Was Christianity as Violent as Islam?

The topic of “The Crusades” inevitably comes up when speaking about the violence of Islam. I will be the first to agree that murder is horrible, and murder with a cross and a shield is perhaps even worse. I would submit to you that as a Christian, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12). We are not called to harm people in the name of Christ, but to show kindness, love and forgiveness.

There were a series of nine crusades that lasted from the 10th through the 12th centuries. They were bloody and deadly. It has been estimated that close to 1.7 million people died as a result of armies attempting to reclaim the holy lands. The question that needs asked is: Were the actions and intents of the Crusaders similar to the actions and intents of the Muslims that then controlled Palestine?

I will agree that both the Christian and Muslim armies attempted to gain land, but the Crusades were a response to the relentless attacks of the Muslim armies as they pushed their kingdom further and further across the Mediterranean into Europe. The heart of the Crusades was to repel the advance of Islam, and by slapping the Christian idea of reclaiming the Holy Lands to the action many gladly jumped on board.

Another huge difference between the two forces is that the Byzantine Empire was a military force that used religion to unite individuals. After the embrace of Christianity by Constantine, people had something in common to hold them together. Islam was a religion that became militarized. The purpose of Islam is and has always been to conquer. “Fighting is prescribed upon you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” (Quran 2:216).

It is he (Allah) who has sent his Messenger (saw) with guidance and the religion of truth, in order for it to be dominant over all other religions, even though the Mushrikoon (disbelievers) hate it.” (EMQ at-Tawbah, 9: 33)

By the end of the first millennia after the death of Christ, Islam had exploded. The Sinai Peninsula wasn’t able to contain this fledgling religion and it spilled out all across the Middle East, but that’s not where it stayed.

By 680 AD what is now Northern Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Omen, Yemen and Palestine had all been touched by the arms of Islam. By 740 AD, half of Turkey, the southern tip of Russia, the northern sliver of Africa and Iran had also been reached. Once most of the Middle East was under Islamic control, the next natural extension of the Islamic arm was throughout regions surrounding the Mediterranean. By 820 AD, Spain, France and parts of Italy were fighting against a new type of war—the Jihad.

When you look at the nine reactionary Crusades made by the Christianized Byzantines they pale in comparison to the close to 550 Islamic battles.  Link to Bill Warner’s Youtube video of below image.

Another component that drove the Byzantines to the crusades was the slave raiding made by the Muslims armies. “What Islam did bring to Europe was war and slavery, on a massive scale. The House of Islam in the tenth century had little use for any of the produce and natural resources of Europe, except one; the bodies of the Europeans themselves. Young women and boys were preferred, but during the tenth century Europeans of almost any age or class, and in almost any part of the continent, could find themselves in chains and on a ship bound for North Africa or the Middle East.” – The Impact of Islam, BY Emmet Scott.

In summary, I would say Christianity at it’s heart is non-violent. Jesus implores us to show love.  Even when we consider the violent stories in the Bible, they are just stories of the past, and not mandates for our future. The violent verses in the Quran however are not stories from the past, but instructions to the Muslim. I want to be clear, there are many Muslims that are not violent, Muslims that have been taught to interpret the Quran in a non-violent way. But while Muslims may choose to be non-violent, the Quran teaches violence.

Glossary of Common Islamic Terms

Glossary Dictionary Definitione single word close up

Glossary of Common Islamic Terms

As I’m working my way through Seven Times: Understanding the Times, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and God’s Ultimate Plan for the world I’m compiling a list of commonly used Islamic terms. I’ll try and add to this list as my work continues.  If you think a term should be added, please fee free to contact me on my Facebook Page.

Items like * Al-Qaeda, with the star and colored red are Islamic terrorists groups.

 

* Abu Sayyaf – is an Islamic Sunni militant group based in and around the islands of southwestern Philippines.

* Al-Qaeda – is a broad based Islamic Sunni militant group founded by Osama bin Laden and a few others.

* Al-Shabaab – is a jihadist terrorist group based in East Africa and in 2012, it pledged allegiance to the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda.

Allah – is the Islamic term for god. While the concept is the same as the Christian God, the personalities of each are different.

Allah Akbar – the phrase means Allah is most great. Used when recognizing an individual or event. Many terrorists have been heard quoting the phrase before committing acts of violence.

Ayatollah – Is a title given to a spiritual leader among the Shia.

Caliph – a successor to Muhammad.

Dajjal – The Islamic Antichrist.

Hadith – A collection of Muhammad’s sayings, deeds or traditions. They are taught as Islamic theology and are second below the Quran and are used to interpret the Quran.

Hajj – Pilgrimage to Mecca during the twelfth month of the Muslim calendar.

Hijra – The flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in AD 622.

Hejab – A veil that covers the head and sometimes chest and body of Muslim women beyond the age of puberty and worn in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family.

* Hezbollah – Shia Islamist militant group and political party based mostly in Lebanon.

Imam – A religious leader or head of local community.

Jihad – A struggle or effort in the cause of Allah. It can refer to an inner struggle or actual war to protect the interest of Islam.

Kafir – A person who refuses to submit to Islam.

Kufi – A hat sometimes worn by Muslim men.

Mahdi – The term means guided one. It’s also the term for Islamic Messiah. The person Islam claims will return in the last days and lead the Muslims.

Muhammad – Is a prophet in Islam and lived between AD 570 and AD 632.

Murtad – A Muslim that has converted to another religion.

Quran – This is Islam’s most sacred book. Claimed to have been written by Muhammad under inspiration of the angel Gabriel.

Ramadan – Month of fasting for Muslims and occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is believed when Muhammad started receiving Quranic revelations.

Shariah – A term for Islamic Law based upon the Quran, Hadith and Sunnah.

Sunnah – Verbally transmitted deeds, sayings and teachings of Muhammad.

Shia (Shi’ite) – a Muslim believer that thinks the leadership should follow from Muhammad’s line.

Sunni – Make up about 90% of all Muslims. Unlike Shia they believe leaders do not have to be descendants of Muhammad.

Takfiri – Is a Sunni Muslim who claims another Muslim or person of another Abrahamic faith apostasy.

* Taliban – A group of fundamentalist Islamic Sunni militants mostly found in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Follower’s of Islam Still Perform Animal Sacrifice

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In a little more than a month, on September 12th-13th of this year (2016), many Muslims around the world will sacrifice livestock in one of their most sacred festivals. Animals such as sheep, goats, cows and camels will forfeit their lives in Muslim sacrifice (Tweet That!) in commemoration of Allah’s mercy and Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Does that story sound familiar? If so, you may recognize the same story in the Hebrew Bible, except God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Issac. The story is about a man who was asked to sacrifice his son and offer him to God Almighty. In both stories, God stopped the sacrifice before it happened and provided an animal in the son’s place. It was a test of Abraham’s faith. You may ask, what’s the big deal. Does it really matter which of Abraham’s sons was involved? The answer is yes.

For the Muslim it’s a story about faith and obedience. Muhammad, is reported to have said, “It is a tradition that has come down to us from Abraham.” The sacrifices take place on Eid al-Adha, and it marks the climax of Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. The sacrifice is not for the forgiveness of sins. For the “small sins” the Muslim can be forgiven by doing good deeds like extra prayer and fasting. For the “big sins” a Muslim must repent to Allah, and Allah will decide whether or not to forgive. They will find out on Judgement Day if they have been forgiven. It is through Allah’s choice and works that the Muslim is saved (Tweet That!).

For the Jew, the sacrifice first seen at Mount Moriah with Abraham was expanded when God gave Moses the 10 commandments and the rest of the Law. The idea of animal sacrifice started with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When they sinned, God had to kill the first animal to cover their nakedness. We see also that Adam’s son Abel also offered a sacrifice that was pleasing to the Lord. The sacrificial Law given to Moses had five types of offerings to the God:

  1. The Burnt Offering [sheep, goats, turtle dove, pigeon] was a voluntary sacrifice that signified total surrender to God.
  2. The Grain Offering [meat, baked goods, flour, salt] was voluntary and signified a living sacrifice to God.
  3. The Peace Offering [cattle, lamb, goat] was voluntary and signified fellowship and was eaten with the priest.
  4. The Sin Offering [Bull, goat] was a required sacrifice meant for unintentional sins. Dealt more with the nature of mankind.
  5. The Trespass Offering [lamb, goat, turtle dove, pigeon, oil & flour] was a required for the forgiveness of all sins. Dealt specifically with individual sins.

The Jews no longer offer sacrifices. The Temple was destroyed by Rome in 70 AD and they were dispersed throughout the nations. About 600 years later the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock on the location where they thought the Temple existed. There is talk of rebuilding a Temple, but since the Dome of the Rock currently occupies the Temple Mount it won’t come without great tension.

For the Christian, Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the Trespass Offering and His death paid for their salvation (Tweet That!). His life and death has done away with the need for the whole sacrificial system. Jesus was a descendant of Issac, not Ishmael. We have all we need in the person of Christ. Isaiah says, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” As a Christian I can be assured that when I pass from this world into the next that I will rest in His kingdom. My salvation is not based upon works, but it is out of my love for Him that I do good works. I don’t have to worry about whether or not God will forgive me, His word tells me that I am.

There is no other way, but Jesus.

2 Tim 1:12 “because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”

Sharia – Coming to a town near you?

sharia“Sharia” is a buzzword seen on many social media and news sites these days. What is it? Is Sharia really as bad as people claim and will it come to America? (Tweet That!) Some are claiming it is a torturous and archaic way of keeping the rule of law. Yet others claim that Sharia law is just a set of guidelines upon which actual laws can be based, and as with any law, there is no simple black and white interpretation.

In its simplest definition, Sharia refers to traditional Islamic law. It is based on four governing sources, with the Quran at its base. Muslims believe that the Quran has existed for all time and was revealed to the prophet Mohammed by the Archangel Gabriel in the Arabic language. It is the foundation of the Muslim faith and at the base of the Sharia.

The Sunna is the layer directly above the Quran and is basically the actions and sayings of the Muslim prophet Mohammad. The Sunna is found within a collection of writings known as the Hadith and were written by those close to Mohammad. If answers to an issue cannot be gleaned directly from the Quran then the Hadith should be searched for a resolution. The two main sects of Islam (Sunni and Shia) disagree considerably about which Hadiths are authentic. Each sect has sources they view as trustworthy and those they hold as false, and therefore have differing Sharia systems.

In addition to the Quran and Sunna, the ijam is a third accepted source for the Muslim rule of law. The ijma is the consensus of the Muslim jurists on a particular legal issue. Mohammad himself said, “My followers will never agree upon an error or what is wrong.” If an issue cannot be resolved by the first two sources, then the ijam is to be used.

The Qiyas makes up the fourth critical part of the Sharia. When a legal ruling cannot be found within the first three, then Islamic jurists can employ analogy, reasoning, and legal precedent to arrive at new case law. This is mainly employed by the Sunni followers, but the Shia use a similar form of reasoning.

The specific example of theft can be followed through these various levels. The Quran 5:8 says, “As to the thief, Male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in power.” We also see this example in the life of Mohammad in the Hadith: Bukhari 81:780, “The Prophet said, ‘The hand should be cut off for stealing something that is worth a quarter of a Dinar or more.’” There is also consensus among many schools of thought in Islam about the removing of the hand for theft. The Hanbali school of the Sunnis adds further requirements for this punishment: The property must be of value. It must be in a stored place like a cupboard. It needs two witnesses or two confessions by an individual and the person whom the item was taken must ask for it back.

ebb22702b870db4089387e54def1d560A quick image-search on the term Sharia will return highly negative images, but is Sharia really that bad? You’ll see people holding signs saying, “Democracy is Falling … Sharia is returning.” And “Sharia will dominate the world.” You’ll also see images of people getting their hands cut off, women being buried up to their chest and being stoned, people being beat bloody with whips and individuals having their heads chopped from their bodies.

There are a number of countries that have classical Sharia as their legal system with punishments as listed above— Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Mauritania, Sudan, Iraq, the Maldives, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and certain regions in Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates. There are many countries that employ a mixed system, where Sharia covers family law, but secular courts handle criminal law.

Homosexuality-Illegal-mapThere are several countries where homosexual behavior can lead to the death penalty (Tweet That!) and prison time. Newsweek reports that about 100 people each year are beheaded in Saudi Arabia for various crimes. As mentioned above, individuals can have their hands and feet amputated for the crime of theft. These examples are harsh, but in normal society they do not happen as often as depicted on the web and in many cases the Sharia does leave room for repentance. To be fair, most often the atrocities we see on news cycles and in our Facebook feeds are performed by extremist groups, but there is still provision for them in many Sharia run governments.

There has been much discussion about Sharia coming to America. There are currently a dozen states that have laws banning Sharia (Tweet That!). The remaining states are split, half of which have rejected legislation that would ban Sharia and half that have no legislation at all. Sharia courts might one day make it to America, but in all truth, Sharia law exists now in the hearts of most Muslims. For the Muslim, submitting to the Sharia is a part of following Allah.

PF_15.04.02_ProjectionsOverview_populationChange_310pxIslam is the fastest growing religion and is growing twice as fast as the general population. It is projected to outnumber Christianity by 2070. If we take a look at the example of the UK we see that the number of registered mosques in 1960 were about seven. The latest number show about 1,500 mosques, and Islam is now the second largest belief system in that nation. It’s difficult to get an exact number, but there are currently about 80 Sharia courts in the UK. These courts really have no power except in moderation of personal disputes, and only when the parties agree to this arbitration, but they do rule on family and religious issues.

As a Christian this info might be a bit disheartening, but it should not be unexpected. 2 Thes. 2, when speaking of the Second Coming says, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first.” Jesus also said that, “because of iniquity, the love of many would grow cold.” These facts should drive and compel you. Not in anger or fear, but in love as you share your faith with the Muslim.

I’ve felt driven over the past few months to research and write about the topic of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. My motivation is not one of anger but to inform. The Bible speaks of a time of testing that the entire world must face. The prophecies of this great book cannot be changed, but that should not prevent us from demonstrating the love of Christ. You can disagree with others about issues of faith and still care deeply for them, show love to them and work alongside them. Always treat others with kindness and respect. Period. As a Christian it is our job to share the truth of the Gospel with the Muslim.