Moral Differences with Christianity

By James M. Rochford

1. The Qur’an has a low view of women.

While Islamic cultures have historically been guilty of deplorable acts towards women, we don’t believe that this is good evidence against Islam’s view of women. This is because we shouldn’t judge a religion by its heretics. However, the Quran itself has deplorable statements toward women:

(2:223) “Your women are a tillage for you; so come unto your tillage as you wish.”

(2:228) Divorced women remain in waiting for three periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have more right to take them back in this [period] if they want reconciliation. And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.

(4:34) “Men are the managers of the affairs of women for that God has preferred in bounty one of them over another… Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret for God’s guarding. And those you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them.

Comparative religions experts Carmody and Carmody write,

For many men, the best part of the heavenly Garden was the hur: dark-eyed, buxom virgins. In addition to his earthly wife, each male in heaven could expect to have seventy hur. They would never be sick, menstruating, pregnant (unless he wished), bad-tempered, or jealous. He would be able to deflower a thousand each month and find them all intact when he returned to them. In descriptions of the Judgment scene, one sees the reverse of this fantasy: Women are in charge of men, which is a sure sign of disorder.[1]

Parrinder notes, “Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the only woman who is called by her proper name in the Qur’an. Other women are mentioned but not named.”[2] By contrast, the Bible has a high view of women (see “Christianity and Women”).

2. The Qur’an advocates violence.

The Qur’an endorses violence in spreading its message, commanding Muslims to go to war with Christians and Jews (9:28-31). One hadith explains, “I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’”[3] In AD 630, Muhammad led a large force to take over Mecca, driving out all non-Muslims, destroying the idolatry in the Ka’aba. Muhammad himself was involved in 76 battles in his lifetime.[4] Moreover, the Qur’an offers heaven for those who give their lives in a holy war, and it also advocates the concept of holy war:

(3:194-195) Our Lord, and grant us what You promised us through Your messengers and do not disgrace us on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed, You do not fail in [Your] promise.” And their Lord responded to them, “Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another. So those who emigrated or were evicted from their homes or were harmed in My cause or fought or were killedI will surely remove from them their misdeeds, and I will surely admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow as reward from Allah , and Allah has with Him the best reward.”

(4:95-96) Not equal are those believers remaining [at home]—other than the disabled—and the mujahideen, [who strive and fight] in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred the mujahideen through their wealth and their lives over those who remain [behind], by degrees. And to both Allah has promised the best [reward]. But Allah has preferred the mujahideen over those who remain [behind] with a great reward Degrees [of high position] from Him and forgiveness and mercy. And Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.

(9:29) Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture—[fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

(47:4) So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah—never will He waste their deeds.

By contrast, the Bible doesn’t command that the gospel should be spread through coercion—but through persuasion (2 Cor. 5:11). The Bible does not sanction spreading the message of Christ through violent means (Mt. 5:44). In fact, Jesus Christ was the first to claim separation of church and state (Jn. 18:36; Mt. 26:52; Mk. 12:17). While God did expressly command the destruction of the Canaanites in the OT, this was the only war commanded by God in the Bible, and there is good justification for this command (see “What About the Canaanite Genocide?”).

3. The Qur’an advocates polygamy.

The Qur’an states that we should only have four wives, as married men (4:3).

(33:50-52) O Prophet, indeed We have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have given their due compensation and those your right hand possesses from what Allah has returned to you [of captives] and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who emigrated with you and a believing woman if she gives herself to the Prophet [and] if the Prophet wishes to marry her, [this is] only for you, excluding the [other] believers. We certainly know what We have made obligatory upon them concerning their wives and those their right hands possess, [but this is for you] in order that there will be upon you no discomfort. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. You, [O Muhammad], may put aside whom you will of them or take to yourself whom you will. And any that you desire of those [wives] from whom you had [temporarily] separated – there is no blame upon you [in returning her]. That is more suitable that they should be content and not grieve and that they should be satisfied with what you have given them – all of them. And Allah knows what is in your hearts. And ever is Allah Knowing and Forbearing. Not lawful to you, [O Muhammad], are [any additional] women after [this], nor [is it] for you to exchange them for [other] wives, even if their beauty were to please you, except what your right hand possesses. And ever is Allah , over all things, an Observer.

(33:37) And [remember, O Muhammad], when you said to the one on whom Allah bestowed favor and you bestowed favor, “Keep your wife and fear Allah ,” while you concealed within yourself that which Allah is to disclose. And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had no longer any need for her, We married her to you in order that there not be upon the believers any discomfort concerning the wives of their adopted sons when they no longer have need of them. And ever is the command of Allah accomplished.

A couple of Muhammad’s marriages are especially noteworthy to mention:

(1) Aisha—daughter of Abu Bakr: She was betrothed to Muhammad at age six. White writes, “Islamic sources are almost unanimous in saying the marriage was consummated at age nine (one major source saying ten). The idea of a fifty-three—or fifty-four-year-old man together with a child of nine is the basis upon which many have denounced Islam as a whole.”[5]

(2) Zaynab bint Jash: She was married to Muhammad’s adopted son, but she divorced him (33:4-5, 37-38). She was also Muhammad’s cousin. White writes, “Muhammad suddenly goes into some kind of faint and, when he recovers, announces that adoption is undone and Zaynab is his wife—this was inscribed in eternity past upon a tablet in Arabic? It seems even Aisha, his favorite (but who clearly experienced much jealousy toward his other wives), recognized an issue, for she is recorded to have said, ‘I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires.’”[6]

By contrast, the Bible denounces polygamy (see “What About Polygamy?”).

4. The Qur’an teaches that Muhammad sinned—unlike Jesus.

According to the Qur’an, Jesus is sinless (19:19), but Muhammad had sins of his own. The Qur’an states: “So be patient, [O Muhammad]. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth. And ask forgiveness for your sin and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord in the evening and the morning” (40:55; c.f. 47:19; 48:2). Muslim biographer Muhammad Haykal writes, “In this regard he [Muhammad] was as fallible as anyone.”[7] Abdalati writes that Muhammad “stands in history as the best model for man in piety and perfection. He is a living proof of what man can be and of what he can accomplish in the realm of excellence and virtue.”[8] But if Jesus is the only sinless person on Earth (19:19), why wouldn’t we follow his example, instead of Muhammad’s?

(Surah 19:19) He said, “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy.”

(2 Cor. 5:21) He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

(1 Pet. 3:18) For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.

(Rom. 5:19) For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

(Jn. 8:46) Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?

5. The Qur’an advocates the spread of culture—not just truth.

While the Bible advocates the spreading of spiritual truth, Islam advocates the spreading of Arabic culture (e.g. clothing, customs, etc.). While religious truth generally stomps out culture, the biblical view elevates culture. For example, the men at Pentecost heard the gospel in their own language—not another language (Acts 2:6). People of all nations are encouraged to adopt this spiritual truth within their own culture (Ezek. 5:5; 38:12; Acts 1:8). The Bible doesn’t promote spreading culture; it promotes spreading truth (1 Cor. 9:20-23).


[1] Carmody, Denise Lardner, and John Carmody. Ways to the Center: An Introduction to World Religions. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub., 1984. 333.

[2] Parrinder, Geoffrey. Jesus in the Qur’an. Oxford, England: Oneworld Publications, 1996. 60.

[3] Sahih Al-Bukhari, 9.57. Cited in White, James R. What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2013. 168.

[4] Medearis, Carl. Muslims, Christians, and Jesus. Bloomington, Minnesota. Bethany House Publishers. 2008. 26.

[5] White, James R. What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2013. 37.

[6] White, James R. What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2013.

[7] Haykal, Muhammad Husayn. The Life of Muhammad. North American Trust Publications, 1976. 134. Geisler, Norman L., and Abdul Saleeb. Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1993. 178.

[8] Abdalati, Hammudah. Islam in Focus. Indianapolis: American Trust Publications. 1975. 8. Geisler, Norman L., and Abdul Saleeb. Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1993. 174.