From Raymond S. Kraft and familysecuritymatters.org.
“Islam has a problem. That is, what we like to think of as peaceful, moderate, liberal Islam has a problem; one that won’t go away. And that problem is Mohammed, the character of Mohammed, and the words of Mohammed, which are believed by Muslims to be the words of Allah, given by God to Gabriel, spoken by Gabriel to Mohammed, then recited by Mohammed, written down by various of his listeners, and over time, after the death of Mohammed, collected and compiled into what we now know as the Koran, the recitation by Mohammed of the words of Allah, the words of God.
The Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) and the Christian Bible, the New Testament, except for a few passages that specifically quote God, such as the Ten Commandments, or the sayings of Jesus, is believed by Jews and Christians to be inspired by God, but not the literal words of God. The Koran, however, is believed by devout Muslims to be the literal, inerrant, eternal, perfect, unchangeable words of Allah himself.
There are many Muslims who do see, and practice, Islam as a religion of peace, grace and mercy. And there are clearly many others who do not. Those who want Islam to be a religion of peace have a problem, a conflict, for they cannot follow the inerrant, eternal, unchangeable words of Allah, as recited by Mohammed, as written in the Koran, and also practice Islam as a religion of peace, justice, grace, and mercy, for the Koran demands eternal Jihad, never-ending war against the infidels, until Islam is victorious over all other religions, and all people submit to the supremacy of Islam.
To illustrate this, I will quote from the words of Jesus, and from the words of Mohammed. And it does not matter whether you are a Zoroastrian, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, a Jew, Christian, Muslim, or Atheist, the difference between the words of Jesus and the words of Mohammed is stark.
Nearing the end of his ministry, not long before his crucifixion, Jesus spoke of the judgment of the nations, The Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46, saying:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right, and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
“And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me
no clothing, ill and in prison and you did not care for me.
“Then they will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’
“He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
This is a very interesting quotation of Jesus’ words, as much for what he does not say, as for what he does.
Jesus does not say, “You followed the laws of Moses, you kept Shabat, you observed the festivals and holy days, and studied the prophets and the books of wisdom and the Talmud, and paid tithe, enter into the kingdom . . .” Jesus does not say, “You believed in the Apostles Creed, or the Nicene Creed, you studied the Catechism, you went to mass faithfully and confession frequently, and performed all the acts of contrition required of you, enter into the kingdom . . .” Jesus does not say, “You protested against the corrupted Papacy, and accepted Luther’s teaching of salvation by faith, and faith alone, you prayed every day for the forgiveness of your sins, and went to church every Sunday, enter into the kingdom . . .”
Jesus does not say, “You believed in the one true religion, the one true doctrine, the right creed, the right theology, you understood the mysteries of Daniel and the Revelation to John, you studied the great writings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, and the lives of the many saints, enter into the kingdom . . .” Jesus does not say, “You believed in the teachings of Joseph Smith, or Ellen G. White, or Mary Baker Eddy, or Billy Graham, enter into the kingdom . . .”
Jesus does not even say, “You believed in me, you accepted me, Jesus, as your personal Lord and Savior, enter into the kingdom . . .”
Jesus does not teach salvation by religion. Jesus does not teach salvation by the observance of religious law, salvation by faith, salvation by belief, salvation by confession or penance or contrition, salvation by communion, or salvation by theology. Jesus does not teach salvation by right thinking. No, Jesus says, “You were kind. You lived and acted with a spirit of charity. You helped others who needed help, when you could, as you could. You observed the Second Commandment, which is, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, and by following the Second Commandment, you also fulfilled the First Commandment, You shall love the Lord with all your heart (Matthew 22:37). For what you have done to the least of these brothers of mine, you have done to me. By loving them, you have loved me.”
This may have been in the mind of the Englishman of letters, commentary, and poems, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, who was an atheist as a young man, and later converted, became a Catholic and a prolific Christian apologist, when he wrote Gold Leaves, I quote in part:
“. . . In youth I sought the prince of men
Captain in cosmic wars
Our Titan, even the weeds would show
Defiant to the stars,
But now a great thing in the street
Seems any human nod
Where shift in strange democracy
The million masks of God . . .”
Then we turn to the words of Mohammed, near the end of his life, in Sura 9 of the Koran, Chapter 9, because Sura 9 is generally thought to be the last recitation of Mohammed, the last revelation of Allah to Mohammed recited and collected into the Koran. And, under the doctrine of Abrogation, in which later revelations from Allah, through Mohammed, superseded, or replaced, supplanted, earlier revelations that were inconsistent with the latter, Sura 9 supersedes earlier recitations that called for greater tolerance. Here, in what are often called the Sword Verses, Mohammed says:
“And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God, wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, beseige them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush; but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go
their way, for God is Gracious, Merciful.”
“So make war on them: By your hands God will chastise them, and will put them to shame, and will give you victory over them, and will heal the bosoms of a people who believe.”
“O Believers! – make not friends of your fathers or your brethren if they love unbelief above faith, and whoso of you shall make them his friends, will be wrong doers.”
“Make war upon such of those to whom the Scriptures have been given as believe not in God, or in the last day, and who forbid not that which God and His Apostle have forbidden, and who profess not the profession of the Truth, until they pay tribute out of hand, and they be humbled.”
“The Jews say, Ezra is a son of God; and the Christians say, The Messiah is a son of God. Such the sayings in their mouths! They resemble the sayings of the Infidels of old! God do battle with them! How are they misguided!”
The next quotation is, I believe, the key to understanding Jihadism, or traditional Islam, which believes that it has a mission, a manifest destiny, a divine right and duty, to wage war against the infidels until the world submits to the rule of Islam, for Allah through Mohammed prophecies:
“He it is who hath sent His Apostle with the Guidance and a religion of the Truth, that He may make it victorious over every other religion, albeit they who assign partners to God be averse from it.”
“Believers! – wage war against such of the infidels as are your neighbors, and let them find you rigorous; and know that God is with those who fear him.”
And there we see the distinction between the words of Jesus – treat even the least of these, my brothers, with kindness and charity – and the words of Mohammed – wage war against the infidels who do not believe in Islam, until Islam is victorious over every other religion. Jesus, love your neighbor. Mohammed, make never-ending war on your neighbor. From Mohammed, salvation by religious belief and jihad. From Jesus, salvation by love, kindness, and charity.
Recently, I wrote three Muslims, each with an advanced degree, each living in America, and each of whom had published articles extolling the virtues of liberal Islam. I asked them how Islam could either ignore, or reinterpret, or explain away the Sword Verses of Sura 9. One replied, again explaining the many virtues of Islam, but did not answer my question. The other two did not reply. I think they didn’t because those Muslims who want to be peaceful, moderate, liberal, and live in a diverse and multicultural world have not yet really grappled with this problem: the Sword Verses that require perpetual Jihad, until Islam is victorious over every other religion, in the eternal words of Allah as recited by Mohammed.
To the Muslim, Mohammed was the perfect man, just as to Christians, Jesus was the perfect man.
In The Psychology of Mohammed: Inside the Brain of a Prophet (2006) Dr. Masud Ansari writes of an event that may serve to illustrate the character of Mohammed.
“A group of eight Bedouin Arabs of the Uki tribe came to Medina and embraced Islam. They stayed with the people of As-Suffa. But the unpleasant climate of the city did not suit them; it ‘affected their spleen,’ so they went to Mohammed to seek help. Mohammed recommended that they go into the desert in the neighborhood of al-Jammu and drink the milk and urine of his (Mohammed’s) milch-camels as medicine. The Bedouins recovered their health despite following this repulsive advice. Then, true to their Bedouin nature, they stole the herd and attempted to escape. The herdsman, called Yasir, pursued the plunderers, but they killed him and took the camels away.
“When the news of this outrage reached Medina, Mohammed dispatched Kurz Ibn Jabir with twenty horsemen to capture Yasir’s killers. They captured the robbers and recovered all the camels save one that he been slaughtered. The captives, who justly deserved the death penalty
according to Arab tradition, were brought to Mohammed. The brutal punishment that he inflicted upon them could only have been concocted by a dedicated sadist, not by a person who represented himself as a religious leader and the Messenger of God. Mohammed ordered their arms and legs to be cut off, and their eyes gouged out. Then, their mutilated, sightless trunks were impaled upon the plain of Al-Ghaba (where Mohammed chanced to camp), until they died. Even more sinister and inhuman, according to Sahih al-Bukhari whose credibility is well regarded, when the mutilated and dying captives asked for water, they were not given any and they died thirsty.”
ibid., pp. 193-194, with citations to Ibn Hisham, p. 998f; al-Tabari, 1:1559; Muhammed ibn Umar al-Waqidi, Kitab al-Maghaz,
1966, p. 240f, quoted by William Muir, The Life of Mohammad, p. 350; Sahih al-Bukhari, 3:519-522.
So Mohammed, the perfect man, had eight Bedouins sadistically tortured to death by having them dismembered, their eyes gouged out, and impaled, and then refused their pleas for water as they died, thirsty, because they stole his camels. And Jesus, the other perfect man, did not have any camels. He was crucified, for challenging Jewish orthodoxy and the status and equanimity of the Pharisees whom he accused of hypocrisy. He did not steal their camels. And we are told that –
“When they came to the placed called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on the right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
The Gospel of Luke 23:33
Islam cannot become a religion of peace until those Muslims who desire Islam to be a religion of peace are able to reinterpret, or ignore, or explain away, the Sword Verses that call for perpetual jihad against the infidels, never-ending war on all non-Muslims, until Islam is victorious over all other religions; and to reconcile the brutality of Mohammed with the idealization of Mohammed as “the perfect man,” and of Allah as Gracious, Merciful.”
FamilySecurityMatters.org contributing editor Raymond S. Kraft is an attorney and writer in Northern California. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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