By the time you read this, the world may have been convinced by Javad T. Hashmi, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University, that Islam is a religion of peace, and that Christianity is the real violent religion. Tomorrow, Hashmi and I are scheduled to debate the question “Religion of Peace? Is Islam More Violent Than Christianity?” You can watch here at 1PM Eastern tomorrow to see whether or not Hashmi succeeds in demonstrating that, as that sage imam Pope Francis memorably put it a few years ago, “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” Meanwhile, however, Muslims around the world are weighing in on this question themselves.
In Pakistan on Friday, a Sri Lankan man was tortured and burned alive for blasphemy after he was accused of throwing Qur’an verses into a dustbin. The crowd chanted “Gustakh-e-nabi ki ek hi saza, sar tan se juda sar tan se juda,” which means: “The only punishment for one who insults the prophet, the head separated from the body, the head separated from the body.” There has been no record of Christians burning anyone alive for blasphemy recently. While Hashmi or others of his mindset may argue that this did happen in the past, there is a reason why we don’t see Christian mobs baying for blood and murdering accused blasphemers today: there is actually no earthly penalty for blasphemy taught in the Christian scriptures or by any of the leading Christian authorities.
Islam, in contrast, mandates death for blasphemy. Death is prescribed for those who mention “something impermissible about Allah, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), or Islam” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o11.10), and such laws are based upon passages in the Hadith and Sira in which Muhammad orders the murders of people who have insulted him.
These included Abu Afak, who was over one hundred years old, and the poetess Asma bint Marwan. Abu Afak was killed in his sleep, in response to Muhammad’s question, “Who will avenge me on this scoundrel?” Similarly, Muhammad on another occasion cried out, “Will no one rid me of this daughter of Marwan?” One of his followers, Umayr ibn Adi, went to her house that night, where he found her sleeping next to her children. The youngest, a nursing babe, was in her arms. But that didn’t stop Umayr from murdering her and the baby as well. Muhammad commended him: “You have done a great service to Allah and His Messenger, Umayr!” (Ibn Ishaq, 674-676)
Then there was Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf. Muhammad asked: “Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?” One of the Muslims, Muhammad bin Maslama answered, “O Allah’s Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?” When Muhammad said that he would, Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab).” Muhammad responded: “You may say it.” Muhammad bin Maslama duly lied to Ka’b, luring him into his trap, and murdered him. (Sahih Bukhari, volume 5, book 59, number 369)
There is no record of Jesus issuing similar commands about those who insulted him.
In other news, five Muslims in Australia stabbed a woman for the crime of dating a Christian man. The attackers were members of the victim’s own family, enraged because Islamic law forbids Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men. The Qur’an allows Muslim men to marry “chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you” (5:5), that is, “the people of the book,” who are primarily Jews and Christians. A Muslim woman, however, may not marry a Christian man. The reason for this is supremacist: the Muslim community must always grow at the expense of the non-Muslim community. This woman violated this rule; in the eyes of her family, she had to be punished. The Qur’an directs that a woman who is feared to be disobedient can be beaten (4:34).
There could be stories somewhere of Christians who attacked members of their own family for dating someone they didn’t like. However, this violence is not backed, as it is in Islam, by what is considered to be divine law.
Meanwhile, over in London, Muslims screaming “Free Palestine” spit at Hanukkah party bus, pounded on the windows, and threatened passengers. Some will maintain that they’re just enraged by Israel’s perceived injustices in “Palestine,” and that if Israel makes certain concessions, peace will reign. However, as an Egyptian imam, Muhammad Hussein Ya’qoub, made clear in 2009, Muslim hatred of Jews had nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with the Qur’an: “If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. We will never love them. Absolutely not. The Jews are infidels—not because I say so, and not because they are killing Muslims, but because Allah said: “The Jews say that Uzair is the son of Allah, and the Christians say that Christ is the son of Allah. These are the words from their mouths. They imitate the sayings of the disbelievers before. May Allah fight them. How deluded they are.” [Qur’an 9:30] It is Allah who said that they are infidels….You must believe that we will fight, defeat, and annihilate them, until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth.”
Nonetheless, it may be that Dr. Hashmi will succeed tomorrow in stymieing my attempts to explain all this, and will establish once and for all that Islam is peaceful. That would be wonderful, really, if he can succeed in convincing the angry young men in ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and all the rest. But unless and until he does, his efforts are essentially an intellectual game, a demonstration of how a Harvard intellect can make you believe all manner of things that go against the evidence of your lying eyes. I may not prevail in the debate tomorrow, but whether I do or do not, the reality is unfortunately all too clear.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.