Unless you are related to Rip Van Winkle and have inherited his ability to sleep for years at a time, you know of the spread of Islamic terrorism that has plagued the world. I don’t need to reel off events for you. And naturally this has generated a lot of chatter…on television, radio, the internet, at work, church, etc.
The first thing that seems to happen when anyone expresses outrage at an act of terrorism by a Muslim is that another person feels called upon to interject what they intend to be a calming observation. “All Muslims are not terrorists. We can’t condemn a religion for the acts of a percentage (the number varies) which have become ‘radicalized’.”
There’s a big problem that we face in the west, however. When people express an opinion about Islam as a religion and Muslims as followers of that religion, most really don’t have any idea what they are talking about.
I’d wager a significant amount of money that less than 10% of Americans have any idea what Islam is really about. I’ve heard people with stacks of university degrees weighing in on the current situation of Islamic terrorism, the refugee crisis, and homegrown terrorists, and when pressed admit they’ve not read the Quran (the holy book of Islam), the Hadith (sayings of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam), nor other works which talk about the history of Islam and the life of its founder. They usually say they have friends who are peaceful Muslims and that these friends are appalled at the acts of terrorism being perpetrated by their co-religionists.
How many of you reading this can say you’ve read anything on Islam, outside of new reports about terrorist acts? How many of you know what constitutes the basic difference between a “Sunni” and a “Shiite” Muslim? How many of you know any of the history of Islam’s spread after Muhammad its prophet died in 632? Can you name the holy cities? Do you know what the “hegira” (also spelled hijrah) is? Do you know when it happened? Do you know its significance?
Folks, I’m not trying to make you feel bad. But it is VITAL that western people ramp up on their knowledge of this faith of Islam. I’ve read extensively on Islam, including the Quran and some of the Hadith and I’ve read a number of books and articles about Islam and Muslims. I am also an Eastern Rite Catholic Christian, and I know people PERSONALLY who have had to flee the Middle East due to the treatment of Christians there by the Muslim majority.
The Quran is a book of non-contextual verses…that is, it isn’t a story which flows. It’s a collection of “revelations” made to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel which were subsequently written down. The book is not in chronological order. It is in order of the longest surahs (chapters) to the shorter ones. There is no central authority in Islam as there is in Catholicism, which has a Pope and Magisterium to guide the faithful. Imams (Islamic holy men) and Islamic scholars often have opinions which differ by literally 180 degrees on what a Quranic verse means. They turn to the Hadith, Muhammad’s oral statements, to attempt to solve differences of opinion, but often this does not shed enough light to clarify something.
The Quran is full of verses which spur believers on to violence. Some Muslims interpret this as recommending an “inner” struggle, but there are some verses which simply don’t lend themselves to that interpretation.
Let me provide you with a few (from www.thenoblequran.com) :
- Quran 2:193 - And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allâh) and (all and every kind of) worship is for Allâh (Alone). But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zâlimûn (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)
- Quran 3:56 - As to those who disbelieve, I will punish them with a severe torment in this world and in the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.
- Quran 3:151 - We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allâh, for which He had sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrongdoers).
- Quran 4:74 - Let those (believers) who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter fight in the Cause of Allâh, and whoso fights in the Cause of Allâh, and is killed or gets victory, We shall bestow on him a great reward.
- Quran 4:89 – They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliyâ' (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allâh (to Muhammad). But if they turn back (from Islâm), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliyâ' (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them.
- Quran 4:95 - Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame, etc.), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allâh with their wealth and their lives. Allâh has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home). Unto each, Allâh has promised good (Paradise), but Allâh has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward
- Quran 4:104 - And don't be weak in the pursuit of the enemy; if you are suffering (hardships) then surely, they (too) are suffering (hardships) as you are suffering, but you have a hope from Allâh (for the reward, i.e. Paradise) that for which they hope not, and Allâh is Ever All Knowing, All Wise.
- Quran 5:33 - The recompense of those who wage war against Allâh 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.
- Quran 8:65 - O Prophet (Muhammad)! Urge the believers to fight. If there are twenty steadfast persons amongst you, they will overcome two hundred, and if there be a hundred steadfast persons they will overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are people who do not understand.
- Quran 8:67 - It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allâh desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.
- Quran 9:5 - Then when the Sacred Months (the Ist, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islâmic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikûn (the disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh, idolaters, polytheists, pagans, etc.) wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât), and give Zakât, then leave their way free. Verily, Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
- Quran 9:29 - Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allâh, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allâh and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islâm) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah (a tax non-Muslims are required to pay to be allowed to live under Islamic rule) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
- Quran 9:30 - And the Jews say: 'Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allâh, and the Christians say: Messiah is the son of Allâh. That is a saying from their mouths. They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allâh's Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth!
And then there are the Hadith, the oral sayings of Muhammad. Let me give you a few examples (from Sunnah.com)
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle (Muhammad) said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."
Narrated Sa’b b.Jaththama who asked Muhammad:
What about the children of polytheists killed by the cavalry during the night raid? He said: They are from them.
Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn `Abbas, who said, "Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, 'Don't punish (anybody) with Allah's Punishment.' No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.' "
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Abi Aufa:
Allah's Apostle said, "Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords."
At this point you may be thinking this is a long list. I assure you this is just a sample. And I would ask you to consider doing the following:
- Get a copy of the Quran. Make sure that the copy is by a Muslim. For instance, the version I have was one translated some years ago by an Englishman who converted to Islam, one Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall. The reason I stress getting a copy translated by a Muslim is so that you are reading from a believer and not from one who is looking in over the fence, so to speak. If you don’t want to buy one, read one on line.
- If you can find a copy of the Hadith, I’d also recommend it. Or read what you can online
- Learn about how Islam spread. It was spread by the sword. Exactly one hundred years after Muhammad’s death, Islamic armies had gobbled up Northern Africa and Spain and were headed into France. Had it not been for Charle Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne, who thrashed the Moorish invaders at the Battle of Tours in 732, we might all be under Sharia Law right now.
- Finally, learn about your own faith and its history. Don’t be ignorant of what Catholicism is and has been. Take pride in your Christian heritage.