(by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi)
It is important that we study the religious texts in their proper context. When these texts are not read in their proper textual and historical contexts they are manipulated and distorted. It is true that some Muslims manipulate some verses from the Holy Quran for their own goals. (Please read The Quran on War, peace and Justice) But this is not only with Islamic texts, it is also true with the texts of other religions. I can quote dozens of verses from the Bible which seem very violent, if taken out from their historical context. These Biblical texts have been used by many violent Jewish and Christian groups. Crusaders used them against Muslims and Jews. Nazis used them against Jews. Recently Serbian Christians used them against Bosnian Muslims. Zionists are using them regularly against Palestinians.
Let me mention just a few verses from the Old Testament and New Testament and tell me what do you say about them:
“When the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you. And when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. (Deutronomy 7:1-2)
“When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace. If it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. When the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike all the men in it with the edge of the sword. Only the women and the children and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the LORD your God has given you… Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes (Deuteronomy 20:10-17)
Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves. (Numbers 31:17-18)
Even in the New Testament we read the following statements attributed to Jesus saying to his disciples:
“I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence. (Luke 19:26-27)
"Do not think that I have come to send peace on earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword. I am sent to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Matthew 10:34-35)
[Editor's notes: Christian extremists like KKK have used these verses from the Bible to commit violence. We, Muslims, believe that Jesus (pbuh) was sent as a Messenger from Allah and he preached goodness, not evil. Christian scholars think of these verses as parables. See http://biblehub.com/luke/19-26.htm as an example.]
Muslims believe in all Prophets sent by Allah, and so do not misuse or misinterpret the religious texts of other faiths in order to defame them. Even in recent times, Muslims have and are facing genocidal campaigns in Bosnia, Kosova, Chechnia, Kashmir, and Palestine - but they have not questioned Judaism and Christianity. Such spirit needs to be reciprocated.
This is a slightly edited version of http://www.pakistanlink.com/religion/2001/1012.html
(based on an article by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, which also appeared in ISNA's magazine, Islamic Horizons)