Islam may be looked at in the same way Christianity may be viewed in the mundane. The same spectra are at work in both: Literal to figurative, conservative to liberal, traditional to textual, etc. This then raises the issue of how one defines Islam. Does Islam encompass everything everyone who claims to be a Muslim believes, or is Islam only that which Mohammed expressed? I hold with the latter. It is the same position I hold vis-Ã -vis Christianity. Christianity is only what Jesus expressed. Anything that diverges from Jesus's meanings and intentions is not Christian.
The Islam of tradition is a mixed bag. Some traditions allow and even encourage female education. Others do not.
However, if we remove everything from consideration concerning Islam that is not in sync (as much as that's possible) with Mohammed's world and spiritual view as contained in the Qur'an, then we will be in the proper position to compare and contrast Islam with Christianity.
Mohammed was a sexist. There is no doubt about that. There are differences between the sexes of course, which suit them to certain roles. Men don't give birth except by women. Men don't breast feed babies. That women carry developing babies in their wombs and give birth to them and breast feed them doesn't mean that the differences between males and females stops with those aspects. Neither does it mean that all women are particularly well suited to those things. It also doesn't mean that there are not effeminate males.
Mohammed though set down rules about the role of females which rules were never expressed by Jesus. In fact, the rules of Mohammed run contrary to the spirit of Christ as expressed in the four Gospels of the narrow canon.
Mohammed married Aisha when she was 6 or 7. The marriage was a contract. Aisha remained with her parents until she was 9. Then according to the Hadith (held to be sacred text in Islam), she went to live with Mohammed who had sexual intercourse with her when she was a 9-year-old. (http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/058.sbt.html#005.058.234) Did the Holy Spirit move him to do this?
Jesus said the following:
And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. (Mark 9:42)
Aisha didn't believe in Jesus of the Gospels though. Regardless, the idea concerning not doing an offense against a young child is clear. The term offense here is to be understood within the whole context of Jesus's message and not within the culture of Mohammed at the time or the current worldly culture.
If we apply only what was or wasn't permissible within a given culture at the time, then what human behavior has ever crossed the line into that which was never acceptable in the eyes of God?
What was offense, and still is, to Jesus is what offends God. Did God join Aisha and Mohammed together or did some other spirit do that?
If God joined them, then it was not a sin. If it was not a sin then, then it is not a sin now for a man in his 50s to have sexual intercourse with a 9-year-old. (Let me say that I am 55, and it would be a clear sin for me to do what Mohammed did. There is no doubt about it.) That's because Mohammed was aware of the Gospels. He had read them or had them read to him. He had heard the words attributed to Jesus Christ in the aforementioned Gospels. He was not ignorant about Jesus's position. He was not in the relative position of Moses vis-Ã -vis Jesus — coming before Jesus walked the Earth.
It is also an error to excuse Mohammed by comparing him to those who have done worse.
Of course, the prohibition against having one's sexual way with children (too young to comprehend and who will be emotionally damaged by such activities) is not the only area in which Mohammed selfishly deviated in a highly qualified manner from the teachings of Jesus as rendered in those Gospels. He ignored in very selective ways the prohibition against violence, acquisitiveness, slavery, and more.
He did not except Jesus on Jesus's terms. He rather claims to have been told by the archangel Gabriel that the Gospels are full of lies. Mohammed said, and had committed to the Qur'an, the following concerning Jesus and Jesus's followers, including the closest Apostles who lived with Jesus:
They say, "The Most Merciful has begotten a son!" Indeed you have put forth a thing most monstrous! As if the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin that they should invoke a son for the Most Merciful. For it is not consonant with the majesty of the Most Merciful that He should beget a son: Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to the Most Merciful as a servant. (Qur'an 19:88-93.)
Those who hold that Jesus did not preach against violence, acquisitiveness, slavery, and sexual depravity are mistaken. Their reading of scripture is inaccurate. They are failing to comprehend and properly to interpret.
Consider the case of the Episcopal priestess who claims both Christianity and Islam with her bishop's blessing and encouragement in that. It is confusion. Her bishop and she are suggested that one may hold to diametrically opposed theologies at the same time. One may do this only via deep mental and spiritual disorder.
In the final analysis if one is considering Islam and Christianity with an eye to believing, one is confronted with the question of whether Mohammed's view as expressed in the Qur'an or Jesus's view as expressed in the said Gospels is correct. They both cannot be correct, because they contradict each other in ways that are irreconcilable.
Mohammed's authorization of violence and other things not allowed by Jesus leaves the door open to much more difficulty for his followers in figuring out where to draw lines. Writings considered sacred to Muslims indicate that Mohammed confused his closest followers by telling one person one thing and another person another thing which things were completely at odds with each other and irreconcilable. When asked about this, Mohammed had no clear answer. His answer, tantamount to saying that his seemingly inconsistent whims at the moment are God's word (a clever answer for the gullible and those craving direction so much so as to become uncritical in their analysis and appraisal), was indicative of one whose view (contrary to the case with Jesus) is inconsistent and doesn't stand up.
Therefore based upon the foregoing, it is not the correct approach to moderate or liberalize Islam but rather convert from being a follower of Mohammed to becoming a follower of Jesus. Teach them real Christianity.
This message needs to get out to the Islam countries as well as everywhere else. The following are Islamic countries or countries with considerable Muslim populations:
- Burkina Faso
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- United Arab Emirates
- Western Sahara
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And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)