I read this in the paper today; a typically stupid newspaper columnist had made a claim about how the Qur'an tells Muslims to dominate non-believers. Then a Muslim wrote in and said this:
This strongly reminds me of the Old Testament, where an angry God smites the enemies of the Chosen People -- women and children included.
The truth is that any verse in the Qur'an that speaks "harshly" of non-Muslims by encouraging Muslims to fight them is always in the context of self-defense. Furthermore, this is always a means of last resort, when it becomes a matter of survival.
The critics who quote a verse about Muslims being encouraged to fight non-Muslims fail to mention that the non-Muslims are trying to kill the Muslims. [emphases added]
As Jerry Falwell points out, in a great document superbly entitled "God is pro-war," which shows how so many Christians yearned for war during 2001-2003 in the US:
Falwell goes on, giving new meaning to the phrases "snake-oil salesman" and "sophist":
...the Song of Victory in Exodus 15 hails God as a God of war: "… The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name."
Okay, the word for "murder" in Greek is "φονεύω." The word for "kill" is "φονεύω". And I can't pronounce that, but it's obvious that they're the same goddamn word.
Finally, some reading this column will surely ask, "Doesn't the sixth commandment say, 'Thou shalt not kill?'"
Actually, no; it says: "Thou shalt not commit murder."
The example of Jerry Falwell is instructive for us here.
The debate I started discussing rationalizes violence based on the holy books the Bible and the Qur'an, saying it's okay to kill as long as it's in "self-defense," as if the line between self-defense and unprovoked aggression was so crystal-clear.
Falwell's argument shows the essential shallowness of the entire debate, when he argues that
My simple point is that within the logic of major religion, there will always be wars, killing, and violence. Violence is ingrained into the fiber of the stories in the Bible and the Qur'an, and the claim that "Christianity" or "Islam" are "religions of peace" are equally suspect.
There is a difference between killing and murdering [emphasis added]. In fact, many times God commanded capital punishment for those who break the law.
We continue to live in violent times. The Bible tells us war will be a reality until Christ returns. And when the time is right, Jesus will indeed come again, ending all wars.
Falwell's own novel argument is that there will be perpetual war "until Christ returns." Convenient!
Further, violence will always be justifiable based on a 2,000-page book from thousands of years ago. Even when the Greek says that "to kill" and "to murder" are the same thing.
Non-ideological secularism is surely closer to bringing peace. With religion, it's always very convenient to simply argue that one is bringing war on another people to "save" them. It all sickens me, and brings a sadness upon me about the degraded state of our country. Indeed, the crux of our national tragedy is the specious and inherently religious argument that Falwell displays.
President Bush declared war in Iraq to defend innocent people. This is a worthy pursuit.
(Protecting the innocent)