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Allah vs. the God of the Bible
by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

An honest and objective reading of both the Quran and the Bible reveals a significant clash between the two both in terms of how to conceptualize God, as well as in their respective depictions of the behavior of deity. Allah says and does things that the God of the Bible did not and would not say or do. The Quran’s representation of the sovereignty of God (like Calvinism) contradicts the character of God by attributing actions to Him that are unlike deity.
For example, the Quran repeatedly represents God, on the occasion of the creation of Adam, requiring the angels/djinn to bow down and worship this first human. All do so with the exception of Iblis (i.e., Satan), who refuses to do so on the grounds that Adam was a mere mortal:
Verily We created man of potter’s clay of black mud altered, and the Jinn did We create aforetime of essential fire. And (remember) when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am creating a mortal out of potter’s clay of black mud altered, so, when I have made him and have breathed into him of My spirit, do ye fall down, prostrating yourselves unto him. So the angels fell prostrate, all of them together save Iblis. He refused to be among the prostrate. He said: O Iblis! What aileth thee that thou art not among the prostrate? He said: Why should I prostrate myself unto a mortal whom Thou hast created out of potter’s clay of black mud altered? He said: Then go thou forth from hence, for verily thou art outcast. And lo! the curse shall be upon thee till the Day of Judgement (Surah 15:26-35, emp. added; cf. 2:34; 7:11-12; 17:61; 18:51; 20:116; 38:72-78).
This characterization of deity is completely unacceptable. This one incident alone illustrates that Allah is not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible simply would not do what the Quran says He did. Numerous Bible verses convey the complete impropriety—even blasphemy—that the worship of a mere human constitutes. Humans are forbidden to worship other humans (Acts 10:25-26; 14:14-15). Humans are forbidden to worship angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). And, most certainly, angels are not to worship mere humans. The Law of Moses declared that worship is to be directed to God (Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:20). When Satan tempted Jesus, and Satan urged Jesus to worship him, Jesus quoted the deuteronomic declaration from the Law of Moses, and then added His own divine commentary: “and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10, emp. added). No one, and no thing, is the rightful object of worship—except deity!
Interestingly enough, Satan’s reasoning as reported in the Quran was actually biblical and right. Satan recognized that not only should angels not worship humans, but in view of his own angelic condition, Adam occupied a status that was beneath his own accelerated, celestial existence—a fact affirmed by the Bible: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5; cf. Hebrews 2:9). The Quranic depiction of God ordering Iblis/Satan to worship Adam is a serious breach of divine propriety and a further indication of the Quran’s conflict with the Bible. [Once again, the Quran appears to have been influenced by Jewish sources, since the Talmudists also represent the angels as bestowing special attention and honor on Adam (Sanhedrin 29;Midrash Rabbah on Genesis, paragraph 8)].

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We are happy to grant permission for items in the "Islam and Other World Religions" section to be reproduced in their entirety, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) the author’s name must remain attached to the materials; (4) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (5) alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, quotations, etc. must be reproduced exactly as they appear in the original); (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken.

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Christianity, Islam, and Science
by  Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

The Roman Empire was terminally ill by the end of the second century A.D. It had used its skills in administration, engineering, and military strategy to dominate a region spanning three continents. But its heart was weakened by the rise of an absolutist monarchy led, all too frequently, by weak, ineffectual emperors. Slowly, the Roman armies abandoned the most distant outposts and could not prevent the Vandals, Goths, and Huns from penetrating the innermost parts of the Empire. The Goths sacked major Greek cities in 268, gave the same treatment to Rome in 410, and in 476 deposed the last Western Roman Emperor. Deprived of Roman law and economy, much of the region plunged into disorder and poverty.
Lost from the scene was a significant portion of classical Greek science, including Ptolemy’s astronomy, Euclid’s mathematics, Galen’s anatomy, and Aristotle’s naturalistic writings. But it hardly could be said that nothing was going on in these “Dark Ages,” as some are inclined to characterize the next few hundred years. In particular, the establishment of monasteries in the sixth century provided a means for religious training. Literacy improved because instruction depended on readings from the Bible, commentaries, and works of the church Fathers.
Monasteries also provided access to the relatively scant classical works available in Latin. Through the writings of Augustine (354-430), scholars were especially familiar with Plato’sTimaeus. This work lent itself to Christian interpretation because it argued that the Universe had a first cause—an eternal self-mover—that created motion and order. Further, because Plato’s god was good, he created a world that was good for us, the creature. Unlike the Christian God, this self-mover was not a personal god; he did not love man, he was not omnipotent, and he was not the object of worship. However, Plato’s arguments for a Creator-God, combined with biblically based expectations of seeing God’s handiwork in creation (e.g., Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:20), encouraged medieval theologians to affirm the fundamental intelligibility of God’s creation. Although Augustine frowned upon the systematic study of nature, the concept of nature’s basic orderliness provided an important key to the development of modern science (Jones, 1969, p. 133).
During this same period, Arabic-Islamic science had reached tremendous heights. It led the world in mathematics, physics, optics, astronomy, and medicine. The stability and wealth brought by the spread of Islamic power in the seventh and eighth centuries fostered patronage of higher learning. In 762, al-Mansur established Baghdad as his new capital, and “cultivated a religious climate that was relatively intellectual, secularized, and tolerant” (Lindberg, 1992, p. 168). Over the next few generations, Arab scholars enhanced their own knowledge with medicine from Persia, mathematics from India and China, and the classical Greek heritage preserved in Byzantium. Much emphasis was given to knowledge that had special utility for Islamic culture. For example, the Chinese abacus, and the Hindu system of numbers and place-valued decimal notation, were used to advance trigonometry and Ptolemy’s astronomy. These, in turn, could be used to determine the direction to Mecca and the times of prayer for any town in the Muslim world.
Crucial to the development of Arabic science was a massive translation program begun by Hunayn ibn Ishaq (808-73), a member of the Nestorian Christian sect. Arabs filled their numerous libraries with tens- or hundreds-of-thousands of books, whereas the Sorbonne in Paris could boast of a paltry two thousand as late as the fourteenth century (Huff, 1993, p. 74). Despite this clear superiority, why did modern science arise in Western Europe, and not in the Islamic world?
Some Muslim leaders, like some of their counterparts in early medieval Europe, had a low regard for the study of nature. Academic pursuits were tolerated, but learning was divided into traditional studies based on the Qur’an, and “foreign” studies based on knowledge obtained from the Greeks. Although there were Arabic rationalists, there were also those who saw in this rationalism a threat to the authority of the holy writings. A conservative reaction in the late tenth century, together with a decline in peace and prosperity, impeded further scientific advance in the Muslim world (Lindberg, 1992, pp. 180-181). According to the emerging Islamic orthodoxy, man was not a fully rational creature, and no room was allowed for a purely rational investigation of God’s creation (Huff, 1993, pp. 100,115).
It was in this very early period of decline that the baton of science began to pass gradually into the hands of the Europeans, especially those who came into contact with the wealth of Islamic knowledge in Spain. Perhaps the next most significant event was the fall of Muslim-held Toledo in 1085. Many important Arabic and classical works from its vast library were translated into Latin. Within a century, these had begun to filter into centers of learning all over Europe. They arrived at a time when scholars such as Anselm (1033-1109) already were reviving the role of reason in faith. Their arrival coincided also with the development of the university as a legal entity with political and intellectual autonomy (Huff, 1993, p. 335). No similar institution appeared in the Arabic world until the twentieth century due, in part, to the orthodox Muslim concept of nature and reason. Religious constraints also played a role in late medieval Europe, but an academic world committed to the biblical views of man’s rationality and freedom of choice provided a fertile ground for the rise of modern science.
REFERENCES
Huff, Toby E. (1993), The Rise of Early Modern Science (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press).
Jones, W.T. (1969), The Medieval Mind (Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, second edition).
Lindberg, David C. (1992), The Beginnings of Western Science (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).

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We are happy to grant permission for items in the "Islam and Other World Religions" section to be reproduced in their entirety, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) the author’s name must remain attached to the materials; (4) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (5) alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, quotations, etc. must be reproduced exactly as they appear in the original); (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken.

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Does the Quran Encourage Violence?
by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Q.
Does the Quran encourage violence?
A.
Yes. The Quran—the holy book of Islam that 1.3 billion Muslims believe to be the word of God—is replete with explicit and implicit sanction and promotion of armed conflict, violence, and bloodshed by Muslims. Read Surah 47:4 from the celebrated translation by Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall:
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain (Surah 47:4, emp. added).
Many other verses in the Quran forthrightly endorse armed conflict and war to advance Islam. Muslim historical sources themselves report the background details of those armed conflicts that have characterized Islam from its inception—including Muhammad’s own warring tendencies involving personal participation in and endorsement of military campaigns (cf. Lings, pp. 86,111). Muslim scholar Pickthall’s own summary of Muhammad’s war record is an eye-opener: “The number of the campaigns which he led in person during the last ten years of his life is twenty-seven, in nine of which there was hard fighting. The number of the expeditions which he planned and sent out under other leaders is thirty-eight” (n.d., p. xxvi).
REFERENCES
Lings, Martin (1983), Muhammad (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).

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We are happy to grant permission for items in the "Islam and Other World Religions" section to be reproduced in their entirety, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) the author’s name must remain attached to the materials; (4) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (5) alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, quotations, etc. must be reproduced exactly as they appear in the original); (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken.

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Don't Muslims and Christians Both Believe in Jesus?
by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Q:
“In a Muslim seminar, an Imam stated that both Christians and Muslims believe in Jesus, but of different faiths. What say you?”
A:
Muslims are quick to emphasize that they, too, believe in Jesus. Their claim is correct. After all, the Quran alludes to Jesus in a favorable light several times (e.g., Surah 3:45-51; 5:110; 21:91; et al.). But this claim is misleading, since it fails to own up to the fact that Christianity and Islam are in hopeless contradiction with each other regarding the most crucial contention of New Testament Christianity: the divinity of Christ. On this solitary point, Islam and Christianity, the Bible and the Quran, can never agree. This disagreement is of such momentous import and great magnitude as to make the inexorable incompatibility permanent.
You see, while the Quran speaks favorably of Jesus as a prophet of God, it vehemently denounces the deity of Christ. For example, consider Surah 18:1-5 (as translated by Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall)—
Praise be to Allah Who hath revealed the Scripture unto His slave…to give warning of stern punishment from Him…and to warn those who say: Allah hath chosen a son, (A thing) whereof they have no knowledge, nor (had) their fathers. Dreadful is the word that cometh out of their mouths. They speak naught but a lie.
And read Surah 19:88-93—
And they say: The Beneficent hath taken unto Himself a son. Assuredly ye utter a disastrous thing, whereby almost the heavens are torn, and the earth is split asunder and the mountains fall in ruins, that ye ascribe unto the Beneficent a son, when it is not meet for (the Majesty of) the Beneficent that He should choose a son. There is none in the heavens and the earth but cometh unto the Beneficient as a slave.
Or Surah 23:91—
Allah hath not chosen any son, nor is there any God along with Him (also 25:2; et al.).
These references demonstrate that the Quran depicts Jesus as a mere man—a prophet like Muhammad—who was created by God like all other created beings (Surah 5:75; cf. 42:9,13,21). Indeed, when Jesus is compared to any of the prophets (listed as Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob), Allah is represented as stating: “We make no distinction between any of them” (Surah 2:136; 3:84). Though the Quran seems to accept the notion of the virgin conception (Surah 21:91), to attribute divinity to Jesus, or to assign to Jesus equal rank with God, is to utter a “dreadful” and “disastrous” thing—to formulate “nothing but a lie”!
Here, indeed, is the number one conflict between Islam and Christianity—the deity, person, and redemptive role of Christ. If Christ is Who the Bible represents Him to be, then Islam and the Quran are completely fictitious. If Jesus Christ is Who the Quran represents Him to be, then Christianity is baseless and blasphemous. On this point alone, these two religions cannever achieve harmony. But the New Testament is very, very clear: the heart, core, and soul of the Christian religion is allegiance to Jesus Christ as God, Lord, and Savior. Jesus identified Himself as the “I AM” of the Old Testament (John 8:58; cf. 20:28-31). In Colossians, Paul forcefully affirmed regarding Jesus—
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (1:15-17). For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (2:9).
Such depictions of Jesus are frequent in the New Testament. Jesus was certainly a prophet, as the Quran affirms (Surah 4:163); but Jesus was not just a prophet. He was God in the flesh. In fact, oral confession of the deity of Christ is prerequisite to becoming a Christian (Romans 10:9-10). This singular point makes Christianity and Islam forever incompatible. One must be a Christian to be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), and yet one cannot be a Christian without believing in, and verbally confessing, the deity of Christ, and then being immersed into Christ (Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:27). The Bible declares that Jesus was the final revelation of God to man (Hebrews 1:1-3). There have been no others.

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Is Muhammad Mentioned in the Bible?
by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Islamic apologists have attempted to bolster the credibility of their beliefs by claiming that the Bible, itself, makes reference to the coming of the prophet Muhammad. Ironically, this claim comes even in the face of the prevailing Islamic contention that the Bible has been corrupted, and thus cannot be relied upon as an accurate record of God’s Word. Nevertheless, the reader is urged to weigh these claims in light of the exegetical evidence for five of these passages.
ISAIAH 29:12
First, Muslims appeal to Isaiah 29:12—“Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, ‘Read this, please’; and he says, ‘I am not literate.’” Muslims insist that the book referred to in this verse is the Quran, that the one to whom the book was delivered is Muhammad, and that the one who ordered Muhammad to read the book is Gabriel. They claim that Muhammad fits the description of this individual, since Muhammad was illiterate when the angel Gabriel revealed the words of Allah to him.
To understand the context of the verse, one must remember that Isaiah, who lived in the 8th century B.C., is known as the “Messianic prophet” because he prophesied so many details about Jesus—not Muhammad. Isaiah 29 is in a context in which God pronounced woes on Judah for her sins at that time, i.e., 702 B.C. The context indicates that within a year, the great Assyrian king Sennacherib would lay siege to Jerusalem in 701 B.C. (vs. 3). Jerusalem (called “Ariel”) would be attacked by her enemies and punished for her crimes against God, and then those enemies would, themselves, also receive their just desserts (vss. 4-8). God’s people were in the throes of deliberate spiritual blindness, and Judah’s false prophets/seers were not helping the situation (vss. 9-10). Notice that Isaiah then described the unwillingness of the people of his day to heed the truth by comparing them to a literateperson who is told to read something, but refuses, excusing himself by saying the document is sealed (vs. 11). It then is delivered to an illiterate person, but he excuses himself by saying he cannot read (vs. 12). The point is that the people of Isaiah’s day refused to pay attention to God’s Word spoken through His prophets. They did not want it! Verses 13-16 explain that because of their closed minds, they would all suffer for their rejection of His Word when the Assyrians arrived to besiege the city. But, as usual, God revealed a better day when people would listen (vss. 17ff.). Having examined the context, it is transparently evident that these verses have absolutely nothing to do with Muhammad!
DEUTERONOMY 18:18
A second verse that Muslims brandish in support of their claims is the promise of a coming prophet in Deuteronomy 18:18—“I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.” Muslims claim that the prophet to whom God referred was Muhammad.
Again, a simple examination of additional biblical evidence reveals that the statement made to Moses was divinely intended to refer to Jesus Christ—not Muhammad. Shortly after the establishment of the church of Christ and the Christian religion (in A.D. 30 in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the death and resurrection of Jesus—Acts 2), two of the twelve apostles, Peter and John, went to the Jewish temple and healed a lame man (Acts 3:1-11). When people began to gather in large numbers out of amazement at what had happened, Peter used the opportunity to preach the Christian message to them (Acts 3:12-26). He made several crucial points pertaining to the person of the Christ: (1) the recently crucified Jesus was, in fact, the One Whom the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had glorified (vs. 13); (2) God had raised Him from the dead (vs. 15); (3) it was the “name” (i.e., authority/power) of Jesus, and faith in Him, that procured the miraculous healing of the lame man (vs. 16); (4) the suffering of Christ was predicted previously by God through the prophets (vs. 18); (5) at the conclusion of human history, God will send Jesus back (not any of the prophets, let alone Muhammad)—an unmistakable reference to the Second Coming of Christ immediately preceding the Judgment (vss. 20-21; cf. Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.). It is at this point that Peter quoted from the passage in Deuteronomy and applied it to Jesus—not Muhammad (vss. 22ff.). Peter’s inspired application is unmistakable; he clearly identified Jesus as the fulfillment: “God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities” (vs. 26). Observe further that God stated explicitly that the prophet that He would raise up would come "from your brethren" (vs. 15; cf. vs. 18). In context, He was speaking to Moses, who was a descendant of Isaac. Arabs descended from Ishmael, not Isaac. Muhammad was not from the brethren of Moses and the Jews--he was an Arab. Muhammad does not fit the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18.
JOHN 14-16
A third attempt by Muslims to gain credibility for their viewpoint by linking their beliefs to the Bible concerns the multiple allusions to the Holy Spirit in John chapters 14, 15, and 16. John 16:7 reads: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I go not away, the Helper will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him to you.” Again, Muslims claim that Jesus was referring to Muhammad. Yet anyone who has spent even a minimal amount of effort examining the teaching of John chapters 14, 15, and 16 is astounded that anyone would claim that the “Helper” (NKNV), or “Comforter” (KJV), or “Counselor” (RSV, NIV)—the one who stands beside (paracletos)—is to be equated with Muhammad. The three chapters have as their setting Jesus giving His twelve apostles special encouragement and specific admonitions in view of His eminent departure from the Earth. He reassured them that even though He was about to exit the planet, He would not abandon them. They would not be left “orphans” (14:18). He would send in His place the Holy Spirit Who would teach them all things and bring to their remembrance those things that Jesus had taught them (14:26). The term translated “Helper” occurs three times in the context (14:26; 15:26; 16:7). Without question, Jesus was referring to the power and directional assistance that the apostles would receive from the Holy Spirit beginning on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:8; 2:4). A simple reading of the three chapters makes this conclusion inescapable.
Since Muslims do not believe in the notion of Trinity (God in three persons—Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14), they reject the reality of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is referred to in the Quran, it is speaking of the angel Gabriel (Surah 2:87,253; 16:102; see Pickthall, n.d., p. 40, note 3). But using their own reasoning, the “Helper” cannot refer to Muhammad since the context specifically identifies the “Helper” as the “Holy Spirit:” “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (14:26). If the Quran is correct, and the Holy Spirit is Gabriel, then John 14:26 teaches that the Helper is Gabriel—not Muhammad! No, John 16:7 does not refer to Muhammad.
JOHN 1:19-21
A fourth passage brought forward in an effort to show biblical support for Muhammad’s claim to be a prophet of God is John 1:19-21—“Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’” Muslims claim that the Jews were waiting for the fulfillment of three distinct prophecies. The first was the coming of Christ. The second was the coming of Elijah. The third was the coming of the Prophet. Muslims point out that the three questions that were posed to John the baptizer in this passage show this expectation to be true. They further maintain that since the Jews distinguished between the Christ and the Prophet, Jesus Christ was not the prophet mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:15,18.
Muslims certainly are correct in their observation that the Jews of Jesus’ day thought that the Christ and the Prophet were two separate personages. But the meaning and proper application of the Bible does not rest on the perceptions and misconceptions of mere humans. The Bible records the opinions and viewpoints of a wide range of individuals throughout human history—including Satan himself (Matthew 4:3,6,9)—even though their opinions and viewpoints were incorrect. The Bible does not authenticate such opinions simply by reporting them. The Jews were confused.
The real question is, does the Bible indicate whether the Christ and the Prophet were/are to be understood as the same person? As already noted, the apostle Peter certainly thought so (Acts 3:12ff.). So did the great evangelist and Christian martyr, Stephen. Standing before the highest-ranking body of the Jewish religion, the Sanhedrin, and in the presence of the highest-ranking religious figure in Judaism, the high priest, Stephen recalled the words of Moses from Deuteronomy (Acts 7:37), and then forthrightly declared Jesus to be the Just One Whom they had betrayed and murdered (vs. 52). The “Just One” is precisely the same person that Peter identified as the fulfillment of the Deuteronomy passage, i.e., Jesus Christ. Likewise, Paul referred to Jesus (not Muhammad) as the “Just One” (Acts 22:14). An objective appraisal of the biblical data yields the unmistakable conclusion that the Bible identifies the Prophet of Deuteronomy 18 as Jesus Christ—not Muhammad. Jesus is both the Christ and the Prophet.
SONG OF SOLOMON 5:16
A fifth passage alleged to be a reference to Muhammad is found in Song of Solomon 5:16, where it is claimed that Muhammad is actually referred to by name in Hebrew. In English, the verse reads: “His mouth is most sweet, yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!” (NKJV). A phonetic transliteration of the underlying Hebrew text reads: Kheeco mahm-tah-keem vuh-coollo ma-kha-madeem zeh dodee veh-tseh ray-ee beh-note yerushalayim. Muslims claim that the bolded word, though translated “altogether lovely,” is the name of Muhammad (Naik, n.d.). Consider six linguistic evidences that dispute their claim:
1. The second syllable (kha) utilizes the Hebrew letter heth which has a hard initial sound like the “ch” in the Scottish word “loch.” It is to be distinguished from the Hebrew letter hewhich is the same as the English letter “h.” If Muhammad was being referred to, the simple “h” would have been more linguistically appropriate.
2. Muslims claim that the eem (or im) in ma-kha-madeem in the Hebrew language was “added for respect” (Naik). This claim is untrue and unsubstantiated. The letters constitute the standard form for changing a singular to a plural—like adding “s” or “es” in English (cf. Weingreen, 1959, pp. 35ff.). As the eminent Emil Rödiger (who was professor for oriental languages at the University of Halle and the student of the well-known German Orientalist, H.F.W. Gesenius) noted in his editorial comment in the prestigious Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar: “The use of the plural as a form of respectful address is quite foreign to Hebrew” (p. 418).
3. The meaning of the Hebrew ma-kha-madeem is different from the meaning of the word “Muhammad” in Arabic. According to Sheikh Abd al-Azîz, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the word “Muhammad” is derived from the Arabic root word hamd meaning “praise.” It is the emphatic passive participle of that root and can be translated as “the Oft-Praised One” (n.d.). However, the Hebrew term (makh-mahd) in the passage under consideration has a completely different meaning. It refers to “grace, beauty” (Gesenius, 1979, p. 464), “a desirable thing, delightfulness” (Brown, et al., 1906, pp. 326-327), “a pleasant thing” (Payne, 1980, 1:295), or “precious” (Holladay, 1988, p. 190). English translations render the term “altogether lovely” (NKJV, NIV), “wholly desirable” (NASB), and “altogether desirable” (ESV, RSV). No reputable English translation would render the underlying Hebrew as “Muhammad.” All Muslims have done is happen upon a Hebrew word that phonetically sounds somewhat like “Muhammad” and have erroneously concluded the word must be referring to him. Such handling of linguistic data is irresponsible.
4. Further, the claim that Muhammad is intended in the verse completely disregards the context and message of the book of Song of Solomon. The book consists of a dialogue between Solomon, his Shulamite bride-to-be, and the “daughters of Jerusalem,” with perhaps even God interjecting His comment (5:1b), as well as the Shulamite’s brothers (8:8-9). The term used in 5:16 that Muslims claim refers to Muhammad is also used in 2:3 to refer to the Shulamite’s beloved—“Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight.” “Great delight” is the Hebrew word also used in 5:16; in both cases the words of the Shulamite refer to her beloved—not Muhammad.
5. Forms of the same Hebrew word are used elsewhere in the Old Testament, yet Muslims do not claim that those passages refer to Muhammad. Rightly so, since those verses cannot be forced to fit the notion that Muhammad is under consideration. For example, Isaiah 64:11 mourns the destruction of Jerusalem: “Our holy and beautiful temple, where our fathers praised You, is burned up with fire; And all our pleasant things are laid waste.” “Pleasant things” is a form of the same word in Song of Solomon 5:16. Would the Muslim contend that Muhammad was “laid waste” in Jerusalem? Additional occurrences of the same word—which dispel the misuse of the term by Muslims—are seen in 1 Kings 20:6; 2 Chronicles 36:19; Lamentations 1:10,11; Ezekiel 24:16,21,25; Hosea 9:9,16; Joel 3:5; et al. (Wigram, 1890, p. 687).
6. Even if the Hebrew word “lovely/desirable” in Song of Solomon were the Hebrew equivalent of the Arabic word “praised one,” it still would not follow that Muhammad is being referred to in the Bible. Instead, it would simply be an indication that the underlying word stands on its own as a term used for other applications. For example, the Hebrew word for “bitter” is mah-rah. It is used throughout the Old Testament to refer to the concept of bitter. Yet, due to her unpleasant circumstances in life, Naomi (meaning “pleasant”) requested that her name be changed to “bitter” (mah-rah) to reflect her bitter predicament. It does not follow, however, that when the Hebrew word “bitter” appears in the Old Testament it refers to Naomi. If parents today were to name their child John, it would not follow that they intended to reflect an association with others in history who have worn the name John. Muslims have the cart before the horse. Their claim is equivalent to parents naming their child “wonderful” or “special”—and then claiming that an ancient writer had their child in mind when the writer used the word “wonderful” or “special” in referring to another person contemporary to the writer.
CONCLUSION
All of the above verses may be understood with a little study and consideration of context. Those who would attempt to use these verses to apply to Muhammad demonstrate that they have a very superficial, cursory understanding of the Bible. The truth is available for anyone who cares to “check it out.” But searching for the truth requires effort. It requires proper motivation, sincerity, and honesty. Yet it can be done. As Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
REFERENCES
al-Azîz, Sheikh Abd (no date), “The Meaning of the Prophet’s names ‘Muhammad’ and ‘Ahmad,’” Islam Today, http://en.islamtoday.net/quesshow-14-738.htm.
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs (1906), The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2000 reprint).
Gesenius, William (1847), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979 reprint).
Holladay, William (1988), A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Naik, Zakir (no date), “Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the Bible,” Islam 101,http://www.islam101.com/religions/christianity/mBible.htm.
Payne, J. Barton (1980), hamad in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
Weingreen, J. (1959), A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (Oxford: Clarenden Press), second edition.
Wigram, George W. (1890), The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980 reprint).

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Muhammad or Jesus?
by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Muhammad: “Those who say: Allah hath chosen a son…speak nothing but a lie” (Surah 18:4-5).
Jesus (through John): “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?... Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either” (1 John 2:22-23).
*********************
Muhammad: “Allah hath not chosen any son, nor is there any God along with Him” (Surah23:91).
God: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5).
*********************
Muhammad: “[T]he Christians call Christ the Son of God.... Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!” (Surah 9:30).
Jesus: “[H]e who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). “Jesus…said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’ He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you’” (John 9:35-37).
*********************
Muhammad: “They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain, but Allah took him up unto Himself” (Surah 4:157-158).
Jesus: “‘And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.’ This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (John 12:32-33).
*******************
Muhammad: “[S]ay not ‘Three’—Cease! (it is) better for you!—Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that he should have a son” (Surah 4:171-172).
Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
*********************
Muhammad: “They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary…. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden Paradise. His abode is the Fire” (Surah 5:72-74).
Jesus: “[I]f you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
*********************
Muhammad: Polygamous, having multiple wives, as many as 12 at a time.
Jesus: Remained single, devoting Himself to His divine mission.
*********************
The Jesus of the Quran: A mere human prophet, finite in his attributes, like sinful man, flawed.
The Jesus of the Bible: Perfect, infinite in all of His attributes, unlike sinful man.
*********************
Islam is focused on Muhammad, who was merely a man.
Christianity is focused on Jesus, Who was God in the flesh.
*********************
OBSERVE:
According to Islam and the Quran—
                 If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you will be lost eternally in hell.
According to Christianity and the Bible—
                 If you do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you will be lost eternally in hell.
 
Jesus said: “Unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
 
NOTE: The above verses from the Quran were taken from two celebrated Muslim translations:
Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (1934), The Qur’an (Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Quran), ninth edition.
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (1930), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).

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The Quran and Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection
by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

One very significant clash between the Quran and the Bible, intimately aligned with the person and deity of Jesus, is His redemptive role. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are showcased in the New Testament as the central platform of Christianity (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Acts 2:22-36; 3:13-18; 4:2,10,25-28; 5:30-31; 17:31; et al.). The primary reason Jesus came into the world was to carry out the absolutely essential plan of salvation—the means of atonement that makes it possible for God to forgive sin (Isaiah 53:10-11; Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Timothy 2:5-6). It is only through Christ that forgiveness of sin can occur (Acts 4:12; 13:38; Ephesians 2:18). And it is only through Christ’s shed blood that this remission could be achieved (Hebrews 9:11-10:4,19; 2:14; Colossians 1:14,20; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Revelation 1:5). Christ’s crucifixion (necessarily followed by His resurrection) is unequivocally the supreme feature of the Christian religion. Without that unique and singular event, propitiation would be impossible(Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2). Atonement for sin is a mandatory, indispensable necessity—intimately linked with the very nature of deity. God cannot remain just, while simply overlooking or dismissing human sin (Romans 3:25).
But the Quran, in conspicuous contradistinction, shows abject ignorance of the notion of atonement. It, in fact, denies the historicity of the crucifixion of Christ. In a passage that recounts the frequent disobedience of the Jews, the point is made:
And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger—They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain, but Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise (Surah 4:157-158, emp. added).
Since Jesus (allegedly) was not actually crucified, it follows that He likewise was not resurrected from the dead:
(And remember) when Allah said: O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me, and am cleansing thee of those who disbelieve and am setting those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then unto Me ye will (all) return, and I shall judge between you as to that wherein ye used to differ (Surah 3:55, emp. added).
In sharp contrast, the New Testament places the resurrection as the platform on which the rest of the Christian system rests. If Jesus was not crucified and subsequently resurrected from the dead, then Christianity is a sham and completely indefensible. As Paul declared:
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable (1 Corinthians 15:12-19, emp. added).
The author of the Quran appears oblivious to this deficiency. He endorses Christianity (as long as Christians will acknowledge God as singular), but denies the resurrection. Yet the Christian religion itself admits that if the resurrection did not take place, it is a false religion. In fact, the very name “Christian” would be a blasphemous term if Christ is not to be worshipped as God and Savior. To identify oneself, or others, as “Christians” in an approving manner should be as unacceptable and repugnant to Islam as the identification of Muslims as “Mohammedans.” Yet the Quran frequently lends dignity to the term “Christian” in an approving manner (Surah 2:62,111,113,120; 5:51,69,82; 22:17)—all the while denying its most central tenet.

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Answering Islam
by Keith Mathison
Islam is one of the most rapidly growing religions in the world today, its one billion adherents second only to Christianity. Many Christians who only decades ago would never have heard of Islam now have friends, family members and co-workers who adhere to the teachings of the Qur’an and affirm that Muhammad is the great prophet of Allah.
Answering Islam by Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb was written for those who desire a better understanding of the teachings of Islam and for those who are looking for a tool to enable them to effectively present the Gospel to the Muslims he or she may encounter. While there are a number of books available that have been written for the same purpose, none are as lucid and helpful as this one.
The book is divided into three main sections. In the first section, the authors explain the fundamental doctrines of orthodox Islam. Introduced are such topics as the Muslim doctrine of God, creation and man, Muhammad, the Qur’an, and salvation. It is especially helpful in that it clears away many common misconceptions and misunderstandings of Islamic belief.
In the second part, the discussion moves to an evaluation of the Muslim doctrines of God, Muhammad, and the Qur’an from a Christian perspective. Internal inconsistencies in the particular doctrines are carefully examined and exposed, and many factual inaccuracies are pointed out.
The authors conclude the book in the third section with a defense of the essential Christian doctrines of the authority of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and salvation through the atoning death of Christ on the cross. The defense of these Christian doctrines is presented specifically in light of common allegations by Muslim apologists. There are also several helpful appendices describing such topics as the different Muslim sects and common Muslim accusations against the New Testament.
For those who are in regular contact with Muslims, and for those who are simply interested in learning more about this religion, Answering Islam is an invaluable resource.
© Tabletalk magazine
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.
The Birth of Islam
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).
- Galatians 1:6–9
Before we begin our comparisons of the specific doctrines of Islam and Christianity, it will be helpful for us to trace the origins of the Islamic religion. We will do this by offering a brief survey of the life of Mohammed, the founder of Islam.
Mohammed was born in 570 a.d. in the city of Mecca, which is located in modern day Saudi Arabia. The culture into which he was born was largely polytheistic, although Jews and marginally Christian sects were also present in Arabia. Mohammed early on grew dissastisfied with the polytheism of his surroundings but remained religious, traveling into the hills surrounding Mecca to pray.
At age 40, while on one of these retreats, Mohammed claimed to have been visited by the angel Gabriel, who issued God’s call to him to be the last prophet sent to mankind. Mohammed began to receive the revelations that would be later collected into the Qur’an, which is the book of scriptures for Islam. These suppopsed revelations emphasized the absolute unity of Allah (God) and the need to worship him alone.
Mohammed’s wife, Khadija, was among his earliest converts, but for many years he was not able to attract many followers. Mohammed was outspoken, however, and the leaders of Mecca increasingly viewed him as a threat. In 622, the Muslim community fled to the city of Medina where Mohammed was installed as leader. In Medina Islam grew in strength and Mohammed set his sights on conquering Mecca. He soon began leading raids on Meccan trading caravans, and after many skirmishes he was able to take control of Mecca without bloodshed, two years before his death in 632. Islam spread quickly, largely by means of the sword, into northern Africa, Asia, and Europe and has had a lasting influence on world civilization.
Like the founders of many other sects and religions, Mohammed claims to have received a visit from an angel. This angel preached a gospel different from that found in Scripture, and thus we reject Mohammed’s claims. Today’s passage tells us that the only Gospel is the apostolic Gospel, and we must judge all “prophets” according to whether this is the Gospel they proclaim.
Coram Deo
Mohammed did have contact with some Christian groups whose orthodoxy was questionable on matters like the person of Christ. Is it just possible, looking at things from a human perspective, that Islam would never have been established if someone was available to explain accurately the way of God to Mohammed? Nevertheless we know that Islam was established in God’s providence. Ask the Lord to help you understand biblical doctrine so that you can defend it.
Passages for Further Study
Gen. 16
Ezek. 13:3
2 Tim. 2:15
1 John 4:1
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343
The Rise of Islam
by Patrick Sookhdeo
Two things unite most Muslims: their belief in the unity of God and their veneration of Muhammad as the channel through which God’s final revelation was given.
Muslims claim that God revealed the Qur’an to Muhammad whom they see as the greatest and last prophet. The Arabic word Islam means submission. Muslims are those who claim to submit to God and His will and law as presented by Muhammad and found in the Qur’an and in the traditions recording Muhammad’s life, deeds, and sayings (hadith).
Muhammad’s figure towers over Islam not just as its founder, but as the perfect man who is divinely inspired not only in the Qur’anic revelation, but in all his sayings and deeds. He is infallible, free from sin, and the supreme example all Muslims are obliged to emulate in every detail.
Most Muslims in theory affirm the believer’s direct access to God without the need for any intercessor, and the humanity of Muhammad as simply a human channel for God’s revelation. In practice, however, things are very different. Muhammad is seen as the intercessor with God who can change the divine decrees and admit those for whom he intercedes into paradise. Many hold that Muhammad was created from an eternal heavenly substance (Muhammadan light) that pre-existed with God. He is a logos-like figure similar to Christ — a sinless savior, mediator, and intercessor.
Love for Muhammad (and his family) is deeply inculcated into most Muslim children. Protecting his honor from any assault is an obligation on all. Any suspected denigration of Muhammad creates disturbances and riots in Muslim communities. It is classed as blasphemy and deserves the death sentence, as Salman Rushdie experienced after his book The Satanic Verses was published, and as the furor over the Danish Muhammad cartoons exposed.
Great men usually have great foibles. The Qur’an and hadith actually expose the violence, cruelty, immorality, treachery, and assassinations in the words and deeds of Muhammad. The elevation of Muhammad to a position of sinless infallibility has served to turn his human weaknesses into virtues in the view of many Muslims who seek to emulate him. His use of violence has been sanctified, and this remains one of the unresolved problems of Islam.
Islam arose in the seventh century a.d. among the Arabic-speaking tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. Some were nomadic Bedouin, others settled farmers, traders, and craftsmen in the oasis towns. Most worshiped numerous gods, among whom Allat, Manat, and Uzzat were prominent. They also feared spirits and sacrificed to them, as well as believing in blind fate. Honor and vengeance were important tribal values, and poetry was the main artistic accomplishment.
There were several Jewish communities in Arabia — mainly in Yemen and Yathrib (Medina). Christians were present in Yemen and Najran. Pagan Arabs thus had some knowledge of Jewish and Christian scriptures and doctrines gained from these communities.
Arabia was situated between the two super-powers of the time — the Christian Byzantine Empire and the Zoroastrian Persian Empire, which had been fighting each other to exhaustion for centuries.
In later Muslim view, this pre-Islamic era was called the age of ignorance (jahiliyya), a byword for barbarism, immorality, and idolatry. For most Muslims, “true” history begins with the advent of Islam, and they have little interest in anything that happened before.
The earliest accounts of Muhammad’s life were written by Muslims at least 150 years after his death, and there is no external evidence to corroborate them. According to these sources, Muhammad was born around 570 a.d. in Mecca to a poor family of the Quraysh tribe. His father Abdullah died a few months before his birth and his mother Amina when he was six, leaving him in the care of his grandfather who died two years later. Muhammad was then raised under the custody of his uncle Abu Talib, who took him on his trading caravan trips to Syria. It is possible that on those trips he discussed religion with Jews and Christians he met on the way.
As a young man he found employment with a rich widow, Khadija, who was fifteen years his senior. They were married when he was twenty five. They had seven children, but the three sons born to them died young. Of the daughters that survived, Fatima is the most famous. She married Muhammad’s cousin Ali, son of Abu Talib. Khadija died twenty-five years after their marriage, and after her death Muhammad married twelve more wives, thus “sanctifying” polygamy.
Muhammad had a contemplative nature and used to retire for meditation to a cave on a mountainside near Mecca. At the age of forty, while on such a retreat and in a state of trance, he claimed to have had a vision in which a heavenly being, later identified as the archangel Gabriel, committed to him the first in a long series of messages which he was commanded to preach to mankind. These messages were later collected by his followers as the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam.
Most Meccans rejected Muhammad’s teaching, and their growing hostility led to a violent persecution of the small Muslim community. In 622 Muhammad left Mecca and moved to the city of Yathrib (Medina) whose inhabitants were more favorably disposed to his message.
The migration to Medina (called hijra) was a turning point in the early history of Islam, and later was chosen to mark the beginning of the Muslim era. It gave rise to the Muslim doctrine that when in danger from non-Muslims, Muslims should migrate to an area under safe Muslim control, there to await the time when they would have the strength to reconquer their lost land.
Muhammad was able to unite the various factions within Medina and lead them in the fight against his enemies. In Medina he was transformed from a simple preacher to the ruler of the Muslim state, its lawgiver, supreme judge, and military commander. After several campaigns the Meccans finally surrendered, and Muhammad entered Mecca victoriously, destroyed its idols, and turned it into the center of Islam. This initial era of warfare laid the foundation for the Muslim doctrine of holy war, jihad, as the means for expanding the political domain of Islam. Muslims accept that the first model Muslim community developed in stages: first, the stage of weakness in which Islam was peacefully proclaimed in Mecca; then, separation from unbelievers and migration to a safe place (Medina) where Muslim strength could be built up; and finally, the sacred fight (jihad) to reconquer Mecca and extend Muslim political dominion.
As Muhammad gained power after his migration to Medina, he became much more hostile towards pagans, Jews, Christians, and Muslim “hypocrites” and “apostates.” Muhammad had initially recognized the validity of Judaism and Christianity, choosing Jerusalem as the direction of prayer. He later turned against his Jewish allies who would not accept his claims to being a prophet. This friction with Jews, and later with various Christian communities, hardened his position as to the absolute superiority of Islam. The direction of prayer was changed to Mecca, and Muhammad fought the Jewish tribes, massacred many of their men, enslaved their women and children, and expelled others from their lands. Muhammad also ordered the assassinations of people who dared criticize him (especially poets). These brutal acts were used as a propaganda tool to affirm the superiority and power of Islam and to recruit others to the new religion. Muhammad’s peaceful exhortations in Mecca were followed by aggressive calls to violence in Medina. These internal contradictions in the Qur’an have traditionally been solved by the doctrine of abrogation accepted by most jurists and schools of law. Whenever there are contradictory statements, the later passages are deemed to have abrogated the earlier ones.
The brutality of contemporary Islamic terrorists in mass murder of innocent civilians and in beheadings of prisoners obviously harks back to such paradigmatic examples from Muhammad’s life. It aims at recruiting to the radical organizations more Muslims who recognize the original model.
Muhammad died in 632 and was succeeded by Abu Bakr who consolidated Islam in the Arabian Peninsula and started the drive ordered by Muhammad for its expansion abroad. Under the first four “rightly guided” caliphs, Muslim armies conquered vast areas from the Byzantines while totally overrunning the Persian Empire. This expansion was seen as a holy war, jihad, supposedly ordered by God to make His true religion, Islam, dominant in the world. By 750 the Muslim empire stretched from Spain and Morocco in the West to India and the borders of China in the East. Many who would not accept Islam were killed or enslaved, and huge tracts of land were confiscated for the Islamic state and the Arab settlers. The conquered subjects entered a long period of Muslim domination in which they were relegated to the status of second-rate citizenship.
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