Which Are the Religions of Violence?

In the context of a young woman from Ohio who fears the jeopardy of an Honor Killing based on her conversion from Islam to Christianity, the recent shoot out with an Imam in Detroit, a father running over his own, “overly westernized” daughter and Fort Hood it is worth revisiting the arguments over religious violence.

A frequent, albeit, shallow argument, should you venture into a discussion of Islam and violence is that; Christians and Jews have violence in their histories just like Islam. The implication being that you can’t make the “violence” argument against Islam since all three faiths have a measure of violence in their history. That argument is based on the logic that three wrongs make a right and if someone else did it than it must be OK for me to do it too.

The intellectual disconnect revolves around what is history and what is doctrine. Clearly, violence is present in the histories of all three major monotheistic faiths. In Judaism and Christianity violence is a historical fact; however, there is no open ended doctrine urging the faithful to ongoing violence as a commitment to faith. This fact is the most important and most frequently ignored portion of the “everyone was violent” argument. In Islam, ongoing violence as a means to propagate the faith is well ensconced both historically and, most importantly, as a matter of doctrine. Both the Quran and the Hadith sanction violence both generally and specifically, there are 26 sections of the Quran dedicated to militarism and violence. Jihad is to be never ending until the world has recognized or submitted to the supremacy of Islam, Allah, and of the Prophet Mohammed as his messenger. As a matter of long standing doctrine, Infidels must be converted, subjugated or killed.

Further, if you consider the Islamic idea of abrogation where later verses of the Quran supersede earlier ones and apply that standard to the evolution of Judaism as the foundation for Christianity the relativity argument simply does not hold up. Christianity, as doctrine, calls on its adherents to “love thy neighbor”, “turn the other cheek” and so on. Violence as an institutional prerogative does not exist in Judaism or in Christianity. It can be argued that Christianity “abrogated” the violence of the Old Testament with the pacifism of the New Testament. The fact remains that in neither Judaism nor Christianity is the application of violence a matter of fundamental doctrine.

That is clearly not the direction abrogation took in Islam. In the earlier portions of the Quran the Prophet was frequently engaged with and was clearly influenced by Jews and Zoroastrians. This was a period of relative calm in Islam as the Prophet received his first visitations from the Angel Gabriel and began his mission of propagating Islam.

In later times as Mohammed encountered resistance, in some cases armed resistance; his visions took on a different tenor and began to adopt a distinctly militaristic tone. It is these verses that abrogate and replace earlier ones according to many Islamic scholars. It is clear that as Mohammed faced specific challenges, more violently orientated visions conveniently addressed the challenge of the day abrogating earlier ones more in line with the initial influences on Mohammed. The Imperialism of early Islam grew ever more dependant on the later versus of the Quran to justify ongoing violence.

In the case of both Christianity and Islam, Jesus and Mohammed, respectively, are held out as perfect examples of a perfect life. Violence, in the case of Jesus, is essentially absent from the telling of his life and teachings. Not so the case in Islam as the Hadith recounts many circumstances where Mohammed was involved in directing, motivating as well as participating in violence against those that stood against him. This is a fundamental rational in Islam regarding the acceptability of violence as the foundation of Jihad, a theme well evolved, interpreted and communicated by fundamentalists. If the Prophet engaged in any particular behavior, the Prophet, as a representation of a perfect life justifies the behavior in others.

The occurrence of violence is a fact in religious history but in Islam violence is a matter of prescribed doctrine.

 While we observe the ongoing search for politically correct justifications of Islamic behaviors, the facts of the belief system must also be considered. It is, thankfully, true that most Muslims eschew the violence we have seen over the last month. Consider however, that if only 10% of worldwide Muslims adopt a more fundamentalist view promulgated by Jihadists that 10% population represents over one hundred and twenty million people.

  • JD

    The issue is not religion it is “Violence” and the thought that violence is a solution or when it can be applied as a solution… Even if a Christian is non-violent for his religion can he say the same in the name of his country? how many people quote scriptures when they go into war?

    Again it just comes down to unnecessary Violence for an unjust reason coupled with the failed logic of two wrongs make a right…

    I always seem to fall back on these words from Robert F. Kennedy.

    “It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one – no matter where he lives or what he does – can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed.

    Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by an assassin’s bullet.

    No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

    Whenever any life is taken by another unnecessarily – whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence – whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

    Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

    Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

    Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation…

    For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

    This is the breaking of a man’s spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

    We can not propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done.

    When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

    We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

    Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

    We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

    Perhaps we can remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

    Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

  • Bill Hedges


    I will agree a smidgen with JD.

    My nephew worked in Saudi Arabia. On his second tour he gave me his book giving rules one must follow there.

    He was taking girly movies with him which was forbidden. I asked him about it but he laughed it off.

    As was the custom, he went with native friends into the desert and partied. I know he was heavily into drugs and most likely used. He was a magnet for women. Though in superior shape he supposedly died of heart attack. It had to be closed casket funeral. Believed outside of body was treated.

    My belief one of many local customs broken got him killed. They attempted to hide it.

    In some Countries killing wife/kids can be done for breaking certain rules. Given right to do so by their religion, but that seems self-serving to me.

    Years ago in College I studied the 5 great religions of the World. Taken on face value they are great . Implementation by followers is the problem here. For example. Old USSR constitution was as good as ours as I recall in College. However it essence may not be carried out in daily life (by our standards). So Islam may be superior religion, groups may use unintended methods to our way of seeing things.

    Never think all Countries see things as we do. Have you ever heard a person say that a word in his language can not be explained in English ? Or a word we have just one meaning for, in theirs are 100’s. Rice is Asia has many grades because quality of rice there is very important.

  • “In Judaism and Christianity violence is a historical fact; however, there is no open ended doctrine urging the faithful to ongoing violence as a commitment to faith.”

    Have you read the old testament? God directed the murder and destruction of multiple countries as a means to give his followers their own land. Multiple times. The Old testament directly justifies murder of sinners and non believers.

    If you study Islam you will notice that Islam comes about to take Christians back to the old law. It’s like Islam is reverting the descendants of Abraham back to the way of the Old testament.

    Also various books of the old testament and the Qur’an cover various times in history. The lives of the people or that time whether peaceful or times of war are going to be reflected in the religious texts of that time. The New Testament covers and extremely short moment in history, whereas the old testament covers a longer period. Islam comes about after Christianity began to take a bad turn in “history.”

    It’s obvious that you on the outside looking in and that is drastically limiting your understanding of Islam. It’s hard for people to understand various religions when their views or so horribly tainted by bad people who do things in the name of their religion. Those people obviously have a poor understanding of their own religion and/or it’s texts.

    The problem lies within the interpretation of the religious texts. Everyone wishes to interpret them in a manner in which they see fit for their own personal agenda, and that is obviously your case with Islam. Your agenda appears to call Islam a violent religion and thus you’re making an attempt to make Islam appear that way, which it is not. All three religions which descended from Abraham threaten non-believers and those who chose to go against the doctrine, and it is indeed in all three texts, the Torah, the New testament, and the Qur’an. Simply because 4 books of the New testament attempt to tell the story of Jesus, a peaceful man, does not mean the entire New testament talks about pretty flowers. Paul Certainly did not write like mathew, mark, luke, or John, and he did not teach/preach as Jesus did either. And as Paul wrote the majority of the New testament, I suggests you take another look.

    Old testament violence and war in the name of God:

    Deuteronomy 20 check the whole chapter

    verses 10-13 ” 10When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.

    11And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.

    12And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:

    13And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: ”

    Joshua 6 is the story wher God delivers to Isreal the city of Jericho and it is done so through war. Verse 21: “21And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.”

    With the new testament, I have stated in another post on this site that Jesus admitted that he spoke in parable to make his teachings only understood to those whom he wished to understand. If you take the time to sit, read, and analyze then you will also see that Jesus spoke of bad things happening to those who did not believe in follow the law of God.

    Check Mathew chapter 3, read the whole chapter.

    Verse 10: ” 10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”

    Surely if you read Mathew, you will know that Jesus is not talking about actual trees a fruit. He is talking about Men and their acts.

    Anyways, if you’d like, I would enjoy going over religious texts with you Landreaux.

    Again I say, give actual quotes from the texts that you talk about, otherwise there are people on this site who will discredit you because of you lack of links and/or sources to back your argument.


    I’m sure if he took a Saudi woman and got her drunk, not only was her murdered, but I’m sure her head was taken off as well. I many countries, not only middle eastern, it is completely illegal for a woman to get drunk. With good reason I’m sure. How many American woman have been taken advantage of due to her drunkenness? My girlfriend and I just broke up because is did not approve of her going to a bar with two male friends from work to have $0.25 beers. It’s just not right. She says that I don’t trust her. I say the situation is just not appropriate.

  • Oops, I did not finish the article.

    “f the Prophet engaged in any particular behavior, the Prophet, as a representation of a perfect life justifies the behavior in others.”

    Show me in the Bible or Qur’an that it states that Prophets are perfect. The only one who was called perfect I believe was Jesus. Then again I’m not sure the New testament even states that. There are tons of prophets in the old testament, I dont believe any of them were called perfect representatives on Judaism. I don’t recall Mohammad in the Qur’an being called perfect either.

    Jews were criticized for their religion.
    Christians were persecuted for their beliefs
    Now it’s Islams turn I suppose.

  • JD

    Couldn’t agree more Kendale.

  • Bill Hedges

    QUESTION Too bad we do not have working examples of obama’s health dream.

    Answer Oh yeah, his home State, Hawaii.

    Question But they shut that down ?? Lets try ones still running ??

    Answer They are into restricting and in deep debt !

    Question Let’s check the whole World.

    Answer Sorry, restricting and deep in debt !

    Question Well, no worry. He’ll do for health care what he has done for America.

    Answer OK, 10.2 unemployment ?

    Question That too. I meant public health care…

    Answer Obama say his plan is different than any working model in existence. No debt. WOW.

    Question Ever wonder what Liberals would do if empowered.

    Answer Check out California. May be 1st bankrupt Sate in 160 years. See America’s future. Not far off. Already talk of our Country losing its AAA rating. That sure won’t help

    Welcome to liberal U.S.A. Believe in obama’s promises. He doesn’t.

    Fool me once shame on me. Fool me twice shame on me__ obama motto.

  • I’m moving to Cali in 2010. Can’t wait to live in Obama Land

  • Bill Hedges

    Obama may not go to global warming conference in Copenhagen next month. Guess obama will have to bow here at home.

    Said little chance of passage of their plan. You know where America pays $ billions to other Countries for our pollution. To Countries that are also heavy polluters.

    Does this mean Congress will not double our energy cost. They probably will. They act like they don’t care what citizens think.

    The death of Global Warming may be here. Al Gore made at least $200 million, he can afford his 4 times average home energy usage.

    I understand Al finally moved to alternative energy for his house, long after George Bush did his home in Texas. Maybe Al should give his money to Bush.

    Palin book was fact checked by 11 people. Thanks AP. None checked obama‘s books. Had AP did on obama’s books there would be no need for ‘birthers’. If he was born in Hawaii those fact checkers would have proved once and for all. Course obama could have settled it easily, you know not have it sealed. But then, I sealed mine. Lol

    Now ‘bithers’ are crazy but 11 fact checkers are A-OK. Sarah $500,000 legal fees and found innocent on all charges is no reason to stop being Governor.

    Stimulus plan in big turmoil so natural another may be in the works. Maybe using funds being paid back from financial institution. Who thought that money wouldn’t be wasted. I knew it would. 1st plan has 1-6 fake jobs reported. Fake numbers coming out daily.

    Recovery.gov is certainly living up to obama’s standards. Don’t these fact checkers know Recovery.gov is obama, not Sarah. Cut it out guys. Bad mouth Sarah & Fox not administration. Stop checking the number of jobs. Please !!!

    I guess news is listening to obama overseas now. You know, news being citical of government is good. Shouldn’t say that overseas. Those cameras in your face are reporting in back home. Who would have known !!!