Thursday, July 7, 2016

Evils of religion: The cult of Islam versus Charlie Hebdo

If you’re like me, at some point last week you were asking yourself, “Who on earth is Charlie Hebdo?” Turns out Charlie Hebdo is a what, not a who… it’s the name of a popular satirical magazine in Paris, similar to The Boston Phoenix or The Onion. They delight in poking fun at sacred cows, and they haven’t spared the Islamic "prophet" Mohammed from some of their satire. On January 7, masked gunmen entered the Charlie Hebdo office shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (God is Great) and proceeded to murder twelve people and wound eleven others. If their god is so great, why does he need them to do his killing for him?
The gunmen were eventually tracked down and killed, but the event triggered an outpouring of outrage, people all over Europe adopting the slogan “I am Charlie!”
It created a conundrum for news editors all over the world. The Charlie Hebdo massacre was a big story. When Charlie Hebdo produced its new issue with a new cartoon - Mohammed holding a “Je suis Charlie” sign – it added to the story. Some editors ran the story but not the artwork. Others felt the story required the artwork and ran it, sparking new riots among Muslim populations. And some editors ran it, then retracted it, printing hasty apologies for offending anyone’s “religious sensibilities.”
My “religious sensibilities” do dictate what I allow myself to look at, but since when do “religious sensibilities” allow anyone to dictate what someone else can read?
According to Sigolène Vinson, a survivor from the Charlie Hebdo office massacre, one of the gunmen looked at her and said:
“Calm down. I’m not going to kill you. You are a woman. We do not kill women.”
Perhaps he assumed that she, being a woman, was too stupid to notice that he and his brother had just killed a woman seconds before in the other room. Then he said:
“I’m sparing you, and because I am sparing you, you will read the Koran.”
Good idea. Let’s do that. Maybe it will explain why Muslims keep going around murdering people.
  • The Koran claims it is, not a replacement of the Bible, but a continuation of revelation from God, in harmony with the bible. (If this sounds familiar, read my previous columns about Mormonism.) The Koran says: “And do not argue with the People of the Scripture… say, "We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you [in the Bible]. And our God and your God is one; and we [Muslims] are in submission to Him." (Sura 29:46)
  • What does the Koran say about murdering "blasphemers"? This: “And when you see those who engage in offensive discourse concerning our verses, then turn away from them until they enter into another conversion.” (Sura 6:68)
  • To those who disagree with his religion, Allah tells Mohammed to say: “For us are our deeds, and for you your deeds. There is no need for argument between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and to Him is the final destination." (Sura 42:15)
If the Koran were a ‘further revelation’ from an infallible God, a continuation of the Bible, it would contain no contradictions, either within itself or with the Bible. Is that the case?
  • Jesus was the Messiah, and he was a slave. (Sura 43:59)
  • The Messiah was not a slave. (Sura 4:172)
  • Jesus died. (Sura 19:33)
  • Jesus did not die. (Sura 4:157)
  • Noah and his family were saved from the flood. (Sura 21:76)
  • Noah’s wife was evil. (Sura 55:10)
  • One of Noah’s sons drowned. (Sura 11:42-43)
  • Pharaoh drowned. (Sura 17:103; 28:40; 43:55-56)
  • Pharaoh repented and did not drown. (Sura 10:91-93)
  • Christians and Jews are good guys: "Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians… shall have their reward from their Lord.” (Sura 2:62)
  • Christians and Jews are bad guys: "Fight those who believe not...nor acknowledge the religion of truth (Islam), even if they are of the people of the Book (Jews or Christians).” (Sura 9:29)
  • Allah’s word is final: “None can alter the words of Allah.” (Sura 6:34)
  • Allah word is not always final: “We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth one better than it or similar to it.” (Sura 2:106)
There are, in fact, 225 verses in the Koran that are “abrogated” by later verses. Mohammed frequently forgot what he’d said earlier and ended up contradicting himself. When his followers pointed that out, he'd simply tell them the Allah was changing the message.
The Koran also contradicts the Bible in several places, even though it acknowledges that the Bible is from God. For example:
  • It moves Haman (the attendant of King Ahazuerus who erected a tall pole) from the time of Esther to the time of Moses, making him the prime minister of Pharaoh, who orders him to build a tall tower so Pharaoh could climb up to speak with Jehovah. (Sura 40:36-37)
  • Mohammed confused Jesus’ mom ("Maryam" in Arabic) with Moses’ and Aaron’s sister (Miriam). Immediately after Jesus’ birth, nosy neighbors want to question the legitimacy of the baby. The Koran records this conversation: “O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste." So she pointed to the baby. They said, "How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?" [Jesus] said, ‘Indeed, I am the servant of Allah . He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet.’” (Sura 19:28) The 'miracle' of a three-day-old Jesus supposedly speaking is also not mentioned in the Bible.
  • Angels were commanded to bow before Adam. (Sura 7:11) The Bible makes clear that man is “lower than angels.” (Psalms 8:5)
  • “The angels …ask forgiveness for those on earth.” (Sura 42:5) That sounds suspiciously like the Catholic teaching of saints serving as intermediaries. The Bible says Jesus is the only mediator. (1 Timothy 2:5)
  • Pharaoh’s wife, not his daughter, adopted Moses. (Sura 28:7-9)
  • John the Baptist was the first man ever named John. (Sura 19:7) In actuality, "John" was one of the most common names in Jesus’ day – for example, the Bible mentions John the father of Peter as well as the apostle John – and archaeologists have found many others.
  • Abraham’s father is called “Azar” in the Koran. (Sura 6:74) The Bible is clear that Abraham’s dad was Terah.
  • Moses is said to have earned his wife from her father by eight years of labor. (Sura 28:27) The Bible says nothing about this, but it does tell us about Jacob working for seven years to earn his wife.
  • Allah created Earth before he created heaven: “He created for you all of that which is on the earth. Then He directed Himself to the heaven, and made them seven heavens.” (Sura 2:29)
  • Most significantly, “Allah the eternal refuge. He neither begets nor is born.” (Sura 112:2,3) Obviously, this contradicts the Bible, which calls Jesus God’s only begotten son.
There are literally hundreds of other Suras that contradict the Bible. But suppose we simply ignore all the confusion, all the contradictions. Let’s chalk them up to errors in translation, miscommunication between English and Arabic. What does the Koran itself tell Muslims they should do to people who disagree with, or even insult, their faith?
  • “There shall be no compulsion in acceptance of the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong.” (Sura 2:256)
  • “They (the Jews) distort words from their proper usages and have forgotten a portion of that of which they were reminded. And you will still observe deceit among them, except a few of them. But pardon them and overlook their misdeeds.” (Sura 5:13)
  • “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” (Sura 5:8)
That’s pretty good advice, which Muslim murderers are clearly not following. Even so, it doesn’t go far enough… it seems to be telling them that it’s okay to hate, as long as their hatred doesn’t cause them to be unjust. Does that sound right to you? How does it compare with Jesus' own counsel?
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.' I, however, say to you--Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43, 44)
Jesus said Christians are to hate no one. Years later, Jesus’ apostle John showed clearly he believed that. He said: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." (1 John 3:15)

Please leave a polite comment. No fatwas! 
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