(Some of this blog is reprinted from my blog, “Is Allah God?”)
Pundits, politicians, and a few scholars say Islam is a peace-loving religion. When they say it, I detect a tone of rosy optimism that subtly reveals they are either hoping it’s true or trying to spin reality in order to appease moderate and non-practicing Muslims.
But many believe that in order for Islam to be authentically peace-loving, it would need a reformation similar to the one Christianity experienced 500 years ago that provided the theological underpinnings for western civilization. The pundits, who sincerely believe what they are saying, are seduced by their lack of belief in spiritual power. The reason Islam cannot experience a reformation is that the spirit behind Islam will not allow it.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the popular author of the best-selling book, Heretic, Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, has hope. She is urging the Islamic world to have a reformation similar to that of Christendom. She wants Islam to:
- Amend Muhammad’s semi-divine status, along with the literalist reading of the Quran.
- Amend the supremacy of life after death.
- Amend Shariah, the vast body of religious legislation.
- Amend the right of individual Muslims to enforce Islamic law.
- Amend the imperative to wage jihad, or holy war.
I do not believe this will happen. Christian reformation happened because the practices of the Church had veered away from Scripture and the reformers were demanding a higher view of Scripture in both faith and practice. In other words, our reformation facilitated an emphasis on the Scriptures and thus, the life-giving Spirit of God. The opposite is the case for Islam. When Muslims adopt a higher view of the Koran, they are radicalized, not for representing the love of God, peace, respect for others and forgiveness, but for a harsh demand of obedience to Allah and annihilation of those who don’t comply.
For there to be a reformation of Islam comparable to the Christian reformation, its adherents would need to grow away from the tenets of their faith and adopt a lower view of the Koran’s teachings. In other words, they would need to separate themselves from the spirit of Allah and turn, instead, to the Spirit of life. When Christians become devoted, they increasingly adhere to the teachings of the Bible that encourages them to love, forgive, turn the other cheek, be healing, and be kind. When Muslims become devoted, they tend to go a different direction.
Certainly we’ve seen that not all of those who claim to be Christians are immune to demonic ideas themselves. But our historic mistakes have not been representative of Christ or the New Testament, Spirit-filled life he offers, even though some Christians will try to use the Scriptures to defend their own atrocities. President Obama was right when he reminded Christians at The National Prayer Breakfast of what we as Christians do when we are not operating in the life-giving Spirit of God, but are religious ourselves. He said, “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
Jesus experienced this when Satan tempted him in the wilderness by using the Scriptures against him. God’s good work within the human heart is a spiritual uplift, an enlightenment, an ascent to a higher way of thinking. It lightens the load of life and provides encouragement. It is not the religious bigotry that some wrongly promote.
An open hearted reading of the New Testament offers God’s solution to wickedness in the human heart and removes the opportunity for outside evil influence, if and only if we submit to the Lordship of Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit. If not, we’ll find ourselves hating and warring just like all who follow the “god of this world.”
Bottom line, any time we human beings depart from the Spirit of the one true God who is loving, redemptive, forgiving, healing, and kind, we find ourselves manifesting our own fallen natures influenced by the deadly god of this world. But this is the opposite of our Christian faith. Christian reformers had only to point to the Scriptures to teach us this. To what do Islamic reformers have to point their followers?
6 replies on “Could Islam Become Peace-Loving?”
Very well said! I saw a sticker on someone’s rear screen which states: “Islam is a religion of love and peace.” I said to myself, the person who wrote that is either ignorant or brain-damned. The word ‘Islam’ means submission to Allah. By this submission, the Muslim’s presents their Allah as an angry god and his followers as slaves. The relationship that exist between Allah and the Muslims can be compared to the relationship between a taskmaster and a slave. A taskmaster demands total submission of his slaves.
Unlike the Christian God who relates to His people with love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, etc. If you ask a Christian why he/she should love, the Christian will point to the Bible which commands Christians to love. If Islam is a religion of love and peace, where in the Koran does it say so? Maybe someone can help to show us where in Koran does the book command Muslims to love, forgive, be in peace, and so on! I’m yet to find what makes Islam to be a religion of love and peace, “Jihad” is not a language of peace to me! Someone prove me wrong.
I love your response to Ted’s well written artical!
This sounds just like Christianity. The argument used for a Christian god is the same as Muslims use for the Islamic god. Both have some peace things, both have evil and unconscionable instructions to murder, mutilate, and invoke god-given superiority. They are both false, they are both potential hot beds of evil, but to the non-fundamentalist practitioner they can be peaceful.
And, frankly, if you want to know something about where this peace and love is in the koran, you could pick it up, google this information, and read. Just as people find utter evil in the bible, people can find peace and love in the Koran. However, if either book is a reflection of any god, he is not anything that is worth any time for anyone who wants to live a peaceful life.
Christianity is not love and peace either
There are between 900 million and 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and over four dozen Muslim-majority nations. And there are many sectarian divisions within Islam, including Sunni, Shia, Sufi, and Wahabbi. Characterizing them all as somehow inferior to Christianity and Christian behavior is problematic, to say the least.
How do the many wars Christians have justified by their religion fit into this? How about the self-proclaimed Christians who followed groups like the Branch Davidians and Jim Jones and anti-abortion warriors into violent behavior? These people point to the same bible to justify themselves as Mr. Haggard.
In contrast to Mr. Haggard’s bottom line I offer this: let us implement Christian teachings of peace and lead by example… and refrain from condemning others’ beliefs en masse.
Carl, every group has fringe elements that do not represent the faith or any respected segment. We Christians have that. We also have elected representatives (the president of the National Association of Evangelicals represents 30,000,000,000 believers, the National Council of Churches also has an elected president, and every denomination has an elected representative. Every Evangelical seminary and Bible School has elected representatives. And of course the Pope for the Catholics. Those are the people who represent Christianity. If you want to know what Christians believe, see what those representatives are saying. It’s true the press doesn’t cover them. They are not entertaining enough. But among Christians, we know who our thoughtful leaders are. None of them are mentioned in your comment.