I find it baffling how some people, mostly liberals, seem to think that Muslims are oppressed. The truth is that everyone bends over backwards to not only accommodate Islam, but also to afford it special status. All because they are afraid, and rightly so, of the murderous rampage that might result.
Among the verses in the Quran containing orders or laws there are verses that abrogate verses previously revealed and acted upon. These abrogating verse are called _nasikh_ and those whose validity they terminate are called _mansukh_.
The common notion of abrogation, that is, canceling of one law or code by another, is based on the idea that a new law is needed because of a mistake or shortcoming in the previous one. It is clearly inappropriate to ascribe a mistake in law-making to God, Who is perfect, and whose creation admit of no flaws.
However, in the Quran, the abrogating verses mark the end of the validity of the abrogated verses because their heed and effect was of a temporary or limited nature. In time the new law appears and announces the end of the validity of the earlier law. Considering that Quran was revealed over a period of twenty-three years in ever-changing circumstances, it is not difficult to imagine the necessity of such laws.
It is in this light that we should regard the wisdom of abrogation within the Quran:
“And when we put a revelation in place of (another) revelation and Allah knows best what He reveals — they say: you are just inventing it. Most of them do not know. Say: The Holy Spirit (Gibril) has revealed it from your hand with truth and as a guidance and good news for those who have surrendered (to God)” [16:101-102]
It is a science on its own in Islam to know the Nasikh and Mansukh.
Disputes abound over whether Islam is a religion of peace or a religion of violence. Many often cite suras of peace while others cite suras of violence and war. However, according to the law of aborgation found in the Koran we should really ask what the last suras say.
Surah 9 is one of the last surahs written, and it is all about war, violence, and the killing of infidels.
MARY JO SHARP BIO:
Mary Jo Sharp is a former atheist from the Pacific Northwest who thought religion was for the weak-minded. She now holds a Masters in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and is the first woman to become a Certified Apologetics Instructor through the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Mary Jo has spoken to numerous groups, including audiences of over 1,000 people. Some of her speaking engagements include: The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma State and Youth Evangelism Conferences, the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia Youth Evangelism Conference, The Southern Baptists of Texas Evangelism and Leadership Conferences, and the Evangelical Theological Society National Conference. Mary Jo administrates the website, Confident Christianity, and the Facebook group, Two Chix Apologetics, where she engages people from around the world in dialogue concerning the truth of Christianity.
DR. TABASUM HUSSAIN BIO:
Dr. Hussain. Born and raised in London, England, she acquired a BSc(HONS) in Biological Sciences at the University of Westminster, an MSc in Advanced Neuroscience at University College London, and lived in Australia for six years acquiring a PhD in Psychological Medicine (Neuroscience) at Monash University, Victoria. Recently settled with family in Toronto, Canada. Outside of her profession she has developed an interest over the years in Muslim-Christian Apologetics. Dr. Hussain has recently become a member of the Muslim Debate Initiative to become more involved in debate/dialogue focusing on women’s issues in the Bible vs the Quran.
I find it utterly amazing that a small town pastor in FL, Terry Jones, has managed to garner multinational attention. So the first thing I would like to say on this subject is “shame on you” to the mass media outlets for blowing this story up far beyond it’s actual consequences. But then again, creating news to report on is what it’s all about. Since it is the premier faith issue of the moment, however, I hope we can use it to generate many good and enlightening discussions both within and without the Christian community.
While many have undertaken to put in their .02 on this issue, I want to offer what I believe is a helpful grid wherein I believe a more fruitful discussion can be had. I believe this issue falls into two distinctly different categories that need to be addressed, each with it’s own set of unique questions.
Here are the categories (in no particular order):
What are Mr Jones’s rights and responsibilities as a citizen in the kingdom of the world (The United States of America).
What are Mr Jones’s rights and responsibilities as a citizen in the kingdom of heaven (as a Christian).
1. Kingdom of the World
As a citizen of the kingdom of this world we have two distinct issues that need to be addressed:
What are our rights and freedoms?
This question has come under fire since many are claiming that man’s actions to constitute “hate speech”. The fact of the matter is that while Mr Jones’s actions are indeed incendiary, the fact is that our commitment to free speech is shown precisely in how we deal with speech we know is unpopular and considered offensive (even hateful) to others. Like the other cases of Islamic censorship (ie. cartoons, books, etc.) this one should make us pause and seriously question our commitment to free speech and whether we want to live in a culture and nation that modifies its laws at the whim of easily offended Muslims.
What are our responsibilities to our fellow citizens, including the ones who are sworn to protect us?
As General Petraeus warned, insulting Muslims will inexorably lead to hardships for both our troops as well as Americans both abroad as well as here at home. While I respect and agree with Petraeus’s assessment of the dangers, I must also disagree with his recommended solution of preventing the violence by calling for an American citizen to refrain from employing their rights as citizen based on the actions of non-citizens. I would be more willing to agree with Mr. Petraeus’s suggestion, however, if he and others such as President Obama, were willing to do what President Bush did after 9/11 which is to clearly identify our enemy as a logical outworking of a decidedly un-peaceful religious ideology.1
2. Kingdom of Heaven
We do not need to accept, even for a second, the premise of Islam that the Koran is either sacred or worthy of any respect whatsoever. There is plenty of evidence in Scripture regarding the smashing/destroying of idols. There are even accounts of books being burned in the Bible (occult books, Acts 19:19). Unfortunately, many Christians seem to hold an idolized view of the Bible in the same way that Muslims do regarding the Koran. Both are wrong.
We need to recognize that as Christians we have been given a great deal of liberty when it comes to evangelistic methodologies. While I may be inclined to agree with those who say that burning the Koran is not likely to produce many fruitful discussions with Muslims, I would still be hesitant to call what Mr Jones is doing not-Christian. Unwise, perhaps, but to call it un-Christian would require us to substantiate what I believe many erroneously perceive is a Biblical command not to offend anyone.
Regardless of whether you accept my points of view regarding the questions above. I nonetheless believe that the grid I’ve outlined will help us keep the various aspects of the issue in focus and hopefully help us focus our discussions in a more clear and coherent direction.
In the end, however, I believe a pastor friend of mine summed up the situation quite eloquently in a status update on Facebook2:
I am warning you… if you burn my holy book, or remove it from the school system, I will retaliate with love. If you defame the founder of my religion in word, movie, or bottle of urine, I will be extreme in my response of mercy. If you kill my fellow-believers as they bring humanitarian aid, more of us will come to take their place as missionaries. I am a Christian. I respond in peace and love.
After several people have asked me whether I agree, overall, with the concept of burning a Koran I ran into the following video by an excellent apologetics ministry, Acts 17 (answeringmuslims.com), who spend a lot of time reaching out to Muslims. Here is what they have to say about the subject:
There basic point is this: Why burn the Koran when exposing both it’s history and its contents are far MORE damaging?
Oh, and as for those who regard the direct and fairly confrontational tone underlieing Mr Jones’s proposed actions as unhelpful when reaching Muslims I want to leave you with this thought. A friend of mine, Mike Licona, author of Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate on the Resurrection, in prepairing for a professional debate with a noted Muslim3 was given advice by former Muslims on campus to the tune of: Be direct and bold. Do not be afraid to show aggression. Muslims will not take offense at a display of aggression, they will take offense at a sign of weakness.
Here is a brief example of a productive Christian-Muslim dialog:
Granted Bush did not cite all Muslims as violent, and nor do I, but I would argue strongly that Islam as a religion is far from peaceful in any sense of the word. [↩]