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Refutation Of Raymond Ibrahim’s Article Entitled ‘Islamic State Beheads, Mutilates, As The Quran Instructs’ - Part 1: Don't Ignore The Context Of Quran's Verses Or The Asbab Al-Nuzul


By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

20 November, 2014

The Islamophobia industry is viciously attacking Islam from all possible angles. It has in a way joined hands with the so-called Islamist terrorists in thrusting the world into the fire of hatred and prejudice. One of the senior workers in the Islamophobia industry is Mr. Raymond Ibrahim who overnight turned from “research librarian” into an “Islamic-scholar,” though completely bereft of true spirit of Islam.  He recently penned an article titled “Islamic State beheads, mutilates as the Quran instructs” posted in the renowned website “The Commentator”. (link below).

Did Mr. Raymond Urge Mr. Obama And Cameron To Kill All Real Muslims?

His ideas based on totally distorted version of Islam vividly seem to ask Mr. Barak Obama and Cameron to eliminate not only the ISIL barbarians but also mainstream, moderate Muslims.  At the very outset of his article, he says: “Obama, Cameron etc all say Islamic State are just a bunch of barbarians, not real Muslims. But as they behead and mutilate "infidels" they're only doing what the Quran and the Prophet instructs”.

Associating the ISIL and its like-minded terrorist outfits with true Islam and majority mainstream Muslims has been one of the founding principles of Islamophobes. This is only due to the evil intentions of such so-called “counter-terrorism humans”. They pretend to fight against terrorism but I see their literatures are creating another kind of extremism, terrorism, radicalism, barbarism etc. Mr. Raymond’s article can be taken as an example.  

The US and Arab allies are united to eradicate the terrorist outfit ISIL. Islamic scholars from around the world have issued a number of fatwas condemning all of the ISIL atrocities—mutilation, beheading, merciless killing of innocent lives etc. But what Mr. Raymond exactly wants, a man of even the slightest intelligence can easily understand from his violent article. He is asking US President Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron to kill all Muslims as he says, “(when) they behead and mutilate "infidels" they're only doing what the Quran and the Prophet instructs”.

Islamophobes and Terrorist Organizations Fomenting Radicalism

Before refuting his force-fitted arguments, it should be noted that Islamophobes like Mr. Raymond Ibrahim are distorting the true spirit of Islam, and same is true of terrorist organizations like ISIL, Taliban, al-Qaeda etc. Thus, in matter of fomenting extremism and radicalism, there is a huge similarity among Islamophobes, ISIL and its like-minded terrorist groups.          

Like ISIL and Taliban Mr. Raymond quoted the Qur’anic Verses Totally out of Context

To prove his Islamophobic point, Mr. Raymond has quoted the Qur’anic verses 9:14- 15 out of context, without understanding the reasons and circumstances (Asbab al-Nuzul) of these verses. This process, no matter who started it for the first time, is injecting evil virus into about all societies across the world. In his article, though Mr. Raymond says, “to understand the significance of any Quran verse, one must turn to the Sira and Hadith—the biography and anecdotes of Muhammad, respectively—for context”, he has fully ignored the relevant context while mentioning the two verses 9:14, 15 and abruptly jumped out of context to describe the state of Abu Jahl. By doing so, it seems he wants to provoke Mr. Obama, Cameron and all non-Muslims to eradicate Muslims from the world, because these Muslims will never disbelieve in the Qur’an and Hadith.  

Unlawfulness of Misquoting or cherry-picking the Qur’anic Verses in the Qur’an

The significance of the context to understand the Qur’an and Hadith can and should be seen in the principles of Islamic jurisprudence and exegesis. In accordance with the methodology established by the Qur’an and Hadith, it is strictly prohibited to cherry-pick an extract from the Qur’an without understanding it within its full context. Allah Almighty says:

“Do you believe in some parts of the Book and deny some others? So he who does so from amongst you, what can be his punishment but disgrace (and humiliation) in the worldly life? And (also) on the Day of Resurrection, (such people) will be returned to the most ruthless torment. And Allah is not unaware of your deeds” (2:85)

“Then We laid Our curse on them because of their breach of promise (i.e., they were deprived of Our mercy), and We made their hearts callous (i.e., they were deprived of guidance and susceptibility. So,) they change the Words (of Allah’s Book) from their (right) places, and have forgotten a (major) portion of that (guidance) which they were urged upon. And you will continue being informed about one or the other of their treachery, except a few of them (who have embraced faith). So pardon them and forbear. Indeed, Allah loves the benefactors” (5:13)

“Those who divided the Qur’an into pieces (and split it, i.e., accepted the favourable Verses but rejected the others)” (15:91)

The verses mentioned above guide people to understand verses in context. Thus, to understand any Qur’anic verse or Hadith, every exegete should ponder over the relevant context in its entirety, and not depending on only parts of it. Having gathered all the relevant scriptural texts, he should distinguish the ‘general’ from the ‘specific’, the ‘conditional’ from the ‘unconditional’ and the ‘unequivocal’ from the ‘allegorical’. Besides, it is essential for him to consider the reasons and circumstances of revelation (Asbab al-Nuzul) and all the other interpretive conditions specified by the classical Islamic jurists and scholars.

Widely Approved Reasons and Circumstances (Asbab al-Nuzul) of the Qur’anic verses 9:14-15

The exact context of the verses 9:14, 15, which Mr. Raymond quoted to incite extremism and fanaticism among Muslims and non-Muslims, basically starts from the verse 9:12. Before quoting these verses within full context, we should take into consideration their reasons and circumstances (Asbab al-Nuzul). 

According to the widely renowned and unanimously accepted books of exegesis—Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Tafseer al-Tabari, Tafsir al-Baghawi (also known as Ma'alim at-Tanzeel), Tafsir Al-Tahrir Wal Tanwir’ (also known as Tafsir Ibn 'Ashur), Tafsir ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Kabir (The Large Commentary, also known as Mafatih al-Ghayb), Tafsir al-Jalalayn—, these verses (9:12, 13, 14, 15) were revealed after the then pagans of Makkah broke the treaty of peace known as Sulh al-Hudaibiya and restored the state of war. Taking into consideration Asbab al-Nuzul, these verses can now be understood well as follows:

“And if after making a promise (for peaceful bilateral relations), they break their oaths, (and restore the state of war,) and taunt you with sarcasm in your Din (Religion), then wage (defensive) war against (those) chieftains of disbelief (to eliminate any chance of mischief, violence and revolt). Surely, their oaths are not worth any regard, so that they may desist (from their mischief-mongering). (9:12)

“Will you not fight a people who broke their oaths (violating the peace treaty and restoring the state of war), and decided to banish the Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) whilst the first time it is they who initiated war against you? Do you fear them? But Allah has more right that you should fear Him, provided you are believers. (9:13)

“Fight against them (to establish peace). Allah will torment them at your hands and will humiliate them, and will help you (in your defensive fight) against them, and will heal the breasts of the believers. (9:14)

“And He will remove the distress and fury in their hearts, and will accept repentance of whom He wills. And Allah is All-Knowing, Most Wise. (9:15)”

It has been clear from the verses above that fighting was ordered only against those who broke the treaty of peace (Sulh al-Hudaibiya) and restored the state of war. There was no option left for the then believers other than defending their lives and rights to freely practice their religion. The situation in which these verses were revealed is entirely different from today’s bloody events taking place in Iraq and Syria. Innocent emissaries, journalists like James Foley and Steven Sotloff, citizens including Muslims and non-Muslims living in Iraq and Syria or elsewhere being killed by ISIL or its allies are not in any way like those Arab pagans who had compelled the then believers to either defend themselves or be killed. So, from the Islamic perspective, it is a great injustice to forcefully attach today’s situation to that of the early period of Islam. But Mr. Raymond did not care about this injustice and quoted such verses out of context to defame Islam and incite fanaticism among Muslims and non-Muslims. He is clearly following the behaviour of ISIL, though he may pretend to oppose it.   

A regular columnist and English-Arabic translator for New Age Islam, Ghulam Ghaus is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background. He has completed the classical Islamic sciences from a Delhi-based Sufi Islamic seminary Jamia Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Zakir Nagar, New Delhi with specialization in Tafseer, Hadith and Arabic. He completed his Alimiat and Fazilat respectively from Jamia Warsia Arabic College, Lucknow and Jamia Manzar- e- Islam, Bareilly, U.P. He has graduated in Arabic (Hons) and is pursuing his M.A in Arabic from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

(To be continued)

Link of Mr. Raymond’s article: