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The Spread of Islam in the Hadiths Compared to Christianity in the Church Fathers

If the people of this religion [Islam] are asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them with this question. They forbid rational speculation, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed. – Muhammad ibn Zakariyā Rāzī (865 – 925 AD) Persian physician, alchemist, chemist, philosopher, and scholar.

Above is a very early quote about Islam and early aggression showing that Islam was at times brutal very early on. However, many Muslims today claim that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, not warfare or terrorism. They contend that Islam does not support or teach terrorism, and often blame modern terrorist attacks on those only posing to be Muslim or Muslim extremest.  In contrasting what they contend is a peaceful faith they will add that Christianity itself is the terrorist faith due to the crusades of the middle ages, the inquisitions of the Roman Catholic Church or modern military and political wars by politicians who claim to be Christian.

In this post we are going to look at early Christianity showing that they did not believe in conquest, war, imperialism or anything similar that was once the position of medieval Roman Catholicism or of modern political Evangelicals.

For how can a man be just who injures, who hates, who despoils, who puts to death? And they who strive to be serviceable to their country do all these things…Whoever, then, has gained for his country these goods – as they themselves call them – that is, who by the overthrow of cities and the destruction of nations has filled the treasury with money, has taken lands and enriched his country-men – he is extolled with praises to the heaven: in him there is said to be the greatest and perfect virtue. And this is the error not only of the people and the ignorant, but also of philosophers…Therefore, when they are speaking of the duties relating to warfare, all that discourse is accommodated neither to justice nor to true virtue, but to this life and to civil institutions.– Lactantius (A.D. 303-313)

Compared to the Hadiths in the early Islam:

It is reported on the authority of Abu Huraira that he heard the Messenger of Allah say: I have been commanded to fight against people, till they testify to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and believe in me (that) I am the messenger (from the Lord) and in all that I have brought. And when they do it, their blood and riches are guaranteed protection on my behalf except where it is justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah. – Sahih Muslim, 1:31 [see also 1:130, 1:32, 1:33])

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: I am commanded to fight with men till they testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His servant and His Apostle, face our qiblah (direction of prayer), eat what we slaughter, and pray like us. When they do that, their life and property are unlawful for us except what is due to them. They will have the same rights as the Muslims have, and have the same responsibilities as the Muslims have. – Sunan Abu Dawud, 14:2635

Allah’s Apostle said, “Allah guarantees him who strives in His Cause and whose motivation for going out is nothing but Jihad in His Cause and belief in His Word, that He will admit him into Paradise (if martyred) or bring him back to his dwelling place, whence he has come out, with what he gains of reward and booty.” –  Sahih Bukhari, 4:53:352

I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “The example of a Mujahid in Allah’s Cause– and Allah knows better who really strives in His Cause—-is like a person who fasts and prays continuously. Allah guarantees that He will admit the Mujahid in His Cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty.” – Volume 4, Book 52, Number 46, Narrated Abu Huraira,  Sahih Bukhari

The Prophet said, “The person who participates in (Holy battles) in Allah’s cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His Apostles, will be recompensed by Allaheither with a reward, or booty (if he survives) .…” – Volume 1, Book 2, Number 35, Narrated Abu Huraira, Sahih Bukhari – Sunni Hadith

“This is the Will of Allah, “After the people returned, the Prophet sat and said, “Anyone who has killed an enemy and has a proof of that, will posses his spoils.”I got up and said, “Who will be a witness for me?” and then sat down. The Prophet again said, “Anyone who has killed an enemy and has proof of that, will possess his spoils.” I (again) got up and said, “Who will be a witness for me?” and sat down. Then the Prophet said the same for the third time. I again got up, and Allah’s Apostle said, “O Abu Qatada! What is your story?” Then I narrated the whole story to him. A man (got up and) said, “O Allah’s Apostle! He is speaking the truth, and the spoils of the killed man are with me. – Volume 4, Book 53, Number 370, Narrated Abu Qatada, Sahih Bukhari

Compared again to Early Christianity:

I do not wish to be a king; I am not anxious to be rich; I decline military command; I detest fornication; I am not impelled by an insatiable love of gain to go to sea; I do not contend for chaplets; I am free from a mad thirst for fame; I despise death. -Tatian (A.D.160)

“Oh emperor, it is the Christians that have sought and found the truth, for they acknowledge God. They do not keep for themselves the goods entrusted to them. They do not covet what belongs to others, but they show love to their neighbors.They do not do to another what they would not like done to themselves. They speak gently to those who oppress them, and in this way, they make their enemies their friends.It has become their passion to do good to their enemies. They live in the awareness of their own smallness. Everyone of them who has anything gives ungrudgingly to the one who has nothing. And if any of them sees a homeless stranger, they bring them into their own home, under their roof. If anyone of them becomes poor while the Christians have nothing to spare, then they fast two or three days until everyone can eat. In this way, they supply for the poor exactly what they need. This, oh emperor, is the rule of life for the Christians. This is how they live. – Aristides (137 AD)


The Prophet then said, ‘The first army amongst’ my followers who will invade Caesar’s City will be forgiven their sins.‘ I asked, ‘Will I be one of them, O Allah’s Apostle?’ He replied in the negative.” –  Volume 4, Book 52, Number 175 Narrated Khalid bin Madan, Sahih Bukhari

Yet again in Christianity this would be a grave and shameful sin:

Nor will anyone lean an army off and lay waste to the property of others. For what are the interests of our country but the hardships of another state or nation? To extend the boundaries that are violently taken from others, to increase the power of the state to improve revenues – all these things are not virtues, but the overthrowing of virtues. – Lactantius (A.D. 303-313)

In the early Church there was no such thing as “Just war” as held in Roman Catholicism. Retaliation was not part of the spread of Christianity for them:

“For what difference is there between provoker and provoked? The only difference is that the former was the first to do evil, but the latter did evil afterwards. Each one stands condemned in the eyes of the Lord for hurting a man. For God both prohibits and condemns every wickedness. In evil doing, there is no account taken of the order… the commandment is absolute: evil is not to be repaid with evil.” –  Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers

“Under no circumstances should a true Christian draw the sword.” –  Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers

“Inquiry is made whether a believer is able to turn himself into military service… But how will a Christian wage war, indeed how will he serve even in peace without a sword, which the Lord has taken away? …The Lord in disarming Peter, unbelted every soldier.” “What will be God’s if all things are Caesar’s?” “All zeal in the pursuit of glory and honor is dead in us. -Tertullian

“Do not avenge yourself on those who injure you…let us imitate the Lord, who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he was crucified, he answered not; when he suffered, he threatened not; but prayed for his enemies.”“Nothing is better than peace, by which all war of those in heaven and those on earth is abolished.” – Hippolytus Of Rome (approx. A.D. 200)

“I am a Christian, and therefore I cannot fight.” – Origen ( A.D. 250)

A person who has accepted the power of killing, or a soldier, may never be received [into the church] at all.” -Hippolytus

I refuse to do military service. I desire to rule over no one – I have withdrawn from worldly politics! Now my only politics is spiritual – how that I might be anxious for nothing except to root out all worldly anxieties and care.……..So we have no pressing inducement to take part in your public meetings. Nor is there anything more entirely foreign to us than the affairs of state. We acknowledge one all-embracing commonwealth – the world. We renounce all your spectacles.”“For what difference is there between provoker and provoked? The only difference is that the former was the first to do evil, but the latter did evil afterwards. Each one stands condemned in the eyes of the Lord for hurting a man. For God both prohibits and condemns every wickedness. In evil doing, there is no account taken of the order… the commandment is absolute: evil is not to be repaid with evil.”- Tertullian

“I serve Jesus Christ the eternal King. I will no longer serve your emperors. It is not right for a Christian to serve the armies of this world.” ~ Mercellus the Centurion, spoken as he left the army of Emperor Diocletian in 298AD.

“If a soldier or one in authority wishes to be baptized in the Lord, let them cease from military service or from the post of authority. And if not, let them not be received.” – Lactantius

“It can never be lawful for a righteous man to go to war, whose warfare is in righteousness itself.”“When God prohibits killing, he not only forbids us to commit brigandage, which is not allowed even by the public laws, but he warns us not to do even those things which are legal among men. And so it will not be lawful for a just man to serve as a soldier – for justice itself is his military service – nor to accuse anyone of a capital offense, because it makes no difference whether thou kill with a sword or with a word, since killing itself is forbidden. – Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195)

“Christians have changed their swords and their lances into instruments of peace, and they know not now how to fight.”- Justin Martyr

“The soldiers of Christ require neither arms nor spears of iron.”“The servants of God do not rely for their protection on material defenses but on the divine Providence.”- Tatian

Contrasted with the Hadiths:

Allah’s Apostle said, “Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords.” – Sahih Bukhari –  4:52:73

A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, “Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” He replied, “I do not find such a deed.” Then he added, “Can you, while the Muslim fighter is in the battle-field, enter your mosque to perform prayers without cease and fast and never break your fast?” The man said, “But who can do that?” Abu- Huraira added, “The Mujahid (i.e. Muslim fighter) is rewarded even for the footsteps of his horse while it wanders bout (for grazing) tied in a long rope.” – Volume 4, Book 52, Number 44, Narrated Abu Huraira, Sahih Bukhari

Allah’s Apostle said, “There is no Hijra (migration) (from Mecca to Medina) after the Conquest (of Mecca), but Jihad and good intention remain; and if you are called (by the Muslim ruler) for fighting, go forth immediately. – Volume 4, Book 52, Number 42, Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas, Sahih Bukhari

It has been reported on the authority of Jabir that a man said: Messenger of Allah, where shall I be if I am killed? He replied: In Paradise. The man threw away the dates he had in his hand and fought until he was killed . – Sahih Muslim, 20:4678

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: One who died but did not fight in the way of Allah nor did he express any desire (or determination) for Jihid died the death of a hypocrite. – Sahih Muslim, 20:4696

When you travel, during war, you commit no error by shortening your Contact Prayers (Salat), if you fear that the disbelievers may attack you. Surely, the disbelievers are your ardent enemies.  – Quran 4:101

Let those fight in the cause of Allah Who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah, – whether he is slain or gets victory – Soon shall We give him a reward of great (value). – Quran 4:74

“Allah’s Apostle said, “Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?” Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, “O Allah’s Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?” The Prophet said, “Yes,” Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing . “The Prophet said, “You may say it.” Then Muhammad bin Maslama went to Kab and said, “That man (i.e. Muhammad demands Sadaqa (i.e. Zakat) from us, and he has troubled us, and I have come to borrow something from you.” On that, Kab said, “By Allah, you will get tired of him!” Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Now as we have followed him, we do not want to leave him unless and until we see how his end is going to be. ..”  – Volume 5, Book 59, Number 369, Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah, Sahih Bukhari

Compared to the early Church:

We would rather shed our own blood than stain our hands and our conscience with that of another. As a result, an ungrateful world is now enjoying–and for a long period has enjoyed–a benefit from Christ. For by his means, the rage of savage ferocity has been softened and has begun to withhold hostile hands from the blood of a fellow creature. In fact, if all men without exception…would lend an ear for a while to his salutary and peaceful rules,…the whole world would be living in the most peaceful tranquility. The world would have turned the use of steel into more peaceful uses and would unite together in blessed harmony. – Arnobius

Christians could never slay their enemies. For the more that kings, rulers, and peoples have persecuted them everywhere, the more Christians have increased in number and grown in strength. – Origen,

“Nothing is better than peace, by which all war of those in heaven and those on earth is abolished.” – Hippolytus (approx. A.D. 200)

“For when God forbids us to kill, he not only prohibits us from open violence, which is not even allowed by the public laws, but he warns us against the commission of those beings which are esteemed lawful among men….Therefore, with regard to this precept of God, there ought to be no exception at all, but that it is always unlawful to put to death a man, whom God willed to be a sacred animal.” – Lactantius (240AD – 320AD)

“We Christians cannot endure to see a man being put to death, even justly.” – Athenagoras (133AD – 190AD)

“None of us offers resistance when he is seized, or avenges himself for your unjust violence, although our people are numerous and plentiful…it is not lawful for us to hate, and so we please God more when we render no requital for injury…we repay your hatred with kindness.” – Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (died 258AD)

In closing I am posting a Hadith on prayers during war versus a secular source on Early Christian prayers and war:

When you travel, during war, you commit no error by shortening your Contact Prayers (Salat), if you fear that the disbelievers may attack you. Surely, the disbelievers are your ardent enemies.  – Quran 4:101

Compared to early Christians:

(The following was written by a pagan Roman emperor regarding his experience with professing Christian soldiers in his army who refused to fight but instead offered prayers.) The Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius, to the People of Rome, and to the sacred Senate… I was surrounded by the enemy; And the enemy being at hand… there was close on us a mass of a mixed multitude of 977,000 men, which indeed we saw… Having then examined my own position, and my host, with respect to… the enemy, I quickly betook myself to prayer to the gods of my country. But being disregarded by them, I summoned those who among us go by the name of Christians. And having made inquiry, I discovered a great number and vast host of them, and raged against them, which was by no means becoming; for afterwards I learned their power. Wherefore they began the battle, not by preparing weapons, nor arms, nor bugles; for such preparation is hateful to them, on account of the God they bear about in their conscience. Therefore it is probable that those whom we suppose to be atheists, have God as their ruling power entrenched in their conscience. For having cast themselves on the ground, they prayed not only for me, but also for the whole army as it stood, that they might be delivered from the present thirst and famine. For during five days we had got no water, because there was none; for we were in the heart of Germany, and in the enemy’s territory. And simultaneously with their casting themselves on the ground, and praying to God (a God of whom I am ignorant), water poured from heaven, upon us most refreshingly cool, but upon the enemies of Rome a withering hail. And immediately we recognized the presence of God following on the prayer – a God unconquerable and indestructible. Founding upon this, then, let us pardon such as are Christians, lest they pray for and obtain such a weapon against ourselves. And I counsel that no such person be accused on the ground of his being a Christian. But if any one be found laying to the charge of a Christian that he is a Christian, I desire that it be made manifest that he who is accused as a Christian, and acknowledges that he is one, is accused of nothing else than only this, that he is a Christian; but that he who arraigns him be burned alive. And I further desire, that he who is entrusted with the government of the province shall not compel the Christian, who confesses and certifies such a matter, to retract; neither shall he commit him. And I desire that these things be confirmed by a decree of the Senate. And I command this my edict to be published in the Forum of Trajan, in order that it may be read. The prefect Vitrasius Pollio will see that it be transmitted to all the provinces round about, and that no one who wishes to make use of or to possess it be hindered from obtaining a copy from the document I now publish. Emperor Caesar Marcus – Aurelius (A.D.160)


The Hadiths are not accepted by all Muslims and some Muslims such as Shias only accept a portion of the Hadiths, while other Muslims accept them all. However, it can not be denied that these Hadiths make Islam look bad. If we use them for a basis of understanding early Islam we could and honestly do get the impression that Islam has always been violent. However, if we wish to understand the hadiths like we understand later violence in the “Christianity” such as the inquisitions, we can see that perhaps Islam strayed just as some so called Christians later did. It is clear from the early Church fathers however that Christianity is suppose to be a peaceful religion. Hopefully this article will help Muslims understand as well that those who claim to be Christian and do violence and cruel things are not real Christians, just as these same Muslims will say that those who do violent things are not real Muslims.


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