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Bible versus Qur'an: equally violent?

Canadian Muslim debater Shabir Ally speaks in Rotterdamby Michel Hoebink

 

21-04-2009

Canadian Muslim preacher Shabir Ally is in the Netherlands for a series of lectures and debates. His opponent in the first debate was Dutch Jewish-Christian preacher Ben Kok, who was last seen in January waving an Israeli flag in the midst of a crowd of demonstrators against the Israeli raid on Gaza.

 

Michel Hoebink reports from Rotterdam.

 

Conclusive evidence

"The word 'month' appears exactly 12 times in the Qur'an, the word 'day' exactly 365 times," says Shabir Ally. "This could never have been planned by the Prophet Mohammed." For Mr Ally it constitutes conclusive evidence that the Qur'an is a miracle that comes from God.

 

Shabir Ally, who presents a TV show on Qur'an exegesis (critical interpretation) in Canada, is a well-known inter-religious polemist. A number of videos on the internet show how he skilfully defeats his Christian opponents in disputes about the nature of Christ, or the superiority of the Qur'an. Tonight, Mr Ally speaks at the Islamic University of Rotterdam (IUR) about peace and violence in the Bible and the Qur'an.

 

Eccentric freethinker

For some time it seemed that the organisers failed to find a Christian opponent to debate this sensitive topic. But in the end they found Ben Kok from Amersfoort. Mr Kok is a friendly but somewhat eccentric freethinker, who adheres to both the Christian and Jewish faiths, while rejecting Islam as a threat to world peace.

 

In 2007, in an act of protest, Ben kok flew a small aeroplane over the opening festivities of a new mosque in Amersfoort, carrying a banner that read 'Jesus is the only way to God the Father'. And last January he was seen in Amsterdam waving the flag of Israel in the midst of a demonstration against that country's incursion into the Gaza Strip.

 

The Rotterdam debate

The first thing both men discuss is the question of which one of their respective scriptures is the more authentic. The Qur'an, argues Shabir Ally, is the only reliable scripture. The objective proof for its divine origin lies in the fact that it contains all kinds of information about history, the future and about scientific discoveries, such as the development of the human embryo - things the Prophet Mohammed could never have known.

 

Mr Kok's counterargument that the Bible is the only authentic scripture is simpler: the Bible is true, he says, because he himself applied it for 40 years in his life and it worked! And how could the Qur'an be true, Mr Kok continues, if it does not even give people the freedom to believe what they want?

 

 

"Look at the Taliban in Afghanistan and look at what happens in Saudi Arabia..."

Violent verses

At this point a roar of protest arises from the mainly Muslim audience. Shabir Ally asks for silence and retorts that Mr Kok should not confuse the teachings of Islam with what bad Muslims do in its name. Ben Kok admits that Christians have also done some pretty nasty things in the name of their faith, but he nevertheless insists that the Qur'an is more violent than the Bible. No less than 164 verses are violent, he says, the most famous being verse 9:5 "... kill the unbelievers wherever you find them..."

Then he asks:

 

"And isn't it true that the purpose of Islam is to conquer the whole world and force all people to become Muslims?"

Context

Shabir Ally is not impressed. Violent verses such as 9:5, he replies, must be read in their historical context. The early Muslims were beleaguered by their enemies the Maccans, so the prophet permitted them to kill before they were killed themselves.

 

"But as a matter or principle, the Qur'an tells Muslims to deal with other people in a peaceful manner."

And besides, says Shabir Ally, putting his best card on the table, Jesus Christ is not exactly a pacifist in the Bible either:

"In the Book of Revelation, Jesus comes back as a warrior, killing his enemies, his dress soaked in blood!"

Fierce love

Ben Kok, who only moments before insisted that the Bible's essential message was 'love, love and more love', now turns fierce:

 

"Of course, when Jesus returns he will come as a king. Many don't want him as a king, so he will force the world to listen to him. He will crush every resistance against him. He wants to create a perfect world, so he does not want all these rebels."

The audience has no further questions. In a way, both parties have come closer to one another. Someone from the audience concludes:

 

"As Jesus has the right to do so, so did our prophet in the 6th century."

 

Polemics

All in all, the debate in Rotterdam was not much different from the religious polemics that can be found on the internet. Dutch Muslim Kamal Essabane writes on the website Wijblijvenhier.nl:

 

"Watching such debates can be real fun. Sitting in front of your screen with a bag of crisps to see who will score the next point."

 

But in the end, he argues, it is not satisfying.

"Polemics is healthy, as long as you do it in the right measure. Too much of it is at the expense of spirituality."

 

 

Tags: Ben Kok, Bible, Christians, Christiantity, Gaza, Islam, Israel, Jesus Christ, Jews, Judaism, Koran, Muslims, Prophet Mohammed, Qur'an, Shabir Ally

 

Related articles:

 

Does the Qur'an say I can hit you?

31 May: The right to be Muslim and gay

Egyptian writer threatened for challenging holy book

British archbishop wants Sharia mix-and-match

"Cultural relativism makes me sick"

Let's call God Allah

Keeping the faith in a changing world

The pen is mightier than the sword

Reaction(s):

 

Rajiv Thind, 22-04-2009 - New Zealand

 

As an Agnostic who is very interested in theology, progressive Christianity, human rights, social justice I take intense interest in religion because IT IS EVERYWHERE! I lived in a childish belief as a teenager that religion is dying out and world is becoming better. But this ain't so. Recently I discovered a huge number of audios including debates from a Catholic website. Also, help yourself to free audio of C.S. Lewis' classic ''Mere Christianity'' Now, along with evangelist and propagandist material you will also find links to secular debates of Christians and celebrity Atheists like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens. I highly recommend this link to people who wish to explore these issues. : http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/audio.htm - Some of these debates are indeed something you would like to hear with a bag of chips! But here is something that I discovered-- When these Christian, Muslim and Atheist speakers go in public they are always on their best behavior and try to engage in civilized debates. They often make concessions. But they do not represent majority of fundamentalists and their millions of blind followers who do not make an effort to understand or respect the other side. For them, the only answer to the other side is hate and violence. They also react to things like pictures (cartoons) and whatever their leaders chose to blast (books like Satanic verses). They never react to Richard Dawkins etc. simply because they don't read or in worse cases don't know how to read. But let Dawkins put some cartoons on his website..... You get the picture. At last I also wish to point out something, a good point, I heard from one of the Christian/theist debaters (Dinesh D' Souza, check him out, he is really good at what he does)-- People don't exactly fight about God but they only use Him/IT/Her as an excuse. The real fights are always about land,water, natural resources, political control and so on. I would add that probably more guys fight over women than they do about God.

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jacob, 21-04-2009 -

 

Steve please be honest, dont take verses without their context. Read the whole text about that verse. If i would quote from the Bible in such a simple way i could even show u that Jesus says: bring my enemies in front of me and slay them" So please be honest

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Lena, 21-04-2009 - US

 

Who cares what the Bible or the Koran says? Do we need these books to tell us to be fair and ethical people. Why on earth in modern-day Netherlands is this debate even going on. I really find it funny that Europeans mock Americans for being overly religious....Europe really has it coming to them with its burgeoning Muslim population. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the practice thereof..." THAT is the only thing that need be said about faith in public; the rest can be left to the private sphere.

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Steve, 21-04-2009 - USA

 

I forgot to mention in my last post that this is EXACTLY what we need to be doing. Regardless if debating religion angers some people, this is the only way we will ever get along. If we leave it up to government bureaucrats they will just keep passing more and more laws against "inciting hate" and eventually it will be impossible to debate these topics. Schedule the next debate for tomorrow!

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Steve, 21-04-2009 - USA

 

Having read a good portion of both books I can say I agree with Mr. Kok, the Koran has a very large proportion of violent verses, not only the one that states believers should kill non believers "wherever they find them", but other places that claim Islam's superiority. The Koran states that all non-Muslims living in a Muslim country should be taxed higher. That being said try to forget your prejudices. Imagine if this debate turned into a religion bashing argument. Which scholar would be less likely to wake up the next morning?

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jasmin, 21-04-2009 - India

 

Pity the men who think God needs human agents to prove His existence and supremacy by violent means! God is not in Bible, Qur'an or other scripture of any religion. He is within you, me and every particle. He is not bound by words or scriptures. You cannot even imagine His power, wrath and compassion,which is in equal measure. Just look around and see God manifest Himself in every way...We all are a part of His Spirit...Why fight? We all are His creation...Funny that we still fight for Him in this century!!!!!!!

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