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Peace and violence in Christianity and Islam

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God? - Continued
in response to reader comment: To those who may hate Islam [and especially Mr. Lactantius (the first one)]

Submitted by Lactantius Jr. (United Kingdom), Dec 29, 2006 at 10:55

To Justicar

I am truly sorry to read that what you have read about Islam in online postings, mine included, has distressed you and made you cry Justicar. I readily admit that there is much that is hateful and hurtful in my postings, but please don't blame me, I didn't write it, I source everything in Islam's most authoritative documents, the Qur'an, the Sahi Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim, the Sirat Rasullullah of Ibn Ishaq, retrieved by Arthur Guillaume from Ibn Hisham's editing of Ibn Ishaq, in which Hisham had edited out things considered offensive to Muslims. Arthur Guillaume being able to recover some of the "offensive" stuff edited out by Ibn Hisham, from At-Tabari's compilation of Islamic scholars quotations, and published his book under the title "The Life of Muhammad."

Do I hate Islam? hate is a word which doesn't describe my feelings about Islam, and do please notice, I'm referring to Islam, and not to Muslims. I do not respect Islam though Justicar, how can I, when it denies the very heart of my Christian beliefs? denying the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, denying His crucifixion, saying Allah put a "lookalike" on the Cross in His place, and thus denying His glorious resurrection from the dead, and by denying God's Fatherhood and His Unity in TriUnity ("The Trinity"), means that Islam and Christianity are not worshipping the same God.

How can I respect the denial of my faith Justicar?

So just why do I write as I do?

I believe that truth is important, and worth contending for, especially do I believe speaking Christian truth to have eternal importance, for those who will accept it against Islam which denies it.

The Lord Jesus Christ said we are to love the Lord our God with all our minds, to ask, to seek, and to knock on doors, with the Bible teaching us "the golden rule," which is to do to others what we would want them to do to us. Imagine Justicar, we were having a conversation on the sidewalk, you with your back to oncoming traffic, being unaware of a truck hurtling down the road, and without looking, you are about to step off the sidewalk into the road. Don't you think I would try to stop you being killed? How much more am I going to try and save you, believing your eternal life and death to be at stake? stepping into the journey of life without the real Jesus, only having in His place the Islamic Isa, who is not the real Jesus, and who can't save anybody.

I believe Western freedoms of thought and expression are important and worth preserving, and though that means having to endure attacks on that which we hold most dear, we have the freedom to speak up and speak out against them, rather than censoring thoughts and words we don't like, or killing those we disagree with.

And last but not least, to expose violence. Truly Justicar "The pen is mightier than the sword."

You have written about a wide range of subjects, and I am impressed Justicar, but rather than attempt to respond to all of them, which would take a very lengthy response from me, I'll leave that to other contributors to Dr Pipes' fine site, and will confine my response to dealing with the all-important topic of peace and violence in Christianity and Islam, concluding by asking "where will we find peace, who will give us the peace we so desperately need?"

"Don't be so quick to ignore ‘The Crusades' "

My purpose in writing as I have done here, is not to defend or justify the Christian "Crusades," but to set them in their historical context, and whilst many Muslims and Christians date the origin of hostility between Islam and Christianity to the beginning of "the Crusades," it is necessary to ask which ones? The Christian "Crusades" didn't arise in a vacuum, they were a response to nearly 500 years of militarily offensive jihad starting soon after Muhammad's death, and continuing for nearly 500 years.

Christians are often rightly guilt-ridden at the memory of the cruelty of their ancestors. However, an appropriate recognition of the evil deeds wrongly performed in the name of Jesus Christ, is frequently replaced by a distorted view of history. While we must not whitewash wicked men simply because they call themselves Christians, it is only just that we attempt to understand others, before passing judgement upon them.

One fairly obvious yet frequently overlooked fact, is that war always involves at least two parties. The Muslims were not simply passive and helpless victims of European aggression. For many centuries, their states and armies were more powerful than any in Europe. It is essential that the Muslim contribution to Muslim-Christian relations not be overlooked.

After the death of Muhammad in AD 632 the Arab armies swept through the Middle East. Within a few years they had taken Damascus (AD 635), Antioch (AD 636), and Jerusalem (AD 638). Before a century had passed, the Arabs had reached the Atlantic Ocean and crossed into Europe, occupying all of Spain until finally halted by Charles Martel at the battle of Poitiers (AD 738). In the east, the Arabs conquered and absorbed the Sassanid empire, pressing on to India. Byzantium survived, though much weakened, and her possession of Anatolia blocked the Arab advance into Eastern Europe.

In the eleventh century the Seljuks, a confederation of Turkish tribes in Iran, rose to a position of prominence within the Abbasid caliphate. They defeated the Byzantine army at Manzikert in AD 1071, establishing a foothold in eastern Anatolia. Turkish tribes began migrating into Anatolia, further destabilizing Byzantium and began the gradual transformation of that land from a Greek-speaking Christian one to a Turkish-speaking Muslim one.

It was in this context that the crusades began in the 11th century. Almoravid armies in Spain were resuming the offensive, and in Anatolia the Byzantines were in danger of collapse. And so, a desperate strategy seemed justified.

The Crusades, eight in all, lasted from AD 1096-1270, when the Europeans were finally expelled from Palestine. Rather than being the cause of conflict between Christianity and Islam, the crusades were in fact a response to the success of the Islamic jihads which had started soon after Muhammad's death, and continued for nearly 500 years. If Islam had stayed in Arabia and had not waged wars of conquest, then no troubles would have erupted. But the truth is this: Islam moved aggressively during the Caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar in the seventh century, with other Caliphs continuing well beyond that; only then, did the Western Europeans react (see AD 1094 in the Timeline). The Christian Crusades were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.


Taken from ‘The Truth about Islamic Crusades and Imperialism' James Arlandson


The Timeline

AD 630 Two years before Muhammad's death of a fever, he launches the Tabuk Crusades, in which he led 30,000 jihadists against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a report that a huge army had amassed to attack Arabia, but the report turned out to be a false rumour. The Byzantine army never materialized. He turned around and went home, but not before extracting "agreements" from northern tribes. They could enjoy the "privilege" of living under Islamic "protection" (not being attacked by Islam), if they paid a tax (jizya).

This tax sets the stage for Muhammad's, and the later Caliphs' policies. If the attacked city or region did not want to convert to Islam, then they paid a jizya tax. If they converted, then they paid a zakat tax. Either way, money flowed back to the Islamic treasury in Arabia or to the local Muslim governor.

AD 632-634 Under the Caliphate of Abu Bakr the Muslim jihadis reconquer and sometimes conquer for the first time the polytheists of Arabia. These Arab polytheists had to convert to Islam or die. They did not have the choice of remaining in their polytheism and paying a tax. Islam does not allow for religious freedom.

AD 633 The Muslim Crusaders, led by Khalid al-Walid, a superior but bloodthirsty military commander, whom Muhammad nicknamed the Sword of Allah for his ferocity in battle (Tabari, 8:158 / 1616-17), conquer the city of Ullays along the Euphrates River (in today's Iraq). Khalid captures and beheads so many that a nearby canal, into which the blood flowed, was called Blood Canal (Tabari 11:24 / 2034-35).

AD 634 At the Battle of Yarmuk in Syria the Muslim Crusaders defeat the Byzantines. Today Osama bin Laden draws inspiration from the defeat, and especially from an anecdote about Khalid al-Walid. An unnamed Muslim remarks: "The Romans are so numerous and the Muslims so few." To this Khalid retorts: "How few are the Romans, and how many the Muslims! Armies become numerous only with victory and few only with defeat, not by the number of men. By Allah, I would love it . . . if the enemy were twice as many" (Tabari, 11:94 / 2095). Osama bin Ladin quotes Khalid and says that his fighters love death more than we in the West love life. This philosophy of death probably comes from a verse like Surah 2:96. Muhammad assesses the Jews: "[Prophet], you are sure to find them [the Jews] clinging to life more eagerly than any other people, even polytheists" (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur'an, Oxford UP, 2004; first insertion in brackets is Haleem's; the second mine).

AD 634-644 The Caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab, who is regarded as particularly brutal.

AD 635 Muslim jihadis besiege and conquer of Damascus

AD 636 Muslim jihadis defeat Byzantines decisively at Battle of Yarmuk.

AD 637 Muslim jihadis conquer Iraq at the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah (some date it in AD 635 or 636)

AD 638 Muslim jihadis conquer and annex Jerusalem, taking it from the Byzantines.

AD 638-650 Muslim jihadis conquer Iran, except along Caspian Sea.

AD 639-642 Muslim jihadis conquer Egypt.

AD 641 Muslim jihadis control Syria and Palestine.

AD 643-707 Muslim jihadis conquer North Africa.

AD 644 Caliph Umar is assassinated by a Persian prisoner of war; Uthman ibn Affan is elected third Caliph, who is regarded by many Muslims as gentler than Umar.

AD 644-650 Muslim jihadis conquer Cyprus, Tripoli in North Africa, and establish Islamic rule in Iran, Afghanistan, and Sind.

AD 656 Caliph Uthman is assassinated by disgruntled Muslim soldiers; Ali ibn Abi Talib, son-in-law and cousin to Muhammad, who married the prophet's daughter Fatima through his first wife Khadija, is set up as Caliph.

AD 656 Battle of the Camel, in which Aisha, Muhammad's wife, leads a rebellion against Ali for not avenging Uthman's assassination. Ali's partisans win.

AD 657 Battle of Siffin between Ali and Muslim governor of Jerusalem, arbitration goes against Ali

AD 661 Murder of Ali by an extremist; Ali's supporters acclaim his son Hasan as next Caliph, but he comes to an agreement with Muawiyyah I and retires to Medina.

661-680 the Caliphate of Muawiyyah I. He founds Umayyid dynasty and moves capital from Medina to Damascus

AD 673-678 Arabs besiege Constantinople, capital of Byzantine Empire

AD 680 Massacre of Hussein (Muhammad's grandson), his family, and his supporters in Karbala, Iraq.

AD 691 Dome of the Rock is completed in Jerusalem, only six decades after Muhammad's death.

AD 705 Abd al-Malik restores Umayyad rule.

AD 710-713 Muslim jihadis conquer the lower Indus Valley.

AD 711-713 Muslim jihadis conquer Spain and impose the kingdom of Andalus. Muslims today, still grieve over their expulsion 700 years ago, seeming to believe that the land belonged to them in the first place.

AD 719 Cordova, Spain, becomes seat of Arab governor

AD 732 The Muslim jihadis stopped at the Battle of Poitiers; that is, Franks (France) halt Arab advance

AD 749 The Abbasids conquer Kufah and overthrow Umayyids

AD 756 Foundation of Umayyid amirate in Cordova, Spain, setting up an independent kingdom from Abbasids

AD 762 Foundation of Baghdad

AD 785 Foundation of the Great Mosque of Cordova

AD 789 Rise of Idrisid amirs (Muslim jihadis) in Morocco; foundation of Fez; Christoforos, a Muslim who converted to Christianity, is executed.

AD 800 Autonomous Aghlabid dynasty (Muslim jihadis) in Tunisia

AD 807 Caliph Harun al-Rashid orders the destruction of non-Muslim prayer houses and of the church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem

AD 809 Aghlabids (Muslim jihadis) conquer Sardinia, Italy

AD 813 Christians in Palestine are attacked; many flee the country

AD 831 Muslim jihadis capture Palermo, Italy; raids in Southern Italy

AD 850 Caliph al-Matawakkil orders the destruction of non-Muslim houses of prayer

AD 855 Revolt of the Christians of Hims (Syria)

AD 837-901 Aghlabids (Muslim jihadis) conquer Sicily, raid Corsica, Italy, France

AD 869-883 Revolt of black slaves in Iraq

AD 909 Rise of the Fatimid Caliphate in Tunisia; these Muslim jihadis occupy Sicily, Sardinia

AD 928-969 Byzantine military revival, they retake old territories, such as Cyprus (964) and Tarsus (969)

AD 937 The Ikhshid, a particularly harsh Muslim ruler, writes to Emperor Romanus, boasting of his control over the holy places

AD 937 The Church of the Resurrection (known as Church of Holy Sepulcher in Latin West) is burned down by Muslims; more churches in Jerusalem are attacked

AD 960 Conversion of Qarakhanid Turks to Islam

AD 966 Anti-Christian riots in Jerusalem

AD 969 Fatimids (Muslim jihadis) conquer Egypt and found Cairo

~AD 970 Seljuks enter conquered Islamic territories from the East

AD 973 Israel and southern Syria are again conquered by the Fatimids

AD 1003 First persecutions by al-Hakim; the Church of St. Mark in Fustat, Egypt, is destroyed

AD 1009 Destruction of the Church of the Resurrection by al-Hakim (see AD 937)

AD 1012 Beginning of al-Hakim's oppressive decrees against Jews and Christians

AD 1015 Earthquake in Palestine; the dome of the Dome of the Rock collapses

AD 1031 Collapse of Umayyid Caliphate and establishment of 15 minor independent dynasties throughout Muslim Andalus

AD 1048 Reconstruction of the Church of the Resurrection completed

AD 1050 Creation of Almoravid (Muslim jihadi) movement in Mauretania; Almoravids (aka Murabitun) are coalition of western Saharan Berbers; followers of Islam, focusing on the Qur'an, the hadith, and Maliki law.

AD 1055 Seljuk Prince Tughrul enters Baghdad, consolidation of the Seljuk Sultanate

AD 1055 Confiscation of property of Church of the Resurrection

AD 1071 Battle of Manzikert, Seljuk Turks (Muslim jihadis) defeat Byzantines and occupy much of Anatolia

AD 1071 Turks (Muslim jihadis) invade Palestine

AD 1073 Conquest of Jerusalem by Turks (Muslim jihadis)

AD 1075 Seljuks (Muslim jihadis) capture Nicaea (Iznik) and make it their capital in Anatolia

AD 1076 Almoravids (Muslim jihadis) (see AD 1050) conquer western Ghana

AD 1085 Toledo is taken back by Christian armies

AD 1086 Almoravids (Muslim jihadis) (see AD 1050) send help to Andalus, Battle of Zallaca

AD 1090-1091 Almoravids (Muslim jihadis) occupy all of Andalus except Saragossa and Balearic Islands

AD 1094 Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus I asks Western Christendom for help against Seljuk invasions of his territory; Seljuks are Muslim Turkish family of eastern origins; see AD 970

AD 1095 Pope Urban II preaches first Crusade; they capture Jerusalem in AD 1099

So it is only after all of the Islamic aggressive invasions that Western Christendom launches its first Crusades.

You ask Justicar, whether I "will persecute 1.2 Billion for the actions of 5 (or even 5,000)? Will you deem an entire religion evil for what its most zealous representatives have done?" to which I reply, that whatever your math about the number of Islamic terrorists, I readily agree that not all Muslims are Islamic terrorists, and I am truly grateful they are not, they are in fact, living very much better lives than Muhammad lived. However, it is the case that all Islamic terrorists are religiously motivated Muslims, following the sunnah of Muhammad and the teaching of the Qur'an, and the fact remains, however unpleasant that may be for you to acknowledge, that Muhammad was the archetypal Islamic terrorist, saying:-

"I have been made victorious with terror" Sahi Bukhari V4B52N220

"Muhammad said ‘I have been commanded to fight until they testify there is no god but Allah and I am his messenger.'" Sahi Muslim C9B1N33

"Allah's Apostle said, ‘I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah." Whoever says this will save his property and his life from me.'" Sahi Bukhari:V9B84N59

"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 best in goodness.'He replied, ‘To participate in Jihad, religious fighting in Allah's Cause.'" Bukhari:V1B2N25
"Allah's Apostle said ‘Killing disbelievers is a small matter to us.'" Tabari IX:69

"Muhammad said ‘Know that Paradise is under shade of swords.'" Bukhari V4B5N73

and giving the last word on Islamic violence to the Qur'an Muhammad recited,

"Believers, fight the unbelievers around you, and let them find harshness in you: and know that Allah is with those who fear Him." Qur'an 9:123

Muhammad sets the genetic code for Islam, he is Islam, and the Islam of Muhammad sure aint peaceful and peaceloving. Muhammad is foundational for Islam, and he indeed endorses using a sword, actually swinging one on his frequent military raids and wars.

William Montgomery Watt (1909-2006), was Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, between 1964 and 1979, and one of the key historians of Islam in the West. Watt detailed the expeditions, raids and wars in Muhammad's life from AD 622 to 632, adding up the number that Muhammad either sent out, or went out on: at seventy-four (Muhammad at Medina, pp. 2; 339-43). They range from negotiations (only a few, compared to the violent expeditions), to small assassination hit squads, to the conquest of Mecca with 10,000 jihadis, and to the confrontation of Byzantine Christians (who never showed up), with 30,000 jihadis to Tabuk.

Thus, aggressive military violence sits at the heart of early Islam—in Muhammad's life and in the Qur'an, it was foundational to Islam, it is deeply embedded in it, and copied by ‘good' Muslims today.

Furthermore, Muhamad was certainly involved in violence of a very offensive nature. Take a look at the ‘Sira-t-ul rasul-Allah', particularly the oldest amongst this genre, the ‘Maghazi manuscripts', where we read that Muhammad is known to have conducted 29 battles and planned 39 others (see Sira Halabiyya, Ibn Kathir's Bidaya Wa Nihaya, and Ibn Hisham's Sira).

In the list of Muhammad's assets at the end of his life (horses, camels, milch sheep, and so on), Tabari records the nicknames of Muhammad weapons, in his Tar'ikh ('history') of al-Tabari (Muhammad Ibni Jarir Abu Jafar Al-Tabari AD 838-923), "who is today recognized as the father of Islamic History, and one of the greatest historians that the world has produced." http://www.renaissance.com.pk/myletfor95.html

Muhammad nicknames three swords, that he took from the Jewish tribe Qaynuqa after he banished them from Medina in April AD 624: "Pluck Out," "Very Sharp," and "Death." Two other swords from elsewhere are named: "Sharp" and "That is wont to sink" (presumably into human flesh). After his Hijrah or Emigration from Mecca to Medina in AD 622, he owned two swords called "Sharp" and "Having the vertebrae of the back." This last sword he collected as booty after his victory at the Battle of Badr in March AD 624.

Finally, even Muhammad himself has a nickname. After Tabari lists the positive ones, he matter-of-factly provides one that is not so positive: "The obliterator."

For centuries the spread of Islam was backed by large Muslim armies. The world could have evaluated Islam more positively, if it had spread only by peaceful means during Muhammad's life, and in the centuries after his death. But it didn't, in truth it was spread by the sword. So Islamic terrorists today are following Muhammad's sunnah, his Islam and the Qur'an. They are not misinterpreting, misapplying or perverting their sacred text, rather they are being perverted by it.


Jesus never wielded a sword against anyone. It is true that Jesus divides the world into two camps, those who follow Him, and those who do not, those in the light, and those in the dark. However, He never tells His followers to wage war on anyone else, and if those not following Him, choose not to, they will not be harassed with swords in a jihad, and the Lord Jesus certainly does not command His followers to go on violent jihad forcing people to accept the Gospel or die, and only He sets the genetic code for His followers.

It is true that the Roman Emperor Constantine, Medieval Crusaders, and Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland have used the sword against unbelievers and against each other. However, none of them is foundational to Christianity—only Jesus is, and He never commands the sword to spread His message, those "Christians" who wield a sword "in God's Name," don't get their authority for doing so from the example and teaching of Jesus Christ, or from the teaching of the New Testament, rather they do so in defiance of Him and dishonouring Him, and in disobedience to New Testament teaching.

If we want real peace, Jesus Christ The Prince of Peace, is Who to turn to for peace Justicar, truly, He is the author and distributor of Peace, saying:-

"I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid."

John 14:27

Notice that Jesus gives peace as a gift, and we have to accept gifts don't we? or say, no thanks, I don't want it, and Jesus says this about peacemakers:-

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:9

The Bible teaches that God is a most loving Father Who loves to bless His children with good gifts, and here's a verse that describes a wonderful fruit He gives when we ask for it, a fruit with nine flavours, and just look at them:-

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control"

Galatians 5:22

Where are we going to look for peace, where can we find it, Who will give it to us when we ask for it?

With kinds regards and best wishes Justicar, and may the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, be with you and remain with you always.

Lactantius Jr.

"When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your heart as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, Who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen."

Ephesians 3:14-21


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