I have held off writing this post or commenting on this topic since forever. Religion is almost always a touchy subject, and I really do prefer the quiet, peaceful life. But then, I’ve not been known to be one who holds away from the tough issues.
This article is not about the subject of salvation. This is about living as civil people in a multi-cultural, multi-religious world.
It is fashionable (at least in some quarters) to claim that Islam is not a religion of peace. Quotes from the Quran about commandments to kill infidels are thrown around. Stories about the Jihad are thrown in for good measure. The conclusion is drawn that this is why we see a lot of terrorism from that quarter. As such, Muslims in general tend to be looked upon with suspicion. This view is particularly mouthed in Christian quarters. Here is my take on the issue.
Have you noticed how Christians (and I use the term loosely now) are not even agreed universally on the interpretation of the bible? We are not all agreed about the Trinity, the person of Jesus, water baptism, killing of witches, when and how to have sex, blood transfusion, speaking in tongues, first fruit offerings and even the almighty tithe. We are not even all agreed on how to be saved by faith!
We are unable to have a cohesive view on tons of issues in our own book that we read, study and preach from every day. I am not exactly sure that we are qualified to be authorities on the Quran and Islam. I see how Christians misinterpret the Bible to carry out what I really believe to be stupid acts. I see how the Bible is full of violence and killings in the name of God similar to what the Quran and Islam are poked for, yet without that violence and killing being tenets, teachings or practices of Christianity. And I wonder how much of the vitriol against Islam as a religion of death is valid.
Have you seen Christians debate a passage and one side insists that what Apostle Paul or some other prophet said here was him speaking as a man, and the other insists that he spoke as inspired of the Holy Spirit? Why would we think that such debates do not exist in Islam about certain things their prophets said or did?
Yet, Christians want to be authorities on a different religion when we are often as confused about our own. I wonder.
If you have studied the Bible, you would know that it contains tons of commandments (to the Jews) to kill and sometimes wipe out entire cities of pagan nations. There is the commandment to suffer not a witch to live. And there are stories of gruesome killings. A bunch of kids were once mauled by a bear for taunting Prophet Elijah. Grotesque, gruesome stuff.
Oh; and there were the crusades and purges of hundreds of years ago in which the Roman Catholic church and even other Christian sects did horrible things.
Anyone can take those things I have highlighted above and make the Christianity out to be a religion of murder and genocide. And they would be wrong.
Individual belief is everything.
Yes; there are certain elements in Islam who believe that the valid interpretation of the Quran is that infidels need to be killed. Does that mean that the billions of other Muslims who do not subscribe to that view are guilty and should be treated like threats to the rest of us? I think not.
Let me illustrate. There are Christians who believe that witches should be killed. Now, I do not subscribe to that. I vehemently oppose it. For the purpose of this discussion, even if those who believe it are right, nothing will make me kill anyone caught in witchcraft. Why? I do not subscribe to their belief. We may both be classified as “Christians” by the world, but I stand apart from them in that regard.
Yet, how would I feel were some people to say that Christianity is a religion of killers and ass-holes just because a section of the faith uphold such beliefs?
It is for the above reasons that I cannot bring myself to label Islam as a religion of terror, regardless of what people say. There are many shades of Islam, and many of them are not throat-slicing people. Many Muslims cringe at the very thought of killing another human. It cannot be okay to do a generalisation of all Muslims and of their faith based on the extremities of a few or based on our often flawed interpretations of their book as evidenced in our often flawed interpretation of our own Book (or books).
I shall leave Muslims to interpret their religion as it pleases them. At the end of the day, the tag is nothing. It is what each individual believes that defines them. If a man believes in Allah, but does not believe that Allah requires him to kill me because I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, I am cool with him. If he believes I ought to die, however, then I have a problem with that fellow.