Re the claims that there is no violence in the Koran and the Islamic religion

By:  Robert D Brinsmead

One might just as well say that there is no violence advocated in the OT when in fact it is one of the most violent books in the history of human literature.

When we know about Muhammad’s background in the Ebionite sect of Jewish Christianity and the nature of his visionary hallucinations, we can clearly understand that he got his violent teaching out of the OT which had been translated and taught to him by his Ebionite priest and teacher, Waraqa.  All those OT images of war and violent battles against the enemies of Israel are also found in the sectarian teachings of the Qumran community of Jews, or Essenes.  The same OT spirit of bloodshed and violence is found in the NT book of Revelation.  It is also found in the writings of Joseph Smith (the book of Mormon), for he too was having religious hallucinating influenced by material from the OT.

James Michener (The Covenant) presents an interesting account of the Boers in their Great Trek through Africa. The Boers were very religious Calvinists.  They saw themselves as re-enacting the OT Exodus by expelling the Canaanites (the African blacks), often by slaughtering them as if they were animals, and doing it all in God’s name as if God had ordered them to do it.  They lived out the violence of Israel’s early settlement in Palestine.  The same thing was re-played with the Pilgrim Fathers in America.  They too lived out their version of the OT Exodus and settlement in the Promised Land.  The extermination of Indians in many instances was just part of their sacred conquest of the land

Some of those closest to the historical Jesus were infected by the spirit of the Zealots who were anxious to expel the Roman occupiers with some good OT blood-letting. On one occasion they wanted Jesus to bring fire down from Heaven, just as the OT Elijah did, to consume the Samaritans who had rudely refused to extend hospitality to them.  Jesus rebuked his friends for wanting the destruction of their opponents, and said he was bent on saving people’s lives rather than destroying them. The little congregation in the synagogue at Nazareth were nourishing the hope that “the day of vengeance of our God” was at hand, and maybe Jesus, their home town hero, was the agent to bring it on.  But when Jesus read out a passage from Isaiah 61, he dared to excise the bit they most wanted to hear about, namely, “the day of vengeance of our God.” For his failure to endorse their hopes of apocalyptic violence against Israel’s enemies, they tried to lynch him.  Since the historical Jesus was clearly not on about any of this OT violence, after his death his followers, still nourishing their apocalyptic spirit of vengeance, invented an apocalyptic Second Coming when this only for now non-violent Messiah would come again to act out this long-awaited OT violence.  Paul’s proclaims this coming violence in the letters to his churches, and the book of Revelation is full of it.

When Joseph Campbell says that “we have been bred to one off the most brutal war mythologies of all time” (let every word of that one-liner sink in!), he demonstrates this shocking assessment by citing passages drawn from the OT, quoting from Deuteronomy 7:1-6;  20:10-18 6:10-12; Joshua 6:21,24; Joshua 8:22,25, Joshua 10:40; Judges 21, Judges 5. Anyone who fairly reads these passages from the OT would have to admit that it would be hard to surpass the shocking inhuman brutality of these passages.  Then Campbell says, “In the book of Kings we have those utterly monstrous bloodbaths accomplished in the name, of course, of Yahweh by Elijah and Elisha.” “The old Biblical ideal of offering a holocaust to Yahwey by massacring every living thing in a captured town or city was but the Hebrew version of a custom general to the early Semites.”

Maybe we should just look those passages up and read them again without the pious spiritualizing glasses that Christians have sometimes used to dissipate their brutal impact on our human sensitivities.  Perhaps we should also read Isaiah 60:10-14 again and marvel that even this great prophet of God’s saving justice could not free his vision from thinking that “the chosen people’s” destiny was to humiliate and subjugate all the nations of earth to Jewish rule. The Christian Church certainly took over this triumphalist vision for its own destiny, and not to be outdone, Islam has also drawn its vision of world domination from the same OT well.

So Campbell continues: “This mythology…is still very much alive. And of course to complete the picture, the Arabs have their divinely authorized war mythology too…the Arabs revere and derive their beliefs from the same prophets as the Hebrews…They honour Jesus too, as a prophet. Muhammad, however, is their ultimate prophet, and from him – who was  a considerable warrior himself – they have derived their fanatic mythology of unrelenting war in God’s name.” (Myths to Live By, pages 1750 179)

Sometimes the question has been raised whether the violence of the Koran is any greater than the violence of the OT.  This question misses the point.  The violence of the Koran was derived from the violence of the OT.

Given the foregoing, is the Christian world in any sort of position to correct and help the Muslim brothers (because all are children of Abraham) until it comes to terms with this common heritage of OT violence?