Skip to comments.Jesus and Muhammad: A Core Difference Between Islam and Christianity's Central Figures
Posted on 07/16/2004 11:24:28 AM PDT by StevenAU
Jesus and Muhammad A Core Difference Between Islam and Christianity's Central Figures by Steven (July 13, 2004)
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Role models play a central part in the human psyche. As young children, many of us looked up to our parents and molded our behavior and morals on the examples they set forth before us. It is no surprise that children raised in alcoholic families have a greater chance of becoming alcoholics themselves. Children of scientists tend to lean towards science in search of answers. Those raised in Buddhist households generally grow up to become Buddhists. Role models leave a deep and lasting influence on the psyche and development of both children and adults. And so it comes as no surprise that two of the most influential religions today offer their followers powerful role models. There is, however, a significant difference between the role models offered in Christianity and Islam.
In Jesus, we find the central role model put forth by Christianity. He was, by all standards, a pacifist. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus put forth several concepts that have become central to Christianity. One of these concepts was the notion of turning the other cheek when someone hit you. Jesus preached the idea of non-violence. "Love your enemy." Another important teaching of Jesus was that of forgiveness. During his crucifixion by the Romans, Jesus not once put up a struggle. In fact, as he hung dying, he pleaded, "forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."
The central role model of Christianity was a figure that epitomized non-violence and forgiveness. He was also one who embraced all forms of outcasts. Jesus blessed the lepers that were shunned by society. It is thus that his story provides the Christian follower with a role model figure to emulate.
When a person "finds Jesus," they usually turn into pacifists and espouse the virtues of love and peace. Since their central role model embraced outcasts, we usually find modern day Christians unwilling to force their beliefs on others by means of war and violence. Jesus accepted lepers and outcasts; we can also see this attribute of embracing those who are different than you in many Western countries that were founded on Christian values. The ideal of forgiveness is also usually embraced in Western cultures. We can find evidence of this in the criminal system. While Saudi Arabia imposes such harsh punishment as beheading one of their princes for the crime of adultery, most Western societies approach the criminal system with an eye towards reform and fair punishment.
The effect of Jesus as a central role model on Judeo-Christian based Western societies is undeniable. His teachings have set forth an atmosphere of tolerance and forgiveness. Jesus' pacifistic views dramatically changed the role of war during the Roman Empire, war was used to conquer new lands and used as a measure of glory. Now days, most Western countries view violence and war as nothing short of a last resort in self-defense.
The central role model offered by Islam is a less pacifistic one. Muhammad was by many standards quite a militant individual. Spending much of his life fighting against the "infidels," Muhammad offers the Muslim a less forgiving role model. We can find an example of Muhammad's more militant nature in his actions shortly after one of his battles.
Upon conquering the Jewish tribe of Qurayza, Muhammad and his men found themselves in possession of a large number of prisoners. He appointed an arbiter for advice on the situation who soon suggested that the male prisoners be killed, the women and children sold as slaves, and their property to be split between him and his men. Muhammad quickly supported this suggestion calling it "a decree of God pronounced from above the Seven Heavens." It was thus that some 700-900 men from the Qurayza tribe were marched into the marketplace of Medina. A long trench and ditch was dug and as Muhammad watched on, all 700-900 men were decapitated. As the bodies of the men were buried in the ditch, their wives and children were sold into slavery. A small number of the women were given to Muhammad's friends as gifts. Muhammad took one of these women (Rayhana) as his own.
We can see that Muhammad was not only a militant individual, but was also one who at times was very cruel. To sanction the beheading of over 700 prisoners of war in one day alone is almost unheard of. His actions certainly showed little sign of forgiveness, little disdain towards violence and the use of force, and little regard for the rights of women.
We can easily see the effect of such a role model in the Middle East, where Islam is the predominant religion. With Muhammad's unforgiving, and sometimes cruel, nature, it comes as no surprise that the justice system of the Middle East is also unforgiving and sometimes cruel. The Saudi Arabian government recently beheaded one of their princes for the minor crime of adultery. It is not unheard of to find examples of young children getting their hand and foot cut off for the minor crime of stealing some food. The notion of treating others as you would like to be treated is one that is not common in Muslim dominated cultures, neither is the notion of forgiveness one that is embraced in the Middle East.
Muhammad spent a large portion of his life fighting the "infidels." Through the might of his warriors, he was able to bring about what Muslims would consider to be a "cleansing" of the region. With the glorification of war and forcible conversions that is set forth in the role model of Muhammad, it once again should come as no surprise that many Middle Eastern and Muslim dominated cultures see little wrong with using violent force to reach an end. War and violence is not a last resort of self-defense, but instead a glorifying means to wage holy war against "infidels" and to bring about a "cleansing" and purifying of lands. We can see the effects of such a role model in some African countries where the Muslim population sees no wrong in violently brutalizing their "infidel" countrymen. For it is not only acceptable to do so, but in fact a glorious battle against "infidels" the like of which their role model spent his life fighting.
It is clearly evident that the Christian and Muslim role model figures differ greatly. Their impact on societies dominated by their religion is an evident and tangible one. The religions themselves do not necessarily breed such attitudes. For example, many Westernized Muslims who were raised and educated in the West do support the ideals of forgiveness and non-violence.
Some would counter that Christians have in fact been behind many cruelties themselves. An example of this can easily be found in the brutal Crusades. It is true that Christians have brutalized many people. These actions, however, took place in a time when such violence was the norm of warfare. The brutal actions of such Christians were thus more likely influenced by their immediate culture and societal norms as opposed to religious indoctrination. As times have changed and societal norms have become more peaceful, we see the Christians also adapting with society. This is a natural change, as their central role model of Jesus was a pacifist. Becoming more peaceful with the changing times is a natural change.
It is in such a context that we see the unfortunate situation of the Muslim role model. While Christianity's role model was one that offered no counterdiction to the growing tendencies of modern societal pacifistic tendencies, Muhammad is a figure that does stand in contrast to such changes. Muhammad's militant and warlike nature offer Muslim dominated cultures a role model that stands in sharp contrast to societal changes towards pacifism. He was a warrior and a fighter. With the religious indoctrination of people towards such a figure, it comes as no surprise that while the rest of the world moved towards a more peaceful tendency, the Middle East and Muslim dominated cultures remain somewhat violent and unforgiving, even towards their own citizens.
A warrior role model such as Muhammad will unfortunately ensure that the Middle East and Muslim dominated societies will remain less forgiving and more violent for a long time to come. It has in fact resisted over a thousand years of growing pacifist notions in the rest of the world. With such a strong resistance to pacifism engrained in their most influential role model figure, non-Westernized Muslims will remain resistant to notions of pacifism and non-violence. Unfortunately, Muhammad's glorification of war against the "infidels" makes it likely that Western societies will have to deal with this violent and unforgiving nature in the form of forcible attempts at conversion or violent "cleansing."
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"God sent his only son to die for you."
"Muhammed sends his sons to kill you."
lol, true true
Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, come to die to provide for our redemption, rose from the dead on the third day.
Muhammed is a violent pedophile.
Bottom line: Jesus is God and Muhammad is not!
Jesus loves you.
Allah wants your head.
When a person "finds Jesus," they usually turn into pacifists and espouse the virtues of love and peace.
Sorry, Jesus is my warrior model.....
Flat wrong. First, it was Jesus who suggested disciples take swords with them on their travels:
35Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered. 36He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one." - Luke 22:35-36
Also, Paul made it clear that there was nothing contradictory in a Christian being a soldier, and used warfare and soldiering as metaphors for the Christian life.
Yes, Jesus calls for peace and forebearance. No He is not, "by all standards," a pacifist.
Christianity comes from a position of peace and forgiving, love for others, and Jesus came to save people. Islam is a cult errrrr "religion" of hatred and agression. The people of Islam believe that it is their duty to take over the world by force. We are in a religious war folks, and you can not aviod thw war by being a passifist or by claiming that you are an athiest. The people of Islam don't care. As long as you are not a Muslim, they feel that it is their duty to kill you and take your land. End of story.
TO make this statement you're taking one verse out of context. It demonstrates someone with no real knowledge of the bible as a whole, rather someone who has read bits and pieces or listened to someone else on a website somewhere.
Muhammed promises a whorehouse with an open bar. In other words Muslims must die as martyrs (in other words die killing non-Muslims) to enjoy the decadent life they kill others for enjoying on earth.
Well it is after all your article so I guess you would think it interesting. BUT as usual for folks who try and paint the Nazarene as a pacifist it is dead wrong. There is nothing within the faith that requires one to be a pacifist. In fact Jesus himself destinguishes what belongs to God and what belongs to Ceasar. He does not comndemn the soldier for doing his job and He was not gentle with the money changers at the temple. This is just so much silliness. The reason that Christianity succeeds in a less violent wayt is because it demands personal accountability and a personal relationship with one's Creator....
Very well done!
That's my new bumper sticker!
You are right, Jesus was not a pacifist. He had a temper - a pacifist would not have turned over the tables of the money lenders and merchants. One would not have to be a pacifist to rightly condemn the slaughter of thousands of prisoners, either. Ghandi was a pacifist.
Jesus is the Son of God, Muhammad is a Son of a B--ch....
People who would make your argument are the exact same kind of people who read Matthew 6:6 and then say that Jesus commanded us to not pray in public.
"A long trench and ditch was dug and as Muhammad watched on, all 700-900 men were decapitated."
This sounds similar to the Nazis of WW2 lining up Jews (and others) along trenches and machine-gunning them to death.
To be fair, Christian rulers of the 7th century were by and large a ruthless bunch, but no one holds Justinian and Theodora or any of their royal Christian contemporaries as models for humanity for all time.
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