A court in Kuwait has sentenced a man to 10 years in prison for Twitter posts it deems insulting to Islam. Hamad al-Naqi claims that he did not post the messages and that his Twitter account was hacked. He was attacked in jail by another inmate and has now received the maximum sentence for his alleged crime. In similar news, last April an Egyptian court sentenced a 17-year-old Christian boy to three years in jail for publishing Facebook cartoons that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammad.
That same month, Islamic extremists in India attacked a Christian prayer meeting, beating a 65-year-old widow and other women. Closer to home, ABC’s television show “GCB” (I won’t print what the initials stand for) made headlines earlier this year with its depictions of Christians as hypocritical, manipulative and judgmental. Many noted that similar denigration of Muslims, Jews, African Americans, or any other group would never be tolerated in our politically correct culture. The show has been canceled, not for offending Christians but for low ratings.
Can you imagine the response in the Muslim world to a TV show belittling Islam? Why do Muslims and Christians often respond so differently when their faith is insulted?
One answer has to do with their sacred scriptures. Some Muslims believe that the Qur’an teaches forgiveness for those who insult Islam, citing Sura 7:199: “Cultivate tolerance, enjoin justice, and turn away from the ignorant.” However, Islam’s holy book clearly calls Muslims to defend their faith from any attack or insult: “fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch them” (2:190-191; cf. 9:12). The head of the ruling Muslim council in Jerusalem recently stated that anyone who insults Muhammad, the Qur’an or Islam “has become an infidel and must be killed.” By contrast, Jesus taught his followers to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Should Christians be more vocal in defending our faith? Absolutely. Peter defended both Jesus and his followers from slander at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-36). But he did so reasonably and graciously, following the example of the One who prayed for his Father to forgive the very men who were crucifying him (Luke 23:34).
My wife often reminds those she teaches that we should expect lost people to act like lost people. The next time someone demeans your faith, join the early Christians in “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41). Note what came next: “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ” (v. 42). Neither should we.