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You must have a different Qur'an than me, Safraz

Reader comment on item: How to End Terrorism:
in response to reader comment: Pipes in right, Spencer is wrong

Submitted by Archimedes2 (Canada), Dec 7, 2006 at 22:05

Safraz wrote:

"Thus we saw the conquest of America and the genocide of the Native Americans in the West Indies justified by religious leaders, supporting the monarchs of the time, spreading Christianity by the sword - well really killing people and justifying it by saying that they weren't Christian and wouldn't convert....Did the Quran say it was ok to murder Shi'ite Muslims? Nope. Did the Quran say it was ok to murder Sufi Muslims? Nope. Did the Quran say it was ok to murdern Christians or Jews or Hindus? Nope. Did the Quran say it was ok to murder? Nope. But that's just my interpretation."

At times in their histories Christians, Jews and Muslims all used the sword and violence the name of their religions. But the actions of those who call themselves adherents of a faith only represent the faith insofar as they are faithful to the basic tenets of that faith. Let us consider what the source documents have to say.

This is, after all, the point upon which the distinction between Pipes' and Spencers' approaches hangs. Christians, as you know, use the New Testament as the basis for faith and life (the Old Testament forms the Jewish Scriptures; these are regarded as inspired background documents to the NT, which is preeminent); Muslims use the Qur'an and Hadith, but the Qur'an is preeminent. Thus, it is important to judge Christian behavior on the basis of the NT and Muslim behavior on the basis of the Qur'an.

Now, you make sweeping statements about the Qur'an. Let us discuss chapter and verse. I make no claim to special knowledge of Islamic Scripture, so I defer to a very popular Islamic website whose purpose appears to be to make known basic Muslim teaching in the West: "Islamic Question & Answer", found at islam-qa.com. Are you familiar with the site? They post Fatwas -- rulings on matter of Islamic Law and interpretation of Islamic Scriptures -- written by several internationally well-known Muslim scholars. Some time ago a questioner asked about whether the "no compulsion" verse, 2:256, had been abrogated (replaced, or done away with).

Their ruling? An emphatic Yes! -- it was abrogated by the so-called verse of the sword, 5:95 (and others). A muslim is to "fight them until there is no more disbelief" (8:39) and "kill the Mushrikoon ["idolaters" -- which would include Hindus, for example] wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush." (5:95). I won't go into detail, I'm sure you're familiar with it, and it is reiterated throughout the Quranic and Hadith literature -- if a person is a Jew, Christian or Zoroastrian it is only necessary to kill them if they refuse to convert or pay the punitive Jizya tax ("protection money" extorted from subdued nations). For Hindus and other Idolaters (such as, say the Native Indians of North America) the Jizya is not an alternative: the options are convert or die.

Read it all, at http://www.islam-qa.com/index.php?ref=34770&ln=eng&txt=compulsion religion/ Now, Safraz, this would seem to answer a few of your questions about the Qur'an. I'll add that I have repeatedly visited the islam-qa site for several months and that Fatwa has remained there for close to a year -- I don't know how long it was there before I first saw it. In any case, the administrators for the site have not seen fit to remove or "correct" it, from which I infer that they hold it to to be a correct ruling. If you don't like the ruling, don't argue with me -- it was a muslim Quranic expert who interprets it. If it doesn't fit with your own, perhaps you should have a discussion with him.

At one point I thought "Hmm, maybe this is a renegade site, and not accepted by mainstream muslims". I no longer suspect this. You can do a search to see who is linking to islam-qa; it's not hard to do. Look who is linking to it: Mosques, Islamic associations, Muslim Student Associations, various organizations connected to the Muslim brotherhood, and many, many muslim bloggers who keep directories of islamic links. I am left with the impression that it is one of the most linked-to sites from all of North American islamic web sites. Therefore I must conclude that it is deemed authoritative and reliable.

Further, I'll add it is well-known that all four principal schools of Islamic jurisprudence advocate violent Jihad against unbelievers for the purpose of expanding Dar Al-Islam and establishing a universal Islamic hegemony, an Islamic Khalifah, and they all interpret this verse in the same fashion. Thus this interpretation goes back many centuries: it must be regarded as an established fixture of the faith. If all of this is true (note, I say "if" ... I invite you to demonstrate otherwise, and sincerely hope you can) then it is not Osama and Ahmadinejad, Hamas, Hezbollah and PIJ who have got it wrong; they are only being true to the faith; it is those who deny any such commands in Islam who would seem to be the misinterpreters.

This is, more or less, Spencer's point. He does not claim to have a new theory of Islam: He simply compiles what it's most authoratative practitioners and expositors have to say and draws the natural conclusions. If you don't like what he has to say, perhaps you can deconstruct his sources for him so that he can get it right in the future. Perhaps, Safraz, you belong to a small sect of some sort that holds to a form of Islam but rejects such teaching of the mainstream. If so, that's great, and I think we could get along; how you inteprpret your faith personally is really up to you as long as it does not imply that you must force it upon others or act violently toward innocent people.

But the issues with which Pipes and Spencer are dealing are global and must take into account what the vast majority of Muslims worldwide hold with regard to such things. I do not mean to diminish your more peaceful voice, but it is, in a sense, quite irrelevant to their task, unless you and your kind are prepared to take to the sawdust trail and convince the rest of the Ummah on these theological points.

On the other hand, consider the counterpoint you made regarding christian violence. Much violence has been committed in the name of Christ, but it seems to me that this is not so much an *expression* of the christian faith, but a *contradiction* of it (whereas the reverse appears to be true with Islam). For, in my New Testament, I can't find any verses like the Quranic Verse of the Sword cited above. I can't even find anything that hints at such a thing. Instead I find commands to turn the other cheek, to love one's enemy and to overcome evil with good.

But, perhaps, Safraz, I am only reading the New Testament in this way because of wishful thinking: perhaps I just don't want to see the parts where it commands us to be nasty to unbelievers. I assume you have no such blinders, so I invite you to show me where in the New Testament we can find such verses. Then we'll chat some more...


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