The very concept of peace and finality of Islam as proposed by Islamic theologians are the root cause of violence. Jerry Thomas critiques the doctrines of peace and finality of Islam as taught by one of its leading theologian, Sayed Qutb and exposes its shallowness. At the same time, this article contrasts the shallowness of Islam with the profoundness of Christian doctrine which brings true peace.
Every time when there is a bomb blast, politicians jump into fray and defend Islam by saying it is the misrepresentation of Islam that caused Jihad. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajashekar Reddy was no different. It is easy to expose such folly of the politicians by citing the sword verses (e.g. Surah 9:5) which had abrogated the peaceful verses. It further adds to the rebuttal when one cites the sensual heaven promised for Jihadis which is luring many immoral youngsters(Surah 78:31, 37; 40-48, 44: 51-55, 52: 17-20, 55:56-57 & 70-77, and 56: 7-40).
However, even if these verses were not there in the Qur’an, Islam would have been still violent. In this article, I would argue that the very concept of peace and finality of Islam as taught by Muslim theologians are misguided and leads to terror.Let me begin by citing the weakness of Islam. Qur’an has nothing to add about the nature and being of God or salvation of man. Or in other words, it has zero revelation about God and salvation of man which Bible is eloquent about. However, Muslims still claim that their religion is final. In order to defend this position, Muslims claim that Islam has laws for all walks of life. The finality of Islam is in the laws that it provides for every sphere of life and this according to them is the uniqueness of Islam. Sayed Qutb, the conservative Egyptian Islamic theologian (who inspires Al-Qaeda and founder of Muslim brotherhood), wrote in the first chapter of his book Islam and Universal Peace thus: “Obviously, a belief that can encompass all human activities is preferable to and more perfect than a belief that considers only a part of human activity”. He continues, “History has shown that Islam is unique in its ability to provide guidance for the entire range of human activity. It does not separate spiritual and secular life, for what seems to belong to the citizen and to Caesar is in reality God’s property.” Islamic concept of peace is thus an enforcement of laws at every sphere of life. It must be pointed out here that Qur’an alone even does not have laws for all walks of life. Qur’an needs Hadiths to supplement it. In that sense, Qur’an is even incomplete here.
However, I will not deal with that in this article. I will take the argument of conservative Islamic theologians at face value and then expose the weakness of such arguments.If it is taken at the face value, then what is the problem with this ideology? Isn’t this what Christianity also teaches in one way? Does not Bible also say “Whatever you do, do it unto the Lord” (1 Corinthians 10:31). In one sense, the answer is yes. But in the same sense as Islam speaks, the answer is no.
The reason is that Christianity does make a distinction between theKingdom of Caesar and Kingdom of God while Islam does not. Ayatollah Khomeini once said it well by saying Islam is political. In contrast, without ambiguity Lord Jesus Christ said: “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). This separation is not the weakness of Christianity but its strength and brilliance. The inseparability between the religion and State is the weakness and foolishness of Islam.
- Terror an Instrument of State: Unless religion and State is separated, religion will have to use force and terror. Sayed Qutb recognizes this when he writes in his book Islam and Universal Peace: “Force is an indispensable instrument for any ruler whose function is to maintain law and order because it deters oppressors from transgression, and it insures the Word of God prevails”. It must be noted here that except for the last part of the quote a Christian can agree with it. A Christian will not agree with part “it insures the Word of God prevails” as there is a separation of religion and State. (Prime Minister is a minister appointed by God for the world and not for the Word of God). This inseparability between the sword and the Word of God is further emphasized by Sayed Qutb when he argues in the same book that: “In order to propagate the oneness of God on earth and to put an end to the power of those who, by word or deed, challenge His omnipotence, Islam allows Muslims to fight.” It is here that one sees the strength of Christianity in separating the religion and state. However, this is not just strength; it is its brilliance in the final analysis.
- State is Temporal and Not Eternal: Moreover, religion and state should be differentiated or separated as one would differentiate between eternity and temporal. The true religion is for eternity. The Kingdom of God which is eternal should be differentiated from the temporal Kingdoms of this world. Temporal Kingdoms have passed away and will pass away. But the Kingdom of God will alone prevail even after all temporal Kingdoms pass away. The failure in Islam to differentiate between temporal Kingdoms and the eternal Kingdom of God exposes the shallowness of Islam. Islam has no grasp either about the Kingdoms of this world or of the Kingdom of God which has already begun and yet to come.
- State is Humanly Protected; the Kingdom of God is Divinely Protected: The founders of countries (State) are humans and are humanly protected. But the founder (Chief cornerstone) of Kingdom of God is God himself and the foundations are not laid by human hands. The Kingdom of God is advanced and protected by God himself. God does not need a human founder and protector to lay foundation for His Kingdom and protect His Kingdom. The failure of Islam to acknowledge this simple truth about Kingdom of God exposes that Islam is not founded by God.
- Legislating Every Sphere of Life is Unnecessary and Totalitarian: It is not necessary to legislate every sphere of life. In fact, it is totalitarian. There is a space for human choice and diversity within the framework of morality, e.g., food, dress and many cultural customs. To impose laws upon every walk of life, one has to have a dictatorship . Islamic regimes actually are dictatorial . But Christianity again with divine wisdom makes a differentiation between moral laws and rituals (which were only shadows) and gives space for diversity and human choice in rituals.
In fact it is this misguided inseparability of religion and State, and totalitarianism, which are the root cause of terrorism. But the true Kingdom of God is not laws about “eating and drinking, but righteousness and PEACE and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 13:17).