This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here and the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.The Koran promises rewards for all believers and followers of Islam. However, for some classes of believers, and alternate way, or at least an enhanced means of finding rewards, are offered. In Islam, God does favor certain classes of believers over others.
"Not equal [treatment] is he among you who spent, and who fought before the victory; those are mightier [nobler] in rank [grade] than they who spent [contributed] and fought afterwards;" (Koran 57:10)Those who fight, especially those who fight from the beginning when the risks and violence of war are at its peak, are preferred in the sight of God over those who either do not fight or only join the fight after victory becomes sure. The Koran even promises forgiveness and compassion for the warrior above that which He has for the common believer.
"But the believers, and those who emigrate and struggle in God's way [fight in the cause of God] -- those have hope of God's compassion" (Koran 2:215)
"Such believers as sit at home -- unless they have an injury -- are not the equals of those who struggle in the path of God with their possessions and their selves. God has preferred in rank those who struggle with their possessions and their selves over the ones who sit at home; yet to each God has promised the reward most fair; and God has preferred those who struggle over the ones who sit at home for the bounty of a mighty wage, in ranks standing before Him, forgiveness and mercy" (Koran 4:97)I believe that this promise of absolution and the welcomed entrance into Paradise are what, at least in part, fuels some of the enthusiasm for Jihad and for some to end their own lives as suicide bombers and suicide fighters. For the Muslim, there is little assurance of their own salvation and little assurance of their certain place in paradise. How can a young man, with all the lusts and desires raging through his flesh, have certain hope of Paradise? How can one born in poverty who has no wealth to struggle with in the way of God find entrance into Paradise? One sure way is to die in battle and in the cause of God.
"And those who emigrated [fled their country], and were expelled from their habitations [quitted their homes], those who suffered hurt in My way, and fought, and were slain -- them I shall surely acquit of their evil deeds [blot out their sins], and I shall admit them to gardens underneath which rivers flow.'" (Koran 3:194)To help those who have joined the fight, God does offer indulgences for those who fail at their religion during battle, not counting their failings against them.
"And when you are journeying in the land there is no fault in you that you shorten the prayer, if you fear the unbelievers may afflict you; the unbelievers are for you a manifest foe [infidels are your undoubted enemies]." (Koran 4:102)However, there is no patience for cowards and those who seek to avoid battle and the hazards of war to which God has called all believer to.
"Hast thou not regarded those to whom it was said, 'Restrain your hands [awhile from war], and perform the prayer, and pay the alms'? Then, as soon as fighting is prescribed [commanded] for them, there is a party of them fearing the people as they would fear God, or with a greater fear, and they say, 'Our Lord, why hast thou prescribed fighting for us [commanded us war]? Why not defer us to a near term?'" (Koran 4:79)
"And when a sura is sent down, saying, 'Believe in God, and struggle [go forth to war] with His Messenger [Apostle],' the affluent among them ask leave of thee [demanded exemption], saying, 'Let us be with the tarries [those who sit at home].' They are well-pleased [content] to be with those [who stay] behind, and a seal has been set upon their hearts, so the they understand not. But Messenger [Apostle], and the believers with him, have struggled with their possessions [purse] and their selves [person], and those -- for them await the good things; those -- they are the prosperers [happy]." (Koran 9:87-89)However, in the Christian scriptures we are taught that there is no class or distinction of rank among believers and before God. Paul tells us that, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) The priest is not in rank higher than the laity, the pastor higher than the congregant. The Apostle is not above the servant nor the Prophet above the lowly intercessor. The rich are not favored more than the poor nor the widow above the prosperous. God sees everyone the same and they all find equal rank before Him. In this Gospel, the warrior is not above those who go not into battle. In fact, for some things, their doing is reserved for those who have not shed blood, even in a righteous and victorious war. When King David sought to build God a house, the Lord refused saying,
"You have shed much blood and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to My name, because you have shed so much blood on the earth before Me. Behold, a son will be born to you, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My name, and he shall be My son and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever." (1 Chronicles 22:8-10)Some deeds require blood-free hand. A truth that is quite different from the brand of truth espoused in the Koran.
God loves the warrior, but He does not love him any more than his brethren. God loves all and to all He graciously gives His favor and blessing. The true judgement of a believer is not in his courage and steadfastness in battle but in his courage and steadfastness in love. It is not our fierceness that will witness to the world our discipleship in Christ but our love for all, even the infidel. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) Whether you are a warrior or not, God loves you just the same and He calls you to share that love with everyone around you.
More to come...