Killing For God
by Graham Williams 11/13/09
On Tuesday, November 10th, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke at a memorial service
for the 13 people killed at the Fort Hood shooting. (See this News
Story) Among his remarks was this statement, "No faith justifies these murderous
and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor..."
It is too early to know for sure, but some are saying that Major Nidal Hasan, the
military psychiatrist accused of the killings, may have felt justified in his actions
by his religious beliefs. Hasan is a Muslim. There are reports that his buiness card
proclaimed him to be a SoA(SWT) - allegedly meaning "Soldier of Allah (Glory to Him,
the Exalted). Read more, here.
There are reports that Hasan yelled "Allah Akbar!" before opening fire. (Read more, here.)
There is some evidence that he received advice from a Muslim fundamentalist which
stated on his website that, "Jihad today is obligatory on every capable Muslim. So
as a Muslim who wants to please Allah it is your duty to find ways to practice it
and support it." Read more, here.
Jihad is defined (here) as a struggle,
and one aspect of the struggle is the Jihad of the sword which is a justified form
of warfare or military combat.
It seems that some fundamental Muslims may think that killing could be justified if
it is done for God, or Allah.
Maybe some of the justification for this kind of thinking could come from the Old
Testament of the Christian Bible, also known to Jewish people as the Torah (The first
five books of the Old Testament, the five books of Moses, are the central part of
the Torah). Muslims believe in the Torah although they are taught that it has been
altered by the hands of man. Are there stories in the Old Testament that could be
used to justify killing, if it is done by or for God? Despite what President Obama
said, are there stories in the Old Testament believed by Jews, Christians and Muslins
that may seem to justify murder and which God does seem to look upon with favor?
Although one of the Ten Commandments is "Thou shalt not kill," there is a lot of killing
in the Old testament of the Bible. In Genesis (read the Bible verses here),
God kills everyone on Earth except for Noah and his family because of man's wickedness
and their inclination to do evil.
So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the
earth-men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the
air-for I am grieved that I have made them."
This clearly states that God can decide to kill people Himself, and has actually done
it in this case.
Later in Genesis (read the Bible verses here),
we hear of God sending an angel to destroy Sodom
and Gomorrah because they were not righteous.
But there are also stories of God commanding man to kill. After the Jews had escaped
from slavery in Egypt, God told Saul to kill the Amalekites as punishment for what
they did to the Jews when they were leaving Egypt (read the Bible verses here).
It has been argued that when God ordered His people to kill other groups of people
in the Old Testament that this was a righteous judgement for the sins of these people.
Therefore, it is argued, there was a good reason for God to command these specific
killings and one can not generalize from these stories to justify killing today as
approved by God. Read more about this point of view, here and here.
Some think that the Qur'an (Koran) justifies killing for God in passages such
"Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the
latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow
the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the
tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection." (S. 9:29
But such passages may be taken out of context. It is said that the Quran only condones
killing in self-defense or if treaties are broken. As for what the Qur'an says about
"It may be that God will grant love (and friendship)
between you and those whom ye (now) hold as enemies. For God has power (over all things),
and God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
God does not forbid you, with regard to those who fight
you not for (your) faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and
justly with them: for God loves those who are just." (Qur'an 60:7-8)
Read more about what the Qur'an may say about terrorism, here.
In conclusion, killing for God is a tenuous justification if it can be made at all.
The overarching concept of the Bible is for man to love God and to love his neighbor.
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with
all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this:
'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
And it is clear that we are all considered to be neighbors of each other, see here.
In the New Testament, God is seen to offer Grace and Mercy to all people.
It is clear that we are all considered to be neighbors of each other. The Qur'an
says that God may grant love between enemies and they may be treated kindly. Anyone
who tries to justify killing as favorable to God should continue their studies of
religious texts and they may come to see that God wants us to love our enemies and
does not want us to kill them.