In less than a century, three large-scale movements have threatened to destroy the world as we know it. And all 3 of them were based on a book.
Nazism was the first on the scene. In 1925, Adolf Hitler wrote Mein Kampf. Literally “My Struggle”, this autobiographical work ultimately inspired the Nazi movement in Germany that attempted to take over the free world. Today, we look back and wonder how tens of millions of people could have been so deceived into following the teachings of a simple book. And then we realize: You are what you read.
Next on the scene was Communism. In 1848, Karl Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto. This is the book that has inspired hundreds of millions of people worldwide to embrace the atheistic philosophy of Communism. Yes, the first Communist revolution was in Russia in 1917. But it really wasn’t until the post World War II fall of Nazism that Communism began to spread like wildfire around the world. There was a time during the Cold War years when a map of the world bled Communist red, culminating in the fall of Cuba in 1959, a mere 90 miles off the shores of Florida. Today—on this side of the fall of the Berlin Wall—we look back and wonder how multitudes could have been so deceived into following the simple teachings of a book. And then we realize: You are what you read.
And now we come to Islam. Islam is the third movement in the past century that has set its sights on world conquest. And as all of you well know, our world is now trying desperately to survive this present, global crisis. In 632, Mohammed finished writing the Qur'an. Now, I’m not saying you should read the whole Qur'an! Instead, I’m encouraging you all to read Jesus’ New Testament—cover to cover! But I have read the Qur'an. Not just bits and pieces, either. Not just excerpts, copied and pasted into social media posts. Not even other peoples’ secondhand opinions about the Qur'an. No. I have read the Qur'an. Cover to cover. Every surah (chapter); every verse; every word. And I can tell you, that when you take the Qur'an as a whole, reading all of its verses in context…
The Qur'an is a manual of war.
It is a book that has inspired multitudes of people down through the centuries, far too many who have gone on to commit unspeakable atrocities. How can this be, you ask? The answer is simple: You are what you read.
As I write this, I know that many of you are now curious to find out what some of the verses are in the Qur'an that effectively make it a manual of war. I’ve already told you that I’m not saying you should read the whole book, but to save you time (and since I know you’ll search for them anyway), I’ll give you some verses to start with:
Surah 9:123…”O believers, fight the unbelievers near you, and let them find you harsh, and know that God stands with the pious.”
Surah 47:4…”When you encounter the unbelievers, blows to the necks it shall be until, once you have routed them, you are to tighten their fetters.”
Starting to get the picture? For those still interested, here are the references of many other, similar verses to the ones above, to look up if you so choose:
2:191 8:39, 60 & 65 60:13 71:26-28
4:89, 91 & 101 9:29, 36 & 73 61:4
5:14, 33 & 51 48:29 66:9
Now I know what many of you are now thinking: But the Bible also has verses in it that inspired the Israelites to violence. How is that different? Good question. Here’s the good answer: The verses inspiring the Jews to violence against their enemies were very specific. God had promised the Jews the Promised Land. Their enemies were standing in the way of God’s promise. The Jews needed to forcibly remove them from the land.
And that’s pretty much it. The Old Testament does not mandate global conquest and world domination. God simply wanted to provide His people with a piece of land to call their own. Once the Jews possessed their land, they stopped their offensive maneuvers. The rest of their battles were defensive: Maintaining what they had. Today, modern Israel’s example proves the truth of this Old Testament teaching. They are defending the tiny portion of land that they possess. They are not on the violent offensive, with goals of world domination and conquest. So the Jews too are what they read: They read the Old Testament. It teaches them to possess and keep the land promised to them by God--nothing more, nothing less! And that is exactly what they are doing.
The Qur'an’s vision is very different. That is because it’s a manual of war. And its faithful followers are passionate to see its vision of global conquest come to pass.
But let’s not stop at the Old Testament as we are examining books today. Followers of Jesus are also what we read. In addition to trusting the truth of the Old Testament, we also trust the New Testament. In some rare instances, the latter redefines the former, in light of Jesus’ coming. And everyone who has actually read the New Testament knows this:
The New Testament is a manual of love.
There are no exhortations to worldly violence. No inspiration to global conquest or domination. Its message regarding violence is not only different from that of the Qur'an--it is the exact opposite. Jesus Christ’s own words in two different places in the New Testament will forever inspire Christians…
Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
And as those same enemies were literally executing Him, Jesus said from the Cross in Luke 23:34:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
The New Testament inspires Christians to love and forgive people, even our enemies. And that’s why, by and large—yes, imperfectly and with exceptions, but still by and large—sincere followers of Jesus in every nation of the world today act that way. Why? Because you are what you read.
The New Testament is God’s last Word for followers of Jesus. It serves as a buffer that tempers, refines and redefines some of the seemingly harsh statements of the Old Testament.
But for those who are inspired by the Qur'an, that book is supposedly God’s last word. There is no buffer, no refinement or redefinition for its repeatedly harsh and cruel statements. For the readers of the Qur'an, its message serves as a final, inspiring statement, to which there is no response to soften its blow.
Now do you see why the followers of the Qur'an continue to do what they do? They are simply being obedient to the message that they have read repeatedly. They have become what they have read. The manual of war has inspired a multitude of warriors.
I guess Jesus really was right when He said in Matthew 7:17: “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” That sums up perfectly the struggle we see today between the message of the New Testament and the message of the Qur'an.
In 1839, shortly before Marx wrote his Communist Manifesto, the English novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote the immortal words “The pen is mightier than the sword.” In the past century, our world has seen—and is seeing—that the pen can also inspire the sword. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is a book—inspired by Jesus Christ, the one true God—that inspires the exact opposite: Love and forgiveness.
I’ll end this article by stating as truthfully and concisely as you will ever hear it, why many followers of the Qur'an keep doing the things that they do:
It’s not because they’re naturally worse people than the rest of us. It’s because you are what you read.
They have read the Qur'an. They have memorized the Qur'an. They have immersed their lives in the teachings of the Qur'an. And now their lives are a reflection of the fundamental teachings of the Qur'an.
People who live their lives by the teachings of the Qur'an will gravitate toward its themes of violence, global conquest and domination. But on the other hand, those who base their lives on the teachings of the Bible—the New Testament teachings of Jesus Christ—will gravitate toward its themes of love and forgiveness. Not rocket science. Just truth. You are what you read.
Ultimately—and this will shock some of you, but digest what I say and you will see the truth in it—the Muslim people are not our enemy. Even Islam itself is not really our enemy. The enemy in this most recent global conquest is a book. Our world needs to stand against the teachings of the Qur'an. They are as toxic as those of Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto were. They inspire the same themes that threaten all of humanity. The way to victory for our world today also lies in a book—the teachings of Jesus Christ—just as it has for the past 2000 years. Read the Bible. Digest the New Testament. Change the world, and help rescue our planet!
Because you are what you read.
Dr. Kevin Wagner, D.Min.