What am I supposed to say? (Part 2)


There’s a flip side to my previous question of what I am supposed to say to Muslims who hear me sing the praises of America, but see its actions around the world. What am I supposed to say to fellow Americans who see and hear Muslims the world over call for the murder of Americans, burn the American flag, behead American and other Western hostages with the shahadah, or Muslim testimony of faith, displayed behind them? That’s easy.

The Qur’an does not call for the murder of innocent people; it holds all human life sacred:

Say: ‘Come, I will rehearse what God hath (really) prohibited you from: Join
not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your
children on a plea of want–We provide sustenance for you and for them; come
not nigh to shameful deeds, whether open or secret; take not life, which God
hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus doth He command
you, that ye may learn wisdom” (6:151).

Nor take life – which God has made sacred – except for just cause….
(17:33).

And the servants of the Most Gracious are those who… Those who invoke not,
with God, any other god, nor slay such life as God has made sacred
except for just cause… (25:63-68).

Notice that all these verses speak of the “life” (lit., “soul”) which God has made sacred. There is no qualification; all life is sacred, not just Muslim life. Thus, the terrorist who separates the Muslims from non-Muslims and kills the non-Muslims is not being pious, he is being murderous.

The “infidel” is not to be killed, contrary to what many people claim the Qur’an says. In fact, the Qur’an is quite clear: “There is no compulsion in matters of faith” (2:256). Also read: “Say [O Muhammad], ‘The truth is from your Lord’: Let him who wills believe (in it), and let him who wills, reject (it)…” (18:29). In the end, God will judge every human being individually, and “Each one of them, that Day, will have enough concern (of his own) to make him indifferent to the others” (80:37). Thus, I simply scratch my head when any Muslim claims that the person who leaves Islam is to be killed. From where in Islam did this come, since the Qur’an is so clear about religious freedom? Whenever I point this out, I am told, “Well, you are not a scholar.”

Now, many Muslims retort by saying, “What about all the Muslims who are killed?” For instance, Professor Amina Wadud, speaking at an event in Toronto, pointed out the absurdity of the claim, by some Muslims, that the attacks of 9/11 were Islamic. In response, some hecklers interrupted her by saying, “What about Israel killing Palestinians?” What, in God’s Holy Name, does this have to do with the repugnance, from Islam’s standpoint, of the attacks of September 11? The Qur’an, believe it or not, speaks about this type of response from Muslims when confronted by the evil committed by some among their ranks:

Believers, stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and
depart from justice
. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God.
For God is well-acquainted with all that you do (5:8) (emphasis added).

The Qur’an goes further:

…let not the hatred of some people in (once) shutting you out of the Sacred
Mosque lead you to transgression (and hostility on your part). Help ye one
another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and
rancour: fear God, for God is strict in punishment (5:2).

These verses never cease to amaze me. Despite all the persecution the Muslims suffered at the hands of the Pagans in Mecca, God said, “You still can’t commit trasngression.” In fact, the conquest of Mecca was virtually bloodless, in stark contrast to the conquest of Jerusalem more than 400 laters. Thus, despite the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation, there is no justification in Islam to strap a bomb on your body and blow up a pizza parlor; there is no justification in Islam to desecrate Jewish cemetaries or blow up synagogues in Europe. Despite the suffering of Chechens at the hands of the Russian army, there is no justification in Islam to murder schoolchildren and their parents and their teachers in Beslan. Period. This remains true despite the fact that I am not a scholar.

Absolutely, there are verses in the Qur’an that, on the surface, seem to call for the murder of all non-Muslims. The most frequently cited one is the infamous “Verse of the Sword”:

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever
ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every
stratagem (of war)… (9:5).

And there are others as well. These verses have a context, textual as well as historical, and this context must be understood. They are not open calls to war against the non-believer, and this will be made perfectly clear in later posts. Yet, in the meantime, the bottom line is this: Islam does not condone, call for, advocate, or tolerate the murder of innocent people. No matter what classical scholar is cited, no matter how long the fatwa is to justify it, no matter what the injustice done to Muslims, murder and violence is not Islamic, it is satanic. Period.

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