Do *True Believers* have to follow the <strong>literal</strong> word of the Quran or Bible? Is it mere opinion that everything must be *contextualized*? The word of God after all is the word of God. So do all religions including Hinduism inevitably lead to brutality and terror when followed strictly and literally?<br></br>
creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Rishi S: http://flickr.com/photos/rajarshi/2788326003

“True” Islam or Christianity = Terror?

In case there was any doubt as to my stance, the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo bear no responsibility whatsoever for their deaths. In the same way that I do not blame a rape victim for “provoking” men based on what she wears or how she behaves, I place the blame of the Paris attacks solely on the gunmen involved. I don’t care how bloody provoked you are, you can take your offense and shove it up your ass.

 – A proud offender of “sentiments” everywhere.

Having dealt with that…

It’s tough to deny that Islam’s influence today is probably more dangerous than any other religion in the world. Note that I’ve carefully used the word “influence” and “today”. This is because most Muslims are non violent and also because in its heyday, Christianity was damn bloodthirsty as well.

I don’t care how bloody provoked you are, you can take your offense and shove it up your ass.

Clearly neither Islam nor Christianity themselves have changed over the centuries. The texts for both religions have remained the same. Yet we hardly hear of Christians killing in the name of religion. Even the most fanatically devout rabid Christian types don’t engage in the kind of large scale systematic terror we see Islamic fanatics dishing out. So if the texts never change, it stands to reason that it’s the people who change.

What makes some followers of a religion violent, and what makes the others peaceful? Both claim to follow their respective books!

Bad Parts in Every Religion

And here lies the crux of the problem. There are “good” and “bad” verses in all religious texts. The question of the Koran having lots of violent or “sword” verses is well debated. The very fact that there is debate even amongst experts however, means that the whole issue is wide open to interpretation.

But some verses in the Koran very clearly call for violence. Like Chapter 8, verse 12:

When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

The above verse is not softened either by context, nor historical placement. Chapter 8 in general has no context. It is what it is. It’s not easy to justify it without going through some serious mental gymnastics.

And the same is true of the Bible. It’s chock full of violent verses, invitations to rape, slavery, and genocide. And though some may claim that Jesus replaced all of that, keep in mind that Jesus also said that every word of the Old Testament must be followed!

Just to keep things fair, other religions are no better. Ancient Hindu texts are full of fun stuff regarding the treatment of lower castes, and lots of verses in the Vedas are gruesome enough to chill one’s bones. So no religion is safe. All of them contain violence.

Who Said “Context” is Important?

“But context!” – I hear you say. Well sure, you can contextualize anything. But who said contextualizing is the right way to go? I mean yeah, if you start from a position that says violence is wrong, then you can contextualize in reverse. But the Koran and the Bible claim to be the literal word of God. If I’m a Muslim, I can claim that “contextualization” is a crime. That God is never ambiguous. If I take the words in the Koran as literal stand alone instances, no one can argue with me.

For this reason, ISIS considers itself to be the true Islam. And I can’t argue with them. If they are following the Koran to the “T”, then they rightly consider everyone else to be not true Muslims.

What About Peaceful Excerpts?

On the flip side, all religions talk about peace too. There is no denying that the Koran has a lot of verses talking about peace, forgiveness and what not. The Bible goes overboard in this aspect. The entire second half is a massive discourse on peace coming from the lips of none other than the “son of god” himself! If I had to place Islam and Christianity next to each other, I would say that the Bible’s concentrated messages of extreme docility and peace pretty much outstrip the former.

But these messages of peace absolve neither the Bible, nor the Koran. Even ONE verse of violence in either book is enough justification for a fanatic to follow it. And if that fanatic points to all others in the same religion who do not follow that one verse and calls them hypocrites, they would be right!

It is impossible to follow any religion 100%. No religious book is perfectly consistent. It’s not like mathematics where everything has to agree. Religious books are a hodgepodge of stuff accrued over years, and no one can claim that everything is consistent. Of course, people try and show that their own particular religion is consistent, but they have to jump through impossible hoops to do so.

If I had to guess why Christians as a whole are more peaceful than Muslims today, I would say that it has to do with the message of peace in the Bible being more prominent and unfiltered. Islam has them too, but not as strongly as Christianity.

There are no “True” Muslims. No “True” Hindus. No “True” Christians

But it still means that neither Muslims nor Christians can follow their religions 100%. I can accurately say that peaceful Christians are not “true” Christians because they don’t kill their neighbors for working on Sundays (Exodus 31:12-15)! At the same time, I can ALSO say that violent Christians are not “true” Christians because they don’t adhere to peace as preached by Jesus.

The same argument can be made for Islam as well. It’s impossible to be a “true” Muslim because regardless of whether you are peaceful or violent, you are betraying your holy book in one way or the other.

The fact is that NO ONE takes their religion seriously 100%. Or rather, they don’t take their holy books seriously to the limit. That’s because it’s impossible. If the definition of a “true” Muslim or a “true” Christian is their adherence to a holy text, then there are no “true” Christians or Muslims in the entire world!

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