The Koran Versus the Bible

Last week, noting the disparate treatment the press gives to religious slights, I quipped,

It’s an interesting cultural distinction, though, that urine on Christian symbols is “art” whereas urine on Muslim symbols is “torture.”

This morning, Donald Sensing has an excellent essay explaining why this is so. An excerpt:

I have written before about the “religious space” the Quran occupies in Islam, here and here for example. Basically, the Quran’s place in Islam is the same as the place of Christ in Christianity.

The analogy is not exact, of course, because Christians cannot point to or touch Christ because “He has been raised; he is not here,” while there are hundreds of millions of copies of the Quran available in the world.

This distinction is one reason why there were no riots by Christians when Andres Serrano displayed his work (I cannot call it a work of art), “Piss Christ.” That the work was extraordinarily insulting to Christians was self evident, but there was no “abuse of Christ” in the work because Christ is not present on earth to be abused.

The Quran is holy to Muslims in a different way that the Bible is holy to Christians. Until the rise of American fundamentalism about a century ago, the Christian assertion that the Bible was “the word of God†was understood more analogically than literally. That the texts of the Bible were inspired by God – James said the Scriptures were “God breathed†– wasn’t doubted, but the notion that the Bible was dictated verbatim by God is really only about 100 years old and is a small-minority belief among Christians today.

Much more at the link, including an explanation of why understanding this distinction is crucial to the war on Islamist terrorism.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, Uncategorized, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. mlah says:

    what a crock. muslims do not think that the qoran is God. christians do in fact believe that christ is part of the trinity who comprise the lord God almighty. trying to say that muslims view the qoran the same way christians revere christ is a muslim attempt at ‘taqqiya’, simply to befuddle non-believing infidels, and thus get their way..

    i had a moron who recently equated touching the qoran to a human rights violation on my own site..

    it’s the same old song and dance. we must hold islam in a superior and more delicate esteem because it is the master religion. they’re modern day fascists. little else.

  2. Sven says:

    The Koran is the devils book and must be purged from our land! Does the FBI even know what is written in the Koran? It could persecute countless amount of religions and no one would know except the infidels who preach its words!
    Islam is more a cult than a religion, and it must be stopped in the name of our Lord!

  3. MICHELE says:

    you want a real truth? hope you can handle it,

    god makes no distinction between jew,christian,muslim,hindu or buddist.
    to say god choses one over another is to keep god very small and human like . God NEVER takes a side in war – that is mistaken human belief.

    god represents itself in a way we can understand – wouldn’t it be a good laugh if god chose to show up to some bigot after he/she has passed as some overweight , black , lesbian ?

    why is it that humans limit gods power to a few? it’s like children saying dad/mom loves me better –god loves all the same regardless of what any human rule or thought. ( including any book)

  4. Kent says:

    James, if what you say is true, then the real analog to desecrating the Koran is desecrating the Eucharist, which in Catholic belief *is* the body of Christ in a form that can be seen and touched. (Catholics, feel free to correct me if I’ve misunderstood your beliefs.)

    There have been incidents of Eucharist desecration in this country in recent memory, yet there were no riots nor were any of those responsible (primarily gay activists) lynched by outraged Catholics.

    So I think your ruminations here fall a little short. The differences between Christians and Islamofascists are a bit more profound than just a difference in how seriously they view certain religious slights.

  5. MICHELE says:

    Eucharist desecration happens according to the church everyday

    if your divorced and recieve it.

    if you have sinned mind body or spirit and have not confessed.

    and I’m sure bigoted ‘ christians ‘ would ( and some have) take up arms and commited a hate crime against gays if it ment they wouldn’t get legally punished – god they seem to forget about

  6. MICHELE says:

    fascists? may want to look to bush and co.

    lots more out there –

    The 7 conditions (Warning signs)
    that foster & fuel fascism are:

    Instability of capitalist relationships or markets

    The existence of considerable declassed social elements

    The stripping of rights and wealth focused upon a specific segment of the population, specifically the middle class and intellectuals within urban areas as this the group with the means, intelligence and ability to stop fascism if given the opportunity.

    Discontent among the rural lower middle class (clerks, secretaries, white collar labor). Consistent discontent among the general middle and lower middle classes against the oppressing upper-classes (haves vs have-nots).

    Hate: Pronounced, perpetuated and accepted public disdain of a specific group defined by race, origin, theology or association.

    Greed: The motivator of fascism, which is generally associated with land, space or scarce resources in the possession of those being oppressed.

    Organized Propaganda:

    a) The creation of social mythology that venerates (creates saints of) one element of society while concurrently vilifying (dehumanizing) another element of the population through misinformation, misdirection and the obscuring of factual matter through removal, destruction or social humiliation, (name-calling, false accusations, belittling and threats).

    b) The squelching of public debate not agreeing with the popular agenda via slander, libel, threats, theft, destruction, historical revisionism and social humiliation. Journalists in particular are terrorized if they attempt to publish stories contrary to the agenda.

    3. Fascism dovetails business & government sectors into a single economic unit, while concurrently increasing in-fighting and distrust between the units fostering advancement towards war. TOP

    4. a) Fascism promotes chauvinist demagogy, (appealing to the prejudices and emotions of the populace) by fostering selective persecution and accepted public vilification of the target group. It then promotes this a “patriotic”, “supportive” or “the party line” and disagreement with such as “anti-government”, “anti-faith” or “anti-nation”.

    b) Fascism creates confusion through “facts”. It relies on junk science, revisionism, the elimination of cultural records/treasures and obfuscations to create its case and gain acceptance. Fascism can also combine Marxist critiques of capitalism or faith based critics of the same to re-define middle class perceptions of democracy and to force its issues, confuse logic and create majority consensus between targeted groups. This is also referred to as creating a state of Cognitive Dissonance, the mental state most human beings are easily manipulated within. TOP

    5. Both middle and upper-middle-class dictated democracy and fascism are class dictatorships that use organized violence (verbal or physical) to maintain the class rule of the oppressors over the oppressed.

    The difference between the two is demonstrated by the policies towards non-lower-working class classes. Fascism attains power through the substitution of one state’s form of class domination with another form, generally a middle class based republic segues into an open terrorist dictatorship, run by a few elite