I posted this article on Facebook as I found the article interesting. One commenter said, “No, he is wrong about this, just as he is wrong about everything” and this started the ball rolling. The remainder of the comments were between myself and “Mike.” I believe our conversation illustrates the differences in opinion between liberals and others, and also shows that people from both sides of the political aisle can debate in a respectful manner. A simple exchange of ideas without ad hominem arguments clouding the issue. Here is our conversation, enjoy, and I leave it to you to make up your own mind.
Bob: The article points out that well over half the muslims in the world, and in some cases more than 75%-80%, actually support the actions of so-called "radical" islam. But since he has apparently made it his mission to protect islam even more than protecting America or Israel, I think it is clear to see where his allegiances lay.
Mike: Wrong, I'll go read the article later but Obama is more correct here than those stats in your comment.
Bob: I don't know Mike, I think if there's any hedging on the stats, it will be Obama trying to make Islam look better than it is. Read the article and then we'll talk.
Mike: The article picks and chooses parts of the study to twist it to their chosen narrative. Obama isn't a "closet muslim", the only way people would believe that is by either believing falsehoods or twisting of the truth like the link shared. He doesn't have a mission to protect Islam, although I do believe that his plan to combat terrorism is to insure that rather than the entire Islam world be against the US, that they see the US as, if not a friend, at least not an enemy. That is one less recruitment strategy for the terrorists to use.
We must remember, Islamic does not equal terrorist. Too many American's conflate the two. Islam is going through a tough period right now, and is attacked from both outside (America, for instance) and inside (radicals). America's best policy (and what I believe Obama is trying to do) is to make sure Islamists know that America recognizes the difference between a person who believes Islam and one who is a radical terrorist.
Bob: Out of curiosity, what exactly is the difference between a person who believes Islam and one who is a radical terrorist?
Mike: As for the study, here is the link: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-exec/
At the same time, the survey finds that even in many countries where there is strong backing for sharia, most Muslims favor religious freedom for people of other faiths. ... most supporters of sharia in Pakistan – as in many other countries – think Islamic law should apply only to Muslims.
In most countries surveyed, there is considerably less support for severe punishments, such as cutting off the hands of thieves or executing people who convert from Islam to another faith.
Around the world, most Muslims also reject suicide bombing and other attacks against civilians. (Although there is larger minority who believe it is ok outside the US, where is is less than 1% who believe it is justified)
In most countries where a question about so-called “honor” killings was asked, majorities of Muslims say such killings are never justified.
Bob: This doesn't answer my question.
Mike: The difference is one is a crazy person who happens to use Islam as their justification for performing acts of terror, where a person who believe Islam is just another ordinary person like you or me who believes in a different religion than we do.
That is a question that shouldn't need to be asked...Islam does NOT equal terrorist, period.
Bob: Okay, I see your point. However, when the Koran teaches violence, and Islamic history teaches violence, then what is the difference between the crazy person who picks up the Koran and does what it says and the person who simply "believes" what the Koran says, violence and all?
Mike: That is a question that twists the truth - the vast majority of Islamic believers do NOT just believe what the Koran says, "violence and all", because many of the verses used are actually twisted or taken out of context, similar to how some twist Bible verses to justify their actions.
Try this for some education on Islam:
Some quotes from the last link with some versus from the Koran:
...the reason the Qur'an gives for waging war, as a last resort, is for the protection of churches, synagogues, and mosques--so much for Islam's "intolerance."
Further, Muslims are commanded not to be aggressive: "Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors" (2:190) In addition, when the enemy inclines toward peace, Muslims are commanded to cease hostilities: "But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace" (8:61). The guiding principle of Islam with respect to non-Muslims is one of tolerance and mutual respect, plain and simple: "God does not forbid you from dealing kindly and justly with those who do not fight you for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes: for God loveth those who are just." (60:8)
Further belying the accusation of the Qur'an's anti-Judeo-Christian stance is this passage: "Those who believe and those who are Jews, Christians, and Sabeans; any who believe in God and the Last Day and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord and on them shall be no fear and they will not grieve" (2:62).
I neither deny nor dismiss the existence of Muslims who use the Qur'an to justify their acts of terrorism and murder. These Muslims, like Islam's conservative critics, also misquote or quote the Qur'an out of context.
Bob: Your response raises a couple of important issues, not the least of which is your statement regarding my question, where you say my question twists the truth. The fact is, it does not. Please allow me to explain. You say “the vast majority of Islamic believers do NOT just believe what the Koran says, "violence and all", because many of the verses used are actually twisted or taken out of context, similar to how some twist Bible verses to justify their actions.” First let me answer your charge that some twist Bible verses to justify their actions. The fact of the matter is, some do. In fact, there are large periods of history where huge numbers of people twisted Scripture to justify their actions. The Spanish Inquisition, the Catholic Church's persecution of the Reformers, and the Crusades immediately come to mind, not to mention modern groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church, and there are many other throughout history. The relevant question here, however, is are these people Christians? True, they claimed to be, and they quoted/quote the Bible, and they go to church, but were/are they really Christians?
2 Timothy 3:16 says that the Scripture – the Bible – is “God breathed.” It is, in it's entirety, the Word of God Almighty, and as a Christian I take it as such. Scripture also says, repeatedly throughout 1 John, that if anyone professes to be a Christian, and yet hates his (or her) brother (or sister), then they are a liar, and they are not a true Christian. The Bible also says, again in 1 John, that if someone professes to be a Christian and yet lives a life patterned by continual and consistent sin, then they are not a true Christian. Since God Himself is saying this, there is no doubt that those who take Scripture out of context in order to justify their sin, in order to justify their hate, in order to justify the murder of others are quite simply not Christians. That is per God, and not me. And this brings me to my second point with regard to your response, and that is, are those who profess to be Muslim, and yet use the Koran to justify their violence toward others, are they true Muslims and are they taking Koranic passages out of context?
To support your claim that these “radicals' are misquoting the Koran or taking Koranic passages out of context, you quote from the BeliefNet link you provided: “...the reason the Qur'an gives for waging war, as a last resort, is for the protection of churches, synagogues, and mosques--so much for Islam's "intolerance." Further, Muslims are commanded not to be aggressive: "Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors" (2:190) In addition, when the enemy inclines toward peace, Muslims are commanded to cease hostilities: "But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace" (8:61). The guiding principle of Islam with respect to non-Muslims is one of tolerance and mutual respect, plain and simple: "God does not forbid you from dealing kindly and justly with those who do not fight you for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes: for God loveth those who are just." (60:8)
What your linked articles fail to mention is the Koranic rule of abrogation. Simply put, the surahs in the Koran are not listed in chronological order. Instead, they are listed by longest to shortest, and so they (the surahs) are mixed up with relation as to which were given first and which last. This is important because the rule of abrogation states that when two surahs contradict one another, the more recent surah supersedes the older surah. The peaceful surahs quoted in your link, surahs 2, 8, and 60, were actually the 87th, 88th, and 91st surahs, respectively, revealed by Mohammed. The last three surahs to be revealed by Mohammed, in other words the last three written and the most recent, are surahs 5, 9, and 110. Therefore, any passages in these later surahs that contradict the “peaceful” passages written earlier, automatically supersede the earlier passages. As you might guess, surahs 5 and 9 contain the most violent passages in the Koran, and by the rule of abrogation they supersede the peaceful passages you quote. For example:
Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,
And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists [Christians because they believe in the Trinity] wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (bold emphasis mine).
Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.
O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness. And know that Allah is with the righteous.
So in reality, those Muslims who adhere to these violent surahs are not twisting or misquoting anything in the Koran. They are simply following the Koran as the Koran teaches them to do. This is why it is not simply ISIS or Al Shabaab or Al Qaeda or Boko Haram or Hamas or ect that engage in these violent and vile actions, but also the political and religious leaders of Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, The United Arab Emirates and more. Are you saying that the Saudi Royal Family are radical fundamentalists? Islamic terrorists? They abide by the same law that ISIS claims. They behead people, stone women for adultery and if they are rape victims, they hang homosexuals, etc.
I would posit that those whom you claim are “peaceful” Muslims, or “moderate” Muslims who do not adhere to the violent surahs in the Koran, are not actually true Muslims any more than those who claim to be Christian (yet take violent passages from Scripture, passages from the old law that no longer apply, and use them to justify their violent actions) are actually true Christians. And when you add up the number of true Koran believing Muslims in the world, and compare them to those who profess to Muslim but do not follow the Koran and the Hadith as they are required by Islam, you will find that the violent Muslims far outweigh the peaceful “Muslims.”
Mike: Interesting reading, and I enjoyed the following research But again, I believe that the verses quoted there are out of context or misinterpreted in your comment. Just as those who profess to be Christian but don't actually follow the Bible's commands shouldn't be used to judge Christianity, likewise those who profess to be Muslim but don't follow the Koran's teachings should not be used to judge Islam. I reject (due to my research) the claim that those practicing violence are following the Koran's teachings. I should note up front that I have my own issues with religion, including both Islam and Christianity, so I'm not in any way trying to promote Islam here, just defend it against unfounded allegations.
There is also some misunderstanding of abrogation either by you or your sources. There is way more involved with that topic than just "latest wins". Context, how specific the passage is and what the rest of the Koran says is ALL taken into account. In some cases the passage is specifically for those living in the time it was written and the historical context must be examined.
I also firmly reject the conclusion where you posit that violent Muslims far outweigh the peaceful ones - there are 2.2B Muslims, and it's a small percentage that are violent. More than we, or even the Muslim community, care for, but not anywhere near a majority.
Comments on the versus you listed (various sources, most of them from Muslim scholars, both from the West and from the Muslim world)
5:33 - One cannot quote verse 5:33 without quoting verse 5:32 (prohibition of murder) and verse 5:34 (command to forgive). ... This is punishment for WAGING WAR against the Prophet of God and spreading evil and destruction. ... It is ironic that Islam-haters will present this verse to justify their claim that Islam supports terrorism, whereas Muslim scholars have always presented this verse as proof that Islam is vehemently opposed to terrorism.
9:5 - this verse once again refers to those pagans who would continue to fight after the period of peace. It clearly commands the Muslims to protect those who seek peace and are non-combatants. It is a specific verse with a specific ruling and can in no way be applied to general situations. ... this verse refers to those pagans who would continue to fight after the period of peace. It clearly commands the Muslims to protect those who seek peace and are non-combatants. It is a specific verse with a specific ruling and can in no way be applied to general situations. ... It has been claimed by some that this verse 9:5 has abrogated all the peaceful verses in the Qur’an ... verse 9:5 can in no way be considered an example of naskh since it is only a ruling applied to a very specific situation and circumstances.
9:29 - context must be understood when reading verse 9:29 so that we clearly know who should be fought, specifically the aggressors among the Jews and Christians and not all of them. Rather, many other verses of the Quran make clear that it is unlawful to initiate hostilities against other nations. ... all of its [Koran's] statements and ordinances are mutually complementary and cannot, therefore, be correctly understood unless they are considered as parts of one integral whole, this verse 9:29 too must be read in the context of the clear-cut Quranic rule that war is permitted only in self-defense.
9:123 - if we read this verse along with the succeeding passage, it becomes clear that here disbelievers who are near you refers to those hypocrites who were doing great harm to the Islamic society by mixing up with the sincere Muslims
I have open eyes, I know that those recruiting for terrorism will use these verses and others to try to twist impressionable minds to unspeakable acts. We need to should the greater Muslim community that rejects violence that we do not lump them in with those that pervert the teachings of the Koran.
Bob: I don't think my research sources are incorrect in their explanation of abrogation, since they are Muslim sources. Nor do I think I am misunderstanding the explanation they are putting forth since their explanations are pretty straightforward and clear. This, of course, makes me wonder why your Islamic sources and my Islamic sources are saying two different things. Since I readily admit that my knowledge of Islam is limited, and I rely on the Koran and what Muslims say about their religion to form my opinions, this lead me to research, one: what does it take to become a Muslim, and two: what are the Islamic views of salvation and apostasy.
According to the Islamic sources I read, it is relatively simple to become a Muslim. All one must do is recite the “Shahada,” the “testimony of faith,” with conviction and faith, and one is then a Muslim. It also doesn't matter which sect of Islam you chose to belong to, whether Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Wahhabi, Ahmadiyya, Ibadi, Hanbali, Ismali, Deobandi, etc. It simply does not matter. Say the sentence with conviction and faith, that Allah is the only true diety and Mohammed is Allah's prophet, and you're a Muslim. Interestingly, from the Islamic sources I've read, being a Muslim does not necessarily mean one will enter Paradise, because the Islamic god, Allah, does not guarantee his followers entrance into Paradise. He (Allah) bases his decision on who enters and who does not on if he (Allah) feels the individual Muslim has performed enough Koran based works, performed them to his satisfaction, and then after all is said and done, if Allah feels like it. Entrance into Paradise is completely arbitrary.
More importantly, at least to this discussion, is whether or not the individual Muslim is sincerely adhering to his or her understanding of the Koran. Apparently, the actual meaning of any given surah is not as important as the sincerity of the individual's understanding. The only exception to this is if a Muslim purposely violates an expressly forbidden rule or law presented by the Koran, i.e. the consumption of pork. Given the multitudinous expressions and understandings of Islam and the Koran, and all of them are either right, wrong, or somewhere in between, it is no wonder there is no single concrete understanding of true Islam. There are Muslims who insist the radical fundamentalists are not true Muslims, and there are those who insist they are. Which is correct? Both of them according to Islam, as long as they are sincerely holding to their interpretation of the Koran.
So, at least in this aspect, neither of us can really say which group is practicing true Islam and which isn't. Depending upon which sect you are looking at they all are practicing true Islam. This, of course, explains why the ruling political groups and royal families in many of the various Islamic countries engage in many of the same acts of savagery that Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hamas and others engage in.
This leads me to adjust my conclusion regarding violent Muslim versus peaceful Muslims, in order to more accurately reflect the teaching of Islam. Therefore, I will say that, out of the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide (not 2.2B), they all of the potential of becoming violent and even extremely violent if they sincerely believe the Koran is teaching them to be, and in doing so, they will still remain sincere and true Muslims.
I will also say that when one counts those countries where sharia law if fully and strictly enforced, coupled with those countries where it is applied to varying degrees dependent upon the regions in those countries, coupled with those areas throughout the world where sharia may not be the governing law of the land, it certainly is within Muslim enclaves within those countries (i.e. England and France “no-go” zones), outweigh, comparatively speaking, those areas of “peaceful” Muslims.
Again, I have to say that the ruling families and parties of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the UAE, and more, who routinely engage in public executions (including beheading, stoning, hanging, flogging, and gunshot) for crimes such as sexual preference, apostasy, adultery, being a victim of rape, etc., prove that Islamic terrorists are not the only Muslims who engage in these types of violent savagery, nor are they any less a Muslim.
With regard to the surahs I quoted:
You said, “One cannot quote verse 5:33 without quoting verse 5:32 (prohibition of murder) and verse 5:34 (command to forgive). ... This is punishment for WAGING WAR against the Prophet of God and spreading evil and destruction.” Verses 32 and 34 do not in any way change the meaning of verse 33, especially when you take into account that simply refusing to accept the teachings of Mohammed and proclaiming that his teachings are blasphemy, are considered a form of waging war against Allah and his prophet, thus giving Muslims permission to kill or crucify or maim those who do, unless, of course, as verse 34 states, they convert to Islam – which is the only approved method of repentance for proclaiming Allah and his prophet to be false and demonic.
You claim this verse applies to “pagans.” This verse actually applies to any religious group who teaches there there is more than one god, or that teaches God is not the only diety. This includes Christians, who believe as part of their faith, in the Trinity. Islam does not understand (and has never understood) the doctrine of the Trinity, and Islam teaches that it is a form of polytheism (which it is not). And again, the “war” or “fight” mentioned in your commentary is not necessarily a military-type action. Simply publicly proclaiming that Allah and Mohammed are false and demonic is enough to wind up in a fight with Islam, and both Christianity and Judaism both, by virtue of their beliefs, automatically proclaim this (as do most other religions) which automatically sets them at odds with Islam. And the reference you make to Muslims being required to protect those who seek peace, well, lets look at the last part of 9:5, which says, “But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way.” “Repent” means to proclaim the “Shadaha.” “Establish prayer” means to pray to Allah. And “give zakah” is one of the five pillars of Islam required of Muslims. In other words, if those at war with Islam become Muslims themselves, then they will be allowed to “go on their way.” So here we are back at the convert or die requirement shown in 5:3
You say, “context must be understood when reading verse 9:29 so that we clearly know who should be fought...” Verse 29 makes it pretty clear who is to be fought, and verses 30-31 make it pretty clear why. Verse 29 commands Muslims to “fight those who do not believe in Allah … and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and his messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth...” In other words, Muslims are to fight anyone who does not believe in Allah. Muslims are to fight anyone who worships any diety other than Allah (which Allah deems unlawful). Muslims are to fight any who do not become a Muslim. Verse 30 goes on to specifically condemn Judaism and Christianity and calls for their destruction. Verse 31 goes on to specifically condemn Christianity, proclaiming Christians to be polytheists, who, as you remember, are to be put to death unless they convert to Islam. The last part of verse 29 makes exemption for those Jews and Christians who willingly pay the jizyah, a tax levied against non-Muslims in order to be allowed to live, however, they are also to be “humbled” which means living in poverty and squalor. You also make mention that “war is permitted only in self-defense.” Again, if a group, such as Jews or Christians, proclaims that Allah and Mohammed are false and demonic, this is considered an attack on Islam and is to be defended.
You say, “if we read this verse along with the succeeding passage, it becomes clear that here disbelievers who are near you refers to those hypocrites who were doing great harm to the Islamic society by mixing up with the sincere Muslims.” If you read the preceding passages, in fact, the entire surah, it becomes fairly clear that those whom are adjacent to the Muslims and are disbelievers and hypocrites would not only be those who were given the choice to convert or die and were guilty of false conversion, as well as those Muslims who were abandoning Islam and encouraging others to do the same. These are the ones Muslims are to fight and be harsh with. Again, Islamic violence toward non-Muslims as commanded by the Koran.
This all being said, I would also like to point out that acts of hatred toward Muslims by those professing to be Christian, are not only wrong, but they are unBiblical. Christians should love Muslims just as they would any unbeliever. Looking at the world from a Christian perspective, there are only two kinds of people – the saved and the lost. Believers and unbelievers. Those heaven bound and those hell bound. That's it. I reject the idea that Christians should treat Muslims any differently than any other unbeliever, whether the practicing wiccan down the road or the sweet lovable atheist grandmother across the street who would never harm anyone or any thing. Both are equally lost in the eyes of the Lord, and both are equally deserving of Christian attention and prayer. This is not to say, however, that I trust all unbelievers equally. Being in law enforcement for almost 25 years has taught me that, and I do not trust any religious faith that advocates violence against others for any reason.
At this point I should also make clear, that although the Bible does, at times, advocate violence, it was for a specific period, a specific place, and in response to a specific action. It was never presented as a justification for violence any where, at any time, against any one, as determined by those professing to be Christians – as opposed to Islam, which does, in fact, advocate violence.
Mike: We'll have to agree to disagree, I feel the last paragraph you wrote is absolutely just as applicable to Islam and the teaching of the Koran as it was to the teachings in the Bible. Time and historical context is all important for all religions, and you can't use it to explain away things from one religion while not allowing the same for others. I thought we should be able to agree that people should not be able to justify evil acts by religion, but seems like you are willing to blame Islam as a whole for the acts of the extreme.
I'll stand by the research I did, which contradicts many of the statements you've made. But at least we can agree that all individuals should be treated with respect regardless of their beliefs, as long as they aren't advocating violence against others.
Bob: True, Mike, we will not likely see eye to eye on this subject. You have your sources which support your research and I have mine which support my research. Considering we both use Islamic sources, I think that supports what I have learned, namely that both sides of the fence can honestly be considered “true” Islam, as based on the Islamic doctrine of salvation and Allah's arbitrary nature. I will also continue to believe that Islam and the Koran compared to Christianity and the Bible, are the same as comparing black and white. Aside from the Biblical and Judaic teachings hijacked by Mohammed for the Koran, the two could not be more different. Therefore, limiting your interpretation of Scripture to the “time and historical context” rule does the Bible a disservice. It works fine for the Koran as it it written as a standard of rule for all Muslims from beginning to end. The Bible, on the other hand, contains sections that while they have historical significance, they are not necessarily applicable to Christians today.
In the end, however, as you say, we will have to agree to disagree on just about all of this, but still in mutual agreement that all individuals are to be treated respectfully as long as they are not advocating violence. Thank you for another great discussion. As always, it is nice to be able to discuss opposing views without having to deal with ad hominem arguments.
Mike: Yup I echo your closing sentiments, and I have learned some more in the process. Thanks!