Religion is Peace?

I believe there is a tendency for a good many people to assume all religions are basically equal, in terms of message. For example, that all religions teach the Golden Rule in one form or another, and that common thread is what defines each religion. With the embedding of religious pluralism and moral and social relativism has come a lack of duty to investigate truth claims, and religious truth claims in particular. I believe subconsciously a majority of people whether they verbalize the idea or not hold the position that all religions are not things which are true in a real sense. That religious claims are just that, claims, and are not something to be proven true, and cannot be said to be false. The new idea of tolerance dictates that all beliefs are equally valid and viable, they are never to be challenged or investigated, for that would be insensitive and intolerant. The idea that someones religious beliefs could be false is abhorrent. This acceptance of the new tolerance has created an investigative apathy in the average person.

 The average person is not going to take the time to read the holy books of the world’s major religions to make themselves privy the teachings of the religions, they will continue to recite the mantra of religious pluralism: “COEXIST”. After all there is no need, since all religions are basically innocuous, teaching good will toward men and to be a good person. Or do they?

The terms “Radical Islam”, “Moderate Muslim(s)”, and “Hijacked Religion” have come understood to imply Islam is, generally speaking like other religions but some of it’s adherents have distorted it’s message. That they are interpreting the Qur’an in such a way as to find calls to war and violence where there are none. But is this true? Muslim terrorists claim justification for their violent actions from the Qur’an and the Hadith (the deeds and life of Muhammad written by his companions, and is authoritative, second only to the Qur’an). The question which belies us is are these claims of justification legitimate.

While there are verses in the Qur’an which do preach good will, it is only in the context of good will toward other Muslims. Every one of us knows a Muslim, or Muslims who are peaceful and friendly, unfortunately that is in spite of what the Qur’an commands, not because of it’s teachings. “O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people” ( Sura 5.51), and see also “O you who believe! do not take the unbelievers for friends rather than the believers; do you desire that you should give to Allah a manifest proof against yourselves?” (4.89), “They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper” (4.144).  In these passages we see the Muslim is commanded to take no non-Muslim as a friend. “Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.” (9.29)  Muslims are commanded to fight the Jews and Christians or be subject to a superiority tax in a state of subjection.  These are not commands of peace.

Fighting is considered a virtue according to the Qur’an: “Fighting is enjoined on you, and it is an object of dislike to you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know.” (2.216).  In fact the Qur’an even criticizes passive Muslims for not fighting: “The holders back from among the believers, not having any injury, and those who strive hard in Allah’s way with their property and their persons are not equal; Allah has made the strivers with their property and their persons to excel the holders back a (high) degree, and to each (class) Allah has promised good; and Allah shall grant to the strivers above the holders back a mighty reward“. (4.95)

The Hadith offers no refuge from the command to wage war against non-Muslims, “Allah’s Apostle said, “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.’ And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah.” Narrated Maimun ibn Siyah that he asked Anas bin Malik, “O Abu Hamza! What makes the life and property of a person sacred?” He replied, “Whoever says, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’, faces our Qibla during the prayers, prays like us and eats our slaughtered animal, then he is a Muslim, and has got the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have” (Bukhari 8.387). Muhammad had apparently been ordered to continually fight against all non-Muslims and take their property unless they converted to Islam, proving true conversion by praying the prayers and joining the “slaughter”.

As it turns out it is the “Moderate Muslims” who are the “Radical Muslims” after all. Their tolerance towards peoples of other religious faiths is the variant, not the rule, and as such is radically different than the Islam Muhammad instituted. Radical does not mean violent, it is ordinarily defined as “departing markedly from the usual or customary”, which better describes the “Moderate” Muslims.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that these few verses are representative of the Qur’an’s overall teaching on dealing with unbelievers (non-Muslims). There are few Qur’anic verses which teach tolerance of other religious beliefs, and where the tolerance is advanced it is in earlier Meccan verses which are then abrogated by the later commands of Muhammad. Early in Muhammad’s “career” as a prophet, he brought his message to the Jews who rejected his claims to truly be a prophet of God due to his inaccurate prophetic references to Old Testament events, which by Jewish and Christian standards disqualify one as being a true prophet of God (Deut 18:22). During this time that Muhammad was making appeals to the Jews and Christians his Qur’anic revelations were of peace and good will. Once rejected by the “People of the Book”-a common reference in the Qur’an to Jews and Christians-the tone of the revelations evolved from tolerance and peace, to violence and war, a common theme from then on. It is by this later call to war that Islam spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

It is a common practice of Islam that once a land has been conquered that a mosque is built in order to show the strength and superiority of Islam:

    • In 630, Muhammad and 10,000 Muslim soldiers into Mecca and turned the pagans’ most prominent spot, the Ka’aba, into the Masjid al-Haram Mosque.
    • In 634, Caliph Umar conquered Syria and turned the Christians’ most prominent spot, the Church of Job, famous for being visited by Saint Silva in the fourth century, into the Mosque of Job.
    • In 637, Caliph Umar conquered Hebron and turned the second-most prominent spot in Judaism, the Cave of the Patriarchs, into the Ibrahimi Mosque. (This was repeated by Saladin in 1188.)
    • In 638, Muslim generals Amr ibn al-As and Khalid ibn al-Walid conquered Gaza and turned the prominent fifth-century Byzantine church into the Great Mosque of Gaza.
    • In 638, Caliph Umar conquered Jerusalem. In 691, Caliph Al-Malik ordered the Dome of the Rock built on the most prominent spot in Judaism, the Temple Mount, followed by Caliph Al-Walid building the Al-Aqsa Mosque there in 705.
    • In 651, Muslims conquered Persia and turned Zoroastrian temples in Bukhara and Istakhr into mosques.
    • In 706, after Muslims took Damascus from the Byzantine Empire, Caliph Al-Walid turned the prominent Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist into the Umayyad Mosque.
    • In 710, Gen. Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Pakistan, defiled the prominent Sun Temple in Multan, which house the great idol “sanam,” and erected a mosque.
    • In 784, after the conquest of Spain, Emir Abd ar-Rahman turned the prominent Visigothic Christian Church of Saint Vincent into the Great Aljama Mosque of Cordoba.
    • After the conquest of Egypt, Caliphs al-Mamun (813-833) and al-Hakim (996–1021) turned prominent Coptic Christian churches and Jewish synagogues in Cairo into mosques.
    • In 831, Muslims conquered Palermo, Sicily, and Asad ibn al-Furat turned the prominent Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption into the Great Mosque of Bal’harm.
    • In 1193, Muslims conquered Delhi, India, and Qutbuddin Aibak turned the Red Citadel in Dhillika, the most prominent spot of the last Hindu rulers, into the Qutb Minar Mosque.
    • From 1250-1517, Mamluk Muslims controlled the Golan Heights and used the ancient Synagogue of Katzrin as a mosque.
    • In 1387, Turkish Muslims conquered Thessaloniki and turned the Katholikon Monastery and the Church of Aghia Sophia, which housed the relics of Saint Gregorios Palamas, into mosques, as Symeon of Thessaloniki recorded:
    • “The greatest number of the buildings of the churches fell to them, of which the first was the Holy Church of the Savior. … These were trampled underfoot and the infidels rejoiced in them. … Most of the religious buildings in the city were despoiled, while altars were demolished and sacred things profaned.”
    • On May 29, 1453, Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople and turned the great Byzantine church, Hagia Sophia, into the Ayasofya Mosque. The largest church in Christendom for a thousand years, the church’s four acres of gold mosaics were covered with whitewash and Quran verses.
    • In 1458, Sultan Mehmet II conquered Athens and turned the Greeks’ most prominent spot, the Parthenon on Acropolis hill, into a mosque. When Venetian Gen. Francesco Morosini drove the Muslims out in 1687, a cannonball hit the gunpowder stored in the mosque, blowing it up.
    • In the 15th century, Ottoman invaders turned Saint Clement’s Macedonian Orthodox Monastery in Plaosnik, Balkans, into the Imater Mosque.
    • From 1519-1858, Muslim Mughal rulers gained control of India and turned over 2,000 Hindu temples into mosques, including demolishing the Temple of Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Rama, and replacing it with the Babri Mosque.
    • India’s Mughal Muslim ruler, Jahangir (1605-1627), wrote in Tujuk-i-Jahangiri:
    • “At the city of Banaras [was] a temple. … I made it my plea for throwing down the temple … and on the spot, with the very same materials, I erected the great mosque.”
    • In 1543, Hayreddin Barbarossa’s 30,000 Muslim troops wintered in Toulon, France, and turned the prominent Toulon Cathedral into a mosque.
    • In 1570, under Sultan Selim II Khan, Muslims conquered Paphos, Cyprus, and Gov. Mehmet Bey Ebubkir turned the prominent Christian church into the Great Mosque of Paphos.
    • In 1571, Muslims invaded Famagusta, Cyprus, and turned Saint Nicolas Cathedral, a rare Gothic church, into the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, and Saint Sophia Cathedral in Nicosia, constructed in 1228, into the Selimiye Mosque.
    • In 1588, Sultan Murat III turned the Eastern Orthodox Church of Saint John the Forerunner in Constantinople into the Hirami Ahmet Pasha Mosque.
    • In 1781, after having conquered the Old City of Acre, Ottoman Muslims turned the Roman Catholic church built by Crusaders into the Jezzar Ahmet Pasha Mosque, where a hair from Muhammad’s beard is preserved.
    • In 1923, Muslims expelled Greeks from Turkey and turned Orthodox churches into mosques.
    • In World War II, Nazis allied with Bosnians and turned the prominent Artists’ Gallery Museum in Zagreb, Croatia, into a mosque.
    • In the 1950s, Muslims expelled Jews from Arab lands and turned synagogues into mosques.
    • Algerian Muslims warred against French colonial rule till France pulled out in 1962, after which the Cathedral of St. Philippe was turned into the Ketchaoua Mosque. Violence against Jews caused 30,000 to flee and the Great Synagogue of Oran was turned into the Mosque Abdellah Ben Salem.
    • In 1974, Turkish Muslims invaded northern Cyprus, and prominent Greek Orthodox churches were turned into mosques.
    • In 1981, Muslim immigrants to the Netherlands converted Amsterdam’s historic Catholic Sint-Ignatiuskerk into the Fatih Mosque, and a synagogue in The Hague into the Aksa Mosque.

This is historically representative of the pattern of Islam: invade, conquer, and convert. There are thousands of these mosques built in triumph across North Africa, India, and the Middle East. Headlines today are calling to attention of what some are calling yet another Islamic Victory Mosque. There are plans to build a community center and mosque, the Cordoba House after the above named mosque, in close proximity to the site of the former World Trade Center. The development of this mosque is raising the antennae of some who believe it may become a symbol of victory to the destruction of the WTC, and will likely be used as a propaganda tool for those who wish to do the Western world harm. Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who is initiating the development of the mosque has stated it is not a mosque but a community center and the intention is not to create hostility, but to provide a service. Though the developer claims it is not a symbol of victory over the WTC event, it fits the pattern of Islam, and there is no doubt it will be viewed as such by those Muslims who seek world Islamic domination, potentially creating a confidence which could prove dangerous.

I firmly believe apathy towards investigating the truth claims of religions and the politically correct approach to religion has brought a potential danger to the Western world. Assuming all religions are basically the same, coupled with the fear of being called a bigot has led people to let their guard down when it comes to Islam. Those who perpetuate violence in the name of Islam claim justification in the Qur’an for their actions, and though I cited only a few verses, the book itself, being full of such verses, confirms it. Those Muslims who live peaceably with their non-Muslim neighbors and co-workers do so in contradiction to the teachings of their founder and his commands, and they are to be applauded. Considering the history of Islam, I do believe one can oppose the building of the mosque for sound carefully thought out reasons without being bigotted.  It is a mistake however to isolate the terrorism from Islam itself. The Qur’an commands it of Muslims and as long as the correlation between the two is ignored the real problem will never be addressed.

Comments

  1. I acquired a free Quran online and have all the passages highlighted that speak of killing infidels and such. I find it a useful tool for those who have bought the lie that Islam is a religion of peace. Islam is also more than a religion, it includes government as well.

  2. So, who is a better person? The muslim who does not follow the religious order of his traditional faith to fight the infidel, or the christian who does not follow the order of his traditional religion to love his neighbour as himself? Or does that command only concern christian neighbours? Or only neighbours next door, or what? Christianity has spread mainly through violence and conquering other peoples lands. After each conquest christians have built churches and converted the people. This is the case in my home country Finland and so it is in the USA. From an outsider perspective, I would say all religions are the same. They certainly are not tolerant to each other, but in order to live in peace people need to be tolerant. That does not mean these questions should not be addressed and the fact that you dear to bring these questions up is a good thing in my book.

    For a common person to attest all religions would be an enormous task. Should he/she choose from the main religions? Well all the main religions have once been just small sects. If you lived in ancient realm of Rome during the early church and just heard rumours of these christians who are expecting the world to end at any day, would you have been interrested? If you thought then that it is better to choose from among the main religions and dismissed that small sect, would you be accounted for choosing wrong?

    • A better person according to who? My friend, you are mistaken in your history, and your reasoning. If Christians spread Christianity by violence, they did it in contradiction to what Christianity and the Bible teaches. When Muslims spread Islam by violence they are being obedient to Islam and the Qur’an. They are acting in accord with the teaching of Islam where the Christian is acting the opposite if Christianity’s teaching. Do you really not see a difference?

      If Christianity is true, then yes, ignoring it because it was only a small sect, you would be accountable for rejecting it, the same as now that it is a major religion. What does the size of the following have to do with the truth of the message? The content is what is to be tested, not its adherents.

      • You are saying that christianity is basically a religion of peace and that in comparrison islam is a religion of hate, but you must be aware that christianity has for centuries been a tool for the colonial conquest. It is even today used as a tool to spread hate. And just as you may find love, that Jesus preaches, from the bible, there is violence and hatred in it to be found. Commands by the god to do evil to people of different faith, of different sexual orientation and even of different ethnicity. For example throughout the world there are christians who find sound proof to justify the violence and opression the Israeli state is using against palestinians from the bible. Bible is complex. There is the message of peace by Jesus, but there is bigotry and persecution in it too. This complexity is similar as that of the qur´an. Both holy scriptures have love and hate in them. For you to find muslims building their place of worship as threatening is choosing the hate not the love message of your own faith. Turn the other cheek!

        Do you not see, that most muslims in the western world have escaped from their native countries to seek out more liberal culture. If western world were to be ruled by christian religious demagogues (likes of, say pope Urbanus II who began the crusades) you and I might be seeking refuge in some other part of the world. If these refugees are met with hatred and suspicion because of the actions of few fanatics, no wonder if they turn away from the surrounding society and start to look for their roots in the holy scriptures. People seeking truths from holy scriptures seem to be the most vulnerable to be led by religious fanatics and powerhungry demagogues.

        It is not the scriptures that make what religion truly is. It is the actions of people that count in the end. If you are asking us to judge islam by the literal interpretation of some parts of their holy scriptures, should christianity not be judged by the same measure? Or should all people who are working on a sunday be stoned to death like the bible dictates? That puts for example firemen, the policemen, nurses, doctors and priests in a difficult spot, do you not think?

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