Since the Paris attacks, all we’ve heard from the chattering class on the far right is that Islam is a religion of violence which mandates jihad, or holy war. They even say the Koran is rife with incidents of violence and calls to kill all enemies of Islam. Which, if you didn’t know, is utter horse manure.
But most of these self-appointed “experts” are reading the Koran selectively and cherry-picking certain verses which support their ludicrous assertions. What, you may wonder (as I did), do religious historians say when you ask them to compare the Bible and the Koran?
What Do The Experts Say?
Penn State professor Philip Jenkins has written several books on religious history, and he studies the historical background of Christianity. He has used his extensive research and knowledge to compare the Bible to the Koran. And what he found will no doubt piss off a whole lot of Bible thumping sanctimonious jerks. Here’s what Professor Jenkins had to say:
“By the standards of the time, which is the 7th century A.D., the laws of war that are laid down by the Quran are actually reasonably humane. Then we turn to the Bible, and we actually find something that is for many people a real surprise. There is a specific kind of warfare laid down in the Bible which we can only call genocide.
It is called herem, and it means total annihilation. Consider the Book of 1 Samuel, when God instructs King Saul to attack the Amalekites: ‘And utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them,’ God says through the prophet Samuel. ‘But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
Saul failed to obey God’s instructions and his kingdom was taken from him. Professor Jenkins notes:
“In other words. Saul has committed a dreadful sin by failing to complete genocide.”
Two Verses. Which Is The Bible, Which Is The Koran?
Let’s also take a look at passages from each of the holy books from Christianity and Islam. Can you guess which verse is from which book?
- A [holy man’s] daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death.
- Fight them until there is no more [disbelief or worshiping of other gods] and worship is for God alone.
The first is from the Bible and urges a father to burn his daughter to death if she loses her honor! Does that sound like something Jesus would approve of? No, it most certainly doesn’t. Recall that in the Book of John, Chapter 8, Jesus tells a group of men about to stone a prostitute:
“When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’”
As for the one from the Koran, it could just as easily be an instruction from God in the Old Testament.
The Only Rational Conclusion
So let’s be clear and unambiguous: Both the Bible and the Koran talk about unspeakable violence. Both are considered the most important book for their respective religions. And one is not more bloody than the other.
What gives any religion a bad name is people who use it in an attempt to justify harming or subjugating others. There are intolerant assholes in every religion, and they are the ones that sully its reputation.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org.