Should You Be Islamophobic?

By Robin Schumacher

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Continued from Page One

What About Islam?

In the Islamic Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith* 1.4, we read: "Allah's Apostle [Muhammad] said: 'I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.'"

That is followed up in 1.5, which says: "Allah's Apostle was asked, 'What is the best deed?' He replied, 'To believe in Allah and His Apostle (Muhammad).' The questioner then asked, 'What is the next (in goodness)?' He replied, 'To participate in Jihad (religious fighting) in Allah's Cause.'"

Then in the Quran, we find: "And if you are killed in the cause of Allah or die — then forgiveness from Allah and mercy are better than whatever they accumulate [in this world]. And whether you die or are killed, unto Allah you will be gathered." (3:157-158).

These three statements seem to sum up the foundation and justification that many Islamic terrorist groups give for the violence they commit against non-Muslims and the reward they expect if they die during a fight against their perceived enemies. Even the "golden rule" seems altered to apply only to other Muslims and not outsiders in Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.12: "The Prophet said, 'None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself.'"

What should we make of these statements?

The Heart of a Worldview or Religion

There are countless articles and websites that list verses like those above from the Islamic Quran and Hadiths (Islamic traditions), which seem to prescribe violence toward non-Muslims, and there are also Islamic apologetic websites and materials that attempt to show how Islam is a religion of peace.

In looking at seemingly contradictory and opposing sides of an argument like this, it's helpful to ask two questions that help bring clarity to the discussion of what any religion or worldview believes and teaches:
1. Are the practices in question a reflection of the worldview/religion's explicit and prescriptive teachings and/or a logical outworking of the worldview's philosophical conclusions?

2. Are the particular teachings/instructions in question properly taken from the religious text's context and is the historical milieu considered?
To see how these can be applied, let's look at an example from Christianity. What would a person think by examining Psalm 137:9, which is a cry from the psalmist against his enemies: "How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock."

Leaving the verse by itself, you have to admit that such a statement is shocking to read. But let's now look at it in context and in its historical setting: "Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom, the day of Jerusalem, who said, 'Raze it, raze it to its very foundation.' O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one, how blessed will be the one who repays you with the recompense with which you have repaid us. How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock" (Psalm 137:1-9).

Old Testament scholars will tell you that these verses are a textbook example of talion, a cry for a punishment to match a specific crime. As Israel's enemies had done to them, the Psalmist asks God to repay them accordingly, even going so far as to cut off their next generation. This being the case, we find that the statement found in verse 9 is not a global prescriptive command, is only applied to a specific historical context, and is not something that dovetails at all with Christ's universal teaching of loving your enemy.

In Part 2 of this post, we'll apply the above two questions to Islam and see what we find.

* Considered by Sunni Muslims as the most trustworthy account of Muhammad's life.

Image Credit: "Gareth Davies"; Creative Commons

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Published 8-13-14