Question: You say that Islam is a violent religion and that Christianity is not. Yet the Old Testament is full of commands by God to kill pagans—sometimes men, women and children. How can I justify this when I witness to Muslims?
Answer: The Old Testament is not “full of commands to kill pagans.” God told Israel to destroy all of the inhabitants of Canaan because of their wickedness. Yet that didn’t occur until 400 years after He promised their land to Abraham’s descendants. Only then was their wickedness so great that God’s holiness forced Him to wipe them out. There are a few other instances (Sodom, Gomorrah, et al.) when God’s judgment required a people’s destruction, but always because of their depravity and His holiness.
God always limited those killed. He told Israel to destroy the Canaanites—not to fight the whole world as Allah commanded Muhammad and as Islam requires to this day. Furthermore, God’s gift of Canaan to Israel had nothing to do with Christianity. Christ’s teaching and example, and that of His apostles, was the very opposite of the violence against unbelievers which Muhammad practiced and which Islam requires of his followers whenever and wherever they are able.
* A.H. = “anno hijrah” or “in the year of the Hijrah."