My motivation for reading the Koran was to get to the truth about the widespread assertion that the Koran tells Muslims to go out and kill the infidels (the unbelievers). In addition, as Muslims believe that Jesus is a great prophet, do they then follow his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount about loving enemies, turning the other cheek and being a peacemaker rather than a warmonger? (Not that the followers of Jesus, themselves, have been zealous in following this particular teaching for the last 1,700 years.)
This is the Jesus who was non-violent and non-aggressive in all he said and did. The irony is that the faith where Jesus is the most central is by far and away the most violent and aggressive when comparing the track record of Muslim and Christian nations over the last 1,400 years. The evidence for this is found on my blog and, in particular, in my piece, "Islam is all sweetness and light when ... " Both Islam and Christianity accept violence/aggression as perfectly acceptable from time to time, especially for self-defence. Having now read both the Koran and the Bible, the Bible, thanks to the Old Testament, is clearly the winner with the prize of most bloodshed.
Today, I finished reading the Koran (over 600 pages). Rather heavy going and nothing much that anyone could possibly take exception to. Lots of "God is Forgiving and Merciful" and being condemnatory of the unbelievers and polytheists and hypocrites. Old Testament characters and Jesus are given a similar treatment as we have in the Bible, except that Jesus is not the Son of God or divine, of course.
There were no stories of blood and gore, either, as you get in the Bible. No killing of unbelievers (infidels), except in self defence or when they are persecuting the Muslims. "Kill those who war against you." No holy war, either that we get in Deuteronomy ch 20 v 1-20 with the rules for waging holy war! The word, 'paradise' was never found, nor was that pernicious idea of suicide bombing to go straight to paradise. The nearest word to paradise was heaven and the Garden. However, I did find the following:
"And those who are slain in the way of God, He renders not their actions vain. He will guide them and improve their state and bring them into the Garden, which He has made known to them." Surah 47: 4-6. Also, Surah 4: 74, below.
Earlier in verse 4 in this Surah we read that, after battle against unbelievers, to show "either grace or ransom till the war lays down its burdens." Grace, I suppose, meaning showing forgiveness and mercy and releasing prisoners or, ransoming prisoners of war, perhaps.
One good verse about "Assuredly, the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of humankind" Surah 40 v 57. And, my translation had humankind, too and not mankind. This is good, for me, if the verse means that the heavens and the earth will outlive humans and, if it means that we need to stop the deterioration of the earth's life support systems from human activities. This verse got the nearest to humans needing to follow the principles of stewardship of the planet. Stewardship of the earth's resources is also not found in the Bible - only plenty of references to people being stewards or servants. Sharing/equality (aka the Marx/Engels idea) is found in 2 Corinthians 8 v 13-15. Again, in contrast, the Bible has humans being greater than every other living thing (in Genesis 1) and being free to do as they will with the earth's resources and everything on it ("dominion over").
Quotations on the subject of Islamic warfare or, what we prefer to call, Islamic terrorism:
Surah 2: 190-193 "Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loves not aggressors. ... if they attack you then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then lo! God is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more."
Surah 2: 216 "Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful to you."
Surah 2: 217 "Warfare (in the sacred month) is a great transgression. ... And they will not cease from fighting against you until they have made you apostates from your religion, if they can" (This is what NATO - the traditional Christian nations of N America and W. Europe - is doing in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Pakistan border. In addition, on the backs of the military, are the Christian missionaries working hard to save Muslims as they turn from Islam to Christ or, to make them 'apostates' from their religion.)
Surah 3: 199-200 "Be patient and outdo your enemy in patience, be ready and fear God, in order that you may succeed."
Surah 4: 29-30 "... and kill not one another. Lo! God is ever Merciful to you. Whoever does that through aggression and injustice, We shall cast him into Fire, and that is ever easy for God."
Surah 4: 74 "Let those fight in the way of God who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoever fights in the way of God, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward." (not a harem of virgins in Paradise for the men and nothing for the women suicide bombers, as is commonly supposed by non-Muslims - and some Muslims, too!)
Surah 4: 75-76 "How should you not fight for the cause of God and of the feeble among men and of the women and the children who are crying, 'Our Lord!'. Bring us forth from out this town of which the people are oppressors! Oh give us from you some protector! Oh, give us from you some defender! Those who believe do battle for the cause of God; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of Satan." (this appears to reflect a time when Muslims were being persecuted)
Surah 4: 84 "So fight (O Muhammad) in the way of God. ... Perhaps God will restrain the might of those who disbelieve. God is stronger in might and stronger at inflicting punishment." (appears that the Muslims were suffering at the time of these writings)
Surah 4: 88-89 "... if they (self: unbelievers) turn back to enmity then take them and kill them wherever you find them, and choose neither protector nor helper from among them." (killing only in self-defence is allowed)
Surah 4: 90-91 "If they keep not aloof from you nor offer you peace nor hold their hands (self: nor hold back from killing Muslims), then take them and kill them wherever you find them. Against such We have given you clear warrant."
Surah 4: 100-101 " ... it is no sin for you to curtail your worship if you fear that those who disbelieve may attack you. In truth, the disbelievers are an open enemy to you."
Surah 7: 55-56 "(O People!) Call upon your Lord humbly and in secret. Lo! He loves not aggressors."
Surah 47: 4-6 "Now when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when you have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lays down its burdens. ... He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of God, He renders not their actions vain. He will guide them and improve their state, and bring them into the Garden, which He has made known to them."
Quotations about men/women:
Surah 2:228 "Women have rights similar to those of men over them in a just manner and men are a degree above them. God is Mighty, Wise."
Surah 4:26-28 "God would make the burden light for you, for man was created weak." (However, 'man' here, probably means men and women.)
Quotation about Abraham (Muslims, Christians and Jews are all children of Abraham or, all descended from him)
"Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was true Muslim, and he was not of the polytheists."
The Quran on manslaughter
Surah 5: 32 "We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all human kind, and whoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all humankind."
The Quran on Judaism and the Bible
Surah 5: 67-69 "O People of the Scripture! You have nothing (of guidance) till you observe the Torah and the Gospel. ... Lo! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Sabaeans and Christians - whosoever believes in God and the Last Day and does right - no fear shall come upon them neither shall they grieve."
Tim Weller 21 November 2010