01 August 2005

Blaming Islam

With the recent bombings in London, there has been a new spat of people concluding that "something is wrong with Islam." The perception seems to be that there is something in Islam that allows or even encourages certain adherents to murder as many innocents as they can.

I cannot disagree more. There are many reasons why I do not believe that Islam is inherently more violent than Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, or any other major religion. One-sixth of the world is Muslim. If there were a "problem with Islam," we'd be in far worse trouble that we really are.

I'll sometimes hear people picking certain verses out of the Qur'an as proof that Islam is violent. There are violent verses in the Qur'an, but picking them out doesn't give an accurate picture of the book. To contrast this, here are a few verses from the Old Testament:

O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. (Psalms 137:8-9)

And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city [Jericho], both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. (Joshua 6:21)

Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod: waste and utterly destroy after them, saith the Lord, and do according to all that I have commanded thee. (Jeremiah 50:21)

But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. (Deut 20:17)

Taking these scriptures out of context (and there are plenty more examples in the Old Testament of the Lord commanding violence) and promoting them as examples of the violence inherent in Judaism or Christianity seems ludicrous to us. But we see people doing the same with Islam today.

(Sadly, we've already mailed our copy of the Qur'an off to Kyrgyzstan, so I can't quote anything from it right now. But there are many beautiful and inspiring verses in the Qur'an, some of which I have (usually) hanging in my home.)

There is quite a bit more I have to say about this but I don't have time tonight. I'll see if I can add more tomorrow night concerning Muslim condemnation of terrorism, the diversity of Islam, racial profiling, and juding people's motives.


  1. The problem is that we're suddenly seeing a lot of violence being done to us. That makes it personal, and that means we pay attention to it. So, therefore, since WE can't be wrong, then those that are perpetrating the evil violence must be horrible and sub-human. And their religion is the problem.

    All that violence in the Christian scriptures happened to someone else.

    I hope you can see through the sarcasm to the point I'm making.

    Of course Islam isn't any more or less violent than anyone else. We Americans go to war, too. It's just that we think our wars and warring methods are "Justified" and theirs are not.


  2. Thank you so much for stating so clearly why it is unfair to condemn Islam based on taking verses from the Qur'an out of context.

    I read the Qur'an recently, in part so that I might be able to back up my conviction that it is a complicated book and, like the Hebrew or Christian Scriptures, contains violent passages but cannot be reduced to them alone. It's been interesting to see the range of response I've gotten to my post about it -- a startling number of people seem to be uncomfortable with this idea...