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Here’s reason for us to fear fear itself

30 March 2011 General 21 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

OK, put your books away. We’re having a pop quiz.

Below are four quotes. Each is from one of two sources: the Bible or the Koran, although, just to make things interesting, there’s also a chance all four are from one book. Two were edited for length and one of those was also edited to remove a religion-specific reference. Your job: identify the holy book of origin. Ready? Go:

1) “. . . Wherever you encounter [non-believers], kill them, seize them, besiege them, wait for them at every lookout post . . .”

2) “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

3) “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’ . . . do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death.”

4) “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

All right, pens down. How did you do?

If you identified the first quote as being from the Koran (9:5) and the other three as originating in the Bible (Matthew 10:34, Deuteronomy 13:6-9, Numbers 31:17-18), I congratulate you on that degree in theology. If I have guessed correctly, most people will not have found it easy to place the quotes in their proper books. If I have guessed correctly, most people will have found a certain thematic similarity in them.

Yes, there is a point here: I wish people would stop cherry-picking warlike quotes from the Koran to “prove” the evil of Islam. You see this stuff all over the web. Just a few days ago, some anonymous person, angry with me for defending “Fascist/Nazi Islam” the writer says is trying to kill us all, sent me an e-mail quoting Koranic exhortations to violence to prove that Islam is a “religion of hate and murder.”

As rhetorical devices go, it is a cheap parlor trick, a con job to fool the foolish and gull the gullible and for anyone who has spent quality time with the Bible, its shortcomings should be obvious.

If not, see the pop quiz again. The Koran is hardly unique in its admonitions to take up the sword.

It is not my intention here to parse any of those troubling quotes. Let us leave it to religious scholars to contextualize them, to explain how they square with the contention that Islam and Christianity are religions of peace. For our purposes, it is sufficient to note that, while both Christian and Muslim scholars will offer that context and explanation, only Christians can be assured of being taken at their word when they do.

Christians get the benefit of the doubt. Muslims get Glenn Beck asking a Muslim Congressman to “prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.”

Because Christianity is regarded as a known — and a norm. Muslims, meantime, have been drafted since Sept. 11, 2001, to fulfill the nation’s obsessive, historic, paranoiac and ongoing need to rally against an enemy within. We lost the Commies, but along came the Islamo-fascists. The names change. The endless capacity for irrational panic remains the same.

As in people who send out e-mails insisting upon the rightness of holding over a billion people — that bears repeating: over a billion people — responsible for the actions of, what . . .? A few hundred? A few thousand?

Some of us use lies, exaggerations and rhetorical gobbledygook to instill in the rest of us that irrational panic they breathe like air. Yes, it is only sensible to fear the threat we face from terrorism. But panicked, irrational people are capable of anything.

Might be wise if we chose to fear that, too.

Original post: Here’s reason for us to fear fear itself


  1. I already know what a number of my in-laws would say: “But Jesus was a man of Peace, and Muhammad was a warrior and a terrorist, not to mention a pedophile.” You just cannot reason with such types. And now such people are busy playing the victim card, accusing non-Christians of “Christophobia.”

  2. I’ve had Christian friends accuse me of not knowing the Bible because my Christian beliefs aren’t in lockstep with theirs. But somehow, without even having to think that hard, I managed to correctly identify all four quotes and I honestly do not think any of them would have been able to. (gonna post this on facebook and see how many can)

  3. Nice point. Too bad most folks won’t get it. Keep educating.It is the finest weapon against ignorance ever.

  4. Islam is not a horrible, violent religion. They are just like christianity in many, many ways. The real problem is that most conservative christians simply point out the bad stuff about others. notice that they have always been against someone: liberals, gays, lesbians, blacks, hispanics, muslims, jews, etc. Democrats are not filled with hate, their only enemy is the republicans.

  5. I recognized the quotes and got it all correct.

  6. You obviously aren’t familiar with these verses or their backgrounds. To try and compare ancient scriptures with a set of plagiarised nonsensical gibberish, and try and apply it as pertinent in todays global climate is ignorant at best.

    The majority of intelligent people today recognise that Israelis don’t bury people up to their chests and stone them to death – muslims do, Israelis don’t amputate limbs – muslims do, Israelis don’t fly planes into buildings (and you’re an islamic propaganda idiot if you believe that) – muslims do. Israelis don’t carry out any of the atrocities that muslims do, to this day, in increasing numbers, in increasing countries. Christians also do not.

    We are concerned with what is happening in todays world, not centuries ago. Today. Please wake up and stop being so pitifully ignorant.

    If you really want to keep defending the tenets of an insane ideology – because it isn’t about race or religion – then have fun when they are stoning your mother for waving at a male neighbour 🙂

  7. i got them all right, even though my version of the koran says “strike at their necks and cut off their hands and wait in ambush for them”….or something like that. it’s context is the battle of badr and suppossedly a command to the angels not to men. i took an educated guess at the rest, they sound very biblical (it’s been 20 years since i read the bible). the problem is the “debate” about which religion is more violent is, in and of its self misplaced. all the abrahamic religions are violent in nature (save for the chistians who follow christ’s teachings to the word i.e. the amish, menonites, or other true pacifists that may exist). but even christ didn’t free the slaves. one would think that if he was god, that when (in christian mythology) peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave, after healing him he would have also said, “thou shall hold no man or woman in servitude or maybe bondage”? we should be moving away from these outdated texts which clearly cannot be reconciled with modernity or the concept of god as a benevolent creature. my problem with islam is the same problem i have with christians, their want to impose their will on the world and their belief that they know god’s will. it is crazy to think that god is ok with 9 year old girls consenting to marriage, or that consenting adults should be lashed 100 for having sex, or that women should inherit half as much as men, etc, etc. sorry i haven’t finished the koran, i’m sure there are more examples to follow.

  8. You have no point.

    Jesus was not saying He advocated violence, but that He knew His mesage would cause others to commit violence.

    As far as the OT references go, NO ONE follows these rules anymore. For Christians, Jesus completely fulfilled the Law, rendering it unnecessary (and hence not followed) today.

    The point is, while the Bible’s violence had its time which has passed, the Koran’s violence stands for Muslims TODAY.
    And THAT is what makes Islam FAR more dangerous than Christianity or Judaism TODAY.

  9. excelent point sigdrifa, islael a declared “jewish state” doesn’t even have the death penalty. declared “muslim states” follow the koran to the letter. although it looks like they added a lash for some reason? not to be ironic and use the word reason.

    hey whisperoftruth, do u not think muslims hate gays? plus alot of wackado conservatives are evangelicals who love the jews, and side with israel no matter what they do. not sure u thought those statements through.

  10. @Mike, Israel is only considered a “Jewish State” to dehumanized the Palestinian Christian and Muslims there. In reality, the majority are not religious Jews, but only “Jewish” by name. The Israelis in parliament and all Israeli Prime Minister are mostly atheist or agnostic so of course there not going to bring Jewish Law to Israel. Especially when Jewish scripture themselves is against the creation of a “Jewish State” to begin with.

  11. This feature makes some pertinent points.

    The only caveat that I would add is that for Muslims (and I am one myself), not all of shari’a law is derived solely from the Qur’an- a significant portion of it comes from Hadith, the sayings of the prophet (SWS). Both the Qur’an and Hadith have to be considered in tandem. For Christians, for the most part,the Bible is the sole source of authority. But for Muslims, it is overly simplistic to focus solely on the Qur’an, no matter how centrally important it is.

  12. I write in these forums quite often and I read a lot of responses. Everyone knows that the majority is not responsible for what a small minority does and that point is expounded on all the time. People who continue to make that point miss not what a minority sees but what a majority sees in terms of Islam. The way the Islamic world presents itself is through a series of countries in the middle east and Africa. In these countries we see women being mistreated or given many fewer rights in terms of citizenship in those Islamic countries. We see people getting limbs amputated, heads cut off, getting lashed to death, and punished because of Islamic beliefs or their interpretation. We see people who are not of the Islamic faith being forced to emulate the traditions of the Islamic faith because they are surrounded by Muslims and punished if they do not do so. We do not just read about some of these things, some of them are on You Tube or on the internet for anyone to see. We do not see this as just a few thousand people we see this attitude represented by nations of peoples be it Saudi Arabia or Iran or others. We saw the official in Pakistan killed because he did not believe in death for insulting Islam, which is a nebulous law/tradition at best and barbaric in every sense of the word. The terrorists are more like whipped cream on the top of what appears to be a very bad Sunday for outsiders looking in. For you it seems like a few thousand people, and it may be, but for people like me it seems like a lot more and it does not present itself as friendly, peace loving, and inclusive.
    As I have said in various posts it is not what you as a Muslim say it is what Islam presents to the world through the actions of its leaders and the nations it controls. What am I to believe? The words I read or the actions I see daily from around the world? I have always believed the United States a nation of peace and if you ask our leaders they would say this is so. Yet we are now in 3 different wars against various peoples that did not attack us, the latest being Libya. Are we a nation of peace? One can hear pundits and officials argue so all day long, but look at our actions do they not say something different? It is not what we say it is what we do.

  13. criley401…excelent points. of course america is not a nation of peace. we were born of war (the revolution) and we have been at war almost as much as we have been at peace. george washington violently suppressed the whiskey rebellion, the war of 1812, the mexican-american war, the civil war, the entire westward expansion, the spanish-american war, we took over hatit for like 30 years, the first world war, the second world war, korea, veitnam, the invasion of grenada, operation just cause, somalia, the first iraq war, the balkens, the invasion of afganistan, the second iraq war, and yes now liyba (although we bombed them in the 80s but just once) i’m no historian so i’m sure i missed quite a few violent episodes in our history? however i think our actions are falling more on the side of right and less on the side of self interest as we grow as a nation. plus we do not claim “divine writ” (at least not since manifest destiny) in our actions. our foriegn policies well forever be flawed, but hopefully we can learn from our mistake and improve. but when one is cemented in religious certitude there is no evoloution of thought or action.


    is this a hadith’s you speak of?

    “The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, authorised Sa’d ibn Mu’adh to give a decision about them. He passed an order: He who is subjected to razors (i.e. the male) should be killed, women and children should be enslaved and property should be distributed. Thereupon the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: You have decided in confirmation to the judgement of Allah, above the seven heavens. The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, returned on Thursday 7 Dhu al- Hijjah. Then he commanded them to be brought into al-Madinah where ditches were dug in the market. The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, sat with his Companions and they were brought in small groups. Their heads were struck off.”

  14. @amina, thanks for correcting me. i had just always heard that israel was a declared jewish state. i should not have made such a statement without first having read their constitution, if they even have one. but wasn’t there a big stink about new immigrants having to pledge alligance to the “jewish state”?

  15. We are concerned with what is happening in today’s world, not centuries ago. TODAY, get it? Please wake up and stop being so willfully ignorant.

    “…we should be moving away from ALL outdated texts which clearly cannot be reconciled with modernity or the concept of God as a benevolent creature…”


  16. No Hafezoon I do not agree. God is not a creature he is a being to be both feared and loved,the texts are not outdated they are vibrant. Are we supposed to read some new text about god and religion written in the last 20 years or so and live our lives by those standards? I am not a Muslim so I cannot speak for them but as a Christian I know the bible spans thousands of years and the lessons it teaches us are as valid today as they were years ago. In fact I believe that the vast majority of people are, in recent memory, just becoming educated enough to more fully understand it and its teachings. In the past an educated few told people what the bible said and meant and people followed. Those educated people did not always have religion in mind as they were leading and bad things happened. The Bible shows us a God that is kindly but can be vengeful, is forgiving but has high expectations, gives us free will with the expectation that we will obey his. So no Hafezoon I do not think that any new modern theory of God will suffice regardless of the intellegence level of the author. The desire to cast God into an image one wants or thinks God should be is both insulting and selfserving. God does not change to man’s conception, he is as he said he was when asked about himself, God responded “I am”.

  17. criley401, is your god the same god as the muslim’s god? you do know muslims do not beleive jesus to be god? is jesus who you refer to as the god being questioned? sorry its been a while since i read the bible but it sounds to me like the questioning of the pharisses at the passover, when they asked if he was the king of the jews and he answered “i am who you say i am”? what book and verse are you referancing. muslims also believe that the bible was changed by the pharisees and is not acurate, while the koran is god’s word and totally correct, as well as being god’s last revelation. sorry for my choice of the word “creature”, if there is a god it is certainly a being, the alpha and the omega, the creator (not created) of all things seen and unseen. my fallibility runs deep.

    some interesting reading

  18. Mike, I was referring to Exodus 3-14: As a christian we do not believe Jesus is god he is the son of god and is part of the Trinity. This verse should have relevence because it is from the old testement and was God’s instructions to Moses while at the burning Bush. I admit I was not looking at the Bible when writing the comment but it is pretty much dead on.
    “And God said unto Moses I AM THAT I AM: and he said thus shalt thou say into the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”

    As to the Muslim beliefs regarding the bible I respectfully disagree.

  19. criley401, thanks for clarifing. it’s been 20 years since i read the bible and now that i’m over 40 my memory is starting to fail me. not to sow seeds of discontent but i was reading the koran and it said, “[9.30] And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!”

  20. see, not only am i losing my memory but i’m developing some sort of typing dyslexia. i meant to say discord not discontent.

  21. criley – you said: “The way the Islamic world presents itself is through a series of countries in the middle east and Africa. In these countries we see women being mistreated or given many fewer rights in terms of citizenship in those Islamic countries. We see people getting limbs amputated, heads cut off, getting lashed to death, and punished because of Islamic beliefs or their interpretation. We see people who are not of the Islamic faith being forced to emulate the traditions of the Islamic faith because they are surrounded by Muslims and punished if they do not do so. ”

    Firstly, can I point out that the largest Muslim country is not in the Middle East or Africa? Although it is not an Islamic state, Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, with 86.1% of Indonesians being Muslim according to the 2000 census. Population over 238 million people, and the world’s fourth most populous country. About 15% of the popuation is therefore non-Muslim, possibly more if you count animists and atheists. While religious freedom is stipulated in the Indonesian constitution, the government officially recognizes only six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Although inter-community conflict breaks out from time to time, there is no state-sponsored persecution of religious minorities. A large proportion of Indonesians—such as the Javanese abangan, Balinese Hindus, and Dayak Christians—practice a less orthodox, syncretic form of their religion, which draws on local customs and beliefs.

    Women gained the right to vote in 1963, though they’d been able to vote in municipal elections since 1938. This was 8 years before Switzerland.

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