There is no escaping the anti-Islamic rhetoric favored by right-wing politicians and their supporters. There seems to be a general consensus among them that the Quran is the most evil of holy books, that it is the most violent and leads all those who follow Islam to violence. Using text analysis, a researcher managed to scour the Quran in search of violence and found something many already suspected.
Text analysis does exactly what it sounds like–takes a piece of text and analyzes it for specific properties. Something as simple as a word processor’s “find and replace” feature is a basic example of this type of technology. H.C. Anderson of OdinText, a marketing text analysis tool, decided to use his technology to pore over the Quran digitally to see what it would come up with if he searched for violence in the text.
Anderson didn’t just analyze the Quran. He also input the Bible for comparison. In order to test the level of violence in each book, he had the analyzer search for instances of specific words and phrases associated with violence and even positive emotions. Both holy books were analyzed using the same parameters. The entire test took only two minutes to complete.
Contrary to popular belief, the Christian Bible actually contained more text regarding emotions like fear and anxiety. It also showed fewer emotions like trust and joy. It was obvious that the Quran was not, at least semantically speaking, more violent than the Bible. In fact, it was less violent, but what about the old and new testaments? How did they stack up? Not surprisingly, the Old Testament is the more violent of the two, but only by a margin of roughly 3%. The New Testament is still slightly more violent than the Quran, even if less violent than the Old Testament. Another interesting finding is that the Quran is significantly higher in instances of themes like forgiveness, leading the New Testament by more than 3%.
Will this data change the way people look at the Abrahamic holy texts? It is doubtful. If people could not see the similarities between the texts and the level of violence in each objectively before a computer program pointed it out to them, it is doubtful that they will see it now. Still, it makes for an interesting look at what is actually contained in these books.