The living God does not offer lost sinners justice, and thank goodness
for that! Our sins are covered in His blood: "In Him we have redemption
through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of
His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence..."
(Ephesians 1:7). Our God loved us while we were yet sinners: "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). But the god of the Koran loves
only the lovable: "First, God consistently sets out in the Qur'an
the types of people that God loves — God loves those who are
just, fair, equitable, merciful, kind, and forgiving, those who
persistently purify themselves, and so on. . .In this first
instance, what triggers God's love is certain acts and qualities
that are appealing to God." (The Great Theft, Khaled
Abou El Fadl, p. 133). No doubt these qualities appeal to God, they
mirror His own loving-kindness. And why wouldn't God love such fine
folks? But where does He find these people, who are just, not with
His justice but their own, and kind, but not with His kindness?
In the Koran, it seems the initiative rests with man: "Verily, God will not change his gifts to men, till
they change what is in themselves: and when God willeth evil unto men,
there is none can turn it away, nor have they any protector beside Him." (Sura
13:12). Man changes himself for the better, then God responds: "This, because God changeth not the favor with which he favoreth a people, so long as they change not what is in their hearts; and for that God Heareth, Knoweth."
(Sura 8:55). This would be a substantial difference, between a God
of grace and a functionary, a recording clerk, if the Koran were
more consistent on this point.
The Other Cheek
"The sacred month and the sacred precincts are under the safeguard of reprisals: whoever offereth violence to you,
offer ye the like violence to him, and fear God, and know that God is with those who fear Him."
In other words, do unto others like they done unto you.
"But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you
on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." (Matthew 5:39).
Mohammed's decision to resort to violence put his religion on the
map. Before taking this fateful turn, he had collected a tiny band
of followers, and no doubt so it would have remained had he not
taken up the sword. But once taken up, it could not be put down.
Muslim governments must still resort to force, continuing to
criminalize apostasy and criticism of the prophet as blasphemy. It
is the police power of the state which keeps Muslim countries
Muslim. Can anyone doubt that putting down the sword, at long last, would
trigger the decline of Islam? Resort to violence conceals a fatal weakness:
"Gradually, and by means, not of argument, but of
violence and bribery, he [Mohammed] gathered around him a number
of uneducated and depraved men; and with their assistance
conquered vast multitudes of people. . .If Mohammed had attempted to establish his religion by preaching,
his errors would have been very easily demonstrated. But, knowing that his
doctrine was indefensible on any logical grounds, he had the astuteness to command,
that it shold be propagated by the sword." (Girolamo Savonarola,
The Triumph of the Cross, Book IV, Chapter VII).
The argmentum ad baculum is a fallacious argument after all.
The medieval Song of Roland, as stubborn in its misrepresentation of
Islam as are the Muslims of Christianity, promises, "Their naked
swords they brandish now on high. . .Nothing at all can ever end
their strife till one confess he's wrong, the other right."
(The Song of Roland, Dorothy L. Sayers, Kindle
location 4076). This is exactly what force never produces; it
never results in comity and assent, rather with one disputant
reduced to silence, his brains dribbling out of his head.
While it is unfortunately common for political polemics to
overstate the propensity to violence of the Islamic mainstream,
there remains to this day an irreducible difference:
"Not long ago I was in Istanbul, Turkey. While there I
toured the Topkapi Palace — the former royal palace of the
Ottoman sultans and center of the Ottoman Empire. Among the many
artifacts collected throughout the centuries and on display was
an item I found quite remarkable — the sword of the prophet
Muhammad. There, under protective glass and illuminated by
high-tech lighting, was the fourteen-hundred-year-old sword of
the founder of Islam. As I looked at the sword with its curved
handle and jeweled scabbard, I thought how significant it is
that no one will ever visit a museum and be shown a weapon that
belonged to Jesus." (Brian Zahnd, A Farewell to Mars, Kindle
While the 'Thousand and One Arabian Nights' is far from a canonical
Islamic text, this protean and sprawling work is among other things an anti-Christian propaganda
tract, and this is how the ruler is made to
express the point: "'Evil must be paid with evil not once but twice, or
the wicked would increase in number and the lawless multiply. There
should be no pity for the evil-doer. That clemency which the Christians
teach is but the virtue of eunuchs and sick men.'"
(Thousand and One Arabian Nights, Hanan al-Shaykh, Kindle location 9129).
In truth, when it comes to public policy, many Christians,
unfortunately, feel the same way. But the sensuality, refinements of cruelty and lust for revenge of
the Thousand and One Nights is hardly an advertisement for Islam.
A Plain Warner
According to the Koran, Mohammed was sent to warn:
"Fly then to God: I come to you from him a plain warner."
"SAY: Nay truly, this knowledge is with God alone: and I am only an
open warner." (Sura 67:26).
"Yet is it nothing less than a warning for all creatures."
He warns the people of the Day of Wrath and God's coming judgment. His
language is vivid and clear, and so long as he keeps on message and resists
the impulse to improvise, perfectly true. But we've been there before.
The law was a school-teacher, instructing the people in right and wrong,
teaching them to fear God:
"For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.
But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before
faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor
to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith."
The law could teach the difference between right and wrong, but knowing
and achieving are two different things:
"Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast
in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being
instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide
to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the
foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in
the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?
You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say,
“Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols,
do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor
God through breaking the law?" (Romans 2:17-23).
The law could not achieve its end because it was 'weak': "For what
the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by
sending His own Son..." (Romans 8:3).
The same 'weakness' Paul found in the law undermines Mohammed's preaching. Mohammed could warn that God is coming to judge;
he could show the people the fire, he could make them tremble at Hell's torments; but he could not lift them out of the pit, he could
not pull them back from the brink. He could not exchange new lives for old. The well of life that Jesus promised the Samaritan woman is
not encountered on Mohammed's desert path.
Desire of Nations
The Messiah is the "Desire of Nations:"
"For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while)
I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all
nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill
this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts."
The Messiah is a "Light to the Gentiles:
"Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My
salvation to the ends of the earth.’" (Isaiah 49:6).
It's ironic that the very same Psalm whose opening line Bart Ehrman, a great favorite of the Muslims, perceives as showing the Messiah's failure, also shows His jurisdiction to be far greater than Muslims allow:
"All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the LORD,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.
For the kingdom is the LORD’S,
And He rules over the nations." (Psalm 22:27-28).
Though Mohammed calls Jesus "the Messiah," he does not understand this means Jesus is the "Desire of
Nations:" "Remember when the angel said, ‘O Mary! Verily God announceth to thee the Word from Him: His name shall
be, Messiah Jesus the son of Mary..." (Sura 3:40). The Messiah's sphere of sovereignty
is "the ends of the earth." Mohammed acknowledged Him as a prophet, but not as his King.