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Reader comment on item: [Pakistani Christians and] A War Against What?
in response to reader comment: Islam is just another form of Judaism, the roots of Christianity

Submitted by mwkhapes (United Kingdom), Oct 2, 2006 at 07:36

Alan Jones:

I think there are a lot of different interpretations that can be derived from the same section of text. This is true for all religious documents. Also, the older the text, the more varying the interpretations and translations can become.

Taking this into account, it seems as if the verses quoted by Alan are open to interpretation. Having said that, I do not agree with Alan's interpretation that Islam explicitly forbids the befriending of Jews and Christians. This particular verse is interpreted by other scholars as pertaining to the period when Muslims had migrated to the city of Medina from the city of Mecca. Having setup a fledgling state in Medina, the Muslims find themselves attacked by the stronger city-state of Mecca. During this period the newly-formed government of Medina attempts to achieve battle-readiness. In doing so, they also attempt to forge alliances with various tribes.

There is some discussion here that certain Jewish and Christian tribes at this point betray the Islamic state and are found to side with the Meccans. The verses quoted by Alan are, then, in reference to these particular tribes and applicable to that particular situation.

Also, I find that Muslims refer to Jews and Christians as "people of the book". As such, these groups were accorded a specific status in the Islamic state. Historically, the Islamic state included the city of Jerusalem since 637 CE. If this state was hostile to Christianity and Judaism, it would have been logical to destroy the holy places of these. On the contrary, we find that under Muslim rule, this did not occur. In fact, I find it remarkable that one of the first edicts of the conquering Muslim forces was that Jews should be allowed to return and live in Jerusalem. Under the previous Byzantine Christian authorities, Jews were expelled and had not been allowed within the walls of the city. As a matter of contrast, Christians, who, Alan suggests, are commanded to love their neighbours, conquered Jerusalem in 1099 in what is known as the First Crusade and slaughtered most of its Muslim and Jewish inhabitants.

The above, coupled with the fact that Muslim men are permitted to marry Christians and Jews, leads me to think that the interpretation that Islam explicitly commands Muslims to be hostile to and not befriend Christians and Jews is in flawed.


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