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Do God and Allah have violent characters?
|Created by Gerard de Vos|
Islam is a violent religion. It has been so since Muhammad moved to Medina and spread his message by the sword. Likewise the God of the Bible is accused of being violent. In the Old Testament He ordered that whole cities be destroyed and all the inhabitants killed (1).
Before we take these two reputations to heart, let us do some investigation.
The God of the Bible
God promised the country of Canaan (Israel and neighboring countries of today) to Abraham, but told him that his people would have to wait 400 years to take possession of it, so that the Canaanites could have the opportunity to mend their evil ways (2). They could have changed their conduct, because they knew God's requirements, as Abraham lived in Canaan, and they knew him (3). Likewise the Amorites were allied to Abraham (4) and they would surely have discussed Abraham's God. Furthermore, they knew that Sodom and Gomorrah had been destroyed because of unrighteous living (5). Despite that, they did not repent of their wicked ways, and God lead the Israelites to conquer their land. Take note:
- It was strictly a promise to Abraham's offspring and not to any other nation.
- When the Israelites refused to follow God's ways and sinned in the same way, they also lost their country (6).
- Not all the Canaanites were killed. Many remained alive to serve Israel as workers (7) and later harassed the Israelites.
- God called Abram and out of his descendants He created the nation of Israel (8), and made a special covenant with them, and not with any other nation. The law of stoning the Sabbath breaker (9) or anyone who cursed God (10), was never applied to other nations.
Today people vilify and curse God, and live as they like. They challenge God openly and nothing happens to them. If God is so violent, why doesn't He have them stoned and killed? It is not God's character, as demonstrated by Jesus when He did not resist His crucifixion. God doesn't use violence to force people to follow Him. He leaves it up to a person to freely decide what he wants to do with his life. The only snag is that each decision comes with inevitable results. The Old Testament's historical accounts give us graphic pictures of what will happen to those who love or hate God (11).
Allah of the Qur'an
He is different. His followers demonstrate his character. They want to annihilate Israel, they hate America, rejoiced when the Twin Towers fell, and declare a holy war against anyone who dares to say anything against Allah or Muhammad. Why? Because Islam became a violent religion when Muhammad moved to Medina. He began raiding caravans, and later used force to get people to convert to Islam. When he entered Mecca, he commanded the Ansar fighters to slaughter the inhabitants (12). His division had a special flag, which was black with a single word in Arabic, 'Punishment' (13). Most of Arabia submitted, and Muhammad wrote letters to various countries requiring them to submit. This is what he wrote to the emperor of Rome: 'From Muhammad, the apostle of Allah, To Herocles, the great one of Rome, Convert to Islam and you will be saved [from the sword]. And if you reject my challenge, you are responsible for what will happen to you and your people' (14). Part of Muhammad's last recorded Sermon on Mount Arafat: 'After today there will no longer be two religions existing in Arabia. I descended by Allah with the sword in my hand, and my wealth will come from the shadow of my sword. And the one who will disagree with me will be humiliated and persecuted' (15).
The God of the Bible doesn't ask His followers to spread the message through violence, as it is useless. God desires a relationship with His people and freedom for a person to love and cherish Him. This is demonstrated by the freedom to love your partner in the marriage relationship. The greatest command is not to submit, but to love: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind' (16).
The difference between the two is: the sword versus love.
- Deuteronomy 7:1-2. 'When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations - the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger that you - and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy.'
- Genesis 15:13,16. "Then the Lord said to him, 'Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.... In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.'
- Genesis 26:5. 'because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws.'
- Genesis 14:13. 'One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram.'
- Genesis 18-19.
- 2 Kings 17:5-7. 'The king of Assyria invaded the entire land ...captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria.... All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God.'
- Josua 9:23. 'You are now under a curse: You will never cease to serve as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.' Judges 1:28 - 'When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely.' verse 30 - 'Neither did Zebulun drive out the Canaanites living in Kitron or Nahalol, who remained among them; but they did subject them to forced labor.' verse 33 - 'Neither did Naphtali drive out those living in Beth Shemesh or Beth Anath; but the Naphtalites too lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land and those living in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath became forced laborers for them.' verse 35 - 'And the Amorites were determined also to hold out in Mount Heres, Aijalon and Shaalbim, but when the power of the house of Joseph increased, they too were pressed into forced labor.'
- 1 Kings 18:31. 'Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying "Your name shall be Israel."'
- Numbers 15:32-36.
- Leviticus 24:10-16.
- Romans 15:4. 'For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.'
- Ibn Kathir, The Beginning and the End, vol 2, pt.4, p 302, cited by M A Gabriel, Jesus and Muhammad, Charisma House, 2004, p 60.
- Ibid, vol 2, pt. 3, p 288.
- Ibn Hisham, vol 3, pt 6, p 13, 14, author's (Gabriel's) translation, cited by M A Gabriel, Jesus and Muhammad, Charisma House, 2004, p 62, 63. See also The Correct Books of Muslim, bk 019, no 4380, which differs slightly from the narration in Ibn Hisham.
- Ibn Hisham, pt. 6, vol 3, p 8 [translation by Gabriel], cited by M A Gabriel, Jesus and Muhammad, Charisma House, 2004, p 64,65.
- Matthew 22:37.