Vengeance and the cartoons about Mohammed: None can change the words of Allah, except Allah, which he does

In Islam and the Book: The heart of the matter, I presented a discussion with a Muslim on the inspiration of the Quran and the Bible. The Quran states that the Hebrew and Christians scriptures (the “Book”) are divine revelation but they have both been corrupted from time immemorial and thus in Mohammed’s time no Jew or Christian – no matter how faithful to the original scriptures – had a copy of the original scriptures. The closest any Jew or Christian came to the “Book” sent down by God was, argued the Muslim, the few snippets they carried in their hearts.

I present here a specific example we discussed of the clash between the two religions on this matter: the Islamic violence unleashed on the world occasioned by the Danish cartoon of Mohammed.

(My part is in normal characters; his in italics).

– Do you agree with the violence that resulted from the silly cartoon.
– Yes. Muslims have to defend Allah’s honour.
– Why do you need to do that, can’t he defend his own honour?
– We can’t just let people do this.
– You say the Christian Bible is corrupt and only what the Quran says is true in it is really true. In my copy of the Bible it says: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). What do you think of the idea that vengeance should be left to God. Do you think this verse is a corruption of the original “Book” sent down to the Jews and the Christians by God.
– I think it is not wrong (that vengeance be left to God).
– But then why does the Quran say “Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you” (Surah 9:123).
– You can only understand the Quran in Arabic.
– I take it that the reason why Muslims acted so violently again the cartoons is because they believe they are obeying Allah in doing so.
– Yes.
– But you said that it was not wrong for the Christian Bible to say that vengeance belonged to God alone, and now you say that Muslims are required to take vengeance on those who make fun of Mohammed.
– They are both true. What happened was that when the original (uncorrupted) Christian Bible was written, it was Allah’s will that vengeance should be left to him alone, but when Mohammed came, the Angel Gabriel revealed to him that Allah had changed, and that from Mohammed’s time onwards, it was now right to take vengeance on those who insulted Islam.

The conversation ended here. Something to do with my Muslim friend’s cat (Leo – of Judah?) causing with another cat over the wall.

I say something about the last response of my Muslim friend, namely, Allah changing his mind. The theological term for this is “abrogation.” I find this idea of abrogation odd because according to the Quran:

“No change can there be in the Words of Allah (Surah 10:64).
“There is none that can alter the Words of Allah (Surah 6:34)

Now Muslims say that Allah inspired the original Torah and Gospel (Injil), which according to my Muslim friend, have been corrupted  from time immemorial. My Muslim friend agrees that there is nothing wrong with the Christian claim that God said in their Bible that we should leave vengeance to God, but later in the Quran, he changed his mind. Yet we see in Surah 10:64 in the previous paragraph that Allah’s word can never be changed. The only conclusion I can come to is that Allah changed his mind about “No change can there be in the Words of Allah” (Surah 10:64). What justification does the Muslim have for this change of “no change” to “change”? Answer: “There is none (no human beings) that can alter the Words of Allah”‘ (Surah 6:34). The upshot of these two surahs: none can change the words of Allah, except Allah, which he does.

I say a little more about the Christian position on vengeance:

The Lord does not desire to get back at those who hurt him. As Christians it is tempting to react violently, especially when you see evil all around and our neighbours insulting us. We tend to think like an unbeliever. You mess with me and I’m gonna mess with you, in spite of the evidence in scripture of Christ doing the opposite. Satan wants to win his kingdom by taking lives. He hates humanity, he hates Christ. But what does Jesus do? He lays down his life to save people.

Proverbs 20:22 – Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.
1 Peter 3:9 – Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

When we Christians are insulted or see insults to Christ in the media, we need to step back and trust God. Thirst for justice, yes, but not for revenge. It’s hard for anyone, including a Christian to do this. Trust the Lord. It is he who will avenge one day. Muslims and others are killing Christians every day. Most of us have no idea of the destruction and death perpetrated against Christians. What we must guard against is the media’s encouragement of “righteous indignation”  – which is not righteous at all – against the perpetrators.

Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

 (Jesus in) Luke 6:28