Islam, A Religion of Peace?
War and Peace. Terrorism and tranquility. Who among us does not long for and would not choose the latter over the former? In the 20th and 21st centuries, our grandparent’s and parent’s generations, our generation and our children’s and grandchildren’s generation have experienced death or devastation in some form or another, to some degree or another. World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the 9/11 induced Afghanistan and Iraqi Wars. And the seemingly never-ending ethnic and national strife in countries the world over. No matter the reason or size of the conflict, America and peace-loving nations of the earth have lost and are still losing fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters to the horrors of war. Will the carnage ever end?
In the First World War the enemy was misguided perverted nationalism, but with an ominous international twist of one bloc of nations aligned against another bloc. We fought against fascism in the Second World War, pitted against a nation who hailed themselves as a superior race. We bled and died halting the advances of communism in Korea and Vietnam. The new foe is terror(ism), which is an ideology (any “ism” is a belief system) that uses, “violence … in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands” (Webster’s Dictionary).
But this enemy knows no national boundaries; it’s more than just a race of people in one country fighting against another. Those who commit these barbaric acts are rightfully called terrorists, because they randomly maim and murder innocent men, women, and children for a malevolent cause that callously and arrogantly disregards all that is humanly good and right; bent on suppressing and eventually eradicating anyone who would dare think or believe differently. Worse, there are national governments that fund these terrorist groups, e.g. Iran, Syria, Qatar, North Korea, or Turkey.
What is the source, the driving force of their diabolical agenda and demented tactics? Ultimately, diabolical identifies the original source … Satan. Yet, the “devil made them do it” concept goes only so far, because we know who actually carries out the torture and killing. In the devilish perpetration of this cause, we see the same underlying motivation from the pit of hell that energizes the adherents of Communism and Fascism who seek to, by force, impose a belief system on their own people and other nations based on the insidious presumption that they and their secularist philosophies are superior to any other people and ideology. However, modern-day terrorism brandishes a substantially different breed of extremists than Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Mao-tse Tung’s China, Stalin and Putin’s Russia, or Jong-un’s North Korea. Instead of a cultural and political system that is fundamentally god-less and secular, we are now experiencing terroristic conquest in the name of Religion.
Specifically, the religion of Islam. More, however, than just in the name of religion. Islam itself is dogmatically (root word is dogma) terroristic in origin and methodology. If anyone disagrees with that premise, then all they need do is read the Koran, which is the foundational core of Muslim creed … the causative driving force within the heart and soul of Islam, not the least of which is Jihad … holy war.
Is Islam a religion? Of course it is: No less than Hinduism, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Shintoism, or cultic sects like Mormonism that claim some (corrupt) form of Christianity … which is NOT, I repeat NOT, a religion. Actually, I don’t even like to use the word Christianity but will do so for the sake of identifiable terminology, because it bears this name in an attempt to classify or include it as one of the world religions. Christian … yes, as that expression clearly conveys one’s identity in Christ … a Christ-one.
But that doesn’t make believers in Jesus Christ religious or Christianity, a religion. Those redeemed by Jesus Christ do not belong to an ism. Rather, we belong to a Person. Actually three Persons in One: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Can I get an AMEN on that!
All world religions and cults have one common denominator: Rules, regulations, and a tediously elaborate but unattainable concoction of duties (works) required of its followers in order to gain favor with the god(s) of that religion. Essentially it is man’s attempt to please and appease God—their version or image of God. The Christian faith is just the opposite: It is God’s conceived plan of salvation to redeem fallen mankind, by offering his very own Son as the once for all sacrifice for our sins. Thus, to reconcile mankind back to God, which is why God created us in the first place and the way God intended it to be from the very beginning … a personal relationship with our Creator. As said in a couple of prior Eye of Prophecy articles: no other belief system provides a Savior for mankind; only the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ does.
“For God made Christ who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Corinthians 5:21).
Our right standing with God is possible only through God’s provision of salvation for us; not any “ism” we’ve manufactured to merit or earn favor with God. It is God doing for us what we cannot possibly do for ourselves. This is a huge soul-saving distinction from all religions.
Thus, “Christianity” is a unique relationship with God; not a pretentious performance check-list which we deceive ourselves into thinking that the Lord will accept; hoping that our good deeds (which we usually end up defining or comparing what is good and what isn’t) will somehow outweigh the bad things we do. God does not grade us on a curve. Sin is sin. And the wages of that sin is death (Romans 6:23).
Yes, according to God’s Word, we actually earn death, both physical death and eternal separation from God; which is one wage that I’m sure all of us would turn down if we could … but we can’t. Although we earn death on our own, no one can do enough or be enough to possibly pay the price to pardon that penalty. Even the courts of the world, including the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t permit a person to pardon himself or herself for a crime. Sin against God is much more than violating a city, state, or federal law; or may not even be a transgression of statutory law. You won’t be convicted or even arrested for coveting your neighbor’s possessions, but that is no less a desecration of God’s moral laws than murder.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness (grace), declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…” (Romans 3:23-25).
A Peaceful Religion?
Is Islam a religion of peace, as we’ve read or heard world leaders and religious figures proclaim dozens of times, particularly since Muslim terrorists and Islamic terrorism have exploded (pun intended) on the world stage in the past few decades? Not even close. Instead, the religion of Islam—as categorically contained in and confirmed by the Koran—compels (for example) all Muslims to: “Fight those among the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger (Mohammed) have forbidden, and who do not embrace the religion of truth (Islam)…” (Koran 9:29).
And, “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them—seize them, besiege them, and make ready to ambush them” (Koran 9:5).
These are but two of several Koranic commands to subjugate and kill the infidels, which are primarily Jews and Christians, but ultimately anyone who doesn’t yield (submit) to Islam’s demand that the entire populace of earth be subjects of an Islamic Caliphate … a Muslim political and cultural structure of world-wide domination.
And yet there is an incredibly immature (false) premise widely held by global heads of state that Islam is inherently a religion of peace; that only a very small minority of its followers are militant extremists bent on annihilation of Israel, destruction of the United States, and domination of the entire world.
Did you know that the Arabic language doesn’t even have a word for peace? In fact, Islam means submission.
Our own United States President has often recapped this pervasive belief … that Islam is basically peaceful. That it does not promote conversion by force. That extremist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Boko Harem, al-Qaeda, and ISIS, do not represent the real tenets of Islam.
Consequently, the United States along with the other P5 + 1 groups of nations (United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany) have seemingly ignored the obvious evidence of Iran’s increasingly long tentacles of terror that are gripping several regions of the Middle East. Iran is tightening this Islamic Shi’ite noose in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and among several ethnic groups. It can do this because the P5 is under the pathetically naïve notion that Iran (by virtue of its status as a nation) would be willing to negotiate its sinister ambition of Middle East dominance and eventual world supremacy. Oh, for certain, Iran will negotiate in order for economic sanctions to be lifted; but Iran will not relent (negotiate) its ultimate undeterred goal of manufacturing nuclear bombs that will assuredly be used against Israel and perhaps even the United States.
But Iran is a “nation” not a terrorist organization, says the P5 + 1. You can negotiate with Iran because it has a President and a Foreign Minister, and the like. How blind can they be? It’s the Ayatollah who makes the final decisions in Iran, and who “makes foreign policy.” The same Ayatollah who is the supreme Imam of the Islamic State of Iran, which is exactly what Iran is and will continue to be as long as its own people and the rest of the world continue to believe that Islam is basically a religion of peace. Thus, Iran’s continued threats of “death to America” and “wiping Israel from the face of the earth,” are falling on deaf ears in the West.
It’s just a perverse form of saber-rattling they say. Really? How many more sabers must rattle and heads roll with conventional weapons of terror, before we realize that Iran and rogue nations like it will raise the stakes (all in) of terrorism to an unthinkable level if they go nuclear. With one nuclear warhead they can inflict mass casualties that would be the equivalent of thousands upon thousands of isolated terrorist cell attacks. Whether because of naïvetés or strategic risk calculations, who among our leaders is willing to take such a chance? That question should be rhetorical, but alarmingly, it’s not. That is exactly the dice-rolling going on within the game-playing mindset of the United States Executive staff and the P5 +1.
To prove his point and lessen what he and other prominent world figures believe to be an unfounded criticism of (peaceful?) Islam in general, President Obama recently made a comparison of the Crusaders to Muslim terrorists, by attempting to demonstrate that even Christianity has had its extremists. Our President and many others who share this view are partially right, but they are also very, very wrong.
Is There A Difference Between the Bible and Koran with Regard to Propagating Their Respective Messages?
Before answering that question, it’s significantly important that we understand the monumental difference between the Koran and the Bible in virtually every tenant and doctrine, not the least of which is the god of the Koran and the God of the Bible. The very fact that Islam does not recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and certainly not God the Son who was crucified on a cross for man’s redemption and then rose from the dead to validate all of Christ’s claims of divinity, irreconcilably separates the Koran from the Bible.
In fact it’s blasphemy against Allah to suggest that God is three in one (Trinity) or that Christ is God’s Son (of course their god is Allah). “Infidels are they who say Allah is one of three” (Koran 5:73). And, “the Christians say the Christ is the son of God … may Allah’s curse be upon them!” (Koran 9:30).
But for sake of this week’s and next week’s Part II article, we want to focus on the goals of Islamic conquest by forced conversion (or death) versus the universal spread of the Christian Gospel (Good News) through individual voluntary heart-felt response of accepting Jesus as one’s personal Savior. In other words, the true and living God of Scripture does not force anyone to believe and receive the atoning sacrifice of his precious Son. True, Scripture emphatically explains the eternal destiny of all who reject so great a salvation that Jesus purchased with so great a sacrifice; but nowhere in the Bible does God demand (forced) conversion of the unsaved. Instead, he appeals to every person on earth out of love and concern for the personal destiny of all … heaven or hell.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
What, then, about the three main episodes of history in which religious critics and even world leaders such as our own President have alluded to as examples of those within the Christian (or Jewish) faith that have employed tactics comparable to Muslim militants … in Mohammed’s time, throughout history such as the Ottoman Empire and Islamic conquest of Europe, and with today’s terrorists groups and entire nations (such as Iran).
First Historical Event: Often, when Muslims are confronted about their continued use of violence that is predicated on and fostered by forceful Koranic commands, Muslim clerics and virtually any Muslim who happens to know just enough Biblical Scripture to be dangerous will attempt to morally equivocate by citing the Old Testament instructions for the Jews to eliminate the inhabitants of Canaan—as preparation for the Jews to enter and occupy the Promised Land. Let’s take a look at what happened and why; to dispel the notion of moral equivalence between Jewish history and Muslim violence.
“So Joshua told the Israelites, ‘Come and listen to what the Lord your God says. Today you will know that the living God is among you. He will surely drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites ahead of you’” (Joshua 3:9-10). Previously God had instructed his people, whom he had delivered from Egypt by magnificent miracles, to completely destroy certain indigenous tribes—for the express purpose of his people entering and possessing the land that God had given to them as an eternal inheritance … the land of Israel. Although the Israelites were required to fight for the land, this verse (and many others) also indicate that God would sovereignly assist his people in defeating the enemy. But there were also nations that God instructed Israel not to attack or harm in any way, for various reasons.
Said God to the people through Moses: “Be very careful never to make a treaty with the people who live in the land where you are going. If you do, you will follow their evil ways and be trapped. Instead, you must break down their pagan alters, smash their sacred pillars, and cut down their Asherah poles. You must worship no other gods, for the Lord … is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you … They lust after their gods, offering sacrifices to them…” (Exodus 34:12-15).
Why did God order his people to purge the inhabitants of Canaan or not to make a treaty with any nearby nation? Scripture is clear that the moral mindset and lifestyle of these people were abhorrently evil and detestable in God’s sight. They were essentially in the same wicked condition of Sodom and Gomorrah—when God obliterated those cities and people—including the horrific practice of offering their children as sacrifices to pagan man-made gods such as Baal.
In today’s world, people may not worship wooden or metal gods mounted on poles and pillars, but they still pursue gods of pleasure, power, popularity, and prestige. And, tragically, how many unborn babies have been sacrificed on the abortion altar of convenience?
God is very patient, but there are a few instances in which people, individually and as a nation, cross the divine red line of God’s tolerance. Enough is enough, and he will judge them accordingly, often when least expected.
As an example of God’s patience pertaining to the Amorites, Canaanites, and all the other “ites,” long before the Israelites entered and took possession of the Promised Land he told Abraham: “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation (Egypt) that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth (the Exodus) … After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction” (Genesis 15:13-16, italics for emphasis).
This is one of hundreds of spectacular prophecies from God in the Old Testament. One that would materialize in the time and place specified. But we want to focus on the italicized portion of this passage … as confirmation that God would give the Amorites (and by implication and association all of the other nation tribes in Canaan) ample time to turn from their evil practices to the true and living God. In fact, the Lord was so patient with these pagans that he delayed the Israelite’s arrival to the Promised Land for hundreds of years. By that time, the Egyptians and their Pharaohs had gone from providing for and protecting Jacob’s descendants to hostility toward and enslavement of the Jews. Jacob’s son, Joseph, the second most powerful person of the Egyptian Empire had been long forgotten.
For you see, God is everlasting … he knows the end from the beginning. He knows the outcome; yet, he still gives us great opportunity to repent, seek him, and to by faith receive his redemptive pardon. Our choices, both good and bad, can determine our fate. In hindsight, when the Israelites were prepared to enter the Promised Land, it was clear that the Canaanites were more wicked than when God told Abraham his descendants would return to the Promised Land (where Abraham resided temporarily). Now it was time for divine judgement, which coincided with and paved the way for the Jews to enter Canaan, where they would be free to follow and worship the Lord their God. A place blessed by God, flowing with milk and honey.
The contextual, historical comparison that needs to be made between God’s instructions to the Israelites to vanquish some of the original tribes of Canaan and the commands from the god of Islam found in the Koran is this: The Old Testament provides an account of a particular historical episode at a specific time in Israel’s (beginning) history, for a precise duration of time, for a special purpose. The Israelites were to be the instrument of God’s judgment on a very perverse people while taking over a relatively small portion of the earth (all of which belongs to God in the first place) to live and serve God. Whereas, the Koran’s instructions to all Muslims is a perpetual edict (to subjugate Christians and Jews and kill them if they don’t submit) that has no historical parameters, no national boundaries (world-wide), and is to continue indefinitely. It is, in effect, an unlimited Koranic license to suppress and kill infidels, i.e. all who refuse to become Muslims. There is a world of difference between these antithetical models.
Stay tuned to next week’s article and we’ll examine two more historical events often cited as comparison of Christianity’s use of violence to Islam’s ongoing Jihad against infidels … which primarily consists of Jews and Christians.
Things to Ponder
The god of Islam never sent anyone to give his life FOR you. Instead, this god requires that, if you refuse to submit and convert, your life be taken FROM you. But Islam requires conversion with the mouth only, not with the heart. What kind of change is that?
Not so with the true and living God of the Bible. We alone have the choice. No one chooses for us or takes our lives from us, if we say no to Jesus. God doesn’t send anyone to hell or heaven. Our decision about Christ takes us to one or the other place of perpetual existence.
There can be no greater love than God’s amazing love for every man, woman, and child. Real love is demonstrated by action … showing, sharing, and sacrificing. Which is exactly what God’s Son, Messiah Jesus, did when he voluntarily gave his very life on the Cross. So that all who believe and receive him will pass from the penalty of eternal death to the pardon of everlasting life in heaven.
Everlasting life begins the moment you, “confess with your mouth that Jesus is lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).
But this decision must be made now, while there is yet time. Once a person dies or when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead, it will be too late. At such time, there will be world-wide acknowledgment that one Man (not a religion or religious system) bears the right to claim the title of Prince of Peace … Jesus the Christ. For only he can and will bring REAL peace.
Why does Messiah Jesus have this right? Many passages of the Bible tell us that Christ is God, Savior, and Judge. But none more so than the following:
“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God has elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11, italics for emphasis).