Reading the Quran with Muslims and Christians


by Doug Baker

The story being told us by a large segment of our political and religious leaders is that Islam is inherently violent and that the reason is because Muslims obey the Quran.

Representative Mo Brooks (Alabama) recently said, “You look at the Quran, and I encourage people to read it on their own so they can get a first-hand view of whether these terrorists who are killing non-Muslims are doing what the Quran instructs them to do.” These words are meant to strike fear and hatred into our hearts.

Brooks is right insofar as if we approach the Quran looking for reasons to be offended we will find them. There are passages that talk about killing and about warfare. Most of the Muslims I know are quick to point out that within their context these passages are not talking about being the aggressors in war or forcing people to convert to Islam. They are passages about defending the city in which they lived from people who attacked them.

And we know that there are passages in the Bible that also frighten us with their bloodthirstiness. The conquest of Canaan was, by all biblical accounts, a very bloody affair.

And just as bloodthirsty people use passages in the Quran to legitimize their own violence, so too have Christians appealed to the Bible as authorization to commit every violent and evil sort of action. We have found it easy to “justify conquest by appealing to the example of Israel’s conquest of Canaan,” as theologian Kevin Vanhoozer writes. In the case of the conquest of the American continents, that conquest amounted to genocide. And many Christian leaders at the time praised it as being just like Israel’s conquest of Canaan.



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