How is it then, that when God decides to punish a community of "unbelievers", "idolaters" or "sinners" by killing everyone - men, women, children, the old and the frail - by leveling their homes and businesses so that nothing but the shells remain, we are expected not only to accept this as just punishment, but to worship the visitor of the destruction as "the most merciful of all who are merciful"?
I ask this since the God of the Koran seems to me to be almost as vicious as the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible.
At least thirty-two verses in the Koran relate how God has destroyed "generations" or "communities" or towns. Not once are we told that He took pains to avoid what we might refer to nowadays as collateral damage by targeting only those who were the main sinners, or the men or the priests. Far from it. In fact God delights, it seems, in telling us how no-one was spared each time He visited death and destruction upon a people.
6.6 asks the rhetorical question: Do they not see how many a generation we have destroyed before their time...?
7.4 similarly: And how many a community have we destroyed? (Assad feels the need to add the word "rebellious" before community - in case, perhaps, we get the impression God is careless in whom he chooses to wipe out)
or 17.7 And how many a generation have we destroyed after Noah?
or 19.74 How many a generation have we destroyed before their time?
Still not got the message?
20.128 Can they learn no lesson by recalling how many a generation have we destroyed before their time?
And so it goes...on and on and on. At least twenty more times. God destroys community after community. Nation after nation. Generation after generation. Just like in the Bible.
And in case any Muslim reading this claims, as a commentor on my piece about Noah did recently, that perhaps the children were spared because we just don't know, I would direct them to 27.51 which quite explicitly tells us that all the inhabitants were slaughtered: Then see the nature of the consequence of their plotting, for lo! We destroyed them and their people, every one.
So to be clear, God is telling us that on countless occasions he has deliberately killed women and children because they failed to worship Him.
To someone raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition, all this death and destruction is of course very familiar:
This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.' Samuel 15:2/3Likewise Muhammad, keen student of Jewish and Christian stories like the one above, would have heard endlessly of the vindictive nature of the one true God and surmised it to be an essential element of monotheism.
But there were other reasons for Muhammad to reference so often God's genocidal tendencies, for there was apparent "evidence" of God's jealous and destructive power in the abandoned shells of ancient towns and cities to be found near Mecca. For what other explanation could there be for the ruins?
22.45 hints strongly at this: And how many towns have We destroyed because it has been immersed in evil-doing. And now they lie deserted with their roofs caved in. And how many a well lies abandoned - and how many a castle that stood high!
28.58 hints at a similar idea: And how many a community that [once] exulted in its wanton wealth and ease of life have We destroyed so that those dwelling-places of theirs – all but a few - have never been dwelt-in after them: for it is indeed We alone who shall remain when all else will have passed away!
Thus anyone reading the Koran for the first time must ask themselves this question:
What kind of deity requires - on pain of extermination of not just yourself, but of your family, everyone you know, your home, your livelihood, the very society you have helped build - belief and submission without proof (for belief with proof is not faith)?
But of course we don't need to exercise our imagination too much.
We just need to look at what the Islamic State is doing in Iraq at this very moment where the murderous loons of IS cast themselves in the role of God's agents of vengeance and appear to be on the verge of wiping an entire religion off the face of the earth.
He has indeed.
When you weep at the suffering of the innocent civilians in Gaza, spare a thought for the multitudes of women and children and infants wiped out by your God for the sin of not believing Him to be a "merciful" deity. Imagine if the BBC or CBS had had access to the scenes of carnage, of women weeping over their dead children as God inflicts his "just punishment" on yet another township.
Outraged by the actions of the IS or perhaps the IDF, but you worship the Abrahamic god? Ten out of ten for cognitive dissonance, my friend.
God and his agents of terror. The cruelest genocidal madman ever to have been invented by humans.