Thursday, November 19, 2009

Comparative vs Absolute Violence

Sheila Musaji responded to Condemning Religious Extremism with a new article containing two rhetorical questions in its title.
Is Islam more violent than other religions?: Is the Qur’an inherently violent?

Dajjal, the author, then lists verses in the Qur’an which he believes to mean that my condemnation would call for me to condemn God and/or the Qur’an, or Islam. He goes on to repeat that “Islam not only encourages but mandates violence”. He repeats this process for each of the condemnations in my article, giving his interpretation of particular Qur’anic verses to “prove” that his understanding of Islam is more accurate than that of the majority of Muslims (including Muslim scholars), and that any moderate interpretation is a lie.
Sheila Musaji follows up with a recapitulation of her earlier article before listing several verses which she finds inspirational, including: 2:190, 8:61, 5:28, 60:8, 2:193, 2:256, 18:29, 10:99, 24:54, 109:1-6, 3:134 and 3:186.

The list of inspirational verses is followed by this:
Some time ago I wrote an article entitled The Use and Abuse of Scriptures and I believe that it responds very clearly to the problem of “quote mining” the scriptures.
The cited article was reproduced after that introduction. It lists Qur'an & Bible verses which are supposedly abused by cherry pickers. This brings me back to the list of verses which inspire the author. Why does she find them inspirational? She uses the translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. You can find it, with the translator's commentary, at Lets examine the first verse she cited, linked at the end of the preceding sentence
Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors.

* v.190 : War is only permissible in self-defence, and under well-defined limits. When undertaken, it must be pushed with vigour, but not relentlessly, but only to restore peace and freedom for the worship of God. In any case strict limits must not be transgressed: women, children, old and infirm men should not be molested, nor trees and crops cut down, nor peace withheld when the enemy comes to terms.
" War is only permissible in self-defense" goes far beyond the text of the verse, if we interpret it literally. Is it true? "Those who fight you" implies that this verse is about defensive warfare. But look closely, it says "who fight you", not "who attack you". Lets turn to Ibn Kathir's Tafsir.
Abu Al-`Aliyah said, "This was the first Ayah about fighting that was revealed in Al-Madinah. Ever since it was revealed, Allah's Messenger used to fight only those who fought him and avoid non-combatants.

Women & children should not be killed. Why not? Is that ruling based on moral premises? Examine Malik's Muwatta 21.3.10, which contains several prohibitions.
  • Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person
  • Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees
  • Do not destroy an inhabited place.
  • Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food.
  • Do not burn bees and do not scatter them.
  • Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly
Notice that the first five prohibitions are all members of a set defined by the first clause in the last prohibition. Everything protected by the prohibition is booty! The economic foundation of the prohibition is confirmed in Shari'ah. We turn next to Reliance of the Traveller. [Emphasis added.]


When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman's previous marriage is immediately annulled.

Ok, so non-combatants are not to be attacked, just enslaved or held for ransom. What about people passively minding their own business, in their own homeland, who were not attacking Muslims? [Emphasis added.]

O9.1: The Obligatory Character of Jihad

Jihad is a communal obligation (def: c3.2). When enough people perform it to successfully accomplish it, it is no longer obligatory upon others (O: the evidence for which is the Prophet's saying (Allah bless him and give him peace),

"He who provides the equipment for a soldier in jihad has himself performed jihad,"

and Allah Most High having said:

"Those of the believers who are unhurt but sit behind are not equal to those who fight in Allah's path with their property and lives. Allah has preferred those who fight with their property and lives a whole degree above those who sit behind. And to each, Allah has promised great good" (Koran 4:95).

If none of those concerned perform jihad, and it does not happen at all, then everyone who is aware that it is obligatory is guilty of sin, if there was a possibility of having performed it. In the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) jihad was a communal obligation after his emigration (hijra) to Medina. As for subsequent times, there are two possible states in respect to non-Muslims.

The first is when they are in their own countries, in which case jihad (def: o9.8) is a communal obligation, and this is what our author is speaking of when he says, "Jihad is a communal obligation," meaning upon the Muslims each year.

The second state is when non-Muslims invade a Muslim country or near to one, in which case jihad is personally obligatory (def: c3.2) upon the inhabitants of that country, who must repel the non-Muslims with whatever they can).

Jihad against Kufar in their own countries is a communal obligation binding upon the Muslims each year. Let Al-Shafi'i clarify the issue.
The least that the imam must do is that he allow no year to pass without having organised a military expedition by himself, or by his raiding parties, according to the Muslims' interest, so that the jihad will only be stopped in a year for a (reasonable) excuse."

What must the imam do? [Emphasis added.]

O9.8: The Objectives of Jihad

The caliph (o25) makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians (N: provided he has first invited them to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya, def: o11.4) -which is the significance of their paying it, not the money itself-while remaining in their ancestral religions) (O: and the war continues) until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax (O: in accordance with the word of Allah Most High,

"Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and who forbid not what Allah and His messenger have forbidden-who do not practice the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book-until they pay the poll tax out of hand and are humbled" (Koran 9.29),

the time and place for which is before the final descent of Jesus (upon whom be peace). After his final coming, nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus' descent (upon him and our Prophet be peace), which is the divinely revealed law of Muhammad. The coming of Jesus does not entail a separate divinely revealed law, for he will rule by the law of Muhammad. As for the Prophet's saying (Allah bless him and give him peace),

"I am the last, there will be no prophet after me,"

this does not contradict the final coming of Jesus (upon whom be peace), since he will not rule according to the Evangel, but as a follower of our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) ).

The caliph invites people of the book to embrace Islam or submit to extortion. If they decline, he makes war on them. "Fight those who fight against you:" evidently means 'after you attack them'. Why would Muslims attack people who had not attacked them? Because Allah commanded it in 8:39 & 9:29. Moe dispatched armies, giving their commanders orders which were recorded in Sahih Muslim 19.4294.

[...]If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them.[...]

There is another source of verification which Muslims would prefer that we not be aware of. I learned of this resource by lurking in a Muslim chat room on Pal Talk a few years ago. Moe dictated extortion letters and dispatched them by couriers, later following up with his army. He sent one to the Byzantine Emperor before launching the ghazwat on Tabuk. He sent another to the Jews at the Khaibar Oasis prior to attacking them. But this exemplary gem of extortion letters is far more explicit than the others, leaving little to the imagination.


In the name of ALLAH the compassionate, the Merciful
From Muhammad, Prophet of Allah
To the People of Aqaba

May peace be on you. I praise Allah who is one and except whom there is nobody else to be worshipped.

I do not intend to wage war against you till you receive my written reason for it. It is better for you, either to accept Islam or agree to pay Jiziya and consent to remain obedient to Allah, His prophet and his messengers. My messengers deserve honour. Treat them with respect. Whatever pleases my messengers, will also please me.

These people have been informed of the orders about Jiziya. If you desire that there should be peace and security in the world, obey Allah and His Prophet. Thereafter none in Arabia and Ajam (Iran) shall dare cast an evil eye on you. But the rights of Allah and His Prophet can at no time be waived.

If you do not accept these terms and set them aside, I do not need your presents and gifts. In that case, I shall have to wage war (to establish peace and security). Its result would be that the big ones shall be killed in war and the commoners shall be taken prisoners.

I assure you that I am a true Prophet of Allah. I believe in Allah, and His Books, and His Prophets and am of the faith that Maseeh (Messiah) son of Mariam (Mary), is a Prophet of Allah and His word.

Hurmala (Raziallah AnhoA.) who brought to me 3 wasaq (about 6 quintals) of barley, recommended your case. Had it not been in compliance of the command of Allah and the good opinion of Hurmala for you, it would not have been necessary for me to correspond with you and instead of it, there would have been a war. If you will obey my messengers, you shall immediately have my support and the help and support of everyone who is attached to me.

My messengers are Shuraih-beel, Obaiy, Hurmala and Hurais (Raziallah AnhoA.) and whatever decision they take in respect of you, shall be acceptable to me.

Your people are under the protection and responsibility of Allah and His Prophet.

Supply provisions to the Jews of Maqna, for their journey to their country.

If you accept obedience, may peace be on you.'

Seal: Allah's Prophet Muhammad .

Citing 8:39 & 9:29 might be cherry picking if their meanings were not so obvious, but they are clear verses, the foundations of the book. Furthermore, they are confirmed by Islamic oral tradition as well as by Shari'ah. [Emphasis added.]

Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Number 387:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Allah's Apostle said, "I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.' And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah." Narrated Maimun ibn Siyah that he asked Anas bin Malik, "O Abu Hamza! What makes the life and property of a person sacred?" He replied, "Whoever says, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah', faces our Qibla during the prayers, prays like us and eats our slaughtered animal, then he is a Muslim, and has got the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have."

Classical Arabic of the time of the revelation of the Qur'an lacked vowels and diacritical marks. It was not much more than a memory aid. One man was an expert in the meaning of the Qur'an, the one who received and recited the revelation. He told his companions what it meant and demonstrated its meaning. His companions passed that information down from mouth to ear for generations before it was codified. Because Islamic traditions were codified and translated, we have access to them and can see what the Qur'an meant to Moe, the real expert.

Many Muslims will answer by denying the authenticity of hadith, asserting that the Qur'an is the only revelation of divine will, protected by Allah from all contamination. Of course, there are some problems with that assertion. Only Moe received the revelations, sometimes in the form of a bell ringing in his head.
Moe could say anything, asserting that it was from Allah, and he did. His child bride was wise to him. [Emphasis added.]

Sahih Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 311:

Narrated Aisha:

I used to look down upon those ladies who had given themselves to Allah's Apostle and I used to say, "Can a lady give herself (to a man)?" But when Allah revealed: "You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive any of them whom you will; and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose turn you have set aside (temporarily).' (33.51) I said (to the Prophet), "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires."

The Qur'an was largely transmitted from mouth to ear, just like the hadith. Fragments were written on various materials, but when the Qur'an was codified, parts of it were only available from hafiz. If the hadith are not reliable, neither is the Qur'an. How is a Muslim to obey Muhammad and emulate his conduct without knowing what he commanded and exemplified? Does the Qur'an tell you how to perform Wudu? Does it tell you what to do if water is not available? So, how do you know?

What is Shari'ah based upon? It has two primary sources: Qur'an & hadith, extended by analogy. If you disclaim hadith, then how can you claim that Shari'ah has any validity?

Muslims assert that 2:256 & 10:99, quoted by Sheila Musaji, forbid compelling anyone to revert to Islam. There is a reason for that: Jizya was only collected from people of the book who had been conquered or intimidated. If they were reverted, they would cease to pay Jizya. Dhimmis were a source of Income for Moe.
2:256. There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Tâghût and believes in Allâh, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allâh is All-Hearer, All-Knower.

10:99. And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you (O Muhammad ) then compel mankind, until they become believers.

10:100. It is not for any person to believe, except by the Leave of Allâh, and He will put the wrath on those who are heedless.
It says you can't force us to revert, it does not say you can't attack us. Where is the conflict between those verses and the Jihad imperatives?
8:39. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allâh) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allâh Alone [in the whole of the world ]. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allâh), then certainly, Allâh is All-Seer of what they do.

9:29. Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allâh, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allâh and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islâm) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
"Religion will all be for Allah alone", a terminal condition for warfare in 8:39, is obviously in conflict. But there is an out: abrogation.
2:106. Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allâh is able to do all things?
Later revelations abrogate earlier revelations with which they conflict. Which came first? Surah Al-Baqarah was #87 in sequence of revelation; Surah Al-Anfal was #88. 2:256 is abrogated.

Of course I don't know a character of Arabic, so I am not qualified to interpret the Qur'an, as if Allah's commandments required interpretation. Will you take the word of one who was qualified? Here is a fragment from the Wikipedia entry about Ibn Kathir.

Ibn Kathir wrote a famous commentary on the Qur'an named Tafsir ibn Kathir which linked certain Hadith, or sayings of Muhammad, and sayings of the sahaba to verses of the Qur'an, in explanation. Tafsir Ibn Kathir is famous all over the Muslim world and among Muslims in the Western world, is one of the most widely used explanations of the Qu'ran today.

Ibn Kathir was renowned for his great memory regarding the sayings of Muhammad and the entire Qur'an. Ibn Kathir is known as a qadi, a master scholar of history, and a mufassir (Qur'an commentator). Ibn Kathir saw himself as a Shafi'i scholar. This is indicated by two of his books, one of which was Tabaqaat ah-Shafai'ah, or The Categories of the Followers of Imam Shafi.

. The titles of the following tafsir topics should be sufficient to convince any sane person. If they don't convince you, click them and read the tafsir.
Did Jesus Christ preach or practice conquest, genocide & terrorism? In what New Testament book, chapter & verse is such preaching or practice recorded? The Qur'an hadith show us that Moe preached & practiced those evils. Islamic tradition & exegeses also depict Jesus as a genocidal warmonger. If you doubt those facts, follow these links and see for yourself.


RightHooks said...

Amen, Ben!!! Tell it like it is.

Ema Nymton said...


Ali Ben Ali Mohammad Abdul,

"Classical Arabic of the time of the revelation of the Qur'an lacked vowels and diacritical marks. It was not much more than a memory aid. One man was an expert in the meaning of the Qur'an, the one who received and recited the revelation. He told his companions what it meant and demonstrated its meaning. His companions passed that information down from mouth to ear for generations before it was codified. Because Islamic traditions were codified and translated, we have access to them and can see what the Qur'an meant to Moe, the real expert."

Oh burp.

This statement clearly shows the original statements in the Qur'an (what ever they were) can (and more than like was) be misinterpreted by uneducated individuals relying on 'memory aids'. The books of the Torah (and thus the Bible) likewise were often mis-understood because of faulty memory.

So _your_ absolute interpretations of the meanings of the Qur'an is so full of BULLSH!T. It is hard to take anything _you_ write seriously. But keep publishing. Eventually you will realize you will NOT lie yourself to the truth.

The truth, YOU LIE!!!


Ben said...

Truth stands out from fiction, Ema.

English translations of Sahih Bukhari are available on line at USC-MSA and sunnipath, the latter being Aisha Bewley's less bowdlerized translation.

Moe exemplified the Quran.

33:21. Indeed in the Messenger of Allâh (Muhammad ) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allâh and the Last Day and remembers Allâh much.

Perhaps, if you had two brain cells to rub together, you might get a clue.