Islam claims to be a religion of peace. Christianity also claims to be a religion of peace. Are they both peaceful religions or is only one of the two religions truly of peace?
History is rife with people who claimed to be followers of Christ or Mohammed while killing and plundering. But were they truly following their masters?
Jesus preached peace and love for the enemy, repeatedly refused to lead a rebellion against the Romans, received much violence but inflicted none, choosing instead to give His life on the cross to save us.
Muhammad, on the other hand, was a warlord. Unable to trade in his adopted farming town of Medina, he took to plundering passing caravans, deemed an acceptable economic activity back then.
Emboldened by victories, he took to plundering towns, massacred the inhabitants of some to make others submit, and even massacred some of those who submitted. For example, when the Jews of Banu Qurayza surrendered to him in 627 AD after a 25 day siege, Muhammad had all of the approximately 900 men bound and decapitated.
So when self-declared Christians kill and plunder, they are following neither the words nor the example set by Christ and therefore are not true Christians. But when Muslims kill and plunder, they are following the words and the example set by Muhammad.
Christianity started and grew by the power of Christ’s love. By contrast, Islam started and grew by the power of Muhammad’s sword. Christian martyrs give their lives to save others. Islamic martyrs give their lives to kill others, including for not being a Muslim.
But the Quran says there is no compulsion in religion – i.e. no pressure to convert to Islam:
“There shall be no compulsion in religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in false deities and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” – Quran 2*:256
Say, “O disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship. Nor are you worshippers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” – Quran 109*:1-6
But the Quran also says to kill non-Muslims if they don’t pay tribute tax, and to massacre:
“Excepted are those with whom you made a treaty among the infidels and then they have not been deficient toward you in anything or supported anyone against you; so complete for them their treaty until their term. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous. And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the infidels wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and pay tribute tax, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” – Quran 9*:4-5
“It is not for a prophet to have captives [of war] until he inflicts a massacre in the land. Some Muslims desire the commodities of this world, but Allah desires the Hereafter. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” – Quran 8*:67
Why does the Quran contradict itself as above?
Quran began to be written when Muhammad led only a small group of followers in Mecca and had no military power. The parts of the Quran written during this period were not belligerent and only sought recognition for his new religion, not compulsion to convert to it.
Muslims today employ taqiyya and claim that Islam is still a religion of peace, but they know that through naskh, the early non-violent verses in the Quran have been abrogated by the later violent verses, which apply to Muslims today.
* Quran’s chapters are not ordered chronologically. After Muhammad died in 632 AD, different versions and elements of the Quran abounded. In 651 AD, caliph Uthman ibn Affan ordered a small group to produce a standardized version of the Quran. The group produced 114 chapters ordered mainly based on their length (longer chapters near the front). Their work was accepted and comprise the Quran the world has today (Uthman ibn Affan ordered all other versions and elements of the Quran burned). Chapters 2 and 109 above came early in Muhammad’s life, while chapters 8 and 9 came later, after Muhammad achieved military dominance in the region.