jjl - If you take anything good from this, it's because God Willed it for you.
With that in mind, I have to say that I (like the majority of Muslims) have no hatred or violence in my heart for those who have beliefs other than mine.
The people I interact with on a daily basis include those who are Athesists, Jews, Christians, Agnotics, Hindus, etc., etc. Islam is a complete and perfect religion. The verses that you have cited by claiming, "violent" are actually rules of engagement, and the etiquette of war. War is not pretty.
jjl - 8/21/2005 9:14 PM
ix.5-6:"Kill those who join other gods with God wherever you may find them"
Here is the actual verse: "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."
This verse was revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) during a time of war when the idolaters at Mecca were being treacherous and breaking their peace treaties. They would promise not to harm the Muslims of the time, but would instead slaughter the Muslims at every opportunity given. Why? Because the Muslims would do NOTHING. In this verse, the Command was given to the Muslims to stand up and defend themselves from these people.
But the Command was also given that if these people repent, make proper worship and pay the poor due, they were not
to be harmed at all. Why? Because Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
iv.76:"Those who believe fight in the cause of God..."
This is nothing
new in religion. Remember how David (pbuh) slew Goliath? Or how the Children of Isreal were called to fight alongside with the Prophet Saul (pbuh)? These are a few examples. Here's the whole verse:
"Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil. Lo! the devil's strategy is ever weak"
This verse was revealed during the war time and is, likewise, in the context of war. And if you read the entire Surah (which most Muslims do), you'll easily understand that this is etiquette of war.
viii.12:"I will instill terror into the hearts of the Infidels, strike off their heads then, and strike off from them every fingertip."
This verse comes straight from the verses dealing with war. The name of this Chapter is "Spoils of War". God Explains the rules of engagement and the rules of the battlefield.
viii.39-42:"Say to the Infidels: If they desist from their unbelief, what is now past shall be forgiven them ; but if they return to it, they have already before them the doom of the ancients ! Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it God's.
Your citation of this verse is wrong. That just tells me that you didn't formulate your own questions; you just merely pulled the information off someone's website. But here's the proper verse and I'll answer your question:
"Tell those who disbelieve that if they cease (from persecution of believers) that which is past will be forgiven them; but if they return (thereto) then the example of the men of old hath already gone (before them, for a warning)."
This was revealed during the time of unjust, unfair and illegal persecution of the Muslims.
The hypothesis that Islam is inherently peaceful is not really supported by the the many, many exhortations to violence in the Quran, is it not?.
Here's a little sample for you concerning peace and people of the Book in the Qur'an:
2.190 - "Fight in the Way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Allah loveth not aggressors."
60.08 - "Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers."
5.82 - "Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant.
5.83 - "When they listen to that which hath been revealed unto the messengers, thou seest their eyes overflow with tears because of their recognition of the Truth. They say: Our Lord, we believe. Inscribe us as among the witnesses."
5.84 - "How should we not believe in Allah and that which hath come unto us of the Truth. And (how should we not) hope that our Lord will bring us in along with righteous folk?"
2.177 - "It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God-fearing."
6.151 - "Say: Come, I will recite unto you that which your Lord hath made a sacred duty for you: That ye ascribe no thing as partner unto Him and that ye do good to parents, and that ye slay not your children because of penury - We provide for you and for them - and that ye draw not nigh to lewd things whether open or concealed. And that ye slay not the life which Allah hath made sacred, save in the course of justice. This He hath command you, in order that ye may discern."
Islam conquered the near East in short measure, exterminating Christians and Jews (from Saudia Arabia, entirely), and the historical accounts describe the conquests as very bloody. The invasions of India were even more bloody. This may prove little, inasmuchas history is full of barbarity...or is it because Islam has little respect for 'kafirs' (unbelievers), seeing them as stupid and sinful?
Do you even remember the Crusades? There are dozens of other Biblical accounts of Wars which were very bloody. Not to mention WWI and WWII.
Your last statement about Kufars as stupid and sinful people is rather humorous to me. Actually, the Qur'an teaches us to let people be. In fact, we're not supposed to brand people by nicknames. Why? Because in the end of it all, God Knows Best what His Creatures worship and what's in their hearts. It would be a tremendous folly on my part to brand you a disbeliever. For all I know, you could be a believer.
Only the most ignorant among us brand others as Kaffars. Did you know that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that if anyone calls someone a Kaffar, and that person to who they called it is not one, the person doing the calling becomes the Kaffar?
Is not the central difficulty in modern times that Muslims see the Holy Quran and Islam as a complete and perfect religion, and that each Muslim is obligated to spread Islam to the entire world until everyone is a Muslim?
Yes, Islam is the Perfect religion and no, it's not the job of every Muslim to convert, convert and convert everyone in the world. Not at all. The only job of Muslims is to tell a person once, tauheed: There is only One God and that Muhammad is His Messenger. Consequently, believing in Muhammad (pbuh) as God's Messenger means to believe in him as well as all the Prophets - from the first man (Adam) to Noah, Job, Moses, Jesus, and all those Prophets in between all (peace be on them all). We have charge over no one except ourselves.
The world is free to worship whatever and whoever they please. As long as they don't drive us out from our homes, harm us or terrorize us because we're Muslims (or our non Muslim neighbors) then they're free to do whatever they want.
2.256 - "There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower."
And that Islam is inherently political, and can never be just a private belief system?
Islam is a way of life. Religion is the means by which people choose to live their lives. I choose to live mine as a Muslim (because I was a Christian before); you're free to choose to live your life the way you want.
As you know, Christianity in the West went through many convulsions and much blood was shed before reaching a very hard-won stability in the seperation of church and state - something that most of us, especially Americans, think has been pivotal for peace, freedom and prosperity. I think much of the distrust, even fear, in the west of Islam is that it strives to take this away from us, 'for our own benefit'.
Where does this notion come from??? Everything that your forefathers strove to acheive is everything that Islam already gave to the people - freedom, rights to women, inheritance rights, prosperity, motivation to be a successful person, etc., etc. Don't ever let anyone fool you into believing that Islam wants to take away your freedoms. That's 110% nonsense.
The violence apparently associated with Islam seems to reinforce this view. Can the killing of apostates in Islam (Muslims who decide not to be Muslims any more) be reconciled with democracy or freedom? Is killing someone for their beliefs reasonable?
5.32 - "For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth."
This is the same law we Muslims hold today. Back in the wartime was it only permissable to kill those cowards who were treacherous and claimed to be Muslims, but were really secretly working for the other side. That's why permission was granted to terminate them. In today's day, no one's going to kill someone if they go to another religion. When the person dies, God will fix him.
Is a secular islam possible?
Go to Turkey.
Is something akin to the Reformation needed?
Yes, the ignorant Muslims need to get off their high horses, open up the Qur'an and study the Bible to understand what it means to be a REAL Muslim. That's the only reformation needed because the problem is not in the Qur'an - the problem is in the bad apples that make the rest of us look bad.
Can you imagine a US with a majority of Muslims introducing Sharia and so overturning the Constituition?
Why? This is not a legitimate (or non-legit) desire of any Muslim. Besides, the Sharia is a man made law. Why does one need the Sharia when we have the Qur'an and teachings of the Prophet? We Muslims live by the Qur'an as best as we can. Besides, most of the freedoms written in our constitution was already given to the Muslims in the Qur'an. Duh!
Is this not the goal of Muslims worldwide? Will those of us who do not convert be reduced to 'Dhimmis' - or worse?
No, that's not the goal of the Muslims. We have better things to do. And what the hell is a "dhimmis"?????? I think you've been victimized by talking to too many ignorant Muslims.
I have some food for thought for anyone who, like me, has regard for the Holy Bible. Look up these amazingly beautiful verses and see what you get.
Numbers 23:19, James 1:13, Matthew 4:1, Exodus 20: 1-17.
Sorry for the long response, but you asked alot. [:D]