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Literal, conservative interpretation of Islam results in evil

Reader comment on item: The Evil Isn't Islam

Submitted by Lorraine Coller (United States), Jul 31, 2002 at 16:16


I usually find your site and commentary quite informative and I generally agree with your opinions. However, in this instance I must take exception to your premise.

It is true that the Koran contains certain "'peaceful" surahs. Mohammed did preach peace for a decade when his views were the minority in paganistic, polytheistic Mecca. Consequently, he was obliged to preach peace. He was so ridiculed for his theology of Monotheism that he fled Mecca.

During the Medina period, the Sword entered the Prophet's revelations. Another commentator is correct in citing what Mohammed did to the Jews of Medina at the Battle of the Ditch (or Battle of the Trench). Over the course of 5 years during his Medina period, the Prophet executed, exiled, or enslaved the Jewish tribes of that region.

Mohammed marched on Mecca and subdued several Arabian tribes and forced them to embrace Islam or embrace the sword. As Mohammed's death, several, if not all, of these tribes revolted against Islam. The revolts were suppressed by the "rightly guided" Caliphs who followed Mohammed--Abu Bakr, Uthman, Umar. These Caliphs were contemporaries and companions of Mohammed and would have been authorative in the interpretation of the Prophet's revelations. Further, it was the Caliphs who compiled the "version" of the Koran that is know today (for much of it was lost) and the Hadith.

Caliph Umar, one of the more illustrious successors of Mohammed is ironically referred to as the "Just Caliph". He was known for his atrocities against the People of the Book. In fact to this very day, Coptic Christians in Egypt find it almost impossible to rebuild churches destroyed by Muslims.

For three hundred years through the Sword, Islam spread its veil over the Middle East, extinquishing the lights of churches and synogogues from Jerusalem, to Antioch, to Alexandria, to Constantinople. While any true Christian will condemn the Crusades, the Crusades we a response, albiet a poor and improper one, to the decimation of the Christian Church in the Middle-East and North Africa.

While learned Muslim theologians did give us the Kalam (to argue the case of the existence of God) and while there are are instances in which Muslims co-existed peacefully with Christians, Jews, and other non-Muslims, I would purport that these instances are the exception, rather than the rule in Islam. Or, they result from a liberal or selective exigesis of the Koran and the Hadith.

The further illustrate this assertion, one need only look to the passages of the Koran and the Hadith referencing the rights of women. According to the Prophet a woman is worth half of a man with respect to all legal dealings. It requires the witness of two females to equal the witness of one male in a court of law. A woman inherits one half of what a man inherits. With respect to prayers, if a devout man is praying and a woman or a dog or a donkey pass in front of him his prayer is not valid and he must perform the ritual again for Allah to hear his petition. But if a man passes in front of him, he need not repeat his supplications.

With respect to human rights, one need only look to the surahs and traditions regarding penalties for criminal acts. For a first offence a thief must have his right hand cut off, for the second his left foot. After the fourth or fifth offence the penalty is death. Contrast this with Judeo-Christian law which requires remuneration commensurate with the crime--return what was stolen plus some extra. A drunkard (or indeed an individual who moderately imbibes alcohol--for the Prophet condemned consuming all alcohol, even for medicinal purposes or to keep warm) is to be beaten for the first offence. After the fourth or fifth offence the penalty is death.

With respect to striving in the cause of Islam, peaceful and militant means are permitted. One usually observes peaceful debate and apologetics where Islam is a minority religion. However, this is supplanted for more expedient means once enough adherents exist to form a majority or significant minority. One need only look to the Middle East to observe the majority and to Europe (France, Germany, and England) to observe the significant minority. Using peaceful or militant methods to stive in the cause of Islam are perfectly valid if one literally interprets the Koran and Hadith and one sincerely attempts to exemplify the life of Mohammed and the Caliphs who succeeded him. And Scriptures, where exigeted and interpreted literally and in context, which then leads to violent actions are Evil.

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