Muslim Belief: 'Allah or Jesus?' by Rick Mathes
Forwarded email describes an encounter between a Christian minister and a Muslim imam in which the latter admits that his religion requires violent jihad (holy war) against all infidels (non-believers in Islam).
Description: Email flier
Circulating since: Sep. 2003
Status: Facts are disputed
Email example contributed by V. Atkins, Sep. 14, 2003:
Allah or Jesus?
By Rick Mathes
Last month I attended my annual training session that's required for maintaining my state prison security clearance. During the training session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths who explained their belief systems. I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say.
The Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam complete with a video. After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers. When it was my turn I directed my question to the Imam and asked: Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world. And, that by killing an infidel, which is a command to all Muslims, they are assured of a place in heaven. If that's the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?"
There was no disagreement with my statements and without hesitation he replied, "Non-believers!"
I responded, So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can go to heaven. Is that correct? The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a little boy who had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He sheepishly replied, Yes.
I then stated, Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Pat Robertson or Dr. Stanley ordering Protestants to do the same in order to go to heaven! The Imam was speechless.
I continued, I also have problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me. Let me ask you a question-would you rather have your Allah who tells you to kill me in order to go to heaven or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to heaven and wants you to be with me? You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame.
Chuck Colson once told me something that has sustained me these 20 years of prison ministry. He said to me, Rick, remember that the truth will prevail. And it will!
Analysis: The above text, circulating via email since September 2003, was indeed written by Rick Mathes, executive director of Mission Gate Prison Ministry in Chesterfield, Missouri. In subsequent statements on the ministry's website Mathes affirmed that the incident took place exactly as he described it in the article.
However, a different version of events was reported in an article by Greg Kearney of the Lee News Service in which a spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Corrections, which sponsored the training session, stated that the "imam" Mathes refers to above was a prison inmate and ordinary Muslim, not a trained cleric, and that although the inmate did answer various questions about his faith to the best of his ability, the issues of jihad and violence against non-believers were neither raised nor discussed during the exchange.
It is therefore a case of Mathes' word against the prison official's. I have not been able to find public statements by anyone else in a position to confirm the facts.
As to the substance of the alleged debate whether or not it is a core tenet of Islam that believers must wage holy war against non-believers wherever they are found there is fierce disagreement on that issue even among acknowledged experts in Muslim culture and theology, so I will not attempt to defend one side or the other in this brief commentary. See the resources below for further reading.
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Sources and further reading:
From the Gate: Allah or Jesus
Editorials by Rick Mathes, Mission Gate Prison Ministry
Allah or Jesus?
Urban Legends Reference Pages, 13 January 2004
The Qur'an on Terrorism
About's Guide to Islam argues that passages from Islam's holy book that appear to promote wanton violence are routinely taken out of context
Does the Qur'an Promote Violence?
Fedwa Wazwaz of the Islamic Resource Group, Crystam Minnesota: "It is clear that any allegation that the Qur'an teaches violence and religious hatred is totally unfounded and violate the textual, historical, linguistic and broader context of the Qur'anic teachings..."
The Stupidity of Dialogue with Islam
Excerpt from "The Sword of the Prophet: A Politically-Incorrect Guide to Islam" by Serge Triflovic
Last updated: 11/18/09