It's been a tough week on the international front....and of course, because it involves religious intolerance, a certain global sect is being maligned again.
We've had this discussion before...what is it that makes a person so rabid, so full of hate, so narrow-minded, that the only answer is violence? What's worse, how much of this violence is found at the heart of a book allegedly written about a man of peace?
Admittedly, all the major religious texts of the world are brutally violent. It's not that hard to look at what passed for society 2,000 years ago and understand that it was truly "survival of the fittest". Whether or not a sky-spirit or some more visionary ground-based life form developed the teachings is irrelevant. What may be relevant is the fact that possibly, our modern society began from at least some of these writings.
But of course, there is a disconnect. Every one of the major religions has somewhere in its text that "ours is the only way, and everyone else is to be destroyed". Or does it?
Fast-forward to today. Islam, in particular, has always been maligned as the most violent of all religions...and of course there's that bit about destroying the infidels that seems to be on every other page of the Koran.
But have you read it? I mean, really read it and thought about it? There is one verse in the Book that everyone hinges upon (Surah 9:5), often known as the "Sword Verse". It's often taken out-of-context. Here is the entire thing:
[9.1] (This is a declaration of) immunity by Allah and His Apostle towards those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement.
[9.2] So go about in the land for four months and know that you cannot weaken Allah and that Allah will bring disgrace to the unbelievers.
[9.3] And an announcement from Allah and His Apostle to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah and His Apostle are free from liability to the idolaters; therefore if you repent, it will be better for you, and if you turn back, then know that you will not weaken Allah; and announce painful punishment to those who disbelieve.
[9.4] Except those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement, then they have not failed you in anything and have not backed up any one against you, so fulfill their agreement to the end of their term; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty).
[9.5] So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
[9.6] And if one of the idolaters seek protection from you, grant him protection till he hears the word of Allah, then make him attain his place of safety; this is because they are a people who do not know.
[9.7] How can there be an agreement for the idolaters with Allah and with His Apostle; except those with whom you made an agreement at the Sacred Mosque? So as long as they are true to you, be true to them; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty).
[9.8] How (can it be)! while if they prevail against you, they would not pay regard in your case to ties of relationship, nor those of covenant; they please you with their mouths while their hearts do not consent; and most of them are transgressors.
[9.9] They have taken a small price for the communications of Allah, so they turn away from His way; surely evil is it that they do.
[9.10] They do not pay regard to ties of relationship nor those of covenant in the case of a believer; and these are they who go beyond the limits.
[9.11] But if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, they are your brethren in faith; and We make the communications clear for a people who know.
[9.12] And if they break their oaths after their agreement and (openly) revile your religion, then fight the leaders of unbelief-- surely their oaths are nothing-- so that they may desist.
[9.13] What! will you not fight a people who broke their oaths and aimed at the expulsion of the Apostle, and they attacked you first; do you fear them? But Allah is most deserving that you should fear Him, if you are believers.
[9.14] Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace, and assist you against them and heal the hearts of a believing people.
[9.15] And remove the rage of their hearts; and Allah turns (mercifully) to whom He pleases, and Allah is Knowing, Wise.
[9.16] What! do you think that you will be left alone while Allah has not yet known those of you who have struggled hard and have not taken any one as an adherent besides Allah and His Apostle and the believers; and Allah is aware of what you do.
[9.17] The idolaters have no right to visit the mosques of Allah while bearing witness to unbelief against themselves, these it is whose doings are null, and in the fire shall they abide.
The hardest part of this is understanding who "Allah" is. There is no special Muslim god: it's the same guy. Yes, the Father of Jesus, if you like. The entire verse is about turning people away from non-belief, idolatry (Baal, anyone?) and polytheism. These are the ones that are targeted, although it even says if they come to they way, they should be left in peace.
I found an interesting analysis this morning. While I know nothing of the website it comes from, it does seem to capture the essence of what I'm trying to say.
Right-wing Web sites devoted to showing the “truth about Islam” array searing verses that seem to show the Koran offering a nearly unlimited license to kill. (A few years after 9/11, a list of “the Koran’s 111 Jihad verses” was posted on the conservative Web site freerepublic.com.) But the closer you look at the context of these verses, the more limited the license seems.
The passage most often quoted is the fifth verse of the ninth sura, long known to Muslims as the “Sword verse.” It was cited by Osama bin Laden in a famous manifesto issued in 1996, and on first reading it does seem to say that bin Laden would be justified in hunting down any non-Muslim on the planet. The verse is often translated colloquially—particularly on these right-wing Web sites—as “kill the infidels wherever you find them.”
This common translation is wrong. The verse doesn’t actually mention “infidels” but rather refers to “those who join other gods with God”—which is to say, polytheists. So, bin Laden notwithstanding, the “Sword verse” isn’t the strongest imaginable basis for attacking Christians and Jews.
Still, even if the Sword verse wasn’t aimed at Christians and Jews, it is undeniably bloody: “And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush.” It seems that a polytheist’s only escape from this fate is to convert to Islam, “observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms.”
But the next verse, rarely quoted by either jihadists or right-wing Web sites, suggests that conversion isn’t actually necessary: “If any one of those who join gods with God ask an asylum of thee, grant him an asylum, that he may hear the Word of God, and then let him reach his place of safety.” After all, polytheists are “people devoid of knowledge.”
And the following verse suggests that whole tribes of polytheists can be spared if they’re not a military threat. If those “who add gods to God” made “a league [with the Muslims] at the sacred temple,” then “so long as they are true to you, be ye true to them; for God loveth those who fear Him.” For that matter, the verse immediately before the Sword verse also takes some of the edge off it, exempting from attack “those polytheists with whom ye are in league, and who shall have afterwards in no way failed you, nor aided anyone against you.”
In short, “kill the polytheists wherever you find them” doesn’t mean “kill the polytheists wherever you find them.” It means “kill the polytheists who aren’t on your side in this particular war.”…
Demagoguery is the longstanding M.O. of the right...I won't quote the 14 points of fascism today, but I'm sure we're all familiar with several of the ideas therein.
As I saw posted someplace over the past few days....there's 1.8 billion Muslims in the world today. If the film is the cause of the rioting...well, how come nothing is happening in Indonesia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Sub-Saharan Africa, or indeed, in Germany, England, or these United States?
There must be something more sinister going on.
One other thing I'll leave you with, since I couldn't quite figure out how to get it in the blog, but you should still see it. It's the Ten Commandments. Perhaps there's a backlash because "Thou Shalt Not Kill" isn't quite out there. But of course it is...the difference being the Ten Commandments are enumerated in the Bible, but scattered about in the Koran.