The recent bombings in Jordan killing at least 59 people have compelled me to put on paper what has been in my heart for years regarding the Muslim world and its out-workings around the world. Two brothers, raised as Sunni Muslims, who are now Christians, bring up a very thought provoking suggestion: “What Americans don’t know about Western history is minuscule compared to what they don’t know about Eastern history, especially the history of the Islamic world. So Westerners do not recognize that tragedies today grow out of 1400 years of struggle between two religious and political giants – Islam and Christianity” (Caner, Unveiling Islam 2002)
First of all, you must hear me when I say that obviously the major majority of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims are not “flaming arrows” waiting to be sent into the “holy war” (jihad) glorified by their “holy apostles” like Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. Most Muslims are like you and I: people created in God’s image who spend most of their days getting married, raising children, working and living and making the best they can with what they have!
There are, however, three areas that do need our discernment and investigation: The Koran, the Expansion of Islam and the moral character of Mohammed himself.
1. Muslims and their Holy Book, the Koran
The Koran (ca. 620 AD) was written by Allah in heaven and dictated “word for word” by the angel Gabriel to Mohammed, an Arab man about 40 years old, sitting in a cave in what is nowadays known as Mecca. This is very similar to the image of the “finger of God” writing the 10 Commandments upon the mountain walls (near the burning bush) for Moses and the children of Israel.
The Koran, however, is not like the Bible at all!! The Bible is the Holy Spirit inspired thoughts written by very human men, like Moses and Isaiah, Paul and Luke and John. The Koran, on the other hand, is in fact God’s “hand written” message to His people: unchangeable and irreversible! (BTW, that’s why it can only be truly known and understood in the language of Allah: Arabic.) Of course we Christians also say our Book is infallible, but herein lies the root of the problem. The Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Koran was inspired by “doctrine of demons.” (I Tim 4:1)
This “unchangeable-ness” of the Koran is what many times leads us to the tragic, extremist and shocking behavior we see almost daily on our TV sets!! It is 7th century Arabian desert culture – harsh and unforgiving – made “divine-law” by a lone, self-appointed Prophet, which is now being placed on top of (or better put: colliding into) a democratic, free, tolerant 21st century world.
Within the pages of the “incorruptible” Koran – no bigger than our New Testament- are words that are most detrimental. One of the most controversial and damaging verses in all of Islam, known as the “Verse of the Sword”, is Sura 9:5:
“So when the Sacred Months have passed, slay the idolaters [unbelievers] wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush… Lo! Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most merciful.”
What I fear most is the expectancy in the Western world that someday it will get better while Islamic Jihad looms ever-larger on the horizon. Someday we will all sit at the same table, arm in arm, as brothers talking about world peace. Islam will wake up and take on a more democratic flavour. Democracy will in the end prevail… Nothing could be further from the truth: “And there is salvation in no one else [Jesus Christ]; for there is no other name under Heaven that has been given among men, by which we MUST be saved” (Acts 4)
Author Robert Spencer has written very insightfully on this subject:
“After World War II in Japan, the emperor told his subjects that, contrary to what they had been taught all their lives, he was not divine. He formally renounced the religious justifications that had fuelled the drive to war. But as long as the religious leaders of Muslim countries around the world do not renounce jihad and its attendant doctrines with Islamic extremists will have no end.”(Onward Muslim Soldiers 2003)
I can understand how the Japanese emperor admitted to his people that he was not divine, but I can not comprehend how Muslims will ever admit to one another that their God- Allah – is not divine. This can only come through revelation, not retribution, retaliation or “round table talks”! Revelation the kind of which Jesus spoke about to Paul on the Damascus road: “I am sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and find a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” (Acts 26:17-18)
2. The Expansion of Islam: A trail of blood.
How you begin anything often determines how something will end. In Islam, its very violent beginnings have much to do with today’s headlines. Consider this, that three out of the first four Caliphs (successors of Mohammed) died violent deaths: two were assassinated by other Muslims and one died on the battle field, conquering in the name of Allah.
To compare that to Christianity would be like having Peter’s men assassinate Paul and Barnabas and James dying on the battlefield in Antioch as the Christians “took the city for God”!
The “Gospel of Mohammed” undeniably struck like a whirl-wind on the deserts of Arabia, the likes of which history has never before (or since) witnessed. Mecca fell in 629 AD. Syria was conquered in 634. Iraq was dominated in 636. Jerusalem was occupied in 638. Egypt 639. Iran 642… Unbelievably, within 100 years after the death of Mohammed – in 632 AD – Muslim armies had conquered – and united politically and ideologically- the whole Middle East, all of North Africa, Persia, southern Russia and Spain and were pressing on to Afghanistan, India and even China! Muslim forces, spurned on by the “lust for spoils”, erupted out to the furthest reaches of the known world.
Needless to say, Tajikistan also stood in the way and were “converted” from Zoroastrianism to Islam in the late 7th century. As with most Muslim countries outside of the Arab world, Tajikistan has evolved into a complex mix of animism, atheism and folk Islam, making them very resistant people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The threat of Muslim expansion finally was turned back in 732 at the battle of Tours in France. They were defeated there by Charles Martel and his Frankish army. God only knows what the world would look like today had the Muslims been victorious on that battle field! From France there were already talks of expansion to England, Rome and beyond…
3. Mohammed: the Polygamous Prophet.
If Mohammed is the example for Muslims much like Jesus is the example for Christians, it must be very important to find out just how he lived. Was he a non-violent leader, moral like Ghandi or a Prophet/Despot like bin Laden?
Here again his “larger-than-life” example is very problematic. I don’t have the space to document much of the Prophet’s life but one of my biggest concerns is his having at least nine (and possibly 12) wives along with his extra-marital affairs with numerous concubines. Of course this “harem lifestyle” was part and parcel of life in the Arabian desert "hinterland" in the 7th century, BUT, to be an exalted, “holy figure” for 1.2 billion people on the planet, this needs closer examination.
All Muslim scholars agree with the fact that one of his wives (Aishah) was engaged to him at six and he consummated the marriage when she was nine. Mohammed was a mere 54 years old at the time! A few years later he married the wife of his adopted slave-son, Zaid, but this marriage required some “new revelations” which he hurriedly added to the Koran. Previous revelations in the Koran did not allow a father and son to have the same wife! The outspoken Aishah remarked (according to oral tradition): “It seems to me that God is hastening to satisfy your desires.”
Read it for yourself from the Koran:
“Then when Zaid had dissolved his marriage with her we joined her in marriage to you [Mohammed]: in order that in the future there may be no difficulties to the Believers [Muslims] in the matter of marriage with the wives of their adopted sons…” Surah 33:37
How convenient, indeed, to write a book that would allow you to take on, yet again, another younger and beautiful bride! “How a Prophet of noble character could wed someone so young, even in the culture of the day remains a mystery…How could any man consummate a marriage with a nine year-old? This question is usually ignored.” (Unveiling Islam)
In the Koran, Mohammed limited the number of wives a man could have to four, a practice still in operation today. But he clearly did not follow his own “divine directives” and, evidently, did not think of himself as a model to follow! Far different from the words of Jesus and Paul: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ!”.
I will close with another quote from Unveiling Islam: “Mohammed unified a country, indeed much of the world, by focusing on a stone in Mecca. Jesus Christ unifies sinners under His own death and resurrection. No one questions the influence of both men, but the character of their influence is as different as the difference between peace and war.”
Yours for the Least in the Kingdom,