Christianity vs. Islam (Part 5)
Why Do the Gods Fight? Finding a Background for This Conflict in the Believers’ Doctrines
Christianity has Jesus’s teaching, “Love your enemy.” Islam itself means “peace”. So why do the two keep fighting?
In fact, both the sacred books have the extremely aggressive teaching that commands followers to “conquer your enemy”. In ancient Islam, Muhammad broadened his powers through his battles with the Quraish. Perhaps this is why the Qur’an has Allah’s message that orders the slaughter of nonbelievers. “When you meet those who disbelieve (in battle), strike off (their) heads until you have inflicted slaughter upon them” (47:4).
The words of a God, who differs from Allah, the one who preaches peace and tolerance, seem to have just slipped in there, but this affirmation of war has formed the basis of their jihad (holy war, this word originally meant “effort”).
Likewise, if non-Christian people open the Old Testament, they feel uncomfortable about the part where the Jews carry out massacres in the name of God. For example, in chapter 11 of the Book of Joshua, “They (the Jews) smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe. As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua.”
Subsequent Christians have repeated acts that are at odds with “Love your enemy” as if this “order to slaughter” has been imprinted, including the crusades against Islam; the annihilation of Christianity’s Gnosticism, Catharism, and sects that spoke in tongues; and the crimson imperialistic conquests of Africa and Central and South America (A belief also exists that, Christianity mixed with an early German religion when it spread to Germany, and that native faith had a strong fighting ideology. Thus, their fighting disposition of the new believers strengthened).
The Coexistence of a “God that Orders Slaughter” and a God That Preaches Love
There are, however, messages from God in the Old Testament that are of a completely different nature to this command. For example, Chapter 25 of the Book of Proverbs states, “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.”
In other words, the extremely narrow-minded and ethnically divine teachings that orders the annihilation of pagans and the universal teaching that transcends races and tries to help people mix like oil and water in the Old Testament. America’s leading authority in religious research, Professor Harvey Cox of Harvard Divinity School, has also pointed out in one of his books that while universal teachings and intolerant teachings are contradictory, they coexist in the sacred books (Note 1).
In both sacred books, a different element exists that does not seem to be the words of a God who preaches love and peace. The obedience of believers to that God’s words is apparently one cause of the repeated wars between Christianity and Islam.
The Conflict Between Freedom and Equality
In light of the modern political thought on freedom and equality, which distinctly emerged from the French Revolution, Islam clearly centers on “equality”.
A “Muslim”, used to mean a follower of Islam, is an absolute believer who has abandoned their own will and left everything to God. Before Allah, everyone is merely a small, equal being. As members of the Muslim community (Ummah), everyone can be equally saved if they obediently observe the religious lifestyle that Allah set forth in the Qur’an. This absolute egalitarianism appeals to the hearts of those in impoverished regions. Thus, Islam is widespread, and the religion transcends races and nations.
On the other hand, America, which is the largest Christian nation and the one Islam is most fiercely hostile toward, is a “great country of liberty.” Freedom has an aspect that also widens the “gap”, but this quality of being independent is essential for the development of technology, organizations, social innovations, and the wealth of citizens. On the contrary, egalitarian Islamic nations are, for the most part, impoverished, as the aforementioned Associate Professor Miyata said.
It is particularly difficult for social innovation to take place in the nations of the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan. Despite being a religion, Islamic law (Sharia), which Muhammad consolidated in the 7th century, is applied rigorously in these countries, going so far as to stipulate the rights of the citizens, the commercial law, the criminal law, and the constitution. This is because something that is bound by a system created in the 7th century is hindering the development of Islamic society.
The Envy of Western Civilization
Islam is a complete religion, but we are poor and the pagans are prospering…
When these feelings begin to happen, they easily arouse in people a sense of envy. Bernard Lewis, an authority on Middle East history and Emeritus Professor at Princeton University, says this in one of his books.
“I listened to news of the (September 11th) terrorist attacks and there were reports, even footage, of people in Arab and other Islamic nations expressing their joy in the streets. This reaction was, in a sense, based on envy.” (Note 2)
It was the same with the French Revolution. Whenever there was an emphasis on equality in history, there tended to be a lot of bloodshed that came with it. For example, those people believed if they could get rid of the rich, they wouldn’t have to confront the bitter reality that they were poor and were lagging behind, and there would not have to be any efforts made on their part. Perhaps they can violently destroy the target of their envy, and clear everything up. It is safe to say that this was the idea behind 9/11.
Furthermore, America continues to support Israel, which is a symbol of disgrace for Islam due to the Palestine issue. This has increased Muslim hostility, and it has made the issue more complex.
(Note 1) “Religion and the State”
(Note 2) “Holy War and Unholy Terror”