Tag Archives: Quran

The most dangerous verse in the Quran

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In light of the terrible crimes against humanity in Berlin, Germany, and Ankara, Turkey, let’s review some of the basic bedrock facts about Islamic violence.

Let’s first begin with a startling fact.

All the verses (except one) in the Quran about qital (war, fighting, slaughter, killing) can be explained and limited by their historical context.  Even the famous so-called Sword Verse in Chapter 9:5 (see it four Sunni translations) can be dismissed as applying only to pagans in Muhammad’s day who supposedly broke a treaty with him.  Like it or not, believe it or not, many Muslim scholars of a more moderate persuasion speak of these limiting historical contexts over and over again.

However, there is one verse that cannot be limited by its historical context because it is open-ended.  Chapter 9:29 is about Muhammad’s military campaign to Tabuk (today in northern Saudi Arabia).  He had heard a rumor that the Byzantines were gathering an army of 200,000, and he rode up north to meet them with his own qitalists of 20,000 to 30,000.  But his prophetic powers did not work, because the rumor was false; no army materialized.  Not all was lost.  On his journey south, he met Jewish and Christian tribes, who must have been impressed to see such numbers.

At that time he got a “revelation,” so convenient for his political and military agenda, that said he could exact tribute, or the jizya tax, from these tribes.  Here is the verse in a translation by Hilali and Khan (see it in three other Sunni translations), with parenthetical points they added for clarity:

Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

The verb “fight” is in the imperative or command from qatala, which is much more narrow than jihad.  It means slaughter, fight, kill, and wage war.  (In fact, ironically, Chapter 47 can be titled either “Muhammad” or “Qital.”)  The weakness in the term “jihad” is that nearly every time it is used in the Quran, it really does mean “struggle” and encompasses all of life, from a struggle against one’s own soul to imposing Islamic finances on a society.  (One of my students was actually named Johnny Jihad, which was an honor for him.  The struggle!)  Yes, sometimes it does mean military warfare, but of course the Islamic left, like Egyptian Sayyid Qutb, one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, more broadly translated “jihad” into and from Marxism, which advocated the “struggle.”

It would be clearer for our defense and offense if we stopped using “jihad” and instead picked up the term “qital” when a violent act is committed.  Of course “jihad” will never go out of fashion because it elevates the struggle in Muslim eyes.  But qital and qitalist are more accurate than jihad or jihadist, in much the same way that “war” and “warrior” are more accurate than “struggle” or “struggler” in a context of violence.

Thus, the most dangerous verse in the Quran is 9:29, because it is continuous and admits of no expiration date.  The violent military war (qital) will continue for as long as Islam is alive and radicals keep reading that verse.  Jews and Christians need to be aware that they are the verse’s unending targets today and tomorrow.

It staggers belief that the politicians around the Western world refuse to acknowledge this unpleasant truth.

James Arlandson’s website is Live as Free People where he has posted Qital (Warfare) Verses in the QuranAll the Jihad Verses in the Quran, and Islamic Martyrdom: The Economy of Death in the Quran.

MUST-READ: Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 1, ‘The Opening’

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by Robert Spencer

We start with the “Fatiha,” Islam’s 17-times-a-day central prayer, which specifically denigrates Jews and Christians. (See Introduction here.)

The Fatiha (Opening) is the first sura (chapter) of the .0, and most common prayer of Islam. If you’re a pious Muslim who prays the five requisite daily prayers of Islam, you will recite the Fatiha seventeen times in the course of those prayers.

According to an Islamic tradition, the Muslim prophet Muhammad said that the Fatiha surpassed anything revealed by Allah (“the God” in Arabic, and the word for God used by Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews, as well as Muslims) in the Torah, the Gospel, or the rest of the Qur’an. And indeed, it efficiently and eloquently encapsulates many of the principal themes of the Qur’an and Islam in general: Allah as the “Lord of the worlds,” who alone is to be worshiped and asked for help, the merciful judge of every soul on the Last Day.

In Islamic theology, Allah is the speaker of every word of the Qur’an. Some have found it strange that Allah would say something like “Praise is to Allah, Lord of the worlds,” but Islamic tradition holds that Allah revealed this prayer to Muhammad early in his career as a prophet (which began in the year 610 AD, when he received his first revelation from Allah through the angel Gabriel — a revelation that is now contained in the Qur’an’s 96th chapter), so that the Muslims would know how to pray.

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It is for its last two verses that the Fatiha is of most concern to non-Muslims.

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A Shi’ite imam, Husham Al-Husainy, ignited controversy back in 2007 by paraphrasing this passage during a prayer at a Democratic National Committee winter meeting, giving the impression that he was praying that the assembled pols convert to Islam. Then Imam Yusuf Kavakci of the Dallas Central Mosque prayed the Fatiha at the Texas State Senate, giving rise to the same concerns.

The final two verses of the Fatiha ask Allah:

Guide us to the straight path, the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.

The traditional Islamic understanding of this is that the “straight path” is Islam — cf. Islamic apologist John Esposito’s book Islam: The Straight Path — while the path “of those who have evoked Allah’s anger” are the Jews, and those who have gone “astray” are the Christians.

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The classic Qur’anic commentator Ibn Kathir explains that “the two paths He described here are both misguided,” and that those “two paths are the paths of the Christians and Jews, a fact that the believer should beware of so that he avoids them. The path of the believers is knowledge of the truth and abiding by it. In comparison, the Jews abandoned practicing the religion, while the Christians lost the true knowledge. This is why ‘anger’ descended upon the Jews, while being described as ‘led astray’ is more appropriate of the Christians.”

Ibn Kathir’s understanding of this passage is not a lone “extremist” interpretation. In fact, most Muslim commentators believe that the Jews are those who have earned Allah’s wrath and the Christians are those who have gone astray.

This is the view of Tabari, Zamakhshari, the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, the Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas, and Ibn Arabi, as well as Ibn Kathir. One contrasting, but not majority view, is that of Nisaburi, who says that “those who have incurred Allah’s wrath are the people of negligence, and those who have gone astray are the people of immoderation.”

Wahhabis drew criticism a few years back for adding “such as the Jews” and “such as the Christians” into parenthetical glosses on this passage in Qur’ans printed in Saudi Arabia.

Some Western commentators imagined that the Saudis originated this interpretation, and indeed the whole idea of Qur’anic hostility toward Jews and Christians. They found it inconceivable that Muslims all over the world would learn as a matter of course that the central prayer of their faith anathematizes Jews and Christians.

But unfortunately, this interpretation is venerable and mainstream in Islamic theology. The printing of the interpretation in parenthetical glosses into a translation would be unlikely to affect Muslim attitudes, since the Arabic text is always and everywhere normative in any case, and since so many mainstream commentaries contain the idea that the Jews and Christians are being criticized here.

Seventeen times a day, by the pious.

Please note that I am not saying that the anti-Jewish and anti-Christian interpretation of the Fatiha is the “correct” one. While I don’t believe that religious texts are infinitely malleable and can be made to mean whatever the reader wants them to mean, as some apparently do, in this case Nisaburi’s reading has as much to commend it as the other: there is nothing in the text itself that absolutely compels one to believe that it is talking about Jews and Christians. And it is noteworthy that in his massive and evocatively named 30-volume commentary on the Qur’an, Fi Zilal al-Qur’an (In the Shade of the Qur’an), the twentieth-century jihad theorist Sayyid Qutb doesn’t mention Jews or Christians in connection with this passage.

At the same time, however, the idea in Islam that Jews have earned Allah’s anger and Christians have gone astray doesn’t depend on this passage alone. The Jews have earned Allah’s “wrath upon wrath” by rejecting Muhammad (2:87-90), and the Christians have gone astray by holding to the divinity of Christ: “They have certainly disbelieved who say, ‘Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary’”(5:72).

The Hadith, the traditions of the words and deeds of Muhammad and the early Muslims, also contains material linking Jews to Allah’s anger and Christians to his curse, which resulting from their straying from the true path. (The Jews are accursed also, according to Qur’an 2:89, and both are accursed according to 9:30). One hadith recounts that an early Muslim, Zaid bin ‘Amr bin Nufail, in his travels met with Jewish and Christian scholars. The Jewish scholar told him, “You will not embrace our religion unless you receive your share of Allah’s Anger,” and the Christian said, “You will not embrace our religion unless you get a share of Allah’s Curse.” Zaid, needless to say, became a Muslim.

In light of these and similar passages it shouldn’t be surprising that many Muslim commentators have understood the Fatiha to be referring to Jews and Christians.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We’re In. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

India: Muslim cleric issues fatwa calling for homosexuals to be burnt alive, pushed from high wall or stoned

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But gay activists everywhere know that Phil Robertson is the real threat.

“Bareilly cleric issues fatwa against homosexuality, live-in relationships,” by Shailvee Sharda for TNN, December 20:

LUCKNOW: A Bareilly-based cleric has issued a fatwa against homosexuality and live-in relationships calling them anti-Islam and said Shariyat has provisions to punish those indulging in such acts.The fatwa was issued by Mohammad Afzaal Rizwi, the mufti of Darululoom Ifta at Dargah Aala Hazrat, Bareilly in response to a query by Akhlaq Ahmed Siddiqui Noori on the issue.

The mufti has cited two hadis (teachings of the Prophet Mohammed) from the Quran as a premise for his fatwa. As per Hadis Dur-re-mukhtar, such acts could attract severe punishment, he said. “A person may be burnt alive, pushed from a high wall or be beaten publically with stones if he indulges into either of the two behaviours,” the fatwa states.

The other hadis is a story that explains why Islam is against homosexuality. The story relates to a tribe, kaum-e-looth, which existed in the pre-Islamic era. The tribe is said to have perished because it indulged in homosexuality.

Regarding live-in relationships, the fatwa says a couple staying together or having sexual relationship without solemnising marriage is banned under Islam. The woman in a live-in relationship cannot ask for the rights of a wife.

Many clerics have backed the fatwa. Maulana Tasleem Raza Khan of Ahle Sunnat Movement said the two relationships do not have legal validity under Islam. He said no religion would allow this and advised Muslims to boycott the law that promotes such behaviour.

Shia cleric Maulana Yadoob Abbas said both live-in relationships and homosexuality are against nature. “Going against nature would spell doom,” he said. Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahli of Eidgah Lucknow termed it “against Indian tradition”.