Written in 2005
Since the terrorist attacks in London began on 7/7/05 there has been a concerted attempt by politicians, police and the media to distance the mainstream Muslim community and the Islamic religion from acts of terror. Part of the motivation for this is to prevent a backlash of racist hatred and attacks against Muslims which is understandable on one level. But in the process an important element of the truth is being suppressed, namely the connection between Islamic teaching and acts of violence. Most people say those indulging in terrorism are perverting true Islam which is a peaceful religion. In a recent TV interview after the terror attacks in London, Sir Ian Blair, the chief commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said the problem society is facing is not fundamentalism in any religion, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, but religion advocating violence.
The problem with this is that if one is a fundamental Christian one has to accept the teaching and example of Jesus as authoritative and Jesus forbids the use of violence to spread His message. If so called Christians have used violence in the Crusades or the Inquisition they can find no justification for their actions in the words of Jesus, but rather condemnation. On the other hand if one is a fundamental Muslim one will accept the teaching of the Koran and the Hadith as authoritative and look to the example of Mohammed for guidance. In this case one will find ample justification for acts of violence in order to spread the Islamic faith. This is the great difference between Islam and Christianity which is being lost in the fog of religious confusion as people try to be politically correct rather than look at the facts. Leaders of the faiths talk of the ‘3 great monotheistic religions’ of Judaism, Islam and Christianity and imply that they all teach and believe roughly the same things about God. It is also being said by Muslim leaders that Islam is a religion of tolerance and peace and the terrorists and those who advocate violence are distorting the faith.
The oft repeated mantra that Islam is a peaceful religion that has been hi-jacked by a handful of fanatics was dealt a blow by two articles in the press recently. Patrick Sookdheo, Director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, wrote an article in the Spectator, reproduced in the Evening Standard (29/7/05) in which he showed the connection between the verses in the Koran which command violence against non Muslims and the mind of the terrorists. For example Q8.59-60 urges Muslims to prepare themselves to fight against non Muslims. ‘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.’ He asks the question ‘Could it be that the young men who committed suicide were neither on the fringes of Muslim society in Britain nor following an extremist interpretation of their faith, but rather that they came from the very core of the community and were motivated by a mainstream interpretation of Islam?’
Writing in the Sunday Express (24/7/05) Muslim born Tawfik Hamid – who has had close links with Al Qaeda’s top brass and predicted the attacks on New York, Madrid and London – warned of worse to come in Britain. The scholar, who has been forced to conceal his real identity after death threats from Islamic fundamentalists, says he was schooled in radicalism and indoctrinated into terrorism as a young man before escaping in the West. He has now warned, “There will be future terror attacks in Britain and they will make the bombing in London look like nothing, I expect a major crisis in the next few years. I expect a major chemical attack on the water supply or on the food in Britain.”
He said the failure of Western governments to act against the growing radicalism had allowed it to flourish. “This is like someone with cancer pretending they do not have it. They ignore it but will just grow and eventually it will kill them. There is no use in giving concessions. The more you concede, the more generous you are, the more it is seen as weakness and they will attack you again to get more concessions.’
“Violence is a fundamental part of Islamic teaching. In Islam the books themselves preach violence against non Muslims. It is an ideological war against the West to force you into subjugation before Islam. They brainwash you the moment you enter the mosque as a child. Every Muslim child is brought up with idea that followers of Islam are superior, of Islam conquering the world. It is easy to say Islam is the religion of peace, but the reality is actually the opposite. For the majority of Muslims every terrorist act is a small victory against the West. They dream about being victorious against the infidels. So they become silent and that silence means approval. The only way to make Muslims satisfied with the West is for Westerners to submit to an Islamic or Taliban like system, stop their freedom and suppress women.”
So which is the truth – that Islam is peaceful or that it sanctions violence?
FROM NON VIOLENCE TO VIOLENCE
When Muhammad started out preaching his religion of Islam he was not violent. He was persecuted for preaching his religious ideas – Islam – and criticizing the pagan religion that was followed at the time in Mecca. Some of Muhammad’s followers were tortured. Things were so bad for him and his few followers that he sent many of them to Ethiopia for refuge. Eventually, he and his followers moved north to a city called Yathrib [Medina], where some members of two Arab tribes wanted Muhammad to be their prophet.
Just prior to Muhammad’s leaving for Medina, he received a “revelation” allowing him to fight the people of Mecca. He knew that in Medina, he had a group of armed men who would support him. Furthermore, in Medina, he would be more distant from Mecca and the attempt to oppress or kill him. The following is from “The Life of Muhammad”, page 212, by A. Guillaume, which is a rendering of Ibn Ishaq’s “Sirat Rasulallah”, a biography of Muhammad written by an early Muslim scholar .
‘The apostle had not been given permission to fight or allowed to shed blood before the second Aqaba [a place where a pledge was made between Muhammad and his followers from Medina]. He had simply been ordered to call men to Allah and to endure insult and forgive the ignorant. The Quraysh [a leading group in Mecca] had persecuted his followers, seducing some from their religion and exiling others from their country. They had to choose whether to give up their religion, be maltreated at home, or to flee the country, some to Abyssinia, others to Medina.’
‘When Quraysh became insolent towards Allah … He gave permission to his apostle to fight and to protect himself against those who wronged them and treated them badly. … God sent down to him: “Fight them so that there be no more seduction,” [b] i.e. until no believer is seduced from his religion. “And the religion is God’s,”, i.e. Until God alone is worshipped.”
[Note: two passages from the Quran are referenced: [a] Sura 22:39-41, and [b] Sura 2:193]
In Mecca, where Muhammad was weak, he attacked no one. He only preached his religion and opposed the religions of Mecca. But it was just prior to his leaving for Medina, where he had a limited amount of armed men to support him, that he received this “revelation” and began to use violence to further his desires. A group of feuding Arabs in Medina accepted him as their prophet. They hoped he could help them maintain peace. They eventually made a pledge to support Muhammad in war against the Quraysh [Guillaume, op cit, page 205]. Now Muhammad knew he had an able and armed following. It was only when he had a following that could defend themselves, that suddenly “Allah” gave Muhammad his “revelation” to fight. Muhammad’s circumstances changed, and Muhammad’s Allah changed with them. Muhammad went from being only a “preacher” to being an aggressor.
Similarly when Islam is weak in a society today it does not use violence and adopts a peaceful face. But when it becomes stronger and senses that it can begin to impose its will on a society which is weakening it begins to use violence to further its ends. Muslims today have rightly concluded that western society is decadent, has few moral and spiritual values and is ripe for takeover. We can expect that the more the West gives in to Islam the more they will use violence to further their aims, which are that our society too should be submitted to their dictates.
USING TERROR TO DEAL WITH OPPONENTS
After moving to Medina Muhammad began to have opposition from Jews and pagans in the area. He commanded his followers to ‘kill any Jew that comes under your power.’
From Guillaume, op cit, page 369: “The apostle said, “Kill any Jew that falls into your power.” Thereupon a follower of Muhammad, Muhayyisa. Masud leapt upon Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant with whom he had previous social and business relations, and killed him. Muhammad ordered a number of other assassinations at this time. An old Jewish man, Abu Afak, was killed while he was sleeping for encouraging people to doubt Muhammad’s teaching. A woman called Asma Marwan disapproved of this act of murder and was killed by a man called Umayr while she slept with her five children. When he reported this act to Muhammad, he told the man that he had helped Allah and his Apostle and made a sarcastic remark that no one will care about her being murdered. It shows that Muhammad had unsuspecting people, those who even had good relations with Muslims, murdered in cold blood because they were Jewish. An Islamic scholar, Wensinck, writes, “It is remarkable that tradition attributes Muhammad’s most cruel acts to divine order.”
Another Muslim man named Amr Umayya was sent out by Muhammad to murder Muhammad’s enemy Abu Sufyan, (Guillaume, op cit, and page 673). However, their assassination attempt failed. As he returned home, he met a one-eyed shepherd. The shepherd and the Muslim man both identified themselves as members of the same Arab clan. Prior to going asleep, the shepherd said that he would never become a Muslim. Umayya waited for the shepherd to fall asleep, and thereafter: “As soon as the badu was asleep and snoring I got up and killed him in a more horrible way than any man has been killed. I put the end of my bow in his sound eye, then I bore down on it until I forced it out at the back of his neck.” Umayya returned and spoke with Muhammad. He relates…….”He [Muhammad] asked my news and when I told him what had happened he blessed me”
Some other acts of violence were: A slave woman, mother of two children, murdered while she slept, a very old woman, literally ripped in half by Muslims who captured her on a raid, a slave girl, murdered because she poked fun at Muhammad. Muslim scholar Ali Dahsti in his book ‘23 years: A study in the Prophetic Career of Muhammad’ writes “Thus Islam was gradually transformed from a purely spiritual mission into a militant and punitive organization whose progress depended on booty from raids and revenue from the zakat tax.”
Muhammad had many people murdered. By request, by command, by implication, Muhammad had many people killed while they slept. There were no trials, no judgments, no dialogue. If you insulted Muhammad, if you doubted his credibility and if you spoke out, you were murdered. Men and women, young and old, all were killed because of Muhammad’s hatred toward those who spoke out against him.
TERRORISM IN THE QURAN
Muhammad taught his followers to oppress or kill non-Muslims. Generally, Jews and Christians were allowed to live as such, provided they paid a special tax. This tax is Jizya, a tax revenue given to the Muslims to make up for revenues they lost from no longer dealing in pagan activities. If the Jews and Christians refused to pay this extortion tax they would have to convert to Islam or be killed. Idolaters or pagans had to convert to Islam or be killed. Generally they didn’t have the option of paying the tax. Here is the verse that teaches Muslims to oppress Jews and Christians:
“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, (which is Islam that abolishes all other religions ) of the people of the Book, (meaning the Jews and the Christians) until they pay the Jizya (the tax imposed upon them) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued. (with humiliation and submission to the government of Islam.) 9:29 .” (Commentary in parenthesis is from the Tafsir Al-Jalalein. i.e., Al-Jalalein Interpretation of the Koran.)
Muhammad ordered his followers to fight those Christians and Jews to convert them or pay the Jizya, and if they don’t convert or pay, do you think that he told the followers to let them go in peace? It is very clear: convert… or pay with submission … or die.
Here is the verse in the Quran that teaches Muslims to attack and kill pagans:
“When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful.” Sura 9:5
From these verses we see that the Quran teaches that Muslims have a divine right to kill those who refuse to accept Islam with the exception of Jews and Christians who they have the right to exploit by forcing them to pay a protection tax called jizya. From these verses Islamic terrorists today have their justification to kill and terrorise their opponents.
In his conquest of Arabia Muhammad attacked tribes who were living at peace with him, breaking agreements previously made with them when his circumstances changed. In modern terms, especially in the context of the Arab Israeli conflict, this means that Muslims may make a peace treaty one day, but when the circumstances change and they feel themselves to be stronger than the ones they are making the treaty with, they can break their word and go to war.
ISLAMIC TERRORISM UPON MUSLIMS WHO LEAVE ISLAM
Muhammad was not content to conquer by force, or kill those that merely opposed him verbally. Muhammad also taught that Muslims who leave the Islamic faith are to be murdered as well. Here are some quotes from Bukhari’s collection of Hadith, the second most important writing in Islam, following the Quran.
Bukhari, volume 9, #17 “Narrated Abdullah: Allah’s Messenger said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Messenger, cannot be shed except in three cases: for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (Apostate) and leaves the Muslims.”
Bukhari volume 9, #57 Narrated Ikrima, “Some atheists were brought to Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s messenger forbade it, saying, “Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).” I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Messenger, “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.”
Bukhari volume 9, #64 Narrated Ali, “No doubt I heard Allah’s messenger saying, “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.”
Not only did Muhammad teach that Muslims are to murder those that have left Islam, “wherever you find them”, he further taught that a Muslim who commits this type of murder will be doing God’s service and be rewarded! This is practiced today in so called honour killings on those who leave Islam, especially any Muslims who accept the Gospel message and become believing Christians.
There is a clear connection with these teachings of Islam and modern Muslim practices. Muhammad’s attitude to the opposition was not to reason or debate but to smash it. Nobody could leave his movement without facing the threat of death. Is this why almost every Muslim country is a dictatorship of some kind, with some of the most bloodthirsty regimes in the world today finding themselves in the borders of Islam? Minorities in Islam face a perilous future, subject to random attacks and exploitation, particularly Christian communities in Muslim countries like Egypt, Pakistan and Indonesia. In fact Muslims oppress each other and despite all the clamour among the radicals in the West that they are defending Muslims being killed by American or British forces, the biggest killers of Muslims in the world today are other Muslims. Islamic fundamentalists are incapable of seeing faults within their own society but constant in their vindictive hatred of Israel. While Muslims rail against Zionism as a form of racism at the UN Conference on Racism they have nothing to say about the slavery and oppression of black Africans in Sudan by Arab Muslims. Any person daring to criticize Islamic behaviour risks not only verbal abuse but even death threats in the West let alone in the Islamic world. And Islamic terrorist groups justify mass murder in order to further their ends.
In contrast with Muhammad, Jesus never sought to impose his teaching by force. Jesus taught us to love our enemies, to pray for those that persecute us. Jesus didn’t send his disciples out to murder people in the night. Take the example of the Samaritans who opposed Jesus. “As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he set messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” And he said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” And they went to another village.” Luke 10:51-56.
The knowledge of the salvation which Jesus came to bring to the world is brutally suppressed in most Islamic countries of the world. Yet the true message of Jesus is the only one which can bring freedom and truth on a personal as well as a social level. In response to the current situation the worst thing that could happen is indiscriminate attacks on Muslims because of their faith. Those responsible for the terrorist outrages should be brought to justice and prevented from threatening the lives and freedom of people in our society. But it is important not to lash out in a spirit of blind revenge which will only generate more and more hate.
At the same time it is vital that we recognize that terrorism in the cause of Islam is not actually a distortion of the message passed down by Muhammad and his followers. Sadly he propagated a message which was the very opposite of the message of Jesus. Muhammad actively used the sword to spread his message. Jesus said, ‘Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.’ (Matthew 26.52).