- The Ayatollah Khomeini
We hear ad nauseam from Islamic apologists that Islam means peace and is therefore a religion of love, tolerance and harmony. In fact the meaning of Islam is submission; submission to Allah the one true God. Unto whom Muhammad has commanded Muslims to force all mankind to comply.
There are very few truly tolerant verses in the Qur’an. And of those, the tolerance is directed solely to persons in the brotherhood of Islam; certainly not to non-believers. The early Meccan verses, revealed when Muhammad had only a handful of followers, were somewhat forebearing and lenient in outlook. However on gaining political and military strength in Medina the tone of Allah’s revelations took on a new undertone, one of jihad and conquest in the name of God. To rationalise the change in attitude and the obvious contradictions to previous revelations, Muhammad revealed that Allah was sending verses better those previously revealed (Q2:106 … We bring one better than it or like it.). The later verses abrogated the earlier ones. An entire science devoted to the chronology of the Qur'an's verses known as an-Nasikh wa'l Mansukh (the abrogater and the abrogated) evolved to analyse which verses abrogated which.
Nevertheless we religiously hear from Muslims, those performing taquiya (deceit for the furtherance of the faith as recommended by Muhammad himself) that there is no compulsion in religion and killing is condemned in the Qur’an.
Let us look at three such verses in the original contexts in which they were revealed.
Firstly there is the verse that tells us there is no compulsion in religion.
Q2:256 There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break.
This verse is used by Islamic apologists to provide an assurance to the uninformed non-Muslim that Islam honours the rights of all and sundry to believe as their conscience dictates.
However when taken in its historical context we arrive at quite a different conclusion. From Islamic scriptures we are told exactly when this verse was revealed to Muhammad:
When the children of a woman (in pre-islamic days) did not survive, she took a vow on herself that if her child survives, she would convert it to a Jew. When Banu an-Nadir were expelled (from Arabia), there were some children of the Ansar (helpers) among them. They said: We shall not leave our children. So Allah the Exalted revealed; “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error.” (SAD 14:2676)
It is reported here that Muhammad revealed this verse to counter the conversion of children to Judaism. In those times, when there was no formalised religion among some of the tribes of Arabia, should a contagious illnesses strike, the women would pray that if their children survived such epidemics they would convert them to Judaism. Also when Muhammad arrived in Medina many of the new converts were concerned about the religion of their children as in that time they respected the right for an individual to choose their religion.
To this end Muhammad revealed the verse giving Allah's guidance that people were not compelled to convert their children to Judaism should they survive an illness, nor are their children compelled to stay in their Pagan believe because they were born in it. It was permissible to convert their children to Islam.
This no compulsion in religion is strictly a one way affair however. You are not compelled to stay in any non-Islamic religion, hence allowing the conversion to Islam. However once you are a Muslim you are compelled to remain in Islam.
At this time Muhammad was still relatively weak in numbers and power. He could not use force to bring non-believers to Islam. This verse sought to give God's sanction that it was acceptable to leave a religion and come to Islam, 'the right direction' as he puts it. However not too long after this we find Muhammad as a warlord commanding armies that would bring terror to those who did not accept his message.
This is evident from reading the Qur’an as a complete doctrine where Muhammad plainly declares, 'kill the unbelievers wherever you find them', 'Fight against those who believe not in Allah until they pay the Jizya with willing submission', 'fight them until disbelieve is no more, and religion is for Allah.'.
Or if we read from the Hadiths we find Muhammad declaring: “I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, none has the right to be worshipped but Allah”, “Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him.”
In Islamic nations, it is a criminal offence for a Muslim to convert to another religion. If Islamic countries understood the 'no compulsion in religion' verse to mean that a Muslim had the right to adopt another religion of his/her choice, then Sharia laws preventing apostasy would not exist.
It should also be noted that within this verse, although the first sentence says ‘there is no compulsion…’, it continues with, ‘condemn those who do not accept Allah for they are in error and accept false deities.’
Even the very next verse denounces non-Muslims as being patrons of false deities who lead them into darkness and ultimately to be residents of hell.
2:257 Allah is the Protecting Guardian of those who believe. He bringeth them out of darkness into light. As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are false deities. They bring them out of light into darkness. Such are rightful owners of the Fire. They will abide therein.
And after all the apologies that attempt to bring some impression of tolerance in Islam are exhausted, one can always quote Qur’an 3:85: If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who are losers.
Never can a religion, other than Islam, be acceptable in society. So where is the concept of no compulsion unless it is only in the direction of moving into Islam?
Another verse used by Islamic apologists in a similar way to the no compulsion in religion text is Qur’an 109:6 Unto you your religion and unto me my religion. This verse is taken from the chapter called Disbelievers and is used by Muslims to insinuate that Muhammad allows the people to worship whatever God they choose without fear or favour.
It is however, in essence, a statement of disgust against those in Mecca at the time that adamantly refused to accept the religion of Muhammad. There are only six one line verses in chapter 109 and taken together they read as follows:
Ayat 109 - Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; 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.
Reading of the complete chapter (ayat) shows the abhorrence Muhammad harboured against the disbelievers and their beliefs. Basically what is being implied is, there is no compromise or acceptance of other's religion, just rejection of each other – “I shall never worship your religion and you will not accept my new found cult so go your own way and I’ll go mine.” This does not reflect respect for other religions but rather creates religious separation within mankind with two groups, Muslims and the disbelievers.
Thirdly we have the Qur’anic verse that supposedly condemns the killing of humans. Here is how Muslims render this verse to a naïve public.
Whosoever killeth a human being it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. (Qur’an, 5:32)
The verse, presented as above, is used by Muslims as central proof that Islam is a peaceful ideology and that it in no way endorses terrorism or religious extremism. On face value, this verse would stand out as an exemplary paradigm set by a God to his followers to respect and protect the lives of all human beings. That is if we ignored the hundreds of verses that call for the destruction of non-Muslims and their eternal burning in hell fire.
However when we read the Qur’an, we see that this and the two subsequent verses include many conditions that in reality drastically alter its meaning as depicted above. Here is the verse in its entirety, as opposed to the edited form usually presented by Islamic apologists.
Q5:32 For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs of Allah's sovereignty, but afterwards lo! many of them committed excesses (oppression and sinfulness) in the land.
How does this complete reading affect what on the surface would appear to be a humane directive from the Qur’an?
Firstly, note that this verse is directed to the children of Israel, the Jews. God sent his messengers to deliver his decrees only to the Jews, his chosen people. Also it is apparent that in those days the God of the deserts of Israel and Arabia had little concerns for humanity that occipied the rest of the globe. Although the Jews were the recipients of these messages many did not heed them and hence were sinful in the land.
There were two conditions put forth in the verse which in effect would necessitate killing; these are manslaughter and corruption in the earth. What exactly does the latter mean?
The final part of this verse indicates that God sent his messengers with proofs of his sovereignty; however man did not heed these messages but instead committed sin in the land. People who commit sin in the land have ‘corrupted the earth’ and hence according to this verse are to be killed. Allah has laid down rules that if disregarded amounts to sin/corruption in the land. Rules regarding alcohol, food, gambling, idolatry, worship of multiple Gods, etc. Any lands which are so inclined are ripe for conquer and conversion to Dar-ul-Islam.
Muhammad divided mankind into two groups, ‘Dar-ul-Islam’ and ‘Dar-ul-Harb’ – ‘land of submission to Allah’ and ‘land of war’. Those in Dar-ul-Harb do not adhere to the principles of law, Sharia, as enunciated by Allah and his messenger Muhammad. These people are therefore open to warfare by the Jihadists of Islam. The earth belongs to Allah and those who do not worship Allah in Allah’s land, are committing sin in the land and are earmarked in the Qur’an to be killed. The Qur’an further specifies as follows, ‘Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture but believe not in Allah or the Last Day’ (Q9:29), providing sufficient enough motivation for the true believer to be coerced into action.
Additional light can be shed on this verse when we look at the very next two commands from Allah.
Q5:33 The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom;
Here, Allah points out what is to be done to those who oppose Islam and those who cause corruption in the land. They are to be killed or crucified or if very lucky have their limbs severed. And as we learn from the actions of the prophet himself, confiscate all their properties as war booty including the women and children. Not only is the punishment in the here and now well stipulated, but also the awful doom that will beset the unbelievers when they enter the hereafter.
Q5:34 Save those who repent before ye overpower them. For know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
We learn from this verse that the merciful Allah recommends sparing those who repent and accept Islam prior to being overpowered. If repenting comes after being overpowered one would assume that the killing or crucifying and mutilation will still proceed.
Hence when taken as conveyed by Muhammad, this verse, (Q5:32), recommends the killing, torturing and maiming of those who commit sins/corruption in the land. It does condemn the act of killing another human being, but that stipulation, from an accurate understanding of the verse, applies only to the killing of believing Muslims.
The verse written in plain English taking into consideration the subsequent revelations, would read as follows:
The Jews were informed by the messengers of Allah, that to kill a human being is equivalent to killing all mankind unless the killing is for manslaughter or corruption in the land. Those who continue to commit sinfulness in the land or oppose Allah and his messenger should be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet cut off, or expelled from their land. They will suffer an awful doom in the afterlife anyway. But if they accept Islam before you conquer them give them safety and protection.
When we read the Hadiths and other verses in the Qur’an we see the practical application of these verses by Muhammad himself. And should one study the spread of Islam in the centuries that followed, through Persia, India, South East Asia, North Africa and Southern Europe, we see clearly how the invasion and annihilation of innocent peoples with the destruction of their temples and libraries could have been easily justified thanks to the accurate reading of verses such as these and from the example set by the prophet.
From trivial commands to write satire against the non-believers;
SM 31:6081 Allah's Messenger said: Satirise against the non-believing, for the satire is more grievous to them than the hurt of an arrow. So he sent for Hassan b. Thabit who said: Now you have called for this lion who strikes the enemies with his tail. I shall tear them with my tongue as the leather is torn.
To his decree in SM 19:4366 to expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula; to his demand that Muslims make a holy war against those who disbelieve in Allah, (SM 19:4294, Q9:5, Q9:29,……), Muhammad was never one to show respect let alone tolerance to any human who did not accept his brand of religion.
Therefore even the so-called peaceful verses, when taken in their true context, paint Islam with the brush of imperialism. A creed concocted to annihilate everything in its path, not conforming to its ideology. Nowhere in the Qur’an does it say that all religions come from God and they are all good and equal. Rather it states, Islam is the only religion of the one true God and Muhammad is the only conduit to get to that God and all other religions lead to hell. No tolerance there really.