Last week’s post argued that the most important basic knowledge in Christian-Muslim relationships is that both religions differ significantly in the extent of their influence and control of daily life. Today’s post continues the comparison between the two religions by focusing on the lives of Jesus and Mohammed.
We often accuse Muslims of the propensity to violence in the name of jihad. We, Christians, have also been violent in the past. The Crusades initiated through the papal bulls are examples of popes supporting wars and the killing of non-Christians. The Catholic Church’s past support of colonial expansion, obliteration of communities, and cultural genocide are prominent examples of how vicious Christians are in religious and political matters. Some can even argue about neo-colonialism today. Yet today, Christians appear less prone to religious-based violence than Muslims. What happened, or what changed?
Even though the Old Testament talks about violence, Christianity is more about the person of Christ with a completely different outlook on violence. Christ’s model is too glaring to ignore because he had every opportunity to fight back and to use power to spread the faith, yet he continuously refused.
First, Christ chose to come as a baby, associated with weakness. He did not come as a warrior. Second, Christ rebuked James and John when the duo wanted him to invoke fire on the Samaritans who refused to welcome him. Jesus left for another town (Luke 9: 51-55). Third, when the Nazarenes took Jesus to throw him down from the cliff for preaching, Jesus simply walked away from their midst (Luke 4:28). Fourth, Jesus withdrew when the Jews forcefully wanted to make him king (John 6:15). Fifth, on two occasions, Jesus withdrew from the scene when the Jews picked up stones to lapidate him (John 8:59; John 10:31).
Sixth, Jesus cured the ear of Malchus that Peter had slashed to prevent Jesus’ arrest (Luke 22:49-51, John 18:10) and reminded Peter that he could invite twelve legions of angels to fight for him (Matt 26:53).
Finally, throughout the suffering and agony until his death on the cross, Jesus never resisted. As Isaiah says, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Moreover, Jesus preached forgiveness throughout his ministry (Matt 18:21-22) and admonished his disciples to withdraw if they were rejected while evangelising (Matt 10:14).
On the other hand, Muhammad was not only a prophet but a great warrior who “in the space of a single decade he fought eight major battles, led eighteen raids, and planned another thirty-eight military operations.” Muhammad established the first Islamic state in Medina in 622 AD. Although some of his battles and raids were in self-defence from Arab tribes who were polytheists and attempted to kill him, others show that Muhammad did not tolerate as much opposition as Jesus. For instance, in AD 624, Muhammad led the invasion of Banu Qaynuga, a Jewish tribe, for breaking the Constitution of Medina. The incident was a dispute between Jews and Muslims regarding the sexual harassment of a Muslim woman in a marketplace.
While early Muslims fought battles led by Muhammad, which helped spread the faith, early Christianity did not grow by the sword. In fact, on the contrary, Christians suffered serious persecution, and thousands were killed for their faith until the Roman Empire officially adopted the religion. Tertullian’s famous quote that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” comes to mind.
Understanding the differences in the lives of the founders of Christianity and Islam is essential to Christian-Muslim relations.
May God continue to help us🙏🏾
 Richard Gabriel, Muhammad: The Warrior Prophet, 17 May 2007, available at URL: