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Karen Armstrong: “There is nothing in the Islam that is more violent than Christianity”

Karen Armstrong: “There is nothing in the Islam that is more violent than Christianity”

The terrorist attacks in Paris rendered her new book Fields of Blood. Religion and the History of Violence suddenly and tragically very urgent. In over five hundred pages Karen Armstrong, once a nun and the respected author of bestsellers like A History of God and The Case for God, answers the question whether religion is the principal cause of violence. A conversation about Islam and terrorists, Western responsibility and the world in which we live.

Text: Lisette Thooft

It is not a merry book, Karen Armstrong’s newest: blood flows freely over the pages, metaphorically speaking. In detail she describes the violence that has always been inextricably associated with the development of nation states and cultures. But it is a necessary book, a kind of reality check. For it is high time we realize how much each and every civilization is rooted in submission and exploitation, including ours. High time to hear this voice.

Karen Armstrong enters the hotel lobby with a ferm pace – a small, elegant woman with a blonde lock of hair that keeps falling in front of her eyes. And a ready laugh, despite the gloomy subject. Let’s start with the million dollar question.

Is there any difference between Jesus and Muhammad in terms of violence – or in other words, how do you explain that most terrorism now is inspired by the Islam?
“Terrorism has nothing to do with Muhammad, any more than the Crusades had anything to do with Jesus. There is nothing in the Islam that is more violent than Christianity. All religions have been violent, including Christianity. There was nothing in the Muslim world like antisemitism: that is an import of the modern period. They got it from us. The missionaries brought it over. And then came the state of Israel. Judaism has become violent in the modern world, thanks to the nation state.”

But then what is the cause of Muslim terrorism? In the book you write that Muslims have been introduced to modernity in a more abrupt way…
“A more violent way. When George Bush and Tony Blair went into Iraq they thought that modernity would take everyone into democracy straight away. That is not necessarily the case. It worked for us, because democracy was good for industry. Freedom, which we hear so much about at the moment, was essential to our economy as much as to anything else. For people have to have the freedom to innovate, to keep the country productive. But in those countries modernity came with colonial subjugation. There was no self-determination. In Egypt there were seventeen general elections between 1922 and 1952, all won by the Wafd Party, which was only allowed by the British to rule five times. Democracy was a bad joke.
Secularism was introduced by these army officers, with great violence: the clergy had their stipends confiscated, they were shot down, they were tortured to death. The Shah shot hundred unarmed demonstrators in a holy shrine in Iran because they didn’t want to wear western clothes. And we in the West have consistently supported rulers like Saddam Hussein who denied their people any freedom of expression. All this has helped to push the Islam into violence. When people are attacked, they invariably become extreme. But only a tiny proportion of them actually agree with terrorism: 93% answered ‘no’ to the question in the Gallup poll whether the 9/11 attacks were justified. And the reasons they gave were entirely religious. The seven percent who said ‘yes’ – the reasons they gave were entirely political.
My message is not that religion has nothing to do with violence. It has always been implicated in it, and trying to take religion out of politics and warfare would have been like taking the gin out of the cocktail. It is inextricably intertwined. Until 1700 nobody thought of separating religion; it permeated the whole of life. And still people who have not had our particular modernization find that an arbitrary distinction. Because matters like justice, the plight of the poor, suffering – these are political questions. And they’re matters of sacred import.
So Jesus would have had no time for people who said their prayers and neglected the plight of the needy or the oppressed. But we sort of separated it off. That separation was important for us, and in many ways it was good for religion, because it freed it from the violence of government.”

The conclusion upon reading this book is: all civilization is rooted in violence.
“That is so for the vast majority of the history of civilization. Without the oppression of people by aristocracy we would never have the science and arts upon which we depend. It was the economy to make peasants work and take their surplus and keep them at subsistence level. Also to keep the population down. It’s a terrible thing.
We look at civilization as what started in Athens. But the Parthenon was built on the back of the Greek island, all the other Greek cities – it was built on their taxes. So it was free for some but not for others.
It is still like that today. No state can dispend its army. It is still going on. But there were always people who stood up and said: ‘This is wrong.’ And that has been as much a part of religion as any Crusade or Jihad.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote in a newspaper that now is the time to be clear about Muslim terrorism being part of the Islam. Should she read your book?
“I shouldn’t think she wants to. She’s married to that dreadful man, Niall Ferguson, who was the architect of the Iraq war. And what a disaster that was. That was a great help to Al Qaida.
This attack on the magazine wasn’t simply inspired by fanatical devotion to the prophet. It wasn’t just purely religious: again, politics is essential. Al Qaida is deeply political. This was a strategic attack on a sacred symbol. Free speech is for us a sacred symbol of our western civilization, as sacred to us as the Prophet is to them. And they want us to be outraged. They’ll love that. And they’ll be thrilled by the new edition with the Prophet on the cover. Because this will lead to new recruitings. I’m not saying that it was wrong to do that, but they will use it. This is all very politically organized.”

What should have happened?
“I don’t know! But I think one of the things we should do is mourn their dead too. Not long ago 165 Pakistani children were shot by the Taliban. Two thousand villagers in Nigeria were slaughtered by Boko Haram. But we’re not marching for them. So the impression we give is that we just don’t care, that their lives are not so valuable to us. So I think we must take notice that we’re not the only ones being killed by extremists. Far more Muslims are dying.”

Are terrorists primarily traumatized?
“Some of them are, and some of them are plain wicked. Osama bin Laden was a plain criminal. But there is also great fear and despair among them. There have been surveys done by forensic psychiaters who interviewed people convicted of terrorism since 9/11. They interviewed hundreds of people in Guantanamo and other prisons. And one forensic psychiater who is also an officer of the CIA – so he is no softie like me! – concluded that Islam had nothing to do with it. The problem was rather ignorance of the Islam. Had they had a proper Muslim education they wouldn’t be doing this. Only 20% of them has had a regular Muslim upbringing. The rest are either new converts – like the gunmen who recently attacked the Canadian Parliament; or non-observant, which means they don’t go to the mosque – like the bombers in the Boston marathon; or self-taught. Two young men who left Britain to join the Jihad in Syria ordered from Amazon a book called Islam for Dummies. That says it, you see.
People go there out of a sense of meaninglessness. It was interesting listening to the Parisians speaking about this. Several of them said: Look, we have not sorted out these suburbs, where there is despair and no hope. We had a wake up call when there were riots and we didn’t do anything about it. This is festering. People don’t feel at home in our societies. Their lives will have some meaning when they get out there. Here there is no way out. And the French government is hostile towards any religious expression. That makes people edgy. So there is a sense of despair. I was talking to one of our leading historians a couple of months ago and he said that the chief thing that has always driven young men to war has always been boredom. Tedium. And that is something that in our societies we have to take very seriously, just as much as we take free speech seriously. Misery and a sense of no hope, especially with the economy going down. We’ve got to remember how privileged we are. I’ve become aware, because of my travels and my studies, of how privileged I am. And that comes with responsibility. If you’ve been given a good hand, you must do something good with it.”

Reading the book I realized: what a river of blood and tears is running through our world history.
“And misery and oppression, and injustice. Great injustice and we are still unjust. Because we talk about our Enlightenment as if the Messiah came down… And it was great, it was very important for us. But look at the Founding Fathers of the United States, who said that all men are created equal: they had no problem owning African slaves. Liberty was only ever for Europeans. And it stil is like that, because of the greed for oil. We give huge support to the Saudis, who give their people no human rights.”

There’s this blogger Raif Badawi threatened with cane beatings every Friday… (In the meantime Badawi’s case is under revision, ed.)
“We don’t mind about him as long as we get our oil. There is Amnesty International, yes, but we have to keep reminding people. We have to be consistent.”

Wasn’t it depressing for you to write this book?
“Yes, but there is also the other part. People like Confucius talking about the Golden Rule, Jesus, Paul who tries to… people keep trying. And we need to create an alternative voice that is as strong, that is based on reality but also on justice.”

And now we need to do that without religion?
“Well we can… Your country is secular but the Unites States aren’t secular. When I lecture there and talk to people the response is quite different: they don’t want to do without religion. They’re said to be the second most religious country in the world, after India. But do create a secular form of it, seeing the sanctity of every human being. Each human being is precious, inviolable and must not be tampered with. Whether that interferes with our economy or not.”

So you are saying that religion is a scapegoat?
“We’re piling all the violence of the 21st Century on the back of religion, sending it away, saying we have nothing to do with religion. While we still have to deal with the political situation. The supermarket attack in Paris was about Palestine, about Isis. It had nothing to do with antisemitism; many of them are Semites themselves. But they attempt to conquer Palestine and we’re not talking about that. We’re too implicated and we don’t know what to do with it.
It would be naive to think we’ll ever have a world without war. But I wrote this book because I am filled with a sense of dread as to where we’re going. We have created bombs that can wipe out the world, and it is accepted in international law that if your nation is threatened it is acceptable to fire off a nuclear weapon, even if that will certainly mean the destruction of your own nation. This is a suicidal deathwish. So similarly the suicide bomber that goes in knowing that he or she will die, is a primitive form of that.
It won’t be long before Al Qaida or one of these groups gets hold of a nuclear device. The situation is so dangerous that we are forced to open our eyes and see what’s going on. And that is not about religion, Islam or otherwise.”

But many people believe that, still: the followers of Wilders, Marine le Pen…
“One of the problems of the nation state has always been its inability to tolerate minorities. That has been the cause of some of the worst crimes of the 20th Century, the Holocaust for example. Because of the emphasis on language and culture that comes in the nation state the nation becomes the supreme value.
Nationalism is not helping us realize that we live in a global world. Now we can’t afford to think only for our own country – the world is not like that anymore. We’ve created a global economy and we’re so connected that if a market falls in one part of the world, the stocks fall all around the globe the same day.”

Not to speak about the climate…
“Yes, we share that predicament. And now we see that what happens in Paris today will have repercussions in the Middle East, and back again. We’re linked politically. And our histories are intertwined. We British particularly bear a big responsibility for what has happened in the Middle East. And India and Pakistan. Take the frontier lines of those postcolonial states, how they were drawn with such cynicism and opportunism. And how much violence that has led to.”

You write, surprisingly, that the Shariah has been an impulse for peace…?
“We demonize the Shariah. But why they’re so keen on it in the Muslim world, is because traditionally it was a counterbalance to the tyranny of the state. It was the law of God but it was saying that nobody has the right to tell anybody what to do. Because each person is sovereign and responsible to God alone. No government could rule by that, but they had to acknowledge that this was the word of God. They have developed their own version of the Shariah. But the passion for it was not one for cutting off hands.”

And shutting up women?
“The women thing is a problem worldwide. One of the hallmarks of modernity has been the emancipation of women. And so when people are angry about modernity and modernisation they go back and… You have it in christianity too, you’ve got christians in the Southern States of the US who say that women should stay in the home. The Catholic Church say women can’t be priests. And similarly in Judaism too.
And one of the things in the Muslim world is that rulers are often floundering, they don’t have much popular support. If they make draconian rulings that keep women under control, they please the men.
But the Muslim feminists will transform Islam. From the inside.”

Lisette Thooft is a journalist. For more information:

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41 reacties

  • Karin Hamersma op 18 januari 2015 om 17:20 uur

    Great interview!

  • Dian op 20 januari 2015 om 05:00 uur

    Superb !!

    Prima danke for sharing !!

  • Jacob. op 20 januari 2015 om 12:50 uur

    “Is there any difference between Jesus and Muhammed in terms of violence?” This seems to be a question that could be answered with yes or no, and yet Ms. Armstrong doesn’t really give an answer at all. In fact, she avoids giving an answer by speaking about the followers and their use of violence, instead of referring to the life and the actions of Jesus reps. Muhammed. Presumably, she knows full well that the Prophet of Islam led a considerably more violent life than Jesus. He was a war lord. This a question of fact, not opinion….albeit that it is an inconvenient fact for Ms. Armstrong’s apologetic agenda.
    Consequently, avoiding to acknowledge this essential fact puts into question the credibility, objectivity, and motives of Ms. Armstrong.

  • eka op 20 januari 2015 om 15:33 uur

    It is true that Muhammad’s life was more violence than Jesuses, but one also have to consider their role in their respective society. Muhammad for example was a preached and also head of state. Jesus on the other hand was a preached only. Was there any head of the states life which free from violence especially from the old era ?. We are talking about reality here not utopian world.

  • Ben op 20 januari 2015 om 16:34 uur

    “The supermarket attack in Paris was about Palestine, about Isis. It had nothing to do with antisemitism; many of them are Semites themselves. But they attempt to conquer Palestine and we’re not talking about that.”

    It is hard to imagine 3 more asburd sentences on this subject. The Terrorist in the supermarket told the press and police that he was taking the hostages to pressure the police to let the Hebdo terrorists go free. Why did he choose a kosher supermarket? I can’t say for sure, but to the extent it was about Palestine, it was a display of antisemitism in assigning the blame for Palestine on random Jewish shoppers in France.

    On the other hand Ms. Armstrong seems to make the same antisemitic assumption “they attempt to conquer Palestine.” Who is the “they” in that sentence, Ms. Armonstrong?

    Finally, Ms. Armonstrong, if you are any sort of scholar you must know that “antisemitism” is a fancy term created to describe Jew-hatred. There is no concept of “antisemitism” outside of Jew-hatred. There is no group that hates all Semites (can they even tell who is a Semite?) because they are Semites. Leaving aside the fact that the kosher supermarket terrorist was of North African descent, saying that people who want to kill Jews cannot be antisemites because the murderers are also Semitic is ridiculous on multiple levels.

  • Jacob. op 20 januari 2015 om 16:58 uur

    @eka: This argument doesn’t really cut it, because are we not to hold the founder of a religion up to different standards of morality than those that were common in the times they lived in? Jesus was atypical for his time, exactly, because he did not exert power through violence (I am saying this as a person who is not Christian himself). This is what made him extraordinary, whereas you are basically saying that Mohammed was violent and that this was not atypical for his time. Then what made him atypical, or extraordinary? What does it say about the moral qualities of a religion if its founder lived a life filled with violence? (as well as other dubious behaviors such as marrying a child as an adult). If we try to relativize Muhammad’s violence by trying to understand it in the context of its time, we also ignore the fact that according to muslim theology “Muhammad was a perfect believer”.. in other words, his violence cannot be questioned and is considered morally valid.

  • Ayesha op 20 januari 2015 om 17:03 uur

    To the person who said Muhammad was a war lord, you need to re-read the history of Muhammad to find out that in actuality Muhammad wore many hats over his life period. He was a shephard first and foremost. He later became a merchant, earning him the title Al-Amin among other traders which means ‘trustworthy’.
    It was not until that he was driven out of his hometown of Mecca, that he took residence in Madinah (former town of Yasreb) and took part in wars against the Meccans who were not happy about the Prophet’s influence and prosperity in Madinah. It is in Madinah that Mohammad also became a religious leader, community builder and army general.

  • FuriousGreg op 20 januari 2015 om 18:50 uur

    When Islamic Terrorists say they are carrying out these atrocities for/in the name of Islam I respect them enough to believe them. Mrs. Armstrong is a prime example of the soft bigotry of low expectations by believing she knows better then even the perpetrators do themselves.

    Is politics and history a factor? Of course it is and saying those of us liberals with a backbone don’t understand this is a Straw Man, we do know this and no one is saying religion is the sole cause. It is however a significant factor because of how the tenants of Islam differ form the worlds other major religions. Ignoring this fact doesn’t help anyone, it fact it’s a dangerous distraction that weakens our ability to respond with unity to mitigate, and hopefully, eventually, solve this clash of ideas.

    Armstrong, Azlan, Greenwald and other outspoken apologists for Islam are welcome to hold their opinions but do us all a disservice by adding smoke to an already difficult to put out conflagration.

  • kok kee boon op 20 januari 2015 om 19:48 uur

    What she did not tell you is that the Crusade happened only once and that was to rescue those Christians and people from the threat of the Jihadists. But, the Jihad has been going on relentlessly since 1400 years until now ! Killing more Muslims and non Muslims than any other religion and the numbers are still counting.

  • Brad Brzezinski op 20 januari 2015 om 20:12 uur

    “It had nothing to do with antisemitism; many of them are Semites themselves. ”

    For using this stupid argument, Armstrong is toast. Done. Finito.

  • Daniel Barron op 20 januari 2015 om 20:13 uur

    Anyone who claims Armstrong has any credibility on the subject of religion is either a fool or a liar. Or both.

  • Kay op 20 januari 2015 om 20:36 uur

    Brilliant! Grandious interview. She really knows her stuff. Kudos Mrs Karem Armstrong!

  • Heathen op 20 januari 2015 om 21:02 uur

    Karen Armstrong was a painfully irritating obscurantist who has descended into a complete liar. Not that there aren’t other factors that lead to violence, but the Charlie Hebdo attack had everything to do with religion. It was perceived by the murderers as retribution for blasphemy.

    And as for the attack on a Jewish supermarket not being anti-Semitic?!?!?! I appreciate that English is not the first language of the interviewer, but she should not have been allowed to get away with this faecal vomit.

    Karen Armstrong have insulted our collective intelligence for too long. She needs to be ousted for her crimes against honest conversation.

  • Jacob. op 20 januari 2015 om 21:28 uur

    @Ayesha:I never claimed that he was only a war lord. It’s pretty much irrelevant whether he was a shepherd or a merchant… or whatever modern-day terms (“Community builder” is a nice euphemism for having your critics killed or oppressed) you attribute to him. The majority of his later life was spent waging war against others non-muslims.
    Being a shepherd or merchant is totally irrelevant in that light…even in the Quran, there is a chapter called “Spoils of War” (al-Anfal)..I don’t see a chapter titled “Spoils of commerce” or “spoils of sheep herding”; I guess that it is indicative of what profession was more important to the Prophet”.

  • Gea op 20 januari 2015 om 23:00 uur

    According to Sira-Arabic life of Mohamed, Mohamed was a pedophile, polygamist, rapist, misogynist, looter and mass murderer, who in any sane and decent society would be convicted for his crimes against humanity and not emulated by 1,800 millions of Muslims worldwide as “the most perfect human being who ever lived” and their “beloved prophet”.

    Unlike other religions, Islam itself, as taught by Koran and Hadith (www.cspipublishing.comk/pdfs/AtwohourKoran.pdf) and emulating Mohamed, is NOT compatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and does not belong to ANY society which respects liberty, justice and human rights of ALL individuals. Christianity had abandoned delusional Jew hatred after Holocaust, but Muslim delusional Jew hatred is bringing it all back with the mass immigration of Muslims from their dysfunctional and corrupt sharia ruled countries…

    This women, Karen Armstrong had fallen for the taqiyya-Islamic principle of lying and kitman (concealing) of her Muslim friends, who are lying through their teeth about the true nature of Islam. Islam is supremacist totalitarian imperialistic ideology of hate of ALL non-Muslims, which also condones pedophilia, polygamy, rape, misogyny, looting and murder, because Mohamed did all those vile things. ISIS, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah are only continuing a family tradition of Mohamed, started in 627 AD beheading of 900 Jewish men from Medina, looting their property and taking their women and children into slavery which is widely practiced among Muslims nowadays. Read Koran and Hadith to see fro yourself rather then believing ignorant talking heads who do not know their head from their behind ;-)!

    Karen Armstrong is a useful idiot for promotion of jihad in our midst ;-)!

  • Helen Oster op 20 januari 2015 om 23:03 uur

    Yet again, a completely false understanding of semite. Semite, literally descendant of Shem, one of the sons of Noach.

    “….they attempt to conquer Palestine….”??

    Yes, EVERYONE has indeed attempted to conquer ‘Palestine’. Turks, Persians, Greeks, British, French………..

    But the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews and to the Jews alone.

  • gea op 20 januari 2015 om 23:04 uur

    What do you call a 51 y old man who marries 6 y old girls, and has sex with her when she is 9 y old and he is 54. She was a favorite of his 12 wives and numerous concubines, including the 17 y old widow of a Jewish men he had beheaded with 900 other Jewish men from Medina, who laughed at his preposterous claims that he is THEIR (Jewish) prophet.

    Mohamed suffered from severe case of Gelotophobia -excessive fear of being laughed at, and had murdered anybody who made jokes about him ;-)! how can any SANE and DECENT person mention Jesus, and Mohamed in the same sentence?!

  • Frank op 20 januari 2015 om 23:17 uur

    This is a joke, right? Was Karen Armstrong drunk when she did this interview or is she really that uninformed about history and about current events. Regardless her answers are very amusing.

  • crossy op 21 januari 2015 om 01:04 uur

    Interesting read. there’s always room for debate, comments posted are also worth reading.
    Peace be upon you all

  • Talal op 21 januari 2015 om 01:47 uur

    First thing in Islam Jesus (PBUH) is respected same as Muhammad(PBUH). Both were prophets, so there is no question of versus. Muhammad (PBUH) never ever killed even an insect, He forgived even after winning the battle of Mecca (Many people were forgiven, few of them threw stones on him, shredded his path with spikes, threw garbage, killed innocent people, ate his uncle liver, forced him to leave his home). And yes no doubt he lead few wars but question is against whom? to protect innocent slaves and children and women. And what he did with prisoners? forgived them, asked them to educate Muslim children. he married to a young girl but why? it was politically necessary to keep unity and that girl is considered and respected like a mother by all Muslims. He asked others to give rights to women, right of inheritance. He made education compulsory for both male and female at that dark time. He showed and lead path towards peace. You guys really need to research instead of false accusations my friend. In Islam killing of one innocent life is considered as killing of whole humanity.

  • Elisabeth op 21 januari 2015 om 02:27 uur

    Have the Climate Change Wars begun..?

    We are already seeing the predicted consequences of Climate Change and the ever increasing human population.
    A lack of resources and unemployment gives rise to insecurity and fear and inevitable conflicts.

    With Lake Chad shrinking 90% since 1960, conflicts around resources like water are factors which aided the rise of the murderous sect of Boko Haram.

    It may appear to be just a religious fight, when it is actually more about access to vital resources.

    In much of northern Nigeria, Muslim herders are in competition with Christian farmers for dwindling water supplies.

    Boko Haram’s stated goal is to create an Islamic state – although its victims have included Muslims as well as Christians.

    “The so-called religious fight is a layer above those conflicts around resources,” said Gnacadja.
    “It is not just about Boko Haram, but in the Sahel belt you will see it is almost the same challenge in Mali and in Sudan.”

    With about 25% of youth in France unemployed, a likely factor behind radicalisation of Muslims in particular may be more to do with greater numbers with less resources…

    The birth rate of Muslims is much higher than other ethnic groups.
    The gunman at the Paris Jewish grocer was one of 10 children.
    Obviously, more children per family means the family’s resources are stretched, reducing resources per child.
    If there are more young Muslims who’ve had less opportunity (resources) than most other children, are they at a higher risk of falling prey to unemployment?

    How do you house ten children, let alone give them all of the same opportunities and attention as most other children from much smaller families?
    It’s possible, of course, but surely more difficult?

    The main concern is radicalisation.
    Are we seeing the fallout of the hopelessness of unemployment turning to crime and disaffection???

    The Climate Change wars across the Middle East and Central Africa will inevitably spread and refugee numbers will continue to spiral upwards as we are currently seeing.

    There are now over 50 million displaced people.
    How do we help all these people?
    Think globally?
    More targeted foreign aid in terms of sustainable technology (practising what we ‘preach’) and stop poaching skilled workers for a start.

    In Germany, 200 000 mostly Muslim refugees arrived from Africa and the Middle East in the past year.
    The trend is clear: rapidly increasing numbers given less resources and inevitably more wars:

    The unemployment statistics of youth look gloomy:
    – Sweden 23%
    – France 25%
    – Greece, Spain 50%
    Others simply take part-time work. Only 10% of Spanish youth are in full-time employment.

    In Germany, the government is subsiding business by paying a portion of youth wages to promote employment and help keep employment figures looking tolerable but hiding reality.

    With revenues plummeting, wages stagnant, and unemployment skyrocketing, what could the future look like if we don’t take action to address the obvious problem?
    Less resources -> less employment -> disaffection -> more conflict

    Could the Westernised world end up looking something like Israel, while the rest of the world like Palestine???

    Fear gives rise to divisiveness.
    It’s a basic evolutionary mechanism that we need to be aware of and be sure not to fall prey to.
    As always, if our leaders get the basic data from science and then employ evidence-based strategies based on clear-thinking unbiased decision making, the world will change for the better.

  • Nicky op 21 januari 2015 om 03:05 uur

    Is was stated above “It is true that Muhammad’s life was more violence than Jesuses, but one also have to consider their role in their respective society. Muhammad for example was a preached and also head of state. Jesus on the other hand was a preached only. Was there any head of the states life which free from violence especially from the old era ?. We are talking about reality here not utopian world.” So here’s the thing…Muhammad fought his way TO leadership…not just to maintain leadership…he promised his followers reward if they would do the same…Jesus could very easily have done the same…He could have fought…but He did not…thus Jesus is more than worth listening to and following. To the person who mentioned that Muhammad wore many hats…whatever…he murdered many people…killed many men and took their wives and children as slaves…a moral character?…a holy man?…a character fit to inspire and lead others in a Godly life?…NOT! As for the original article?…some above have tried and done well but I personally would barely know where to start highlighting some of Ms Armstrong’s ridiculous and deeply flawed comments and claims…

  • San op 21 januari 2015 om 05:51 uur

    Q: Is there any difference between Jesus and Muhammed in terms of violence?
    Ans: Karen Armstrong is a blonde (with due respect to all the other blondes), a sensible person would never ask such a stupid question.

  • SM op 21 januari 2015 om 06:52 uur

    What a lunatic! This interview is so uninformed that it is surreal and hilarious.

  • Otman obt op 21 januari 2015 om 06:58 uur

    when you put a dividing line between religion as belief or faith, and culture as practice . You will understand the stroy. And when you don’t judge the majority in accordance to the deeds of the minority you will get half of the story. And when you call the killing in Plastine, Irak and So on as Missions you make humanity feels sorry, and when they use religion in politics, and politic in religion this is the end of the story.
    Am a Muslim…….I don’t like to say Mine, yours, his , her, thier, but I love to keep it ……Our…… because life is ours, Life exists with its beautiful things either we exist or not, we are living just to decorate these things to cherish and suit our own needs and deire
    ………………………………………………………………………………………Otman Obt

  • Gary op 21 januari 2015 om 09:56 uur

    She seems to just start with the premise that religion is good and then take things from there.
    The key fact is that no-where else in our world today will you find people being murdered for drawing cartoons. All of the mental gymnastics around what religion “is”, don’t change that fact. It’s a fact that’s undeniably linked to Islam. I don’t much care what scaffolding of theory you put around those facts, we just need it to stop.

  • Irfan Jamil op 21 januari 2015 om 11:41 uur

    Whatever being done by Muslims is in the name of Islam. That’s where muslims are wrong. Christians or Jews or other religions might have done barbarism in the name of their respective religion; but that is history now. Unfortunately, muslims are creating history now – doing barbarism in the name of Islam. That’s shame for Islam.

  • Really op 21 januari 2015 om 11:53 uur

    What a joke. This Karen Armstrong is aiding the terrorists by giving them cover and further pushing back the important discussion on how to ensure Islam is not hijacked by terrorists. The koran can be interpreted in many ways – wahabbi etc .. we need discussion on how to promote the more popular moderate muslim and help them to prevent their sons becoming pidgeon feed for wahabbists such as Daesh !

  • Tanin op 21 januari 2015 om 13:52 uur

    This is one of the most ignorant pieces of rubbish I’ve read in a long time. The punishment for apostasy, in other words for renouncing Islam is death. I’d say that’s a big freaking difference with Christianity. The punishment for insulting Muhammad or Allah is also death in Islam. I’d say that’s pretty violent for the “religion of peace”. So much for religious equivalency.

    And as far as cultural development is concerned there is no doubt that moral progress has been stifled in the Muslim world by Islam’s totalitarian nature. From the treatment of women and LGBT people to freedom of expression and religion, the Muslim world struggles to keep up with the rest of the world because of Islam’s iron rule over the region.

  • hunter op 21 januari 2015 om 16:04 uur

    Mohamed married with Aisha when she was 19 yo not 6 or 9.

  • Farid maharaj op 22 januari 2015 om 11:14 uur

    Let’s see life of Moses , david and Soloman. Violence ?

  • Nury Vittachi op 26 januari 2015 om 10:28 uur

    I had to laugh at the few people who are poring scorn on Ms Armstrong for giving her views about religion.
    She is among the world’s best-known (and best-selling) commentators on the subject.
    Who are you? Some guy who posts anonymous abuse on the Internet

  • Mohammed Din op 27 januari 2015 om 12:31 uur

    Good article, the books do more justice to this issue as they explain more background. The opportunists (like some making comments on this article) will continue with their rhetoric. The article should have asked where does the cradle of violence start and who drives it? The same people who control the banks, media channels, defence industry, pharmaceuticals, powerful governments, etc, etc.

  • Carl Soro op 30 januari 2015 om 18:23 uur

    Has she lost her mind completely????

  • syeda op 9 februari 2015 om 08:52 uur

    All the people who accused Muhammed (pbuh) for being involved in wars have u people read his life history? Undoubtedly u came to know everything about him from either media or from some people who claimed to know him and had read about him. Sorry but a sane person never believes unless he has authentic reference and logic. Which includes reading material about in favour as well as written against the attribute. And if u have read his life. Have u people ever noticed he never waged war at first. He always fought to retaliate or in defence. He promoted the culture of public amnesty. He ordered to not throw fire over crops, safety for human as well as children and old ones, he advised to prefer their parents assistence and care over going to war. He gave rights to women provide them protection and respect when at that time people burried their alive baby girls. He gives a decent, generous and prospering society. They were the after followers who ruined his every proposed aspects of society. They used his taken step in their favour without reaching to context of acts. Today i felt sorry, we as a muslim could not save his legacy. He is not a war lord after conquer of mecca he declared safety for all tge meccaens who would take refugee in a house of a non-muslim chief of tribe.

  • Dr Phillip Chalmers op 20 februari 2015 om 09:09 uur

    This woman is not a credible witness nor an accurate analyst of the phenomenon of religion.

  • Jon Burack op 28 april 2015 om 02:16 uur

    Ms. Armstrong apparently does not know the meaning of the phrase “Never Again,” since she is preparing already to apologize for the next “again.” We’ve seen and heard it all before, Karen Armstrong. No way there will be an again, however, because we are staying strong this time. Your phony arguments on behalf of the downtrodden don’t wash. The truly downtrodden were the innocents caught in the cross hairs in that Deli. But only because no state power was there to defend them. We have that state power and we will NEVER AGAIN be without it.

  • François Gravel op 11 september 2015 om 20:02 uur

    Paris killer Amedy Coulibaly explicitely asked victims if they were Jewish before firing. And yet Karen Armstrong has the guts to tell us that “the supermarket attack in Paris had nothing to do with antisemitism.” Probably the most sickly, despicable and morally bankrupt comment I have ever read about this modern-day pogrom. Far from being a “respected author,” Karen Armstrong has now become a pathological liar, intent on glossing over jihadist hate crimes on account of her fanatically pro-Palestinian views. But of course she does it all in the name of peace, peace, peace…

  • Seiki op 25 mei 2016 om 03:43 uur

    Muhammad, pee be upon him.

    Prophets are all lies.

    Be intelligent and stop believing in things that never happened.

  • james warren op 26 december 2016 om 21:40 uur

    We like to feel justification for our feelings. And scapegoating and violence are no exception.

    If you’re afraid of Islam, then get to know a Muslim.

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