Subject: Christianity and Islam Part 5 – Violence, Freedom and Human Rights
Leviticus 19:18 “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”
Kayla Mueller is now the fourth US citizen murdered by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). She was kidnapped in August 2013 — just days before her 25th birthday – as she was leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Syria, where she was doing humanitarian work. This comes only one week after ISIS released the video of their barbaric murder of captured Jordanian pilot Moaz Al-Kasasbah.
These are grotesque violations of human rights, and they are rapidly increasing in frequency. In a report issued on February 4th, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child said it has now received reports of “several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive.” Amnesty International has also reported that ISIS has kidnapped 10-12 year-old Yazidi girls for torture, rape and then giving these girls as gifts to the ISIS fighters.
The intensity of this Islamic jihad violence, with its blatant disregard for basic human rights, continues to leave the world’s military strategists struggling with how to combat this growing army’s hit-and-run tactics. As Dr. Emir Caner explains in ‘More than a Prophet’, “This army wears no uniforms, declares no allegiance to any single country, crosses racial and ethnic lines, and is united solely by a common hatred. They prefer death to surrender, for they believe death grants them eternal bliss, a happiness that eludes them on this planet. They will not negotiate.”
In a letter to author Philip Yancey the day after the 911 attacks, a Muslim shared not only the facts of Islamic violence and human rights abuses, but why he is drawn to the message of Christianity and the Person of Jesus Christ. Here are some excerpts: “…I am convinced now that evil does exist in this world. Growing up in Pakistan, I was a moderately religious Muslim… I later read some books about the prophet Muhammad and the Islamic faith by Western scholars. I was shocked to learn a lot of things about my religion that I never knew. I felt—and still feel—betrayed and hurt. In a closed society like Pakistan, any sort of criticism of Islam is punishable by death, so one cannot have an unbiased view of the faith.
As I found out all these not so agreeable things about Islam, I found myself drawn toward the Christian faith. For a Muslim person to be that interested in the Christian faith is unthinkable. [My family and I] have talked about issues like the concept of salvation in Islam (which is through deeds) and that of Christianity. They find it quite ridiculous—the concept of a Savior and one person dying for everyone’s sins, and that all you have to do is to believe in him. To be honest, I find this concept a little strange too.
But the most painful discovery for me about the Islamic faith has been its concept of militancy. I always used to think that these fanatics were just misguided people who give Islam a bad name. To be sure, Islam does not permit killing of innocent women and children, but as I have found out, its teachings are quite different from those of Jesus, who wants you to turn the other cheek. As I know now, violence does have a strong precedent in Islam.
The terrible tragedy that happened yesterday in this country seems to be the logical outcome of teachings that tell you its okay to reply in kind. I think that’s what happens when you try to enforce God’s will in this earthly world rather than believing that his kingdom is not of this world but of the other world.”
In our verse this week, the God of the Bible makes it clear that, just as the Muslim rightly concluded, we are not to reply in kind – we are forbidden to take vengeance against others. God commands people to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. This commandment in the Mosaic Law was confirmed by Jesus Himself in the New Testament. Biblical love honors each person’s basic human rights.
Americans actually stand on this biblical truth in our nation’s ‘Declaration of our Independence’: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (July 4, 1776).
As the Muslim letter writer has expressed so well, it is the Founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, who stands in stark contrast to the philosophy of Islam by freely offering His life rather than taking yours, to provide the way for anyone of us to be freed from the penalty of our sins and have access to eternal life in heaven.