Religion and Violence

President Obama has cautioned all of us not to misinterpret the “Islamic State’s” beheadings and other outrages recently reported: “Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

Yes, it is estimated that 1000-3000 individuals were executed during the centuries when the Inquisition prevailed, and there were possibly three million casualties, combatants and non-combatants, during the centuries of the Crusades, which were called to repel militant Muslim invasions into the Holy Land.

For comparison purposes, we could discuss the estimated 270 millions of deaths caused by incursions of Islam into Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East over the centuries. And bringing the records up to date: In 2007 the British Secret Service, MI6, put the number of Christians being persecuted in 60 countries at around 200 million; and in January 2012, Reuters estimated “100 million Christians persecuted worldwide.”

But this is not a numbers game, nor is it about body counts. The question is: what does religion have to do with this? Certainly violent individuals have always existed, but does this or that religion actually encourage violence? Let us look at the facts:

In the case of Christianity, the answer is definitely in the negative. If you read through the Gospels and the entire New Testament, you can’t find one sentence advocating violence against unbelievers. Revelation describes the massive warfare of the angelic hosts against the evil spirits and their minions. But the closest we get to incitement to violence on terra firma is St. Paul’s inimitable advice in Rom. 12:20 urging Christians to go out of their way to be charitable to their enemies, for by doing this they will “heap coals of fire over their heads.”

The Hindu Upanishads discourage violence as inimical to one’s karma, while the Bhagavad Gita states that spiritual perfection is sometimes compatible with the defense of justice. The Buddhist sutras are generally considered models of pacifism, although there are some that support the paradoxical idea of the “compassionate” killing of unbelievers.

In the Old Testament, there are passages seeming to grant God’s blessing on the practice of “the ban,” herem (what we moderns would now call “genocide”) in onslaughts carried out by the Israelites against enemies preventing their entrance into the “promised land.”

No one claims Yahweh wrote the Old Testament verbatim, but the authors or redactors of the Bible write that Hebrew heroes like Moses and Joshua received divine authorization for these actions. (See Dt 3:2, 7:2-5, 20:16; Josh 6:21, 8:26-28, 11:20, 1 Sam 15:3.) In any case, there are no divine mandates for the Israelites to go to war and kill unbelievers in general.

Unfortunately, there are such mandates in the Qur’an, which is not considered to be just the work of divinely inspired human authors, but a direct transcript of words dictated by Allah himself (via an angel) to the prophet Muhammad. There are multiple cases in this scripture where general mayhem against all unbelievers is recommended.

ISIS murderers leading Coptic Christians to their executions
ISIS murderers leading Coptic Christians to their executions

For example, Sura 2.191 of the Qur’an commands Muslims, “Kill [unbelievers] wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out.” In Sura 8:12, Allah says, “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them,” and Sura 9:5 commands, “When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them.”

Many other mandates to kill Jews, Christians, and all pagans or “polytheists” who refuse to convert or pay a special tax to Muslim overlords, are found in Suras 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 17, 33, 47, 48, and 69). How is a devout Muslim expected to react to such orders from Allah himself?

As I mentioned in an earlier column, Nonie Darwish in her book, Cruel and Usual Punishment, concludes that “Islam as a whole is not a religion. It is Arab Imperialism and a protectionist tool to preserve what they believe to be a supremacist Arab culture.”

I, however, would suggest that Islam might be better characterized as a worldwide religious cult. As in a cult, adherents in Muslim-majority countries are prevented as much as possible from exposure to other religions; and those who leave or convert to other religions are at best ostracized and at worst executed.

Islam is not a religion of love or peace. The antipathy towards unbelievers, as evidenced in the Qur’an and the Hadith, is great, and the Encyclopedia of Islam recommends their forcible subjugation: “The spread of Islam by arms is a religious duty upon Muslims in general. . . . Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam. . . . Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad can be eliminated.”

What can be done about this religious threat to destroy all other religions? I suggest four possible avenues within our reach at the present time:

  • We must get beyond hagiography to get information about the real Muhammad – which requires a critical analysis of original sources. I suggest Understanding Muhammad and Muslims, by Ali Sina, or Twenty-Three Years, by ‘Ali Dashti.
  • Make the New Testament available in multiple languages in the Middle East, through the Internet and clandestinely distributed paper copies.
  • The Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule do not exist in the Qur’an, but the consciences of reasonable Muslims can be influenced by appeal to the natural laws of respect for life and pursuit of the truth.
  • Internet and wireless technology are spearheading the present global information revolution, and can be an inestimable benefit for many previously prevented from information about Christianity.

There is no way of preventing individuals in even the most peaceful religion from committing acts of violence. But we must expose and defang a religion explicitly advocating violence on “unbelievers.”

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz is emeritus professor of philosophy at Marquette University. His most recent publications include Natural Law: an Introduction and Reexamination (2004), Five Metaphysical Paradoxes (The 2006 Marquette Aquinas Lecture), The Philosophy of Human Nature (2008), and The Existence of God and the Faith-Instinct (2010).

  • Paul

    Unfortunately Howard Kainz has internalised the worst Islamophobic propaganda swirling around the Internet. Quranic verses twisted out of context; verses commanding peace and mutual respect are ignored. The Old Testament commandments to kill unbelievers are ludicrously whitewashed or simply ignored. The last book of the NT (the Book of Revelation, Jesus is no longer Mr Nice Guy) depicts the mass slaughter of unbelievers.

    All in all Howard a disgraceful article.

    • Florian

      Study the life of Muhammed…see what kind of a man he was. The mystery is how were millions and millions lured into his camp?

    • Rich in MN

      Hi Paul,
      I think that Dr. Kainz’s 4 bullet points provide important common ground on which we can all agree. Knowledge is good, information is good; reasoned discussion of religious texts is good. It is unsettling when reasoned argument is met with out-of-hand dismissal followed by very real repercussions. Do you not see that happening both in many Islamic countries regarding religion — and also in many western countries regarding abortion and same sex marriage? We are endowed with a desire for the good as well as with reason. When faith (whether it be in God or in “rights”) drifts away from reason, bad things happen. I think that was one of the points of Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address. Just as one Medieval philosopher saw the later verses of the Quran as having become separated from reason (and as inspired by Satan), so too Christianity has had points where we have lost our way. As I recall, Pope BXVI notes Immanuel Kant and Adolf von Harnack as two key figures in the disjuncture between faith and reason in western civilization.
      Regarding the Book of Joshua vis-a-vis the relationship between faith and reason, the question becomes, how has the Church throughout history interpreted those verses about “the ban” in terms of contemporary praxis? But if you are looking for a way of understanding the Book of Joshua in its own time and place, one thing to consider is this: God has allowed us what might be called a “Laurel and Hardy” world. This is a world in which one person does something stupid (or evil) and SOMEONE ELSE (and sometimes EVERYONE) receives the consequences for it. When our Holy Mother appeared to the children at Fatima and warned that, if there was no repentance, there would be a worse war, was she saying that the Jewish children who were “kindly” led into the gas chambers and brutally murdered needed to repent? Of course not. In this world, there can be communal consequences for the evil of individuals. Evils, especially child sacrifice, seem to have been rife in Canaan at the time of the conquest — and there were communal consequences in this world 3500 years ago just as there were 75 years ago.
      And if God would allow such a thing for sacrificing children to Moloch and Ba’al, just think of what God will allow to the land that sacrifices 55 million children to “Rights.”

      P.S. please do not read the message of our Holy Mother to the nun in Akita, Japan, in 1973 if you want to sleep comfortably at night….

      • Elizabeth Sheehy

        Great reply! This is what is meant by the “sins of the fathers being visited upon the children…” Sin and evil have a VERY long reach – consequences will haunt us for generations. Fortunately, God in his loving kindness and mercy has a longer reach.

        • Rich in MN

          Thank you for your kind words! And, as Pope John Paul II (among many others) has noted, part of God’s “longer reach” includes our good deeds, our prayers and our sufferings offered up to God (cf Col 1:24) which have a healing, ameliorating effect on the damage that sin produces.

    • Howard Kainz

      I would invite you to supply the proper “context” for the sample verses I cited from the Qur’an. The Quranic suras especially from the Meccan period contain verses of peace, but when Muhammad fled to Medina and became a warlord, the messages changed. Earlier verses were changed by the principle of “abrogation.” Thus the verse of the sword (9:5) abrogates some previous conciliatory verses. In the NT Revelations, the massive martyrdom of Christians is depicted, but no mandate is given to Christians to kill unbelievers. In the whole “context” of the NT, you will find no incitement to violence.

      • Angela T

        But, Howard, I think part of what Paul is trying to say is that the very passages which encourage war in the Quran are like those promoting Herem warfare in the OT; i.e., they were also specific to the situation, I mean, you specified when it was that you see a change in message, that is, the flight to Medina. Recall that Herem warfare was instituted in Deuteronomy, but not in Exodus (as far as I can tell). We obviously contextualize the passages, but so do many Muslims today.

        What you have to attack is not so much specific verses but rather to be familiar with interpretation of the Quran. I’m not saying to promote some hackneyed analogical interpretation, but rather to find out what the so-called “orthodox” ways of understanding the Quran are. I once asked a Muslim about such passages and how they are taken today, and was told that this was in large part because of an attempt, surprisingly enough, from the more “progressive” side of Islam, which largely came at the 20th century to read the Quran as a “living document.” In other words, passages which were largely seen as specific to a historical time were later taken to be calls to particular modes of action in later times. So now people site parts promoting peace, vs. parts promoting violence, as justification for modern day activities. But this is a more recent hermeneutic. Now this Muslim I talked with is not all that religious himself, and I doubt he was trying to deceive me in any way. But if what he says is true, then what we are witnessing in Islam is an issue of hermeneutic, and probably a bad one at that.

        In this light, I don’t see much of a difference between what the Muslim has to contend with and what is found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy in particular. Simply saying that the words in the OT were not verbatim Yahweh’s commands does not take away the seriousness of the fact that we still have deal with the commands seriously, as we believe that the scriptures are ultimately the inerrant, inspired word of God. We may not see such issues in the NT, but the OT cannot be ignored by us like it was by Marcion in the 2nd century.

        I’m not trying to excuse or whitewash Islam, mind you. I think that much of it was some weird mixture of exposure to Christian and gnostic texts, and I think its violence today is tied to a more fundamental error made by Muslim philosophers regarding the nature of God as beyond reason that became dominant in the middle ages. Pope Benedict figured as much in his Regensburg address. But Islam has had at least 1500 years to figure out its (thought, and that will cover a wide range of approaches to its texts and traditions, much of it intellectual, though probably more of it fideistic, especially today. In addition, Muslims have to contend with the hemrneutic they are employing, both those who cry violence and those who cry peace. If it is a modern and flawed hermeneutic, they most go back to a more “orthodox” one. Then we can deal with them as they are, and not as a perversion of what they are supposed to be.

        • Howard Kainz

          I follow the New Testament, as I presume you do, too. But I would re-emphasize that in the Old Testament there were no general mandates for Israelites to exterminate gentiles — only the historical incidents of herem that I mentioned.

          • Paul

            Howard, there are plenty of commandments in the Torah to commit genocide on non-Jews on a massive scale – commandments that pay particular attention to slaughtering innocent children, babies women and animals: see 1 Samuel 15. No such commandments exist in the Quran.

          • Fr. Kloster

            Paul,

            Have you even read the Q’ran? The very basis of the “religion” is world dominance and submission. Did you read or just skim through Howard Kainz’s quotes? Are you disputing the fact that there are not just those quotes; but several others highlighting, verses in the Q’ran, that command the extermination of non-Muslims?

            The Old Testament is full of examples of a people guided by God. Sometimes they are told to annihilate peoples to obtain their promised inheritance. In no way are they instructed to kill because a given people was not submitting to God. In no way was the purpose for a political style world dominance. Then too, God also allowed some of those same peoples (non-Israelites) to punish the Israelites, by allowing their deaths, for their hardness of heart. No such self-deprecation exists in Islam.

            On another level, our mission as Christians has always been one of willing cooperation when it comes to evangelizing non-believers, not forced submission as in Islam. The two things are very much at odds.

            I would encourage you to please provide quotes to back up your claims. As it is now, your argument is completely on its face.

          • TomD

            Whatever the OT “commanded” be done in the distant past, isn’t what is actually happening today, in the name of Islam, more relevant and more deserving of your reproach and condemnation?

          • Anthony Zarrella

            But there is not a single passage in the OT that calls on the Israelites to kill unbelievers *in general*. They were never told to seek out and destroy anyone who refused to convert.

            They *were* told to exterminate certain *highly specific* populations (usually even with geographic metes and bounds – e.g. “From the banks of the such-and-such to the desert of so-and-so”). That’s a different debate to have, but it’s irrelevant to *this* one – *no* Judeo-Christian faith has *ever* claimed a mandate from God to kill or conquer unbelievers wherever they may find them.

          • N. W. Flitcraft

            St. Thomas DID believe in, and teach, the Immaculate Conception.
            Summa III.27.1: ‘…since her body was assumed into heaven … so it may be reasonably argued that she was sanctified in the womb. For it is reasonable to believe that she, who brought forth “the Only-Begotten of the Father full of grace and truth,” received greater privileges of grace than all others: hence we read (Luke 1:28) that the angel addressed her in the words: “Hail full of grace!”‘

    • Chris in Maryland

      Paul:

      When atrocities are committed in the name of Christianity, people who know the Gospel know that the perpetrators are disobeying the Gospel. When atrocities are committed in the name of Islam, people who know the Koran know that the perpetrators are obeying the Koran.

    • Fr. Kloster

      Paul,

      Mr. Kainz’s article is not based on “the worst Islamophobic propaganda swirling around the internet.” There needs to be context provided for your fallacious assertion.

      What part of history would you like referenced long before the internet existed? There is a reason 2 religious orders were founded to ransom captives from their Islamic captors. There is a reason why Islam was expelled from the Iberian peninsula. There is a reason for the treaty of 1699 protecting Europe on its eastern front. There is a reason why almost no one is immigrating to Islamic nations today, but there are great hoards trying to get into the Christian formed western societies.

      Mohammed poisoned wells, he and his subordinates raped, enslaved, and/or killed anyone who resisted his forced conversions. Jesus nor any pope after him advocated any of those obviously and decidedly opposite results of two religions. Mohammed absolutely invented a warring political and ideological movement masked as a religion.

  • Paul

    Unfortunately Howard Kainz has internalised the worst Islamophobic propaganda swirling around the Internet. Quranic verses twisted out of context; verses commanding peace and mutual respect are ignored. The Old Testament commandments to kill unbelievers are ludicrously whitewashed or simply ignored. The last book of the NT (the Book of Revelation, Jesus is no longer Mr Nice Guy) depicts the mass slaughter of unbelievers.

    All in all Howard a disgraceful article.

    • Florian

      Study the life of Muhammed…see what kind of a man he was. The mystery is how were millions and millions lured into his camp?

    • Rich in MN

      Hi Paul,
      I think that Dr. Kainz’s 4 bullet points provide important common ground on which we can all agree. Knowledge is good, information is good; reasoned discussion of religious texts is good. It is unsettling when reasoned argument is met with out-of-hand dismissal followed by very real repercussions. Do you not see that happening both in many Islamic countries regarding religion — and also in many western countries regarding abortion and same sex marriage? We are endowed with a desire for the good as well as with reason. When faith (whether it be in God or in “rights”) drifts away from reason, bad things happen. I think that was one of the points of Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address. Just as one Medieval philosopher saw the later verses of the Quran as having become separated from reason (and as inspired by Satan), so too Christianity has had points where we have lost our way. As I recall, Pope BXVI notes Immanuel Kant and Adolf von Harnack as two key figures in the disjuncture between faith and reason in western civilization.
      Regarding the Book of Joshua vis-a-vis the relationship between faith and reason, the question becomes, how has the Church throughout history interpreted those verses about “the ban” in terms of contemporary praxis? But if you are looking for a way of understanding the Book of Joshua in its own time and place, one thing to consider is this: God has allowed us what might be called a “Laurel and Hardy” world. This is a world in which one person does something stupid (or evil) and SOMEONE ELSE (and sometimes EVERYONE) receives the consequences for it. When our Holy Mother appeared to the children at Fatima and warned that, if there was no repentance, there would be a worse war, was she saying that the Jewish children who were “kindly” led into the gas chambers and brutally murdered needed to repent? Of course not. In this world, there can be communal consequences for the evil of individuals. Evils, especially child sacrifice, seem to have been rife in Canaan at the time of the conquest — and there were communal consequences in this world 3500 years ago just as there were 75 years ago.
      And if God would allow such a thing for sacrificing children to Moloch and Ba’al, just think of what God will allow to the land that sacrifices 55 million children to “Rights.”

      P.S. please do not read the message of our Holy Mother to the nun in Akita, Japan, in 1973 if you want to sleep comfortably at night….

      • Elizabeth Sheehy

        Great reply! This is what is meant by the “sins of the fathers being visited upon the children…” Sin and evil have a VERY long reach – consequences will haunt us for generations. Fortunately, God in his loving kindness and mercy has a longer reach.

        • Rich in MN

          Thank you for your kind words! And, as Pope John Paul II (among many others) has noted, part of God’s “longer reach” includes our good deeds, our prayers and our sufferings offered up to God (cf Col 1:24) which have a healing, ameliorating effect on the damage that sin produces.

    • Howard Kainz

      I would invite you to supply the proper “context” for the sample verses I cited from the Qur’an. The Quranic suras especially from the Meccan period contain verses of peace, but when Muhammad fled to Medina and became a warlord, the messages changed. Earlier verses were changed by the principle of “abrogation.” Thus the verse of the sword (9:5) abrogates some previous conciliatory verses. In the NT Revelations, the massive martyrdom of Christians is depicted, but no mandate is given to Christians to kill unbelievers. In the whole “context” of the NT, you will find no incitement to violence.

      • Angela T

        But, Howard, I think part of what Paul is trying to say is that the very passages which encourage war in the Quran are like those promoting Herem warfare in the OT; i.e., they were also specific to the situation, I mean, you specified when it was that you see a change in message, that is, the flight to Medina. Recall that Herem warfare was instituted in Deuteronomy, but not in Exodus (as far as I can tell). We obviously contextualize the passages, but so do many Muslims today.

        What you have to attack is not so much specific verses but rather to be familiar with interpretation of the Quran. I’m not saying to promote some hackneyed analogical interpretation, but rather to find out what the so-called “orthodox” ways of understanding the Quran are. I once asked a Muslim about such passages and how they are taken today, and was told that this was in large part because of an attempt, surprisingly enough, from the more “progressive” side of Islam, which largely came at the 20th century to read the Quran as a “living document.” In other words, passages which were largely seen as specific to a historical time were later taken to be calls to particular modes of action in later times. So now people site parts promoting peace, vs. parts promoting violence, as justification for modern day activities. But this is a more recent hermeneutic. Now this Muslim I talked with is not all that religious himself, and I doubt he was trying to deceive me in any way. But if what he says is true, then what we are witnessing in Islam is an issue of hermeneutic, and probably a bad one at that.

        In this light, I don’t see much of a difference between what the Muslim has to contend with and what is found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy in particular. Simply saying that the words in the OT were not verbatim Yahweh’s commands does not take away the seriousness of the fact that we still have deal with the commands seriously, as we believe that the scriptures are ultimately the inerrant, inspired word of God. We may not see such issues in the NT, but the OT cannot be ignored by us like it was by Marcion in the 2nd century.

        I’m not trying to excuse or whitewash Islam, mind you. I think that much of it was some weird mixture of exposure to Christian and gnostic texts, and I think its violence today is tied to a more fundamental error made by Muslim philosophers regarding the nature of God as beyond reason that became dominant in the middle ages. Pope Benedict figured as much in his Regensburg address. But Islam has had at least 1500 years to figure out its (thought, and that will cover a wide range of approaches to its texts and traditions, much of it intellectual, though probably more of it fideistic, especially today. In addition, Muslims have to contend with the hemrneutic they are employing, both those who cry violence and those who cry peace. If it is a modern and flawed hermeneutic, they most go back to a more “orthodox” one. Then we can deal with them as they are, and not as a perversion of what they are supposed to be.

        • Howard Kainz

          I follow the New Testament, as I presume you do, too. But I would re-emphasize that in the Old Testament there were no general mandates for Israelites to exterminate gentiles — only the historical incidents of herem that I mentioned.

          • Paul

            Howard, there are plenty of commandments in the Torah to commit genocide on non-Jews on a massive scale – commandments that pay particular attention to slaughtering innocent children, babies women and animals: see 1 Samuel 15. No such commandments exist in the Quran.

          • Fr. Kloster

            Paul,

            Have you even read the Q’ran? The very basis of the “religion” is world dominance and submission. Did you read or just skim through Howard Kainz’s quotes? Are you disputing the fact that there are not just those quotes; but several others highlighting, verses in the Q’ran, that command the extermination of non-Muslims?

            The Old Testament is full of examples of a people guided by God. Sometimes they are told to annihilate peoples to obtain their promised inheritance. In no way are they instructed to kill because a given people was not submitting to God. In no way was the purpose for a political style world dominance. Then too, God also allowed some of those same peoples (non-Israelites) to punish the Israelites, by allowing their deaths, for their hardness of heart. No such self-deprecation exists in Islam.

            On another level, our mission as Christians has always been one of willing cooperation when it comes to evangelizing non-believers, not forced submission as in Islam. The two things are very much at odds.

            I would encourage you to please provide quotes to back up your claims. As it is now, your argument is completely on its face.

          • TomD

            Whatever the OT “commanded” be done in the distant past, isn’t what is actually happening today, in the name of Islam, more relevant and more deserving of your reproach and condemnation?

          • Anthony Zarrella

            But there is not a single passage in the OT that calls on the Israelites to kill unbelievers *in general*. They were never told to seek out and destroy anyone who refused to convert.

            They *were* told to exterminate certain *highly specific* populations (usually even with geographic metes and bounds – e.g. “From the banks of the such-and-such to the desert of so-and-so”). That’s a different debate to have, but it’s irrelevant to *this* one – *no* Judeo-Christian faith has *ever* claimed a mandate from God to kill or conquer unbelievers wherever they may find them.

    • Chris in Maryland

      Paul:

      When atrocities are committed in the name of Christianity, people who know the Gospel know that the perpetrators are disobeying the Gospel. When atrocities are committed in the name of Islam, people who know the Koran know that the perpetrators are obeying the Koran.

    • Fr. Kloster

      Paul,

      Mr. Kainz’s article is not based on “the worst Islamophobic propaganda swirling around the internet.” There needs to be context provided for your fallacious assertion.

      What part of history would you like referenced long before the internet existed? There is a reason 2 religious orders were founded to ransom captives from their Islamic captors. There is a reason why Islam was expelled from the Iberian peninsula. There is a reason for the treaty of 1699 protecting Europe on its eastern front. There is a reason why almost no one is immigrating to Islamic nations today, but there are great hoards trying to get into the Christian formed western societies.

      Mohammed poisoned wells, he and his subordinates raped, enslaved, and/or killed anyone who resisted his forced conversions. Jesus nor any pope after him advocated any of those obviously and decidedly opposite results of two religions. Mohammed absolutely invented a warring political and ideological movement masked as a religion.

  • Chris in Maryland

    Thank you Professor Kainz.
    When atrocities are committed in the name of Christianity, people who know the Gospel know that the perpetrators are disobeying the Gospel. When atrocities are committed in the name of Islam, people who know the Koran know that the perpetrators are obeying the Koran.

  • Chris in Maryland

    Thank you Professor Kainz.
    When atrocities are committed in the name of Christianity, people who know the Gospel know that the perpetrators are disobeying the Gospel. When atrocities are committed in the name of Islam, people who know the Koran know that the perpetrators are obeying the Koran.

  • Mary C-J

    Thank you, finaly a little light shed on the “Cult” of Islam, though in my opinion it is a Satanic cult. I know that that seems harsh, however I see very little if nothing of God’s hand in this, only Satan’s minions deceiving humans wishing for riches, immortality and their 72 virgins. Yes they pray – so does a thief before a robbery, so as not to be caught. Charity at the end of a blade? Youth and children as a sacrifice, be it a bomb, for the glory of God? I don’t think so.
    Mr. Kainz’s suggestions are very much on track, but with the continuing assault on Christians and Jews, it will require leadership with fortitude, and absolute faith in God.

  • Mary Carlton-Jones

    Thank you, finaly a little light shed on the “Cult” of Islam, though in my opinion it is a Satanic cult. I know that that seems harsh, however I see very little if nothing of God’s hand in this, only Satan’s minions deceiving humans wishing for riches, immortality and their 72 virgins. Yes they pray – so does a thief before a robbery, so as not to be caught. Charity at the end of a blade? Youth and children as a sacrifice, be it a bomb, for the glory of God? I don’t think so.
    Mr. Kainz’s suggestions are very much on track, but with the continuing assault on Christians and Jews, it will require leadership with fortitude, and absolute faith in God.

  • grump

    Hmmm. Let us quote George W. Bush, a self-described “born-again Christian,” who said: “I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did. And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, ‘Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East’. And, by God, I’m gonna do it.”

    What hath he wrought? – 2 million dead innocent Mideast civilians, the victims of sanctions, bombings by the most lethal military force in history.

    Perpetual war for perpetual peace.

    Retail or wholesale, one can find numerous examples of murder and violence in the Bible including by two of its most stellar figures, Moses and David.

    Of course, I’m with you, Howard, when it comes to self-defense and just wars, as described by Augustine and Aquinas. Jesus Himself urges us to arm ourselves to “guard our houses to make our possessions safe.” (Luke 11:21) Minimally, I suggest 9mm.

    And while Islam has little to commend as a “religion of peace,” the point stands that war crimes throughout the ages have been committed “in the name of God.”

    • givelifeachance2

      Bad example. Bush was a Christian like Obama is a Christian like Hitler was a Christian. In fact, they were all sock-puppets dribbling the ventriloquist’s lie that they are Christian, in order to misdirect public opinion against Christianity. For the truth, look to the respective scriptural sources of Christianity and Islam. No comparison. Islam fights while the Christian takes it on the cheek.

    • Jeannine

      I don’t believe that the George W. Bush quotation is real; it does not sound like him. To whom, when, and where did he say this? Document it, please.

    • TomD

      Where does this “quote” by President Bush, which is repeatedly claimed on the internet, come from?

      It is the personal recollection of Nabil Shaath, a multi-position leader within the Palestinian Authority, from a 2003 meeting President Bush had with numerous Palestinian officials. That is it’s sole source. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, among other positions, who was also present at the 2003 meeting in which Shaath alleges Bush made this statement, has denied that the statement you quote was ever made by President Bush. And, to the best of my knowledge, no other person at the 2003 meeting has ever confirmed Shaath’s account.

      Grump, along with others, continue to provide this “quote” as if it is a fact, but understand that it is an attribution from one Palestinian official, that has been denied by another Palestinian official who was present at the same meeting where this alleged “quote” was made. It factuality is highly doubtful.

    • Howard Kainz

      In 2005, The White House denied hat Bush had made such claims.

  • grump

    Hmmm. Let us quote George W. Bush, a self-described “born-again Christian,” who said: “I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did. And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, ‘Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East’. And, by God, I’m gonna do it.”

    What hath he wrought? – 2 million dead innocent Mideast civilians, the victims of sanctions, bombings by the most lethal military force in history.

    Perpetual war for perpetual peace.

    Retail or wholesale, one can find numerous examples of murder and violence in the Bible including by two of its most stellar figures, Moses and David.

    Of course, I’m with you, Howard, when it comes to self-defense and just wars, as described by Augustine and Aquinas. Jesus Himself urges us to arm ourselves to “guard our houses to make our possessions safe.” (Luke 11:21) Minimally, I suggest 9mm.

    And while Islam has little to commend as a “religion of peace,” the point stands that war crimes throughout the ages have been committed “in the name of God.”

    • givelifeachance2

      Bad example. Bush was a Christian like Obama is a Christian like Hitler was a Christian. In fact, they were all sock-puppets dribbling the ventriloquist’s lie that they are Christian, in order to misdirect public opinion against Christianity. For the truth, look to the respective scriptural sources of Christianity and Islam. No comparison. Islam fights while the Christian takes it on the cheek.

    • Jeannine

      I don’t believe that the George W. Bush quotation is real; it does not sound like him. To whom, when, and where did he say this? Document it, please.

    • TomD

      Where does this “quote” by President Bush, which is repeatedly claimed on the internet, come from?

      It is the personal recollection of Nabil Shaath, a multi-position leader within the Palestinian Authority, from a 2003 meeting President Bush had with numerous Palestinian officials. That is it’s sole source. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, among other positions, who was also present at the 2003 meeting in which Shaath alleges Bush made this statement, has denied that the statement you quote was ever made by President Bush. And, to the best of my knowledge, no other person at the 2003 meeting has ever confirmed Shaath’s account.

      Grump, along with others, continue to provide this “quote” as if it is a fact, but understand that it is an attribution from one Palestinian official, that has been denied by another Palestinian official who was present at the same meeting where this alleged “quote” was made. It factuality is highly doubtful.

    • Howard Kainz

      In 2005, The White House denied hat Bush had made such claims.

  • WSquared

    British Secret Service, M-16

    Dr. Kainz, a wee point: British Secret Service is MI6 (Military Intelligence 6), not M-16.

    • Howard Kainz

      Thanks for catching that.

  • WSquared

    British Secret Service, M-16

    Dr. Kainz, a wee point: British Secret Service is MI6 (Military Intelligence 6), not M-16.

    • Howard Kainz

      Thanks for catching that.

  • Greg Fazzari

    The current situation helps us UNDERSTAND the crusades. The crusades took place because of Muslim aggression. And once again the world must decide what to do in the face Muslim aggression. Our President has it backwards.

  • Greg Fazzari

    The current situation helps us UNDERSTAND the crusades. The crusades took place because of Muslim aggression. And once again the world must decide what to do in the face Muslim aggression. Our President has it backwards.

  • kathleen

    I have asked this question before, and now I ask it again: Muhammad said he received the Koran from the Archangel Gabriel. Really. Didn’t Saint Paul warn about an “angel of light” who might bring a Gospel other than that of Jesus Christ? St. Paul says: let that person be anathema. God didn’t send the Archangel Gabriel to Muhammad to bring a new revelation. The revelation from God ended with the Book of Revelation. We have had private revelations since then, Gaudalupe, Lourdes and Fatima to name a few of the most notable, and probably, the most important. The messages of Akita are worth noting, too. These Akita messages received the approval of the local bishop, but as far as I know have not received full approbation. I agree with Professor Kainz that Islam is a cult and followers have been led astray. To repeat: Muhammad came on the scene with his “revelation” about 700 years after Christ. Really????

  • kathleen

    I have asked this question before, and now I ask it again: Muhammad said he received the Koran from the Archangel Gabriel. Really. Didn’t Saint Paul warn about an “angel of light” who might bring a Gospel other than that of Jesus Christ? St. Paul says: let that person be anathema. God didn’t send the Archangel Gabriel to Muhammad to bring a new revelation. The revelation from God ended with the Book of Revelation. We have had private revelations since then, Gaudalupe, Lourdes and Fatima to name a few of the most notable, and probably, the most important. The messages of Akita are worth noting, too. These Akita messages received the approval of the local bishop, but as far as I know have not received full approbation. I agree with Professor Kainz that Islam is a cult and followers have been led astray. To repeat: Muhammad came on the scene with his “revelation” about 700 years after Christ. Really????

  • Bro_Ed

    It bothers me that I see no great outcry or frenetic activity among the American and Western Imams concerning violence in general and ISIS in particular. Where are the fatwas against ISIS? Why aren’t the papers filled with open letters from Muslim seniors to their young advising them against this self-radicalization? Why aren’t there more public service announcements on radio and TV condemning the violent ones and teaching the young about the loving Islam we don’t get to see or hear about as often as we should?

    I read in the local Boston papers that the older brother in the Boston Marathon bombing caused a stir twice in his local mosque. Once about respecting Martin Luther King (a supposed “infidel”) and another time about observing American holidays like Thanksgiving (idolatry). They say he was even ejected for disrupting the service at least once. Why didn’t one of the people there “drop a dime” and suggest the cops check this guy out?

  • Bro_Ed

    It bothers me that I see no great outcry or frenetic activity among the American and Western Imams concerning violence in general and ISIS in particular. Where are the fatwas against ISIS? Why aren’t the papers filled with open letters from Muslim seniors to their young advising them against this self-radicalization? Why aren’t there more public service announcements on radio and TV condemning the violent ones and teaching the young about the loving Islam we don’t get to see or hear about as often as we should?

    I read in the local Boston papers that the older brother in the Boston Marathon bombing caused a stir twice in his local mosque. Once about respecting Martin Luther King (a supposed “infidel”) and another time about observing American holidays like Thanksgiving (idolatry). They say he was even ejected for disrupting the service at least once. Why didn’t one of the people there “drop a dime” and suggest the cops check this guy out?

  • $139892560

    Excellent article. This is so well written I am saving and recommending it.
    My confusion came in with our last 3 Popes stating that Islam is one of the great monotheistic faiths (JPII said as much). Are they all saying that Allah is the same god as the Christian God or are they just saying that Islam, like Christianity, is based on faith in one God? Was this said to look at the similarities and not focus on the differences?
    The Crusades were fought in defense of Christianity, and freedom. Why do people insist this is a religion at all? It is a hostile Government and as stated in the article, Islamic Imperialism! Until we see Islam for what it is, people are going to continue to die by the thousands all over the world. Satan is trying to destroy mankind and the world. Jesus said we will know a tree by its fruits, the fruits of Islam are and have always been Conquer! Followed by submit or die…or if we are so inclined, pay a tax and live badly.
    Obama stated that if the world goes to war (chaos) he will side with Islam.
    In “Audacity of Hope” he writes: “I will stand with the Muslims should
    the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” The quote comes from
    page 261 of the paperback edition of “The Audacity of Hope.
    It is time for people to wake up.

    • Howard Kainz

      They are following Vatican II. In my September 27 column on Vatican II last year I cited Roberto De Mattei’s analysis of how the various laudatory statements about Islam got into the Council: “In the discussion of Nostra aetate,
      the movement to remove liturgical references to ‘deicide’ by the Jews,
      and to recognize the significance of the divine covenant with the Jews,
      led some from Arabic countries to charge that this might be perceived as ‘pro-Zionist.’ This objection led eventually to the parallel inclusion
      of Islam in the segments on ‘non-Christian religions’ – referring to the
      Church’s ‘esteem’ of the Muslims who ‘adore the one God, living and
      subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven
      and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit
      wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees. . . .they value the
      moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and
      fasting.’ This praise of Islam was continued in Lumen gentium.”

      • mortimer zilch

        …therefore it is for our “instruction and edification.” Surely Genesis records YHWH’s pledge of continued protection for the illegitimate children of Abraham…and if all Arab peoples are now Muslim…it doesn’t break His promise.

        • $139892560

          What does mean for all of the people they are murdering? This is all so hard to understand.

      • $139892560

        Where does that leave us now? This problem is growing and I just can’t imagine this is the same God as their god and religion actually calls for murder of infidels..so much goes against what Christ taught.

    • mortimer zilch

      his next job….if he EVER leaves the Presidency….CALIPH of the Islamic State!

  • SnowCherryBlossoms

    Excellent article. This is so well written I am saving and recommending it.
    My confusion came in with our last 3 Popes stating that Islam is one of the great monotheistic faiths (JPII said as much). Are they all saying that Allah is the same god as the Christian God or are they just saying that Islam, like Christianity, is based on faith in one God? Was this said to look at the similarities and not focus on the differences?
    The Crusades were fought in defense of Christianity, and freedom. Why do people insist this is a religion at all? It is a hostile Government and as stated in the article, Islamic Imperialism! Until we see Islam for what it is, people are going to continue to die by the thousands all over the world. Satan is trying to destroy mankind and the world. Jesus said we will know a tree by its fruits, the fruits of Islam are and have always been Conquer! Followed by submit or die…or if we are so inclined, pay a tax and live badly.
    Obama stated that if the world goes to war (chaos) he will side with Islam.
    In “Audacity of Hope” he writes: “I will stand with the Muslims should
    the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” The quote comes from
    page 261 of the paperback edition of “The Audacity of Hope.
    It is time for people to wake up.

    • Howard Kainz

      They are following Vatican II. In my September 27 column on Vatican II last year I cited Roberto De Mattei’s analysis of how the various laudatory statements about Islam got into the Council: “In the discussion of Nostra aetate,
      the movement to remove liturgical references to ‘deicide’ by the Jews,
      and to recognize the significance of the divine covenant with the Jews,
      led some from Arabic countries to charge that this might be perceived as ‘pro-Zionist.’ This objection led eventually to the parallel inclusion
      of Islam in the segments on ‘non-Christian religions’ – referring to the
      Church’s ‘esteem’ of the Muslims who ‘adore the one God, living and
      subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven
      and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit
      wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees. . . .they value the
      moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and
      fasting.’ This praise of Islam was continued in Lumen gentium.”

      • mortimer zilch

        …therefore it is for our “instruction and edification.” Surely Genesis records YHWH’s pledge of continued protection for the illegitimate children of Abraham…and if all Arab peoples are now Muslim…it doesn’t break His promise.

        • SnowCherryBlossoms

          What does mean for all of the people they are murdering? This is all so hard to understand.

      • SnowCherryBlossoms

        Where does that leave us now? This problem is growing and I just can’t imagine this is the same God as their god and religion actually calls for murder of infidels..so much goes against what Christ taught.

    • mortimer zilch

      his next job….if he EVER leaves the Presidency….CALIPH of the Islamic State!

  • mortimer zilch

    St. Thomas Aquinas explicitly recommends the burning of heretics – which we in a pluralistic society rightly reject. Therefore, there has been a general evolution of values that occurred – and you must agree that it has occurred also WITHIN Catholic theological thinking over the time period since St. Thomas wrote. The whole debate over the justice of the death penalty for convicted murderers shows how far we have come along this line of development. (Though it seems we are still holding quite firmly to the concept of a “just” war – even a nuclear one?) My question here is: what led to the change in Catholic attitude on violence toward its enemies? Surely it can be suggested that European civil society was able to throw off the shackles of Catholic domination of public law….the barons and burgers and kings and what not all managed to gradually forge independence from Holy Mother Church in a struggle that was at times quite hostile, even involving military action against the papal armies. Is there another interpretation to explain present Western Civilization’s somewhat more tolerant and pacifist attitudes? (Was St. Thomas simply WRONG – and Jesus has slowly corrected him in the only force institutional Catholicism would submit to?) // Islam’s fundamentalism and scriptural literalism doesn’t build-in such flexibility or openness to evolution of belief. Though 60 years ago sharia police did not patrol the streets of most Arab countries, and those societies were able to co-exist with Westerners more amiably than now. This whole area of tolerance/intolerance is the flash point we are experiencing vis-a-vis Islam today. It seems to me that only by harmonious inter-action on common points of interest: poverty, suffering, hunger, scientific education, medicine, space development, etc, can Islam self-modify its practice and treat aliens more tolerantly. God Himself appears to have placed an obstacle within our midst that we cannot overcome separately apart from those who wish to kill us and whom we would wish to kill.

    • kathleen

      Mortimer: St. Thomas Aquinas didn’t believe in the Immaculate Conception. His opinion on that was never accepted by the Church, nor I would imagine was his opinion on burning heretics. St. Thomas Aquinas never spoke or taught ex cathedra. That privilege is reserved for the Supreme Pontiff.

      • N. W. Flitcraft

        St. Thomas DID believe in, and teach, the Immaculate Conception.
        Summa III.27.1: ‘…since her body was assumed into heaven … so it may be reasonably argued that she was sanctified in the womb. For it is reasonable to believe that she, who brought forth “the Only-Begotten of the Father full of grace and truth,” received greater privileges of grace than all others: hence we read (Luke 1:28) that the angel addressed her in the words: “Hail full of grace!”‘

    • Anthony Zarrella

      St. Thomas Aquinas, while very highly regarded in the Church, has never been regarded as a source of divine revelation. His opinions were his alone, until and unless they were officially adopted by the Church.

      The Koran, on the other hand, is regarded as the literal and verbatim word of Allah.

      • mortimer zilch

        as a Doctor of the Church, Aquinas’ views mirror the advanced Christian thinking of his time. What brought about the change?? That is my question. I don’t see this discussed much at all. Now that Pastoral Practice is threatening to separate from Doctrinal Formulations we must look at historical precedent to change. This post is one example.

        • Anthony Zarrella

          Ah, I see. Well, if I’m reading you correctly this time around, then I possibly owe you an apology. I’ve gotten used to seeing non-Catholics and “dissenters” use examples like that to try to argue that the immutability of doctrine is really just an excuse for not keeping up with modern ethical intuitions, and I assumed that was what you were doing.

          It appears, instead, that you are simply suggesting a historical inquiry into *how* the Church changed Her *non*-doctrinal customs and beliefs, as a guide for how we may (permissibly, faithfully, and in an orthodox way) alter those things which *may* be altered in a way that will improve evangelization without compromising principles or Catholic identity.

          That, of course, I support!

          [Edited to respond more fully to the original post]

          I would, however (just for the sake of clarity), note that the Church has *only* changed its *attitude* towards the death penalty and war, not its doctrines. It is still good Catholic doctrine that the death penalty is sometimes justified, and as you note, we still have Just War doctrine.

          And… “shackles of Church domination”? Perhaps a bit harsh, don’t you think?

          Lastly, “institutional Catholicism” is wholly indistinct from “Catholicism” simpliciter. As I said, I am assuming you’re *not* calling for any Modernist or anti-clerical innovations, but phrases like “shackles of Church domination” and “institutional Catholicism” make it *sound* an awful lot like you’re throwing in with the so-called “dissenting Catholic” crowd.

          • mortimer zilch

            so it’s camps. is that what you do? shove people into camps. all of them unsaved except the one you’re in….”institutional Catholicism” refers to the visible Church of clerics and consecrated religious. “Shackles…” refers to the typical social control exerted by institutional Catholicism over subservient cultures with the aquiescence of the monarch. It was these “locked-in” cultures that managed to change due to certain factors that we don’t teach in Church history, but which are being taught now in Universities with a decidedly anti-Catholic jibe to it. Look at Ireland….abortion is legal there now. Catholicism among the laity is fading fast (likewise among the French Canadians). What caused this rapid change after a period of 1500 years of solid Faith among the laity?
            Can it be laid to clerical child sex abuse solely? Or are there other factors? Happy St. Patrick’s Day…he can’t be happy with the state of the Faith in Ireland. How does society shape/change the Church? Look at Africa now, it’s culture against homosexuality finds confirmation in Church teaching, and now they are the strongest voice against accepting “homosexualist Christianity” theologies. Will they rescue us?

          • Anthony Zarrella

            so it’s camps. is that what you do? shove people into camps. all of them unsaved except the one you’re in

            Not at all. I classify people into intellectual “camps” based on their expressed opinions. I have no problem believing that at least some people in “camps” opposed to my own views will be saved, and that at least some in agreement with me (including, possibly, myself) will not be.

            As to the rest of your post, I think you are right to call for a study of what has caused so much of the modern world to fall away from faith and from the Church, but the focus should be on how to restore the Church to a position of recognized moral authority, such that cultural mores are always judged by doctrine, not the other way around.

            I do agree that Africa seems to be the most promising bastion of the Faith, while Ireland has fallen away (though not necessarily all individual Irish). I have faith that God will guide the Church to take its cues from the right places, and stand firm in the unchanging truths handed down from the Apostles.

  • mortimer zilch

    St. Thomas Aquinas explicitly recommends the burning of heretics – which we in a pluralistic society rightly reject. Therefore, there has been a general evolution of values that occurred – and you must agree that it has occurred also WITHIN Catholic theological thinking over the time period since St. Thomas wrote. The whole debate over the justice of the death penalty for convicted murderers shows how far we have come along this line of development. (Though it seems we are still holding quite firmly to the concept of a “just” war – even a nuclear one?) My question here is: what led to the change in Catholic attitude on violence toward its enemies? Surely it can be suggested that European civil society was able to throw off the shackles of Catholic domination of public law….the barons and burgers and kings and what not all managed to gradually forge independence from Holy Mother Church in a struggle that was at times quite hostile, even involving military action against the papal armies. Is there another interpretation to explain present Western Civilization’s somewhat more tolerant and pacifist attitudes? (Was St. Thomas simply WRONG – and Jesus has slowly corrected him in the only force institutional Catholicism would submit to?) // Islam’s fundamentalism and scriptural literalism doesn’t build-in such flexibility or openness to evolution of belief. Though 60 years ago sharia police did not patrol the streets of most Arab countries, and those societies were able to co-exist with Westerners more amiably than now. This whole area of tolerance/intolerance is the flash point we are experiencing vis-a-vis Islam today. It seems to me that only by harmonious inter-action on common points of interest: poverty, suffering, hunger, scientific education, medicine, space development, etc, can Islam self-modify its practice and treat aliens more tolerantly. God Himself appears to have placed an obstacle within our midst that we cannot overcome separately apart from those who wish to kill us and whom we would wish to kill.

    • kathleen

      Mortimer: St. Thomas Aquinas didn’t believe in the Immaculate Conception. His opinion on that was never accepted by the Church, nor I would imagine was his opinion on burning heretics. St. Thomas Aquinas never spoke or taught ex cathedra. That privilege is reserved for the Supreme Pontiff.

    • Anthony Zarrella

      St. Thomas Aquinas, while very highly regarded in the Church, has never been regarded as a source of divine revelation. His opinions were his alone, until and unless they were officially adopted by the Church.

      The Koran, on the other hand, is regarded as the literal and verbatim word of Allah.

  • Paul

    Howard, contrary to your claim, the 10 commandments can be found scattered throughout the Quran.
    Exodus 20 : 1-17 & Deuteronomy 5 : 6-21

    Confirmation in the Quran is given in the bracket. (Chapter : Verse)

    Thou shall not take any god except one God. (47 : 19)

    Thou shall make no image of God. (42 : 11; 6:103; 14:35)

    Thou shall not use God’s name in vain. (2 : 224)

    Thou shall honour thy mother and father. (17 : 23)

    Thou shall not steal. (5 : 38 & 39)

    Thou shall not lie or give false testimony. (4 : 135)

    Thou shall not kill. (17 : 33)

    Thou shall not commit adultery. (17 : 32)

    Thou shall not covet thy neighbours wife or possessions. (20 : 131)

    Thou shall keep the Sabbath holy. (62 : 9)

    • Howard Kainz

      Do any of those fragments of commandments indicate loving or sincerely respectful Muslim relations to unbelievers? As you know, in Muhammad’s 70+ raiding exploits, booty (not considered stealing) was distributed (one-fifth to the prophet); lying (“taqiyya”) is allowed when it will advance Islam; the true testimony of unbelievers against a Muslim is not accepted in Islamic law; taking on slave-girls is not considered adultery; honor-killing of parents by children or vice versa is allowed; and not making an image of Muhammad seems more important than not making idols of God.
      But I still would like to hear an answer to my original question to you: I invite you to put my three examples (many more could be given) of commands about doing violence to unbelievers in what you consider their proper context.

      • Paul

        Glad you concede that you made a blunder about the 10 commandments not being found in the Quran. Just one of many errors in your essay. As to contextualising the three verses for you – can you not read yourself? Are your incapable of scanning an easily available translation of the Quran? You falsely claim ‘There are multiple cases in this scripture where general mayhem against all unbelievers is recommended’

        Randomly I look at one example of yours: Sura 9:5 commands, “When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them.”

        Context Howard? There is a very specific context:

        1. A (declaration) of immunity from Allah and His Messenger, to those of the Pagans with whom ye have contracted mutual alliances:-

        2. Go ye, then, for four months, backwards and forwards, (as ye will), throughout the land, but know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah (by your falsehood) but that Allah will cover with shame those who reject Him.

        3. And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger, to the people (assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage,- that Allah and His Messenger dissolve (treaty) obligations with the Pagans. If then, ye repent, it were best for you; but if ye turn away, know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah. And proclaim a grievous penalty to those who reject Faith.

        4. (But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for Allah loveth the righteous.

        5. But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

        6. If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah. and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge.

        So treaties with those Pagans who have treacherously broken their terms are denounced, but four months time is given for adjustments or repentance. There is no ‘general mayhem against all unbelievers’.

        • Howard Kainz

          The general context of this late Medinan Sura, of course, is that Muhammad has conquered Mecca, and is now issuing the general rules for jihad (with a condemnation of Muslims who don’t want to wage war), before his armies begin to attack larger targets like Constantinople. Those pagans or Jews or Christians who convert to Islam after the four months “grace period” will be in a much safer position. The Encylopedia of Islam sums up the situation very well: “Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam.”

        • Anthony Zarrella

          That’s not a very natural reading of verses 4 and 5…

          “(But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have *NOT* subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you” (emphasis added)

          In other words, this refers to *non-treacherous* Pagans.

          “So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term … But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them”

          In other words, if the Pagans have *not* violated the treaties, then keep the treaties until they expire (so as not to be “unrighteous” by breaking them prematurely), but as soon as the treaties expire, slaughter them all unless they repent of their unbelief.

  • Paul

    Howard, contrary to your claim, the 10 commandments can be found scattered throughout the Quran.
    Exodus 20 : 1-17 & Deuteronomy 5 : 6-21

    Confirmation in the Quran is given in the bracket. (Chapter : Verse)

    Thou shall not take any god except one God. (47 : 19)

    Thou shall make no image of God. (42 : 11; 6:103; 14:35)

    Thou shall not use God’s name in vain. (2 : 224)

    Thou shall honour thy mother and father. (17 : 23)

    Thou shall not steal. (5 : 38 & 39)

    Thou shall not lie or give false testimony. (4 : 135)

    Thou shall not kill. (17 : 33)

    Thou shall not commit adultery. (17 : 32)

    Thou shall not covet thy neighbours wife or possessions. (20 : 131)

    Thou shall keep the Sabbath holy. (62 : 9)

    • Howard Kainz

      Do any of those fragments of commandments indicate loving or sincerely respectful Muslim relations to unbelievers? As you know, in Muhammad’s 70+ raiding exploits, booty (not considered stealing) was distributed (one-fifth to the prophet); lying (“taqiyya”) is allowed when it will advance Islam; the true testimony of unbelievers against a Muslim is not accepted in Islamic law; taking on slave-girls is not considered adultery; honor-killing of parents by children or vice versa is allowed; and not making an image of Muhammad seems more important than not making idols of God.
      But I still would like to hear an answer to my original question to you: I invite you to put my three examples (many more could be given) of commands about doing violence to unbelievers in what you consider their proper context.

      • Paul

        Glad you concede that you made a blunder about the 10 commandments not being found in the Quran. Just one of many errors in your essay. As to contextualising the three verses for you – can you not read yourself? Are your incapable of scanning an easily available translation of the Quran? You falsely claim ‘There are multiple cases in this scripture where general mayhem against all unbelievers is recommended’

        Randomly I look at one example of yours: Sura 9:5 commands, “When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them.”

        Context Howard? There is a very specific context:

        1. A (declaration) of immunity from Allah and His Messenger, to those of the Pagans with whom ye have contracted mutual alliances:-

        2. Go ye, then, for four months, backwards and forwards, (as ye will), throughout the land, but know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah (by your falsehood) but that Allah will cover with shame those who reject Him.

        3. And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger, to the people (assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage,- that Allah and His Messenger dissolve (treaty) obligations with the Pagans. If then, ye repent, it were best for you; but if ye turn away, know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah. And proclaim a grievous penalty to those who reject Faith.

        4. (But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for Allah loveth the righteous.

        5. But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

        6. If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah. and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge.

        So treaties with those Pagans who have treacherously broken their terms are denounced, but four months time is given for adjustments or repentance. There is no ‘general mayhem against all unbelievers’.

        • Howard Kainz

          The general context of this late Medinan Sura, of course, is that Muhammad has conquered Mecca, and is now issuing the general rules for jihad (with a condemnation of Muslims who don’t want to wage war), before his armies begin to attack larger targets like Constantinople. Those pagans or Jews or Christians who convert to Islam after the four months “grace period” will be in a much safer position. The Encylopedia of Islam sums up the situation very well: “Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam.”

        • Anthony Zarrella

          That’s not a very natural reading of verses 4 and 5…

          “(But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have *NOT* subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you” (emphasis added)

          In other words, this refers to *non-treacherous* Pagans.

          “So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term … But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them”

          In other words, if the Pagans have *not* violated the treaties, then keep the treaties until they expire (so as not to be “unrighteous” by breaking them prematurely), but as soon as the treaties expire, slaughter them all unless they repent of their unbelief.

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  • Tony in PA

    ISIS slaughters 21 Christians and we get treated to yet another ignorant explanation of the Crusades. As if we Christians had just tried to be a little nicer this would not have happened.

  • Tony in PA

    ISIS slaughters 21 Christians and we get treated to yet another ignorant explanation of the Crusades. As if we Christians had just tried to be a little nicer this would not have happened.



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