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Islam, Tolerance, and the Cross

Divine Submission
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. I John 4:7-8 (NIV)

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The Cross and Tolerance The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ provides the divine example for those who suffer wrongfully because of their obedience and submission to God. Even though the Lord Jesus Christ was completely innocent of the malicious accusations against him, yet he submitted to the injustice without threatening retribution or revenge. And, in an amazing response of love, the Lord Jesus Christ mercifully and graciously requested forgiveness for those who crucified him. He said, "Father, forgive them" (Luke 23:34). The Cross of Christ is the divine foundation for true tolerance. In his first epistle, the Apostle Peter wrote to the early Christians that they were to follow Christ's example of submission and love too. He wrote, To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:21-23 (NIV)

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The Apostle Peter presented the example of Lord Jesus Christ as the pure and holy one who truly submitted to Almighty God. His example demonstrated a pattern of love and submission that the divine prophets of God showed when they were persecuted. In the gospel of Matthew the words of the Lord Jesus noted that the ancient prophets faithfully submitted to persecution. By their

submission to persecution, they showed their faithful and true submission of the Lord of the worlds. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV) The Qur'an bears testimony to the fact that the ancient prophets and apostles were rejected and persecuted. And, more importantly, they endured patiently their persecution and trusted God alone for deliverance rather than taking the sword into their own hands to slay their persecutors. Even though Muhammad knew the testimony and example of the divine prophets, later in his life, he rejected the prophets' example of submission and dependence upon Allah. In stead of following the path of submission to Allah, he put his faith and trust in the bloody sword of death. And certainly messengers before you were rejected, but they were patient on being rejected and persecuted until Our help came to them; and there is none to change the words of Allah, and certainly there has come to you some information about the messengers. Sura al-Anaam 6:34 (Shakir's translation)

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The Apostle Paul affirmed the message of the Lord Jesus Christ and the example of the prophets. He rejected explicitly the idea of revenge because of persecution for faithfulness to God. He argued that divine vengeance is exclusively the prerogative of God who alone is all-wise and all-just. He realized that it is easy to imagine injustice and to use this as a false pretext to fight and shed the blood of those whom you dislike. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21 (NIV)

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So, we see that divine toleration is founded upon Calvary's Cross where the Lord Jesus Christ suffered unjustly at the hands of wicked men. Thus, Christians are instructed to live a life of toleration towards all, even those who persecute them. This call to toleration gives the possibility for true peace among all humanity, because it embraces a gracious response even to enemies who may hate us. Our natural animal impulse is to demand revenge and punishment against those whom we feel have dealt with us unjustly whether the injustice were real or imagined. Islam and Toleration Islam rejects the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; and, as a result, it has no true basis for tolerating persecution. In fact, the Qur'an commands Muslims to "fight with them until there is no persecution" (Sura al-Baqara 2:193). This attitude toward persecution is diametrically opposed to the Christian faith as well as to the attitude of the divine prophets (see above Sura al-Anaam 6:34). And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors. Sura al-Baqara 2:193 (Shakir's translation)

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Muhammad taught that it is better to be slaughtered while fighting than to suffer persecution. This is an irrational statement in the Quran, because being slaughtered or murdered is actually worse than being persecuted. The legal punishment for killing someone is always more severe than mocking or persecuting someone. Still, this irrational statement is a powerfully motivating call to warfare and Jihad when a Muslim thinks he is being oppressed or persecuted. Rather than being a true Muslim who submits to the ultimate justice of God, Muhammad set aside submission to God and instructed his followers to trust the sword and fight. And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers. Sura al-Baqara 2:191 (Shakir's translation)

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This warfare against non-Muslims is to be continued until there is no persecution against Muslims and until all people submit to the authority of Muhammad's

religion. It is a carnal and evil command to be intolerant and suppress other human beings. And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah; but if they desist, then surely Allah sees what they do. Sura al-Anfal 8:39 (Shakir's translation)

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Non-Muslims must submit to Muhammad's religion and pay the Jizya tax as a way to show their acknowledgment of Muslim superiority, as well as to feel themselves subdued and inferior to Muslim power. The Qur'an calls upon Muslims to make non-Muslims dhimmis, a religious status that puts nonMuslims into an oppressed and persecuted position within a true Islamic society. Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection. Sura al-Tawbah 9:29 (Shakir's translation)

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So, it is clear that, according to the Qur'an, Muslims may not be oppressed or persecuted. However, they may oppress non-Muslim until the non-Muslims feel themselves subdued and inferior. It is strange that persecution is a wicked evil when it is against Muslims, but persecution is a beautiful virtue when it is against others. This moral contradiction in the Qur'an has been the source of intolerance, bigotry, and hatred. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus Christ said that we are to act toward others in the same manner in which we would like others to act toward us. This moral law sums up the Law and the Prophets and is the true message of the Prophets of God. By the end of his life, Muhammad had rejected this moral virtue as well as the example of the prophets! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

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Conclusion Because Islam rejects the historical fact of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ upon Calvary's cross, it has no foundation for tolerating those who have not submitted to the teachings of Muhammad. By contrast, Christians see Christ's rejection, persecution, and death upon the Cross as a powerful motivation to follow a path of suffering and persecution and to show mercy, grace, and love to saint, sinner, and infidel alike. Rather than trusting the power of the sword against persecution, Christians, like the ancient and divine prophets, are called to trust God who is the faithful Preserver and Judge of all men. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3-12 (NIV)

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Last edited 01-19-2005