By Mike Scruggs
November 26, 2013
“Americans respect and honour Islam.” -President Bill Clinton- September 21, 1998
In addition to President Bill Clinton’s conciliatory words about Islam, former President George W. Bush has often referred to Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance. There is a sense in which this is half true. The Quran, which Muslims believe to be the direct revelation of Allah given to his Prophet Muhammad (570-632 AD), contains verses that seem to preach peace and tolerance. But it also contains many verses that preach Jihad, or holy war, against all unbelievers including Jews and Christians. These verses call for either death or humiliating and oppressive subjugation for all who will not convert to Islam.
The foundational doctrines of Islam are supported by the Quran and the accepted traditions of Muhammad’s life and teachings. These traditions and teachings are called individually the Hadiths and collectively the Sunna. The Sunna is much more voluminous than and almost as sacred as the Quran. The Sunna is the primary explanatory documentation for the meaning of the Quran. So according to the Quran and the Sunna, is Islam a religion of peace and tolerance, or is it a religion of violence, oppression, and intolerance for all who deny its tenets? How do Muslims resolve this inconsistency? What does it mean for the West?
Interpreting the Quran: The Doctrine of Abrogation
Muslim theologians have a way of explaining the inconsistencies of the Quran. They have a rule for interpretation called, “Abrogation.” Whenever verses are in contradiction, the chronology of the verses determines their significance and proper interpretation. Later verses abrogate (cancel or supersede) earlier contradictory verses.
This creates an enormous problem for those in the West who insist on believing Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. Almost all the peace and tolerance verses of the Quran come from the earlier period of Allah’s alleged revelation to Muhammad in Mecca, when the Prophet still hoped to convince the Christian and Jewish minorities in Arabia of the compatibility of the new revelations with their faith. But what Muhammad knew of Christian and Jewish Scripture was not extensive, often quite distorted, and usually heretical. The verses of fire, sword, destruction, and oppressive subjugation for those who do not convert to Islam come from the later period in Medina, when Muhammad’s efforts to convince the Jews and Christians to follow him as the final and authoritative Prophet of God had failed. Sura (chapter) 9, a Medina chapter of the Quran, is thought to be the last or next to last revelation to the Prophet. Thus it has a last word status in the Quran. Unfortunately, it is the most militant, violent, and anti-Jewish and anti-Christian chapter in the Quran. Earlier abrogated verses have much less status, but they are often used disingenuously by Muslim propagandists and naively by their Western devotees to present a more acceptable and less threatening image of Islam to the West.
The hard truth is that because of Islam’s interpretive doctrine of abrogation, there is very little peace and tolerance for unbelievers left in Islam. Jihad, or holy war against unbelievers, is the rule and not the exception. The only peace in Islam is when all are converted or subjugated to Islam. All must submit to Islamic Law (Sharia). Indeed, Islam does not mean peace; it means “submission.” An important but dangerously neglected fact that one must confront in dealing with Islam is that Islam is much more than just a religion. It is a total worldview encompassing every aspect of life. It is also a totalitarian, revolutionary, and expansionist ideology demanding that Islamic Law (Shariah) reign supreme in all of life everywhere. Jihad is the struggle to establish Islamic religious and political hegemony in the world. There are many forms of Jihad, but the ultimate objective is the same—the dominance of Islam. The most frequently exalted form of Jihad in the Quran and the sayings of Muhammad is armed conflict against those who resist the faith of Islam.
The opening exclamation of 112 of 113 chapters of the Quran repeats these words:
“In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”
On opening the Quran and seeing these words repeated so often, it is understandable that the first impression often leads people to mistakenly believe that Allah (The Arabic word for God) and the Lord God of the Bible are the same. You might even conclude on that basis that Islam must surely be a religion almost like Christianity and Judaism and therefore a religion of peace and tolerance. But you would be badly mistaken.
There are many verses in the Quran that bear some resemblance to the Bible in language and style, and which seem to preach peace, tolerance, compassion, and mercy.
On the other hand, if you pick up and read Sura 9: 5, you have quite a different impression:
“And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is Gracious, Merciful.”
“Those who join other gods with God” in this verse means specifically those who believe in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. Belief in the Trinity to Muslims is terrible apostasy and blasphemy, deserving death. Thus the Quran exhorts Muslim believers to go out and kill Christians unless they convert to Islam. Convert or die is not the command of religious tolerance.
In addition to the Quran, there are many sayings of Muhammad, which clearly indicate his great emphasis on Jihad, or holy war against infidels, and glorification of martyrdom in the expansion of Islam.
A common theme of multiculturalist apologists for Islam in recent years is that Jihad is primarily a doctrine of spiritual struggle. That opinion is held by only a small percentage of Muslim scholars of Islam and by some in the mystical, and syncretistic Sufi sect, but it has never been the primary interpretation in the major branches of mainstream Islam. The only group with a strong majority supporting the “peace and tolerance” counterfactual version of Jihad is American college professors of “Religious” studies. This is in amazing contrast to all documental and historical evidence. This insupportable position they hold to with almost hysterical political correctitude. Unfortunately they have considerable influence in educational, media, and political spheres. Nevertheless, violent holy war against all who reject Islam has always been the primary meaning of Jihad in Islam.
Muhammad himself said that “the most important acts a man can perform are faith, war in the path of Allah, and a blameless pilgrimage.” It takes considerable self- deception by Western multiculturalists to believe otherwise.