Startling Similarities (and Contrasts) Between the Bible and the Quran


#1

It’s a commonplace on places like Democratic Underground and among Liberals and Progressives generally to treat Christianity and Islam as so similar as to be morally equivalent. The patent absurdity of this - in light of the events of the past few decades - is glossed over by appealing to recent supposed Christians who did violent things. These appeals don’t stand up to examining what such “Christians” actually believed (e.g. Timothy McVeigh, Scott Roeder, or Eric Rudolph).

At a more general level, it’s common to dismiss religions such as Christianity or Islam or … by saying that they all teach the same thing. Is that true? Or just a lazy intellectual smokescreen?

What follows in the next several posts is an examination of what Christian and Islamic Scriptures teach. 3 of the 4 articles linked in this thread are part of a series by an Evangelical pastor who has read and studied the Bible and Qur’an. The similarities - to the extent there are many - are very thin, and much worn-through by the history of the past several centuries.

Startling Similarities (and Contrasts) Between the Bible and the Quran
BY JEFF SANDERS
pjmedia.com/faith
MARCH 15, 2016

I have been a pastor for the past 28 years. I am a conservative evangelical who believes all the basic tenets of Christianity: the Trinity, virgin birth and sinless humanity of Jesus Christ, the vicarious death and physical resurrection of Christ, the future judgments of the saved and the lost, salvation by grace, and so forth. … I have also read the entire Quran all the way through twice, in two different English translations … .

One translation I used is the Yusuf Ali translation … . The other is by N.J. Dawood and is published by Penguin Classics. I realize that reading the Quran twice does not make me an expert … here are some of my observations about the striking similarities and contrasts between the Bible and the Quran:

Obviously both books claim divine origin, speaking of the one true God who exhibits similar qualities. The Bible was composed by at least 40 authors over a period of about 1400 years, being completed at the end of the first century. The Quran has one human author (Muhammed … . It was recorded almost 600 years after the New Testament was completed. Both books teach that this one true God is eternal, holy, just, merciful, and forgiving.

These books also share similar stories of creation, the fall of man, a universal flood, and the triumphs of great people of faith: the prophets, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Mary, and Jesus … .

But, the contrasts are stark and numerous. For example, the Bible tells us clearly that God is love (1 John 4:8-10) and that He loves sinners—so much so that He actually went on a rescue mission to redeem fallen humanity (Romans 5:6-8). The Quran says that God loves the righteous, but it never says that He loves sinners (Surah 3:148, 160; 5:64, 87). … the Quran specifically states that God “does not love the prodigal” (6:141). …

… the Quran never gives us stories that are located or “bordered” with specific, confirmable historical contexts. … in the Bible we have Luke 3:1,2 in which real, historical people are named (Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod the Tetrarch, Philip the Tetrarch, Lysanias, Annas and Caiaphas). All these people have been verified by sources outside the Bible. … There is nothing like this in all of the Quran. The Bible mentions kings, nations, rivers, mountains, cities, and events all in their historical contexts. And these have been confirmed by other historical sources and archeology. The Quran never does this. In giving such confirmed, “investigatable” landmarks, the Bible invites the skeptic to. . . investigate! The Quran does not. It simply demands the reader believe it.

The God of the Bible is of very different character than that of Allah. Allah is cruel and capricious. The God of the Bible, while executing judgment, only does so after generations of warnings intended to bring people - including His people - to repentance.


#2

Does the Bible Teach the Same Kind of ‘Holy War’ as the Quran?
BY JEFF SANDERS
pjmedia.com/faith
MARCH 22, 2016

> There is no denying that both the Bible and the Quran relate tales of violence. Both books have commands for the faithful to kill unbelievers (most notably Deuteronomy 7:1-5 in the Bible and Surah 9:5,19 in the Quran). Joshua, in fact, did enter the land of Canaan and wiped out many (but not all) of its inhabitants. But is this the exact same thing as the Quran’s numerous commands for Muslims to slay non-Muslims and/or subjugate them?
>
> The “holy war” in the Bible is limited to only one set of passages in the Old Testament—those related to God’s commands to eliminate the Canaanites and their fellow pagans from the land of Israel. They were given the option to convert (as in the case of Rahab in Joshua 2:11) or they could leave the land and resettle elsewhere. God had already warned the Canaanites, who were notorious for burning babies alive in worship of Baal, that they had 400 years to repent of their crimes. …
>
> Nevertheless, God did not ever tell the Israelites to go conquer and take the land of the Egyptians or the Syrians or the Greeks or … . And they didn’t. Whatever you think of this bloody episode in the Bible, the biblical evidence is that this command to execute the Canaanite culture was limited only to that piece of geography and that particular time period. …
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> However, the commands in the Quran to make war on all unbelievers have no “sunset clause.” All of these commands are open-ended. They are not limited in any way to any geographical boundaries or to a time period. They are for all faithful Muslims for all time.
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> But what about the peaceful and tolerant passages like Surah 2:256: “There shall be no compulsion in religion. True guidance is now distinct from error. He that renounces idol-worship and puts his faith in God shall grasp a firm handle that will never break.”
>
> The Quran also teaches something called the “law of abrogation.” In Surah 2:106 it says, “If We abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten, We will replace it by a better one or one similar.” … This law of abrogation in the Quran teaches that the later revelation, if it contradicts an earlier revelation, must be obeyed in contrast to the earlier revelation. So, those few peaceful and tolerant passages in the Quran … are now abrogated (annulled) and replaced with other, newer commands. And those commands are not so peaceful and tolerant.

This hits two very important points. One is the inaccuracy and laziness - and sometimes dishonesty - of superficially equating acts of violence and war. The other is in the last paragraph I quoted. Unlike what Christians believe concerning the Bible, Muslims can accept contradictions in the Qur’an. Allah specifically said that there would be instances where newer verses replaced/superseded older verses. When a Quranic contradiction is encountered, the newer verse(s) are to be followed.


#3

How Does Jihad Compare with Old Testament Warfare?
Nabeel Qureshi


3/15/2016

> No matter the context in which I discuss jihad, one question invariably arises: How can you condemn jihad in light of the violence in the Old Testament?
>
> I don’t wish to argue here that the God of the Hebrew Bible is better than the God of the Qur’an … . Nor will I seek to defend the morality of the violence in the Old Testament per se … .
>
> I simply hope to compare jihad—the Islamic doctrine of warfare—to incidents of Jewish warfare in the Old Testament. The two religious systems conceive of warfare differently, and only after we’ve understood the details can we analyze the morality of either.
> …
> …, The Qur’an is a very different type of book than the Bible, and it’s easy to confuse categories when comparing the two. The Qur’an consists almost entirely of Allah’s words in direct address … . The Bible, on the other hand, contains many genres—including poetry, apocalyptic literature, wisdom literature, prophecy, and history.
>
> This final genre (history) means the Bible recounts many events not endorsed by God, but simply recorded in his Word. …
>
> I’ve seen many polemical discussions, for example, focus on Genesis 34. Here Jacob’s daughter is raped by a Canaanite, and her brothers seek revenge by lying to the men of the Canaanite city and then killing all the males, looting … . Yet Yahweh never sanctioned this retaliation. It’s inappropriate, then, to view this as an attack God commanded. …
> …
> Warfare in the Old Testament was designed to purge the Promised Land of the Canaanites (a group of whom were the Amorites), and this was God’s promise to Abraham. That promise was fulfilled 400 years later, affording the Amorites many generations to repent and change their ways before the Hebrews finally attacked.
>
> This is different from jihad in the Qur’an. Although at times there were buffer periods of a few months before Muslims would attack (9:2), that wasn’t always the case, as with the attack on caravans. Additionally, the warfare the Qur’an commands isn’t due to any evil action, but rather to the beliefs of non-Muslims—such as the Christian belief Jesus is the Son of God (9:29–30).
> …
> Yahweh wasn’t affirming the superiority of the Hebrews by giving them victory so much as judging the sins of the Canaanites. The Qur’an, by contrast, envisions Muslims as the best people: “You are the best of all people, evolved for mankind” (3:110). It teaches that Jews and Christians who don’t convert to Islam are the worst of all creation: “Those who do not believe [in Islam] from among the Jews and Christians and the idolators will go to hell. They are the worst of creatures” (98:6; see 98:1–5 for context). This is why the Qur’an in 9:33 commands Muslims to fight Jews and Christians, so that Allah may cause Islam “to prevail over all religions.”

Written by a different author, this article parallels the one immediately above.


#4

Six Startling Contrasts Between the Bible and the Quran
BY JEFF SANDERS
pjmedia.com/faith
MARCH 28, 2016

> I recently wrote about some of the “Startling Similarities (and Contrasts) Between the Bible and the Quran.” Here are six more important differences between the holy books of the world’s two largest religions:
>
> 1. Conversion Stories
> As I have been reading the Bible for the past 40 years, I’ve noticed that it’s message first and foremost is the story of God extending grace to rescue fallen mankind. There are many stories of ordinary people and “great” prophets, all struggling in their faith. There are also several conversion stories. For example, in the Old Testament, Manasseh is a diabolically murderous king of Judah (2 Kings 21), but later we find out in 2 Chronicles 33:11-20 that while he was in prison he truly repented and turned his life over to God. …
>
> But in my reading of the Quran, I’ve personally seen nothing like this at all … . I’ve seen no stories of reprobates experiencing the transforming grace of God. No stories of God reaching out in mercy and forgiving someone in their wretchedness and lifting them up to a new life as you see all through the four Gospels and Acts. …
> …
> 3. God’s Grace
> The theme of the Bible is grace—God’s undeserved favor toward rebellious sinners (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation is an assured, accomplished event that is to be experienced and enjoyed in this life, and finally actualized in the next life (John 5:24). However, the Quran seems to be lacking in grace (although it mentions at times that God is gracious). For Muhammad, salvation is strictly a “quid pro quo.” If you are “good” you just might make it to Paradise, depending on your faithfulness and if Allah thinks you measure up (Surah 7:42,43; 40:40; 39:73; 43:73).
> …
> 4. Descriptions of Heaven
> … Paradise in the Quran is compared to a Garden of Eden-like existence, similar to the New Jerusalem described in Revelation 21 and 22. But, Muhammad also describes it as a very sensual/sexual place, where dark-eyed virgins await faithful men to marry them and to satisfy their “needs” forever (Surah 37:50; 52:20; 55:53,68; 56:17,35). …

A quick look at some significant thematic differences between the Qur’an and the Bible.


#5

Awesome thread!

I noted with interest that bit about how “(Allah) does not love the prodigal.” That drives another nail in the coffin in my book.