Response to Mockery

To give proper credit where credit is due, this article was inspired by an article by John Piper entitled, “The Mocking of Muhammad and the Condemning of Christ”.

This blog focuses on the differences between Christianity and Islam. One such difference appears when examining the way in which Jesus and Muhammad dealt with criticism, mocking, and torture. Throughout our own lives, we are often called to deal with criticism, persecution, or unjust treatment. Christians look to Jesus as the model for how we are to respond, while Muslims look to Muhammad as the template. So it is imperative that we compare how Jesus and Muhammad handled such circumstances in order to give us insight into how Christians and Muslims may consequently respond differently when under such pressure.

Muslims are often quick to extol Muhammad for his patience with critics. However, reading through the Hadith tells a different story. One such case is that of Abu Lahab. The following Hadith tells the story of Abu Lahab, his disdain for Muhammad, and the subsequent response.

Narrated Ibn Abbas: When the Verse:– ‘And warn your tribe of near kindred.’ (26.214) was revealed. Allah’s Apostle went out, and when he had ascended As-Safa mountain, he shouted, “O Sabahah!” The people said, “Who is that?” “Then they gathered around him, whereupon he said, “Do you see? If I inform you that cavalrymen are proceeding up the side of this mountain, will you believe me?” They said, “We have never heard you telling a lie.” Then he said, “I am a plain warner to you of a coming severe punishment.” Abu Lahab said, “May you perish! You gathered us only for this reason? ” Then Abu Lahab went away. So the “Surat:–ul–LAHAB” ‘Perish the hands of Abu Lahab!’ (111.1) was revealed. {i}

In essence, Abu Lahab criticized the prophet of Islam for wasting his time. Idiomatically, Abu Lahab’s statement translates into our day and age somewhere between “Go jump off a cliff.” and “Go to hell.” Of course, this wasn’t a nice thing to say in polite conversation, but that’s not the point. The point is how Muhammad dealt with it. The response was a timely revelation of new verses of the Qur’an. In fact, an entire chapter, Surah 111, is dedicated to Muhammad’s critic, Abu Lahab,

Perdition overtake both hands of Abu Lahab, and he will perish.
His wealth and what he earns will not avail him.
He shall soon burn in fire that flames,
And his wife, the bearer of fuel,
Upon her neck a halter of strongly twisted rope.

Apparently, criticizing Muhammad was such an awful thing to do, that Allah immediately revealed these verses that Abu Lahab, as well as his wife, would pay by rotting in Hell.
How does this compare with Jesus’ reaction to those who criticize Him? It’s safe to say that Jesus was grossly mistreated (Matthew 27:28-29, John 18:22). This rejection of Jesus was so prominent that it is an overall theme of His ministry (John 1:11). Yet Jesus never physically retaliated. He never even dropped a curse on any of the people who directly mistreated Him. He never fought back, although He had massive resources at His disposal (Matthew 26:53). No, Jesus’ teachings are very different from the example of Muhammad. Rather than being dishonored, it is a blessing to us when we are mocked and insulted for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:10-12). When we are dishonored, we are not to fight back (Matthew 5:39). Not only are we blessed by this persecution, but we are to return that blessing on our persecutors by praying for them (Matthew 5:44). The pinnacle of this attitude is reflected as Jesus hung on the cross, and cried to the Father regarding those who were crucifying Him, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

This is a difficult teaching, and as Christians we mimic this behavior of Jesus with various levels of success or failure. However, the point is that we are not to fight back or curse those who persecute us. In Islam, Muhammad taught that disrespect toward him or Islam in general should be met with curses and oppression. John Piper sums this up best,

[We saw]…another vivid depiction of the difference between Muhammad and Christ, and what it means to follow each. Not all Muslims approve the violence. But a deep lesson remains: The work of Muhammad is based on being honored and the work of Christ is based on being insulted. This produces two very different reactions to mockery. [ii]

Once again, when investigated in depth, diametrically opposing doctrines between Christian and Islamic theologies appear.



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3 Responses to Response to Mockery

  1. Jamie De Santis says:

    I am thankful this thanksgiving for this blog. Joel Richardson reccomended it in a radio interview way back and since then I check for updates regularly. I love the way you share a truth exposing an issue, yet don’t insult any Muslims in the process. I find that you encourage the reader to be informed, not hate filled with your articles. Thanks for highlighting some facts worth being informed about.

  2. Thanks Jamie,

    I do try to be encouraging. It is difficult to point out differences without coming across as condescending or antagonizing. What I know is that if I had been taught Islam from childhood, I would have tried to be a good Muslim. I would hope someone could have shown me the differences between Islam and Christianity in a way that I could hear.

  3. Pingback: Death Be Upon You | Unraveling Islam

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