In this video clip, you will see Zakir Naik challenging a Christian young man. This argument revolves around Matthew 5 where Jesus said,
- “Ye have heard that it hath been said, `An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
- But I say unto you that ye resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Jesus clearly told here: If some one slaps on you on your right cheek, don’t attack them back, but show your left cheek.
Zakir Naik thinks the words of Jesus are not practical. He thinks Christians cannot practice these words of Jesus. So, he called this Christian young man, ‘I will slap you on your right cheek, will you turn your left cheek’. He becomes more aggressive. ‘Come on over the stage, many Muslims will slap you on your right cheek, will you show them your left cheek?’
The poor Christian young man was mumbling, ‘If my faith is strong, I will let them do it’. The brazenness of this challenge is quite shocking. When Zakir poking this young man, many Muslims in the audience were chuckling. Zakir Naik’s guru Ahmed Deedat used to do this. He used to call Christians on stage, slap them on their right cheeks and demanded them to follow the words of Jesus. When those Christians turned their left cheeks, Deedat used to stand in awkward silence. Many decent Muslims were embarassed by this behavior of Deedat. They would go to Christians and say, ‘We are so sorry that he put you through this’. Zakir Naik is following in the foot steps of Ahmad Deedat.
Zakir Naik and many Muslims think that the commandments of Jesus in Matthew chapter 5 are impractical. But you see, Jesus was a man of action. He preached only what he practiced. Muhammad killed many of his opponents. But Jesus never killed any one. When people refused his message, Jesus left them in peace. He was disappointed, he was angry, but he never asked for violence.
In John 8, Jesus claimed divinity.
- Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am!”
- Then they took up stones to cast at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
He said, ‘Before Abraham was, I am’. That was astounding. I existed even before Abraham. His listeners were shocked and took stones to kill him. What did Jesus do? Did he turn to his disciples and say, ‘Go and kill these people who oppose my message’. No. He simply left the scene.
Contrast that with the life of Muhammad. When people did not accept his claims, many times he ordered them to be killed.
When Muhammad entered the city of Mecca, he rode a horse and used superior military force to bring every one under his control. He sent them a strong message: Convert or die. How did Jesus enter Jerusalem? He rode a donkey, then he was arrested, put on trial, brutally persecuted and killed.
Jesus taught his disciples on how to respond when people do not accept their message. Just shake off the dust of your feet and leave them alone.
“And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” (Matthew 10:14)
Do you know when the Caliphs of Islam responded when people do not accept Isalm? They burnt down whole cities.
You look at the ministry of Apostle Paul, Apostle Peter, Apostle John. They did not commit violence. They became the victims of violence for simply preaching the message of Jesus. They became the martyrs.
Zakir Naik and many Muslims says, ‘Jesus taught jihad’. They quote from the New Testament.
Luke 19: 26-27
- `For I say unto you, that unto every one that hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away from him.
- But those mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, bring them hither and slay them before me.'”
Did Jesus say, ‘bring my enemies before me and kill them’?. When you interpret a passage, you should look at its context. Here Jesus told them a story of a nobleman who went oversees. As he prepared to leave, he called his servants and gave them a few pounds to invest. Some did a good job and others did a bad job. When the king came back, he called them out and punished them.
That is a parable Jesus taught. Those words were the words of the king in the parable, not of Jesus. We should not put the words of the king in the parable into the mouth of Jesus. If I tell you a story about a king who went and kill his enemies, does that mean I also support the killings?
Where Jesus stands on the matters of violence is very clear from his words. For example, in Matthew 6:44
“But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.”
- “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father who is in Heaven.
- But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father who is in Heaven.
- “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword.
- For I am come to `set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.’
- And `a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.’
‘I came not to send peace, but a sword’: Many Muslims think that these verses show that Jesus called for a holy jihad. But read carefully. This passage is about Confession and Its Consequences. This is very clear from corresponding passage from the Gospel of Luke.
- Suppose ye that I have come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay, but rather division.
- For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided: three against two, and two against three.
- The father shall be divided against the son and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Confession & Its Consequences:
If you confess Jesus before the world, that might cost you dearly. You might be an object of sarcasm and ridicule; you might lose a promotion; you might lose your social standing, you might lose your political prospects. But what is more painful than losing your family and the loved ones? Even when the whole world riles against you, you get comfort from your family members.
Jesus is talking here about the cost of confession within a family. Late Nabeel Qureshi in his book, Seeking Allah and Finding Jesus, talks about how his family disowned him after he left Islamic faith and became a follower of Jesus. In the above passages, Jesus is talking about individuals like Nabeel who pay the ultimate price of family separation for putting their faith in Him.
You can see this fundamental unfairness across the world. If a Christian converts to Islam, it is all over the news and celebrated. If a Muslim converts to Christianity, they are subjected to family separations and added to death panels.
You might say, what about the Crusades? Yes, Christians did lot of violence but it was against the teachings of Christ. As author Mark Gabriel, a Muslim convert to Christianity, notes, “The simple fact is that every person who participated in the Crusades was going against the teachings of Jesus. These people could carry crosses, but they were not following Christ. However, when Muslims overthrow a government by force, they are following both the teachings and example of Muhammad.”
The Christian pacifism influenced human history down to our time. Gandhi carried a New Testament wherever he went and took the words of Jesus very seriously, “whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”. When religious violence broke out between Muslims and Hindus in India, Gandhi asked people to heed these words of Jesus. Thus, these words of Jesus through the mouth of Gandhi gave protection to Muslims in a majority Hindu India. The Hindu radicals today vilify Gandhi and praise his assassin Godse. Gandhi paid with his life for taking the words of Jesus so seriously.
You can also see this in Civil Rights Movements around the world. In America, Muslim black leaders like Malcolm X and Louis Farahkhan called for violence against whites. Christian black leaders like Dr.Martin Luther King Jr called for non-violence and peace.
Modern world is profoundly influenced by pacifism of Jesus. Every non-Christian religion is in a hurry to show itself as a pacifisitc religion. Yet, if you look into their scriptures, you will find anything but pacifism. Let us consider a few verses from Quran:
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. He will guide them and amend their condition. And admit them to Paradise, which He has made known to them.
And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
We can see Christian forgiveness in powerful ways even in our time. In June 2015, Dylan Roof, a 21-year old white supremacist from North Carolina went to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He pretended like he liked them. They welcomed him into their Bible study. Then he pulled his gun out and killed nine Christian brothers and sisters.
The family members of victims faced Dylan Roof in the court. How did they respond? What Dylan Roof did to them was much more painful than a slap on their faces. Nadine Collier was killed by Roof. Her daughter Ethel Lance told Roof:
“I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people, but God forgives you, and I forgive you.”
Myra Thompson lost her life. Her husband Anthony Thompson told Roof, “I forgive you, and my family forgives you. But we would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Change your ways.”
On 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday, the Muslim terrorists bombed three churches in Sri Lanka and killed over 200 Christians. How did Christians respond? With forgiveness even as they were burying their dead.
When President Obama visited and spoke in their memorial service, every one was on their feet singing, Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound!. With grace, it is possible to forgive your enemies.
So, Zakir Naik’s contention that the words of Jesus “whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” are not practical fails the test of history. Lord Jesus himself and most Christians to this day showed that Jesus words can be put in practice if we have a heart of obedience.
Glory to Lord Jesus Christ. Peace!