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"Reinterpretation of the Qur'an; Medinan Islam, Abrogation, Apostasy from Islam and its punishment"

Reader comment on item: Bolstering Moderate Muslims
in response to reader comment: jihad et all

Submitted by Lactantius Jr. (United Kingdom), Apr 28, 2007 at 06:50

Dear Moderate Muslim

I will not contest your assertion that the warmongering Medinan ayat were revealed to meet the situation created by Medinan kuffar having started a war, which Muhammad and his Muslims responded to defensively, and will leave the demonstration of what really happened, to one of the historians who contribute to Dr Pipes' weblogs, and who are well acquainted with the history of early Islam.

What I will do though, is mention the Islamic doctrine of Abrogation, asking what this does to the Qur'anic reinterpretation you believe would set aside the warlike, warmongering Medinan ayat.

Abrogation Within the Quran الناسخ والمنسوخ في القرآن

What is meant by the term "abrogation"?

The Arabic words 'nasikh' and 'mansukh' are both derived from the same root word 'nasakha' which carries meanings such as 'to abolish, to replace, to set aside, to withdraw, to make null and void, to abrogate'.

The word nasikh (an active participle) means 'the abrogating', while mansukh (passive) means 'the abrogated'. In technical language these terms refer to certain parts of the Qur'anic revelation, which have been 'abrogated' by others. The abrogated passage is the one called 'mansukh' while the abrogating one is called 'nasikh'. (Ahmad von Denver, Ulum Al-Quran)

Islamic apologists such as Karen Armstrong say: "the only permissible war (in the Koran) is one of self-defense. Muslims may not begin hostilities (2:190)."

Others quote verses from the Qur'an like:

"Let there be no compulsion in religion" Surah 2:256

"لا إكراه في الدين"

"Therefore expound openly what thou art commanded, and turn away from those who join false gods with Allah" Surah 15:94

" فَاصْدَعْ بِمَا تُؤْمَرُ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِين" الحجر 94:15

These verses seem to say clearly enough that the Qur'an teaches a peaceful response to those who oppose Islam. But there are other verses in the Qur'an which say quite the opposite. For example "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular Charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful"

Surah 9:5

Which verse should Muslims follow? According to the doctrine of abrogation, the later texts supersede the earlier whenever there are inconsistencies, or they are said to "abrogate" the earlier texts. Therefore, a Muslim simply needs to know which verse came earlier, and which came later.

Surah 2:190;2:256 & 15:94 have all been abrogated according to Muslim scholars.(تراجع كتب الناسخ والمنسوخ لـ ابن حزم، الكرمي، ابن الجوزي، المقري، قتاده،...) (for detailed information check books under titles like The Abrogative and the Abrogated by authors like Ibn Hazem, Al-Karmi, Ibn Al-Jawzi, Al-Muqri, or Al-Nisabouri)

Suyuti in his book استنباط التنزيل (Istenbat al tanzeel) says: "Every thing in the Qur'an about forgiveness is abrogated by verse 9:5." Al-Shawkani in his book السيل الجرار (Alsaylu Jarar 4:518-519) says: "Islam is unanimous about fighting the unbelievers and forcing them to Islam or submitting and paying Jiziah (special tax paid only by Christians or Jews) or being killed. [The verses] about forgiving them are abrogated unanimously by the obligation of fighting in any case."

Please note Moderate Muslim, that I am not telling you which verses to follow and which not to, I would love you and all your co-religionists to frame your lives according to the nice, peaceful, peaceloving Meccan Surah's beloved of those who wrongly claim that "Islam is peaceful and peaceloving." However, what I am saying, is that according to the Islamic doctrine of abrogation, these verses are null and void. They are contradicted by later verses, and in Islam, it is the later verses which must be followed today.

Let's now take a look at some of the Medinan Qur'anic Surah

"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for Allah does not love transgressors". 2:190

"قاتلوا في سبيل الله الذين يقاتلونكم ولا تعتدوا إن الله لا يحب المعتدين" البقرة 190:2

"And slay them (the infidels) wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out, for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter"

2:191

" وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَخْرِجُوهُم مِّنْ حَيْثُ أَخْرَجُوكُمْ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَشَدُّ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ وَلاَ تُقَاتِلُوهُمْ عِندَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ حَتَّى يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِيهِ فَإِن قَاتَلُوكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوهُمْ كَذَلِكَ جَزَاء الْكَافِرِينَ" البقرة 191:2

"And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and Faith in Allah; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression". 2:193

" وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لاَ تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ لِلّهِ فَإِنِ انتَهَواْ فَلاَ عُدْوَانَ إِلاَّ عَلَى الظَّالِمِينَ" ابقرة 193:2

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and you dislike it. But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and that you love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knows, and you know not"

2:216

" كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ وَهُوَ كُرْهٌ لَّكُمْ وَعَسَى أَن تَكْرَهُواْ شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَعَسَى أَن تُحِبُّواْ شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ وَاللّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ" البقرة 216:2

Here we see for the first time, that war was permissible, whereas in the earlier days of Islam in Mecca, war was not allowed. But these verses abrogate the earlier verses, allowing war both in self-defense and against those who the Muslims did not have a treaty with. However, even these verses were in turn abrogated by these later verses:

"Let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah, whether he is slain or gets victory soon shall we give him a reward of great (value)"

Surah 4:74

"فَلْيُقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ الَّذِينَ يَشْرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا بِالآخِرَةِ وَمَن يُقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ فَيُقْتَلْ أَو يَغْلِبْ فَسَوْفَ نُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا" النساء"74:4

"Seize them and slay them wherever you find them: and in any case take no friends or helpers from their ranks."

Surah 4:89

"وَدُّواْ لَوْ تَكْفُرُونَ كَمَا كَفَرُواْ فَتَكُونُونَ سَوَاء فَلاَ تَتَّخِذُواْ مِنْهُمْ أَوْلِيَاء حَتَّىَ يُهَاجِرُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ فَإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَخُذُوهُمْ وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ وَجَدتَّمُوهُمْ وَلاَ تَتَّخِذُواْ مِنْهُمْ وَلِيًّا وَلاَ نَصِيرًا" النساء 89:4

"Allah has granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit at home "4:95

"لاَّ يَسْتَوِي الْقَاعِدُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ غَيْرُ أُوْلِي الضَّرَرِ وَالْمُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فَضَّلَ اللّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ دَرَجَةً وَكُـلاًّ وَعَدَ اللّهُ الْحُسْنَى وَفَضَّلَ اللّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا" النساء 95:4

"Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly"

Surah 8:60

"وَأَعِدُّواْ لَهُم مَّا اسْتَطَعْتُم مِّن قُوَّةٍ وَمِن رِّبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدْوَّ اللّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ وَآخَرِينَ مِن دُونِهِمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَهُمُ اللّهُ يَعْلَمُهُمْ وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِن شَيْءٍ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لاَ تُظْلَمُونَ" الأنفال 60:8

"O Prophet! rouse the Believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding"

Surah 8:65

"يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ حَرِّضِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَى الْقِتَالِ إِن يَكُن مِّنكُمْ عِشْرُونَ صَابِرُونَ يَغْلِبُواْ مِئَتَيْنِ وَإِن يَكُن مِّنكُم مِّئَةٌ يَغْلِبُواْ أَلْفًا مِّنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لاَّ يَفْقَهُونَ" الأنفال 65:8

"Fight them and Allah will punish them by your hands, cover them with shame, help you to victory over them, and heal the breasts of the Believers" 9:14

"قَاتِلُوهُمْ يُعَذِّبْهُمُ اللّهُ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ وَيُخْزِهِمْ وَيَنصُرْكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَيَشْفِ صُدُورَ قَوْمٍ مُّؤْمِنِين" التوبة 14:9

"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued" 9:29

"قَاتِلُواْ الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَلاَ بِالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَلاَ يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلاَ يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ حَتَّى يُعْطُواْ الْجِزْيَةَ عَن يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُون" التوبة 29:9

"Say: can you expect for us (and fate) other than one of two glorious things (martyrdom or victory)? But we can expect for you either that Allah will send his punishment (for not believing in Allah) from Himself, or by our hands. So wait (expectant); we too will wait with you" Surah 9:52

"قُلْ هَلْ تَرَبَّصُونَ بِنَا إِلاَّ إِحْدَى الْحُسْنَيَيْنِ وَنَحْنُ نَتَرَبَّصُ بِكُمْ أَن يُصِيبَكُمُ اللّهُ بِعَذَابٍ مِّنْ عِندِهِ أَوْ بِأَيْدِينَا فَتَرَبَّصُواْ إِنَّا مَعَكُم مُّتَرَبِّصُون" التوبة 52:4

So here we see the Qur'an ordering Muslims to fight in order to establish Allah's kingdom on earth (all of the earth) by any means. Most Islamic scholars say that Surah 9:5 abrogates all the 124 ayat that talk about peace and forgiveness. This is what it says:

"But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular Prayers and practise regular Charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful"

Surah 9:5

"فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُواْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدتُّمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُواْ لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ فَإِن تَابُواْ وَأَقَامُواْ الصَّلاَةَ وَآتَوُاْ الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّواْ سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ" التوبة 5:9

This verse, commonly called the verse of the sword, clearly shows there is only one way out for pagans (or infidels) to be spared from being slain. They should repent, establish regular prayers, and practice regular charity, i.e. become Muslims.

As for people of the book, we read the way out of them being killed in Surah 9:29, "until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued"

They have to pay protection money and accept to be subdued, i.e. second class citizens, even if they live in their homeland. We see this put into practice in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, and all the Middle Eastern countries that were conquered by Muslims in the first 100 years of Islam. The ancestors of the Christians who live there now suffered a lot to stay Christian.

Now, there is a fiqhi rule that has to be taken into consideration when studying this:العبرة بعموم اللفظ لا بخصوص السبب, i.e. what is considered is the absoluteness of the utterance, not the specialization of the reason for the revelation. That is, they follow the letter, not the spirit of the law...

Actually, the Islamic doctrine of abrogation causes massive problems for Islam, presenting as it does, an Allah who has to change his mind because he didn't get it right first time. Think this through please Moderate Muslim, this must mean that "the tablet preserved" Surah 85:21-22 "the mother of the book" Surah's 9:55;13:38 and 43:1-4, contains both Allah's mansukh and nasikh words, and I can't "get my head round this" can you? And compare/contrast this with the Biblical God of Whom the Bible says "The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8 and with the Lord Jesus Christ Who is God, Who says, "Heaven and earth will disappear, but My words will never disappear." Mark 13:31

To anyone acquainted with Islamic law, it is clear that according to Islam, the punishment for a Muslim who turns to kufr (infidelity, blasphemy) is execution, and the following article thoroughly documents this from Islam's source documents.

"THE PUNISHMENT OF THE APOSTATE
ACCORDING TO ISLAMIC LAW"

ABUL ALA MAWDUDI

http://www.answering-islam.org/Hahn/Mawdudi/

Conclusion

You sound to be a thoughtful man "Moderate Muslim," who seeks to live in peace with others, and for that I thank and commend you, but we clearly cannot judge any religion by just looking at those who claim to follow it, it being necessary to examine that religions founder, and its most authoritative source documents.

I submit that salafism explains the Islamic terrorism of 911 and 0707, and is the engine driving the threats of more of the same, and the approach I take in comparing/contrasting peace and violence in Christianity and Islam, is in comparing/contrasting the Lord Jesus Christ and Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, Muhammad emerges very unfavourably, with the Lord Jesus Christ exemplifying that He is indeed "The Prince of Peace," whilst Muhammad is seen to be the archetypal Islamic terrorist, and not "the model for all mankind," and someone has said so very well, that the nearer you get to the Lord Jesus Christ, the more peaceful and peaceloving you become, and the farther away from Him you are, the less peaceful and peaceloving you are, whilst the nearer you are to the Islam of Muhammad, the more violent and warlike you are, but the farther away from him you get, the less violent and warlike you are.. What a contrast!!

Seeking to reinterpret the Qur'an as you do, you can only offer your "interpretive framework" from the freedom a Western secular democracy gives you. Please continue to do so "Moderate Muslim," but be aware you are "going against the flow" of the last 14 centuries of Islamic thought and practice, which renders you apostate, and liable to execution under Islamic jurisdiction.

With kind regards and best wishes

Lactantius Jr.

Thank you for complimenting me on my civility, and whilst I completely disagree with you, I seek not to do so disagreeably, but seek to line-up with the Injil (and what good, good news it is), that says:-

"And in your heart set apart Christ as Lord, and be always ready to give a reason for the hope you have within you, but do so with gentleness and respect."

1 Peter 3:15

and by the Grace of God I will.

Submitting....

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