Is Islam a religion of peace?
In the last HEART issue (February/March) regular columnist Dr Clifford Hill claimed
(‘Islam and Peace’): “It is becoming increasingly difficult for Muslims to go on claiming
that Islam is a religion of peace.” Here are some readers’ responses:
‘Repent of complacency’
Clifford Hill is right in his analysis of the intent of Islam, as the largely covert Islamic commitment to world domination and the imposition of strict Sharia law through intimidation and violence, is increasingly evident in the appalling atrocities we hear of almost daily now.
With the high level of unrestricted Muslim immigration and above average birth rate, it is reported that already more people now attend mosques in the UK than attend Anglican churches!
This situation provides perhaps the greatest need ever, for Christians to repent of our complacency, pray together, and more publicly demonstrate compassion, love for our neighbours and reassert that ‘British values’ are Christian values. We must also accept our responsibility to support and encourage our brothers and sisters overseas, so many of whom are suffering such extreme violence and deprivation.
The article by Dr Clifford Hill was distressingly one-sided. It is true that an extremely well-funded (thanks to oil revenues) extremist element within Islam is promoting violence and conflict that is at odds with the majority of Islamic thinking and practice down the ages. This does not reflect the teaching of many modern Islamic scholars who have spoken out against it.
It is as easy to quote the Qu’ran out of context as the Bible. It is similarly as easy to find examples of violent behaviour in Christian as in Muslim history. Talk to many native residents of the Middle East and you will find that memories of the carnage suffered at the hands of the Crusaders have travelled down the generations.
A greater degree of humility is called for in recognising the extremism within our own society – growing anti-Semitism which is causing many Jews to fear for their futures in the UK; racism fuelled by careless; uninformed talk of immigration and some horrific examples of Islamophobia.
‘Cause and solution’
The problems arising from the contradictory claim that Islam is a religion of peace were well covered by Dr Clifford Hill.
However, should we not also take it into account that Islam has experienced little internal peace since the Shia/Sunni divide which has rumbled and grumbled since the division following the death of Muhammad in the seventh century and laid the seeds of an on-going civil war with violent surges for some 13 more centuries? Did not Christianity suffer its own civil war that burst, in 1517, into some three centuries of occasional violence? Were ‘we’ less violent and where lies the cause and solution?
Lately of East Anglia
‘Koran does speak of violence’
Dr Hill says that the Muslim scholars should re-examine the Koranic scriptures and give clear guidance by denouncing the violent actions of the jihadists in the name of Allah, and that violence where conversions are maintained, is no longer valid.
It is true that a peaceful message is preached in the early Suras of the Koran (hence the teaching that Islam is a peaceful religion – and the majority of Muslims want to follow their religion peacefully). However, the later Suras of the Koran do in fact speak of violence towards the infidels that refuse to convert. I understand that any later writings of the prophet supersede the earlier ones as, unlike our unchanging Almighty God; apparently Allah, according to Muhammad, does change his mind!
I asked the Barnabas Fund to shed light on ‘abrogation’ in the Koran, and this is part of their explanation:
Whenever there are seemingly contradictory rulings in the commandment passages [of the Koran], the later passages are deemed to have abrogated the earlier ones. Abrogation of earlier Koranic verses by later ones is thus an accepted doctrine of traditional Islamic interpretation. It is defined as the abrogation of a ruling by a ruling that was revealed after it in time. This has profound implications, as many peaceable and tolerant verses were given in the earlier Meccan period of Muhammad’s life. These are invalidated by the later harsher Medina verses.
We’ve just got back from a couple of weeks’ holiday and found the HEART bundles at the church. People pointed out the article you kindly put in about our visit to Nepal with the Leprosy Mission. Many thanks! This afternoon someone called the church to book a speaking engagement! We hope to get several more.
Ian and Pauline Jepps