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Dealing with the Violence of Muhammad

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Dr. Nabeel Qureshi

I’m currently reading Nabeel Qureshi’s bestselling book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. It’s a really good read with solid arguments against Islam and for Christianity. It contains some serious challenges for devout Muslims.

Nabeel had been raised believing that the Qur’an is unchanged and perfectly preserved and that Muhammad was sinless and, in fact, the greatest man who ever lived. Both of those beliefs are actually very easy to disprove when you start looking into it.

I meet Muslims every week when I’m out evangelizing with the Pancake Church. Several of them have argued that Muhammad never killed anyone. One of them was even a dai who used to hand out Qur’ans to people on the streets and who claimed to know the life of Muhammad quite well. I was perplexed by this: how could he have missed that Muhammad fought at least 27 battles, or that he once commanded the beheading of 600 Jewish men?

Nabeel’s book has helped me understand this. Most Muslims never read the hadith or the early biographies of Muhammad’s life (which originated around 200 years after his death or later). Many of them don’t even read the Qur’an, they just recite it in Arabic during prayer. What they know about Muhammad’s life is based on what their Imams or parents tell them, and oftentimes those stories are very distorted and biased. Most Muslims genuinely believe them though and are for example convinced that all of Muhammad’s battles were defensive, something that the earliest collections of hadith denies.

Nabeel had been convinced that Muhammad was peaceful and of high moral stature, but he just had to get to the 24th hadith in Sahih Bukhari’s first volume to find:

“Allah’s Apostle said, ‘I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform a that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.'”

Now, are these the genuine sayings of Muhammad? We don’t know, Muhammad al-Bukhari who collected these hadiths lived 810-870 AD. When Nabeel sought for Muslims explanations to the numerous examples of Muhammed being violent, intolerant and simply immoral, the most common response was that those particular hadiths were unreliable. But that’s just cherry-picking – either one has to admit that Muhammad was an immoral man or that we can hardly know anything about him.

Nabeel then realized how ridiculous it was of him to try to reject the New Testament’s account of Jesus’ life by arguing that the gospels were written 30-50 years after Jesus’ lifetime, and he realized how much moral and peaceful Jesus was compared to Muhammad. Why had he then tried to live like Muhammad, as many of his Muslim friends also strived towards? This was one of the main reasons that Nabeel eventually left Islam and embraced the nonviolent Jesus revolution.

During the first 40 minutes of this video, Nabeel lectures on the life of Muhammad referring to his new book Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward. He argues that Islamophobia is not the correct answer to Islamic extremism – that just makes it worse – but also not trying to gloss over the problematic aspects of Muhammad’s life and early Islam. We should be able to combine grace and truth at the same time, just as our Lord and God did (Jn 1:18).

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5 Comments

  1. Bill Samuel says:

    I would note that at least most major faiths have a similar problem. Their sacred writings contain passionate appeals for peace but also warfare portrayed as the will of God. I know this is true of Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism. I am too ignorant of other major faiths to say about them. So you have a variety of understandings of each major faith, which differ substantially on questions of violence.

    You can say Islam is a religion of violence based on certain parts of the Qur’an and the Hadith, as well as the actual practice of Muslims. But the same could be said of these other major religions, including Christianity. And for all of them you can say they are a religion of peace based on other parts of their sacred writings and history. It seems to be almost a universal religious problem, rather than a problem which should be directed primarily at any particular major faith.

    • Hello Bill!

      I disagree. If we for simplicity’s sake limit ourselves to Christianity and Islam, I think it is hard to deny the following three points:

      1. Muhammad is most often viewed as a sinless, perfect example of how people should live within Islam, just as Christians view Jesus as sinless and perfect. While Muhammad used a lot of violence and coercion, Jesus did not.

      2. Both Islam and Christianity have a strong tradition of newer revelation having more authority than older. The New Testament’s message of turning the other cheek and loving enemies trumps the wars of the Old Testament, whereas the violent exhortations in Sura 9 of the Qur’an trumps the older, more peaceful teachings of Muhammad, according to early Muslim leaders.

      3. The first 300 years of Christianity was characterized by pacifism and nonviolence, as you can read here: https://holyspiritactivism.com/2013/10/09/ron-sider-the-early-church-on-killing/ In contrast, the first 300 years of Islam was characterized by warfare and colonialism. Even though Christianity later also became violent and coercive after the state-church reforms in the fourth century, that was not its original form.

      Blessings!

  2. mattiascederlund says:

    Hi,
    A very good series of 7 videos with Nabeel on Youtube where he is teaches about Islam and Mohammed can be found here:

  3. […] Dealing with the Violence of Muhammad […]

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The author

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Check out my YouTube channel!

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