UI – Part 379 – Islamists versus Christians
This comparison attempts to dispel arguments which defend actions by Islamists as no different when compared to that by Christians. The Crusades in a prime example.
The term “Islamist” is used instead of “Muslim” providing the distinction between devout followers of Islam and those considered less so, or ‘moderate.’ The devout Islamist is dedicated, probably literally, to their Holy Scripture, the Quran, and their example, the self-proclaimed prophet, Muhammad. From thousands of pages of sayings and decisions made by Muhammad recorded in Hadiths, which appeared about 200 years after his death, selected passages are taken, a choice of Imam’s and scholars, and used in interpreting what is ‘True Islam’. True Islam is that which is adhered to by the devout. The teachers of Islam avoid truths they prefer not be shared, as they would cause even the devout to question this ideology they reference as religion. (One example: Muhammad was poisoned, murdered by those that took the mantle of his cause, Abu Bakr, father of Aisha (Muhammad’s prepubescent wife), and Umar, the first and second, respectively, Caliphs after Muhammad.)
A prior blog entitled Islam is Violent (Read) makes it clear that moderate Muslims are either ignorant or apathetic towards ‘True Islam.’
Islam and Christianity are the focus as they are the two major groups with followers (devout and cultural) in the 1.6 billion and 2.2 billion range respectively. I am reluctant to refer to Islam as a religion as it contains an excess of hatred versus an abundance of love. To me a religion must cater towards peace and kindness, a love of fellowman or neighbor, with God as an inspiration and focal point. God is the guide whose love for mankind is exemplified as a parent’s love for their children and the sacrifice they would be willing to make for their family. Religion is to be an individual matter, not a legal system for everyone to obey or to be used to govern a Nation. Government is to be more secular, the common good of everyone considered, with the ethical and moral values, the love of God and neighbor, as a bulwark to the laws established.
Arising as a phoenix from the sands of the Arabian Peninsula’s desert in the 7th Century Islam in less than 20 years bloomed. Led by a zealot and warlord with a commanding presence and compelling argument, a sword at his side constantly, Allah became the one god he insisted all were to follow. His zeal for a monotheistic force for good or evil, the difference at inception not fully defined or understood, Muhammad assembled an army to serve him and his ideals. His army was more often a scattered number of willing fighters on the ready to serve for the rewards of the exploits in which they engaged. They were rewarded with the spoils of raids carried out against unsuspecting citizens. They were called to be thankful to Allah for their successes and the wealth or women or slaves they obtained. They were compelled to live off the wealth of the largest religious groups at that time, the Jews and the Christians.
The earthy judge for Allah was Muhammad. He created an ideology masked as a religion. All people at that time felt the presence of god. In some fashion they worshipped; the Kaaba in Mecca reflecting over 360 gods, with idols to match, worshipped when visited by the respective constituency for each god. Muhammad then made the choice for them; ‘there is but one god, stop the nonsense, it is Allah.’
The pressure the followers felt was to do as told, to honor and worship Allah as Muhammad instructed, and by doing, yes doing, they would be rewarded. It became a selfish, ‘me,’ matter. They did not need to love Allah, that would be a benefit though, they just needed to do according to the Will of Allah and Muhammad. Earning their status with Allah became the objective. It was not by faith they would be saved, but by what they were told to do if they did it. Practice and remember, commit to a daily routine and never forget, and then Allah will reward you with paradise and not hell, but you’ll never be totally certain. Certainty will be enhanced if you die in battle with a non-believer or kill a non-believer to advance or defend Muhammad’s ideology and his god, Allah.
Muhammad informed those that gathered at the hem of his tunic, “Allah has power over all things.” As his army and strength grew he demanded a continuous holy war, jihad, until all the world was Allah’s. In so doing he insured the leadership of territories conquered would be governed by Muhammad’s Laws, Islam’s Laws, now referred to as Sharia. The ideology, their constitution, the laws and the way of life would be but one form, that formed by Muhammad and his god, Allah. It is difficult to be humorous when it comes to Islam. As the Iranian Khomeini once said, “There is no humor in Islam.” That is sad but true. But for Muhammad and his clan, Allah was like a ghost, a mysterious ‘Harvey the Rabbit’ that Muhammad experienced when in a stupor in a cave in the desert. He made a god out of his Rabbit. The hat trick worked and Muhammad became a militant, violent, dictator. He also became the example Muslims today are to follow if they are devout. True Islam is Violent.
May I note again that Muhammad died at the hands of close associates. He was poisoned, his wife Aisha and her father, Abu Bakr, complicit. Those that took upon themselves the role of Caliph, or Kings, as successor to Muhammad were able to construct their own system for controlling those they conquered. Abu Bakr was the first. It was at the time of the third Caliph, Uthman, that the Quran, the guide and the laws of Islam were put forth and available to those referred to as followers. Some were voluntary followers, many others were not.
Muhammad reminded his army, “I have been victorious with terror.” (Hadith – Sahih al Bukhari 5.52.220). He implied his warriors would be also. The Holy War commanded by Muhammad, called Jihad, was the final chapter in the Quran, Sura 9. The title – The Immunity. Released from any oaths or obligations to infidels Muhammad’s people were free to pursue with the same zeal as Muhammad a world they would control. He labelled them as superior over all others who claim a god or no god other than Allah. If they did not accept that his warriors just needed to show them the sword. This was the final phase of his life, a conquest of Mecca, where upon he felt most superior and exclaimed Islam as the law of the land. Further territory not already controlled by the forces of Muhammad would be subject to invasion and offensive actions.
It was the initial Caliphs after Muhammad’s demise that organized the fighters for the Prophet into an army, full time and paid. No longer did they need to wait for a call to act, and get paid. They were fully employed to follow the new leaders seeking conquest of lands beyond their home base.
Sura 9.5, “The Verse of the Sword”, was the last word. Muhammad and Allah spoke, cancelling much of what was said prior, leaving only a strident, violent path to pursue. The Islam Crusades began and continue. They have never stopped. It is a direct call and requirement of devout Muslims from their Scripture, their example and the laws established by the subsequent Caliphs.
Christianity has the example of Jesus Christ. They also have an Old and a New Testament. Jesus was a man living among men who never used a sword, never was tempted, never expressed hatred towards others, and lived a life of love and sacrifice for his neighbor and fellow man. He would criticize those who as leaders of a religious sect would make laws, manmade laws, that were not intended by God, such as no work on the Sabbath, sacrifice of perfect animals (sold by the leaders) to atone and repent for sins, exclusions of certain foods from one’s diet (like pork) and considering unclean those who were not members of the chosen group, the in-firmed and impure. Jesus was different in that he never sinned, leading a perfect life. (This fact is acknowledged in the Quran). Every day he sacrificed to be our example.
With the Old Testament Christians have a historical document that contains the story of creation, how humans reflect the image of God, pictures of men who loved and obeyed God above all else, and forecasts by major and lesser prophets pointing to only Christ. God’s love is demonstrated as well as his wrath. What God is capable of is made known and presented under kind as well as violent circumstances. Where there are those disobedient God used man to carry out his vengeance, even though they may not have been aware that God was in charge. The sinful nature of man resulting from Adam’s free will and bad decision is made clear. But it is God alone who acts. God also wanted his children to be restored to him spiritually. That became a quest. God made an effort to have a chosen people become the standard for his children, yet they also stumbled constantly. From Abraham the seed of great nations were sown. From Isaac we are transitioned to Jesus. From Ishmael we uncover the Arab world. One has the covenant of God, the child of Abraham and Sarah, the other is blessed by God, the child of Abraham and Sara’s maid servant.
The New Testament opens the doors to salvation and love for mankind, all inclusive. God so wanted everyone to be righteous but knew on our own that was impossible. Without God, no one is righteous. So he gave us a gift, something no-one, neither rich nor poor could possibly obtain. It could not be bought or earned. It was free. God pined for mankind and then delivered the ultimate sacrifice. We needed to be punished for our sins, small or large. It was a constant. As Adam was man who sinned, there was necessary a man who could be perfect and made right. So God gave us his son; God-incarnate, which he could do, so we could know God.
“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” – 1 Corinthians 15:22.
A relationship with God was made possible. And as a man Jesus lived for all mankind, the example to us all of perfection in serving God. He performed miracles, brought people back temporarily from the dead, and spoke from the heart of God, how man should act, even pray, and made known he would die and rise from the dead (resurrection). But until that occurred man did not know, or doubted, it was God, or it was the sins of man for which Jesus was crucified. He atoned for the sins of others, as Jesus was perfect, which even Muhammad was aware. The love of a parent for his child as we all are aware is as strong as any bond. To sacrifice a child for others, not for God, but for you and me, for our transgressions, is virtually incomprehensible. But that is what happened. And, for those that understand, accept this reality, and believe in their hearts and with their voices, they will receive the Spirit of the Lord. They will take on a new life. The Holy Spirit indwells in believers as a reminder and as an assurance of salvation.
There are no verses in the New Testament calling for violence, offensive or defensive militant actions, to be taken against non-believers. Jesus never carried a sword. He sought peace. No one wants violence. Why would they, unless there was hate in their hearts. For the Christian we are saved to do good, purposed by God, and do so voluntarily with a thankful heart for God’s Grace. Yes we still sin, but try not. It may be we are now filled with guilt for our errors. Prior it was only the shame we brought to self, family, peer or others, that only came when caught but now we live in the shame of God speaking to us directly, reminding us daily, as the Spirit within.
With the contrast in mind it becomes a choice. For the cultural Muslim or Christian which description bests fits who you are, forgetting your cultural or familial connection to a religion. Which would you prefer? If a path were to be chosen, it is simply one of violence versus peace. Is the character within you compelled to fight or love, to be kind and loving of neighbor or to hate those that either do not agree with you or with who you disagree?
How do you perceive salvation? Is it to be earned. If so your focus becomes one of what you do, a selfish view, of actions needed each and every day to obtain credits that can amount to a ticket to salvation that may or may not be enough when Judgment Day actually comes and Allah looks at what you have done, your book of deeds. When the idea is one of ‘works’, doing good in excess of evil to be granted an eternal stay, then the individual substitutes actions, almost as objects, obstacles, instead of god. However it must be God first.
When it is faith alone that justifies your eternal future, made possible by Christ’s saving grace, then it is easy to make God the center. If your soul needs eternal life, think about how that is obtained, and then consider the gift. The cross stands out as a symbol of the Grace of God for mankind enabling us to worship God the father in spirit and truth anywhere. We too, as believers, become a temple.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. It is the story of the Bad News and the Good News. The Bad News is we all sin; we are all sinners. The Good News is that God provided the ultimate sacrifice to restore us to him, renewing our spirituality, born again in God’s light. We accept the Bad News, for which Jesus atoned, forgiving us our sins, and repent and accept the Good News, reborn, having a new heart and love for God. We are repurposed to serve God voluntarily and in daily thanks. The only violent act to bring a follower to Christ was the horrific scourging and crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. No army was needed to eliminate non-believers by fighting or at war. God’s battle is with the individual’s heart.
God loves everyone; it is when you love God, the grace of God and are truly thankful, that you change. The reason is not the sword and the possibility you may die if you do not become a Muslim, but the Word of God and his promise that you will live eternally by simply accepting the free gift and become a Christ follower.
“For by Grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
Who would you rather walk with?
Grace and Peace