necessary, and the new way to be found blameless in the eyes of God is just to accept Jesus as your 'Savior' - meaning He is the only thing needed to cleanse you from all unrighteousness - He did it by becoming the once and for all sacrifice presented by God for all the sins of the world, for suicide bombers, terrorists, everyone - 'The Lamb of God'...People sacrificed lambs; God sacrificed his son, Jesus. You don't become perfect, you become forgiven...and worthy to enter Paradise if you accept Salvation through Jesus Christ.
That is the only way to Heaven. It's easy. We serve a risen Savior. Mohammed's bones are in his tomb. Jesus left his tomb, he lives.
 
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Mmmm ... that juicy worm on the hook looks so appetising!

Must ... not ... bite!

There!

That wasn't so difficult, was it?

;)
 
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(:0 ... :)
 
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This is tragic for you...someday we will all stand before Jesus - when you do, you won't be able to say you didn't know, and that nobody told you. God didn't skip over you.
 
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But Bruno can ask God's forgiveness at the last second before he dies and God can choose to forgive him. And judging by Bruno's humanity I think God has a place for him in His heart and in His Kingdom.
 
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From The Dialogue of the Savior:

7 "His discipl[es said, "Lord,] who is the one who seeks and[...]reveals?"

"[The Lord]sai[d to them,] "The one who seeks [is also the one who]reveals[...]."

Matt[hew said to him, "Lord, wh]en I [hear...] and [when] I speak, who is the one who [speaks, and who] the one who hears?"

The [Lord] said, "The one who speaks is also the one who h[ears], and the one who sees is also [the one who] reveals."

13 [Ma]ry asked her brothers, "Where will you set down [the things] about which you ask the son of [Adam]?"

The Lord [said] to her, "Sister, [no one] will be able to inquire about these things ex[cept one] who has a place to set them down in the heart."

14 [Matt]hew said, "Lord, I wish [to see] that place of life. [...] where there is no wickedness [but only] pure [li]ght."

4The Lord said, "Those who have known themselves have seen [it in] everything that is given them to do [for them]selves, and they have come to be [...]it in their goodn[ess]."
 
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