The Western intelligentsia’s capacity for self-flagellation and self-hatred seems to be endless. Jack Miles, Religion News Service tell us, is “author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘God: A Biography’ and a retired professor of religion at the University of California Irvine, now offers an erudite and highly readable close reading of Allah’s real nature.”
Miles’ “erudite” take on Allah is that the god of the Qur’an is “more merciful” and “more moral” than the God of the Bible. Miles is, of course, being feted and celebrated for this in all the right places by all the right people, those who know that teaching the people of Western Europe and North America to despise their own culture and heritage, and to love that of Islam, is a good and noble endeavor.
Miles’ claims, however, are completely wrong. In the first place, there is the evidence of present-day reality. There have been well over 30,000 jihad terror attacks worldwide since 9/11; virtually all of them carried out by Muslims acting upon Qur’anic dictates, many of them screaming “Allahu akbar.” There have been no terror attacks committed by Jews screaming the Shema or Christians screaming “Jesus is Lord.” No doubt Christians have behaved violently in the name of Christ throughout the history of Christianity, but in doing so they never invoked the violent passages of the Bible as justification for their acts.
But Miles says: “I offer examples of great violence from Jewish and Christian Scriptures and note that we don’t deduce from that that all Jews and Christians are terrorists in waiting. If we don’t do that for ourselves, we shouldn’t do it for Muslims.” Of course. All Muslims aren’t “terrorists in waiting.” But Miles ignores the real reason why there are so very many Qur’an-motivated terrorists and so few, if any, Bible-motivated terrorists: while there is a great deal of violence in the Bible, it is descriptive, not prescriptive. That is, it describes violent acts commanded by God, and that has created a number of theological problems that have preoccupied many Jews and Christians ever after, but nowhere does it present those violent acts as something to be imitated.
The Qur’an, by contrast, exhorts Muslims to wage war against unbelievers in commands that are presented as universal, that is, applying to all Muslims for all time. It tells believers that “Muhammad is the apostle of Allah. Those who follow him are merciful to one another, ruthless to unbelievers” (48:29). It commands Muslims to “kill them wherever you find them” (2:191, 4:89) and “kill the idolaters wherever you find them” (9:5, and remember, Islam considers virtually all other religions to be idolatrous in one way or another). It commands Muslims to wage war against and subjugate Jews, Christians, and other “People of the Book” (9:29).
The idea that these Qur’an passages are not limited to a long-past time and faraway place, but are open-ended and still valid for Muslims, has been taught by Islamic exegetes from Muhammad’s first biographer Ibn Ishaq up to the present day. Muslim scholars throughout the history of Islam have taught that these passages and others like them mandate offensive jihad against unbelievers as the highest and final stage of the Qur’an’s teaching on jihad.
And as for Allah being “more moral” than the God of the Bible, consider these passages from the New Testament and the Qur’an:
“God our Savior…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2:3-4)
“And if we had willed, We could have given every soul its guidance, but the word from Me will come into effect: I will surely fill Hell with jinn and people all together.” (Qur’an 32:13)
So Allah is saying that he could have saved everyone, but has instead decided to torture some people in hell for all eternity, just because. “We’re talking about the same being,” Professor Miles? No, we aren’t.