The topic of Islam carries with it tons of emotional baggage.  As an example, one can talk about how Jesus is not God and live through it without Christians going into any emotional outburst. One may well reason that at the core of being a Christian is the Holy Spirit, who is vital in keeping their tempers in check. Thus, One can malign the central figure of Christianity ranging from direct insults to cuss words and the response often, at worst, are a bunch of Christians expressing their disappointments.  In that light, when the same pejoratives are used against Muhammad or the Allah of the Qur’an, the tension quickly escalates.

Thus the question essentially follows.  How can people like Zakir Naik or Ahmed Deedat get away with misrepresenting Christianity and still keep their lives while scholars like James White for instance, was threatened with death when he asked what would the Muslims do if he misrepresented the Qur’an in the same manner Jalal Abualrub misrepresents Christianity.  The reality is that no matter how much one wants to deny it, Islam comes with a lot of emotional baggage.

Unless and until one can put his emotions in the backseat, there can hardly be any rational discussion. For instance, Islam has been branded a religion of peace since 2001.  Fourteen years later, there are 25,000 cases of violence done in its name [1]. Islam has been branded time and again the most beautiful religion in the world, yet its history of violence shows otherwise.

Consider Surah Al Tawbah 9:29

Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled. [2]

One can immediately see first hand that this is not a defensive verse.  This verse does not say “fight those who fight you or fight those who oppress you.” It says “Fight those who do not believe in Allah and so forth.” Jalal Abualrub suggested the former interpretation: to fight defensively, intentionally misrepresenting the text to fit his view. Yet for Ibn Kathir, one of the most respected Islamic scholars whose tafsir (commentaries) are made available to read for everyone has this to say:

This honorable Ayah (verse) was revealed with the order to fight the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), after the pagans were defeated, the people entered Allah’s religion in large numbers, and the Arabian Peninsula was secured under the Muslims’ control. Allah commanded His Messenger to fight the People of the Scriptures, Jews and Christians, on the ninth year of Hijrah (631AD), and he prepared his army to fight the Romans and called the people to Jihad announcing his intent and destination. [3]

Further, Ibn Kathir makes this comment:

(The People of the book are) disgraced, humiliated and belittled. Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the people of Dhimmah (protected persons) or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced and humiliated. Muslim recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said, “Do not initiate the Salam (peace) to the Jews and Christians, and if you meet any of them in a road, force them to its narrowest alley.” This is why the Leader of the faithful `Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, these conditions that ensured their continued humiliation, degradation and disgrace. The scholars of Hadith narrated from `Abdur-Rahman bin Ghanm Al-Ash`ari that he said, “I recorded for `Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, the terms of the treaty of peace he conducted with the Christians of Ash-Sham:

`In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. This is a document to the servant of Allah `Umar, the Leader of the faithful, from the Christians of such and such city.

  • When you (Muslims) came to us we requested safety for ourselves, children, property and followers of our religion.
  • We made a condition on ourselves that we will neither erect in our areas a monastery, church, or a sanctuary for a monk, nor restore any place of worship that needs restoration nor use any of them for the purpose of enmity against Muslims.
  • We will not prevent any Muslim from resting in our churches whether they come by day or night, and we will open the doors ﴿of our houses of worship﴾ for the wayfarer and passerby.
  • Those Muslims who come as guests, will enjoy boarding and food for three days.
  • We will not allow a spy against Muslims into our churches and homes or hide deceit ﴿or betrayal﴾ against Muslims.
  • We will not teach our children the Qur’an, publicize practices of Shirk (associating others to Allah), invite anyone to Shirk or prevent any of our fellows from embracing Islam, if they choose to do so.
  • We will respect Muslims, move from the places we sit in if they choose to sit in them.
  • We will not imitate their clothing, caps, turbans, sandals, hairstyles, speech, nicknames and title names, or ride on saddles, hang swords on the shoulders, collect weapons of any kind or carry these weapons.
  • We will not encrypt our stamps in Arabic, or sell liquor.
  • We will have the front of our hair cut, wear our customary clothes wherever we are, wear belts around our waist, refrain from erecting crosses on the outside of our churches and demonstrating them and our books in public in Muslim fairways and markets.
  • We will not sound the bells in our churches, except discretely, or raise our voices while reciting our holy books inside our churches in the presence of Muslims, nor raise our voices ﴿with prayer﴾ at our funerals, or light torches in funeral processions in the fairways of Muslims, or their markets.
  • We will not bury our dead next to Muslim dead, or buy servants who were captured by Muslims.
  • We will be guides for Muslims and refrain from breaching their privacy in their homes.
  • When I gave this document to `Umar, he added to it, `We will not beat any Muslim.

These are the conditions that we set against ourselves and followers of our religion in return for safety and protection. If we break any of these promises that we set for your benefit against ourselves, then our Dhimmah (promise of protection) is broken and you are allowed to do with us what you are allowed of people of defiance and rebellion.”’ [4]

The agreed upon treaty was unarguably a treaty of protection.  But as to whom the Dhimmah needs protection from, it stands clear.  It’s not against pagans.  It’s against Muslims. History tells us that Christians and Jews were living peacefully during prior to the advent of Islam.  After Muhammad died in 632, Bill Warner calculates at least 548 recorded battles fought in the name of Islam where casualties are in the millions. Whenever the issue of Jihad is raised, it is almost immediately countered with “What about the crusades?”

He thus created a map showing the expansion of Islam from the death of Muhammad until the 1920′s. The red dots are the battles done in the name of Islam. [5]

Figure 1 – Physical Jihad from 620 to 640

Notice that from 620 to 640 AD, more than thirty battles were performed.  Syria, the Christian Capital during that time fell on 636 AD after three years of fighting.  The Muslims proceeded to take the Holy Land and in 638, Jerusalem surrendered to Umar, the same Umar mentioned by ibn Kathir. By 641 AD, Egypt fell into Muslim hands. In 649 AD, Cypress, Sicily, and Rhodes were invaded. A short civil war ensued thereafter, pitting Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law against Muawiyah, Uthman’s cousin.  Ali was eventually murdered, upon which Muawiyah ascended as Caliph. This was the time where the Sunni and Shiite split.  It wasn’t until 670 that the Muslims advanced further. Carthage fell in 698 and by 705, Carthage was razed to the ground and almost all of its inhabitants killed. In 711, Muslims invaded Spain and a century later, Sicily and Southern Italy also fell. [6]

By the 20th Century, Islam has spread from Asia to Africa and Europe, along with the battles fought in its name.  See Figure 2 below [7]

Figure 2 – A list of Physical Jihad performed from 620 to 1920

By comparison, the map below shows all the crusades ever performed [8]

Figure 3 - List of Battles in the Crusades

Figure 3 – List of Battles in the Crusades

Seeing things in perspective makes the crusades look tame in comparison. Additionally, notice that the crusades were defensive in nature and it wasn’t until 1096 that the Christians responded. all in all, Christians were, for about 450 years, fighting defensive battles in light of the Islamic invasion. It wasn’t until the Emperor of Byzantine at that time, Alexius Comnenus, plead for help.  In his letter, the emperor detailed gruesome tortures of pilgrims and vile desecrations of churches, altars, and baptismal fonts.  Should Constantinople fall, not only would thousands more Christians be murdered, tortured, and raped, but “the most holy relics of the Savior” gathered over the centuries will be lost  [9].

Pope Urban II heeded the call and consequently gave a speech in November 27, 1095.  There he said,

Many of God’s churches have been violated… They have ruined the altars with filth and defilement.  They have circumcised Christians and smeared the blood on the altars or poured it into baptismal fonts.  It amused them to kill Christians by opening up their bellies and drawing out the end of their intestines, which they den tied to a stake.  Then they flogged their victims and made them walk around and around the stake until their intestines ha spilled out and they fell dead on the ground… What shall I say about the abominable rape of women? On this subject it may be worse to speak than to remain silent. [10]

Was Obama right in comparing the Crusades with Jihad? Not even close.  The Crusaders lost fervor by the 13th century, and many of the lands they won from the Muslims were eventually taken back. Since then, Christians have been again fighting a defensive battle both physically and rationally. Another key demotivator for the crusaders was that Jesus never taught warfare.  Rather, He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” [11]

Islam on the other hand, flourishes on the last major Surah revealed—Surah Al Tawbah. In his tafsir, ibn Kathir added the following comments

In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said, “I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayer and pay the Zakah.” [12][13]This honorable Ayah (9:5) was called the Ayah of the Sword, about which Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, “It abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolator, every treaty, and every term.” [14]

Thus, the teaching of two Gods.  One, to love the enemies and the other to fight the enemies. As to which of the two is a greater God, the former wins without question.

[1] http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Pages/TheList.htm Retrieved February 8, 2015

[2] http://quran.com/9/29 Retrieved February 8, 2015.

[3] http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2567&Itemid=64 Retrieved February 8, 2015.

[4] http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2566&Itemid=64 Retrieved February 8, 2015.

[5] http://www.politicalislam.com/jihad-vs-crusades/ Retrieved February 8, 2015.

[6] Stark, Rodney. The Triumph of Christianity. Harper One. pp 201-203.

[7] http://www.politicalislam.com/jihad-vs-crusades/ Retrieved February 8, 2015.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Stark, Rodney. The Triumph of Christianity. Harper One. pp 219.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)

[12] Sahih Bukhari Volume 1 Book 2 Hadith 25

[13] Sahih Muslim Book 1 Hadith 33

[14] http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2581&Itemid=64 Retrieved February 8, 2015.

 

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