Sunday, January 7, 2018

Biblical Violence versus Koranic Violence

Michael Lumish

{Also published at Elder of Ziyon and Jews Down Under.}

As the West gradually awakens to the rise of political Islam and the immigration crisis in Europe, the question of Koranic violence versus Biblical violence is sometimes referenced.

The reason for this is because of the confusion around the sources of the jihadi aggression against the West. Is it due to western imperialism or to essential Islamic theological sources?

Or a combination of both?

When jihadis blow people up or burn them alive are they acting Koranically or out of righteous indignation toward the imperial advances of the rapacious West?

Whatever the answer to that particular question, what I would like to briefly suggest is that Biblical violence is generally descriptive while Koranic violence is generally prescriptive.

If you Google "violence in the quran vs violence in bible" you come up with a variety of discussions around the question of which books are most violent, the Hebraic Bible, the New Testament, or the Koran.

The very first result that pops up on my screen is from a sociological-statistical piece in the Independent by Samual Osborne entitled, 'Violence more common' in Bible than Quran, text analysis reveals.

Osborne writes:
An analysis into whether the Quran is more violent than the Bible found killing and destruction occur more frequently in the Christian texts than the Islamic.

Investigating whether the Quran really is more violent than its Judeo-Christian counterparts, software engineer Tom Anderson processed the text of the Holy books to find which contained the most violence.

In a blog post, Mr Anderson explains: "The project was inspired by the ongoing public debate around whether or not terrorism connected with Islamic fundamentalism reflects something inherently and distinctly violent about Islam compared to other major religions."
Mr. Anderson concludes his analysis by noting:
Comparing our three religious texts across the eight major emotions we find that the Old Testament is the ‘Angriest’ (including most mentions of ‘Disgust’); it also contains the least amount of ‘Joy’. 
When the question of Biblical violence versus Koranic violence is raised it is almost always done for the purpose of clearing Islam of any culpability for the results of its own theocratic-ideological inclinations. Thus statisticians like Anderson run the texts of the Bible, the New Testament, and the Koran through computer programs which tabulate violent references within those texts.

The results demonstrate that the Bible depicts more acts of violence than does the Koran.

This is hardly surprising given the length and ancient nature of the Bible, however, this misses the point entirely.

While the Bible and the Koran are filled with violence, Biblical violence tends to be descriptive, while Koranic violence tends toward the prescriptive.

The significance of this distinction is key to the nature of the different sources.

For example, in 2 Kings 2:23-25, concerning Elisha the successor of Elijah, we read:
23 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!” 24 When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number. 25 And he went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.
Now, that is quite an image.

According to the Bible, God sent a couple of she-bears out of the woods to murder, or otherwise maul, forty-two children for daring to mock a prophet of Judea.

In Koran 5:33, in the Surah Al-Ma'idah, however, we read this:
Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,
Although the chopping of hands and feet from opposite sides of the body is a mighty interesting and disgusting touch of Islamic jurisprudence, it is merely one example of the many, many violent descriptions in these books. 

One cannot draw definitive conclusions on the nature of the texts from a single example, but I feel reasonably certain that my tentative conclusion concerning the descriptive / prescriptive difference between Biblical versus Koranic texts would hold up under scrutiny.

At the very least it represents a fair point of exploration in reference to the scholarship.

So, the first question to ask is not the quantity of violence in the Bible or the New Testament versus the Koran, but the intent and nature of that violence.

From what I can tell, biased as I am, the Koran calls for the submission or murder of the infidel.

The Bible of the Jews does not.


  1. The comparison makes sense.

    However, no matter how violence is described in words, what people do is what matters.

    The Hebrew Bible, the lack of joy and disgust, concerns Jews and only Jews, and their travails in following the covenants and laws. Apparently, they were not very good at it. That is still the case. Humans in general share these traits. The Hebrew text and law may be followed by others, but it is not required of them.

    Much of the violence concerns the forging of the nation and the struggle for survival against enemies far more powerful. Unlike with Islam, the underlying doctrine and violence is not expansionist.

    No one should reasonably be threatened by the violence presented in the insular Hebrew Bible. If they don't want to be threatened by the Quran's call to violence to make the world Islamic, that's their choice. Just wish they wouldn't pretend to be about global harmony.

    1. This is from the comments to Mike's article posted at EoZ.


    2. Let's try that again.


      a nice chart

    4. Christian Bible has no political violence in the passages, but look at the actual violence in its name.

      Though with Islam it is open and obvious in the passages and actuality.

      Large scale Christian and Muslim violence, including against Jews, occurred long after Jews were violent as described in the Hebrew Bible. Pretending this is not so is part of the problem in making comparisons about passages.

    5. And this is why the comparisons don't, in fact, make sense.

    6. Hey you guys,

      School writes:

      "Much of the violence concerns the forging of the nation and the struggle for survival against enemies far more powerful. Unlike with Islam, the underlying doctrine and violence is not expansionist."

      That's a key point, now, isn't it?

      It always slays me when the enemies of the Jewish people talk about "Greater Israel" as if the country is some tremendous military monster bashing its way around the Middle East china shop.


      In any case, how would you guys characterize this particular moment in terms of the conflict?

      It seems to me that Israel, with Trump as POTUS, has a little wind at its back... but as we all know, these winds shift quickly.

      Daniel Pipes calls for victory.

      I don't think that diaspora Jewry has the stomach for it - or even any conception of what that might look like - and I am not entirely certain that the Israelis do, either.

      I used to always argue that Israel should choose its final borders, remove the IDF to behind those borders, and toss the keys over their shoulder into whatever may be left.

      Now I find myself leaning more toward a single-state wherein Israel annexes the entirety of Judea and Samaria west of the Jordan.

      One objection, among others, is that such a move would quickly turn Israel into a binational state, with equal rights for all, and with Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people flipped into the gutter.

      That need not be the case.

      Israel could annex Judea and Samaria and give the non-citizen Arabs a pathway to citizenship that would require, say, three years of community service. After that period, and with good report, the individual could gain citizenship.

      Of course, any individual or family that demonstrates a disinclination to get along peacefully with their Jewish neighbors within the Jewish national homeland would need deportation.

    7. I need more information. My understanding is that Pipes' definition of victory would still have some sort of Palestinian Arab entity, and that by victory he is not advocating a purely military solution with lots of dead bodies. And that by losing the Pals would then be able to make peace and enjoy a better life. That being said, I lean toward victory. It seems pretty straight forward that if you want to win, then victory is in order. I used to know a priest, father Rich, who, by the way, performed a marriage ceremony on Gene Simmons' Family Jewels, and who was an avid supporter of Israel. One day he told me something that made great sense. He said, "Jeff, when it comes to war, winning is a whole lot better than losing." That simple piece of wisdom is hard to argue with, although I'd like to see John Kerry try, just for the laughs.

      What made you change your mind to join the Caroline Glick camp?

    8. Perhaps Israel should annex what it needs and place the rest under a reconstituted UN Trusteeship system. Let others deal with the headache of trying to create a real Palestinian state.

    9. I wouldn't trust the UN with anything at this point. Palestinians would conduct cross border terrorist raids and the UN would protect them.

    10. I suspect that what Jeff says is true.

      I would trust no one outside of the Israeli government to exercise control over any part of Israel west of the Jordan.

      As for the meaning of "victory" to my mind, it simply means when the other side surrenders.

      Israeli victory does not require bloodshed... although others will likely make that inevitable

      All it really requires is for the UN and the EU and the US to stop funding and legitimizing the Palestinian-Arabs as some sort-of counterweight to Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

      Jeff asked why I moved from my earlier position of simply declaring final borders to the single-state position.

      I am still open to reasonable possibilities - Kedar's notion of working with actual local Palestinian-Arab leadership represents an attractive alternative to engaging with this never-ending Oslo nonsense with the PA and the PLO and Fatah - but the Glick Alternative represents finality.

      It is long past time for resolution.

    11. Jordan is Arab Palestine. Stating that is not hyperbole. It's fact. Make this fact known to the international community. Work with the international community and Jordan to establish Jordanian citizenship and Jordanian residence to Palestinian Arab current residents of "The West Bank" (Judea and Samaria). Reclaim Judea and Samaria.

      Egyptian citizenship and residence for Palestinian Arab current residents of "Gaza Strip."

      Demand dissolution and removal of Hamas and PLO-Fatah (the Palestinian Authority). Even merely their charters justify that.

      All of that is just. All of that is according to international law. San Remo Conference; and a nation is not legally nor morally obligated to support and host foreign political groups and foreign peoples dedicated to it's destruction.

      Just because Jewish people haven't stood up for themselves like that (like normal people) in the past doesn't mean that they can't do so now. And doing so will help everybody. "If you will it it is no dream."

    12. The Jordan is Palestine Option.

      Look, that's OK with me if it is OK with Jordan.

      The problem, of course, is that it would require the toppling of the regime in Amman under Abdullah.

      If we could convince Amman to accept itself as the "Palestinian" state, rather than the Hashemite state, it might work.

      And, believe me, I have no problem with pawning Gaza off to Egypt, but I don't think that Egypt wants them either.

      In any case, Mr. Anonymous, we may be in agreement that it is time for Israel to act decisively and unilaterally.

      Oslo is over.

      Time to move on.

  2. Free Wikileaks pdf of Fire and Fury

  3. Odds are when you walk out of your hose today you will not be raped, assaulted or killed for religious reasons but if you are you can be 99.9% sure it was Islam inspired. Common sense to anyone who has been paying attention.

  4. I would not take the entirety of Judea and Samaria however painful that is. I would take the largest Jewish blocs, all of Jerusalem, and the strategic points and then I would throw the keys over the shoulder for the rest of it. Don't haggle don't 'negotiate' don't listen to what they have to say. Don't enter into discussions with anyone or any body about the conditions for that remainder. The EU/UN can make it a protectorate or a viceroyship or whatever. Or not. Start a clock that when it ticks down to zero all services shared between Israel and this other thing simply stop. No more phone water gas electricity phone sewer. No more day work permits no more medical services nothing. Throw up the walls.