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Al-Islam: Religion of Terrorism or Tolerance Q & A

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Below are a few Christian statements that if practiced by sincere Christians will lead to understanding and harmony instead of discord and hatred when looking at another religion. They are:

"Judge not and ye shall not be judged. Condemn not and ye shall not be condemned."

"However you want people to treat you, so treat them."

If the time is taken to understand from the language and also historic circumstances what is truly meant in the statements of other religions there would be peace, love and an understanding among religious people rather than animosity and hatred. But if the intent is to condemn, belittle and poison the minds of others then even the most noble teachings will be slanted. If one treats others the way they would want to be treated then a lot of care would be taken to truly understand rather than criticize.

The American Patriot Patrick Henry said "Give me liberty or Give me death!" But if we tell everyone that Patrick Henry believes in suicide by only telling them that he said "give me death", we would be liars wouldn’t we?  What some of the enemies of Al-Islam has written and said about Al-Islam are just that blatant. They are half truths leaving out the full statements from the Qur’an.

I will list some of the false charges, misquotes and lies against Al-Islam and then will provide answers to them:

 

I. Al-Islam is a religion of war. It was spread by the sword and it forced people to convert!

Answer: The Qur’an teaches:

"Let there be no compulsion in religion; Truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand hold that never breaks. And God heareth and knoweth all things." (Verse 2:216)

"Say, 'The truth is from your Lord': Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it):…( Verse 18:29)

"If it had been thy Lord's will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!" (Verse 10:99)

The above verses and many more in the Qur’an, shows that Al-Islam is against forcing people to become Muslims. Al-Islam believes in freedom of expression where we all can choose of our own free will to follow the religion of our choice. Only Allah can touch the hearts of human beings and as Muslims we cannot force anyone to accept Al-Islam. Those who force others to accept Al-Islam are not following what Al-Islam teaches and are not true Muslims.

The history of Al-Islam has not been one where people were forced at the point of a sword to convert. In Indonesia where the largest number of Muslims in the world live, there were never forced conversions. This is true of Malaysia, India, Africa, Europe, America and wherever Muslims are found. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. After 9/11, Muslims experienced one of the highest rates of conversion here in the US despite the enormous negative portrayal of Muslims as terrorists. What sword did American Muslims use to make that happen?

When Muslims ruled Spain it became the marvel of the Middle Ages, and when all of Europe was plunged in barbaric ignorance and strife, it alone held the torch of learning and civilization bright and shining before the Western world. The reasons for the rapid advance and conquest of Spain are numerous but one stands out more than others: The generous terms the Moors offered which contrasted markedly with the harsh rule of the Visigoth rulers before them. Approaching Toledo in 711 C.E, the Muslim ruler, Tariq ibn Ziyad offered that anyone who wished to leave could do so while those who stayed could retain property, practice their religion freely and be governed by their own rules and laws.

It is interesting to note that in 1602, after the Christians recaptured Spain, one of the great charges they brought against the Muslims was that Muslims were too tolerant in religion. The Archbishop of Valencia, in recommending the expulsion of Muslims from Spain stated, "that they (the Muslims) highly praised nothing as much as liberty of conscience in all matters of religion, which the Turks, and all other Mohammedans, allow their subjects to enjoy". Although brought up as a negative charge against Muslims, this was indeed a great compliment paid unwittingly to the Muslims in Spain.

Even Jews who lived amongst Muslims and had their Golden Age under Muslim rule in Spain and their Silver Age under Muslim rule in Persia were never forced to become Muslims. They remained Jews under Muslim rule. The idea that Al-Islam was spread by the sword and forced people to become Muslims is not sanctioned by the Qur’an or from real evidences in Islamic history. There are many historians and distinguished people from all over the world who are non-Muslims who also say the acknowledge this fact.

Here is a listing of just a few:

1. From a Christian, De Lacy O'Leary, Historian from his book "the sword of Al-Islam".

"History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Al-Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated" (Al-Islam at the Crossroads, London, 1923 p. 8).

2. From an Israeli Jew, Uri Avnery, Journalist, humanitarian and former Knesset member:

"Muslim Spain was a paradise for the Jews, and there has never been a Jewish Holocaust in the Muslim world. Even pogroms were extremely rare. Muhammad decreed that the "Peoples of the Book" (Jews and Christians) be treated tolerantly, subject to conditions that were incomparably more liberal than those in contemporary Europe.

"The Muslims never imposed their religion by force on Jews and Christians, as shown by the fact that almost all the Jews expelled from Catholic Spain settled in the Muslim countries and flourished there.

"After centuries of Muslim rule, Greeks and Serbs remained thoroughly Christian. When peace is established between Israel and the Arab world, the poisonous fruits of Antisemitism will most probably disappear from the Arab world (as will the poisonous fruits of Arab-hating in our society.)"

3. From a Hindu, Mahatma Ghandi liberator of India from British colonial rule:

"I become more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Al-Islam in those days in the scheme for life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and his own mission. These and not the sword, carried everything before them and surmounted every trouble." (M.K. Gandhi, Young India, 1924).

4. From an Atheist, Mathematician and Philosopher Bertrand Russell:

"I have always been told throughout my youth of the fanaticism of the Mohammedans, and especially that story of the destruction of the library at Alexandria. Well, I believed all these stories, but when I came to look into the history of the times concerned, I had a great many shocks. In the first place, I discovered that the library of Alexandria was destroyed a great many times, and the first time was by Julius Caesar. But the last time was supposed to have been by the Mohammedans, and for this I found no justification whatsoever. Nor did I find that the Mohammedans were fanatical. The contests between Catholics, Nestorians, and Monophysites were bitter and persecuting to the last degree. But the Mohammedans, when they conquered Christian countries, allowed the Christians to be perfectly free, provided they pay a tribute. The only penalty for being a Christian was that you had to pay a tribute that Mohammedans did not have to pay. This proved completely successful, and the immense majority of the population became Mohammedans, but not through any fanaticism on the part of the Mohammedans. On the contrary they, in the earlier centuries of their power, represented free thought and tolerance to a degree that the Christians did not emulate until quite recent times."

Bertrand Russell (Eng. philosopher, mathematician, 1872-1970): "Reading History As It Is Never Written" [1959]

5. From a Christian, Sir George Bernard Shaw, Writer:

"I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him - that wonderful man - and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the savior of humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today." (G.B. Shaw, The Genuine Islam)

 

As for being a warlike religion and containing verses advocating war against Christian and Jews in the Qur’an, that is totally false. The verses dealing with war in the Qur’an are not directed towards a specific religion but to people whom the Muslims were at war with. There are historical references to these verses detailing a time when Muslims were being persecuted and brutally mistreated by the pagans of Mecca. These verses show that war is permitted in self-defense and under well defined limits. When undertaken it must be pushed with vigor, but only to restore peace and freedom for the worship of Allah. 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.

In general, it may be said that Al-Islam is a religion of peace, good will, mutual understanding, and good faith. But it will not acquiesce in wrong doing, and its men will hold their lives cheap in defense of honor, justice and the religion which they hold sacred. They know that war is an evil, but they will not flinch from it if their honor demands it and it serves the needs of righteousness and justice.

The Qur'an contains 114 chapters with thousands of verses. These verses address all aspects of human life as well as stories about Adam, Eve, Moses, Abraham, Jesus and other Prophets of God. The Qur'an addresses the moral, rational and spiritual needs of the human being. It also provides guidance for man in all fields of endeavor. To try to discredit Al-Islam, the ungodly Jews and Christian Zionists only extract verses related to fighting and war. My addressing these attacks on Al-Islam in no way is an indication that the Qur'an is only about fighting and war. There is so much more to the Qur'an and each person should read it for themselves to find out its contents.

The Qur'an commands the Muslims to protect the sacred places of worship for people of other religions. The history of Muslims is full of examples of where the sacred places of Christians and others were protected. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Church of St. George in Syria and others are examples. In dealings with others the Qur'an endorses, fairness, kindness and being just even to the detriment of ourselves. This is pointed out in the following verse:

"O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well- acquainted with all that ye do." (4:135)

The Qur'an recognizes the universal goodness of all people and religions. It also acknowledges that God will reward all good people for their good actions.

 

II. Al-Islam is a warlike terrorist religion. It orders Muslims to fight as in the following verse from the Qur’an:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and [some of] you dislike it. But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and that you love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knows, and you know not (Sura 2:216)."

Answer: This is a reasonably good translation. But what is not done is to put the verse in context. The best way to do that is to look at what the verses before Sura 2:216 is saying. The verse before that is as follows:

They ask thee what they should spend (In charity). Say: Whatever ye spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good, -(Allah) knoweth it well. (Sura 2:215)

The previous verse is dealing with Charity and verse 2:216 is a continuation of that verse. To fight in the cause of Truth is one of the highest forms of charity. What can you offer that is more precious than your own life as a charity for the benefit of others? This verse is encouraging Muslims that if they need to fight for truth and self defense they should not hesitate. They should consider it as a high form of charity and it should not be something disliked. At the same time the Qur’an teaches in many places that Muslims should never be aggressors. We should always fight in self-defense and to never harm non-combatants. Here are other verses from the Qur’an illustrating that:

Surah 2 Verses 190 - 193

190. Fight in the cause of God Those who fight you, But do not transgress limits: For God loveth not transgressors.

191. And slay them Wherever ye catch them, And turn them out,From where they have Turned you out; For tumult and oppression Are worse than slaughter; But fight them not At the Sacred Mosque, Unless they (first) Fight you there; But if they fight you, Slay them. Such is the reward Of those who suppress faith.

192. But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful.

193. And fight them on Until there is no more Tumult or oppression and there prevail Justice and faith in God; But if they cease, let there be no hostility Except to those Who practice oppression.

 

III. The Qur'an says: "Take not Jews and Christians for friends . . ." therefore Muslims are not allowed to have Jewish and Christian friends.


Answer: To understand what the Qur’an is really saying we have to study Arabic. In Arabic the common word for friend is "Siddiq". The Qur’an did not use that word in this verse. The word used is "Wali" which means protecting friend or guardian. Even today the Governor of a region in Saudi Arabia is called a "Wali". The Qur’an is telling Muslims in this verse that they should not look to Jews and Christians to be their protecting friends like a Wali. What is it that Muslims should not want Christians and Jews to be protecting friends of? It is to protect Muslim interests and Muslim understanding of Al-Islam. Why? Because Jews and Christians do not know or are sensitive to the special interest that Muslims have in Al-Islam. Would a Christian go to a Buddhist and say "Mr. Buddhist here is my Bible I want you to be its guardian and protect the special interest that the Bible has for Christians." No! That can only be done by a fellow Christian who shares that interest.

This verse was taken totally out of context by the enemies of Al-Islam. It is not saying that Muslims cannot have Jewish and Christian friends. There are too many verses in Qur’an advocating the friendship between righteous Christians, Jews and people of other faiths with Muslims. Here are a few:

"Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth." (7:159)

"And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in God, in the revelation to you, and in the revelation to them, bowing in humility to God. They will not sell the Signs of God for a miserable gain! For them is a reward with their Lord, and God is swift in account." (3:199)

"Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant." (5:82)

The Qur’an recognizes the universal goodness of all people and religions. It also acknowledges that God will reward all good people for their righteous deeds. This is shown in the following verse:

"Those who believe (in the Qur'an)
And those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures)
And the Christians and the Sabians, -
ANY who believe in God
And the Last Day,
And work righteousness,
Shall have their reward
With their Lord: on them
Shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." Surah 2:62

The Qur’an as well as the example of the Prophet (saaw) leaves no doubt about whom Muslims should befriend and what kind of treatment should be given to non-Muslim friends. Here are some more Qur’anic verses and statements from the Prophet (saaw) regarding that:

[60:8] God does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. God loves the equitable.

[60:9] God enjoins you only from befriending those who fight you because of religion, evict you from your homes, and band together with others to banish you. You shall not befriend them. Those who befriend them are the transgressors.

"He who believes in God and the Last Day should honor his guest, should not harm his neighbor, should speak good or keep quiet." (Bukhari, Muslim)

"Whoever hurts a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys God." (Bukhari)

"He who hurts a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state, I am his adversary, and I shall be his adversary on the Day of Judgment." (Bukhari)

"Beware on the Day of Judgment; I shall myself be complainant against him who wrongs a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state or lays on him a responsibility greater than he can bear or deprives him of anything that belongs to him." (Al-Mawardi)

"Anyone who kills a Non-Muslim who had become our ally will not smell the fragrance of Paradise." (Bukhari)

Lastly, in Al-Islam we don't have an elitist idea about a segment of humanity. There are no "chosen ones" in Al-Islam based on race, culture, or religion as there is among the Jews and the Christians. Nor is there a caste system designating some human beings to "untouchable class" and others as superior "Brahmans" based on the color of their skin.

Muhammad, PBUH, stated on Mount Arafat that there was no such thing as superior or inferior people of whatever race or color - except in piety and submission to the will of God. His words were, 

"An Arab is not superior to a non-Arab, A non-Arab is not superior to an Arab, A Black is not superior to a White and a White is not superior to a Black. The superior one among you is he who is most conscious of his duty to God and society."

The world should understand that the attack on Al-Islam by Zionists and Christian Zionists is not only because the Muslim countries have oil. It is for the same reason that the Jews in Christ's (pbuh) day attacked and tried to have him crucified. The real reason is because of the truth Al-Islam exposes. It exposes the ugly plot of those who follow Satan and want to control the world. It also gives Muslims instructions on how to live having their whole life devoted to Allah and not under the control of evil ones. Not all Jews are un-Godly and many of them have been outstanding and have shown true humanity by identifying more with truth than with their tribe. Men like Adam Shapiro, Benjamin Freedman, Jack Bernstein, Norman Finkelstein, Arthur Koestler and others have been at the forefront of exposing the wrongs of their own people. We owe them much for their true examples of humanity and the knowledge they have brought us. Our war is against the ugly Zionist and other evil people who twist the truth to have good people hate and kill each other. Those who want to use the method of divide and conquer against all of humanity.

 

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