Tag Archives: Koran

The word “Jihad” in the Koran

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After the appalling Linda Sarsour called for a jihad against Donald Trump there naturally followed the usual bunfight about what the word actually means. Some people thought she meant “smiting his neck and every fingertip” as, of course, she hoped they would so that she could then bring out the hadith about the best jihad being “speaking truth to a tyrant” and claim to be misrepresented by Islamophobes.

We know that ”jihad” literally means “strive” or “struggle” but how is it actually used in the Koran? In context does it mean “holy war” or “spiritual struggle” or both?

The Qur’anic Studies site identifies all the occurrences of the word in the Koran from the triconsonantal root “j-h-d” in the Arabic transliteration. It tells us that derivatives of the word “jihad” occur in 30 verses of the Koran; 6 of them in Meccan suras and 24 in Medinan suras.

In a separate exercise conducted some years ago, 160 or so verses were identified as referring directly to Mohammed’s wars against non-Muslims. I checked the 30 “j-h-d” verses against the 160 war verses (highlighted in mauve in this presentation of the Koran which is in turn based on this list).

Here are the 30 “j-h-d” verses, presented in chronological order, with matching verses marked with “**WAR**”.

Meccan Verses

[25.52] So do not follow the unbelievers, and strive against them a mighty striving with it.

[31:15] If they strive to make you set up any partners besides Me, then do not obey them. But continue to treat them amicably in this world. You shall follow only the path of those who have sought Me. Ultimately, you all return to Me, then I will inform you of everything you have done.

**WAR** [16.110] Yet surely your Lord, with respect to those who fly after they are persecuted, then they struggle hard and are patient, most surely your Lord after that is Forgiving, Merciful.

[29.6] And whoever strives hard, he strives only for his own soul; most surely Allah is Self-sufficient, above (need of) the worlds.
[29:8] And We instructed man to be good to his parents. But if they strive to make you set up partners with Me, then do not obey them. To Me are all your destinies, and I will inform you of what you used to do.
[29.69] And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways; and Allah is most surely with the doers of good.

Medinan Verses

**WAR** [2.218] Surely those who believed and those who fled (their home) and strove hard in the way of Allah these hope for the mercy of Allah and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

**WAR** [8.72]
Surely those who believed and fled (their homes) and struggled hard in Allah’s way with their property and their souls, and those who gave shelter and helped– these are guardians of each other; and (as for) those who believed and did not fly, not yours is their guardianship until they fly; and if they seek aid from you in the matter of religion, aid is incumbent on you except against a people between whom and you there is a treaty, and Allah sees what you do.
**WAR** [8.74] And (as for) those who believed and fled and struggled hard in Allah’s way, and those who gave shelter and helped, these are the believers truly; they shall have forgiveness and honorable provision.
**WAR** [8.75] And (as for) those who believed afterwards and fled and struggled hard along with you, they are of you; and the possessors of relationships are nearer to each other in the ordinance of Allah; surely Allah knows all things.

**WAR** [3.142] Do you think that you will enter the garden while Allah has not yet known those who strive hard from among you, and (He has not) known the patient.

[60.1] O you who believe! do not take My enemy and your enemy for friends: would you offer them love while they deny what has come to you of the truth, driving out the Apostle and yourselves because you believe in Allah, your Lord? If you go forth struggling hard in My path and seeking My pleasure, would you manifest love to them? And I know what you conceal and what you manifest; and whoever of you does this, he indeed has gone astray from the straight path.

**WAR** [4.95] The holders back from among the believers, not having any injury, and those who strive hard in Allah’s way with their property and their persons are not equal; Allah has made the strivers with their property and their persons to excel the holders back a (high) degree, and to each (class) Allah has promised good; and Allah shall grant to the strivers above the holders back a mighty reward:

**WAR** [47:31] And We will test you until We know those who strive among you and those who are patient. And We will bring out your qualities.

**WAR** [22.78] And strive hard in (the way of) Allah, (such) a striving a is due to Him; He has chosen you and has not laid upon you an hardship in religion; the faith of your father Ibrahim; He named you Muslims before and in this, that the Apostle may be a bearer of witness to you, and you may be bearers of witness to the people; therefore keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and hold fast by Allah; He is your Guardian; how excellent the Guardian and how excellent the Helper!

**WAR** [49.15] The believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Apostle then they doubt not and struggle hard with their wealth and their lives in the way of Allah; they are the truthful ones.

**WAR** [66.9] O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be hard against them; and their abode is hell; and evil is the resort.

**WAR** [61.11] You shall believe in Allah and His Apostle, and struggle hard in Allah’s way with your property and your lives; that is better for you, did you but know!

**WAR** [5.35] O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful.
[5.54] O you who believe! whoever from among you turns back from his religion, then Allah will bring a people, He shall love them and they shall love Him, lowly before the believers, mighty against the unbelievers, they shall strive hard in Allah’s way and shall not fear the censure of any censurer; this is Allah’s Face, He gives it to whom He pleases, and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.

**WAR** [9.16] What! do you think that you will be left alone while Allah has not yet known those of you who have struggled hard and have not taken any one as an adherent besides Allah and His Apostle and the believers; and Allah is aware of what you do.
**WAR** [9.19] What! do you make (one who undertakes) the giving of drink to the pilgrims and the guarding of the Sacred Mosque like him who believes in Allah and the latter day and strives hard in Allah’s way? They are not equal with Allah; and Allah does not guide the unjust people.
**WAR** [9.20] Those who believed and fled (their homes), and strove hard in Allah’s way with their property and their souls, are much higher in rank with Allah; and those are they who are the achievers (of their objects).
**WAR** [9.24] Say: If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your mates and your kinsfolk and property which you have acquired, and the slackness of trade which you fear and dwellings which you like, are dearer to you than Allah and His Apostle and striving in His way, then wait till Allah brings about His command: and Allah does not guide the transgressing people.
**WAR** [9.41] Go forth light and heavy, and strive hard in Allah’s way with your property and your persons; this is better for you, if you know.
**WAR** [9.44] They do not ask leave of you who believe in Allah and the latter day (to stay away) from striving hard with their property and their persons, and Allah knows those who guard (against evil).
**WAR** [9.73] O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.
**WAR** [9.81] Those who were left behind were glad on account of their sitting behind Allah’s Apostle and they were averse from striving in Allah’s way with their property and their persons, and said: Do not go forth in the heat. Say: The fire of hell is much severe in heat. Would that they understood (it).
**WAR** [9.86] And whenever a chapter is revealed, saying: Believe in Allah and strive hard along with His Apostle, those having ampleness of means ask permission of you and say: Leave us (behind), that we may be with those who sit.
**WAR** [9.88] But the Apostle and those who believe with him strive hard with their property and their persons; and these it is who shall have the good things and these it is who shall be successful.

So, in the Meccan suras 1 out of the 6 “j-h-d” verses appears among the war verses while in the Medinan suras 22 out of the 24 “j-h-d” verses do so. Therefore we can say there is an overwhelming correlation between the word “jihad” and warfare against the unbelievers in the Medinan suras. This will hardly surprise anyone who knows that Mohammed’s career consisted of two parts, his time in Mecca during which any violence was the prerogative of Allah and his time in Medina where he became a warlord and exercised violence on Allah’s behalf.

Also, none of the remaining 7 “j-h-d” verses is about spiritual struggle against one’s baser nature, ie the so-called Greater Jihad. Anyone wishing to promote that idea has to go a long way from the Koran to find any support for it. It is not even to be found in the six sahih (ie authentic) collections of hadiths but rests solely on one hadith from a later collection, dismissed by mediaeval Islamic scholars as weak or fabricated.

Another point worth making is that no less than 10 of the verses we are talking about occur in the last substantive sura, the ferocious sura 9. It seems that Mohammed became more warlike with age, rather than less. This of course echoes the situation with abrogation in the Koran since so many earlier verses are abrogated by verses in sura 9 (as shown in this list) in particular 9:5, the Verse of the Sword. This gives jihadis a much stronger claim to scriptural support than the elusive moderates we hear so much of but who disappear like the mist whenever a demonstration against ISIS is organised or the government requests help in tackling “extremism”.

Conclusion: Anyone wishing to use Islamic scripture, in particular the Koran, to claim a peaceful interpretation of jihad is indeed rowing against a very strong tide. Unless they’re just kidding us, of course.

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But what should Mrs May do?

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I recently tried to encourage an English friend to inform herself about Islam. She said “Never mind that. What should Mrs May do tomorrow morning?” It’s a fair question isn’t it? So here goes…

Unfortunately the very first thing Mrs May needs to do is to inform herself about Islam. Anyone who can say “The actions of ISIS have absolutely no basis in anything written in the Quran” has clearly never read it.

It should only take her a month or so to get a basic understanding, if she is a quick learner. Without it the measures proposed below will just appear senseless or worse.

So, first thing tomorrow morning Mrs May should order some books on Islam. I recommend anything by Robert Spencer who she banned from Britain for having said that “Islam has doctrines involving violence against unbelievers” (it has).

But she also needs to go to the source. That means studying the Koran (especially the first nine blood-curdling suras) and the earliest biography of Mohammed by Ibn Ishaq. She should also sample the Hadiths (traditions about Mohammed), the mediaeval commentaries by Islamic scholars (such as the one by Ibn Kathir) and a manual of Sharia law (only a few sections really concern non-Muslims).

She should then acquaint herself with Islam’s history of relentless warfare against non-Muslims, only interrupted by an interlude of European colonisation, and look at a map and notice the current insurgencies on most of the borders of the Islamic heartlands.

She should come to understand Islam’s dual nature, on the one hand a religion and on the other a totalitarian political ideology. No one gives a damn about flying donkeys and parading round a meteorite in Mecca but the legal system which claims authority over non-Muslims and mandates jihad until the entire world is converted or subjugated is quite another matter.

In particular, she should come to a view on two questions:

“Is Islam inherently and unavoidably supremacist?”
and
“Are we already in a war, that of global jihad, whether we like it or not?”

If her answers are no and no, as they would be for the great majority of the population who have not studied Islam, then the following measures will make no sense. They will merely look like persecuting a particular minority which they would actually be if applied to Sikhs or Jews.

If her answers are yes and yes then these measures will follow naturally, to attempt to put a brake on the Islamisation of Britain. So, what should she do on the first day after her period of study?

Legal/Security

1. The most important single thing Mrs May should do, of course, is to press on with taking us out of Europe, which she appears to be doing. Britain will never be able to properly control its borders within it.

2. Mrs May should declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation and start investigations into its many offshoots in Britain, the two most prominent being the Muslim Association of Britain and the Muslim Council of Britain, with a view to banning them.

3. Mrs May should start the process of leaving the European Convention on Human Rights along with its European Court of Human Rights which consistently puts the rights of enemies of Britain before the protection of British citizens.

She should also set about replacing the Human Rights Act with the once promised British Bill of Rights.

4. Mrs May should sack the advisers who persuaded her that many people “benefit a great deal” from practices such as Sharia Law.

She should call a halt to the inquiry into Sharia courts which she set up as Home Secretary. It is led by an Islamic theologian and starts from the assumption that “Sharia ideas are being ‘misused or exploited’ ”. This could charitably be called naïve. She should reconstitute it, led by a representative of British law with the theologian balanced by someone from Sharia Watch or One Law for All who will be able to point out where problems are arising precisely from the correct application of Sharia.

Or perhaps there’s a simpler explanation for her attitude (1).

5. Mrs May should revisit the government’s anti-radicalisation Prevent Strategy and ask whether there is something missing from its causes of radicalisation. The answer is yes, Islamic theology itself. For instance the Prevent Strategy (section 5.25) states that one of the drivers of radicalisation is “an ideology that sets Muslim against non-Muslim, highlights the alleged oppression of the global Muslim community and which both obliges and legitimises violence in its defence”.

With her new understanding of Islamic scriptures Mrs May will realise that all of the above is to be found in the Koran except that the original (and supposedly oppressed) Muslim community was only local to the Mecca/Medina area. In fact the Koran goes further than legitimising violence in its defence and obliges and legitimises offensive violence for the expansion of Islam. It also depicts Mohammed as an excellent example to follow…and who could be more radicalised than Mohammed?

By focussing on secondary factors such as peer groups, internet propagandists, personal vulnerabilities and grievances the Prevent Strategy is avoiding the profoundly disturbing question of whether jihadi groups have authentic theological justification for their actions (they have).

6. Mrs May should set in train the scrapping of the ill-judged Hate Speech legislation. By suppressing free speech about Islam the government has effectively instituted a de facto Sharia blasphemy law.

Alternatively she should make religious texts also subject to that same legislation. We would soon find that there is so much hatred for non-Muslims in the Koran that any imam would be hard put to preach a sermon legally.

As a matter of fact, here is the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. I can see no exemption in it for religions themselves. Perhaps someone can explain why no test case has been yet been brought against any imam preaching any Friday sermon in any mosque in Britain.

7. Mrs May should reinstitute the sedition law. Mosques in which sedition is preached should be closed down.

Fighters for ISIS, and other designated hostile entities, should face a charge of treason if they return.

8. Mrs May should pass the word out through the Ministry of Justice that cultural differences are no longer to be considered as mitigating (or aggravating) factors in criminal cases, and all central and local government officials who turn a blind eye to crimes out of “cultural sensitivity” or fear of being called racist, will be prosecuted (think Police and Social Services of Rotherham).

9. Mrs May should allow the Royal Navy to take part in Frontex rescue operations in the Mediterranean only on condition that migrants are returned to Africa rather than transported to Italy.

Immigration

10. Mrs May should do what she can to move toward a rational response to illegal immigration from outside the EU. Illegal immigrants should be securely held, preferably offshore, until they can be returned to the last safe country they came through, their homeland or any other country willing to take them.

All benefits should be restricted to EU citizens and, after we have extricated ourselves from the EU, to British citizens.

Cultural

11. Mrs May should read Dame Louise Casey’s recent report about the woeful state of ethnic and religious integration in Britain. Along with the various social and cultural factors put forward by Prof. Casey to account for the isolation of Muslim communities, Mrs May will now be in a position to add a rather intractable scriptural one:

“O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them” (Koran 5:51)

Even Trevor Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has accepted that ‘Muslim communities are not like others in Britain and the country should accept they will never integrate”.

12. Mrs May should ban burqas and niqabs in public, and not just for security reasons. They are a studied affront to Western values and a declaration of permanent separation.

13. Mrs May should make it clear that all responsible for FGM, polygamy and forced or under-age marriage will be prosecuted, that is really, actually prosecuted, not just a noise made about it. All these years, all those girls, and not one successful prosecution for FGM!

14. Mrs May should ban all foreign funding for mosques and Islamic religious programmes. They are not set up for the purpose of promoting interfaith relations based on mutual respect and equality. When Saudi Arabia allows the building of churches in Riyadh it could be reconsidered.

15. Mrs May should ban any slaughter methods involving unnecessary suffering. That includes the Jewish Shechita (kosher) as well as Islamic Dhabihah (halal).

16. Mrs May should instruct the Dept for Education to conduct a thorough review of information about Islam in text books and curricula since it appears that children are being given a whitewashed version. For instance, Mohammed is routinely presented as a prophet and benign lawgiver but children are left unaware of his criminal beginnings in Medina and his rise to power using assassination, torture and genocide, not to mention his proclivity for child rape and sex-slavery of non-Muslim women.

There are plenty more proposed measures to be found on the internet intended to halt and reverse the process of Islamisation, but these are enough to keep her busy for one day.

The following day Mrs May should start thinking about how to prepare for the inevitable conflict, and struggle for dominance, which will arise when Muslims form a large enough percentage of the population. France, with a Muslim percentage of 10% as opposed to Britain’s 5%, is currently entering that phase. Britain could learn from the French experience and take preventive measures if it could develop the political will. If you think that is fanciful consider the thousands of French troops now permanently deployed on the streets defending one section of the population from another, and what the head of French Intelligence, Patrick Calvar, recently told a parliamentary inquiry, that France is just one sexual outrage like Cologne or one more mass atrocity away from civil war.

————————————————————————————————————————————-
(1) A wily politician called May
Was overheard one day to say
“I’ll whitewash Sharia
If it helps my career.
Your grandkids will just have to pay.”

An innovative proposal

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The Home Office has set up a funding competition through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) in order to “find innovative ways to prevent vulnerable people from becoming radicalised”. It behoves all of us to support this initiative and so I propose the following in the hope of making a contribution:

PREAMBLE

Since the aim of this competition is “to develop innovative solutions for understanding and preventing radicalisation and support for terrorism” I wish to offer the innovative view that HMG is looking for solutions in entirely the wrong places. At best, vulnerability, judgment skills, extremism, networks, propaganda and the internet are secondary or mediating factors.

There is one place, and one place alone, to look for the root cause of radicalisation, the Koran. I know because it radicalised me, only in the opposite direction.

We know that this approach of looking in the obvious place has not been tried at the Home Office because of statements made by the Home Secretary, now Prime Minister, Theresa May.

In September 2014 she said “The actions of ISIS have absolutely no basis in anything written in the Koran”.

To clarify, here are a few of ISIS’s activities along with their very clear basis in the Koran:

Jihad 9:111, terror 3:151, sex slavery 4:24, beheadings 47:4, crucifixions 5:33, jizya 9:29.

Likewise in January 2015 she said “I never thought I would see the day when members of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom would say they were fearful of remaining here.”

It is inconceivable that anyone could have read the Koran and made that statement. Here is a small selection of reasons why:

2:65, 4:46, 5:64, 5:70, 5:78, 5:82, 9:30.

It will be immediately obvious that the verses quoted above have one thing in common, they all come from Mohammed’s Medinan period. If the importance of that distinction is not apparent it is made clear in this presentation of the Koran.

In short, while the Meccan suras are not exactly all sweetness and light toward non-Muslims, any violence is the prerogative of Allah. In the Medinan suras Allah instructs Mohammed and his followers to take that violence into their own hands. Unfortunately many of Mohammed’s followers today see those instructions as being eternally valid until all non-Muslims are either converted or subjugated. This is not surprising since the later scriptures of the Sira and Hadiths as well as the mediaeval commentaries and the various schools of Islamic Law overwhelmingly support that view.

Therefore, leaving aside all predisposing factors and means of transmission, the only sure way to prevent the radicalisation of those who are referred to in the Government’s Prevent Strategy as “vulnerable” is to prevent them being exposed to the radicalising content in the Koran. This aim undeniably presents practical difficulties but fortunately there are only 28 Medinan suras out of 114, though they do tend to be rather longer.

PROPOSAL

My proposal, therefore, is to produce and disseminate Korans consisting solely of the Meccan suras. It can be called “The Moderate Koran”. I will set up ECAW Publications for the purpose, and the SBRI will give me £100,000 to kick start the project.

Moderate Muslim groups should be canvassed to work as partners in spreading copies among Muslim communities. There will be no takers of course but the Home Office will have learned the important lesson of just how central to Islam the violent, supremacist verses actually are.

I recommend that the Home Secretary’s advisers should study the Medinan verses for themselves, and perhaps distance themselves from their usual sources of information about Islam (including those who persuaded Theresa May that Sharia is good for Britain). They would then do well to investigate alternative authorities on the Koran, living or dead, such as Ibn Kathir, Ibn Warraq, IQ Al-Rassooli and Robert Spencer (to whom Theresa May still owes an apology for needlessly banning him from Britain).

Studying these and similar sources should make it clear that the Meccan verses are all of the Koran which is compatible with democratic, pluralistic societies. What must logically follow is the acceptance that an element of compulsion will be necessary. Copies of the Koran containing the Medinan suras will have to be banned from mosques and faith schools, in fact from the country, as incitements to terrorism.

There will be resistance of course but, sadly, these actions are the bare minimum offering even a chance of avoiding the otherwise inevitable civil strife. We can of course just wait and hope for the best as atrocities mount and the demographics move ever more against us, or we can take pre-emptive measures.

Think of the apocryphal sign in an undertaker’s window, “Eventually – why not now?”

Slay the idolaters….but which idolaters?

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In the counter-jihad world it is widely taken as unquestionable that the jihad verses of the Koran sanction eternal warfare against non-Muslims until the whole world is converted or subjugated. This is because they are open ended and therefore refer to you and me in London and New York today just as much as they do to Mohammed’s tribal enemies in Mecca in 630 AD. That is what I find when discussing it with counter-jihadists anyway, and it is what I believed until I had a long and bitter debate with someone making the case that mainstream Islam is not unavoidably supremacist because those verses should be interpreted contextually.

It was only some time after that I looked more closely at the jihad verses, and those surrounding them, and realised to my horror that she was right. Or half right anyway. Right that they can very plausibly be interpreted contextually but wrong that Islam is therefore not inherently and unavoidably supremacist. How come?

Imagine that Islam never spread out of Arabia, that perhaps the Persian and Byzantine empires rallied and squashed it, never to be heard of again. Then imagine coming across this strange old book in the loft of a church or synagogue in the one-camel town of Mecca 1400 years later. What would you make of it? I suggest that you would probably think it a collection of tales and motivational sermons from some cult leader to his followers in their bid to take over Mecca and the surrounding area. Would you see anything in it that suggests any ambitions beyond that, anything that clearly mandates eternal application over the whole world?

Take the infamous verse 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.

Which idolaters is it referring to? There is nothing which identifies all idolaters for all time. Looking at the previous verses:

In verse 1 and verse 3 Allah is giving Mohammed permission to annul the treaty he made with neighbouring idolaters. In verse 4 Allah makes an exception of those of the idolaters who have abided by the terms of the treaty. So who are the idolaters to be ambushed as instructed in verse 5? Presumably the idolaters who supposedly broke the treaty. Jihadis (and counter-jihadists) claim that the verse refers to all idolaters for all time but they have to derive that interpretation from elsewhere because it is clearly not in the text.

Moreover, the sacred months referred to were a specifically local custom, tying the verse even more firmly to its context. Mohammed got so much grief for carrying out his first caravan raid during that time that Allah was obliged to send down a special revelation to get him off the hook.

Likewise with 9:29:

Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

In verse 25 and verse 26 Allah is addressing those Muslims who took part in the Battle of Huneyn. In verse 28 he is referring to those idolaters, necessarily within reach of Mecca, who must not be allowed near the Inviolable Place of Worship, ie the Kaaba in Mecca.

But 9:29 means Jews and Christians everywhere and forever? Really? What would William of Occam (he of the razor) say?

Even with 8:39, one of the two most apparently supremacist verses in the Koran:

And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah

the standard translations say nothing about everywhere and forever. The verse could plausibly be read as being fulfilled when Mohammed marched into the Kaaba and destroyed the 360 other gods.

Verse 34 talks of the Meccans who kept the Muslims from the Kaaba.
Verse 41 is about establishing Mohammed’s cut of the loot.
In verse 42 Allah reminisces about the Battle of Badr.

Who are the unbelievers who must be fought until religion is all for Allah, all unbelievers forever and everywhere or just the Meccans? I see nothing about holy war “without limit of time or space”, just a very specific campaign over control of the Kaaba and booty.

It took Hilali and Khan, the Saudi government’s own translators, to turn it into:

And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah Alone [in the whole of the world]

Likewise, they turned 8:60 from the 7th century:

Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah…

into the decidedly 21st century:

And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery, etc.) to threaten the enemy of Allah…

Admittedly it is the Hilali-Khan translation which is to be found in all those Saudi funded mosques around the world, influencing generations of Salafis, but that adds nothing to its validity, only to its malign effect.

The other most apparently supremacist verse, 48:28, is much the same:

He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion. And Allah sufficeth as a Witness.

The previous verses are clearly about the Muslims’ campaign for control of Mecca and the Kaaba (verse 24, verse 25 and verse 27). That being so, is there any reason to suppose that “all religion” was intended to refer to all religion in the entire world rather than all the religion practised in the vicinity of Mecca?

We could go on but you get the point. I have been through all the 160 or so jihad verses, conveniently highlighted in mauve here, (and their surrounding verses) and can find none which clearly point to a place or time beyond Mohammed’s military campaigns. If you can I would be grateful to hear of them.

Surprisingly, it is a non-jihad verse which seems to provide the strongest support for the supremacist view albeit indirectly, 33:21:

Verily in the messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the Last Day, and remembereth Allah much.

Much hangs on this verse. The Sunnah is the example of Mohammed and Sunnis are those who follow it. So what do we find in the example of Mohammed? Some people manage to concentrate on the benign parts of Mohammed’s example but to jihadis (and to those among us who unaccountably harbour an irrational fear of Islam) the example of Mohammed is indisputably red in tooth and claw.

Is it reasonable to think that Allah meant Mohammed’s good example should cease to be taken as such after his death? General examples of any kind are usually regarded as being without an expiry date, probably more so when given by entities who were supposedly there at the beginning of the universe and who will be there at the end.

What then might someone who strives to follow Mohammed’s example make of it in Cardiff or Sydney today (literally today, 2nd May 2017 as an unexceptional example)? Even if Mohammed’s rampages were only ever local, it would be difficult to argue with those who come to the conclusion that Allah would approve of their playing out his murderous example on a larger stage until all unbelievers are converted or subjugated.

On the other hand there are two good pieces of contemporary evidence for Mohammed’s supremacism outside the Koran:

Firstly, there is the documentary evidence of his threatening letters to surrounding kings and even emperors. As far as I know they are undisputed, at least John Andrew Morrow who goes to heroic lengths to whitewash Mohammed in his book about the Covenants of Mohammed accepts them as genuine. The fact that Mohammed had the chutzpah to write to emperors in such terms is highly persuasive of his limitless ambitions but also, look how direct he is with the smaller fry in his neighbourhood:

“Be informed that my religion shall prevail everywhere (to Haudha bin Ali, governor of Yamama).

“Allah has sent me as a Prophet to all His creatures“ (to Jaifer, King of Oman).

Secondly, there is the circumstantial evidence of the actions of Mohammed’s immediate successors who, as his companions in life, presumably knew his intentions best. Did they settle down and turn Arabia into a model theocracy, happy to let the surrounding infidels get on with their thing? No they consolidated their power with the brutal Ridda Wars then took Islam from Spain to India (and not by knocking on doors). They stopped there not because they had spread the word of Allah far enough but because opposing armies halted them.

Leaving the 7th century behind us, more than 100 years after Mohammed’s death Ibn Ishaq tells us in his biography, which is the foundation of the Sira, that it was Mohammed himself who sent jihad beyond Arabia by ordering an attack against Byzantine Syria from his deathbed.

Ibn Ishaq also tells us that after hitting a stone with his pickaxe during preparations for the Battle of the Trench Mohammed said:

“The first spark means that Allah has promised me the conquest of Yemen ; the second that Allah has granted me the conquest of Syria and the West ; and the third that Allah has bestowed upon me victory over the East.”

Another 100 years after that we see this sort of thing in the Hadiths:

“Allah drew the ends of the world near one another for my sake. And I have seen its eastern and western ends. And the dominion of my Ummah would reach those ends… Sahih Muslim (41:6904)

I would not want to be convicted on evidence passed down by word of mouth over 200 years but the point is that Mohammed’s supremacism becomes ever more entrenched in Islam. The process is augmented with the great mediaeval commentaries, for instance:

“Allah the Exalted and Most Honored said, while delivering the glad tidings to the believers that the Messenger will triumph over his enemies and the rest of the people of the earth. Tafsir of Ibn Kathir.

And by the various schools of Islamic Law, for instance:

“Among the things that entail apostasy from Islam are…to deny that Allah intended the Prophet’s message (Allah bless him and give him peace) to be the religion followed by the entire world. The Reliance of the Traveller.

What can we conclude then?

1. The jihad verses do not show that Mohammed was supremacist – ie globally and eternally supremacist.
2. There is good evidence elsewhere that he was, and this has been amplified over the centuries in Islamic scriptures.

I submitted my findings to some knowledgeable people and they said with one voice “So what? Try telling that to Muslims”.

But I do not want to persuade Muslims that Mohammed was not supremacist. I want to persuade non-Muslims that he was, and that Islam is, in order to alert them to the danger we face. As things stand it is too easy for people who know only the Koran to dismiss the jihad verses as merely contextual and to wrongly conclude that Mohammed wasn’t supremacist and therefore Islam isn’t.

They are of course encouraged in this mindset by the many deceptive Islamic apologists (Mehdi Hasan and Reza Aslan come to mind) and by Western (not Eastern) imams. Those people know that there is more to Islam than the Koran but why disturb the infidels’ comfortable illusions? Think beekeepers, smoke, bees.

No, the claim that Mohammed’s supremacism is demonstrated by the jihad verses is not a defensible position. By insisting on something which can be so easily debunked we are undermining our own credibility and reinforcing the preconceptions of a generation who have been told that only phobes and worse challenge the “Religion of Peace” story. Better to abandon it and concentrate on pointing out the evidence elsewhere for both Mohammed’s and Islam’s lust for dominion “without limit of time or space”. Who knows, perhaps the odd rejecter of the counter-jihad message may be persuaded…one less of them, one more of us.

UPDATE 11/5/2017
After all this time and trouble I’ve just come across a verse which does appear to unambiguously declare Allah/Mohammed’s universally supremacist intent:

Allah hath promised such of you as believe and do good work that He will surely make them to succeed (the present rulers) in the earth even as He caused those who were before them to succeed (others)… (24:55)

This seems to be a conclusive rebuttal to the contextual argument, ie that there is no Koranic support for Islamic supremacism beyond the Mecca/Medina area of 630 AD.

Ibn Kathir, in his commentary on sura 24, makes his understanding of verse 55 clear:

“This is a promise from Allah to His Messenger that He would cause his Ummah to become successors on earth, i.e., they would become the leaders and rulers of mankind, through whom He would reform the world and to whom people would submit”.

What would those who claim that Islam can live permanently as equals with other religions, without the aim of eventual domination, make of the verse? I never hear them tackle it.
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Hate speech

Paul Weston of Liberty GB found out something about free speech in Britain when he got arrested for quoting Winston Churchill on the subject of Islam.

In the same vein, I wonder what the reaction would be if someone were to hand out leaflets in the street with some of the choicer suras on one side and the same on the reverse, only referring to Muslims rather than unbelievers. What might it reveal about the reality of our hate speech legislation and its application?

For instance, something like this:

—————————————————— Hate Speech? —————————————————

And ye know of those of you who broke the Sabbath, how We said unto them: Be ye apes, despised and hated! (Koran 2:65)

We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve because they ascribe unto Allah partners, for which no warrant hath been revealed. Their habitation is the Fire, and hapless the abode of the wrong-doers. (3:151)

The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter. (5:33)

O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Whoso of you makes them his friends is one of them. (5:51)

Surely, the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are the disbelievers, who will not believe. (8:55)

Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low. (9:29)

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). (9:123)

…But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads, Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning. (22:19-22)

When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds… (47:4)

Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves… (48:29)

Lo! those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings. (98:6)

—————————————————— Hate Speech? —————————————————

And ye know of those Muslims, how We said unto them: Be ye apes, despised and hated!

We shall cast terror into the hearts of Muslims because they deny the Trinity. Their habitation is the Fire, and hapless the abode of the wrong-doers.

The recompense of those who wage war in the cause of Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter.

O Jews and Christians, take not Muslims as friends; they are friends of each other. Whoso of you makes them his friends is one of them.

Surely, the worst of beasts in the sight of God are the Muslims, who believe.

Fight against the Muslims who believe in Allah and the Last Day….until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

O non-Muslims! Fight those of the Muslims who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that God is with those who keep their duty (unto Him).

…But as for Muslims, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads, Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning.

When you meet the Muslims, smite their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds…

Non-Muslims are hard against the Muslims and merciful among themselves…

Lo! those who believe in Islam, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings.

Examining Quilliam’s claims

Quilliam, the anti-extremist think tank, claims that Islam is compatible with religious freedom, equality, human rights and democracy. Many people, Muslim and non-Muslim, would be sceptical of that view, believing that the Islamic scriptures and tradition do not support it, or come anywhere near to supporting it.

Let us examine whether the Islamic texts, which Quilliam director Usama Hasan quotes, do actually support his claims or not.

This is an article written shortly after the Woolwich murder:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22640614

1. “The universal verses of the Koran (eg 49:13, “O humanity! We have created you from male and female and made you nations and tribes so that you may know each other: the most honoured of you with God are those most God-conscious: truly, God is Knowing, Wise”) promote full human equality and leave no place for slavery, misogyny, xenophobia or racism.”

Firstly, although the Koran does use the word “Ilah” meaning “deity” the word used in this verse is not “Ilah” but “Allah”. Why does Dr Hasan substitute the word “God”? Surely to give the impression of a religious universalism which is not there. “The most honoured of you with Allah are those most Allah-conscious” reads quite differently doesn’t it?

Secondly, the next verse says:

“The bedouins say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], ‘We have submitted,’ for faith has not yet entered your hearts. And if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you from your deeds of anything. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

In other words the various tribes and nations are accepted, as long as they submit to the one true religion. Viewing verse 49:13 in its immediate textual context we find no “full human equality”, only equality between Muslims.

Lastly, the verse quoted is entirely silent on “slavery, misogyny, xenophobia and racism”. If Dr Hasan has other “universal verses” in mind he should bring them forward for inspection.

2. “However, other Koranic verses that may seem to accommodate slavery, discrimination against non-Muslims and women and even wife-beating (eg 4:34) were clearly specific for their time and always meant as temporary measures in a process of liberation.”

[Sura 4:34 Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.]

“Seem to accommodate”? “Clearly specific for their time”? “Temporary measures in a process of liberation”? No, Dr Hasan, none of that is clear. In fact, just the opposite. Mohammed insisted that all the teachings of the Koran are the eternal, unchangeable word of Allah, and that is how they have been taken by orthodox Muslims down the ages until today.

3. “The Koranic notion of Jihad is essentially about the sacred and physical-spiritual nature of life’s struggles, as summed up by “strive in God”, a verse revealed in the pacifist period of Islam before war was permitted.”

It is a pity Dr Hasan does not specify the relevant verse so we can inspect it in context. A search of the Koran reveals no such phrase as “strive in Allah”, only several instances of “strive hard in Allah’s way” which obviously has very different connotations. Try it for youself:

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/k/koran/

(As an aside, while you’re there, why not try typing in “unbelievers” to see what Allah plans for your future, and how his views on religious freedom and equality appear to differ from Dr Hasan’s.)

As it is we only have Dr Hasan’s word for it that Jihad is essentially about the sacred and physical-spiritual nature of life’s struggles. The vast majority of scholars have seen it simply as the spread of Islam by holy war. Just to take one example of many:

Ibn Taymiyyah, mediaeval theologian:
“Since lawful warfare is essentially Jihad and since its aim is that religion is entirely for Allah and the word of Allah is uppermost, therefore, according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought”.

4. “Socio-political Jihads are needed to achieve the goals of noble causes such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that may be seen as an extension of the themes of equality contained in the Prophet Muhammad’s farewell sermon.”

That is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by the way, which the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, representing 57 states, has been trying its best to emasculate for the last twenty years.

These are the themes of equality Dr Hasan must be referring to:

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.”

But according to WikiIslam, usually a reliable source on Islamic matters, that section is fraudulent (about half way down the page):

http://wikiislam.net/wiki/List_of_Fabricated_Hadith#Muhammad.27s_Farewell_Sermon

And even if it were genuine, the last three sentences give the game away – equality in Islam is between Muslims only.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

This is a video in which Dr Hasan proposes that Islam can co-exist with secularism, democracy and religious pluralism (he gets into his stride after 7 minutes):



On secularism Dr Hasan quotes Ibn Khaldun, the mediaeval scholar, who made much of a story that Mohammed gave some farming advice to his followers. When the crop failed Mohammed admitted that perhaps they might know best in practical matters.
Hardly “Render unto Caesar…etc” but on the basis of this Dr Hasan sees Mohammed, the theocratic ruler till he died, sanctioning the splitting of religious and temporal power.

On religious pluralism he quotes the old favourite “There is no compulsion in religion”.
Is there not? We know that when he became powerful enough Mohammed certainly did compel neighbouring tribes and kingdoms to convert, that is to say “encouraged” them with offers they could not refuse. For instance here is Mohammed writing to King Jaifer of Oman and his brother Abd Al-Jalandi:

“…Embrace Islam. Allah has sent me as a Prophet to all His creatures in order that I may instil fear of Allah in the hearts of His disobedient creatures so that there may be left no excuse for those who deny Allah. If you two accept Islam, you will remain in command of your country; but if you refuse my Call, you’ve got to remember that all your possessions are perishable. My horsemen will appropriate your land, and my Prophethood will assume preponderance over your kingship.” (The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet)

And here is Ibn Khaldun again, this time on religious pluralism:

“In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force”.

At the end of his talk Dr Hasan says “We have to allow people to adopt their own faith. We have to allow religious freedom, there is no other option…I believe in the validity of all major religions…I believe there are many paths to God.”

A very laudable tolerance on Dr Hasan’s part but this is absolutely not the view of Allah as expressed in many verses of the Koran, for instance:

Sura 48:28 “He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion. And Allah sufficeth as a Witness.”

Not only does Islamic tradition support this explicit supremacism but the authoritative manual of Shafi’i jurisprudence “The Reliance of the Traveller” actually declares it apostasy “to deny that Allah intended the Prophet’s message (Allah bless him and give him peace) to be the religion followed by the entire world.” (section o8.20)

Are Dr Hasan’s justifications not remarkably weak? Who will be convinced by them? Surely not the Muslims who chased him out of his own mosque with death threats for talking about evolution. Nor the Jihadis decamping for Syria, leaving behind the family members to tell us they never knew they were extreme. Nor those of us without a scholar’s knowledge but with eyes to read. But possibly those desperate to be reassured, like our political leaders intent on believing that the peaceful religion of Islam has been hijacked by extremists.

And yet, oddly enough, the very feebleness of Dr Hasan’s arguments could be taken as a sign of genuineness. They are hardly the clever double talk of Tariq Ramadan or the quick fire patter of Mehdi Hasan. Those of a charitable disposition could well believe that it is not Dr Hasan’s intention to lull non-Muslims while the hardliners strengthen their position in the country, even though that must surely be the likely effect of his efforts. He is certainly a brave and, apparently, a decent man. Could it be that he is sincere but clutching at straws in the hope that Islam can be induced to change into something it has never shown any inclination to be throughout its history?

If so, then hope must be the operative word here, rather than expectation or even belief. In the end are Dr Hasan’s entreaties not of a piece with his Quilliam partner Maajid Nawaz’s plea to the audience of an “Is Islam a religion of peace” debate, “Please vote for the motion, even if you don’t believe Islam is a religion of peace, in order to encourage it to become so”? (right at the end):