by Jim Ashby
My initial impulse is to say that Islam enables violent groups rather than promotes them.
But to be more accurate, it’s the Quran, more than Islam, that enables violent groups.
The difference is that there’s only one authorized version of the Quran but many versions of Islam with, mostly, peaceful adherents.
There’s just one authorized version of the Quran but it, like the Bible, has a split personality. The split personalities of these two scriptures morph in opposite directions.
The Bible has the Old and New Testaments: the intolerant, violent, Old Testament morphs into the kinder and gentler New Testament.
The Quran has the Meccan and Medinan suwar: the kinder, gentler, Meccan suwar morph into the intolerant, violent, Medinan suwar.
Just as Christianity’s fundamentalists are associated with intolerance, so are Islam’s fundamentalists. It would be generalizing but, as a matter of emphasis, you could, with caveats, call intolerant Christians, ‘Old Testament Christians’; and you could call intolerant Muslims, ‘Medinan Muslims’.
But there are a few distinct differences.
The shift between the Old and New Testaments is explained as a ‘New Covenant’ with God.
According to the New Covenant Page on Wikipedia:
Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, and that the Blood of Christ shed at his crucifixion is the required blood of the covenant. It has been theorized that the New Covenant is the Law of Christ as spoken during his Sermon on the Mount.
This new covenant (which, by the way, still embraces the prehistoric shaman motif of blood sacrifice) is the culmination of the Bible’s Progressive revelation:
“The progressive character of divine revelation is recognized in relation to all the great doctrines of the Bible… What at first is only obscurely intimated is gradually unfolded in subsequent parts of the sacred volume, until the truth is revealed in its fullness.”
Progressive revelation in Christianity is the concept that later revelations expand upon earlier revelations. Progressive revelations are (allegedly) fuller revelations (despite the blood sacrifice motif).
Muhammad’s shift from the persecuted prophet of Mecca to the persecuting warlord of Medina, revealed in the Quran, is explained by the principle of naskh (abrogation).
According to naskh on Wikipedia:
Naskh (نسخ) is an Arabic language word usually translated as “abrogation”; it is a term used in Islamic legal exegesis for seemingly contradictory material within or between the two primary sources of Islamic law: the Quran and the Sunna.
Several Quranic verses state that some revelations have been abrogated and superseded by later revelations, which are understood by many Muslim scholars as pertaining to the verses of the Quran itself.
Notice the difference in phrasing between the New Covenant and Naskh wikis.
Abrogation is not progressive revelation. Abrogating Quran verses are not ‘fuller’ verses, expanding on previous verses: they are replacements indicated by “seemingly contradictory material”.
Later Quran verses replace or supersede previous verses wherever contradictions exist.
It is more than a matter of definition: it is self-evident that abrogation would not be needed in the first place if not for the contradictions in the Quran.
In essence, abrogation gave Muhammad “free authority” to do whatever he wanted. His circumstances had changed and Allah gave him a divine do-over.
When you stop to think about it, if the Quran compilers had any awareness of progressive revelation, they would have compiled the Quran in chronological order instead of by size of suwar (larger ones first, then smaller ones), which completely mucked up chronology and progression.
This is another reason that argues strongly against abrogation being progressive revelation.
This is not to say that the Bible doesn’t have its own contradictions.
Both covenants and abrogations disguise contradictions. The difference is that shifting from intolerant to tolerant [as in the case of the Bible] is more acceptable than shifting from tolerant to intolerant.
We are more willing to overlook contradiction when it moves in the right direction.
The Christian Bible ends in love and peace, forgiveness and redemption.
The Quran ends in jihad: chasing out, forcefully converting or killing pagans who resist Islam.
These are drastically different divine lessons.
Most Christians and Muslims are good despite their religion.
But the Quran lays out a divine plan for jihad that Muhammad and his followers obeyed.
To fundamentalists, this ending of the Quran provides a blueprint for jihad exemplified by Muhammad’s example.
Jihad is reinforced by Quran verses that make it clear that Allah takes a poor view of able-bodied men who stay home, on their couch, rather than fight for jihad against infidels.
I started off wanting to say that the Quran merely enables religious violence by providing it license and cover.
But, really, to be honest, it unabashedly promotes it. Particularly if you’re a Medinan Muslim.
I’m Jim. Not a political person but I dabble from time to time.
Retired early (at the age of 52), in June of 2006, from the IT field and moved from Fullerton, California to the Philippines.