May 20, 2006
Jesus and Muhammad: Major Differences (1)By James Arlandson
Aggressive Islam is on the march. Terror attacks; violent protests over cartoons; many pushes to establish Islamic courts in Europe and Canada; demands to silence free speech, to criminalize criticism of the messenger of Allah; the President of Iran threatening to wipe Israel off the map, and writing a long and confused rant, inviting the President of the US to accept Islam; the election of Hamas.
These actions are easy to detect and decipher. Islam wants its way, and no one should resist. It is the best religion, after all.
But there is something more subtle and gradual going on than this in—your—face aggression. In the name of peace and tolerance—which we all want—some lines are being blurred.
Some Muslims say that Jesus was a mere human messenger even within Islam—never mind that he lived six hundred years before Islam. He and Muhammad are virtually the same. Both preached peace, but called for the sword when necessary.
But in the final analysis Muhammad is the last and best prophet. He has the better revelation. If only we could see this! So goes the subtle strategy.
However, this list of fifteen differences between Jesus and Muhammad disagrees with this insidious message. The differences between the two are profound.
It is better to be clear than confused. The frequently preached message of Islam washes away clarity about Christianity and whitewashes its own message.
In fact, many well—meaning western scholars also muddy the waters. Some aspects and policies of the two religious leaders cannot be reconciled, and it is high time we acknowledge this. If some readers are disappointed about these irreconcilable differences, then at least they will not be confused by the time they reach the end of this list.
Multiple translations of the Quran are available online. You can see alternative translations by clicking here. This article uses the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, but multiple translations of it may be read here.
The first two differences set the stage for all the others.
One: Personal sin
One suffered from sin. The other was sinless.
In Mecca, he receives this command about his sin.
The Arabic word dhanaba (verb form) come from the root dh—n—b and is defined below in this section. This verse is unambiguous. Muhammad has sin.
It is one of the great ironies in the Quran that the next sura can be titled either "Muhammad" or "War" (qital, root is q—t—l). This verse was revealed in Medina.
Note that Muhammad implores forgiveness from Allah not only for himself but for Muslim men and women. This means that average humans have dh—n—b, and so does Muhammad.
The final example of Muhammad's sin comes from Sura (Chapter) 48, revealed in Medina.
This verse was probably revealed in 628, barely four years before he died of a fever in AD 632. Does this mean that the messenger of Allah had sin before AD 628? This seems to be the case. To be forgiven of dh—n—b, one must have it first.
How is dh—n—b defined? Is it only a small weakness? Merely a minor fault?
Go here for a list of verses in the Quran that describe other persons who suffer from dh—n—b. It means far more than simple errors, small mistakes, superficial weaknesses, minor faults, and brief lapses of memory. It may include these things (all humans do them), but it also has to signify sin, crime, offense, and any act having an evil result (all humans do this also, in one way or another).
What does this sin nature in Muhammad mean in practical and down—to—earth terms today? If a researcher points out an atrocity or a violent act that Muhammad committed, then for a devout Muslim the atrocity or act is not wrong or unjust or sinful. It must be right, just, and sinless, no matter what the facts say because Muhammad was sinless—again, no matter what the Quran says. And the vicious circle goes round and round.
This article demonstrates that Muhammad's mortal nature includes sin.
He poses this rhetorical question to his opponents and accusers in John 8:45—46:
In his culture, "prove guilty of sin" refers to his keeping the Law. Did he deviate from it? His opponents do not take him up on his challenge.
Next, Peter lived and walked with Jesus for at least three years. If anyone could, then the chief Apostle surely saw some minor sin in the Lord, right?
In verse 22, Peter quotes from Isaiah 53:9, which Jesus fulfilled in his suffering and death. So the chief Apostle did not find even a minor sin in Jesus Christ—no sin at all.
Finally, the Apostle John also lived and walked with Jesus for three years. What is his assessment of Jesus from his own observations?
The verdict is in: John never saw a sin in the Lord, whom he saw up close and personal.
Both declarations by Peter and John are remarkable. It is one hundred percent certain that if we had followed these apostles for three years every day, then we would have seen at least one sin. But these two did not see even one sin in Jesus.
Two: Confronting Satan
One nervously seeks refuge from Satan. The other had complete confidence and authority.
Sura 113, a short one, revealed in Mecca, says in its entirety:
The hadith consists of the traditions about Muhammad outside of the Quran. Bukhari is considered one of the most reliable collectors and editors. The following hadith indicates that Muhammad believes that some sort of knots on the head is the result of Satan and witchcraft.
This next hadith demonstrates that Muhammad was so deeply influenced by magic that he believed that he was having sex with his wives, but in reality he was not.
The highly respected conservative commentator Sayyid Abul A'La Maududi (d. 1979) says that the hadiths on Muhammad's bewitchment are sound.
Throughout his three—year ministry, he exercised spiritual authority over the kingdom of darkness, wherever he went. After the Great Test (Luke 4:1—13; see no. seven, below) Luke records the first public encounter with a demon:
Jesus cast the demons out without rituals and loud pleading. Instead, he speaks a stern command: 'Come out of him!' This reveals spiritual authority and decisiveness, which is repeated time and again in Jesus' ministry.
Three: Small—scale violence
One killed mockers and enemies. The other rises above such violence.
He assassinated (or threatened to murder) at least eleven men or women who insulted or threatened him. Several of his victims merely composed satirical poems.
These verses offer support of this policy. Medinan Sura 33:60—61 says:
Muhammad had already assassinated some opponents for their insults and mockery before these verses were sent down, but now they give him divine endorsement.
During the last week of Jesus life, the tension between him and the religious establishment rises. The leaders look for a way to trap and then arrest him. So they ask him whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Apparently, they saw him as a political revolutionary who opposed Roman occupation. Would he endorse the taxation of his fellow Jews for the benefit of unclean Gentiles? However, they did not know that he was a king, but that his kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). So he replied with these famous words that are often quoted, though people may not know the exact reference and context (Luke 20:20—26; cf. Matthew 22:15—22; Mark 12:13—17). Jesus speaks first; his opponents reply.
After this disarming reply, it is important to note what he did not do. He did not send Simon the Zealot, one of the Twelve, to follow an antagonistic leader, mingle in the large crowd of pilgrims during the Feast of Passover, sneak up on him, stab him, and disappear in the crowd again. These kinds of assassinations were not unknown in the decades before the destruction of the Temple in AD 70.
But violence was not necessary. God was with Jesus.
This article examines the two very different reactions when they were insulted or threatened. Muhammad's Dead Poet's Society provides a timeline of the death of poets and poetesses. This page offers articles on how Muhammad dealt with personal enemies.
Four: Religious freedom
One suppressed it. The other permits it.
Polytheists controlled the Black Stone housed in the Kabah shrine. This was both a spiritual center (in pagan logic) and a financial center (in real terms). Muhammad eventually conquered it in early AD 630. After declaring amnesty for Meccan pagans, he changes his tone. He imposes this ultimatum on them and all other pagans. Sura 9:5 says:
This verse says that unless pagans say their prayers the Muslim way and pay a forced 'charity' tax, they will be killed.
Next, this hadith (record of the words and deeds of Muhammad recorded outside of the Quran) from Bukhari (a highly reliable collector and editor of hadith) says that Muhammad is called to fight until people acknowledge that only Allah is the right deity and Muhammad is his messenger. The people must also give the messenger their money (parallel hadith).
Malik (d. 795) is a founder of an Islamic school of law and a reliable collector and editor of hadith. He records this tradition about Muhammad's policy on those who leave Islam:
He let people go their own way, if they refuse to follow him. He said, "If anyone comes after [follows] me" . . . (Matthew 17:24). The little word "if" implies freedom to accept the way of Jesus or to walk away from it. He never raised a holy army to force anyone to convert. In John 6, some disciples decided to walk away from him. He had spoken difficult words.
It is important to note what Jesus did not do or say. He did not threaten them with physical death. He did not send a disciple or two to assassinate one of the deserters (a leader, perhaps), to teach the rest and the Twelve a lesson. 'Follow and obey me, or else!' 'Or else what?' 'Or else I'll kill you!' Those words and others like them Jesus never spoke.
This article explores why the West and other free countries around the globe must protect freedom of speech. This article analyzes Muhammad's policy on apostates in the Quran, hadith, and Islamic law.
Five: Large—scale Violence
One launched the first Crusade. The other ordains preaching alone.
It is true that the word 'Crusade' comes from the word 'cross,' but it is used here in the broad sense of 'holy war.' Muslims today forget that Muhammad was the first to launch one, long before the western Europeans responded with theirs. In the ten years that he lived in Medina, he either sent out or went out on seventy—four raids, skirmishes and battles. Sura 9 is his last revelation in its entirety before he dies. He commissions his followers to wage war on Jews and Christians or the People of the Book or Scripture (= Bible). Sura 9:29 says:
This verse that commands battle against Christians and Jews is all about theology and belief. It says nothing explicit about a real and physical harm done to Islam. Muhammad launched his Tabuk Crusade in late AD 630 against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a rumor that an army was mobilizing to invade Arabia, but the rumor was false, so his 30,000 jihadists returned home, but not before imposing a jizya tax on northern Christians and Jews. They had three options: (1) fight and die; (2) convert to Islam; (3) or submit and pay the second—class—citizen jizya tax for the 'privilege' of living under Islam.
After he was resurrected from the dead and just before he ascended to rule on high, he sends forth his followers to preach the gospel without violence. In Evangelical Christianity this passage is known as the Great Commission.
Nothing in these verses command warfare. For centuries after Christ's resurrection and ascension, his disciples crisscrossed the Mediterranean world preaching without violence. Despite being persecuted, they turned the world right—side up and transformed it.
Here is an article which has a timeline of the Islamic Crusades. Two articles explain the differences between Muhammad's wars of worldwide conquest and the Old Testament's limited wars more than 3,000 years ago.
One promises earthly and heavenly rewards for dying in a holy war. The other says his 'martyrdom' promises his followers heaven.
Sura 4 was revealed over a three year period in the middle of Muhammad's career (AD 625—627). He is not quite as secure as he will be when he conquers Mecca in AD 630. For now, he needs to recruit jihadists for his raids, conflicts, and wars. One way to get them to join up is to promise earthly or heavenly rewards.
Next, these two verses in Sura 4 teach that Allah has created at least a two—tier system in his Muslim ummah or community: (1) Those who "strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives"; (2) those who sit at home. The disabled are in a separate category.
At the end of Muhammad's life, Muhammad reinforces this two—caste system: see Sura 9:38—39, 41, 44, 86, 87.
Finally, as seen in 4:74, an economic bargain is offered to jihadists in this next verse. Allah purchases their lives in exchange for Islamic paradise. Sura 9 is the last sura to be revealed in its entirety.
Allah and Muhammad are completely wrong about the Bible's command to fight in bloody wars in order to bring heavenly rewards. Moses ordered wars that were time—specific (more than 3,000 years ago), location—specific (holy land), and purpose—specific. But Moses or Joshua or the judges did not promise heaven, automatically, for the express act of dying in wars.
All of these passages use win—win—win logic from Muhammad's point of view. If a jihadist dies fighting, then he gets Islamic paradise. If he wins and lives, then he gets material spoils. If he is defeated but escapes with his life, then he gets to fight another day.
Matthew 5:10 10:39, 19:29 speak of an uncompromising commitment to follow Christ, laying down one's life mainly in a spiritual way, and possibly in a physical death under severe and fatal persecution. But the verses are not found in the context of a bloody religious war. Rather, Jesus calls his disciples to pick up their cross and follow him (Matt. 10:38, 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23, 14:27), but he also says that they should do this daily (Luke 9:23). The image of the cross means that they must follow Jesus no matter what, on a daily basis, which precludes an earthly martyrdom, which is done only once; per contra, a 'daily martyrdom' is continuous. A twisted love of physical death is not in view in those New Testament passages in the context of holy wars.
The following cannot be repeated too often because it diametrically opposes the Islamic doctrine of salvation, or how to get into heaven: only Christ's 'Martyrdom' guarantees a believer's place in heaven; only his Ultimate Good Work on the cross paves the way to God. Thus, the Christian does not (or should not) have a psychological inducement to kill himself or to be killed in battle to achieve heaven. He needs only trust in Christ.
This article explores martyrdom in the Quran and early Christianity, beyond the New Testament.
One took it by force. The other resisted this temptation.
Besides forcing religious conformity and the submission of non—Muslims, he was after wealth.
Sura 48 was revealed in AD 628, after a treaty with the Meccans and during his conquest of the Jews of Khaybar. This verse predicts future spoils of war for Allah's beloved prophet. Sura 48:20 says:
Maududi a respected traditional and conservative commentator, says that the clause "Allah has promised you abundant spoils that you will capture" refers to the conquests after Muhammad's takeover of the city of Khaybar. It communicates a general promise of the spoils of any war that he embarks on. (The Meaning of the Qur'an, vol. 5, p. 62, note 35
However, Allah in this verse warns Muslims and Muhammad not to get attached to material things or to get ensnared by the "love of desires."
This verse teaches wisdom, but Muhammad did not follow it. He is the one who desired women and married many of them—a privilege of numbers reserved only for him (Sura 33:50); he is the one who traded in slaves, a lucrative business; he is the one who owned vast herds of livestock; he is the one who said that money will expiate or atone for sins; he is the one who bought off converts; he and his successors are the ones who conquered peaceful people who did not harm Islam in the slightest; he is the one who spread out recently collected tax money in his mosque, counting the most he had ever received; he is the one who promised his jihadists heaven if they died, and plunder if they lived. If anyone had the "love of desires," it was the Prophet of Islam.
Satan offers Jesus the whole world at the very beginning of his ministry. But he turned down this offer. Luke 4:1—2, 5—7 says:
In divine cooperation between Jesus and the Spirit, God allowed Satan to lead Jesus up to a high place and show him all the kingdoms of this world—their glory and political authority (exousia in Greek means political authority; cf. Luke 4:6 and 12:11, 20:20, 23:7). In addition to political authority, kingdom, by definition at the time of Christ, includes material resources, backed by a strong military. However, Jesus raises his and our vision to a spiritual transformation of the world, one soul at a time, without killing people and robbing their money by bloodshed.
(Part Two appears tomorrow)