Editor's Note: Brian D. McLaren is author of "Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World" (Jericho Books/Hachette Book Group).
By Brian McLaren, Special to CNN
I was raised as an evangelical Christian in America, and any discussion of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations around the world must include the phenomenon of American Islamophobia, for which large sectors of evangelical Christianity in America serve as a greenhouse.
At a time when U.S. embassies are being attacked and when people are getting killed over an offensive, adolescent and puerile film targeting Islam - beyond pathetic in its tawdriness – we must begin to own up to the reality of evangelical Islamaphobia.
Many of my own relatives receive and forward pious-sounding and alarm-bell-ringing e-mails that trumpet (IN LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS!) the evils of Islam, that call their fellow evangelicals and charismatics to prayer and “spiritual warfare” against those alleged evils, and that often - truth be told - contain lots of downright lies.
For example, one recent e-mail claimed “Egyptian Christians in Grave Danger as Muslim Brotherhood Crucifies Opponents." Of course, that claim has been thoroughly debunked, but the sender’s website still (as of Friday) claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has “crucified those opposing" Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy "naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others.”
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Many sincere and good-hearted evangelicals have never yet had a real Muslim friend, and now they probably never will because their minds have been so prejudiced by Islamophobic broadcasts on so-called Christian television and radio.
Janet Parshall, for example, a popular talk show host on the Moody Radio Network, frequently hosts Walid Shoebat, a Muslim-evangelical convert whose anti-Muslim claims, along with claims about his own biography, are frequently questioned. John Hagee, a popular televangelist, also hosts Shoebat as an expert on Islam, as does the 700 Club.
Many Christian bookstores that (used to) sell my books, still sell books such as Paul Sperry’s "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington" (Thomas Nelson, 2008). In so doing, they fuel conspiracy theories such as the ones U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, promoted earlier this year.
In recent days, we’ve seen how irresponsible Muslim media outlets used the tawdry 13-minute video created by a tiny handful of fringe Christian extremists to create a disgusting caricature of all Christians - and all Americans - in Muslim minds. But too few Americans realize how frequently American Christian media personalities in the U.S. similarly prejudice their hearers’ minds with mirror-image stereotypes of Muslims.
Ambassador's killing shines light on Muslim sensitivities around Prophet Mohammed
Meanwhile, many who are pastors and leaders in evangelicalism hide their heads in the current issue of Christianity Today or World Magazine, acting as if the kinds of people who host Islamophobic sentiments swim in a tiny sidestream, not in the mainstream, of our common heritage. I wish that were true.
The events of this past week, if we let them, could mark a turning point - a hitting bottom, if you will - in the complicity of evangelicalism in Islamophobia. If enough evangelicals watch or try to watch the film trailer that has sparked such outrage in the Middle East, they may move beyond the tipping point.
I tried to watch it, but I couldn’t make it halfway to the 13-minute mark. Everything about it was tawdry, pathetic, even pornographic. All but the most fundamentalist believers from my evangelical Christian tribe who watch that video will be appalled and ashamed to be associated with it.
It is hate speech. It is no different from the anti-Semitic garbage that has been all too common in Western Christian history. It is sub-Christian - beneath the dignity of anyone with a functioning moral compass.
Islamophobic evangelical Christians - and the neo-conservative Catholics and even some Jewish folks who are their unlikely political bedfellows of late - must choose.
Will they press on in their current path, letting Islamophobia spread even further amongst them? Or will they stop, rethink and seek to a more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors? Will they realize that evangelical religious identity is under assault, not by Shariah law, not by the liberal media, not by secular humanism from the outside, but by forces within the evangelical community that infect that religious identity with hostility?
If I could get one message through to my evangelical friends, it would be this: The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.
No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate.
The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies.
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Yes, “they” – the tiny minority of Muslims who turn piety into violence – have big problems of their own. But the way of Christ requires all who claim to be Christians to examine our own eyes for planks before trying to perform first aid on the eyes of others. We must admit that we have our own tiny minority whose message and methods we have not firmly, unitedly and publicly repudiated and rejected.
To choose the way of Christ is not appeasement. It is not being a “sympathizer.”
The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Brian D. McLaren.
5. Large-scale violence
One launched the first Crusade. The other ordains preaching alone.
It is true that the word "Crusade" comes from the word "cross," but it is used here in the broad sense of "holy war." Muslims today forget that Muhammad was the first to launch one, long before the western Europeans responded with theirs. In the ten years that he lived in Medina, he either sent out or went out on seventy-four raids, skirmishes and battles. Sura 9 is his last revelation in its entirety before he dies. He commissions his followers to wage war on Jews and Christians or the People of the Book or Scripture (= Bible).
Sura 9:29 says:
Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued (Hilali and Khan, insertions in parentheses are theirs)
This verse that commands battle against Christians and Jews is all about theology and belief. It says nothing explicit about a real and physical harm done to Islam. Muhammad launched his Tabuk Crusade in late AD 630 against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a rumor that an army was mobilizing to invade Arabia, but the rumor was false, so his 30,000 jihadists returned home, but not before imposing a jizya tax on northern Christians and Jews. They had three options: (1) fight and die; (2) convert to Islam; (3) or submit and pay the second-class-citizen jizya tax for the "privilege" of living under Islam.
After he was resurrected from the dead and just before he ascended to rule on high, he sends forth his followers to preach the gospel without violence. In Evangelical Christianity this passage is known as the Great Commission.
18 Then Jesus came to [the disciples] and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
Nothing in these verses command warfare. For centuries after Christ’s resurrection and ascension, his disciples crisscrossed the Mediterranean world preaching without violence. Despite being persecuted, they turned the world right-side up and transformed it.
Here is a back-up article: Timeline of the Islamic Crusades.
This article analyzes Matthew 10:34 and Sura 9:123, a jihadist verse. Jesus does not order his disciples to kill people with sharp swords.
This article also looks at verses that seem to say that Jesus’ followers should use swords. But he does not order any kind of jihad—not even close.
These articles (here and here) explain the differences between Muhammad’s wars of worldwide conquest and the Old Testament’s limited wars more than 3,000 years ago.
4. Religious freedom
One suppresses it. The other permits it.
Polytheists controlled the Black Stone housed in the Kabah shrine. This was both a spiritual center (in pagan logic) and a financial center (in real terms). Muhammad eventually conquered it in early AD 630. After declaring amnesty for Meccan pagans, he changes his tone. He imposes this ultimatum on them and all pagans.
Sura 9:5 says:
Then, when the months made unlawful for fighting expire, kill the mushriks [polytheists] wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, establish Salat [prayer five times a day] and pay the Zakat dues [charity tax], then let them go their way. (Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 2, p. 175; insertions mine)
This verse says that unless pagans say their prayers the Muslim way and pay a forced "charity" tax, they will be killed.
Next, this hadith says that Muhammad is called to fight until people acknowledge that only Allah is the right deity and Muhammad is his messenger. The people must also give the messenger their money.
Allah's Apostle said: "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah." (Bukhari; see a parallel hadith here)
Malik (d. 795) is a founder of an Islamic school of law and a reliable collector and editor of hadith. He records this tradition about Muhammad’s policy on those who leave Islam:
Yahya related to me . . . that the Messenger of Allah . . . said, "If someone changes his religion—then strike off his head!" (Online source)
He let people go their own way, if they refuse to follow him. He said, "If anyone comes after [follows] me" . . . (Matthew 17:24). The little word "if" implies freedom to accept the way of Jesus or to walk away from it. He never raised a holy army to force anyone to convert. In John 6, some disciples decided to walk away from him. He had spoken difficult words.
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:66-69)
It is important to note what Jesus did not do or say. He did not threaten them with physical death. He did not send a disciple or two to assassinate one of the deserters (a leader, perhaps), to teach the rest and the Twelve a lesson. "Follow and obey me, or else!" "Or else what?" "Or else I’ll kill you!" Those words and others like them Jesus never spoke.
This article explores why the West and other free countries around the globe must protect freedom of speech.
This short article contrasts Islam's coercion of conscience with Christianity's freedom of conscience.
This article analyzes Muhammad’s policy on apostates in the Quran, hadith, and Islamic law.
Maududi in this booklet argues that Sura 9:11-12 refers to apostates and that they should be put to death (scroll down to "The Proof in the Quran for the Commandment to Execute Apostates").
This website has an overview of Islam on apostates. They should be given time to repent, but if they refuse, they must be killed. Women apostates may be killed according to some schools of law, or she may be imprisoned and whipped.
"One suppresses it. The other permits it."
No, neither permit it.
Remeber the genocide of the midianite men, women, and children and the enslavement of their young virgin girls?
Stop pretending like your religion is any more than just marginally better than the other.
3. Small-scale violence
One killed mockers and enemies. The other rises above such violence.
He assassinated (or threatened to murder) at least eleven men or women who insulted or threatened him. Several of his victims merely composed satirical poems.
These verses offer support of this policy. Medinan Sura 33:60-61 says:
60 If the hypocrites, the sick of heart, and those who spread lies in the city [Medina] do not desist, We shall arouse you [Prophet] against them, and then they will only be your neighbors in this city for a short while. 61 They will be rejected wherever they are found, and then seized and killed. (Haleem, his insertions)
Muhammad had already assassinated some opponents for their insults and mockery before these verses were sent down, but now they give him divine endorsement.
During the last week of Jesus’ life, the tension between him and the religious establishment rises. The leaders look for a way to trap and then arrest him. So they ask him whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Apparently, they saw him as a political revolutionary who opposed Roman occupation. Would he endorse the taxation of his fellow Jews for the benefit of unclean Gentiles? However, they did not know that he was a king, but that his kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). So he replied with these famous words that are often quoted, though people may not know the exact reference and context (Luke 20:20-26; cf. Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17).
Jesus speaks first; his opponents reply.
24 "Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?" 25 "Caesar’s," they replied. He said to them, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s." 26 They were unable to trap him in what he said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent. (Luke 20:20-26)
After this disarming reply, it is important to note what he did not do. He did not send Simon the Zealot, one of the Twelve, to follow an antagonistic leader, mingle in the large crowd of pilgrims during the Feast of Passover, sneak up on him, stab him, and disappear in the crowd again. These kinds of assassinations were not unknown in the decades before the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. But violence was not necessary. God was with Jesus.
This article examines two very different reactions when they were insulted or threatened.
Muhammad’s Dead Poet’s Society provides a timeline of the death of poets and poetesses. It also replies to Muslim polemics for their prophet’s murders.
This is a shorter version of the previous ones.
This page offers articles on how Muhammad dealt with personal enemies.
"One killed mockers and enemies. The other rises above such violence."
No, that description fits both religions.
Rember "Go up, thou bald head" ======> 42 kids killed by bears sent from god
CNN has its head up liberals butts!!! They publish liberal pieces that fly in the face of reality. We to make sure these extremists are no more than flys on our windshields.
Islamophobia did not kill Ambassador Stevens. Stop the stupid, insulting propaganda, CNN.
Aggressive Islam is on the march. 9/11; violent protests over cartoons; many pushes to establish Islamic courts in Europe and Canada; demands to silence free speech, to criminalize criticism of the messenger of Allah; the President of Iran threatening to wipe Israel off the map, and writing a long and confused rant, inviting the President of the US to accept Islam; the election of Hamas—these actions are easy to detect and decipher. Islam wants its way, and no one should resist. It is the best religion, after all.
But there is something more subtle, gradual and dangerous going on than this in-your-face aggression. In the name of peace and tolerance—which we all want—some lines are being blurred. Islam says that Jesus was a mere prophet, only a human messenger even within Islam—never mind that he lived six hundred years before Muhammad. He and Muhammad are virtually the same. Both preached peace, but called for the sword, when necessary. But in the final analysis Muhammad is the last and best prophet. He has the better revelation. If only we could see this! So goes the subtle and dangerous strategy.
However, this list of fifteen differences between Jesus and Muhammad disagrees with this insidious message. The differences between the two are profound.
It is better to be clear than confused, and the typical message of Islam washes away clarity about Christianity and whitewashes its own message. In fact, many well-meaning western scholars also muddy the waters. Some aspects and policies of the two religious leaders cannot be reconciled, and it is high time we acknowledge this. If the readers are disappointed about these irreconcilable differences, then at least they will not be confused at the end of this list.
Before we begin the list, we must answer a strategy of Muslim propagandists and missionaries. Sometimes they attempt to refute lists like this. But attempting to do this is like reviewing a long, long book only from the last chapter. The reviewer has skipped over the hard work of reading all of the chapters. In the same way, Muslim polemicists must not skip over the hard work found in the back-up articles. This list is only a summary of many articles. It comes from a lot of strenuous labor from myself and many other researchers. So Muslim missionaries must refute these articles before they earn the right to reply to a mere summary.
If the readers would like to see multiple translations of the Quran, they should click on this website.
This article uses the New International Version (NIV), but multiple translations may be read here.
The first two differences set the stage for all the others.
All religion is delusion. Some use violence. Some murder. Which ones? Well, Islam comes to mind as the winner!
"The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge."
Yet Jesus explicitly stated: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." Mat 10:34
History shows that this is the single most embraced teaching of Christ by his followers.
with this sword ill bring peace – more religious muddeled thought process, shouldnt you be in church or somerthing?
Muslims believe in equality, which is a universal principle.
And if ye do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they catch you out: But if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient.
The reason why the Prophet applied such a brutal punishment to those Bedouins was because the Prophet found out that those Bedouins did the same exact thing to the shepherd.
You can read the Tafsir for that hadith here
Therefore, the punishment that was ordered upon them was fair and just because they deserved to feel and endure what they made that poor shepherd feel. (Bassam Zawadi, Was Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Unfair In The Way He Punished The Armed Robbers From The Tribe Of Ukl?; source)
Muslims believe in murder. It's something they DO a lot.
One of the most vile and cruel acts ever performed by Muhammad was his bloody torture and murder of the men of Ukl or Uraynah. According to Muslims sources, some men converted to Islam and traveled to Medina. Because of the climate in Medina, these men got sick and Muhammad recommended that they drink camel urine and milk for their ailment. The Muslim sources claim that the men then apostatized, killed the herdsman and took off with the flock. Muhammad sent an expedition to catch them, and once they were caught Muhammad had them brutally tortured. Here is the version as narrated by al-Bukhari:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
A group of eight men from the tribe of 'Ukil came to the Prophet and then they found the climate of Medina unsuitable for them. So, they said, "O Allah's Apostle! Provide us with some milk." Allah's Apostle said, "I recommend that you should join the herd of camels." So they went and drank the urine and the milk of the camels (as a medicine) till they became healthy and fat. Then they killed the shepherd and drove away the camels, and they became unbelievers after they were Muslims. When the Prophet was informed by a shouter for help, he sent some men in their pursuit, and before the sun rose high, they were brought, and he had their hands and feet cut off. Then he ordered for nails which were heated and passed over their eyes, and they were left in the Harra (i.e. rocky land in Medina). They asked for water, and nobody provided them with water till they died (Abu Qilaba, a sub-narrator said, "They committed murder and theft and fought against Allah and His Apostle, and spread evil in the land.") (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 261)
Muslims have devised ways to justify Muhammad’s brutality and cold-heartedness. One Muslim defends this wicked, murderous torture on the grounds that these men were getting what they deserved, a sort of eye for an eye (pun intended):
Did the author miss the past 5 days?
This is another article that tries to shift the blame from where it really belongs. The problem is with radical Islam not evangelical Christians. And here’s a note to the author. Radical Islam is not a small fringe element but the belief of a very large portion of Muslim societies. If you want to see what these radicals are really saying go do a search for MEMRITV. They have translations of television programs from all over the Middle East and Muslim world. The videos are a chilling reminder what people in those areas think.
What the author is trying to say is: "The way of Christ is a GENTLE strength that TRANSCENDS the vicious cycles of OFFENSE, OUTRAGE, REVENGE.
Try telling THAT to those CREEPY Muslims, and SEE if they UNDERSTAND that. All they know is a CYCLE of OFFENSE, OUTRAGE and REVENGE.
We can also say that since CHRIST is GOD........"it's EASY for HIM to say that"
But, really and truly........that is the way GOD wants us to treat our enemies with LOVE UNDERSTANDING, and COMPASSION.
But....THAT IS A TALL ORDER in today's ME world. "Yes, DO TREAD on ME......since I will GAIN the GRACES necessary to REACH HIS KINGDOM in HEAVEN.
sorry it's answering islam.org
Anas bin Malik said, "The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number." I asked Anas, "Had the Prophet the strength for it?" Anas replied, "We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men)." And Sa'id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 5, Number 268)
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
The Prophet used to visit all his wives in one night and he had nine wives at that time. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 5, Number 282; see also parallel hadiths in Vol. 7, Book 62, Numbers 6 and 142)
How credible are these traditions? Note that Muhammad was not a young man of twenty or 25 at that time — and it would have been rather incredible even at that age —, but he was already about 60 years old when he had finally aquired all those nine wives. Moreover, these traditions state that this was not an exceptional one time event, but allege that Muhammad did so regularly.
every question you have is there
Ah, Muhhamed was the Fonz.
It all makes so much more sense now.
typical liberal: Muslims kill Americans...blame the Christians and blame the Israelis (the Jews).
Countless millions around the world, representing many philosophies and religions, are just itching for a fight. Any excuse will do. It's been that way for thousands of years. As usual, the source of the itch, which is sin, is Satan. People love to scratch that itch.
This is a really peculiar set of comments that does not remove the sense of tribalism and exclusion that I associate with right-wing American Christians.
"I was raised as an evangelical Christian in America"
----- Right there you admit you're q nutjob. The only difference between your belief system and Islam is that the western world has beat your kind down over the last 1000 years. If we didn't, you'd no doubt still be engaging in the same behavior as these nutjob Muslims.
The answer here, painful as it may seem, is not to condone the behavior of the radical Muslims, but rather to beat them down. Same as we had to beat your kind down over a thousand years.
These violent Muslims are mentally deluded people. Their religion, as is yours, is an absurdity. It's anti-science, anti-logic and anti-reality.
Time for the world to drop all the mentally deluded fantasies we call religion.
So true! Thanks Joe.
The world has beat our kind down?? Christianity remains the largest religion in the world – about one third. It remains more than viable even among "sophisticated" Americans. It is growing among people in Africa, South America and Asia. And it is primarily evangelical Christianity that is growing.
It is the one religion that matches perfectly the "facts" (speculation is another thing) that science has revealed for us. In fact the Bible was right about the creation of the universe many many centuries before scientists got on board. So I don't understand how you have come to your opinion.
Don – of course you do not understand.
You live in a time when 95% of the unsavory things that used to be practiced by Christians have been weeded out by secular society. It is the reason we do not burn witches anymore. It does not matter that we live in a Christian majority, because the faith that that majority practices has almost no sembalance to the faith that was practiced by the majority even 200 years ago. This is not due to the evolution of Christian ideals, it is due to the pushback from secular morality to the bits and pieces of the faith that rub people the wrong way.
The islamic faith is exactly the same, except it has had less secular pressures to weed out the unsavory bits of itself, since it is practiced mainly in theocratic regimes. In these regimes it is much harder to oppose any "bad" bits or pieces of the faith because the faith is in control of the law. In another couple of centuries, or possibly less, secular pressures will force the islamic faith into a form that is more congruent with secular morality, just as they have done to the christian faith over the past couple of centuries.
Anyone who cannot see that this is true is blind to history.
Im sorry, but what was the religion of the 9/11 terrorists. I cant remember.
What was the religion of Timothy McVeigh, Jim Jones or David Koresh??????
More religiuos wackos. evangelical christian = american taliban
Religious Liberty means freedom FROM YOUR beliefs.
Benjy, McVeigh et al. were exceptions. Remember form English, if you're old enough: the exception proves the rule. That fact that they are exceptions implies that generally Christians are not like that. The Muslim terrorists may not represent all Muslims, but they are acting out of their understanding of the Quran as taught to them by their Imans around the world. Difference.
Mr. McClaren, if you don't know enough about Buddhism, please do not include "The Please leave out the Buddha's " name in your discussion. The Buddha is a state of mind and not God or a Prophet. His teaching is left for us to understand, how to treat all sentient being with loving kindness and compassion, and to be a better person so we can have peace instead of violence.
Well isn't this special? This kind of article is to be expected from an "emergent" kind of guy who deals with Christianity in the context of a cultural shift towards postmodernism. Groovy. Dig this Brian. Who has already tipped? Who's tipping who? Get real brother. From the birth of Ismael, sectarian violence has dominated the Muslim culture. Your "Let's all all hands and sing Kumbaya" approach won't change that reality. While I agree there's a plethora of unbalanced knuckleheads in various tribes of the body of Christ...last time I checked, none of em' were storming any embassies and killing innocent folks. All thus over a video that happens to contain some truths not palpable to the Muslim baboons showing their butts for the world to see. All they're really accomplishing is to confirm the film-makers original intent. While calling a spade a spade, a fool a fool and a baboon a baboon may not be very PC in your eyes and the new world vision of CNN...it certainly is scriptural.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.