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Does the Bible Advocate Jihad?

Does the Bible Advocate Jihad?

By Alice C. Linsley
December 16, 2015

The Arabic word jihad means "striving" or "struggle." The word describes different types of struggles such as "jihad of the pen" (promotion of Islam), "jihad of the heart" (struggle against doubt), and jihad that involves violence or warfare to advance Islam. There is no Hebrew equivalent to the word jihad. The Hebrew word with the closest meaning is tsaba which refers to war, struggle, army and warfare.

The idea that the Bible advocates jihad is propaganda. It represents an attempt to blame the Bible for the very crimes committed daily by Islamic extremists. The Islamic writer, Khaula Rehman, blames burning witches and mediums, genocide, and stoning for adultery on the Bible: http://islamforwest.org/violence-in-the-bible-and-jihad-in-the-quran-2/

Khaula Rehman writes, "There are no verses in the Holy Quran to trigger and promote genocide, but there are in the Bible.... There are no verses in the Holy Quran to kill people for sexual misconduct but there are in the Bible."
Rehman writes:

Christians often refer to Islam as a terrorist religion, and they abuse the Arabic word "Jihad" and portray it as a reference to terrorism. We must not forget that JIHAD began in the Bible, where GOD Almighty Commanded His followers to fight for His Holy Cause. Let us look at what the Bible says about Jihad:

GOD Almighty chose the land of Palestine to be the Jews' "Promise Land", and thus, ordered them to go into it and fight the pagans there so they can have possession over it.

Unfortunately, this view is a distortion common to both ill-informed Muslims and Christians. The idea of a Promised Land in Palestine comes after the Babylonian captivity. It is largely the conception of the Deuteronomist. The territory that Abraham possessed was in the region of ancient Edom/Idumea (between Sarah's home in Hebron, and Keturah's home in Beersheba). Abraham, Isaac and Esau were related to the Edomite rulers listed in Genesis 36. The Deuteronomist recognizes this fact. "You must not regard the Edomite as detestable, for he is your brother." (Deuteronomy 23:7)

The Deuteronomist Historian sought centralized worship at the Jerusalem temple, and the reshaping of the Passover and Tabernacles into national observances. This is the beginning of political Zionism.

The Deuteronomist Historian's objective was to secure Judea as a home for people who returned from Babylon, most of whom were of Judean ancestry. The Deuteronomist Historian was not advocating the forced conversion or elimination of "non-believers" globally, as is advocated by jihad. Qur'an 9:5 expresses this: "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem [of war]."

The Qur'an contains 109 verses that command violent aggression against non-Muslims in order to conquer them in the name of Allah. Consider the following examples:

Qur'an 3:85 -- "If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost."

Qur'an 4:89 -- "But if they turn away, catch them and slaughter them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks."

Qur'an 4:101 -- "And when ye go forth in the land, it is no sin for you to curtail (your) worship if ye fear that those who disbelieve may attack you. In truth the disbelievers are an open enemy to you."

Qur'an 8:12 -- "Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): 'I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them."

Qur'an 8:39 -- "And fight with them until there is no more fitna [persecution] and religion should be only for Allah."

Qur'an 9:29 -- "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the jizyah [penalty tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Regarding Christians and Jews, the Qur'an has this to say: "[98:7] Verily, those who disbelieve from among the People of the Book and the idolaters will be in the Fire of Hell, abiding therein.

The Deuteronomist sanctions God's use of Israel to destroy its enemies in Judea and to destroy their sacred images [iconoclasm]. Is that like Islamic jihad? We must admit that there are similarities. Both the Bible and the Qur'an have been ransacked to supply texts that sanction violence. However, distinctions matter. One important distinction rests in how the two texts are to be interpreted. Proper interpretation of the 66 books of the Bible requires a basic understanding of the context of the various writers. Most discrepancies are explained on the basis of historical context. Muslims claim that the Qur'an was written by Mohammad, but where two passages appear to contradict, Islam teaches that the most recent interpretation is to be followed. Unfortunately, the most recent interpretations tend also to be the more aggressive in tone.

The Bible does not condone killing people who might disparage Moses as Allah's prophet. However, Quran 5:33 is explicit that "Those who make war against God and his apostle [Mohammad]. . . shall be put to death or crucified."

The Bible does not advocate holy war to advance Judaism. The violence prescribed in the Old Testament was intended for a particular time and limited to particular strongholds such as Jericho and Ai, both in Judea. No precedent was set to continue a violent struggle beyond Judea (with the exception of Hazor in Upper Galilee). In contrast, the Qur'an prescribes military jihad to promote Islam worldwide.

From the beginning Islam has employed the sword to kill in the name of Allah. It is exactly the opposite for the early Christians who did not kill, but rather were killed for their devotion to Jesus Christ. As a Christian philosopher accurately noted, "Both Islam and Christianity were spread by the sword, but the swords were pointing in opposite directions!"

Alice Linsley has been pioneering the field of Biblical Anthropology for over 30 years. Her research is archived and available to read at two blogs: http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com and http://biblicalanthropology.blogspot.com
She is a frequent contributor to VIRTUEONLINE.

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