Fighting Islam with Islam

[Tawfik Hamid is a moderate, reformist Muslim who is one of a few lone voices attempting to bring Islam into the 21st century. He sent the following email.]

Fighting Islam with Islam

by Tawfik Hamid

Unbiased observation of the Islamism phenomenon reveals beyond doubt that barbaric acts and discrimination against non-Muslim minorities are repeatedly practiced and conducted in the name of Islam.

Preventing Christians in Saudi Arabia from having a churches or even carrying Bibles, the recent attacks on Christian Churches as what happened recently in Iraq and   recent incident which could lead to the possible hanging of a Pakistani Christian Mother -of five in Pakistan for criticizing prophet Mohamed are just few examples of many that exemplify the inhumane discrimination that is currently practiced against innocent non-Muslim minorities in several parts of the Muslim world.

Unfortunately, many Islamists use Islamic religious text to justify such injustice and hate-based barbarism against the non-Muslim minorities.  It is shocking to see the leading scholars and organizations of the Muslim world -who want Islam to be called the religion of peace- not standing strongly against such unacceptable acts. One would expect that these scholars and organizations to strongly denounce the laws that prevent Christians from building their Churches, issue powerful fatwa to call those who attack churches as ‘apostates’, and have a declaration to denounce the ruling which could lead to hanging of the Pakistani woman who insulted the prophet-if they truly want others to call Islam ‘peaceful’.

Proper analysis of Quranic verses reveals that preventing Christians from building Churches is against the Quran itself. The Quran in fact considered destroying non-Islamic worship places as a major crime {Quran 22:40 Did not God check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of God is commemorated in abundant measure}.

The practice of suppressing Church building in the Muslim world is based largely on the unjustifiable practice of some early leaders of the Muslim Caliphate who politicized the religion.  Suppressing building Churches as practiced by some Islamic regimes is not only unjustifiable in the Quran but is opposed to the teachings of the Quran.

Furthermore, attacking innocents for being Non-Muslims is clearly forbidden in the Quran {2:190 do not transgress limits or attack others for God loveth not transgressors}. The practice of attacking Non-Muslims has stemmed from the Sharia Laws and Quranic Interpretations that undervalue the lives of Non Muslims and promotes war against them to spread the religion. Understanding violent Quranic verses in their historical context and upholding the value of freedom of religion {e.g. Quran 18:29: Say, “The truth is from your Lord”: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it)} -can assist in ending such barbaric practices against the small non-Muslim minorities in the Muslim world.

It might be surprising for many -including Muslims themselves- to know that the Quran blamed Mohamed for even ‘thinking’ in forcing others on his religion {Quran 10:99 If it had been thy Lord’s will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!}.

In addition, the Quran never mentioned any punishment for insulting the prophet. On the contrary, the Quran mentioned that if Islam was insulted the prophet can do nothing but to temporary avoid sitting in situations when Islam is insulted and mocked {Quran  6:68 When thou seest men engaged in mocking and insulting our verses [Quran], turn away from them unless they turn to a different theme}. The concept of killing those who insult Mohamed or Islam is one of the parts of Sharia Law that contradicts the Quran itself. Mohamed was called “mad” {Quran 15:6; 68:51} and the other prophets were considered a “mockery” {Quran 15:11; 36:30; 43:7}- yet none of them was instructed to retaliate for this.

It is vital that the Muslim world start distinguishing between the historical violent and discriminatory practices of Islamic Caliphate and the Quran as a source for the religion. Many of the former inhumane practices against Non-Muslim minorities are actually against the Quran and insisting on doing them under the banner of Islam is not only against the teaching of Quran but can also ignite a war of civilizations.

Fighting Radical teaching in Islam with secular views is ineffective as the radicals usually provide a theological base for their violent views. On the other hand, looking to the Quranic verses via eyes of modernity and upholding some of its suppressed values can be one of the best antidotes for Radical Islam.

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