Replies to Les Davis, Robert Tessier, Bill Finlay, Gaurav Goel
Reader comment on item: The Evil Isn't Islam
Submitted by Naomi (United States), Apr 8, 2005 at 23:21First of all, a correction:
verse 5:85, as it is cited in Mr. Pipes' article, DOES NOT EXIST. The actual verse is:
"Therefore Allah rewarded them on account of what they said, with gardens in which rivers flow to abide in them; and this is the reward of those who do good (to others)."
If any have doubts, refer to any reputable Quranic translation (an internet search will find you many for free). I think Mr. Pipes has many thing to say that should be heard; his credibility should not be undermined by fabricated citations.
Second, a clarification: verse 9:5 as cited in Mr. Pipes' article is a severely cropped version of the actual text. It is:
"So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
and this verse underlines the importance of taking historical events into context. Assuming the basic Islamic belief that the Quran came from God (Allah) through a chosen messenger, the Quran is a compilation of every message God wished to transmit to any human at any time during Muhammad (S)'s life. This verse is part of a very grave chapter, and it is in referral to the violation of a peace treaty by the Quraish tribe between the small Muslim population of Muhammad (S)'s time and the Quraish. God ordered the Muslims to hold their peace for four months before making any retaliatory response, the purpose of which was to calm the Muslims and allow the Quraish to withdraw or reconsider. The latter intent is still intact in the command of the verse, but because the Muslim community was endangered by the Quraish's actions, they were given permission to fight back if the Quraish were adamant in aggression.
Remember that the Arabic translation of the word 'Islam' is the referral to "the state of being in peace".
Dear Les Davis: you seem to be well-read in your standpoint. But I hope that in the interest of enlightenment, you conduct your investigations with an open (but not weak) mind. You referred to Craig Winn's website; it is extensive, but it still potentially may not tell the whole story. I encourage you not to stop looking for answers even upon reaching conclusions. You also said "These people knew what our country was like before they emigrated here. They MUST learn to assimilate to and conform to our ways of doing things. If not simply go back to the country of their orgin." "These people" might have known and admired our country as a democracy that welcomed diversity and guaranteed rights. To force them to assimilate culturally (such as fashion of burial) seems to contradict this idea; if that is truly what this country is like, then perhaps "these people" should not have come here with false hopes or impressions, I agree.
Mr. Tessier: examining the historical background of Islam is commendable. However, I would also encourage you, if you hold the interest, to look deeper into the original Shariah, the Islamic legal system. Look past the cutting off of hands and stonings, and you may find, as I have, that this system contains vestiges of democracy, which is notable in consideration of the time period. Do you recall how Rome is responsible for the modern concept of democracy, yet also evolved into an empire governed by an emperor, going backward? It is conceivable that the same thing happened to the Islamic empire-- corruption and ill-directed ambition eventually obstructed the Muslim empire from achievement, then from existence. The Ottoman empire is the empire in its last and worst stages. In addition, you will find that today's Islamic states have also altered the Shariah to meet the typical human desires of power and politics.
In addition, I concur with your anger in seeing oppressed women. No man or woman should ever be forced into obedience of religious laws. But when a Muslim woman wears Hijab of her own free will, it's a walking, talking demonstration of democracy and the First Amendment. I think it is courageous in lieu of current events, and deserves respect.
Mr. Finlay: In your comment, you asked, "exactly what is good about Islam?
Why do you follow it? What has it done for you and your family and why would you not abandon it in light of all the violence and misery that can be attributed to Islam?" to Muslims who defend their religion. Islam tells us that God created human beings, and His commandments to men and women are for their total wellbeing (spiritual, physical, mental, educational, etc.). If any of these commandments, taken in context, disturb your conscience-- your conscience, not the little voices inside our heads, which are often Mother Culture and, you might believe, the Devil, in disguise-- then you might draw certain conclusions; if they don't, you might draw others. Islam simply means peace, which is arguably the goal of religion in general-- a righteous peace that appeals to the conscience. I know rather-strict practicing Muslim families who don't interfere in the wellbeing of people around them and are happy, with peaceful personal lives. You also must remember that Muslims are humans; God didn't choose these people (being born Muslim isn't automated salvation, it's just demographics), He chose this way of life. Violence and misery should not be attributed to Islam, but to human weakness and earthly imperfection. It is indeed deeply regrettable that many of our conflicts derive from religious extremism, which can occur in any religion.
and Mr. Goel: your comments were appreciated.
If anything I have said has disturbed anyone, or anyone has questions on my comment, he or she may contact me if he or she wishes to do so: email@example.com
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