Violence in the Bible and Jihad in the Quran

This article was originally published in the Muslim Sunrise, in fall of 2011. The Muslim Sunrise is the oldest Muslim publication of North America.

By Khaula Rehman MD

Many Christians and Jews, perhaps unconsciously, consider the Quran standing in absolute contrast to the scriptures they themselves cherish. In the minds of ordinary Christians – and Jews – the Quran teaches savagery and warfare, while the Bible offers a message of love, forgiveness, and charity. For the prophet Micah, God’s commands to his people are summarized in the words “act justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Christians recall the words of the dying Jesus: “Father, forgive them: they know not what they do.”  Likewise, there are verses in the Holy Quran to promote tolerant and kind behavior.  The Holy Quran says, “And good and evil are not alike. Repel evil with that which is best. And lo, he between whom and thyself was enmity will become as though he were a warm friend.”  (Al Quran 41:35)

This article is to give the Christians and the Jews a balanced view of the two scriptures, the Bible and the Quran.  There are no verses in the Holy Quran to trigger and promote genocide, but there are in the Bible:

When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city.  When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it.  As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.  However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you.[i]  (Deuteronomy 20:10-17)

There are no verses in the Holy Quran to destroy polytheism with sword and kill all polytheists and even their livestock, regardless of whether they are at war or not, but in the Bible there are:

If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’ (gods you have not known), then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely,both its people and its livestock.  You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt. (Deuteronomy 13:12-16)

There are no verses in the Holy Quran to kill people for sexual misconduct but there are in the Bible:

If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.  (Leviticus 20:10)


If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire. (Leviticus 21:9)

There are no verses in the Holy Quran ordering to attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. There is nothing in the Quran ordering, ‘do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys,’ but there is in the Bible:

Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD.  This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. … But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.  (1 Samuel 15:1-9)

There are no verses in the Holy Quran describing Allah as a Man of war but in Exodus 15:3, the Bible tells us the Lord is a man of war.  Such war verses are not limited to the Old Testament only.  In Mark 7:9-10, Jesus is critical of the Jews for not killing their disobedient children as prescribed by Old Testament law.  In Luke 19:22-27, Jesus orders killed anyone who refuses to be ruled by him.  The New Testament quotes Jesus Christ, “Think not that I am came to bring peace on earth: I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10: 34)  At another place the New Testament quotes Jesus, “Then said he unto them, ‘But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise his knapsack: and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” (Luke 22: 36)

The Holy Quran does not prescribe death sentence for the sin of arrogance but the Bible does:

Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the Lord your God is to be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12)

The Holy Quran does not prescribe to kill witches and fortune-tellers but the Bible does:

Do not allow a sorceress to live.  (Exodus 22:18) And: A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads. (Leviticus 20:27)

The Holy Quran gives freedom of speech to followers of all other religions and does not prescribe killing them for preaching their religion but the Bible does:

If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them.  You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people.  Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.  (Deuteronomy 13:6-11)

The Holy Quran does not prescribe capital punishment for stubborn and rebellious children but the Bible does:

If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

Now, the Christian apologists could be writhing in pain and anger and asking a host of questions, for example, why are you cherry picking? Why don’t you take the holistic picture and appreciate the message of compassion in the Bible? Why do you not hear the message of Jesus Christ of turning the other cheek?  Muslims can say yes we accept Jesus as a kind hearted prophet of God and the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the Quran has been called as a mercy for the whole mankind, based on his conduct towards all people that he dealt with in his life time.[ii]

Now I can hear through the grapevines, the Christian apologists offering host of explanations, for these verses! They are saying statements like, there are different explanations of these verses in different Judeo-Christian traditions and sects, the Old Testament has been superseded by the New Testament, do not take these verses literally in our present times, look at the context of these verses in time and history.  I say yes my dear, yes indeed, the Muslims have explanations also, for the so called ‘sword verse’ of the Holy Quran and other similar verses that sometimes hatemongers like to obsess about and the USA national media unilaterally comments on, fairly regularly![iii]  Let the discussions begin, as we hold hearings about the Holy Quran in different juries across the West, let us be fair and reasonable and put the Bible on trial as well.  Last but not the least, the Christian apologists tell me that even if these verses are there in the Bible, so what, we do not take Bible seriously anymore and do not act on the Biblical injunctions anymore.  But I remind them that according to a recent poll, more than 60% of the USA population still takes the Bible to be literal word of God.[iv]  So, let us talk, let us talk about both the Bible and the Holy Quran in a grown up fashion.  According to the Holy Quran, Jihad even when it means armed struggle, it implies only defensive war and not a pre-emptive strike.  Let me introduce two Exhibits in defense of the Holy Quran.  My Exhibit A:

Fundamental versus allegoric: War and Peace in Islam:

My Exhibit B:

War Verses of the Holy Quran:

My Exhibit C:

Defensive War in the Holy Quran in 600 Words


[i] All Bible references and quotes are from New International Version.

[ii] Al Quran 21:108.

[iii] Al Quran 9:5.


Categories: CHRISTIANITY, Islam

28 replies

  1. Since, I think, the 28th of November 2011 I do not receive the daily e-mail containing: The Muslim times: A Blog to foster Universal …. But somehow I keep getting The Muslim Times … for 28th of November. Today, I got curious and checked. It appears that I commented on an article by Khaula Rehman, with her name printed rather prominent, something that was missing in the original “publication”. I am a bit puzzled. I knew who wrote it and I knew Zia Shah posted it. But my comment was simple and whoever posts lengthy academic debates, will get it. In fact I have another link that shows what the current attacks are. Here’s the link:
    If someone feels fat about “doing research” by copying/quoting lengthy passages. I have done some research on some topics and I know the rule: If you do not have something new to offer, on a topic, you better shut up and do something else. Besides, before finding faults with others it is always a good idea to give arguments that can silence the critics. I offer what I have written, because I think I have employed some of what I preach. (“You blame Quran for this and your books have much worse” has never settled a problem and never will. If it had the whole world would be Muslim now.)
    By the way, I submitted my article on “Attacks on Islam — a story of misquotes and misinformation” to An-Nur. I was told to write it in a smooth flowing article. I did not want the article to lose its impact, so I put it on my webpage.
    Again by the way, whoever has been sending that newsletter of the 28th of November 2011 should offer istighfar. Decent Muslims do not push people to fight back.

  2. Thank you sir, Mr. Tschannen, it is nice to hear from you after all that time. We met at my Cousin Abdul Ghafoor’s house in Kotli Loharan West. I think you also led a prayer there. That was a treat I still remember. May Allah grant you a healthy and a very long life, courage to serve the community and save you from the company of unsavory folks, such as the fellow I called “nimble fingers” in a recent e-mail.
    As far as my arguments are concerned, they have a puzzling effect on a lot of people. Some people are so flabbergasted that they want to run away with my arguments. I even know of a review of one of my articles where the reviewer forgot to complete a sentence. (Alhamdulillah, the paper was good and has got 8 or 9 citations, since 2009, that is a lot in pure Mathematics.)If you want to know how my arguments and my approach work, write to me.
    By the way, did you check out the links I have posted? Sadly without checking them both out you would not see my argument.
    Also sir I am complaining about discontinuation of the news-letter and transmission of the same newsletter everyday. Who should I complain to?

  3. What i don’t realize is if truth be told how you are now not really much more well-preferred than you might be now. You are so intelligent. You understand therefore considerably relating to this matter, produced me in my view consider it from so many varied angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be fascinated. Your personal stuffs great. At all times take care of it up!

  4. mp3|quran| holy quranmpe: Apparently the comment is directed at me. But I do not respond to comments by folks who do not have the moral courage to use their own name while making comments. Use your own name or ask someone with enough courage or gall to say what you want to say. I will respond, inshaAllah.

    Here’s something for everyone:

    نمازیں بھی ہیں دل بھی ہے پر ازیقیں
    تو پھر کیوں دور ہے ہم سے نور دیں؟
    نرمیٴ قلب کی پیارو کچھ فکر کر لو
    دل میں نرمی نہیں تو کچھ بھی نہیں

  5. Christians only believe what their preachers want them to hear and they adopt it it as fact. And then turn and twist their beliefs. they only believe the parts of their book that they want to believe.
    Preachers don’t preach the violence as stated in Deuteronomy because it would be wrong for them to do so, and Christians would actually see that their book is tainted. Thus this would cause a decline in church memberships and deplete money offerings.
    Jihad to western society took on a new meaning when the western society decided to change the meaning after 911. Wake up people Jihad is a personal struggle within ones self not some world domination thing.

  6. There are no violent verses in the Quran. There are harsh verses against the Kuffar i.e. Kafireen. They are fanatic disbelievers found in every religion. They are bent upon war. So it allowed to fight against them. Our copies of Quran are translating the Kafir as disbeliever. It should be translated as hostile disbeliever. Then non-Muslims will not find any point against us.
    The other lenience that we have shown is to translate “Wali and Aulia” as friends. That is also giving us some trouble. The people of the Books say, Quran teaches Muslims not to take the people of the book as friends. So they object. While the real translation should be: “Do not take the people of the book as your guardians.” Gaurdian or Ally is the correct translation of the word “Wali”. Friend is an indirect derived meaning.
    The word for friend in Arabic is “Khaleel”. Please take note. wassalam.

  7. During marriage ceremony of Muslims, the father of the bride is her WALI. He is not her friend.
    The Christians are creating much trouble by linking the Quran with violence and harshness. Time and again we have explained that Islam is peaceful religion. But western leaders do not agree. In that way, they are supporting the Muslim terrorists as true Muslims. That creates much problem for peace in the world.

  8. Saying that any Bible passage is from the quran is equivalent to saying that the ground stands on a tree, instead of the other way round. The Bible was plagiarized at least 600 years as the quran.

  9. Ghulam Sarwar ===Time and again we have explained that Islam is peaceful religion. But western leaders do not agree. ==== I disagree,with Ghulam Sarwar

    We have to be honest and tell the truth…

    Islamic teaching from Al Quran, from Allah, yes, Islam is peaceful religion.

    Islam (al Quran,) teach ; peace, love, compassion, tolerance, forgiveness, justice for all, equality, human right, liberty and freedom of religion, speech, expression, and prosperity. Islam is mercy for all mankind. QS.21:107.

    But, Islamic teaching from the book of Hadith, men created book, is not peaceful teaching, bur create violence, conflict and poverty .

    So as long as we believe in the book of hadith is the second source of Islamic teaching–or as long as we do not remove the violent hadith from the book of Hadith, Islam is not peaceful religion.

    Most Muslim around the world believe that the source of Islamic teaching is from Al Quran and the book of Hadith.

    Hopefully, I can convince you, my brother Ghulam Sarwar.

    Was Salam
    With love

  10. Gulam Sarwar wrote===>>

    1.There are harsh verses against the Kuffar i.e. Kafireen. They are fanatic disbelievers found in every religion. They are bent upon war. So it allowed to fight against them. Our copies of Quran are translating the Kafir as disbeliever. It should be translated as hostile disbeliever.

    2. The people of the Books say, Quran teaches Muslims not to take the people of the book as friends.<<==

    My view;

    1. I agree with you that the meaning of Kuffar or Kafireen is that those who attacked and wanted to kill prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

    Conversely, Prophet treat all people justly, lovely and kindly regardless his belief, disbeliever, and the people of Al Kitab. (so called liberal people).

    2. The true Islam allow the good non Muslim, or the people of book (Christians and jews ) to hold the position of president, or minister–just like in Indonesia–as long as they do not hate Islam.

    But Islam do not allow to take those who hates Islam or Muslim as friends or leader, or wali etc

    Hopefully I can convince you all the true Islamic teaching.

    Was Salam
    With love


    I have said so several times. The last time was some months back when I told you that the quran cannot stand without the Bible.
    In that comment I gave the example of the Laws of Moses which the quran says were given on tablets but does not spell out what the laws are. To get details of those Laws, a resort has to be made to the Holy Bible.
    The quran has many sources. The verse often quoted as saying that to kill one human being is equivalent to killing the whole of humanity was taken from the Jewish Mishna Sanhedrin 4:5, which in itself is not a revealed book. The story of Jesus speaking from the cradle and creating birds from clay which he breathed into came from the Gospel of the Infant Jesus, a book of dubious origin.
    There are more.

  12. The Quran is of course not plagiarized from the Bible. However, this is true that both parts of the Bible and the whole of the Quran are from the same God, which in the Christian tradition is God the father.

    So a continuity and some equivalence in both revelations is expected. The question is whether the Muslim understanding of the Bible is closer to the reality or the Christian:



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