The topic of religious violence is not a new concept. There is violence in the history of the Bible and there is violence in Islam, however they are not the same.
The violence in the Bible was never used to promote a religion or for material and personal gain. Instead, war was how God punished wicked nations. But in Islam, violence is encouraged, even demanded, when it comes to Jihad and Sharia law for the purpose of expanding and protecting Islam.
Jihad- The unspoken 6th pillar of Islam
What is Jihad exactly? It is Arabic for “utmost effort” or “strife.” Different Islamic groups will say it means different things, ranging from spiritual and physical strife to believers actively fighting for the cause of Islam. In its most peaceful form, Muslims believe that Jihad is the physical and mental sacrifice they go through and sacrifice to please Allah – like praying, fasting, and pilgrimmage.
In the 7th century, as Muhammad was was expanding Islam during the Medinan period and conquering other people groups, anyone who did not convert to Islam was forced to pay a penalty tax called the jizyah, which often amounted to 90% of their income. If they did not convert or pay the tax, they were killed.
“Fight against them until there is no more persecution—and your devotion will be entirely to Allah. But if they desist, then surely Allah is All-Seeing of what they do.” Quran 8:39
Being the only way to be rescued from any form of punishment in hell, jihad is a very serious part of Islam. In fact, there are extra rewards for someone who dies in jihad: 72 virgins (huris, not human women), forgiveness of all sins, rewards for their relatives, and more. Jihad is a part of every Muslim’s salvation and relationship with Allah. There is a legal version of jihad called Sharia law, and it rules entire countries.
What is Sharia Law?
Sharia law dictates religious and community life and hurts everyone who lives under it. It divides actions into five different categories: mandatory, spiritually beneficial, neutral, disliked, and forbidden actions. There are harsh punishments under Sharia law for many crimes, such as:
- Amputation of hands for stealing
- Eighty lashes for drinking
- Stoning to death for adultery
What is the connection between Sharia law and Jihad?
The Hadith explains that Muhammad started and fought in no less than 19 wars within the last 10 years of his life for the sake of expanding Islam. He was violent towards everyone he conquered, killing the men and selling the women and children into slavery. In fact in the Hadith, Muhammad is quoted explaining that the first best thing for a Muslim to do is to believe in Allah and his messenger, while the second best thing is to participate in jihad, or holy war, for Allah (Bukhari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 25).
Another decree from the Hadith is that if a land was once under Sharia law and has fallen into the hands of the enemy, it is a Muslim’s duty to use jihad to gain back that territory and put it back under Islamic rule. Sharia law very explicitly calls for jihad in multiple ways. That's why the more devout a Muslim group wants to be in following Muhammad and imitating him, the more they become involved in violent jihad to spread and protect Islam. Clear examples are the Islamic State (ISIS) and Boko Haram from the Sunni sect, and Hezbollah from the Shi'ite sect.
What does the Bible say?
How to talk about Jihad and Sharia Law with your Muslim friends
- I’ve heard that the only way to get all of your sins forgiven by Allah is to die as a martyr. How do you feel about that? (This is a great way to open up a conversation about how Jesus forgives all of our sins without us having to earn it)
- Is the country that you or your parents are from governed by Sharia law? What is it like living without it now?
- What do you think about the verses in the Quran that encourage violence against non-believers?
- If your Muslim friend says that those verses were meant for that time period and are no longer applicable like the violence in the Old Testament, you can point out that the Bible is very clear about God’s original covenant with Israel and how we are no longer under that covenant. We have a new covenant with Jesus! The Quran does not have this distinction.
When you open up this conversation with your Muslim friend, the biggest thing to remember is to share Jesus with them! Because of Jesus, you no longer have to live afraid of messing up and being punished for your sins. You can introduce your Muslim friend to a new life without fear, filled with love and forgiveness!
Prayer before your talk to your Muslim friend
Dear Jesus, Thank you for introducing me to a life that is free of fear, and for loving me unconditionally. Please give me the courage to have uncomfortable conversations with my Muslim friend, because I know that those can give us some of the best growth and opportunities to share the Gospel with them. Let your Spirit open up their heart to hearing the Truth and surrendering to Your love. Amen.