A Message From My Muslim Friend

PART 1: Islam isn’t a religion that promotes violence

I read some Islamophobic posts on Medium today. Not subtly Islamophobic, either. It was said explicitly that “Islam is the problem” when it comes to terrorism — not ISIS, not Islamic extremists, not religious fanatics — and that it’s an inherently violent religion (because of what is written in the Quran).

I felt like I had to respond, but went in half-arsed (typing on my phone while breastfeeding, not conducive to make convincing arguments) and after a couple of posts I realised two things:

  1. My arguments weren’t particularly strong because, when it comes down to it, I’m not as well-informed on the subject as I’d like to be.
  2. I was never, ever going to change this person’s mind (even if my arguments were better formed). I’ve locked horns enough to know when it’s a futile exercise.

In the end, I deleted my embarrassingly half-arsed arguments and I blocked the other person. I know, it’s the social media equivalent of sticking my hands in my ears and going “la-la-la-la-la”, but I can’t stomach seeing those views and knowing that nothing will change them. I don’t think the other person is a bad person, I just think their views on Islam are highly problematic — Islamophobia, in whatever form it comes, and with whatever justifications, can only do damage.

I was also disconcerted by how comfortable they were voicing these opinions so loudly and publicly. It made me wonder: do they feel safe because they think this stance will be readily supported?

I can’t speak with any authority on Islam, and I haven’t read the Quran, so I contacted a Muslim friend (I did have to check he was in fact Muslim, we’ve never spoken about religion before) and asked for his perspective.

Here is the first part:

Islam isn’t a religion that promotes violence. Yes, there are verses in the Quran that state otherwise but those are verses that were passed down as God’s words to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through different stages. Most particularly during the era where there was a war going on. So to quote those verses and not researching as to why it was handed down, will be selective to justify the need to prove that Islam is violent. Similarly, in the bible, there are more verses that promote violence.
Regarding beheading for example:
•1 Samuel 17:46 “This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,
• Mark 6:27–28 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.
• 1 Samuel 31:9 They cut off his head and stripped off his weapons, and sent them throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people.
Regarding violence:
• Exodus 32:27–29
Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’ “The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”(NIV)
• Deuteronomy 2:32–34 Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, unto battle at Jahaz. And Jehovah our God delivered him up before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed every inhabited city, with the women and the little ones; we left none remaining. (ASV)
• 1 Samuel 15:3,8 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ “ … He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword.(NIV)
So there we go. We can find verses and take it out of context without researching them deeper to fit our agenda. So does Christianity promote violence? It sure does if you look at those verses. Even more violent than that of the Quran. There isn’t a verse in the Quran that says to kill women or children. So where does that leave us?
No religion promotes violence. It is how men decide to interpret it based on their intelligence and personal agenda to feed their egos and greed.

Part 2 is here

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