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I don't write for "Islam Q&A"

Reader comment on item: How to End Terrorism:
in response to reader comment: To Archimedes

Submitted by Archimedes2 (Canada), Dec 11, 2006 at 03:28

Thanks, Zaky, for your contribution; apparently Safraz needed a bit of help finding stuff. It's interesting that you say I am "You are taking the verse out of their Quranic and historical context..." and so on, Zaky, because if you read my comment again you'll find that I am not interpreting the verses myself at all. I do not presume to bring meaning to Islamic texts.

For, although I have taken a good deal of time to read the Qur'an and Hadiths so as to be well informed, I am neither a muslim nor particularly interested in spending my life digesting other people's religious texts. That is why I referred solely to a resource that appears to be both widely available and acknowldedged by many muslims as authoritative, the online "Islam Q&A" site that I linked to. I reproduce the link here in case you missed it the first time: http://www.islam-qa.com/index.php?ref=34770&ln=eng&txt=compulsion religion

Consider the following parable: Person A quotes the pope on some point of religion, and then person B, a catholic himself, tells person A his statements are worthless because they reflect a deep misunderstanding of Catholicism, that he should go and get educated first. Person B has not criticized A at all -- rather this good catholic fellow has, in effect, criticized his own pope. In case you didn't perceive the point of this story, Zaky, in the parable above I am person A and you are person B. (The parable is purely fictional, by the way...) I infer, from your silence on the point, that I am right in my assessment of Islam Q&A -- else you would perhaps have contested my statement, which most of my posting was spent belaboring.

Thus it seems you have a major disagreement with the experts on islamic law who post their fatwas there. Are you prepared to assert that they are imposters and that you are much more skilled in the interpretation of the Qur'an than they? Are you ready to take on the scholars at Islam Q&A, Zaky? I'm afraid nothing you say about my "interpretation" of these verses because ***I haven't GIVEN an interpretation*** -- I've only passed along one that seemed authoritative to me. Why not address your objections to these Islamic scholars, instead of me? Since you actually don't say anything specific about these scholars who say the verse of the sword is a direct command to kill idolaters who will not convert, nor about the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence, all of which support this interpretation, I infer that you are not interested in promoting your more peaceful interpretation within the Ummah -- you are only interested in convincing the Kafir that it is the right one.

I believe you have a name for this tactic, Zaky: "taqqiya". Taqqiya, that is, as understood in Sunni Islam, by which one is permitted hide one's true beliefs by dissimulation: giving the appearance of believing differently, for the purpose of expanding Dar Al-Islam. (In Shiite theology, taqqiya is interpreted differently: I understand that its purpose is defensive, for use when one feels that revealing his beliefs might put him in peril.) You apparently believe that the usual interpretation of the verse of the sword and abrogation of the "no compulsion" verse would be unhelpful for the promotion of Islam in the west (if so, I'd say that you're right), and so will go to great lengths to give the impression that muslims adhere to a more harmless interpretation. In any case, I have produced a direct command to kill the unbeliever, from the text of the Qur'an, in answer to Safraz' questions, and nothing you have said negates this.

For even if you are right and the Islamic scholars wrong, so that Qur'an 5:95 is a specific command only for one historical situation and does not apply to any time or situation after that, it is *still* a command to kill unbelievers. (It is interesting that you regard the war in question as defensive, speaking of the Muslims as being under "constant threat by the Meccans" -- Indeed, who repeatedly raided whose peaceful trade caravans? I'm sure you know. Who marched upon whose city, unprovoked, with an army -- twice? And then proceeded to command the slaughter of the entire city except boys young enough to be enslaved without rebellion and those women young enough to be taken as "brides"? Can you find any such story about the life of the Lord Jesus?)

I challenged Safraz to produce such a command from the New Testament, and you have basically summarized the usual attempts by Islamists to produce a "tu quoque" argument on this point ("tu quoque" basically means "you also" -- to the charge that a group has committed some crime they respond with no actual defense, but by trying to attack another group with a similar charge; at face value, it amounts to an admission of guilt). Let us see how your bible verses stand up. Your first verse, which you cite twice, comes from Rev. 19: 11-15. This is not from "New Testament: 9: 12-15", as you appear to think: there is no such reference; books of the New Testament are referenced separately by name, and the quote does not come from Chapter 9 of any book.

Apparently you are not a reader of the bible (else you wouldn't have made this mistake), so perhaps you could be excused for the bad reference, but you seem to be a man of reasonable intelligence, so I should chide you, Zaky for thinking this verse is literally about human warfare. The bit that goes: "His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God." should be a pretty obvious signal that this text is FIGURATIVE. The entire book of Revelation, the last book in the NT, is almost entirely pictorial and figurative; one must understand the figures to interpret it. It is a difficult place to begin reading the NT, and notoriously difficult to pin down on specifics, though its general message is something any child can understand.

The passage you quote is about the final judgement, in which the Lord judges the earth at the end of days. Even when all the figures are unwrapped, it is impossible to interpret this as a command to people to make war on other people. But you needn't take my word on the matter -- who am I? Ask the pope for the Catholic view, or any protestant theological seminary, or the Eastern or Greek Orthodox churches. Nobody of any repute in Christendom, to my knowledge, has any different view. Your next example, you give as: "34- Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword..." Once more, the correct reference is Matthew 10:34. I am convinced you did not look these up yourself Zaky (how could you find it with such a reference?). Do you own a New Testament?

You charge me with taking things out of context but apparently you do not take your own advice. Read the surrounding verses in Matthew (start at least as early as verse 17). Do you have any idea of what the Lord is speaking in this passage? It is not complicated: it is a warning that, when a person becomes a christian it may bring conflict into his life; they may be betrayed and even put to death for their faith. Thus it is not about violence BY Christians at all: it is about violence TO Christians, by nonchristians. (Note the command in verse 23 to flee persecution, not to kill the persecutors!) It is specifically about a series of events in first-century Palestine, but the general principle applies to violence against Christians such as that happening in Dar Al-Islam today.

As you know there are many instances in the news (and for every one in the news, hundreds of others you can learn about through human rights monitoring organizations) of exactly this: when a muslim becomes a christian they are declared a "murtad", and for this the prescribed Islamic penalty is death: as Mohammed said "if someone changes their faith, kill them". (See http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/084.sbt.html#009.084.057 ; see also #64 of the same book, and dozens of other similar hadiths in Bukhari and elsewhere.) You appear to disagree with the Islamic authorities on the commands calling for violence to unbelievers, Zaky ... but do you disagree with Mohammed?

Jesus is indeed saying he is bringing the sword -- he warned that by becoming christians many will have the sword brought upon them, and 600 years later Mohammed gave commands that would fulfil this prophecy upon innocent christians many times over. It is no wonder that many Muslims long for the grace, peace and love that Jesus offers but most are afraid to come to him. Nevertheless, He loves you, Zaky, whether you accept him or not; and so do I ... he has commanded Christians to love even those who behave as enemies, and to wish such people no harm.

Perhaps you do not accept my interpretation of this Hadith. Fine, then ask for a fatwa giving the "correct" interpretation on Islam Q&A, and share the answer with us here. The final verse you quote, Zaky, is from the Old Testament, so it has nothing to do with the challenge I gave, but I'll just say that the verse also has nothing to do with persecuting (let alone killing) unbelievers -- it is about enforcing respect for parents among the Israelites, in the Law of Moses. If you are really interested in it, I'm sure a Jew could explain it more effectively than me; but I see no value getting sidetracked into discussions of the minutae of ancient Jewish law.

Let me leave you with a few words of the Prophet (as you believe) Jesus: "You have heard that it was said 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy'. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. IF YOU LOVE THOSE WHO LOVE YOU, WHAT REWARD WILL YOU GET? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? AND IF YOU GREET ONLY YOUR BROTHERS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING MORE THAN OTHERS? DO NOT EVEN THE PAGANS DO THAT? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect". (Matt. 5:43-48, emphasis mine) This is not an easy command, Zaky, but it does come straight from God. As a reminder to myself, I have adopted an acronym used by Dr. Anis Shorrosh as his personal motto: ISLAM = "I Sincerely Love All Muslims". I'll be praying for you, Zaky. Safraz too.

Submitting....

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