Jalal Abualrub's errors and logical fallacies in

Holy Wars, Crusades, Jihad

[Part 1] Part 2

Sam Shamoun

We resume our examination of Jalal Abualrub’s book, Holy Wars, Crusades, Jihad (1), by taking a look at a few biblical passages that are quoted to show that Jesus supposedly condoned forced conversions and the use of armed violence. In footnote # 2 that is found on pp. 130-132 of his book, Abualrub makes the following assertion:

… This is different than what the Bible attributes to Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him. Matthew 10:34 states, "Think not that I have come to send peace on the earth; I came not to send peace but a sword." Unlike Islam [sic], there is no definite, clear Biblical legislation that explains rules of engagement during war. Also, there is no clear explanation [sic] to the true meaning [sic] to the statement above attributed to Jesus, in addition to, other Biblical statements that encourage aggression and indiscriminate killing. This is why the Biblical statement mentioned here was translated into heinous atrocities committed by many Christians and Jews [sic] throughout their history. The Gospels also assert the doctrine of compelling others ‘to enter’, as in Luke 14:23, "And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and constrain them to come in, that my house may be filled."]

It is truly remarkable that Abualrub can make the claim that the Bible presents no clear legislation regarding war when he himself will go on to quote Deuteronomy 20:1-20 (see pp. 193-196), a passage which deals extensively with this very subject. It is not the focus of this paper to analyze these particular texts, or address Abualrub’s distortions of them, so we will simply defer this discussion for now and provide some links at the end of our rebuttal which thoroughly address the issue of OT wars.

Here we want to focus on the NT passages that Abualrub raised so as to see whether there is any truth to what he says regarding them.

To begin with, the blessed Lord Jesus expressly stated that his kingdom was a spiritual one and as a result his followers were not to fight and kill on his behalf:

"Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’ Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’" John 18:36-37

Christ also rebuked his disciples for trying to use the sword to protect him:

"Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you came to do.’ Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?’" Matthew 26:50-54

Basically what this means is that Jesus didn’t establish a physical kingdom where his followers would go out and force people to accept Christ’s rule or kill anyone who refuses. Rather, Christ’s rule is one where he reigns in the hearts, minds and lives of his followers whereby he empowers them to preach his Gospel to save the souls of men and to provide their physical needs through acts of love and charity.

Now this doesn’t mean that Christians cannot physically defend their lives or loved ones, since they definitely can. Nor does this imply that Christians cannot carry out or participate in just wars to vanquish oppression and social injustices in order to liberate those who are being oppressed and abused. What Christians cannot do is to force people to convert to Christianity by the threat of the sword.

In fact, Jesus very clearly told the disciples what to do when people rejected their message:

"And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, 'Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.' And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere." Luke 9:1-6

"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, "Peace be to this house!" And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, "The kingdom of God has come near to you." But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, "Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near." I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.'" Luke 10:1-12

A command which they faithfully carried out:

"The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, 'It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth."' And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium." Acts 13:44-51

With the foregoing in perspective we can now turn to the specific context of Matthew in order to expose Abualrub’s blatant distortion of Jesus’ blessed words:

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. FOR I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:28-39

And here is the Lukan parallel as well:

"I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." Luke 12:49-53

It is obvious that the fire and sword that Jesus spoke of refers to the division that occurs when specific members of a household embrace the Lord Jesus whereas the rest do not. Christ was telling his disciples that the price of following him is quite high; it may even cost them their very own lives:

"I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God [precisely what Muslims think when they murder people in the name of Allah!]. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you." John 16:1-4

"When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been." Revelation 6:9-11

The Lord Jesus was essentially telling his servants that being his disciples could result in a rift in filial relations and possibly lead to their persecution and even martyrdom at the hands of family members:

"Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all FOR MY NAME’S SAKE. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.’" Luke 21:10-18

The foregoing clearly shows that the sword of Jesus has nothing to do with the kind of sword wielded by Muhammad and his band of murdering thugs:

Narrated Salim Abu An-Nadr:

The freed slave of 'Umar bin 'Ubaidullah who was 'Umar's clerk: 'Abdullah bin Abi Aufa wrote him (i.e. 'Umar) a letter that contained the following:--

"Once Allah's Apostle (during a holy battle), waited till the sun had declined and then he got up among the people and said, ‘O people! Do not wish to face the enemy (in a battle) and ask Allah to save you (from calamities) but if you should face the enemy, then be patient and let it be known to you that Paradise is under the shades of swords.’ He then said, ‘O Allah! The Revealer of the (Holy) Book, the Mover of the clouds, and Defeater of Al-Ahzab (i.e. the clans of infidels), defeat them infidels and bestow victory upon us.’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 210)

The tradition has been narrated on the authority of 'Abdullah b. Qais. He heard it from his father who, while facing the enemy, reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Surely, the gates of Paradise are under the shadows of the swords. A man in a shabby condition got up and said; Abu Musa, did you hear the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say this? He said: Yes. (The narrator said): He returned to his friends and said: I greet you (a farewell greeting). Then he broke the sheath of his sword, threw it away, advanced with his (naked) sword towards the enemy and fought (them) with it until he was slain. (Sahih Muslim, Book 020, Number 4681)

It is now time to examine the context of Luke 14:23 to see what Jesus meant by compelling people to enter:

"When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!’ But he said to him, ‘A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, "Come, for everything is now ready." But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, "I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused." And another said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused." And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, "Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame." And the servant said, "Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room." And the master said to the servant, "Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet."’" Luke 14:15-24

Abualrub has erroneously assumed that by compulsion Jesus was giving his followers a license to force people into the kingdom by any means necessary. He is reading Islamic theology and definitions into the Holy Bible since it is Muhammad’s teaching, not Jesus’, which laid the foundation for Muslims to compel people to submit to the rule of Islam by the threat of death and violence.

The Scriptures tell us how Christ compels people to enter his kingdom; by the inexpressible love that he demonstrated through his voluntary death on the cross for sinners:

"For God demonstrated his love towards us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

"And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:2

"and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." Revelation 1:5-6

To put it simply, the Lord Jesus was exhorting his disciples to persuade and plead with people to embrace the love of Christ, a love so great and majestic that it moved God’s Son to die for sinners in order to give them the hope of eternal life.

Finally, Abualrub made the bold claim that both Christians and Jews used Matthew 10:34 as a pretext to fight and kill "throughout their history." The reader should see the major problems with this assertion since not only does this specific text have nothing to do with a physical sword to be used by Christ’s followers in battle against unbelievers, but there also haven’t been any Jews that have ever appealed to any NT book, let alone this verse, to justify killing people since the Jews reject both Jesus and the NT! In light of this we issue the following challenge to Abualrub:

Please produce a single Jewish source where Christ-denying and NT-rejecting Jews used Matthew 10:34 as justification to fight and kill their enemies.

This concludes our examination by God’s grace. Lord Jesus willing, more to follow soon.

Further Reading


Responses to Jalal Abualrub
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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