Answering The Apologists For Islam

Those who seek to justify Islamic terrorism, often do so by stating that both Judaism and Christianity also have violent histories. Islam, they insist, is being ‘unfairly’ singled out, even though the other Abrahamic faiths are also inherently violent.

The two favourite and increasingly weary examples offered are the slaying by the Hebrews of the Canaanites (Judaism) and the bloody crimes of the Crusades (Christianity).

And this tactic by apologists for Islamic terrorism often works. It helps shore up the pervasive yet false premise that Islam is ‘just like other religions’.  Or, to put it another way: it is not Islam that causes Islamic terrorism, but rather human nature.

One of the best responses I’ve read to this apologist tactic, comes courtesy of writer and expert on radical Islam, Raymond Ibrahim. Here is what he says on the issue of whether Judaism and Christianity also promote violence in the same manner as Islam (emphasis is mine):

Such questions reveal a great deal of confusion between history and theology, between the temporal actions of men and the immutable words of G-d. The fundamental error being that Jewish andChristian history—which is violent—is being conflated with Islamic theologywhich commands violence.

Of course all religions have had their fair share of violence and intolerance towards the “other.” Whether this violence is ordained by G-d or whether warlike man merely wished it thus is the all-important question.

The Israelites’ violence is an interesting case in point. G-d clearly ordered the Hebrews to annihilate the Canaanites and surrounding peoples. Such violence is therefore an expression of G-d’s will, for good or ill. Regardless, all the historic violence committed by the Hebrews and recorded in the Tanakh is just that—history. It happened; G-d commanded it.

But it revolved around a specific time and place and was directed against a specific people. At no time did such violence go on to become standardized or codified into Jewish law (i.e. the Halakha).

This is where Islamic violence is unique. Though similar to the violence of the Tanakh —commanded by G-d and manifested in history—certain aspects of Islamic violence have become standardized in Islamic law (i.e. the Sharia) and apply at all times. Thus while the violence found in the Koran is in fact historical, its ultimate significance is theological. Consider the following Koranic verses:

Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the pagans wherever you find them—take them [captive], besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due [i.e. submit to Islam], then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (9:5).

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger [i.e. Islamic law], nor acknowledge the religion of Truth [i.e. Islam], from the people of the book [i.e. Jews and Christians], until they pay tribute with willing submission, and feel themselves utterly subdued (9:29).

As with Tanakh  verses where G-d  commanded the Hebrews to attack and slay their neighbors, these Koranic verses also have a historical context. Allah (through Muhammad) first issued these commandments after the Arab tribes had finally unified under the banner of Islam and were preparing to invade their Christian and pagan neighbors.

But unlike the bellicose verses and anecdotes of the Tanakh  these so-called “sword-verses” subsequently became fundamental to Islam’s relationship to both the “people of the book” (i.e. Christians and Jews) and the “pagans” (i.e. Hindus, Buddhists, animists, etc).

In fact, based on the sword-verses (as well as countless other Koranic verses and oral traditions attributed to Muhammad), Islam’s scholars, sheikhs, muftis, imams, and qadis throughout the ages have all reached the consensus—binding on the entire Muslim community—that Islam is to be at perpetual war with the non-Muslim world, until the former subsumes the latter. (It is widely held that the sword-verses alone have abrogated some 200 of the Koran’s more tolerant verses.)

Famous Muslim scholar and “father of modern history” Ibn Khaldun articulates the dichotomy between jihad and defensive warfare thus:

In the Muslim community, the holy war [i.e. jihad] is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force...
The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense... They are merely required to establish their religion among their own people.

That is why the Israeilites after Moses and Joshua remained unconcerned with royal authority [e.g. a “caliphate”]. Their only concern was to establish their religion [not spread it to the nations]…

But Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations (The Muqudimmah, vol. 1 pg. 473, emphasis added).

Even when juxtaposed to their Jewish and Christian counterparts, the Islamic sword-verses are distinctive for using language that transcends time and space, inciting believers to attack and slay non-believers today no less than yesterday.

G-d commanded the Hebrews to kill Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites—all specific peoples rooted to a specific time and place. At no time did G-d  give an open-ended command for the Hebrews, and by extension their descendants the Jews, to fight and kill gentiles.

On the other hand, though Islam’s original enemies were, like Judaism’s, historical (e.g. Christian Byzantines and pagan Persians), the Koran rarely singles them out by their proper names. Instead, Muslims were (and are) commanded to fight the people of the book—“until they pay tribute with willing submission and feel themselves utterly subdued” (9:29) and to “slay the pagans wherever you find them” (9:5).
The two conjunctions “until” and “wherever” demonstrate the perpetual nature of these commandments: there are still “people of the book” who have yet to be “utterly subdued” (especially in the Americas, Europe, and Israel) and “pagans” to be slain “wherever” one looks (especially Asia and sub-Saharan Africa).

Aside from the divine words of the Koran, Muhammad’s pattern of behavior—his “Sunna” or “example”—is an extremely important source of legislation in Islam. Muslims are exhorted to emulate Muhammad in all walks of life: “You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern [of conduct]” (33:21).

And Muhammad’s pattern of conduct vis-à-vis non-Muslims is quite explicit. Sarcastically arguing against the concept of “moderate” Islam, terrorist Osama bin Laden, who enjoys half the Arab-Islamic world’s support per a recent al-Jazeera poll, portrays the prophet’s Sunna thus:

“Moderation” is demonstrated by our prophet who did not remain more than three months in Medina without raiding or sending a raiding party into the lands of the infidels to beat down their strongholds and seize their possessions, their lives, and their women” (from The Al-Qaeda Reader).

In fact, based on both the Koran and Muhammad’s Sunna, pillaging and plundering infidels, enslaving their children, and placing their women in concubinage is well founded (e.g. 4:24, 4:92, 8:69, 24:33, 33:50, etc.).

While law-centric and legalistic, Judaism has no such equivalent to the Sunna; the words and deeds of the patriarchs, though recorded in the Tanakh  never went on to be part of Jewish law. Neither Abraham’s “white-lies,” nor Jacob’s perfidy, nor Moses’ short-fuse, nor David’s adultery, nor Solomon’s philandering ever went on to instruct Jews. They were merely understood to be historical actions perpetrated by fallible men who were often punished by G-d for their less than ideal behavior.

And regarding the Crusades, Raymond Ibrahim points out:
In fact, far from suggesting anything intrinsic to Christianity, the Crusades ironically help better explain Islam. For what the Crusades demonstrated once and for all is that irrespective of religious teachings—indeed, in the case of these so-called “Christian” Crusades, despite them—man is truly predisposed to violence and intolerance. But this begs the question: If this is how Christians behaved—who are commanded to love, bless, and do good to their enemies who hate, curse, and persecute them—how much more can be expected of Muslims who, while sharing the same violent tendencies, are further commanded by the Deity to attack, kill, and plunder non-believers?

Read more of Raymond Ibrahim’s excellent articles here

12 thoughts on “Answering The Apologists For Islam

  1. OLI – one final point:

    I must confess to being astonished at how easily you dismiss the Muslim support for Hitler. This was not a case of ‘two religions fighting’ or not being ‘friends’!

    The Jews were not doing anything – they were just living peacefully, or trying to, in Palestine and other Middle Eastern nations, as they indeed had done for thousands of years, since way before Islam even existed!

    The Muslim world welcomed Hitler and openly stated it planned to BUILD concentration camps and GAS Jews to death – just as was happening in Europe.

    Sorry Oli, but for you to dismiss this so easily is really surprising.

  2. OLI

    – I have to correct you, I’m afraid. When the Israelis left Gaza, it was done PURELY because the Palestinian Arabs PROMISED an end to terrorism. This is a matter of public record. Go and check the newspaper articles about it if you prefer not to just take my word for it.

    ~The Israelis living in Gaza were dragged physically from their HOMES. But because the world insisted that doing this would secure a lasting peace, based on what the Palestinian Arabs were saying, the Israelis got out of Gaza.

    The **only** reason for their leaving was BECAUSE it was meant to bring peace!

    Result: INcreased terrorism from Gaza, once Hamas were voted into power.

    This is, again, a simple statement of FACT.


    As for the Gazan economy: are you not aware that Gaza gets literally MILLIONS and MILLIONS from Europe? And from Iran? We are talking huge amounts of money.

    In addition, when Israel left Gaza, she left behind an ENTIRE infrastructure for the Pal Arabs to take over! This inluded many beautiful greenhouses full of produce.

    Do you know what the Palestinian Arabs did?
    Answer: they tore those greenhouses down with their bare hands.

    Again: this is FACT.

    Finally: if as you say Islam is a peaceful religion, perhaps you can explain why it is that every single Muslim nation is a repressive theocracy?

    Saudi Arabia:
    Christians get arrested for owning a bible.
    Women can’t leave their homes without a male relative as chaperone.
    Rape victims get publicly flogged and even imprisoned as ‘punishment’.

    Christians in prison right now just for BEING Christians.
    Jews prevented from leaving.
    Gays persecuted terribly.

    And ditto with EVERY Muslim nation bar Turkey.

    Please, don’t take my word for it. The facts are there:

  3. Hi Oli,

    Sorry, but I’m afraid you have been a bit misinformed on a few points.

    1 – Hamas was not created because of Israel. It was created out of the Muslim Brotherhood which *is* a radical Islamic group, irrespective of what Wikipedia may or may not say!

    Recent Hamas statements by senior Hamas leaders reveal the group’s hatred towards both Jews and Christians:
    Recent statements by leaders include the following:

    Imam Yousif al-Zahar of Hamas said in his sermon at the Katib Wilayat mosque in Gaza that “Jews are a people who cannot be trusted. They have been traitors to all agreements. Go back to history. Their fate is their vanishing.” Ref IHT 1 April 08

    Sheik Yunus al-Astal, a Hamas legislator and imam, in a column in the weekly newspaper Al Risalah in 2008 discussed a Koranic verse suggesting that “suffering by fire is the Jews’ destiny in this world and the next.” Astal concluded “Therefore we are sure that the Holocaust is still to come upon the Jews.Ref IHT 1 April 08
    “We will not rest until we destroy the Zionist entity” stated Hamas leader Fathi Hammad in Gaza on Friday January 2nd 2009 – ref — BBC 2 January 09

    In a sermon aired on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa television, cleric Yunis Al Astal stated, “Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital, which has declared its hostility to Islam, and has planted the brothers of apes and pigs in Palestine in order to prevent the reawakening of Islam.
    “I believe that our children, or our grandchildren, will inherit our jihad and our sacrifices, and, Allah willing, the commanders of the conquest will come from among them”

    He maintained that Rome would become, “”an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread though Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, even Eastern Europe.” Ref- Fox 14 Apr. 2008

    Also in the Hamas Charter, this Hadith:

    “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

    You argue that the Hamas Charter and statements by Hamas leaders should ‘not be taken too seriously’ – perhaps you’d care to tell that to the THOUSANDS of Israelis who have lost their children, their limbs and their friends TO Hamas suicide bombings…?

    And no, this terrorism is not a result of the ‘occupation’ – because remember, pre 1967, Gaza was occupied by EGYPT. Egypt stuck the Palestinian Arabs in camps and then MINED THE BORDERS so they could not escape! And there was no terrorism against the Egyptians.

    And pre 1967, the west bank was occupied by JORDAN – and Jordan refused to allow the Palestinian Arabs IN, because when it let a few hundred in, they caused SO much trouble and violence Jordan realised it had made a massive mistake.

    ~These are verifiable, objective *facts*.

    You also seem to be forgetting that Gaza also shares a border, today and for years, with EGYPT. Yet I don’t see you condemning Egypt in the way that you condemn Israel!


    Re Islam:

    The clerics that you refer to are hardly going to admit that their own religion condones terrorism, are they…?

    I strongly urge you to get the FACTS – go here

    Read even some of the Quran – you will get a shock.

  4. while i must say i still don’t agree with most of your thoughts, i’m always happy to hear the ‘other side’, to hear everyone’s opinions. Anyway, let me respond to you:

    firstly, about islam. No, I haven’t read Quran, but maybe i will read it some day. Still, i heard many senior muslim clerics and reporters saying that Quran (and islam) strongly opposes terrorism, unjust killing, suicide and oppression. They even named number of pages where does it states in quran. Quran also teaches self-defense, forgiveness and tolerance. So i really can’t agree with your negative thoughts about the book and islam itself. But i agree with you that one can’t be sure until he reads the very book.

    Secondly, about Gaza: I think it’s no big news who’s in real charge of all palestinians territories, including gaza. it’s israel. Palestinians have NO regular army to protect them. Yes, there can be so-called ‘police’ in gaza, but as long as is can’t defend the streets and palestinians there, and as long as israeli soldiers can easily enter and leave the zone, this ‘police’ is quite useless. Maybe israeli soldiers really don’t enter and leave every day, they still CAN do it if they want. This difference is showing that palestinians have no real control in gaza. Not to mention that their economy depends mostly on israel, so there’s another proof of real control…

    I don’t remember Palestinians PUBLICLY stating that if Israel left Gaza, there would be no more terrorism ( especially because they don’t call their fight ‘terrorism’). But i’m quite sure that sharon didn’t evacuate gaza purely on the promises by Palestinians. It’s naive to believe that. That’s not how big things in politics happen.

    Another thing is IDF… Please don’t buy the propaganda about their purity from israeli radios or media, because they’re no angels at all. Just remember those criminal idf t-shirts some months ago. They have a long list of crimes and there are open war crimes investigations against Israel in europe. Idf do not only demolish homes that are hamas bases. You should ask some human rights organisations from israel about that and i think you’d be amazed by some things you’ve probably never heard of. However, i do agree that there are many palestinian (mostly pro-fatah) accounts of how badly Hamas treats them.

    As for Hamas Charter, i insist that you’re taking it way too serious. It was written long time ago and is not that important anymore. I also wouldn’t mix or confuse Hamas and Al Queda too much, because there’re too many differences between them. One thing you seems to forget is, that hamas was ‘born’ to fight israeli occupation. So if there was no occupation, there’d be no hamas born.

    You’re also wrong about the Muslim brotherhood. They’re not terrorists. Even in wikipedia it states that it is ‘the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states, particularly Egypt’.

    Finally, on Nazis and PRE Israel time: I don’t think the occupation is the only problem, but i think it is the main problem TODAY. I guess things have changed from the WW2 to now. It’s nothing new that different religions like to ‘fight’ each other and that Arabs and Jews were never real friends in history, especially not during the WW2. But during the WW2, many surprising and unclear things happened. I mean, Soviets (stalin) were making plans together with Hitler, until he attacked ’em. So i can ask you back, why did russians support germany at first? They surely had their own interests (land, economy), and so had the arabs.

  5. Oli,

    Let me first respond to your comments about Islam. I used to say precisely the same thing; in fact, I used to actively defend Islam in internet forums when people wrote negative things about it.
    Then I read the Quran.

    If you haven’t yet done so, I highly recommend it. The Quran does, I’m afraid, instruct all Muslims to either actively convert NON Muslims – or to ‘subjugate’ them…

    Much of the Quran, in fact, is taken up with hatred towards ‘infidels’ as all non Muslims are characterised. Muslims are instructed to wage ‘Jihad’ as their highest duty. Islam is not just a faith; it is also a political system.

    Now, I am not for one moment denying that there exist millions of peaceful, honourable Muslims. Of course there are! But they are this way *despite* Islam and its teachings. Not because of them. But don’t take my word for it – read the Quran.

    Alternatively, check out this site which gives an overview of Islam:

    Now, to address your remarks on Gaza:

    Gaza has not been under anything but Palestinian control for five years. This is objective, verifiable FACT. Israeli soldiers do not enter and leave every day, nor are Israeli agents operating in it every day. And sorry but the Palestinians DO have police – organised by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas!

    And no, the thousands of SUICIDE BOMBINGS and missile attacks are ‘not part of the conflict’. If they were, then why did the Palestinians PUBLICLY state that if Israel left Gaza, there would be NO MORE TERRORISM?

    So Israel left, physically dragging Israelis from their homes, purely on the PROMISE by Palestinians of an END TO TERRORISM.

    Result? A dramatic INcrease in terrorism FROM Gaza!

    The IDF do not target civilians. They only demolish homes that are HAMAS BASES because Hamas repeatedly target CIVILIANS. And have you not read the PALESTINIAN accounts of how Hamas treats THEM? They are horrendous!

    And they are not just ‘rockets’. They are deadly missiles that only last week, killed a father of three, while he was gardening.

    The Hamas Charter must be taken seriously – it is the official manifesto OF Hamas and Hamas leaders have over and over and over again PUBLICLY STATED that they will ONLY be contented when Israel CEASES TO EXIST.

    Hamas and Al Queda have the same history and agenda: both were spawned by the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organisation which is currently trying to get a grip in Egypt.

    Are you aware that according to Islamic law, *any* bit of land that has ever been in Islamic hands – even if for five minutes – must ultimately be reclaimed BY Muslims, by any means necessary? This is not me saying it – it is the Quran! It is the Hadiths! It is the Muslim clerics and scholars!

    Are you also aware that Hamas has stated that even IF the Israeli/Palestine problem did not exist, that Hamas WOULD STILL be out to destroy Jews, because the Quran STATES it is a ‘religious duty’???


    If, as you state, it is the ‘occupation’ that is the sole problem, then WHY is it that PRE Israel, back when Hitler was rising to power, the Muslim and Arab worlds SUPPORTED HITLER and the attempted genocide of the Jewish people?

    Why did the Muslim leaders across the world, applaud Hitler, and welcome him as an ‘honoured brother’?

    Why did Muslims form Nazi groups in almost all Islamic nations and why did they send Muslim men to fight WITH THE NAZIS?

    Why did Muslim leaders openly declare their desire to copy Hitler and build concentration camps IN Palestine to get rid of all Palestinian Jews?

    This was PRE the modern state of Israel, remember.

  6. Many thanks Lee 🙂

    I was very interested to read that British soldiers showed verbal support for the Irgun; fascinating.

    I always find it somewhat amusing when opponents of Israel desperately clutch at the King David incident to try and ‘prove’ some moral equivalence between Jews and Muslims in terms of terrorism. Islamic terrorism, as we all know, is happening every single day, somewhere in the world. No other religion inculcates that depth of hatred in its followers – only Islam.

  7. Interesting that those opposed to Israel will repeat the “bombing of the King David hotel” “story without knowing the actual truth. The British were warned, as stated above. However, if the complete history of the incident is read, it is made clear, even by the British themselves, that it was the arrogance of the British commander in the King David hotel that caused the deaths. He refused to listen to the Jews. The Irgun always announced when they were planning such an attack. (That’s why you don’t see any others like it. The other commanders listened and protected their men.) Later, at a trial after the war, several British soldiers stated on the recored that they admired the Jewish commanders of the Irgun and would gladly serve under them.

    Excellent article, by the way. Thanks for pointing out the difference so people can understand. It’s interesting that people who actually practice what they believe (and their respective “religions” teach) are called extremists, i.e. the Jewish settlers, Muslim terrorists. According to the Koran, the Muslim terrorists are actually just faithful Muslims. They are only obeying the actual teachings of their god.

  8. no, no i can’t agree at all. Let me try to explain.

    1. As I said earlier, Hizbollah are called ”terrorists” only by israel, the U.S. and some other countries. Ask china, russia, arab world and most of the EU about them and you’ll see that the issua is not as trivial as you think. Moreover, with their resistance fight, hizbollah forced israel to leave lebanon and thus ended the occupation. They fought for the freedom and were rewarded for it. Radical militant groups like Hamas are little different story. They also fight the occupation, but they’re using some terrorist methods. and please, don’t take every word from the old Hamas Charter too seriously. Even some senior hamas leaders said that their goal is the end of the occupation, not to destroy israel.

    2. Gaza is really not occupied, but it is still NOT under total Palestinian control. I mean, israeli soldiers are entering and leaving it every day. Israeli agents are operating inside it every day, israeli planes are flying over it every hour. And since palestinians have no real police or army, they can’t control Gaza themselves. See the difference? Those rocket attacks from Gaza that are aimed at parts of Israel that have ‘ALWAYS been home to a JEWISH majority’ are just a part of the conflict, of the long war. For example, IDF kill some palestinians or destroy some houses, then hamas radicals fire some rockets from gaza… it’s a circle of violence.

    3. I think you’re wrong about Islam. I must say I don’t know much about it myself, but I think it is a religion like every other. I don’t believe that Quran encourages terrorism. However, every religion can be used by some ‘bad guys’ or radicals, for reaching their goals, to make people kill the other ‘ in the name of god’. I think no religion is exeption there. And that is sad.

  9. Hi Oli,

    To answer your points:

    1 – the reason that Hamas and Hezbollah are defined as ‘terrorist’s is because, by their own admission, they *target* innocents. Women and children. Hamas has publicly boasted about using Palestinian innocents as ‘human shields’. So both Israelis and Palestinians are suffering because of these acts of terrorism. Nothing ‘complicated’ about it. Read the Hamas Charter. It states clearly that it aims to destroy Israel.

    2 – Gaza is not ‘occupied’. It has been under total Palestinian control for *five* years. Hamas was democratically elected and controls the whole of Gaza. So why are there still literally hundreds of Palestinian terror attacks? Suicide bombings? Missile attacks targetting Israeli schools? Israeli hospitals? Israeli nightclubs and restaurants?

    Gaza is under Palestinian control – yet the attacks **from** Gaza are aimed at parts of Israel that have ALWAYS been home to a JEWISH majority. They are not areas under dispute. So kindly explain this ongoing terrorism!

    3 – There is no such thing as ‘islamophobic’. Islam is an ideology. Neither I, nor anyone else, has a phobia of Islam!

    I do take issue with the teachings of Islam, yes. I have this problem with a religion that describes ALL NON MUSLIMS as ‘infidels’ and which OPENLY STATES it intends to convert non Muslims by force or behead them!!!

    As for your denial that terrorism and Islam are connected – oh, purleeease…

    Over 90% of terrorism is ISLAMIC TERRORISM.

    The Quran condones and encourages TERRORISM.

    The root of Islamic terrorism IS ISLAM.

  10. i’m not angry. it’s just that terms ‘terrorists’, ‘islamofascism’ etc. are being used too easily and too often. You’ve probably heard the old saying: One people’s terrorist is another people’s freedom fighter. Hizbollah or hamas fighters are viewed as resistance/freedom fighters among the majority of the Muslims or Russians. Yet, they’re called ‘terrorists’ by israel, the U.S. and maybe some other countries. There are many other examples in the world (IRA, LTTE, Kurds in Iraq…). So, as I said, the thing is very complexed. You also seems to forget a very important (if not crucial) thing in israeli-palestinians conflict – the occupation.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I find you little islamo-phobic if not anti-islam person. You seek to connect terms islam and terrorism anywhere you can. Which is wrong.

    have a nice day

  11. OLI – it’s typical that in order to find a SINGLE act of terrorism on behalf of Israel, you had to go all the way back to 1948!

    And as it happens, the King David hotel was being used by the British government, which one could argue made it a legitimate military target. Also, the small group of Jews responsible DID phone first to warn everyone to get out the hotel.

    As it happens, I don’t agree that what they did was right, even though they did phone through a warning first.

    That said, perhaps your anger would be better directed at the Islamic groups which are committing terrorist atrocities every SINGLE DAY.

  12. apology it as you wish, but what about The Bombing of the King David Hotel? i call it terror.

    as for the connection between islam and violence, you’re overreacting a little. The issue is not as black-white as you think.

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