There are without doubt pearls in the Qur'an. Some passages are poetic and very beautiful with regards to content. But it also contains extremely dangerous agitation against the so-called kuffar (heretics). Each boy who visits a Qur'an school learns it off by heart. He learns verses that can be used directly in practice, like Sura 9:5 “...kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush.”
The name Mavia does not strike a chord with many of us. Yet it is the name of a once-famous fourth-century woman who, as the Saracen queen, defeated the Arian Roman emperor Valens. The emperor was notorious for persecuting Christians who adhered to the Nicene Creed.
Mavia, having dealt deadly blows to the Roman armies in Phoenicia and Palestine, refused to stop the war until the emperor met one extraordinary condition: the installation of Moses, a pious Saracen desert monk, as bishop over her own people.
Tom Holland is the historian who has written a number of historical novels and three previous non-fiction works of historical scholarship: Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic (2004), Persian Fire: The First World empire, Battle for the West (2006) and Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom (2009). Tom Holland has also presented this ‘revisionist view’ in his television presentation on the BBC, which is available on YouTube (See: Tom Holland: In the Shadow of the Sword).
The previous article in this series analyzed one of the last surahs of the Qur‘an, Surah 5, in order to show that holding certain theological concepts informs the qur‘anic picture of Christ as taught by Muhammad.1 Surah 5 is divided into six major segments according to certain structural markers as well as subject matter, with an apparent argument for each segment. The three Christological assertions of Surah 5 (v. 17, vv. 72–77, and vv. 116–19) appear in its even-numbered segments (second, fourth, and sixth). In all three segments the deity of Christ is denied.
Islam views Muhammad as the last of all the prophets. He is perceived as having had a special relationship with God similar to that of the prophets of Israel.1 He is presented as strong-willed with the conviction of a strong calling, for he spoke to the heart of a religious and social crisis with passionate and revolutionary zeal. He insisted that he was proclaiming God‘s message and not his own. He untiringly proclaimed that there is one God and that He tolerates no other gods besides Himself.
As noted in the previous article in this series,1 the term ―Allah‖ was introduced into Islam from the Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians living in the Arab Peninsula as referring to the one and only true God. However, though both Islam and Christianity may believe in the same God as subject, yet they differ widely on what they believe about His nature. As Zwemer wrote, ―The word Allah is used for God not only by all Moslems, but by all Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians in the Orient.
Since September 11, 2001, interest in the religion of Islam has heightened. Much of the current questioning about this religion leads naturally to noting how Islam compares with and differs from other religions, particularly Christianity. This kind of investigation has the advantage of sensitizing the researcher to the different perspectives on reality that other religions bring to theological education.1 It also finds that the claims of Islam challenge the very foundations of Christianity.
In order to compare the concepts of God in the Bible and in the Qur’an from a Chistian point of view, a good way is to start with the dominant attribute of God in the Bible, namely "Love." "Love" in the Old Testament The God of the whole Bible is the God of Love. Already in the Old Testament God is portrayed as a loving shepherd (Ps. 23), a lover (Song of Songs), loving husband (Hosea), a loving father (Jer. 31:20) and a loving mother (Isa. 49:15), and in many other contexts where the Hebrew word for "love" ahaba is not even mentioned. The noun "love" plays a lesser role in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. This has to do with the fact that Hebrew has very few abstract nouns, apart from the fact that there are also contexts which speak about a loving action without the word ahaba being used. The self-giving component of New Testament agape love is not found in the Old Testament yet.
A couple of months ago, during an extended conversation with a Muslim friend in Saida about a rights-based approach to addressing poverty, he said, “Islam does not believe in human rights”. After a long pause, during which my mind conjured up all the worst prejudices about Islam that I had ever heard, he went on to say, “Instead we believe we have an obligation to the poor”; he used the word ‘duty’.The conversation of course did not end there. But I have since thought much about his observations. His comments reflect the Islamic perspective on the obligations that the individual, the community, its leadership (government), and God have to each other.