Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Evolution of Violence in the Qur'an

Have you ever heard that the Koran teaches non-violence? Similarly have you ever heard that it incites violence as well? How is this contradiction possible? Surprisingly, it is rather easily explained. Muhammad’s revelations didn’t come all at once, rather over the span of many years. As the circumstances around him changed, you’ll notice that the teachings he reveals take on different contexts; almost as if the word of God was not eternally constant but instead revolved around the goings on in Muhammad’s life. While Muhammad was powerless and living in Mecca, his teachings were good-natured but when he was kicked out of Mecca and had to move to Medina, his revelations became bitter, hostile and incited hatred. The two distinctions in Muhammad’s teachings are referred to as the Meccan and Medinan teachings.

The Evolution of violence in the Koran:

1. PEACE: When Muhammad first started preaching the Qur’an he had very few followers and little-to-no influence on the Arab community. As a result he felt outcast and shunned by the deniers of his teachings. Allah encouraged pacifism and told him to be patient with and accepting of those who chose to pursue other faiths.

Sura 109: “Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion and unto me my religion.”

Sura 52:45-47: “So leave them alone until they encounter that Day of theirs, wherein they shall swoon with terror.”

Sura 73:10-11: “And have patience with what they say, and leave them with dignity. And leave Me those in possession of the good things of life, who deny the truth; and bear with them for a little while.”

2. DEFENSIVE WARFARE: Muhammad some time later had managed to accumulate a modest number of converts. They experience discrimination and persecution from the larger Arab community and conveniently Allah retracts his previous mandates to avoid conflicts and tells Muhammad it is okay for Muslims to respond to threats in self-defense.

Sura 2:192: “And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you.”

Sura 2:190: “fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors”

3. OFFENSIVE WARFARE: Years have passed and Muhammad is now an influential figure in the Arab community with a strong following of Muslims now operating out of Medina. Allah withdraws all his previous statements regarding peace and acceptance and replaces them with mandates for all Muslims to wage war against unbelievers. Self-defence is now redefined from being protection against personal attacks on the followers of Islam, to protection from all attacks on Islam itself. And more, what constitutes as an attack on Islam is very simply: not submitting to Allah. From here on Muslims are given a mandate to confront non-Muslims with three options: convert, live under subjugation, or die. The subjugation option only applies under special circumstances. The following verses regard this last stage of the evolution of violence in the Koran:

Sura 2:187-189 “And kill them wherever ye shall find them, and eject them from whatever place they have ejected you; for civil discord is worse than carnage: yet attack them not at the sacred Mosque, unless they attack you therein; but if they attack you, slay them. Such the reward of the infidels...Fight therefore against them until there be no more civil discord, and the only worship be that of God: but if they desist, then let there be no hostility, save against the wicked.”

Sura 2:190-292 “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for Allah does not love transgressors. 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.”

Sura 2:217 They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: “Fighting therein is a grave (offense); but graver is it in the sight of God to prevent access to the path of God, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members. Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be Companions of the Fire and will abide therein.”

Sura 2:216 “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But God knoweth, and ye know not.
Sura 4:74: “Let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. To him who fights in the cause of Allah, - whether he is slain or gets victory - soon shall We give him a reward of great value.”

Sura 4:89 “seize them and slay them wherever you find them: and in any case take no friends or helpers from their ranks.”

Sura 4:144 O Ye who believe! Choose not disbelievers for your friends in place of believers. Would you give Allah a clear warrant against you?

Sura 5:33 "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement"

Sura 5:51 “O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he among you that turns to them for friendship is of them.”

Sura 8:12 “Remember your Lord inspired the angels with the message: “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: you smite them above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”

Sura 8:36 “Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme."

Sura 8:39 "And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah; but if they desist, then surely Allah sees what they do."

Sura 8:57 “So if you gain the mastery over them in war, punish them severely in order to disperse those who are behind them, so that they may learn a lesson.”

Sura 8:59-60 “Let not the unbelievers think that they can get the better (of the godly): they will never frustrate (them). Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of God and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom God doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of God, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly.”

Sura 8:65 "O Prophet! urge the believers to war; if there are twenty patient ones of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people who do not understand."

Sura 8:67 “It is not fitting for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he has made a great slaughter in the land.”

Sura 9:3: “Allah is not bound by any contract or treaty with non-Muslims, nor is His Apostle.”

Sura 9:5 Then when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor- due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Sura 9:14 “Fight them and Allah will punish them by your hands, cover them with shame, help you to victory over them, heal the breasts of the Believers.”

Sura 9:29 "Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection."

Sura 9:39 “If you do not fight, He will punish you severely, and put others in your place”

Sura 9:73 "Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home."

Sura 9:123 O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you and let them find harshness in you and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty (unto Him).

Sura 47:4 When you encounter the kafirs on the battlefield, cut off their heads until you have thoroughly defeated them and then take the prisoners and tie them up firmly.

Sura 69:30-37 (It will be said) Take him and fetter him and expose him to hell fire. And then insert him in a chain whereof the length is seventy cubits. Lo! He used not to believe in Allah the tremendous, and urged not on the feeding of the wretched. Therefore hath he no lover hear this day nor any food save filth which none but sinners eat.

Sura 72:15 “The disbelievers are the firewood of hell.”

Sura 86:15 They plot and scheme against you [Mohammed], and I plot and scheme against them. Therefore, deal calmly with the kafirs and leave them alone for a while.

“Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him.” (Hadith AlBuhkari vol. 9:57)

“I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say; none has the right to be worshipped but Allah” (Al Bukhari vol. 4:196)

“What, do you desire to guide him whom God has led astray? Whom God leads astray, thou wilt not find for him a way [of salvation]. They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as a friend or helper." (Hadith)

The last hour will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, so that Jews will hide behind stones and trees and the Stone and the tree will say, O Muslim, O servant of God! There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him. The only exception will be the box-thorn for it is one of the trees of the Jews. (Hadith; Sahih of Muslim, quoted by Israel and the Prophecies of Al Quran by Ali Akbar)

“During the last days there will appear some young foolish people, who will say the best words, but their faith will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will leave the faith) and will go out from their religion as an arrow goes out of the game. So, wherever you find them, kill them, for whoever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection.” Bukhari volume 9, no.64)

“No Muslim should be killed for killing a Kafir (infidel).”(Hadith vol. 9:50)

It is bizarre that Allah would repeatedly change his word to better accommodate Muhammad’s present situation. Especially considering His word is meant to be eternal and everlasting. Furthermore Muslims claim that the knowledge of the Qur’an was originally given to the People of Israel, who then corrupted His word and formed Judaism. Evidently the Qur’an already existed in theory, so it is peculiar that while it was being handed down to Muhammad it makes several distinct transformations that seem to parallel events going on in his life and thus, later revelations are contradicting earlier revelations. According to Islamic Law, what Muhammad says in the Medinan suras takes precedence and nullifies what he said in earlier Meccan suras. To conclude, it seems that the Islamic faith is not so much centered around Allah, but rather formulated for the purposes of Muhammad.

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