Watch out what you ask for...

Watch what you ask for...
by Abu Daoud

You might actually get it. You know this saying, it's pretty well-circulated really.

I think of this today--let me tell you why. I entered the place of business of a friend of mine. Today is Friday, like Sunday for Christians, a day of observance and worship, but here in my city some of the businesses are open. He was reading (or chanting actually) the Qur'an when I entered his place of business. I sat down and waited for him to finish, which he promptly did.

And then he reached for the little Bible I had given him some months ago, and said, "The Messiah said, 'I have not come to bring peace, but to bring a sword!' What does this mean?" I had given him the Bible hoping he would read, and perhaps some of your prayed for him because I had asked you to, and he was reading it!

But this is hardly an easy saying of Jesus; it speaks of the division of families. My brain was working at full speed, not only scanning my ability to interpret this Scripture, but also how to explain this all in Arabic. The explanation I gave him is not the important thing (that Jesus as a prophet knew that the truth brings division, even persecution, because sometimes people hate the truth, and he had brought a message of truth from God), but that he was reading, and indeed, truly grappling with the meaning of the words of Messiah.

Then his friend entered and said hello. He asked, "Have you asked him about the sword thing?" I explained myself again.

I had given them a Bible and they indeed had read it. Not so much like they read the Qur'an, which is more of a spiritual recitation that does not focus on the meaning of the words, but really trying to understand this message of Jesus.

Pray for these two friends, and pray for me, that we might have wisdom and be led by God into all truth.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

--Abu Daoud


Jeff said…
You don't spend much time reading Islamic apologetics against Christianity, do you?

This is one of the stock rebuttals to the charge that Islam demands violence against unbelievers.

Others include the massacres of Canaanites and Amalekites in Deuteronomy and the Book of Joshua.

It may be this fellow was reading your Bible. More likely he was reading anti-Christian Muslims sites or talking to those who are familiar with this stuff.

You need to spend time with these sites to develop a response. They are very good at what they do.
Abu Daoud said…
Jeff, do we know each other personally? I am guessing not.
Rob said…
Hey Abu Daoud, are you going to be okay doing this? I mean, I know we don't usually get into specifics about where you are, but isn't this sort of activity dangerous in the kinds of places you live? Don't they kill people for proselytization (sp?)in some countries?

God be with you.
Abu Daoud said…
Rob: this is fine, really. I mean, yes there are a few places where you could get into trouble for this, but not in most of the MENA. These guys are friends of mine whom I have known for a good while and have hung out with a lot, which is why Jeff's accusation that I am naive about this is pretty lame.
Jeff said…
Sorry, did I sound snippy? If so, I apologize. On re-reading my post, I can see how it might have looked that way.

It's just that I have heard this objection so many times from Muslims and seen it online, too.

And it's usually a defensive response:

You claim that the Quran calls for the sword of violence, well, what about the Jesus of Scripture?

Here's the first sentence from a piece on this question from a famous Christian website on Islam:

"Muslim apologists frequently quote Matthew 10:34, which mentions a sword, drawing a parallel between Christianity and Islam: Jesus and Muhammad both endorse jihad, so why would Christians today complain about it in Islam"

Muslims "frequently mention" the passage your friend mentioned. And that was my reaction on reading your piece:

This was not a response to a reading of the New Testament, but rather an apologetic response given to your friend. Someone quoted Matthew 10: 34 and said, "Look it up for yourself and challenge this guy about his Bible-shmible malarkey..."

For example, if someone said to me, "If God caused the universe, who caused God?", I wouldn't think he'd cogitated and come up with that on his own. I'd think he'd read Dawkins or been talking to someone who had.
Jeff said…
I've read your response to Rob. Certainly it COULD be a coincidence. But I don't see why your friends couldn't have been chatting with other friends about The Bible and Islam. This whole apologetic dimension of Islam is huge among Muslims now on a popular level. I'm guessing you are familiar with Ahmad Deedat?

Don't get me wrong. When I get copy and paste stuff from Muslims, I treat it with exactly the same respect that I would to an original and personal reaction.

But if someone were to ask you, "Are there common responses among Muslims to claims from Christians and others that Islam calls for violence and conquest?" what would you answer?

I would answer, "Yes.

1. They claim that the quotes are context specific and time specific, not a general approach to non-believers:

Respond with tafsir from authoritative sources showing they are not.

2. They will point out that the God of the Bible is much more blood soaked by quoting passages from Deuteronomy and Joshua especially in which God seems to call for or endorse genocide, including infant slaying:

Respond with the point that these are passages really ARE context specific and not open ended as the Quranic claims are. Also point out that many are the behavior of Israelites, not the command of God; others may simply involve vocabulary that uses imagery ("all the city, men, women and children") which are gestures, rather than numerical requirements of actual killilng (and there are more arguments I have)

3. The Matthew sword verse will come up. Jesus also calls for the use of the sword:

Reply by pointing out that this really is metaphorical, talking about a sundering division and separation between those who follow Christ and those who oppose Him. And mention that no Christians have ever interpreted this passage to apply to war, unlike Muslim commenters.

The last two are sort of "tu quoque" obviously, but if your interest is in evangelizing, that doesn't matter too much, I don't think.
Anonymous said…
Yeah Jeff, it seemed kind of like that to be honest. I've put a lot of time and effort into learning about Islam and apologetics, as well as study of the Scripture.

Abu Daoud

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