Just today I ran across an article that cited eight quotes from the Koran that are said to prove Islam is a violent, war-bent religion. It’s not uncommon to hear commentators cite portions of the Koran so brief they could all fit in a single tweet in an effort to show what the Muslim faith teaches. I always find this interesting.
Note: Before I continue, I must say that this article is not a defense of Islam, nor does it directly, indirectly, or in any other way infer support for Islamic theology.
As I read or listen to quotes from the Koran I always wonder, “Are those passages being understood in context?” Maybe they are, maybe they are not; I’m not a Muslim cleric (nor will I ever be) so I don’t really know. Nevertheless, I do know that people and texts are often misquoted in order to promote an agenda, and Christians are oftentimes both the victims and the culprits of this horrid practice.
False Doctrine from Quoting the Bible out of Context
There are many concepts that Christians proclaim that are not found in the Bible. Some unbiblical teachings include:
- God helps those who help themselves. Truth: God helps those who cannot help themselves. None of us can earn salvation, yet God saves. Also, ever heard of miracles?
- God wants me to prosper in this world. Truth: Jesus promised his followers would be hated, beaten, falsely accused, and suffer.
- God will only give you as much as you can handle. Truth: God only gives as much as God can handle. Sometimes he puts us through more than we can handle for the express purpose of making us learn to trust him again. Besides, if we could handle it we wouldn’t need God.
- God has my back / God is on my side. Truth: God has his own back, and blesses those who are faithful to him. He does not support all we do and won’t “have our backs” when we sin.
While there are verses that may seem to teach each of these, one must take those passages out of context to get to these false teachings. These, however, are only small sample of often uplifting platitudes that are not biblical or outright contradict Scripture.
False Perceptions From Quoting the Bible out of Context
So what does this have to do with the Koran? Simple. Christians all too often misquote Scripture. Thus, are Christians also misquoting the Koran when they cite the violent passages? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s not impossible to think they might be, all things considered.
Is Islam a violent, pro-death religion? Based on the citations we regularly hear from many, especially Christian conservatives, one would think so. However, one could argue that Christianity is just as violent. Here are some passages that could be used to ‘prove’ this:
Genesis 26:11 — So Abimelech charged all the people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
Exodus 21:29 — If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death.
Leviticus 24:16 — Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.
Leviticus 24:23 — Then Moses spoke to the sons of Israel, and they brought the one who had cursed outside the camp and stoned him with stones. Thus the sons of Israel did, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
1 Samuel 15:3 — ‘Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’
Revelation 11:5 — And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.
And these are the complete verses, not merely part of each verse. Based on these passages the following warrant an instant death penalty:
- Touching another person’s spouse (how many Christians should die for hugging?)
- Having an animal that attacks more than one person
- Not being Jewish
- Attempting to harm followers of Jesus (may apply to legal, verbal, or physical harm)
What a violent religion Christianity must be to advocate that people die, and even promote global genocide! That is, if all these passages are taken out of context.
Back to the Koran citations. They may or may not prove that Islam is a violent faith. If we are going to be honest, we must admit that it’s possible that the verses are taken out of context. Just because a famous talk radio host, television pundit, social media friend, or preacher cites a passage—whether it be form the Koran or the Bible—does not mean it is cited properly.
We must always look at passages in context. This means we must be vigilant to study God’s Word, not merely devolve it into feel-good platitudes or agenda supporting quotes.