I recently read through the Quran to understand my Muslim freinds a bit better and, perhaps, to find a few interesting historical notes about Islam, but instead an unwelcome realization about fellow Christians started to dawn on me.
One doesn’t go long till we realize (unsurprisingly) that Mohammed’s view of war, fighting and killing enemies is the polar opposite of what we see Jesus teaching His followers & practicing.
But what was jarring to observe as I progressed is that many Christians who justify war seem be using the Quran’s justifications for war and violence, almost verbatim. Which leads to a disturbing conclusion: If Christians justify killing using arguments so closely aligned with the Quran, & in contradiction to the teaching of Jesus, are they following Jesus or Mohammed when it comes to attitudes about war?
Let’s take a look.
The Quran’s View of War
Using the Jewish Behavior in the Old Testament as Justification to Require Fighting
2:246. Have you not considered the notables of the Children of Israel after Moses? When they said to a prophet of theirs, “Appoint a king for us, and we will fight in the cause of God.” He said, “Is it possible that, if fighting was ordained for you, you would not fight?” They said, ‘ ‘Why would we not fight in the cause of God, when we were driven out of our homes, along with our children?” But when fighting was ordained for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. But God is aware of the wrongdoers. (Location 587)
Eye for Eye & Life for Life is God’s Rule
5:45 And We wrote for them in it: a life for a life, and eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, and ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and an equal wound for a wound; but whoever forgoes it in charity, it will serve as atonement for him. Those who do not rule according to what God revealed are the evildoers. (Location 1542)
5:33 The punishment for those who fight God and His Messenger, and strive to spread corruption on earth, is that they be killed, or crucified, or have their hand and feet cut off on opposite sides, or be banished from the land. That is to disgrace them in this life;… (Location 1515)
16:126 If you were to retaliate, retaliate to the same degree as the injury done to you. But if you resort to patience-it is better for the patient. 127 So be patient. Your patience is solely from God. (Location 3909)
War is Ordained for God’s People & War is Sometimes Good for You
2:216 Fighting is ordained for you, even though you dislike it. But it may be that you dislike something while it is good for you, and it may be that you like something while it is bad for you. God knows, and you do not know. (Location 517)
2:190 And fight in the cause of God those who fight you… 191 And kill them wherever you overtake them…If they fight you, then kill them. Such is the retribution of the disbelievers. 194 …Whoever commits aggression against you, retaliate against him in the same measure…” (Location 471)
Fighting & Killing to Free the Oppressed is Justified
4:74 Let those who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter fight in the cause of God. Moreover fight in the cause of God, and then is killed, or achieves victory, We will grant him a great compensation. 75. And why would you not fight in the cause of God, and the helpless men, and women, and children, cry out, “Our Lord, deliver us from this town whose people are oppressive, and appoint for us from Your Presence a Protector, and appoint for us from Your Presence a Victor. ” (Location 1224)
It is Imperative to Build Up a Powerful Military
8:60 And prepare against them all the power you can muster, and all the cavalry you can mobilize, to terrify thereby God’s enemies and your enemies, and other besides them whom you do not know, but God knows them. Whatever you spend in God’s way will be repaid you in full, and you will not be wronged. (Location 2502)
It is a Responsibility to Fight & Kill to Avoid Persecution
2:217 They ask you about fighting during the Holy Month. Say, “Fighting during it is deplorable; but to bar others from God’s path, and to disbelieve in Him, and to prevent access to the Holy Mosque, and to expel its people from it, are more deplorable with God. And persecution is more serious than killing. They will not cease to fight you until they turn you back from your religion, if they can. Whoever among you turns back from his religion, and dies a disbeliever-those are they whose works will come to nothing, in this life, and in the Hereafter. Those are the inmates of the Fire, abiding in it forever. (Location 517)
8:39 Fight them until there is no more persecution, and religion becomes exclusively for God. (2464)
Killing in the name of Justice is Justified
17:22 And do not kill the soul which God has made sacred, except in the course of justice. If someone is killed unjustly, We have given his next of kin certain authority. But he should not be excessive in killing, for he will be supported. (Location 3967)
Jesus & New Covenant View of War
What About Using Jewish Behavior in the Old Testament as Justification to Require Fighting?
Mt 5:43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
What About an Eye for Eye & Life for Life?
Mt 5:38 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Are Christians Sometimes Commanded to War & Fight in Jesus’ New Covenant?
Never. Jas 4:1 ¶ From whence come wars and fighting’s among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
Should Christians Encourage Government Leaders to Build Up a Powerful Military? Or do so themselves?
No, there is no Biblical suggestion to do this, in either the NT or OT. In fact, even the Old Testament warns God’s people against doing this and instead encourages to trust in God.
Is it a Responsibility to Fight & Kill to Avoid Persecution?
Mt 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
1Pe 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously…
If Christians justify war and killing using arguments so closely aligned with the Quran, & in contradiction to the teaching of Jesus, are they following Jesus or Mohammed? Are our views about how we should treat our enemies closer to ISIS than Jesus?
All quotes are from “Quran in English: Modern English Translation Clear and Easy to Understand“