We received the following response to Paul’s letter to the editor in the Queen City News:
To the Editor:
It is crucial to have a clear understanding of issues before making a decision. Especially in light of the ongoing War on Terror, knowing fact from fallacy avoids falling into stereotypes.
Upon reading Paul Cohen’s letter, "No peace sans God" (QCN, Aug. 9, 2006), I wanted to clear up several misconceptions about the Qur’an. The Qur’an holds itself to be the message of the Prophet Mohammad containing additional revelations of God (almost like a third Testament).
Mr. Cohen states that the Qur’an "denies the major truths of the Bible, supplanting it with the worship of a man (Mohammed)…" On the contrary, it is very clear that only God deserves worship. Mohammad is a prophet much like Abraham, Moses and Jesus.
Additionally, the Qur’an does not, as Mr. Cohen states, justify "murder, lies, pillage, and woman-beating." When I open my Qur’an, I see a gospel preaching religious toleration, charity and goodwill. When I open my Bible, I see the Gospels teaching very similar lessons of charity, kindness and goodwill. In fact, there are passages in the Bible that could justify violence. For example, the Book of Deuteronomy commands parents to stone their disobedient children to death.
The Bible and Qur’an do not necessarily contradict each other. For instance, in both books, it is Jesus who judges humanity at the end of the world.
I hope that people inform themselves before writing an editorial or judging another religion, rather than classifying all Muslims under the stereotype of the fanatical Islamic terrorist.
2709 Gold Rush Ave.
A personal letter from Paul to Tyler:
You wrote a letter to the editor of The Queen City News regarding what you called "misconceptions about the Qur’an." You argued against something I had written about the Qur’an, wherein I had said that it supplanted the truths of the Bible with the worship of a man. Clearly if the Bible is true, and it is, then Muhammad and his revelations are false. Therefore, anyone following his "revelations" is following, or worshipping, Muhammad rather than following, or worshipping, God. This goes for other religions as well, including many that call themselves "Christian." They are following the teachings of men, and not God, although most will at least admit, in principle, to Jesus Christ being Lord of all. Islam denies this.
We have written a paper that helps clarify and support these conclusions, which I hope you will take the time to read and consider. The Truth is not against anyone, but everyone has been against the Truth. Universal repentance is necessary, and inevitable. That is the whole purpose and great victory of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Mr. Cohen,
I am glad to hear from you. Through your writings, perhaps I could learn something about Christianity. I was raised Christian, but have several unanswered questions about my faith. However, I still hope to clear up some of your statements concerning the Qur’an. After all, the Truth concerning the Almighty God is the goal towards which we all strive.
Your paper is quite a lengthy one, and well-documented with citations from both the Qur’an and the Bible. It will take me some time to respond to all of your points.
Please note that I agree with you on several points. Your portrayal of extremist Islam, unfortunately, is pretty close to the mark.
On just a quick reading of your paper, I came up with a few points I would like to mention.
To begin with, I disagree with your portrayal of Extremist Muslims and "Extremist" Christians. I acknowledge that Extreme Islam is a violent destructive force. But in order to find a Christian group that does the same thing as Extreme Islam, ignoring the large body of text in favor of a very limited interpretation, I suggest that groups like the Ku Klux Klan or the Westboro Baptist Church are good examples of Extremist Christians. These groups pervert the Scriptures and take passages out of context to justify their hatred, similar to Extremist Islamic groups.
As an example of the way that terrorist groups selectively use Qur’anic verses to defend their actions, suicide is expressly forbidden is Islam. "O ye who believe!… Do not kill yourselves, for truly Allah has been to you Most Merciful. If any do that in rancour and injustice, soon shall We cast him into the Fire." (Qur’an 4:29-30).
I would disagree with your portrayal of a moderate Muslim being necessarily violent. The core virtues of the Qur’an, mentioned over and over, are charity, patience, truth, honesty and, above all, faith in the Almighty Creator.
As far as converting infidels, I would point to the oft-quoted "There is no compulsion in religion." (2:256) There are other passages talking about religious toleration, especially with Jews & Christians.
Once again, Mr. Cohen, I thank you for taking the time to contact me. Perhaps we can continue these discussions. I am more than happy to provide more evidence supporting my point of view, but I wanted to send a quick reply to acknowledge this e-mail.
I appreciate the manner in which you are approaching me to discuss this matter. I do hope that you will learn something from us about Christianity, not the religion, but the Person. Jesus Christ is what it, and everything, is all about.
For now, I will also make a few comments regarding some things I see in your letter.
You need to read the writing again, this time more slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully. The answers to your objections are all there. For example, extremist Muslims do what the Koran, in spirit and in letter, tells them to do. There is no perversion of texts, but full justification and even commandment to wage jihad to bring the whole world into submission to “Allah” (which is a devil, not God). Those on the other hand, whom you mention as examples of extremist Christians, the Ku Klux Klan and Westboro Baptist Church, do not do what Christ or the Bible teaches. There is no way that one abiding in those groups would find justification for what they do by the example, in spirit and in word, of Christ. But extremist Muslims are fully at one with and justified by Muhammad.
Extremist Christians, as is pointed out, are those whose ways testify against the worldly and selfish ways of professing Christians that do not follow Christ or Scripture. The true Christian is like Jesus Christ in character and behavior, while the true Muslim is like Muhammad (forget what he said, though that is bad enough, just look at what he did). And while Muhammad is dead, Jesus Christ is alive, the Lord of all, by Whose Spirit those who receive Him are empowered to be as Him. Without Christ it is impossible for man to be right with God, and to live righteously in His sight. Muhammad did not know or preach Christ, but taught men a form of works and self-righteousness. His spirit is one of insecurity, pettiness, fear, hate, vindictiveness, self-aggrandizement, lechery, and false piety. That is what his followers inherit, and just like a communicable disease, it spreads rapidly from generation to generation, consuming and outliving its hosts. Those Muslims that seem more moderate or unlike Muhammad simply are not following him closely enough, or their true inner state is hidden from you, as with so many things, which can only be spiritually perceived. Often that nature is as a time bomb, one day surprisingly exploding. (Consider the English-born Muslim terrorists recently.) The spirit and nature of Islam, as founded by Muhammad and outlined in the Koran, if appearing benign, is but incubating, to be unpleasantly revealed in due time. “An evil tree cannot produce good fruit,” said Jesus.
You write: “After all, the Truth concerning the Almighty God is the goal towards which we all strive.” I do not know who you are including in “we,” but this is a false statement if there ever was one. The Scriptures are quite clear about the true nature of man:
“Just as it is written: There is none righteous, no not one, There is none who understands; there is none who seeks God. All have turned aside; together they became unprofitable; there is not one doing kindness, there is not so much as one. Their throat is an opened grave; with their tongues they deceived; the poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; Ruin and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they did not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18 EMTV).
No man seeks God. If any person seeks God, it is because God draws that person to Christ, Who is the Truth. This one assumption has you on the wrong track altogether, Tyler. If and when you repent you will learn not to put your trust in man, as you do now, but you will learn to trust in God alone, through Jesus Christ, Who is here as Mediator to reconcile you to God. We are His ambassadors to this end.
Your translation of Surah 4:29-30 is very different from other translations, as you will see here:
YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: But let there be amongst you Traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful!
PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! Squander not your wealth among yourselves in vanity, except it be a trade by mutual consent, and kill not one another. Lo! Allah is ever Merciful unto you.
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not devour your property among yourselves falsely, except that it be trading by your mutual consent; and do not kill your people; surely Allah is Merciful to you.
YUSUFALI: If any do that in rancour and injustice,- soon shall We cast them into the Fire: And easy it is for Allah.
PICKTHAL: Whoso doeth that through aggression and injustice, we shall cast him into Fire, and that is ever easy for Allah.
SHAKIR: And whoever does this aggressively and unjustly, We will soon cast him into fire; and this is easy to Allah.
There is nothing here against suicide killings of infidels. What is here is an exhortation for Muslims to not diminish themselves by squander or squabbles, except where it is done in the name of justice, which is the problem. Justice, in Islam is in the eye of the beholder, corrupt and unregenerate men who decide what they will, or will not, accept, and who believe themselves justified to do so because of instructions from a dead man in a dead book. Whereas true Christians walk under the discipleship of the living God, Who is present, and Who guides into what is right and good, leading and chastening His people accordingly.
As for the verses regarding religious toleration, there are others in the Koran stating otherwise. Furthermore, and more importantly, while the Bible includes enemies in the application of the virtues you mention, the Koranic application is selective and selfish. For example, the Koran states that keeping an agreement with infidels (nonmuslims) is not necessary in Allah’s sight (Surah 5:89; 2:225) as mentioned in our paper. It can certainly be looked upon as a matter of convenience and strategy for Muslims to be tolerant at times, as it was with Muhammad. He was tolerant when it was to his benefit, and did not tolerate when the opportunity to subjugate showed itself. Islam has a long history of great intolerance, beginning with its founder, to this very day. In fact it now grows bolder and more inflamed to do evil, as the sins of the West call for judgment.
The stance and the practices of Islam are to be expected in a religion without God. As we have shown in our paper, Islam denies Jesus Christ, Who as God was “manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16 KJV).
A “Christian” in name or by affiliation you might be, Tyler, but you are not one in truth by spiritual conception and birth from above. True Christianity is not a religion. It is a nature change; it is a repetition of Jesus Christ. That is your true need and points to what you lack, which all your reasoning and wishful thinking cannot begin to satisfy.
For this reason we are sent by God, along with myriads of His saints, to contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. In His Name we come against the false prophets that presume to speak for God, but who come against the precious gift of faith that He paid for with His blood.
While we all hear many claims and declarations made from all quarters and levels of Islam, we perceive not only blatant contradictions among themselves, but also great inconsistency between their beliefs or claims and their deeds and the clear record of the Koran. We see no true peace, for example, in their deeds or in the Koran, quite the contrary.
No matter who you are, or what you believe, the fact remains that Islam is a declaration of war on any other claim to authority or belief. Yet Jesus Christ, after He was resurrected from the dead, said, “All authority is given to Me in Heaven and in earth.” He did not say it was given to anyone claiming to come in His Name, but to Him. The story in this writing is one of an encounter between one who comes in the name of Muhammad, and, by his arguments, puts away one professing Christ, because the latter does not know the living God or His mind.
A customer at Harvest Haven takes leave of us, “shocked and horrified” that we “spread such inflammatory words about a whole religion,” and regretting “every dollar ever spent in [our] store.” She says, with a straight face, that she will never come back because she “values freedom of religion and respect for ALL people.”