Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Opus 2011-92, Discernment Watch: Islam, a Religion of Peace, Part I, The Early Years

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
PRAISE be to God, Lord of the worlds!
The compassionate, the merciful!
King on the day of reckoning!
Thee only do we worship, and to Thee do we cry for help.
Guide Thou us on the straight path,
The path of those to whom Thou hast been gracious;
-with whom thou art not angry, and who go not astray.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  What is there to not like?  This is the first Sura found in my Koran.  It is found at other places, depending on which version of the Koran you use, but it is a real Sura.  Compassion, mercy, help, straight paths and grace make an appealing picture.  It sounds like something straight out of the book of Psalms and thus something that any Christian or Jew could embrace.  It would be a joy to say that this is a good summary of the teachings of the Koran.

How is Islam a religion of peace?  My comments are based on a reading of the Koran and a general knowledge of history.  I am not familiar with the many different variations of the Haditha.

There is an old saying, “The proof is in the pudding.”  Another is, “Actions speak louder than words.”  So what does the history of these two religions show us?

Christianity was established by submissive slaves.  Its founder, Jesus, died a criminals death at the hands of the Romans.  If you remember what He said on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  His primary teaching about how to live was summarized in the phrase, “Turn the other cheek.”  The first army to raise a banner with a Christian symbol would have been during the time of Constantine in the 4th century.  Until that time Christianity was almost totally pacifist.  It was a religion of the poor and weak.  In spite of this it spread throughout the world.  You have Nestorians penetrating China, Thomasinians in India.  Ethiopia became a Christian nation.  Armenia embraced the gospel.  None of this was by the sword.

Islam was established by the sword.  Its founder, Muhammad, personally led armies against those who had offended him.  In 622 he was driven from Mecca because of his teachings.  Eight years later, in 630, he had gathered an army and returned to conquer the city.  This is a long way from turning the other cheek and it established the pattern for Islam.  He died in 632.  By 742 the armies of Islam had left a path of death and destruction across northern Africa, north through Spain and almost to Paris when the Battle of Tours stopped their advance.  By that time they had conquered the Persian Empire, reduced the Byzantine Empire in size by conquering the Holy Land and were poised to begin an invasion of India.  All of this was done by warfare.  This is a religion of peace?

These first, formative years establish the basic values of each religion.  Christians have long debated the act of war.  Some still totally reject it.  Others allow for what is called a “just war” under certain circumstances.  War is the exception.  Islam immediately established war as the standard.  Have there been peaceful Muslims?  Of course.  But they were outside of the central teachings of their faith.

According to the Koran, war is to be a way of life, whether you like it or not.

Sura II, 216.  “War is prescribed to you: but from this ye are averse. Yet haply ye are averse from a thing, though it be good for you, and haply ye love a thing though it be bad for you: And God knoweth; but ye, ye know not.”

It is clear that Islam did not start as a religion of peace.

All Koran quotes are from the translation by Rev. J.M. Rodwell, M.A. provided by the Gutenberg Project.

homo unius libri

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Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.