Thursday, March 01, 2007

Islam - The Religion of Peace?

Once again the issue has been raised regarding Islam and whether or not it is a religion of peace or violence. The Christian Bible uses the word “love” 409 times[1] with 223 of those in the New Testament. The Qur’an uses the word 79 times in these five categories:

(1) Man's love of things. (15 times)
(2) Human love. (15 times)
(3) Man's love for God. (7 times)
(4) God's love in the negative sense, i.e. "God loveth not ..." (22 times)
(5)God's love for man. (20 times)

While the Bible was written in Aramaic it has been translated into Greek, Latin, and a host of other languages including English. Although there have been disputes at various times over the translation of the original text, there is general agreement overall. This is much the situation with the Qur’an which is written in Arabic and translated into English. The above references are from a translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, but the translation by Amatul Rahman Omar and Abdul Mannan Omar which is sanctioned by the Noor Foundation (similar to Gideons) has some significant variances. For example in verses 14:3 and 16:107 Abdullah Yusef uses the word “love” while the Amatul translates the same word as “preferred”. In fact there are some very significant variations between these two translations, with the former translating the Arabic more liberally than the latter. In fact in checking various translations, I have found some very significant variances in the translation which significantly change the meaning.

The failure of the Qur’an to use the word “love” is not in itself an indication that Islam is more violent than Christianity but the reality is that the Qur’an is filled with exhortations to violence for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, the Qur’an specifically states (5:51) that a Muslim is NOT to take Jews and Christians for allies and any Muslim who does so becomes one of them. Then again in Chapter 9 there are multiple verses exhorting Muslims to fight the non-believers and those “who have been given he scripture” but do not follow it. In Chapter 22:39 Muslims are given permission to fight in self-defense against those who have attacked them for no reason. Certainly this verse can be stretched to justify the current attacks by Muslims on all non-Muslims on the basis that these people and their governments have wronged or otherwise “attacked” Muslims.

The treatment of prisoners is specifically spelled out in various treaties and in the Geneva Convention in particular, but these are Western views established by secular governments. Within the world of Islam, secular governments are secondary to the religious structure so the Qur’an takes precedence over laws or agreements made by these secular governments. The Qur’an specifically (4:81 and 4:91) calls the killing of captives permissible. Nevertheless Western governments continue to act as if treaties and agreements between them and these Islamic governments carry weight – they do not. The Western Governments continue to abide by the Geneva Convention and act shocked when the Islamofascists do not but instead murder innocent civilians, execute captives in barbaric ways, and hide behind human shields. Furthermore, the Qur’an specifically directs Muslims to not take Jews and Christians as allies (5:51) because they are in league against Islam. And 5:101 specifically forbids Muslims from inquiring into divine laws (i.e. Qur’an and Shar’ia) lest they become disbelievers. Of course this simply reinforces the control the Imam’s have over the believers who are kept ignorant by disallowing and rejecting any education outside of the Qur’an.

Now the Muslim Imam’s insist that Islam is a religion of peace and go to great lengths to demonstrate this. But the reality is that the Qur’an is filled with exhortations to violence to fight, to kill, to destroy. Certainly the word love is found in the Qur’an but the usage of this word is largely an matter of interpretation and certainly does not exhort the reader or believer to “love” their fellow man or to forgive trespasses. While it is true that there are many passages in the Qur’an that deal with forgiveness that are just as many that preach violence against non-believers. An example of this dichotomy is found in chapters 5:32 and 5:33
If anyone slays a person- unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land -it would be as if he slew all people.And if anyone saves a life,it would be as if he saved the life of all people.
However this quote does not include the entire verse and the beginning of this verse states “

Because of this incident we laid down for the Children of Israel that he who kills a human being – unless it be for murdering a person or for (reforming) disorder in the country ....

The next verse (5:33) is a little more specific and states:

The only recompense of those who make war against Allah and His Messenger and who strive hard to create disorder in the land, is (according to the nature of the crime) that tehy be executed or crucified to death, or that their hands and feet be cut off on account of their opposition, or their free movement in the land be banned ...”

So the reality is that these verses are taken out of context and thus can be interpreted in various ways. These verses are part of Section 5 of Chapter 5 which deals with the sin of murder as described between Cain and Abel. But it also puts this crime and others into the framework of crimes against Allah and describes the punishments for those who commit crimes against Allah.

There are various verses that exhort the believer to violence but 9:29 through 9:35 generally encourage or direct the true believer to attack Christians and Jews as non-believers. So while Islam may view itself as a religion of peace it does not require much of a stress for a radical Muslim to find that it instructs him to attack and destroy all non-believers. The fact is that the current war on terror is simply another Crusade between Islam and Christendom.


Kaiser said...

Hi. i'm a Muslim and i disagree with you. i'm a busy nowadays so i can't respond to the entire post in one go. but i'd like to start and see what you think.

First, about 5:51.

"O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust."

This verse cannot refer to to all Jews and Christians in general because that would be contradictory to other verses of the Quran such as:

2:113 "The Jews say: "The Christians have naught (to stand) upon; and the Christians say: "The Jews have naught (To stand) upon." Yet they (Profess to) study the (same) Book. Like unto their word is what those say who know not; but Allah will judge between them in their quarrel on the Day of Judgment."

This verse indicates that all Jews and Christians are not friends to each other.

3:110 "Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors."

3:113 "Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (For the right): They rehearse the Signs of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration"

3:114: "They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous."

3:115 "Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for Allah knoweth well those that do right"

These verses indicate that not all Jews and Christians (People of the Book) disbelieve. So how can 5:51 refer even to them?

You also talked about the number of times the word 'love' appears in the Quran and Bible. Though, as you said, it does not indicate that the Quran teaches violence. It varies because the purpose of the Quran is to warn mankind of the Day of Judgement.

20:2 "We have not sent down the Qur'an to thee to be (an occasion) for thy distress, "

20:3 "But only as an admonition to those who fear ((Allah)),- "

You also talked about the Bible being originally written in Aramaic and then translated into Greek, Latin, etc. But this is not similar to the Quran because while the exact words of the original Arabic Quran are available today, the exact words of the original Aramaic Bible are not. This absence of the original could obviously lead to disparities between the original and the translations we have today. But since this is not much relevant to your article, as you're talking about the Quran and not the Bible, I won't delve into that.

About 22:39, though you say it's meaning could be stretched, that depends on Muslims and not Islam. What is relevant to Islam is the verse itself which simply allows fighting in self-defense.

4:81 "They have "Obedience" on their lips; but when they leave thee, a section of them Meditate all night on things very different from what thou tellest them. But Allah records their nightly (plots): So keep clear of them, and put thy trust in Allah, and enough is Allah as a disposer of affairs."

How is this verse talking about killing captives? It's talking about hypocrites.

4:90 "Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If Allah had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then Allah Hath opened no way for you (to war against them). "

4:91 "Others you will find that wish to gain your confidence as well as that of their people: Every time they are sent back to temptation, they succumb thereto: if they withdraw not from you nor give you (guarantees) of peace besides restraining their hands, seize them and slay them wherever ye get them: In their case We have provided you with a clear argument against them."

Still talking about hypocrites.

The Quran ordains good behaviour towards captives.

76:8 "And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive,- "

About 5:101. I searched it in the Saheeh Hadith, and this is what I found.

Saheeh Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 145:
Narrated Anas:

The Prophet delivered a sermon the like of which I had never heard before. He said, "If you but knew what I know then you would have laughed little and wept much." On hearing that, the companions of the Prophet covered their faces and the sound of their weeping was heard. A man said, "Who is my father?" The Prophet said, "So-and-so." So this Verse was revealed: "Ask not about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble." (5.101)

It's not forbidding Muslims from enquiring into divine laws.

In fact, the following Hadith is part of O Level Islamiat that I took some years ago:

"Strive to develop and understand religion" which says contrary to what you claim. Unfortunately, I'm unable to find the source of this Hadith on the internet, probably because some Saheeh Hadith books are not available online.

About 5:32 it is true that the order was for the Children of Israel, you have not mentioned the second part of the verse which says

"Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land. "

This implies that the original command given to the Children of Israel holds for all Muslims.

You're blurring the full meaning of 5:32 by talking about 'war against Allah' when in fact the verse talks about those who do 'war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land' . If you make war against me, and bully everyone around and kill anyone you want to, i will obviously fight back. And if I win, then according to 5:33 your punishment will be

"execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land"

depending on the extent of your crimes. Suppose someone just threatend the Prophet, then he may be exiled from the land according to this verse. But if he is aggressive and tries to kill him and his followers, then that person deserves capital punishment according to this verse.

I have already talked about relations with Jews and Christians so I feel no need to talk about 9:29 and 9:35.

As I said at the beginning, I had intended to respond to just one or two points of yours at the moment. But somehow I have responded to about all, I think. Anyway, I invite you to read the Quran in its entirety to get a better idea about Islam. In the end:

27:91 "For me, I have been commanded to serve the Lord of this city, Him Who has sanctified it and to Whom (belong) all things: and I am commanded to be of those who bow in Islam to Allah.s Will,- "

27:92 "And to rehearse the Qur'an: and if any accept guidance, they do it for the good of their own souls, and if any stray, say: "I am only a Warner". "

Royce said...

I appreciated your comments and have checked all of the references you submitted. There are some variances between your translation and mine but these are not terribly significant. Please contact me through my email so I can respond to you and explain my rationale for my comments. I am not angered or upset by your comments but welcome having a discussion with you. The Muslim community is too quiet on many of these issues. I will admit that the Qur'an is -- like the Bible -- open to many interpretations.