How Does Jihad Compare with Old Testament Warfare?

Nabeel Qureshi | March 15, 2016

Editor’s note: New York Times bestselling author Nabeel Qureshi, a former Muslim, offers challenging, respectful answers to the many questions surrounding jihad, the rise of ISIS, and Islamic terrorism in his new book, Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward (Zondervan, 2016). Read on for a comparison of Old Testament warfare and jihad. 

No matter the context in which I discuss jihad, one question invariably arises: How can you condemn jihad in light of the violence in the Old Testament?

I don’t wish to argue here that the God of the Hebrew Bible is better than the God of the Qur’an, even though I’m a Christian and won’t be able to remain totally free of bias. Nor will I seek to defend the morality of the violence in the Old Testament per se; others have done so far more thoroughly and accurately than I could here. For example, consider Paul Copan and Matt Flannagan’s 2014 book, Did God Really Command Genocide?.

I simply hope to compare jihad—the Islamic doctrine of warfare—to incidents of Jewish warfare in the Old Testament. The two religious systems conceive of warfare differently, and only after we’ve understood the details can we analyze the morality of either.


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