A Critical Look at the Koran

“May Allah accept this from me.”

“I’m doing it in the name of Allah.”

“To establish Islamic law—Allah’s law on earth.”

The above are statements made by would-be and successful jihadists to explain their motivations for planning or executing acts of terror in America. Jihadists in other parts of the world say much the same thing. Where, then, do they get the idea that this is what Allah wants them to do?

Jihadists usually cite the Koran as the source of their motivation. For example, Terry Lee Loewen explained his planned jihad attack on Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport last December as follows:

I don’t understand how you can read the Qur’an and the sunnah of the Prophet and not understand that jihad and the implementation of Sharia is absolutely demanded of all the Muslim Ummah.

So how can we disabuse terrorists and potential terrorists of the notion that Allah wants them to kill infidels? The obvious place to start is with the Koran. We can’t say, however, that there is absolutely no warrant in the Koran for killing unbelievers, because there patently is. “When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them” (9:5) is typical of many similar verses. According to a content analysis conducted by the Center for the Study of Political Islam, 24 percent of the Medinan verses of the Koran are devoted to jihad. Or, as Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud once declared, “Allah on 480 occasions in the Holy Koran extols Muslims to wage jihad.”

The you-should-read-the-Koran tactic won’t work with those who actually have read the Koran. What else might work? Another tactic is to try and convince would-be jihadists that they are misinterpreting the Koran—that it should be interpreted in a more spiritual and peaceful way. But here again we run into a problem. Since the eleventh century, a consensus has existed among Islamic scholars that the “Gates of Ijtihad” (or interpretation) are closed. Calling for new interpretations is tantamount to rejecting centuries of Islamic tradition.

Some small sects, such as the Ahmadiyya community, do interpret the Koran in a symbolic rather than literal way, but they are considered as heretics by mainstream Muslims and they are often the target of persecution. More importantly, Muhammad, whose example is considered definitive by Muslim authorities, did not interpret the command to wage jihad in a figurative way and his victims did not die figurative deaths. The Center for the Study of Political Islam’s content analysis of the Sira (Muhammad’s biography) shows that approximately two-thirds of it has to do with fighting. Part Three, which covers the Medinan period of Muhammad’s life, is particularly instructive in this respect. Its five hundred pages are taken up almost entirely with descriptions of battles and raids.

In short, the jihadist interpretation of the Koran is strongly supported both by the text and by the example of Muhammad. Why should they give it up when they have so much evidence on their side? Jihadists have been highly successful in recruiting Muslims to the cause precisely because they can demonstrate that warfare against unbelievers is a scriptural duty.

Trying to convince current and potential jihadists that the Koran should be interpreted in a peaceful way is an uphill jihad. Is there another way of addressing the issue? Well, yes, there is. Moreover, to paraphrase the ubiquitous ad copy, this one weird trick can save you hundreds of fruitless arguments. The other—largely untried—alternative for disabusing jihadists of jihadist notions is to discredit the Koran entirely. If the whole thing is a man-made fabrication, what does it matter what verse such-and-such says? If Muhammad made it all up, why waste your time in weighing the peaceful suras against the violent ones?

This argument is not often made because if you make it you will be attacked not only by Muslims but by non-Muslims as well. The latter will go after you with charges of divisiveness, insensitivity, bigotry, hatred, and whatnot. That, however, doesn’t diminish the strength of the argument. The Islamic edifice rests on the belief that God wrote the Koran and transmitted it via the Angel Gabriel to Muhammad, who merely recited it to his followers. If that’s not true, then only a fool would rush into battle for the sake of Allah and the promised paradise. Take away the divine mandate to subjugate unbelievers, and you take away the rationale for Islam’s war against the world.

Although it’s difficult to get a hearing for it, the argument itself is surprisingly easy to make. That’s because Muslim apologists have set themselves up for a takedown by establishing an impossibly high standard of evidence. What proof is there that God wrote the Koran? Well, there’s the circular argument, i.e., we know that God wrote the Koran because that’s what the Koran says and we know the Koran is truthful because God wrote it. For many Muslims, that settles the matter. However, Islamic scholars long ago realized that something more was needed. And the main argument they developed is that the Koran is such a piece of perfect, nonpareil prose that no one except God could have written it. As I say, it’s a hard case to make because although there are some arresting passages in the Koran, there are also plenty like this:

Prophet, We have made lawful for you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave-girls whom God has given you as booty; the daughters of your paternal and maternal uncles and of your paternal and maternal aunts who fled with you; and any believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet and whom the Prophet wishes to take in marriage. (33:50)

Maybe it sounds better in Arabic, but one suspects that, however translated, this piece of legalese is still going to read like a passage from a textbook on contract law. Christians and Jews should be able to sympathize with the plight of the Muslim apologist. How would you like to be stuck with the task of defending those so-and-so-begat-so-and-so passages in the Bible as examples of incomparable style?

Furthermore, the literary shortcomings of the Koran are not limited to pedestrian prose. The author, whoever he was, also had little sense of composition, continuity, character, dialogue, or drama. Don’t take my word for it. Here are some scholarly observations:

His characters are all alike, and they utter the same platitudes. He is fond of dramatic dialogue, but has very little sense of dramatic scene or action. The logical connections between successive episodes is often loose, sometimes wanting; and points of importance, necessary for the clear understanding of the story, are likely to be left out. (C.C. Torrey, The Jewish Foundation of Islam, New York, 1933, p. 108)

The book aesthetically considered is by no means a first-rate performance…indispensable links, both in expression and in the sequence of events, are often omitted…and nowhere do we find a steady advance in the narration…and even the syntax betrays great awkwardness…. (Theodor Noldeke in Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., Vol. 15, pp. 898-906)

The Koran is strikingly lacking in overall structure, frequently obscure and inconsequential in both language and content…. (P. Crone and M. Cook, Hagarism: The Making of the Muslim World, Cambridge, 1977, p. 9)

As I wrote two years ago:

If you believe that the Koran is dictated by God, you are faced with the difficulty of explaining why the Author of Creation seems to lack the literary touch—that is, the knack for storytelling, sequence, composition, and drama that we expect in accomplished human authors. Yes, there are beautiful passages in the Koran, but as an exercise in composition, it would not pass muster in most freshmen writing courses.

The purely human origin of the Koran is further suggested by the very human defensiveness displayed by its author. He never tires of reminding his audience that the Koran is a genuine revelation, not a fake one. This obsessive concern with the Koran’s authenticity is exhibited on almost every page. Here is a small sampling:

This Koran could not have been devised by any but God. (10:37)

This is no invented tale, but a confirmation of previous scriptures…. (12:112)

This Book is beyond all doubt revealed by the Lord of the Universe… Do they say: “He has invented it himself”? (32:1-2)

When our clear revelations are recited to them they say… “this is nothing but an invented falsehood.” (34:43)

As I say, these assertions about the authenticity of the revelation appear over and over. Far more space is allotted to vouching for the genuine nature of the revelation than to telling what the revelation is. But what sort of author feels compelled to tell us ad nauseum that his word is not a human invention? It’s not likely that the Author of all Creation would be so insecure about what he had written. On the other hand, a man who had invented it all himself would have good reason to be defensive. Muhammad, however, also realized that the best defense is a good offense. Thus, as the Koran repeatedly reminds its readers, the surest path to hell is to doubt “Our revelations.”

In insisting that the Koran is the verbatim word of God, Muslims are stuck with the task of defending a second-rate literary production as though it were Shakespeare, Homer, and Dante all rolled into one. If they have been largely successful in so defending it, it is because not many want to challenge them on the point. Of course, some of this reluctance is due to the fear factor. For instance, scripture scholar Bart Ehrmans, who has been outspoken in his criticism of Christianity, has admitted that he wouldn’t apply his skills to the Koran because he values his life too highly.

But even in the days before academicians became aware that a slip of the tongue might result in a shortened life span, scholars of Islam, particularly Christian scholars, were often reluctant to criticize Islam. Islam, after all, was an Abrahamic faith, and it would be bad manners to question the foundations of a fellow religion. Thus, Christian scholars of Islam such as Montgomery Watt (1909-2006) and Louis Massignon (1883-1962) tended to put the best possible face on Islam while minimizing its faults.

Some, like the atheist Muslim apostate Ibn Warraq, have attributed this uncritical attitude to a fear that the kind of critical analysis that would prove fatal to Islam would also inflict a death blow to Christianity. According to Warraq, “They recognized that Islam was a sister religion, heavily influenced by Judeo-Christian ideas; and Christianity and Islam stood or fell together.”

There is probably some truth to this. One does sometimes detect a “We religions have to stick together” mentality among professional dialoguers. However, at this point, this attitude probably has more to do with twenty-first century concerns over sensitivity than with fears that if you start digging around the foundations of Islam, the whole Christian structure will come tumbling down too. Though Christianity has been hurt by various modernist assaults, it has withstood the critical-historical investigation in admirable fashion. In fact, it has successfully used the tools of textual analysis and historical evidence to its own advantage.

Islam would not fare so well in the face of a similar examination. Which once again brings up the question: why not subject it to the same rigorous standards? Dialoguers and scholars currently spend a lot of time ferreting out little nuggets of compatibility between the Koran and the Bible. But what’s the point of establishing the common ground between a real revelation and a fake one? There are many commonalities between the Book of Mormon and the Bible as well, but Catholic scholars don’t show much interest in trying to reconcile the two books—and wisely so.

If Islam weren’t such a militant faith, it would probably be best to take an attitude of live and let live. Unfortunately, live and let live is not what the Koran is all about. Although a great many Muslims manage to ignore its harsher mandates, the violent injunctions are still there and they beckon to those who seek to devote themselves fully to Allah’s commands.

Consequently, it’s not just Islamic terrorists that need to be feared, but also Islamic theorists and theologians. They provide the ideological fuel which powers the terror machine. It’s important to take out the terrorist, but in the long run, it’s more important to take down the terrorist’s ideology. And that, by necessity, involves a deconstruction of the Koran. If that measure seems much too drastic, consider the alternatives—a slow-motion capitulation such as is now happening in Europe or a bloody war, once it finally dawns on the civilized world that it must resist.

Up to now, Islam’s status as a religion has provided it with a sort of diplomatic immunity under which it has literally gotten away with murder. Thomas Jefferson said “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” But when your neighbor’s religion tells him it’s okay to break your neck and enslave your children, it might be prudent to expose that religion and its holy book to the light of serious examination.

All of this leaves aside the tricky question of who should bell the cat. Whose job is it to say that the Koran has “100 percent man-made material” written all over it? That question requires an essay all to itself, but one observation seems in order here: it should most probably not be the pope or any other prominent churchman for the obvious reason that authoritative Church statements are the most likely to invite retaliation against Christians living in Muslim lands. This is a job for lay men and women provided they have the requisite skills, and for secular critics and scholars as well as Christian ones. The more, the better.

Bart Ehrmans has excused himself from the task of applying his scholarship to the Koran on the grounds that he values his life. That seems like the soul of pragmatism, but it’s a very short-sighted kind of pragmatism. The larger question is not whether he values his own life, but whether he values the lives of his children and the future of his society. If the Koran remains unchallenged, the jihad will continue to spread, and there will come a day when we will wish we had contested the Koran while we still had the freedom to do so.

(Photo credit: Courtesy of Shutterstock.)

William Kilpatrick


William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily, and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, turningpointproject.com

  • Arriero

    Pope Benedict already said everything what had to be said about Islam: «Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman [Schlechtes und Inhumanes], such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.» (using a cite of Manuel II Palaiologos).

    We should discuss seriously and in depth the thesis that Muhammad never received any revelation from God through the Archangel Gabriel; he merely had contact during his stay in Mecca with Arrian Christians expelled from Byzantium, who explained Muhammad their theories of the non-divinity of Jesus Christ and their consideration of him as a mere prophet of God. Hence, from them Muhammad really took his ideas that led him to the creation of Islam. In fact, we very well can say that the idea of ​​God in Islam, and in Judaism, is the idea of ​​pure act of Aristotle.

    The problem of suicide through inmolation is a clear sign of the rational superiority of Catholicism. This auto-inmolation can only be found in religions such as Buddhism and Islam, religions in which God was never made ​​flesh, so that the body is seen as superfluous and even hateful. In Catholicism, however, God is made flesh and that shows the ulterior rational superiority of Catholicism, insofar as rationality is always corporeal (from a materialist point of view).

    This lead us to conclude what Gustavo Bueno affirmed after the 11-S attacks: «We must destroy the roots of Islam with the weapon of rationalism».

    PS- We have to remember that the dicotomy between Faith and Science is a superficial and stupid post-modern invention. There is no Faith without Reason and no Reason without Faith, in Catholicism (as Pope Benedict again and again explained). In fact, Catholicism is the most rational religion. Catholics have to fight Islam with the use of Reason, and then with the sword (When muslims where fighting Catholics in Spain during the Reconquista, they considered they were fighting against the «politeists», because they despised the trinity).

    • bill b

      As I recall, Benedict disavowed thinking the thoughts of Manuel II Palaiologos…so this points to the problem that Popes will do indirect, ambiguous comments at most…ventriloquism as it were. What’s needed is TV sponsored debates that reach millions in which Christians ask….where is the prophecy in your book. Christ told Jerusalem that it would be overrun because it had not known the hour of it’s visitation. In 70 AD it was overrun with 1.1 million killed according to Josephus (600,000…Tacitus).

      The Old Testament predicts Christ in two ways…explicitly as in Isaiah 53 …or veiled as in the countless symbols of Christ as when Moses stands in the shape of a cross as the battle rages with the Amalekites or Samson is in the shape of a cross as he pushes outward on the pillars to his right and left and brings down the Phillistines….etc. God casts Adam into a deep sleep and draws Adam’s bride out of his side just as Christ later expires and out of His side comes His bride the Church in the symbols of water and blood…baptism and the Eucharist. Three strangers appear to Abraham but they speak with one sentence as the Trinity does. Two descend to Sodom and one remains above with Abraham….just as only two of the Trinity descend to earth…Christ in the Incarnation and the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Koran has no prophecies nor do the hadiths. A tv debate would bring this out.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    In a recent article I authored, I made essentially the same points about Islam, the Qur’an, and jihadists. But it was rejected by a prominent Catholic academic journal, whose editor wanted me to show a “more balanced” academic approach to the subject. There is not a “more balanced” view of Islam, only denial and wishful thinking.

    • TheAbaum

      Balanced= no attention from CAIR or the rest of the Islamofascista.

  • FernieV

    Thank you for this deep article. I live in a half-Muslim country (Nigeria) which daily suffers from the attacks of the faithful readers of the Koran: The Boko Haram “fighters”. It is unthinkable here to make a criticism of the divine origin of the Book: no newspaper of media house will dare to air such view for fear of obliteration from the land of the living… The analysis of the Koran must be made by scholars who should act on their own, hiding their affiliation and in Western media. But it MUST BE DONE!

  • Watosh

    The thing that I wonder about is that with all the obvious flaws in the Koran and the Muslim religion, people in Muslim countries hang on to this false faith with more fervor than people in the West have held on to Christianity. Very odd. The true faith seems to be slowly dying out in the West and exercises no influence on our governments. Of course Western governments have adopted the idea and enshrined it even among all western people that all governmental authority comes from the people and even Catholics, as dedicated Catholics as Justice Antonin Scalia have said that they are very careful not to let their religion influence their interpretation of the law or their political decisions, ala JFK.

    • bill b

      Put in a google search for “honor killings wiki”. Germany and Scandinavia have had many from their Muslim populations. We had one in NY upstate several years ago. In Lebanon, families get a 14 year old son to kill a daughter for having a non approved boyfriend and the son will serve 6 months. In Pakistan families stone daughters with court permission…sometimes if they have been raped. Many not all Muslims are living in some form of anger zone toward their own children that is incomprehensible.

      • Watosh

        bill b I really don’t see any connection between this reply to my original comment. Can it be you read my original comment as a defense of the Muslim religion, which by no stretch of imagination could one conclude logically? That Muslims have honor killings I am well aware of, but my comment was simply that I thought it was strange that a false religion seemed to have a stronger hold on its followers than the true religion Christianity. It does make me wonder why this is the case, that is all I said. People often read things in to what is written that are simply not there. My wife was a Catholic Chaldean raised in Iraq, I know all about Muslim honor killings, telling me that I need to google search for “honor killings” absolutely baffles me. Why in the world did you feel I was not aware of Muslim honor killings? I do believe some people just want to point out the errors in anything anyone says. Did you read what I said in my comment? Or are you just making a point and mistakenly placed it as a reply to my comment? Why would you think it necessary to inform me that Muslims practice honor killings? You have me shaking my head in puzzlement over this, the tenor of your comment was that I didn’t know what I was talking about, but it was a complete non sequitur. Maybe you were in a hurry, I don’t know. It is another thing for me to wonder at.

        • bill b

          No…I’m responding to your wonderment that people hold onto this false faith. The search I suggested was meant to show you that these people are often below par people not rational people…that’s why they can hold onto a false faith. A person who can murder their daughter is simply awful to begin with.

          • Watosh

            I am still wondering how they can hold on to their faith. The number of Muslims who murder their daughters is, while shocking, rather small compared to the total muslim population. as far as not being rational people we have our share of irrational people. I mean I recall Madeline Albright being asked on national TV if she had any misgivings about the report that 500,000 Iraqi babies died many of starvation because of the severe sanctions the U.S. levied against Iraq in the ’90’s. Her answer was, we think i the sanctions, were worth it. I would call anyone who thought causing the deaths of 500,00 children was worth it since it made us feel safer is a simply awful person. Yes, yes the 500,000 figure may have been overstated, some feel only 250,000 Iraqi children died. and we can put the blame on Saddam Hussein , but during Saddam’s early years few Iraqi children starved to death. It is like today the mess we caused in the Ukraine can simply be blamed on Putin. Rationality is not exactly an American strong point my friend. So I am still wondering how Muslim people can be so strong in their beliefs when Catholics are abandoning their beliefs. Now I had avery intelligent and educated friend who was a sincere Catholic whose idea of faith was that if one really had faith that meant no matter what the evidence might be that cast doubt on her faith, she would still believe. I never bought into that, believing then that reason had some part to play, otherwise this was the Muslim attitude. That may account for those Muslims who put their daughter’s to death, their faith is that strong that it is impervious to reason. Faith is something a Catholic should have, but I have always found the Catholic faith to also be reasonable. Which has lead me to argue, Faith without reason leads to error, reason without faith leads to error. Later I saw an excellent discussion of faith and reason by C.S. Lewis, who put the relationship in the proper perspective, I feel. But now I have gotten way off track and someone is bound to criticize me for again straying from the issue at hand. Accept my apologies.

            • Art Deco

              Verbose and repetitive non sequiturs are a sign of dementia.

  • Militant Islam is a growing threat and danger to mankind – that observation seems undeniable. I can’t feel satisfied by your conclusion, however, that someone needs “to say that the Koran has ‘100 percent man-made material'”. Man by nature is a religious being – to simply convince a man that he worships a man-made idol without pointing him – leading him – to the true God, could invite even worse demons to enter and make home in his soul.

    Personally, I believe that the spirit behind the militant Islamists is not merely “man-made”, but is demonic. The special hatred among them of Jews and Christians – people of the true God – reminds me of Nazism, which similarly is explained in my mind only as demonic. I don’t believe that this enemy will be fought or overcome by mere reason – or by anything “man-made” or of natural origin. This battle, growing in intensity, will demand of mankind heroic fidelity to supernatural Truth.

  • AnthonyMa

    Unfortunately, the Old Testament also calls for genocide against any who stood in the way of the Hebrews, in Exodus with the slaughter of the first born sons of Egypt, in Joshua, with the complete genocide of the Canaanites, and the near extermination of the tribe of Benjamin, as well as various other commands to kill unbelievers. It seems to me that of the three Abrahamic religions, only the New Testament and Jesus Christ, called for peace among people.

    • bill b

      Then you don’t believe in the Bible’s reason for herem and you don’t believe that God actually did order them. I do. Pope Benedict is with you in section 42 of Verbum Domini but Pope Benedict like you does not notice that God brings about the worst massacre numerically not in the Old Testament at all but in 70AD wherein God used the Romans not Christians to kill 1.1 million in Jerusalem which had two reasons given by Christ: Jerusalem did not know the hour of its visitation ( Luke 19: 43 For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. 44 They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”…and Jerusalem’s sin was reaching fullness which is the only time God slaughters en masse…Matt.23:32…” ” Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.”
      Back track to Gen.15:16. God is talking to Abraham and tells him the Canaanit’s sins are in His eyes no where’s near complete or filled up ergo God will not kill them for another 400 years: ” But in the fourth generation they shall come here again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
      Pope Benedict erred because he thought the massacres were sudden. They were the opposite of sudden and Wisdom 12 tells you what God did to the Canaanites for centuries prior to the massacres…God appealed to them through lighter punishments as Wisdom 12:10 notes…” punishing them bit by bit that they might have space for repentance

      • mollysdad

        The reason for herem was to protect the Israelites from being seduced into idolatry so soon after God had displayed His mighty act of deliverance to all the nations. The general herem was in disuse by the time of Solomon.

        But there is one herem which remains in force today. This is the curse of destruction which is fixed upon Amalek.

        ‘Amalek’ means anyone who is committed to the annihilation of the Jewish people or to the elimination of her name from human memory. Those who are incriminated in the crime of genocide against Jews or Christians must be put to death without mercy or pity.

        • bill b

          Yes…I’m aware of the protection reason vis a vis the Jews but its explanation from Augustine is long and so it can distract from the reason God would have killed them anyway…i.e. once their sin was complete in His eyes.
          Briefly Augustine noted that the ancient Jews were morally weak in that sanctifying grace awaited Christ (Jn.1:17) and the reduction of the power of the devil awaited Christ…Luke 10:18…” And he said to them: I saw Satan like lightening falling from heaven.” Being very weak, they could be seduced by the religion of others as in fact they were with the northern kingdom of Israel / Samaria worshipping Baal and in addition worshipping the golden calves at Dan and Bethel ( the sin of Jeroboam).

          • mollysdad

            See also the Bible, Wisdom 12.

    • nasicacato

      These commands were operative about 30 centuries ago in a land about the size of New Jersey. The Koranic commands are operative forever and in all lands. There is big difference.

      • AnthonyMa

        Well, yes, it was quite some time ago, but genocide was still committed. I’m unaware of genocide committed by Muslims, although they have, of course, persecuted those they’ve conquered. I’m not saying the Old Testament is the only holy book that allows for and even calls for violence, I’m saying it can be reasonably compared to the Koran. And of course, let’s not forget the Talmud which goes way beyond the Koran in its blasphemies against the Risen Son of God.

        • cestusdei

          When was the last time the Methodists waged genocide? The Jews had a genocide waged against them. Let’s not find excuses for Islamic terrorism.

          • AnthonyMa

            I guess you’re missing my point. I’m talking about the constant harping on the violence ordered by the Koran, while we ignore the violence ordered by the Old Testament and the really disgusting, blasphemous things written in the Talmud. I’m no supporter of Islamic terrorism and my family’s been Catholic since Peter came to Rome, but I see no reason to close our eyes and cover our ears as regards to religions other than Islam whose holy books also call for murder. It’s not “Islam” that sends out murderers, but certain individual groups. It would be kind of like blaming “Christians” for the acts of Cromwell or fat Henry and his illegitimate daughter.

            • renner411

              That is interesting, Anthony. I’ve always had a hard time with parts of the OT, but it is true that, like cestusdei said, those commands (freaky though they were), were a temporary order, and were only for a particular occasion in a particular place, toward a particular group.

              Seems to me (although I’m not well read), that on those occasions that the people ignored God’s commands out of sympathy or apathy, they were bit in the butt for it. Kind of like the ‘don’t marry Philistines’ command, when ignored, led to chaos; and Abraham’s little tryst with the servant girl b/c he thought that was the only way he could have another child as God told him he would. Isn’t Ishmael how we ended up with all the Muslims anyway? So, a temporary obedience of violence for a particular reason, vs. a blanketing violence-against-pretty-much-anyone-forever policy. A large difference when looked at that way.

            • fredx2

              Again, the bible does not “call for murder”. It relates some very fragmentary accounts, from which we have far too little information to make an informed judgment. No one ever claimed that we should go around killing people today because of these isolated and out of character incidents.
              Your point is well taken however, in other respects. The average Muslim is a good guy. He follows the good aspects of the Koran and ignores the bad parts. He does not engage in Jihad, and is as desirous of peace as any one else. The problem is simply this: The Koran is perhaps more susceptible to misuse by creepy radicals than the bible is. And the history of Islam involves a conquering prophet, so it is much harder to forego violence.

              • nasicacato

                I’m not so sure the average Muslim is a good guy. I’ve read the Koran and the hatred leaps off of nearly every page. If I were a devout Muslim, I would have to agree with my prophet that violence against unbelievers is a sacred duty, or cease to be a devout Muslim. If I lived in America today, I’m not sure I would have the guts to follow through with this and engage in activity that could get me killed or imprisoned, but as the numbers of my fellow Muslims increased here, I would probably feel more emboldened.

            • cestusdei

              No, you miss my point. You don’t see us engaging in holy wars nowadays. How about we concentrate on those who are doing it right now?

              • AnthonyMa

                The now anti-Christian West no longer engages in “Holy Wars”, I agree. Now the West’s leaders fight wars for the idols of “Democracy”‘, “Women’s Rights”, “Homosexual Rights”‘ “Abortion Rights”‘ etc.. Of course, there are people in Palestine right now, using the Old Testament as their guide, who seek to create a “Greater Israel” based on boundaries in their holy book.
                In no way am I trying to excuse any Muslim who kills innocents, but I don’t think they are alone in their actions.

                • Art Deco

                  “Palestine” is not an actual political entity. As for the rest, so what? There are all sorts of eccentric minorities most places.

        • fredx2

          But that is where you go terribly wrong – You say the Old Testament is a holy book that “allows for and even calls for violence”. No one who reads the bible has ever come away from it thinking “Gee, this book tells me that violence is allowed and even encourages me to commit violence” That is a nonsensical reading of the bible, which is thousands of pages long and contains a message of radical peace. True, there are a couple of instances in the three thousand year history that we are not comfortable with. But pretending that those sections of the bible represent the bible as a whole is simply mendacious.

          • AnthonyMa

            The Palestinians today and the Canaanites then, might disagree with you.

            • Art Deco

              And who cares what they say on the West Bank, Gaza, or in the UNRWA shanty towns? These are the loci of the world’s most disgusting and dysfunctional political culture.

              • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

                Yes art let’s get rid of these sub humans once and for all with phosphorous bombs and cutting off their drinking water supply and building a wall around them and bulldozing their homes and shooting their children when they play soccer !

                • Art Deco

                  A wall is just that. It regulates passage across a border. You have borders just about anywhere. This particular border attracts criminal characters who go on murder sprees. Hence, you build a wall, people who want to cross have to go through checkpoints, and the frequency of murder sprees drops to nil.

                  Which bothers foreigners who like the murder sprees.

        • justanotherlittlesoul

          I Just read this article, your comments and the comments which follow. And though the discussion may have waned by now, I think a few clarifications have not been made which may still be helpful.

          1. Not everything commanded in the Old Testament is binding upon those under the New Covenant in Christ. The Council of Jerusalem in Acts made this point very clear at the very beginning of Christianity. “The Law” of the Old Testament included a vast number of directives that served to PREPARE the Jews for Christ, but were no longer in order once He came. (Abstaining from certain “unclean” meats, for example.) God’s command to the the Jews to exterminate certain people falls among those many commands in the Old Testament that are not binding upon Christians. In fact, the commands regarding extermination of certain people were not even binding upon ALL Jews of the Old Testament, but only the particular group of Jews in those particular periods of history.

          2. Not all “taking of life” is “murder”. Murder is when humans take innocent life at will. The taking of the life of another in self defense or justified war is not “murder”, but killing. And not all killing is intrinsically evil, or morally wrong in every circumstance.

          3. Unlike humans, God, as the Creator, DOES have a right to take life, any life, innocent or not, at will. So it is not “wrong” for God to take human life. And it is not wrong for God to appoint humans to execute the deed. But will God wipe out people just because He can? Or would He mandate the slaying of all people in every nation in every age,who refuse to follow Him? Absolutely not. For as stated in the Book of Wisdom, “He does not delight in the death of the living. For He created all things that they might exist” (Wisdom 1: 13-14). But God does, when necessary and as a last resort, mete out death as a punishment for sin, and to protect His work from harm.

          This is what happened in the Old Testament. The Scriptures tell us that the Canaanites were steeped in idolatry. So much so, that unless that particular generation was destroyed, the sin of that people would continue to creep up and jeopardize the salvation God was working through the Israelites. Perhaps it’s difficult for us to grasp how deep the threat was, but anyone who has had any encounter with the occult, (which was a big part of idol worship), understands that the occult is pretty nasty stuff, and often, hard to be rid of. Knowing the love of God, and His preference to sustain life and not destroy, we have to trust that the situation must have been really bad if God resorted to such drastic measures. Hard to understand, perhaps. But not genocide and not murder. God wasn’t against Canaanites. He was against the idolatry that was threatening His great work of salvation.

          So to pull this all together: Just because there are rare incidents of God commanding certain Jews to kill certain people in the Old Testament, it doesn’t mean that Bible endorses murder. Nor do these Biblical instances compare to the Islamic principle of death to the infidel. The Biblical examples pertained to a particular time and situation. But they should not be seen as a way of life for Jews and Christians of all ages. As William Kilpatrick points out, however, the Muslim claim IS that God commands Muslims of every age, to mete out death to infidels (non-Muslims) in ALL ages, throughout the WHOLE world. So yes, God can command humans to kill if He wants to. But the Christian belief is that God doesn’t want to. He doesn’t like to, and it’s not His preferred way. If He does resort to this, it is rare, and a response to evil. It is certainly not a binding law given to Christians of every age.

        • Jim Fox

          “I’m unaware of genocide committed by Muslims”
          Not any more…

          Muhammad’s first genocide–the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza–

          “Then the Messenger of Allah commanded that ditches should be dug, so they were dug in the earth, and they were brought tied by their shoulders, and were beheaded. There were between seven hundred and eight hundred of them. The children who had not yet reached adolescence and the women were taken prisoner, and their wealth was seized.[2]”
          [Ibn Kathir, on Quran 33:26]

        • Jim Fox

          SO WHAT?? Biblical atrocities absolve Islamic atrocities?
          I think you will find this is the logical fallacy of Moral Relativism

    • Interested

      To compare the two unequal things and draw an erroneous conclusion is frankly shallow and reductionist. I expect this reasoning from an unschooled relativist.

    • fredx2

      Really, come on now. The Old Testament does not “call for Genocide against anyone who stood in the way of the Hebrews”. That is a non-scientific, irrational interpretation of the bible. There were a very few instances where this happened. And it involved rather small tribes, not whole races, which is what Genocide is.
      You can say that the bible talks about murders, perhaps, but not genocide. The slaughter of the first born of Egypt was done as a defensive measure to “let my people go” – Pharaoh was informed what would happen if he did not let the slaves go free, and he chose that result. (and God did not “harden his heart” until after the first five plagues). T
      And it hardly was a directive to continue doing these things over and over again up to the current time.

    • sparrowhawk58

      Comparing the Qur’an and the Old Testament is an apple-and-oranges (and therefore “fruitless”) exercise. The Bible (either Testament) is a library of many different books in different styles, from different eras, by different authors, etc. Better to compare the Qur’an to a specific book. How does it hold up? And what did Jesus say about the Old law? Is the behavior recommended in the Qur’an the same as what’s recommended by, say, Jesus in the Gospel of Luke?

      • AnthonyMa

        I’m with you a hundred percent on Jesus Christ and the Gospels, I’m comparing the Old Testament, the Talmud and the Koran.

        • Christian Centurion

          Your understanding of Old Testament genocide is flawed. The Hebrews were told to spare the descendants of Ishmiel and to eradicate the offspring of the Nephalim. God wanted to remove the genetics of the Demon spawn from the human race. Please do an in-depth study of the matter.

  • Fred

    Thank you Dr. Kilpatrick (and Dr. Timothy Williams) to have the courage to speak about this important subject. While I recently was baptized as an adult I spend much of my time reading the Bible with a renewed purpose and holy spirit guiding me, but I am also deeply fascinated by the Koran. I try to be as objective as possible but am deeply troubled by the conflicts of abrogation. To me it is easy to see the very human qualities of a relatively peaceful ministry experience in Mecca with it’s strong Judeo-Christian underpinnings which evolved into a vengeful and spiteful attitude in Medina due in large part to rejection. How can one take seriously divine inspiration which says ignore what I said before that contradicts, what I reveal to you now is the truth, know that God is able to do all things. I know that anti-Christian zealots like to cite vengeful passages without context, particularly from the Old-Testament, and so I’m studying apologetics to be able to defend and better understand my faith. For me, the more I read the more beautiful it becomes, particularly the life and ministry of Jesus. We used to say in RCIA that you never convert someone to have faith by beating them over the head with the bible and citing verses, but through living your faith openly and with joy – hardly original. It’s hard to know quite how to handle someone who believes in a faith that calls for them to dehumanize a class of people, and to kill or subjugate you. So much more to be said.

    • That’s the problem: God’s will is so highly valued in Islam. He could force us to worship idols if He willed it…

  • mollysdad

    I don’t think any of the above suggestions will work. In any legal system, the law is whatever the judiciary says it is, and the Islamic system is no exception.

    If the Islamic judicial authorities say that jihad is obligatory in the sense relied upon by the terrorists, then that is the way it is. When Ann Coulter said after 9/11 that we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity, she might have been expressing a hyperbole. Then again, perhaps not.

  • nasicacato
  • Gail Finke

    I am confused by the argument that the Koran must be true because it is such a literary masterpiece. Is this a real argument put forth by actual Muslim scholars, or a fringe argument? Many Christians believe that the Bible is literally true and is a great literary masterpiece, but its being overall a literary masterpiece doesn’t prove that it’s true, and its great literary parts are not the whole story — a lot of the books are full of dull and contradictory tables and lists and legal charters, not to mention hard to swallow claims (“we were rebuilding the temple and we just happened to find this manuscript of laws showing that everything we’ve been saying is true!!!!”) and directives to smash babies skulls against stones, etc.

    The Koran’s claims that it is true don’t bother me because I don’t know enough about literary convention in that time and place to know whether or not they were the sort of thing authors threw in.

    The claims of Islam don’t strike me as any more believable than the claims of the Mormons (“golden books that only I could read!!!!! — but they’re gone now”). But it’s dangerous to say so and, as you pointed out, plenty of Christians and Jews will think it’s in bad taste — if not actually immoral — to say so.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    The reference to Ibn Warraq is both the “hard saying” and the call to duty. Christians refuse to do this hard work for the reasons you stated. But it must be done aggressively, thoroughly.

    Point is, it is easily done. Christians are well trained for the job because it was done to their scriptures – with the benefit, as you stated, with those texts being strengthened for weathering the ordeal.

    Of course, the chances of the Koran being wrung through the historical/critical wringer with flying colors is quite slim. That, by the way, is not gelding the effort before it begins. It is a simple recognition of the first historical fact – that Islam is, in a substantial way, a Christian heresy. Better yet, a double heresy, both Christian and Jewish. Islam must yield to that historical judgment – and be judged by it.

    The day’s urgency is burning bright. For the dark morning will soon fall upon us when it will be illegal to publicly declare that Archangel Gabriel did not dictate those damable verses to Muhammad; that only accredited Muslim authors will be permitted to publish any commentary on the Koran.

    That the International Left will be the vanguard to this new totalitarianism is a moral/political/spiritual enslavement they will need to answer for. The sad, and frightening, point is that the Left succeeds to the degree our silence solidifies our tongues shut.

  • cestusdei

    Great article. We should do the investigation of the Koran if they won’t. We should flood the planet with books and articles.

    • TheAbaum

      While we still can.

  • TheAbaum

    After 9/11, I read the Koran. I can only say it is self-contradictory and it reminded me of a book authored by a certain individual who became a Corporal in the German army during World War I. A lot of manifestos read that way.

  • hombre111

    The author is correct. The Moslem faith demands an absolute union between state and church. A country like Turkey maintains secular leadership only with great difficulty. Dismantling the Koran will only be effective in Christian countries, or in secular countries. In countries like Afghanistan, 75% of the population is illiterate. It is a Moslem sea, and anything non-Moslem will drown there.

    • Interested

      Catholicism and the bible have influenced the West and the legal system for centuries. They go well together. The same is not true for Islam and the Koran.

    • James Blazsik

      Not really sure of comparing the religious right with Islamic fundamentalists. When I think of the religious right I think of pro-life and pro-family people – which is quite Catholic. When I think of the radicals on the religious left I think of the culture of death. The left is as much of a threat as the jihadist..

      • hombre111

        I guess I was thinking of style of interpretation. My fundamentalist evangelical friends think the Bible proves that the world is only 6,000 years old, and they imagine that it tells parents to beat their children. Catholic fundamentalists don’t seem to think a thought is valid if some pope has not thought of it first, and more important than reason or scriptures are revelations to some visionary. I give the right high marks on pro-life, but I am not sure they are pro-family when they support low wages and cut off food stamps and benefits for children. The left certainly earns criticism for being pro-choice, which then boils down to abortion. But they are much more inclined to support children and the poor

        • fredx2

          I don’t think you really have friends who believe that they should “beat their children” in any meaningful sense. They probably just believe in spanking. If they are beating their children, you should be reporting them.
          And the complete nonsense of equating foodstamps with killing babies in the womb is one of the very weakest attempts of the left at argument. Plus you are wrong about the left being willing to support the poor – they want to order others to support the poor. Conservatives are routinely shown to be much more generous in terms of charitable giving.

          • TheAbaum

            I believe in spanking errant clerics.

          • hombre111

            Conservatives might be better at charity, but they are worse at justice. What you call “ordering others to support the poor” is asking the whole of society to be responsible for its vulnerable. It is a core Catholic teaching: Justice is more basic than charity. St. Gregory the Great said, “When we attend to the needs of those who are in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours.” The Catholic Catechism says, “what is already due in justice is not to be given as a gift of charity.” I suggest you ponder the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church,” from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

            • Art Deco

              Conservatives might be better at charity, but they are worse at justice.

              You have to understand what is meant by ‘justice’ first, and you don’t. Neither does the social work industry.

              • hombre111

                Read the Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church, which sums up Catholic teaching since Leo XIII. Several popes think you are full of prunes.

                • TheAbaum

                  You mean the ones that said socialism is wrong?

                  I’d hazard to guess that if you couldn’t creatively misinterpret Papal Encyclicals to buttress your idea that seething envy was the thirst for justice, you’d have done the right thing and joined the late Flip Wilson’s “Church of What’s Happenin’ Now”, which is really where your convictions would demand you be.

                  By the way, try the prunes. There’s evidence that poor peristalsis fogs the mind.

            • Scott

              I wouldn’t say that Conservatives are really worse at justice, just worse at distributive justice.

              • hombre111

                I would probably agree.

                • TheAbaum

                  You agree with a lot of nonsense, so?

              • TheAbaum

                “People without stable income and housing are more likely to abort, contracept, divorce, etc.”

                Yeah the Sandra Flukes and Kim Kardashians of the world are poverty stricken and shorn in rags.

        • James Blazsik

          Christian fundamentalists don’t believe in beating their kids and don’t believe in cutting food stamps and benefits for children.

          Liberals do believe in politicizing the poor. There isn’t a desire to eliminate poverty, but to ensure a dependent class subservient to the Democratic party.

          Liberalism only creates more poverty and needy children.

          • hombre111

            The red states have the most poverty and the hungriest children.

            • James Blazsik

              Stats to prove your assertion? You largely just “spout”, folks are not taking you seriously. When you lose credibility, what you say even loses any interest.

              • hombre111

                A whole boatload of stats appeared not too long ago on Huffington Post.

                • Art Deco

                  You mean you make use of innumerate journalists instead of looking at actual government statistical reports.

                  • hombre111

                    I know you get off on numbers and then more numbers, but we are talking about responsible journalists who study the data and then present it to us in a way we can understand.

                • James Blazsik

                  Can you provide the actual articles that you are referring to?

                  • hombre111

                    Just google it.

                    • James Blazsik

                      You are the one making the argument – it’s up to you to defend it.

                    • hombre111

                      See above. From the United Health Foundation, which gets its info from a dozen public sources. Ending, as usual, with Arkansas and Mississippi, the bottom eight in terms of health and poverty are red states. Only five of the bottom twenty are blue states, including states with Republican governors. As for the healthy state? Only four of the top twenty are red states, and two of them, Idaho and Utah, have heavy Mormon populations who don’t smoke or drink.

                  • hombre111

                    From the United Health Foundation. The bottom eight of the fifty states are red states from the South. Fifteen of the bottom twenty are red states. Only four of the top twenty are red states.

                    • James Blazsik

                      The only thing that I could find are rankings of obesity, smoking, diabetes and physical inactivity. Doesn’t prove anything…

                    • hombre111

                      You needed to look through the site more thoroughly than that.

                    • hombre111

                      Sigh. Once more, I do your work for you. Go to 24/7Wallst.com. Starting with Texas, with a 17.9 poverty rate, and down to Mississippi, with a 22.4 poverty rate, we have 12 Red states, most of them in the South. No blue state makes this list of shame.

            • Art Deco

              You live in a country where obesity is inversely correlated with income, where the average household devotes 7.7% of its consumption spending to groceries, and where the federal government drops an 11-digit sum on grocery subsidies. If you’ve ‘hungry children’ it’s because their mothers are crack ho’s.

              • hombre111

                A local paper recently reported that, in my county of 200,000, more than 10% are not sure where their next meal is coming from. Don’t try to hide this figure by burying it in statistics from some rich county in Virginia, and forget about the crack ho’s, which demeans not them, but you. The grocery subsidies are actually subsidies necessary because WalMart and other employers do not pay a living wage.

                • TheAbaum

                  “the grocery subsidies are actually subsidies necessary because WalMart and other employers do not pay a living wage.”

                  Assuming that is true, Walmart’s selling prices are below what they should be.

                  • hombre111

                    Actually, when you level it all out and make comparisons, WalMart prices on some things are lower, on other things the same, and the quality usually inferior. A local merchant has performed this service several times in my community.

                    • TheAbaum

                      No matter what they are relative to others-given your assertion that they have abnormally low labor costs, they are lower than they would be otherwise.

                      In all honesty, there’s days I think you practice to be this unable to respond to an argument coherently.

                • Art Deco

                  You are relying on reporters (who need a justification for writing about something) making use of vague definitions (e.g. ‘food insecure’). You’ve got nothing.

                  • hombre111


        • Art Deco

          My fundamentalist evangelical friends think the Bible proves that the
          world is only 6,000 years old, and they imagine that it tells parents to
          beat their children.

          Are they an appreciative audience for Elden Curtis’ dirty jokes?

          • hombre111

            Do you still remember Elden Curtis’ dirty jokes? I scrubbed them out of my mind a long time ago.

      • TheAbaum

        James, you appear to be a new poster here. What you need to know about Hombre111 is that there is no topic he will not find a way to address an incoherent and irrelevant comment towards.

        • James Blazsik

          Thanks for the heads up!

          • TheAbaum

            No problem, you are welcome.

  • Pingback: Trying to convince Muslim jihadists that the Koran should be interpreted in a... - Christian Forums()

  • Greg Cook

    A few months ago I read a recent English translation of the Qur’an. What struck me (other than the lack of narrative coherence) was the complete absence of love–nowhere does it say that Allah loves people or that people should love one another or Allah. So whatever this or that exegesis says about peace and/or Jihad, a religion based on a text devoid of love would seem to be lacking a heart.

    • Howard Kainz

      There are texts that say Allah loves those who obey the Prophet, fight jihad, etc. But I could find no texts indicating Muslims should love Allah. This is, I think, because Allah is completely unlovable — a dictator who demands submission. The relationship is basically a master-slave relationship. Allah is not a loving and lovable father.

    • Arriero

      Because Allah is simply the concept of Pure Act from Aristotle, a God that cannot be known, a God that does not know or love the world, a God that cannot be loved, a God that has not made himself flesh.

      I remember a priest who had been in India for decades telling that in India there were some religious groups who were actually atheist, who totally denied the existence of God although they themselves were profoundly religious. When the priest was asked how that could be possible, he always answered that these atheist religious groups didn’t believe in God because they thought they were being disrespectful to him by believing or loving him. Their god couldn’t be loved or worshiped by men.

      Thomas Aquinas and other later Scholastics, by the way, discussed in depth the concept of Pure Act of Aristotle. Of course, muslims have not done anything philosophically worth since Averroes (and that’s not an opinion. I challenge anyone to give me a name), and also they’ve never had such rational thinkers as Aquinas or Suárez, for instance.

      • In fact, the issues of faith and its interaction with reason raised by the Latin followers of Averroes highly distressed St. Thomas Aquinas, perhaps more than any other error…and I think these errors have moved in and out of Islamic thought over time. Boko Haram’s philosophy against education (for all, but of course they treat the women worse) is not a novel idea by any means.

  • tamsin

    …to paraphrase the ubiquitous ad copy, this one weird trick can save you hundreds of fruitless arguments[:] discredit the Koran entirely. If the whole thing is a man-made fabrication, what does it matter what verse such-and-such says? Don’t forget to personalize the ad copy for users based on their social media profile, e.g. “Christians! This one weird trick…” and “Secular Humanists! This one weird trick…”

    Of course, to discredit the Koran as entirely man-made, as beginning and ending with man and not outside of himself, is an important tool in our toolbox, always.

    But sadly, it will always matter what the verses say because they say something a lot of people want to hear in order to order their lives. Their ad copy says “Muslims! This one weird book will restore your dignity!” We need ad copy to counter that. I dunno. “Muslims! This one weird crucifixion will restore your dignity!”

  • Objectivetruth

    Today in Lahore Pakistan, a family stoned to death a Pakistani woman in an”honor killing” outside of a court for marrying a man she loved and selected. Honor killings fall under sharia law, if I’m correct?:


  • Howard Kainz

    Certainly popes, bishops, priests and theologians should read the Koran and the ahadith, before making statements about how we share with Muslims an “Abahamic” religion, or (as in our parish) bringing in spokesman from CAIR to explain what a peace-loving religion Islam is. But I think the greatest catalyst in changing attitudes would be to read an objective biography of Muhammad, and have a major movie about the life of Muhammad (until now forbidden). Ali Sina (www.alisina.org) has completed a biography of Muhammad and has also written a movie script (www.movie.alisina.org). I have read both the pre-publication biography and the movie script, and recommend support, financial and otherwise. The movie would be a game-changer. What needs to be known is the real Muhammad, warlord and “prophet.”

  • richado

    And Pope Francis? “…for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”

    “Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis
    to the Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful On the
    Proclamation of the Gospel In Today’s World,” from Vatican.va, November 24:
    In full:
    253. In order to sustain dialogue with Islam, suitable
    training is essential for all involved, not only so that they can be
    solidly and joyfully grounded in their own identity, but so that they
    can also acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns
    underlying their demands and shed light on shared beliefs. We Christians
    should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our
    countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and
    respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat
    those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice
    their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in
    Western countries! Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent
    fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us
    to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”


    • bill b

      It’s as though he read little or nothing on abrogation. Jihadists quite simply know the peaceful passages of the Mecca period and see them as abrogated by the later Medina passages of chapter 9. They are extremists but they are logical. We believe the Old Testament in some areas is abrogated by the New Testament. The very warlike with us is replaced with moderation. For the jihadist, the Koran made the inverse development…peaceful to the later warlike passages of chapter 9.

    • CadaveraVeroInnumero

      The pope knows full well he is doing ecclesiastical politics. The utter fearlessness of his utterances exposes the game. Also think he knows it does.

      The game plan? That by saying nice the exodus of Christians from the Middle East can be staunched.

      It won’t work because the effort means playing the game with Islamic rules. The prior excuse that the Christian exodus is due to the influx of Jews is tired and worn. It no longer works, not even in Bethlehem.

      I wouldn’t expect much more from the current pope then what he gave us this week from his trip to the Holy Land. But, then, I’m a rare Catholic who accepts the (in the present climate) the near heretical notion that the Jews possess a covenant privilege to the land of Israel – and yes, Judah and Samaria.

    • Marcelus

      Benedict and JP2 thought and said pretty much the same

      • As regards St. Pope John Paul II [the Great], I read it differently. Please see his section on Muhammad in “Crossing the Threshold of Hope”. http://www.2heartsnetwork.org/Crossing.the.Threshold.ofHope-PopeJPII.pdf

        • Marcelus

          Thank you. You are are aware that Jp2 was the first Pope to enter a mosque and also kissed the koran I take it.

          • And thank you @mfv666:disqus. My profile is public so you may want to look at what I argued as regards ‘the Qur’an kissing’.

    • fredx2

      Well stated.

    • Antonio J Esteves

      Christians and Muslims have nothing in common. Christians are persecuted and killed every day by muslims.
      Praying with them it is wasting time because we are incompatible.
      “I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Way and The Truth and The Life; no man comes to my Father but by me alone.” John 14:6

      • richado

        Also John 32:12:

        “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself.” RSV

        Not Mohammad. Not Buddha. Not Krishna.Not Gaia. And so on. But Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. No one else.

  • faithandfamilyfirst

    I believe Chesterton and Belloc both spoke of Islam as a heresy of Christianity. That is, it took one small part of Christian doctrine and expanded it while ignoring the rest. Perhaps that is the best way to approach Islam, to expose it for what it is — a rip-off of Christian thought. But I think it is unlikely that you will get a current follower of the prophet to listen.

    • Many contemporary scholars (and not necessarily ones favorable to Islam…) disagree with Belloc’s interpretation, but I’d have to do more research, seeing that St. John Damascene and I think other late Fathers believed it to be so. I also read that there is evidence for parts of the Quran having been lifted from an East Syriac lectionary…

  • Guest

    I tried to read the Koran after 9/11, but could never finish because the text was so pedantic and incoherent. It’s poor literary quality made is impossible to read. Muslim and Arabic friends tell me that it must be read in the original Arabic. They say it is poetic in Arabic. I don’t know Arabic so I can’t speak to the assertion.

  • Guest

    The prior post should have said, “Its poor literary quality made it impossible to read.” Sorry about the typos.

  • cpsho

    “Islam, the religion of peace by force of arms. ”
    If Catholics want Muslims to be saved we have to evangelize them; pray for them; fast for them.
    It is as simple as that.

  • Colleen

    Has anyone taken note that the story of receiving the word of God via an angel is the same for the Mormon’s Joseph Smith? There many similarities between the two religions beyond origin stories.

    • Good Catch @Colleen: always go to the source. Before the encounter in the cave, Muhammad was known as ‘Al-Amin = the trustworthy’. The encounter left him perplexed but was encouraged by his wife and cousin.

    • TheAbaum

      All heresies are recycled for new audiences.

  • Hank

    OK, here is a question for you all. What role do you suppose the political and military history in the middle east, over the past century, contributes to the scant love so many Muslims bear the former colonial powers and the United States?

    In a previous comment, Watosh mentioned the estimated half million Iranian children that died as a result of the U.S. driven embargo. That is a big stack of dead kids. I’m curious about what religion you all think would NOT justify a degree of militant outrage, on behalf of five hundred thousand dead kids. And that is just a little example, incidental attrition along the way. I mean, we destroyed Iraq on behalf of four thousand people in a couple of buildings in New York, and spent more of our own citizens’ lives doing so than were lost in the first place. And, of course, Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 murders. And the man we put in power there is more of a fundamentalist fanatic than any leader they’d had previously, and since we left he has been happily purging and murdering Sunnis in collaboration with Iran. Brilliance heaped upon brilliance. He hated us to begin with, and now the Sunnis do as well. And this, too, is a minor note in a long fugue.

    Returning to my question, I guess it’s convenient to invoke some sort of scriptural determinism, and attribute the Jihadists’ animosity to their second-rate bible, but it seems odd to leave history out of the equation when thinking about geo-political events.

    Tangentially, since we are talking about the horrors of honor killings, etc, could we take a moment to reflect on the one in five women who are raped in the U.S.? It is important to condemn institutionalized violence against women wherever it occurs, but when we do so I think we should ponder the fact that, (even though it is against our laws and our professed morality) our wives, mothers, and daughters live in a society where one in five of them are raped, and an estimated one in twenty of their husbands, brothers, and sons is a rapist.

    • Interested

      Thanks for the faux moral equivalence and deflection.

      • Hank

        Any time. Thanks for seeing that I wasn’t actually equivocating. I tried to be clear about that, but one never knows how one’s best efforts will come across.

        As for deflection — yes, I guess so. I wish violence against women was not so normal in our own country, and so intractable. If a negative review of the Koran will solve Islam’s problems, with respect to the treatment of women, I wonder what might solve our own.

        • cestusdei

          If you had a choice, if you were female, life here or in Saudi Arabia?

    • fredx2

      The answer of course, is that the embargo did not kill 500,000 children. That figure was broadcast by a UN organization that asked various people to fill in a form and return it to them. Saddam Hussein made sure the forms were filled out and sent back to indicate a lot of dead kids, and that it was to be blamed on the embargo. In fact, Collin Powell clearly stated that the aid was being delivered in a fashion so that no kid needed to die, unless Saddam was undercutting those efforts. Of course, Saddam is a man who had no problem cutting off running water and medicine to hospitals in areas that opposed him. He was ruthless. The notion that we put him in power is complete nonsense.

      And if you believe one in five women is raped, again, you believe any statistic that is issued . And then to call that “institutional”? Odd. As you must be aware, the study that found such high rates of rape included as a rape any time a woman had sex while under the influence.

      “Junk statistics from advocacy groups are slung around and become common knowledge, such as the incredible factoid that one in four university students has been raped. (The claim was based on a commodious definition of rape that the alleged victims themselves never accepted; it included, for example, any incident in which a woman consented to sex after having had too much to drink and regretted it afterward.)”

      “The National Crime Victimization Survey, which uses a narrower definition of rape, found that only 0.5% of women and 0.06% of men, age 12 or older, were raped in 1995. By 2010, these numbers had decreased to 0.2% of women and 0.01% of men”

      • Hank

        Re the children in Iran, setting asside whatever tha actual number may have been, and the degree of culpability we had, the point was that Madeline Albright, when confronted with that number and the assertion that the U.S. was agentive in achieving it, said, “It was worth it.” For me, this casts that intervention in an odd light. I noted this (because another poster referred to it) as one instance among many where our interventions might not conduce to amicable relations around the Middle East. I have a weakness for trying to see the other fellow’s point of view. It’s only getting worse as I get older. But I do hope you grant that attempting to find the coherence of another’s point of view is not the same as seeking moral justification for their actions.

        With “institutionalized violence against women” I was referring to the Sharia courts particularly, and also any other formal social institutions that propagate physical harm to women. The organized use of rape by military forces would probably count, as well. I was trying to acknowledge an important distinction between that violence and the sexual violence infecting our own society.

        Yes, all manner of statistics are slung around, and we are all susceptible to confirmation bias. My bias, admitedly, tilts me towards seeing high numbers as credible. All studies I’m aware of agree that socio-economic background affects the level of risk, and much of my life has been among people at the more tattered edges of society. Conversely, someone that was comparatively sheltered might consider rape to be more anomalous than it actually is.

        The NCVS methodology is not universally admired. The National Center for Disease Control is thought by many to do a better job with their survey methods. Well intentioned and reasonably informed people may disagree here. NCVS counted 188,380 rapes last year. NCFDC counted 1.27 million. The FBI, which only counts assaults reported to the police, lists 85,593.

        • cestusdei

          Iran’s problem is that it is run by Muslim fanatics. We are not the problem.

    • cestusdei

      Hank, nice apologist for the terrorism. Islam has been attacking Christians since BEFORE the US existed. This is not new. How about concentrating on the real problem and not blaming the victims?

    • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

      Excellent hank.

  • Mohammed is the lynch pin of the whole of Islam. Only he heard the angel Gabriel and only he conveyed what he heard to his followers. But for Muslims that seems to be good enough, for some reason. Or course it helps that the door to exercising ones conscience and mental faculties is firmly closed and guarded by the sword of apostasy. On a level playing field, Islam would have died out soon after Mohammed did.

    Thanks for taking up this most important of tasks to unmask this ‘religion’.

  • johnalbertson

    Here is what Mark Twain said about the Book of Mormon. Ditto the Koran:

    Roughing It 1872, pgs. 58-59; “All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the “elect” have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a
    copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a
    pretentious affair, and yet so “slow,” so sleepy; such an insipid mess
    of inspiration. It is chloroform in print.

  • Jim

    Defying all reason, the Catholic faith, and the very words of our blessed Lord Jesus, Pope Francis urged Muslims he visited at a Catholic parish in Rome to faithfully read their Korans. So much for the Four Alls of the Great Commission: “ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe ALL that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you ALL days, to the close of the age.” Mt. 28:18-20

  • Thanks for this. I posted a section of it and a link to it at my blog (islamdom.blogspot.com). Good stuff!

  • Fusengammu

    Catholics, Mormons, Scientologists, Southern Baptists, Muslims etc etc. All believe in the same stupid shit. Their opinions can all be safely ignored.

    • Art Deco

      Their opinions can all be safely ignored.

      Which is why you are trolling an orthodox Catholic site?

      Catholics, Mormons, Scientologists, Southern Baptists, Muslims etc etc. All believe in the same stupid shit.

      And revealing yourself an ignoramus to boot?

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  • The_Mild_Mannered_Janitor

    Isn’t the simplest explanation the most likely? Here we have a book that mimics the preexisting Abrahamic faiths in many ways and yet distorts key articles of faith about the nature of a God and, more specifically, the second person of the Trinity; a book the fruits of which are essentially evil acts that are justified because Allah demands it. The clincher for me is that ‘the Angel Gabriel’ appeared to Mo and dictated it.

    It seems clear to me that the father of lies wrote and inspires the Koran and appeared to Mo that day.

  • Benny

    You correctly note that pointing out that Koran is an invention would cause an ire among Western media foremost. That certainly implies that the “truthfulness” of Koran is sustained by sufficient voices in the West that Koran is legitimate. Therefore, the proper course of action is to remove the media cheerleaders who declare it true and have them declare it what it actually is – false.

  • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

    Islam is being scapegoated because it won’t support usury and the sexualisation of its culture and resists colonisation by American/NATO imperial dictatorship. The author’s propaganda is but a tool for this satanic agenda.

    • Art Deco

      If it’s readily exploitable for revanchist political mobilization, yes.

    • cpsho

      If the religion says Jesus is NOT the Lamb of God. If the religion says Jesus did NOT die on the Cross.
      If the religion wants to annihilate Christians in Syria and northern Nigerian

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  • Yob

    Islam and moderate Islamic countries like Iran are being scapegoated because they reject usury and being colonised and financially and politically enslaved by western bankers, IMF, world bank, NATO, and American imperialism a la nuland/Obama/neocon/ neoliberalism. They also reject anti logos culture. They revere Christ and logos, even though their understanding of these is distorted. This author is deluded.

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  • Tides

    He got out, laid his head on the wall, and prayed. Visible behind him was graffiti reading “Pope, we need someone to speak about justice”, “Free Palestine,” and a comparison of Palestine to the Warsaw ghetto.

    The iconic photo of the Pope’s Palestinian prayer went viral around the world. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was furious – but vowed “not to get mad, but to get even.” One wonders what sort of revenge Netanyahu is plotting.

    The Pope’s gesture spoke louder than his mostly empty words. He was obviously praying for the apartheid wall to come down. But he cannot say such things directly. The Zionists have more than enough financial and media power (and enough professional killers and dirty tricks experts) to “get even” with any Pope who speaks out against them too forcefully and directly.

    The Pope’s historic prayer at the apartheid wall illustrates the rise of religion as a force for social justice. Prior to 1979, social justice struggles were associated with “the left,” meaning socialism or communism. Both movements were dominated by atheists and secularists. They saw religion as a tool of oppression, an “opiate of the people.”

    In 1979, two epochal events signaled a sea change in modern history. In Iran, the Islamic Revolution overthrew a corrupt and brutal secularist dictatorship and established a new social model – one that sought social justice through a religiously-based society. And in Poland, the Catholic Solidarity labor movement arose to challenge atheistic Communism. Soon religious Afghans were challenging the atheist Soviet occupation of their country. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down…and with it the “Godless Communism” of the Soviet Empire.

    Since then, the Islamic awakening has been challenging secular capitalism in many parts of the world. The Catholic Church has begun to take a strong stand against materialistic values. Russia’s President Putin is turning Russia into a pro-religious society – a 180-degree turn from the Communist era of brutal atheist dictatorship. And with his support for Eastern Ukraine and Syria, President Putin is wrecking the New World Order’s plan to wipe out traditional religions and establish a one-world secularist dictatorship.

    In Turkey, pro-Islam forces have gradually gained the upper hand over the kemalist atheists, who had conducted one of the worst cultural genocides in world history during their doomed attempt to wipe out Islam. The long struggle of Turkish Muslims to regain their country has also been a struggle for democracy, human rights, and social justice.

    The rise of Hezbollah and Hamas, both religiously-based resistance movements against Israeli occupation, is another sign of the times. The Palestinian resistance is no longer led by the secularist PLO, which has become a tame guardian of the status quo. Today the most successful anti-Zionist resistance group is Hezbollah, which defeated Israel in the war of 2006, and which is prepared to inflict an even more stunning defeat on the Zionists should they dare to attack Lebanon again.

    Will Putin, the Pope, and the pro-justice Muslims (led by the Islamic Republic of Iran) unite to put an end to Zionism and its dream of a New World Order with a capital in Occupied Jerusalem?

    Catholic historian E. Michael Jones foresees such an eventuality. In February 2013, Jones and I were returning to Tehran from a meeting with religious scholars in Qom. Jones, who admires Iran’s God-centered society, expressed the fervent hope that the Pope would come to Iran to make common cause with the Islamic Republic – and turn decisively against Zionism. “But could this Pope (Ratzinger) ever do such a thing?” we asked. “He won’t be Pope forever!” Jones announced.

    An hour or so later, regular programming was interrupted by a special bulletin: “Pope Resigns!” It was the first time in 600 years that a Pope had decided to step down. If E. Michael Jones is ever nominated for sainthood, I will happily testify to his miraculous powers of premonition.

    The new Pope, Francis, seems blessed with a heartfelt concern for ordinary people. He appears genuinely pained by the suffering of the Palestinians under Israeli oppression. And he seems instinctively opposed to the heartless power of New World Order bankster capitalism.

    Will Pope Francis soon be “Going to Tehran”? Will he announce that Netanyahu needs an exorcism, and Zionism needs a funeral? Will he stand with Putin against NATO’s nuclear encirclement of Russia? Will he join the world’s Muslim scholars calling for an end to usury and the destruction of the current international banking system in favor of something more humane and equitable? Will he demand that the US radically scale back its obscene military spending and lead the planet towards demilitarization…and the transfer of trillions of wasted military dollars into schools, hospitals, mass transit, and sustainable energy? Might he call for an end to biological technologies that threaten human dignity and even human existence – such as bio-weapons, designer genes, and trans-humanism?

    None of these things are possible today. But could they be possible tomorrow?

    If the new religious movements for social justice unite – and make common cause with everyone who supports justice, including those who consider themselves secularists – who knows what the future might bring.

    • Art Deco

      One wonders what sort of revenge Netanyahu is plotting.

      Just fill in the blanks from your imagination. Everyone else does.

      In Iran, the Islamic Revolution overthrew a corrupt and brutal
      secularist dictatorship and established a new social model – one that
      sought social justice through a religiously-based society.

      Worked out real well for the five digit population executed in 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982…, as well as the seven digit population who died in the regimes signature ‘human wave’ attacks.

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  • Gabriel

    To me the weakest point about the Koran is that Muslims all agree that Mohammad was illiterate. Educated Muslims believe that he heard the Koran recited by the angel and that his followers heard him recite what he remembered. When he had died and those who remembered what he had said were also dying off, it was only then officially put down in writing. A text was agreed upon and all other fragmentary versions (or alternative versions) were simply eliminated. Thus we do not have ancient fragments before the version was finalized to compare it with. All of this shows (to any reasonable person) that we have no way of knowing whether Mohammad really heard an an angel, whether he remembered accurately what he thought he heard, and whether his followers remembered precisely what he had said. In short, the document has no real logical credibility as even a text faithful to what Mohammad actually said whether or not an angel spoke. For us Christians there is the additional point that in Galatians, St. Paul had prophetically warned his hearers not to accept “another Gospel” and even warned them that Satan can appear as abn “angel” of light. Need we say more?


    Can you not find ANY parts of the Koran which are beautiful at all?

  • Thomas J. Hennigan

    I fully agree with the araticle. However, the task doesn’t end with the Koran, but must also include the Sira and the Hadith. It does seem that important historians in England, Germany and elsewhere are busily engaged in the effort to discover the origins of Islam. There is a pretty solid hypthesis, if not more than a hypothesis, that in fact Islam,which in reality is first and foremost a political ideology, was cooked up 70 or more years after Mahommed was supposed to have died.. It doesn’t seem to have begun in Mecca and Medina at all, but maybe in what is now Jordan, perhaps Petra. St. John Damascene, born in the late 7th century, whose father was what could be called Finance Minister of the Damascus Caliphate, considered that the religion of the Arab conquerers was a Christian heresy. The fact is that many heretical Christians were expelled from the Byzantine Empire as a result of their not submitting to Calcedonian orthodoxy, It does seem that those who cooked up Islam and invented the story of Mahommed etc. were interested in giving religious support to a sprawling empire they had already conquered.
    As for expecting Mulsim apologists to argue with some semblance of logic, forget it. I have seen several debates between some of them and people like Robert Spencer and trying to get them to propose any reasonable argument is totally frustraing. Their greatest allies are people like Obama and other Western leaders, as well as the mainstream media. It is an uphill battle, but may come to a head in places like France, Belgium and Holland where there may be authentic civil wars in the not too distant future as the natives wake up to what they have in thier own backyards and reject the pollitically correct and shortsighted politicians who naively promote multicultueralism,

  • hombre111

    After seeing pictures of ISIS maniacs executing helpless young prisoners, I read your article again. The men were slain as “irreligious.” Here is the Koran at work.

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  • pete salveinini

    Robert Spenser has already begun the task by close evaluation of the documentary evidence for the Qur’an in his “Did Muhammad Exist?” He concludes that the word “muhammad” is a generic term into which much LATER was poured literary creations to create a mythical individual. I believe he holds that an Arab movement of conquest emerged suddenly in the early 7th cent. and then made individualized as the ideal Arab THE Muhammad.
    But the BETTER attack is not on the literary quality of the text. It is on the absence of miracles (one of St Thomas’s three criteria in the beginning of Summa contra gentiles –the other two are the carnal nature of the message, and also the violence with which it is propagated). Islam admits that Jesus was a miracle worker and that M. was NOT But just as in the canonization of a Saint, one must have evidence that GOES BEYOND NATURE AND THE NATURAL to indicate and EXCEPTIONAL DIVINE INTERVENTION. And Islam has NONE!

  • Yukon Redneck

    As Tom Holland has described, the earliest known copy of the Koran dates from 100 years after the hijrah and the hadiths at least 200 years after the hijrah. Islam was spread by the sword into an area depopulated by a titanic struggle between Byzantium and Persia during the 6th century, followed by first outbreak of bubonic plague. Writers of the time describe how city walls were broken and farmers fields were reverting to wild brush patches. The Arab client states that had aligned with Byzantium and Persia found themselves facing a power vacuum and filled it. They lived on the frontiers of civilization and were exposed to Jewish, Monophysite, Nestorian, and Zoroasterian beliefs as well as Catholic doctrine. The only constant feature was war and bloodshed and the Koran incorporates this as a central doctrine while mixing in generous helpings from other belief systems. Archaeological evidence from mosques in Iraq during this period suggests that the first niblaqs pointed east toward the Negev rather than towards Mecca and this is the likely birthplace of Islam. Unfortunately there are virtually no written record of the first 200 years of Islam written by the protagonists; we have only Persian and Byzantine writings and records for this period. Islam sprang whole from the Caliphate about 200 years after it may have started as a form of state religion that framed the ascent of the Arabs as the Will of God. In my view, it is the first of a series of statist pathologies that include the French Revolution, Marxism, Fascism and, now again, Islamism.