“Is Islam Really Violent?” was a blog post I made about two weeks ago. I asked individuals to consider a few passages from the Qur’an and other important Islamic texts. Expecting to find some disagreement with my view, I tried to be as objective as possible. And it did not go unchallenged – a friend of mine thought that I had misrepresented the religion. And he pointed me to a helpful website by a Muslim for my consideration. I thanked him for his input.
Some will claim that I have misunderstood Islam. And there is no doubt, as I have said before, that many Muslims practice it as a religion of peace. But many do not. And this is evident in a recent article concerning a formerly Muslim family in Pakistan. Muslims in the Punjab province have threatened to kill a young woman and members of her family because of her conversion to Christianity. The family is in hiding and fears for their lives. They have been told that members of their family will be kidnapped and murdered for this “crime.” Sadly, stories like this are abundant. It is a symptom of a deeper attitude prevalent in fundamentalist and extremist Islam.
Another example is found in a March 14, 2013 interview with Talaat Afifi, the deputy head of the Islamic Legal Body for Rights and Reform. According to an article on the Brookings Institution’s website, this group comprises over a hundred of Egypt’s leading Islamist scholars and activists. When asked by an interviewer if he would ever visit Israel, Afifi said, “Let’s wait until it happens. However, we hope that the words of the Prophet Muhammad will be fulfilled: “Judgment Day will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Jews will hide behind the rocks and the trees, but the rocks and the trees will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” (This is one of the passages I cited in my original post.)
Some people may view stories like these and be tempted to think, “People like that don’t deserve the gospel.” But Jesus told his people to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19; Mark 13:10). He didn’t give any qualifiers as to which ones. This is what makes the gospel unique. Ethnic and national boundaries are unrecognized in the New Testament – as are boundaries of all kinds, because the gospel is for all. Everyone is in need of Christ because everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). It is not our duty to determine who has fallen farther than others, or who should be disqualified for it. The command of Christ compels us to reach out to those who are in desperate need of him.