THE TEACHINGS OF THE KORAN
The Koran is the “Holy Book” of Islam. It is to them what the Holy Scriptures, the Bible, is to Christians. Christianity is not monolithic and there are differences in doctrine, and in interpreting and applying the Scriptures. Yet all Christians have to maintain that what they are practicing is somehow derived from the “Book” and have to deal with its statements and clear teachings. Even so, all of the Islamic faith have to deal with the Koran and to defend if they can its teachings. It is a brief examination of some of its teachings that this article is devoted to.
As soon as one begins to examine one is immediately struck with the vast difference between it and the Christian Scriptures. Matthew tells us that Christ “taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Similarly the Christian Scriptures speak with authority and possess a majesty and a style that is powerful and convicting, impressing even unbelievers, at least with its literary qualities. All this disappears when one begins to read the Koran. It is hard to imagine that this is the book whose teachings hold hundreds of millions in their grip, and has become the sacred book of the most populous faith on the planet. It is hard to read, confusing to understand, and seems disjointed and poorly organized. By comparison the Apocrypha and the other pseudo-scriptures such as the Book of Mormon seem much more impressive although compared to the Bible they too seem as vain and empty.
I have not read the entire Koran but only a few selections dealing with issues of interest and that are prominent in their difference from Christianity. These are organized under the following headings…
Dealing with Unbelievers The Bible teaches, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45). When Christ and his disciples were rejected by a Samaritan village and the Sons of Zebedee desired Christ to make fire come down from heaven and consume them Christ answered as follows, “But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. Luke 9:55-56). Contrast that with the statements of the Koran.
And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is Gracious, Merciful. SURA IX – Immunity
If any one of those who join gods with God ask an asylum of thee, grant him an asylum, that he may hear the Word of God, and then let him reach his place of safety. This, for that they are people devoid of knowledge. SURA IX – Immunity
When ye encounter the infidels, strike off their heads till ye have made a great slaughter among them, and of the rest make fast the fetters. SURA XLVII – Muhammad
O Believers! Take not the Jews or Christians as friends. They are but one another’s friends. If any one of you taketh them for his friends, he surely is one of them! God will not guide the evil doers. SURA V – The Table
Attitude Towards Women The Scriptures teach that God made mankind and he made them male and female and that they are both created in the image of God. Christian theologians have always posited that the difference between men and women in the church is not a matter of intrinsic worth or worthiness or any inequality in the sight of God, but merely a difference in office. That is that spiritually and intellectually, etc. women are equal to men, but God has ordained that only men should have leadership roles and be office holders in the church. This was clearly reflected in the ministry of our Lord. Christ chose twelve men to be his Apostles, but some of his closest relationships were with women. He counted Mary and Martha among his closest friends. During his itinerant ministry the Bible records that it was a group of faithful women who ministered to his temporal needs. And the Scriptures notes that when his disciples all forsook him and fled it was a band of faithful women who stood by him those fateful hours that he hung on the cross. It was to some of these women that Christ first revealed himself after the resurrection and their faith is contrasted with that of the Disciples who continued to disbelieve the resurrection until Christ personally appeared to them. The Bible teaches, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28). Other than the fact that God expects both men and women to submit to his holy will, including the matter of male leadership role in the church, the Scriptures are very friendly to women. This is in stark contrast to the Koran and the practice of many Muslim countries. Note the following quotes from the Koran…
Men are superior to women on account of the qualities with which God has gifted the one above the other, and on account of the outlay they make from their substance for them. Virtuous women are obedient, careful, during the husband’s absence, because God hath of them been careful. But chide those for whose refractoriness ye have cause to fear; remove them into beds apart and scourge them: but if they are obedient to you then seek not occasion against them: verily, God is High, Great! SURA IV – Women (Emphasis mine)
Divorce Christ had hard words to the generation of his day about the prevalence and laxity of divorce. He maintained the creation principle of one woman for one man for life. He taught, when the Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” And when they said unto him, “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?”, he said unto them, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Matthew 19:4-9).
By contrast the Koran seems to have taken up the Pharisaical notions of easy divorce and to have expanded them as the following quotes establish…
And if they resolve on a divorce, then verily God is He who Heareth, Knoweth
The divorced shall wait the result, until they have had their courses thrice, nor ought they to conceal what God hath created in their wombs, if they believe in God and the last day; and it will be more just in their husbands to bring them back when in this state, if they desire what is right. And it is for the women to act as they (the husbands) act by them, in all fairness; but the men are a step above them. God is Mighty, Wise
Ye may divorce your wives twice: Keep them honourably, or put them away with kindness. But it is not allowed you to appropriate to yourselves aught of what ye have given to them, unless both fear that they cannot keep within the bounds’ set up by God. And if ye fear that they cannot observe the ordinances of God, no blame shall attach to either of you for what the wife shall herself give for her redemption. These are the bounds of God: therefore overstep them not; for whoever oversteppeth the bounds of God, they are evil doers.
But if the husband divorce her a third time, it is not lawful for him to take her again, until she shall have married another husband; and if he also divorce her, then shall no blame attach to them if they return to each other, thinking that they can keep within the bounds fixed by God. And these are the bounds of God; He maketh them clear to those who have knowledge.
But when ye divorce women, and the time for sending them away is come, either retain them with generosity, or put them away with generosity: but retain them not by constraint so as to be unjust towards them. He who doth so, doth in fact injure himself. And make not the signs of God jest; but remember God’s favour toward you, and the Book and the Wisdom which He hath sent down to you for your warning, and fear God, and know that God’s knowledge embraceth everything.
And when ye divorce your wives, and they have waited the prescribed time, hinder them not from marrying their husbands when they have agreed among themselves in an honourable way. This warning is for him among you who believeth in God and in the last day. This is most pure for you, and most decent. God knoweth, but ye know not.
Mothers, when divorced, shall give suck to their children two full years,’ if the father desire that the suckling be completed; and such maintenance and clothing as is fair for them, shall devolve on the father. No person shall be charged beyond his means. A mother shall not be pressed unfairly for her child, nor a father for his child: And the same with the father’s heir. But if they choose to wean the child by consent and by bargain, it shall be no fault in them. And if ye choose to have a nurse for your children, it shall be no fault in you, in case ye pay what ye promised her according to that which is fair. Fear God, and know that God seeth what ye do. SURA II – The Cow
Permission For Sexual License The Scriptures command, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and defines that as all sexual relationships outside of the marriage bond. Christ taught the true Biblical standard of sexual purity when he taught, “That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:28). This is in sharp contrast to the laxity of the Koran with respect to sexual relations. The following quotes are emblematic of that. They allow sexual relations with female slaves, even those that are already married to a husband.
Forbidden to you are also married women, except those who are in your hands as slaves. SURA IV – Women
Happy now the BELIEVERS, Who humble them in their prayer, And who keep aloof from vain words, And who are doers and alms deeds, And who restrain their appetites, (Save with their wives, or the slaves whom their right hands possess: for in the case they shall be free from blame: But they whose desires reach further than this are transgressors:) SURA XXIII – The Believers
For there is none safe from the chastisement of their Lord – And who control their desires (Save with their wives or the slaves whom their right hands have won, for there they shall be blameless; but whosoever indulge their desires beyond this are transgressors). SURA LXX – The Steps Or Ascents.
Civil Punishments The Bible teaches that the will of God with respect to sins against our fellow men is repentance and restitution. With respect to those who once were thieves, but now profess the faith of Jesus Christ Paul taught, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (Ephesians 4:28). God’s will is that men repent from their dishonest ways and replace such activities with honest labor. The Koran has the opposite advice. It requires dismemberment of the offending hand. The man so dismembered cannot now work to earn an honest living. The effect of this punishment is to force him to either be a beggar or continue in his thievery.
As to the thief, whether man or woman, cut ye off their hands in recompense for their doings. This is a penalty by way of warning from God himself. And God is mighty wise. SURA V – The Table
Pagan Paradise We are familiar with the Norse legends and their pagan warrior paradise called Valhalla. It is a place where the delights of the flesh are enjoyed to the full as fallen warrior heroes are feted with wine, women, and song. Mohammed seems to have taken his cue more from their dissolute expectations of the world to come than from the revelation of God in Scripture. He promises the faithful in his cause a similar paradise abounding in the delights of the flesh. Christ taught, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Matthew 22:29-30). Mohammed by contrast, teaches that we are to look forward to the delights of the flesh and the ultimate in sexual pleasures in his paradise.
And they who have fled their country and quitted their homes and suffered in my cause, and have fought and fallen, I will blot out their sins from them, and I will bring them into gardens beneath which the streams do flow. SURA III – The Family Of Imran
Taste this then: and we will give you increase of nought but torment.” But, for the God-fearing is a blissful abode, Enclosed gardens and vineyards; And damsels with swelling breasts, their peers in age, And a full cup There shall they hear no vain discourse nor any falsehood: A recompense from thy Lord-sufficing gift! SURA LXXVIII
Burn ye therein: bear it patiently or impatiently ’twill be the same to you: for ye shall assuredly receive the reward of your doings. But mid gardens and delights shall they dwell who have feared God, Rejoicing in what their Lord hath given them; and that from the pain of hell-fire hath their Lord preserved them. Eat and drink with healthy enjoyment, in recompense for your deeds On couches ranged in rows shall they recline; and to the damsels with large dark eyes will we wed them. SURA LII
Conclusion To those who think that the above differences are not all that significant I recommend that you try to imagine living in a society that is structured according to Sharia or Islamic Law. I have some indirect experience with this as friends of mine back in the 1970’s had to spend some time in Saudi Arabia as part of the husband’s career. They didn’t last very long over there and wound up fleeing the country in a panic. Their experiences are somewhat hair-raising. I will summarize them below.
They were walking through the marketplace in a Saudi town when they saw a man running pell-mell through the area. He accidentally ran into a woman accompanied by a man and an altercation began. As they were arguing the religious police (responsible for enforcing Islamic law) pulled up in van. They listened to both sides and got the Koran out where it says that if you touch another man’s wife your hand should be cut off. They then took the offender, hacked off his hand on the spot, cauterized the stump in a pot of hot wax and departed leaving the dazed man standing there looking at the stump where an hour before had been his hand. No court hearings, no lawyers, no rights, just swift, brutal “justice”.
A friend of theirs, a young married Korean engineer, lived with them in the same American compound. He was driving through a Saudi village one day and a little girl darted out of nowhere in front of his car. He was unable to stop in time and struck the little girl killing her. This case at least got before a judge, but was still decided according to Islamic law. The judge asked the parents what they wanted to do. They appealed to the Koran that quotes the Bible out of context where it says “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. They wanted to have revenge and be allowed to kill one of the young engineer’s children, specifically his little girl. The judge gave the man a choice, spend the rest of his life in a Saudi jail or turn over his little girl for the parents to kill. He chose the former.
At this point in time my friends panicked, broke their contract with the American company that they were serving in Saudi Arabia, and flew back home to the United States. Their statements on returning were that they preferred to be in an American jail for breaking their contract than live another day in Saudi Arabia under such a government. And this is the government that Osama Bin Laden is trying to overthrow because it is not “Islamic” enough!
Let us be thankful that we live in a nation where the laws to some degree still reflect the Biblical faith and divine laws held by our forefathers. And let us be thankful that we have the Scriptures, the true word of God, and are not deluded by such pseudo-scriptures as the Koran. Amen!!!