For every article there is an equal and opposite article
NP’s Nanute introduced the following reference to help me navigate an understanding about Muslims. I have been wrestling with what appears to be a contradiction of values 1) within the religion and 2) between the religion and my American Constitution.
My conclusion is that religion is a reflection of evolving ideas and ways people have to cope with their lives and to maintain peaceful order. Over time, governments and other non-faith-based systems developed, albeit influenced by religious legacy and heritage.
Humanity must continuously improve over time, chasing ideals, for in the end it is time out of which we will run.
“Kill the Infidels, Surah 9:5
This article is about the oft-quoted, or rather misquoted, Surah 9:5 verse of the Quran, which is claimed to call upon "all" Muslims to kill "all" non-Muslims or the so-called "Infidels".
Muslims are often questioned, "Did not Muhammad call on all Muslims to kill the infidels?" The answer is absolutely not!
Then, we are asked another question: "Why then does the Quran say, "fight and slay the pagans (or infidels or unbelievers) wherever you find them?" (9:5).
There are two interrelated answers to that question. The first is historical. The second is related to the nature of the Quran itself.
When the Islamic state was rapidly expanding in the seventh and eighth century, many people came under the direct governance of Muslims. These peoples belonged to different religions, races, ethnicities, etc. If the hypothesis that "Muslims are required to eradicate non-Muslims or "infidels" was correct, then a pattern of deliberate extermination, forced conversions, and/or expulsion would have been observed throughout the history of Islam, especially when Muslims were powerful and winning over their opponents.
That systematic pattern is simply absent. For example, let us take India. India (or considerable parts of it) was for several centuries under the Muslim Mughal Empire. Many of the subjects of the empire, up to and including very high-ranking state officials, were Hindu. (This does not mean that Hindus lived under no discrimination whatsoever. But this is another issue.) Till now, India is a predominantly Hindu country. The facts on the ground belie the hypothesis that Muslims have believed that non-Muslims should be killed, evicted, or forced to convert.
Another example: in contemporary Egypt, which was included in the Islamic state only ten years after the demise of the Prophet, about 6-10% of the people are Christians. Contrast this with Spain. For about eight centuries, Spain was a place of peaceful co-existence for Muslims, Christians, and Jews. (Again, I am not, at all, claiming that everyone enjoyed the same rights under the Arab/Muslim ruling.) However, in 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella signed the Edict of Expulsion designed to rid Spain of its Jews. The Jews were given a stark choice: baptism or deportation. An estimated 50,000 fled to the Ottoman empire where they were warmly welcomed. And about 70,000 converted to Christianity and remained in the country only to be plagued by the Inquisition which accused them of insincerity. In 1499, the Spanish state gave its Muslims the same choice: convert or leave. The result of these policies was simple: Spain almost entirely got rid of millions of people who were not Christians. (Spain now of course has minority groups, including Muslims coming mainly from North Africa as immigrants.)
The list goes on. Investigating history clearly shows that most (saying "all" cannot sustain historical scrutiny) Muslims have never believed that they are under obligation to exterminate non-Muslims, or as non-Muslims refer to such people as "Infidels". Of course, it would not be scholastic to say non-Muslims, at many times, enjoyed "full citizenship" (though this term is an anachronism in the context discussed here) but compared to other locations, minorities were significantly better off under Muslim ruling, when Muslims were in fact capable of inflicting severe harm on non-Muslims, especially if we were to acknowledge the absurd notion of Muslims ambition to "kill the infidels..."
I thought it was best to stop here for a few minutes to scrutinize this term "Infidel". We have heard, over and over again, the majority of commentators and "experts" on Islam using this term and attributing it to Islam's and Muslims sentimentality of non-Muslims.
I, as a Muslim, have never called a non-Muslim an "Infidel", so this word was actually foreign to my vocabulary, until I have heard it mentioned several time by Christian and Zionist so-called "experts" on Islam. As a matter of fact, I took the liberty of going through several widely used translations of the Quran to find this oft-spoken "infidel" term. The translations of the Quran of which I researched included: M. Khan, Yusuf Ali, Shakir, and Pickthal, only to find out that in all of these translations, I did not find this word "infidel" in any of them! The Arabic word "Kaafir, Kafir, Kufar" was translated as Disbelievers or Unbelievers.
What's more interesting, after digging deeper, we discovered this term was being used centuries before the advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The term infidel comes from the Latin word infidelis, which means "unbelieving" or "unfaithful." During the Middle Ages ( A.D.c. 450–c. 1500), the Catholic Church (Christians) used the term to describe Muslims (followers of Islam, the religion founded by the prophet Muhammad; c. A.D.570–632).
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary states the following on the term "infidel":
Main Entry: in·fi·del
Pronunciation: 'in-f&-d & l, -f&-"del
Etymology: Middle English infidele, from Middle French, from Late Latin infidelis unbelieving, from Latin, unfaithful, from in- + fidelis faithful -- more at FIDELITY
1: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity
2 a: an unbeliever with respect to a particular religion b : one who acknowledges no religious belief
3: a disbeliever in something specified or understood
- infidel adjective
Two remaining points:
(1) There is the claim that Muslims only refrained from killing the infidels because of the economic benefits of "enslaving" them. Most of those who claim this also claim that Muslims are inherently violent because of the "clear" Quranic injunctions against the "Infidels". This position is, at least, contradictory. Because on the one hand, Muslims' violence is rooted in the Quran, and, on the other hand, generations upon generations of Muslims simply discarded the Quran for their economic well-being. If Muslims persistently and universally prefer economic prosperity to the Quran and the commandments of the Prophet, then both the Quran and the Prophet are irrelevant to them. So why the attempt to ground Muslim behavior in the Quran and the Prophetic tradition if these are in fact not important at all to Muslims? If Muslims stick to the Quran, so why did not they exterminate the other, a policy allegedly supported unequivocally by the Quran? There is no way out of this fallacious reasoning except by saying that Muslims evoke whatever serves their interest. This statement of the entire Muslim nation being innately incoherent and immoral is espoused by many Islamophobes. This statement tells us much more about the Islamophobes themselves than about Muslims, however.
(2) In the modern era, some Muslim people participated in the genocide of non-Muslims, such as the Armenians by the Turks and the East Timorese by the Indonesians. However, these killings were undertaken by secular regimes for nationalistic reasons. I do not think anyone can claim, for instance, that Ataturk, the father of the secularized Turkey and the abolisher of the Islamic caliphate, oppressed the Armenians (and the Greeks), to rid Turkey of them, in the name of Islam.
“(A relevant link to this discussion concerning the genocide in Rwanda and the attitude of Muslims.)”