(CCU Faculty) Yesterday while picking up my son and his buddies from a local shopping center, I ran into a student of mine who is preparing to be a missionary to the Muslim world. We briefly spoke about his experiences on a recent trip to the Middle East and his plans for the future. While driving the teenage boys back to their respective homes, one of them asked why someone would want to convert Muslims into Christians. My son’s buddies were not raised in Christian homes, but attend public high school, as does my son. We try to use opportunities like this to share Christ with our kids’ non-Christian friends.
My response was that if Christianity was the true religion and one which promoted peace rather than violence, wouldn’t it be a good thing to convince others to believe in it. My son’s friend told me that all religions were really the same, and that it wasn’t important which religion one believed in. I then asked, if he had ever heard of a Methodist terrorist or a Presbyterian suicide bomber. He answered that there must be some of them out there, which reminded me what they are teaching our children in their “politically correct” public schools.
Are all religions really the same? Are the teachings of Mohammad morally equivalent to that of Jesus? Jesus said to turn the other cheek, while Mohammad taught retribution. Jesus went peacefully to the cross, while Mohammad led jihads and conquered most of the Arabian Peninsula. Christianity was spread peacefully by preaching, while Muslim armies conquered the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, central and south Asia. Christian martyrs were thrown to the lions or burnt at the stake for their faith, while Muslim martyrs died in jihads against the infidel or blew themselves up in cafes and at weddings.
Hollywood can make movies like "The Last Temptation of Christ" and "The Life of Brian," Broadway can produce a play depicting a gay Jesus, an “Artist” can put a crucifix in urine, yet Christians respond with peaceful protests. However Salman Rushdie wrote a few words in a book and got fatwas issued by Muslims world-wide, death threats forced him to live the rest of his life in hiding. Why don’t these movie producers and “artists” treat Mohammad the same as they have Jesus?
In the wake of Rushdie’s words about Mohammad numerous bookstores were firebombed, as was a newspaper which supported Rushie’s freedom of expression. The result was that few bookstores even carried the Rushdie book. Even several British nationals in the Middle East were kidnapped, until the British government handed over the blasphemer. A press release from the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran declared “Even if Salman Rushdie repents and become the most pious man of all time, it is incumbent on every Muslim to employ everything he has got, his life and wealth, to send him to Hell.” Throughout the late 80s and early 90s hundreds died in Muslim violence against Rushie’s book. The current Ayatollah and Supreme Leader of Iran recently reaffirmed to the world that the fatwa against Rushdie was still in force.
When Danish cartoonists drew images of Mohammad in 2005, Muslims throughout the Middle East rioted and burnt down Danish embassies and western cultural centers, resulting in the deaths of over 100 people. Many of the cartoonists now live in hiding. Last month a Muslim assassin was captured by Danish police in the home of one of the cartoonists, attempting to break into the “panic room”, installed by the cartoonist for his own safety. Theo van Gogh produced a documentary on the treatment of women in the Muslim world. In response the imam of the largest mosque in The Hague declared him a ‘criminal bastard’ and called for divine retribution. Shortly thereafter, while bicycling through the streets of Amsterdam, he was shot dead and beheaded by a Muslim man.
Why is it that most Muslim countries have blasphemy laws, some even calling for the death penalty for defaming Islam, the Koran, or Mohammad? Why is it that Muslims now demand blasphemy laws in Western countries? Why have many of these formerly tolerant Western nations complied and now limit freedom of speech to their citizens, prosecuting them for “defaming Islam”? Why is it that I will come under great criticism (not only by Muslims but also by Christians) for even writing this? I have been told over the years by several of my foreign students, that my life would be in danger if I continued to teach about Islam the way I do.
Even Muslims recognize the difference. Several times I have heard Muslims say, “I am not a Christian who would turn the other cheek.” One of my former students went into Military Intelligence and was assigned to interrogate Muslims incarcerated in the “War on Terror”. He told me that several of his Muslim prisoners told him, that if he were a true Christian, he wouldn’t be in the army. Several times I have been told by Muslims, that Christians are taught peace and submission while Muslims are taught war and conquest. This was because Allah intended Muslims to rule over Christians.
Scholars often point to the different roles of the founders of these two religions. Jesus led a small band of Jews, who were subdued by the mighty Roman Empire and put their hope in a spiritual kingdom. Mohammad was the sheik of Medina, who raided caravans for their booty and became the ruler of a vast earthly domain, imposing his religion on its populace. Those who continue to insist that there is no difference between these two religions are either deluded or attempting to delude others.