The Qu’ran vs. Jesus: 18 January

The Qu’ran has always been at odds with Jesus. We need to live Jesus’ way

Sebastian Faulks wrote in the Times a while ago, as I have quoted before:

‘With the Koran there are no stories. And it has no ethical dimension like the New Testament, no new plan for life. It says “the Jews and the Christians were along the right tracks, but actually, they were wrong and I’m right, and if you don’t believe me, tough — you’ll burn for ever.” That’s basically the message of the book.’

The claim that Mohammed is the last and greatest prophet is in clear contradiction to the claim that Jesus is the prophet who is more than a prophet, God’s Son. The Qu’ran was written partly to correct or contradict the Jesus of the Gospels.

The opposition is clear.

The Qu’ran is intolerant of mockery.

Jesus accepted people mocking Him. Jesus said ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’ Jesus taught people to invite more slaps on the cheek!

The Qu’ran’s enemies are ‘the infidels / unbelievers:’

Jesus’ enemies are not flesh and blood, but unclean spirits, ideologies, systems, ‘principalities and powers in the heavenly places.’

The Qu’ran is militaristic. Before receiving the messages recorded in the Qu’ran, Mohammed was a trader. Afterwards, he became a warrior chief. In the last 10 years of his life, Mohammed either led or sent out 65 military campaigns (according to the Introduction to the English rendition of the Qu’ran published by the UK Islamic Mission Dawah Centre.)

Jesus led no military campaigns. Jesus refused to use violence. Jesus instead allowed himself to be a victim of violence.

The Qu’ran teaches retaliation: ‘There is life for you in retaliation , O men of understanding, that ye may ward off (evil.)’ (2:179) ‘And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.’ (2:191) ‘and fight them until persecution is no more and religion is for Allah.’ (2:192) ‘And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you.’ (2:194) (Surah 2 is seen by Moslems as a summary of the whole Koran.)

Jesus teaches no retaliation – ever. He tells his followers to love enemies, to pray for those who persecute them, to look to God to bless enemies, change them.

Looking at the history of Christianity and Islam you wouldn’t know that their origins are so different. Christianity followed Jesus faithfully for about 350 years. Then came the great compromise between Christianity and the Roman Empire. Christianity embraced, and restricted, militarism and retaliation. When Islam emerged, it copied and countered a State Religion with a powerful army.

The Christianity of the Crusades, of military retaliation, was far from following the teachings of Jesus. The ‘Christianity’ of the invasion of Iraq, the bombing of IS etc. is far from following the teachings of Jesus.

Christians need to return to the teaching and Spirit of Jesus, especially in responding to terrorist attacks:

No retaliation, ever.

No military response. No relying on weapons, on the ‘security’ industry.

No deeming people evil. People can be infected and misguided by evil but there are no ‘evil people.’

No giving up the freedom to mock and be mocked.

No further restriction on the welcome we give to strangers, despite the differences and the dangers.

Christians need strength, inner strength, not to retaliate, to keep loving. We need strength to fight fear and anger / vengefulness etc. etc.

Christians need to encourage and strengthen each other:

We shall not be moved…

We shall not give up our civic freedoms. We shall not give in to the fear of strangers, of immigrants. We will not cower behind more and more security, more weapons. We will go out into the streets and squares of our towns, lighting candles, carrying pens. We will not be moved from being an open, democratic, welcoming, fair, just society.

Just like a tree that’s standing by the waterside…

To have the strength not to be moved, we need a river to feed into our roots. Europe has never seen a wholeheartedly Christian country, rather various compromises between the State and Jesus. Yet there has been a river flowing from Jesus which has watered, influenced, the roots of Europe. We need to keep drawing from that river.

The Qu’ran has always been at odds with Jesus. We need to live Jesus’ way, now more than ever.

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4 Responses to “The Qu’ran vs. Jesus: 18 January”

  1. Philip Tyers Says:

    I’ll share this with my Muslim colleagues, to see how they see it. I feared it was harsh at first. However I heartily endorse the challenge to live the faith in our communities, drawing on the water of life.

  2. Philip Tyers Says:

    I shared this with my Muslim colleague, who said that they see Jesus differently, but the main thing is that Muslims and Christians both promote Jesus. Secondly, it is bad practice to simply quote the Qur’an without checking out the context and the story behind any verse. Each verse is spoken into a specific situation, and it is incorrect to apply is straight to another. Retaliation is only allowed to prevent the faith from being walked over. It is self defence.
    I would add that the Bible says many things, and is context sensitive too.
    Roger rightly challenges us to be appropriately like Jesus in our day and our context.

  3. rogerharper Says:

    Thank you, Philip. It’s good of you and your colleagues to take time and effort over this.

    Yes my post here is stark. Internet brevity is against nuance. I have tried to focus on what I see as the clear differences, which are too often whitewashed almost to the point of sacrificing the truth.

    It’s good to read that some Moslems see themselves as promoting Jesus. They, though, have to promote Jesus as they see him, which is very different from how the Gospels portray him and how Christians see him. If I promote the Queen and someone else promotes Mrs Windsor, we are both promoting the same person, but in very different, somewhat contradictory, ways.

    The official Moslem rendition of the Qu’ran, which I have, separates the introduction and the text of each Surah. The text itself has no context. It is given apparently as divine instruction for all times and places. The introduction gives the context, but often notes that there are varying understandings of this context. The impression given is that the context is interesting but the words as recorded apply to more than that context and similar contexts. Have I understood this wrong? According to your colleagues how does the context define the interpretation of the text?

    Retaliation is by definition a response to aggression. Your colleagues agree that the Qu’ran allows retaliation. The Jesus of the Gospels outlaws retaliation. A clear difference. My reading is that the Qu’ran encourages, even exhorts, retaliation. An even stronger difference to Jesus.

    The scale of retaliation is not, I read in the Qu’ran, specified, nor limited. There is no clear repeat of ‘one eye for one eye.’ Surah 2:194 specifies retaliation ‘in like manner.’ But this is vague, open to interpretation, and is not specified consistently. The normal conclusion is that a punch can be countered by two punches if it is deemed necessary. Retaliation for a broken arm can, it seems, be a knife in the stomach. Hateful words can be countered by a beating… This is not only different to Jesus but different to the Old Testament Law.

    The Introduction to the whole Qu’ran which I have, makes it clear that Mohammed understood permisable retaliation to include acting militarily against perceived aggression. He sent out soldiers against people who, it turned out, had not attacked any Moslem, although the rumours said they had. This kind of pre-emptive retaliation seems therefore also to be permitted.

    There may well be more detailed limitations on retaliation elsewhere in the Islamic tradition, but I have not read them in the Qu’ran itself.

    Christians have spectacularly exercised retaliation throughout history. Retaliation now against IS is justified by Christian leaders. These Christian leaders are not following fully the teaching and the Spirit of Jesus. They may appeal to other parts of the Bible but cannot claim to be following Jesus fully. Jesus is meant to be the foundation and cornerstone for Christians, although in practice Christianity has lived a compromise between Jesus and much else.

    I understand the Qu’ran to be the foundation and cornerstone of Islam. The contrast between the Qu’ran and Jesus is indeed stark.

  4. Arkenaten Says:

    Well done!
    I always find it odd when people whine about ”context”

    I cannot think of any situation where the Qu’ran verses you quote here would be ”in context”.

    The continual claim that Islam is a religion of peace is a sham. That so many people continue to espouse this meme highlights just how successful religious indoctrination is, wouldn’t you agree?

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