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Here is the theoretical framework

Reader comment on item: Bolstering Moderate Muslims
in response to reader comment: Reinterpreting the Quran

Submitted by Moderate Muslim (Bangladesh), Apr 29, 2007 at 19:30

Hello Everyone,

There are two Moderate Muslims replying, but we both seem to think alike.

Abrogation is not a good analytical tool. The main point is to view the Quran as a logically and morally consistent whole and to accept and try to recreate the original sequence of events that occurred in Mecca.

Few ayats quoted below documents the initial peaceful stage in the life of the Prophet. The prophet began his mission by peacefully preaching to the Meccan disbeliever pagans. The ayats below show that the prophet and the early Muslims are urged to have patience in their dealings with the disbelievers, to greet them with "Peace" (salam) and to "keep to forgiveness". There is also the famous verse "Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion".

Quran – early suras:

073.010 And bear with patience what they utter, and part from them with a fair leave-taking.

025.063 The (faithful) slaves of the Beneficent are they who walk upon the earth modestly, and when the foolish ones address them answer: Peace;

045.014 Tell those who believe to forgive those who hope not for the days of Allah; in order that He may requite folk what they used to earn.

007.198 And if ye (Muslims) call them to the guidance they hear not; and thou (Muhammad) seest them looking toward thee, but they see not.

007.199 Keep to forgiveness (O Muhammad), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.

007.200 And if a slander from the devil wound thee, then seek refuge in Allah. Lo! He is Hearer, Knower.

109.001 Say: O disbelievers!

109.002 I worship not that which ye worship;

109.003 Nor worship ye that which I worship.

109.004 And I shall not worship that which ye worship.

109.005 Nor will ye worship that which I worship.

109.006 Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.

What caused the Quran to change from patience, fair leave taking etc to declaring war? My answer is that it was not Islam but the dominant attitude of the Meccan Quraish that changed. After the death of the Abu Talib the prophet's uncle and protector, Abu Lahab one of the greatest enemies of Islam became the new leader of Banu Hashim. This change in the leadership of Banu Hashim essentially removed the protection that the prophet enjoyed as a member of the tribe of Banu Hashim. The prophet was forced to seek alternate sources of protection but failed and finally migrated to Medina.

The Quran contains stories of prophets before Muhammad. The stories of these prophets show that the earlier prophets faced opposition similar to what prophet Muhammad faced. The stories of Noah, Hud, Shueyb Salih and Lot also show that the enemies of these earlier prophets threatened to drive out or kill the prophets as well.

Earlier prophets Noah, Hud, Shuyeb, Salih and Lot

Prophet Noah's tribe denied him and his call to ward off evil. Noah declared himself to be the messenger of Allah and a plain warner. Noah's tribe threatened him "If you cease not, Noah, you will surely be among those stoned to death."

Noah

026.105 Noah's folk denied the messengers (of Allah),

026.106 When their brother Noah said unto them: Will ye not ward off (evil) ?

026.107 Lo! I am a faithful messenger unto you,

026.108 So keep your duty to Allah, and obey me.

026.115 I am only a plain warner.

026.116 They said: If thou cease not, O Noah, thou wilt surely be among those stoned (to death).

Prophet Shu'eyb called to his people in Midian. Shu'eyb called his tribe to serve Allah alone, to not defraud people. But his tribe denied him and his message to believe in Allah and to not commit fraud. At one point the leaders of his tribe threaten him "Surely we will drive you out, Shueyb, and those who believe with you, from our town, unless you return to our religion."

Shueyb

007.085 Midian (We sent) their brother, Shu'eyb. He said: O my people! Serve Allah. Ye have no other God save Him. Lo! a clear proof hath come unto you from your Lord; so give full measure and full weight and wrong not mankind in their goods, and work not confusion in the earth after the fair ordering thereof. That will be better for you, if ye are believers.

007.086 Lurk not on every road to threaten (wayfarers), and to turn away from Allah's path him who believeth in Him, and to seek to make it crooked. And remember, when ye were but few, how He did multiply you. And see the nature of the consequence for the corrupters!

007.087 And if there is a party of you which believeth in that wherewith I have been sent, and there is a party which believeth not, then have patience until Allah judge between us. He is the Best of all who deal in judgment.

007.088 The chieftains of his people, who were scornful, said: Surely we will drive thee out, O Shu'eyb, and those who believe with thee, from our township, unless ye return to our religion. He said: Even though we hate it ?

Allah sent Salih to his tribe Thamud. Salih called his people to worship Allah. His tribe denied the call of the prophet. Later a group of nine persons swore to attack him and his family by night.

Salih

027.045 And We verily sent unto Thamud their brother Salih, saying: Worship Allah. And lo! they (then became two parties quarrelling.

027.046 He said: O my people! Why will ye hasten on the evil rather than the good ? Why will ye not ask pardon of Allah, that ye may receive mercy.

027.047 They said: We augur evil of thee and those with thee. He said: Your evil augury is with Allah. Nay, but ye are folk that are being tested.

027.048 And there were in the city nine persons who made mischief in the land and reformed not.

027.049 They said: Swear one to another by Allah that we verily will attack him and his household by night, and afterward we will surely say unto his friend: We witnessed not the destruction of his household. And lo! we are truthtellers.

027.050 So they plotted a plot: and We plotted a plot, while they perceived not.

027.051 Then see the nature of the consequence of their plotting, for lo! We destroyed them and their people, every one.

Lot called on his people to give up their perverse sexual practice. His people denied the prophet and threatened to "Turn them out of your township".

Lot

007.080 And Lot! (Remember) when he said unto his folk: Will ye commit abomination such as no creature ever did before you ?

007.081 Lo! ye come with lust unto men instead of women. Nay, but ye are wanton folk.

007.082 And the answer of his people was only that they said (one to another): Turn them out of your township. They are folk, forsooth, who keep pure.

007.083 And We rescued him and his household, save his wife, who was of those who stayed behind.

007.084 And We rained a rain upon them. See now the nature of the consequence of evil-doers!

Sura 14 ayat 11 to 13 describes an often repeated pattern of behavior described in the Quran. All prophets call peacefully to their to believe in Allah but the tribe becomes intolerant, they threaten to drive out the prophet unless they return to the religion of the tribe.

Prophets in general

014.011 Their messengers said unto them: We are but mortals like you, but Allah giveth grace unto whom He will of His slaves. It is not ours to bring you a warrant unless by the permission of Allah. In Allah let believers put their trust!

014.012 How should we not put our trust in Allah when He hath shown us our ways ? We surely will endure the hurt ye do us. In Allah let the trusting put their trust.

014.013 And those who disbelieved said unto their messengers: Verily we will drive you out from our land, unless ye return to our religion. Then their Lord inspired them, (saying): Verily we shall destroy the wrong-doers,


We find the first justification for war in the story of Saul, David and the Children of Israel. In the story of Saul, David and the Children of Israel we find that the Children of Israel have been driven out of their homes by Goliath the persecuted Israelites fight back against the persecutor Goliath. The justification for war pronounced by the Children of Israel is "Why should we not fight in Allah's way when we have been driven from our dwellings ..?" Under the leadership of David the Children of Israel defeat Goliath. (these verses also show that the Jews are not the enemy of Islam, but more on this later)

Saul, David and the Children of Israel

002.246 Bethink thee of the leaders of the Children of Israel after Moses, how they said unto a prophet whom they had: Set up for us a king and we will fight in Allah's way. He said: Would ye then refrain from fighting if fighting were prescribed for you ? They said: Why should we not fight in Allah's way when we have been driven from our dwellings with our children ? Yet, when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, all save a few of them. Allah is aware of evil-doers.

002.250 And when they went into the field against Goliath and his hosts they said: Our Lord! Bestow on us endurance, make our foothold sure, and give us help against the disbelieving folk.

002.251 So they routed them by Allah's leave and David slew Goliath; and Allah gave him the kingdom and wisdom, and taught him of that which He willeth. And if Allah had not repelled some men by others the earth would have been corrupted. But Allah is a Lord of Kindness to (His) creatures.

Here are some verses of the Quran that urge Muslims to fight the pagans. Ayats like the one below is very easy to misunderstand. The very first phrase "slay them wherever ye find them" and the last phrase "such is the reward of disbelievers" give the impression that the Quran is advocating the killing of all disbelievers. But the second phrase "drive them out of the places whence they drove you out" supports the argument that the prophet and the Muslims fought the enemy disbelievers because they had driven the prophet out of Mecca. The third phrase "for persecution is worse than slaughter" points out that the Muslims fought back because they had been persecuted. Most likely "driving out" is the "persecution" that the ayat refers to. The later parts of the ayat "And fight not with them in the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them" – this shows that the Muslims abided by the pagan Arab and Muslim norm of no violence in the precinct of the Kaba. But that if the enemy disbelievers attacked Muslims here then the Muslims are urged to fight in the manner in which they had been attacked.

002.191 And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.

In the Sura 2 ayat 217 (quoted below) one of the reasons for "warfare in the sacred month" is to fight those who "expel His people from thence" meaning expelling the Muslims from the Mecca and Kaaba. There are other reasons as well, the first phrase states "to turn (men) from the way of Allah" – this may be related to the attempts of the enemy disbelievers to force Muslims to recant their faith. The second phrase "to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship" (Masjid ul Haram - Kaba) – this suggests that the war with the enemy disbelievers is because of their lack of faith, but as I have shown through the discussion on Sirat Rasul Allah, the war could not have been due to lack of faith alone. The third phrase "for persecution is worse than killing" points out that Muslims fought back because they had been persecuted. The fourth phrase "they will not cease fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can" - this points to the intolerance of the enemy disbelievers towards Islam. According to the Quran the primary reason for the enemy pagans war was not to gain wealth, power, material goods or even security, they were fighting to force Muslims from Islam and thereby bring an end to Islam.

002.217 They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel His people thence, is a greater with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing. And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can. And whoso becometh a renegade and dieth in his disbelief: such are they whose works have fallen both in the world and the Hereafter. Such are rightful owners of the Fire: they will abide therein.

The ayat below challenges the Muslims to fight "Will ye not fight a folk who broke their solemn pledges, and purposed to drive out the messenger and did attack you first?" The justifications for war as follows: The first phrase "broke their solemn pledges" this may refer to the pledge of the tribe to protect its members. The greater Quraysh tribe reneged on its pledge to protect the prophet. The second phrase "purposed to drive out the messenger" this clearly refers to the enemy disbelievers forcing the prophet to leave Mecca. The third phrase "and did attack you first" I am not certain how and where but according to this ayat the Meccans first attacked the Muslims

009.013 Will ye not fight a folk who broke their solemn pledges, and purposed to drive out the messenger and did attack you first ? What ! Fear ye them ? Now Allah hath more right that ye should fear Him, if ye are believers

Here the Muslims are urged to fight and help (I need the verses in the middle) the prophet in his battles against the Quraysh. "Allah helped him when those who disbelieve drove him forth, the second of two; when they two were in the cave, when he said unto his comrade: Grieve not. Lo! Allah is with us." - This ayat mentions the event of the prophet fleeing from Mecca with Abu Bakr and hiding in the cave to escape the Meccans. This ayat clearly states "when those who disbelieve drove him forth" meaning that the prophet and Muslims were forced to migrate. Here and elsewhere the Quran doesn't make a distinction between protecting disbelievers (the prophet's uncle) and enemy disbelievers, so the impression is that all disbelievers drove the prophet out, but an awareness of the Sirat Rasul Allah (life of the prophet) makes it clear that not all disbelievers drove the prophet out.

009.038 O ye who believe! What aileth you that when it is said unto you: Go forth in the way of Allah, ye are bowed down to the ground with heaviness. Take ye pleasure in the life of the world rather than in the Hereafter ? The comfort of the life of the world is but little in the Hereafter.

009.040 If ye help him not, still Allah helped him when those who disbelieve drove him forth, the second of two; when they two were in the cave, when he said unto his comrade: Grieve not. Lo! Allah is with us. Then Allah caused His peace of reassurance to descend upon him and supported him with hosts ye cannot see, and made the word of those who disbelieved the nethermost, while Allah's Word it was that became the uppermost. Allah is Mighty, Wise.

In the below ayats Allah declares, "Sanction is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged" clearly, the reason for war is not disbelief itself but the wrong committed by the enemy disbelievers. Fighting is justified for those who "have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said: Our Lord is Allah" – this clearly defines the "wrong" mentioned earlier, and, that is the Muslims were driven from their homes unjustly.

022.039 Sanction is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged; and Allah is indeed Able to give them victory;

022.040 Those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said: Our Lord is Allah - For had it not been for Allah's repelling some men by means of others, cloisters and churches and oratories and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft mentioned, would assuredly have been pulled down. Verily Allah helpeth one who helpeth Him. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty -

Below Muslims are urged are warned not to choose enemy disbeliever for allies. The reason is the enemy disbeliever "driving out the messenger and you because ye believe in Allah". Often the ayats of the Quran will include two reasons together – "Do ye give them friendship when they disbelieve in that truth which hath come unto you, driving out the messenger and you because ye believe in Allah" – here the justification for war may be thought to be 1) "disbelieve in that truth which hath come unto you" and 2) "driving out the messenger and you because ye believe in Allah" – I would like to argue that awareness of the Sirat Rasul Allah suggests that simple/neutral disbelieve is not the reason for the fighting. The second ayat also describes the state of mind of the enemy disbelievers "If they have the upper hand of you, they will be your foes, and will stretch out their hands and their tongues toward you with evil (intent), and they long for you to disbelieve."

060.001 O ye who believe! Choose not My enemy and your enemy for allies. Do ye give them friendship when they disbelieve in that truth which hath come unto you, driving out the messenger and you because ye believe in Allah, your Lord ? If ye have come forth to strive in My way and seeking My good pleasure, (show them not friendship). Do ye show friendship unto them in secret, when I am Best Aware of what ye hide and what ye proclaim ? And whosoever doeth it among you, he verily hath strayed from the right way.

060.002 If they have the upper hand of you, they will be your foes, and will stretch out their hands and their tongues toward you with evil (intent), and they long for you to disbelieve.

The below ayat clearly makes a distinction between "those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes" and the ayat clearly states "Allah forbiddeth you only those who warred against you on account of religion and have driven you out from your homes and helped to drive you out, that ye make friends of them". So the reason for the enmity is very clear and in this ayat the Quran makes the distinction between enemy disbelievers and neutral disbelievers.

060.008 Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers.

060.009 Allah forbiddeth you only those who warred against you on account of religion and have driven you out from your homes and helped to drive you out, that ye make friends of them. Whosoever maketh friends of them - (All) such are wrong-doers.

The Quran is very careful about giving the reasons for war with the disbelievers in most places where war is mentioned.

Submitting....

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