Violence of Muslims

Introduction

The Quran verses related to violence are subject of discussion for centuries. It is true that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not fundamentalists. But the latent desire of Muslims to be in line with the Qur’an, Muhammad and history of Islam is a stimulation to adapt to a lifestyle to go back to 7-th century mentality in the time of Muhammad [1].

Development of Muslim fundamentalism

Muslim fundamentalists want a revival of Islam. After the occupation by Western armies of almost all Muslim territory in 19-th century, Abd al-Wahhab asked imseld, what went wrong with Islam? His answer was beginnings and purification [2]. The emphasis of Muslim revivalists is beginnings and purification [3]. According to the principle of “salafiyah”, the interpretation of the earliest Muslims should be followed. This leads to return to the origin of Islam, because Islam has moved away from its roots. The other principle is “usuliyah”, a term to indicate purifying religion according to its original roots. Fundamentalism in Islam is therefore a reaction of Muslims to the modern society with Western ideas. It is a reaction to the fact that Muslim states have lost their sovereignty. It is indeed good news that most Muslims don’t agree to follow the footsteps of Muhammad and say that they differ from fundamentalists. But there are many Muslims who refuse to adapt to modern society and show evil behavior. They even want to go back in time and promote the mentality in Arabia in 7-th century, the roots of the Qur’an. We can distinguish four levels from tolerance to terror in Islam [4]:
  1. Cultural level – Jihad is to strive to live a life of righteousness by avoiding sin.
  2. Qur’anic level – There should be social implications to righteousness by promoting virtue and preventing vice.
  3. Fundamentalists level – It is allowed to use violence to create the right environment so that Muslims can practice Islam.
  4. House of Islam level – Trusted, committed Muslims who belong to the House of Islam can be sent to the House of War, the enemy land. Muslims in Western countries may sin by drinking alcohol before they start their activities against their enemy.
The development from fundamentalists level to House of Islam level goes via the stages of Muhammad’s life [5]: The main stages in the life of Muhammad were underground, consolidation, discipleship and expansion. A Muslim fundamentalist wants to follow these steps. In the underground, he was persecuted, then he tried to get followers during the consolidation and discipleship stage. Finally he had enough followers to attack the enemy. We see the mentioned stages in Muhammad’s life from Mecca to Medina and back to Mecca. In 21-st century this pattern can be recognized in House of Islam level groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS. When Muslim fundamentalists are under attack, they use study and memorization of the Qur’an. He becomes aware that he is in one of the stages from underground to expansion, abandoning all self-pity or victim mentality [6].

Qur’an motivation for violence

The Qur’an is not a one sided book about motivation of violence, because there are many verses about tolerance and peace, also to non-Muslims (e.g. Qur’an 2:256, 10:99, 18:29, 42:48). The problem starts when we find verses about intolerance and militancy. Here is the turning point between liberal Muslims, who deny the impact of those verses in practical life and the fundamentalists. The Qur’an has more than 100 verses against non-Muslims to promote Islam. Most of them are about violence with an open end and are not limited in a historical context. Therefore they are a kind of universal principle. This is a difference with the violent verses in the Old Testament. The following verses are an enemy of the open society in our modern world:
  1. Qur'an 24:4, 24:13 - A woman can be raped in an easy way.
  2. Qur’an 48:29 - Forceful against the disbelievers is a call to kill innocent people.
  3. Quran 2:190 (Pickthall) - Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.
  4. Quran 2:191 (Pickthall) - And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.
Uneducated Muslims may use above mentioned verses to commit violence against mankind. Some Muslims say that 2:190-191 are a kind of self-defence. Liberal Muslim scholars, such as Taha and An-Na’im believe that the nucleus of the Qur’an is only the first Meccan period with charity, tolerance and monotheism [7]. The violence and imperialism of other Qur’an verses should have a lower status. On the other side of the balance are the Muslim revivalists and fundamentalists, who want to go back to 7th-century moral level where resistance to a Muslim army cannot be tolerated. Compare Qur’an 2:190-191 and 48:29 with the Gospel, and note that Jesus teaches us to treat the strangers among us like our own people, to love our enemy and to bless those who curse us [8].

Violence in Muhammad’s life

Muhammad was a self-proclaimed prophet, cult leader and war lord. The following claims about Muhammad could not be refuted by Muslim scholars:
  1. Muhammad beheaded more than 800 Jews [9].
  2. Muhammad committed revenge by palm cutting against God’s law [10].
  3. Muhammad had more focus on the growth of his religion with violence than on peace, see Qur’an 2:217 [11].
  4. Muhammad didn't deny in Qur’an 2:215 that he used violence to get what he wanted [12].
  5. Muhammad commanded to burn Byzantine soldiers alive [13].
Muhammad didn’t convert all pagans in Arabia to Islam with tolerance and peace, but he used in many cases violence. He also didn’t obey the law of God in his behavior to mankind.

Violence of Muslim leaders after Muhammad

The historical acts of early Muslim leaders are inspiration for Muslim fundamentalists. Many Muslims live in poor conditions or are or oppressed. Therefore modern Muslim fundamentalism seek for a militant and political solution and one side of their motivation are the following historical facts in Islam:
  1. Abu Bakr, the first rightly guided caliph, started many military campaigns to force non-Muslims to accept Islam according to Qur’an 9:103.
  2. Abu Bakr (632–634 AD) [14], threatened and burned living people.
  3. Omar ibn al-Khatab, the second rightly guided caliph promoted hate against Christians, “Arab Christians are not Christians, I am not leaving them until they become Muslims or I cut their throats” [15].
  4. The fourth rightly guided caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib (656–661 AD) [16], threatened and burned living people.
  5. A document of Islam, Idarat Tawahhusy [17], has guidelines that actions like burning people alive to frighten someone makes it possible that they will do something Islam wants. ISIS used both the historical facts and the guidelines of Idarat Tawahhusy to frighten people to justify their barbaric actions.
Especially since 21-st century, we see a growth of terror under Muslims. Open society is in danger because of the growth of Muslim terrorists, who claim their motivation also on the history of Islam.

Conclusion

Many Muslims live in poor conditions or are or oppressed. Therefore modern Muslim fundamentalism seeks for a militant and political solution. The crimes of Muslim terrorists have their motivation in Qur'an, Hadith and the example of Muhammad’s life. For most Muslims it is too hard to say that the Qur’an and other important cornerstones of Islam are not right. The result is that they passive supporters of Muslim terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS. It will be better to reform Islam by deleting hate filled verses against non-Muslims. Now Muslims are not able to make a decision and they deny that the terrorists are Muslims, while on the other side the Muslim terrorists say that their practices are in line with Islam, a vicious circle [18]. We have to wait for a reform of Islam from focus on beginnings to focus on peace and tolerance. Earlier attempts for a liberal Islam failed, such as Mahmoud Taha’s assumption that only the early and moderate Qur’an verses from Mecca are valid [19]. Till then, more violence and immoral actions will occur in our modern society. Other effect will be a growing escape of Muslims from the spiritual practices of Islam, because they feel that they don’t have peace with the actions of the violent fundamentalists [20]. This may lead to conversion of Muslims to other Christianity and other religions or secularization.

References

  1. Nabeel T. Jabbour, The Crescent Through The Eyes Of The Cross, Navpress, Colorado Springs, 2008, p. 102.
  2. Thomas F. Michel, A Christian View of Islam, Maryknoll, New York, 2010, p. 99.
  3. Ibid, p. 98-107.
  4. Nabeel T. Jabbour, The Crescent Through The Eyes Of The Cross, Navpress, Colorado Springs, 2008, p. 100-103.
  5. Ibid, p. 103-104.
  6. Ibid, p. 104.
  7. Ibid, p. 106-107.
  8. Raouf Ghattas and Carol B. Ghattas, A Christian Guide To The Qur’an, Building Bridges In Muslim Evangelism, Kregel, Grand Rapids, 2009, p. 35, 284.
  9. Wikipedia, Invasion of Banu Qurayza, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Banu_Qurayza.
  10. Montgomery Watt, William, Muhammad: prophet and statesman. Oxford University Press, 1974, p. 105.
  11. Kenneth Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, Oneworld Publications, 2003, 77.
  12. Jonathan E. Brockopp, Jihad and Islamic history, in: Bryan Rennie and Philip .L.Tite (Ed), Religion, Terror and Violence, Religious Studies Perspectives, Routledge, New York, 2008, p. 151.
  13. Sahih al-Bukhari, 56 Fighting for the Cause of Allah (Jihaad), p. 149, http://sunnah.com/bukhari/56/225.
  14. According to Muslim scholars Ibn Ishaq and Al-Tabari.
  15. Ali ibn Husamud-Din al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanzu Ummal, Volume 4, No. 11770.
  16. Sahih al-Bukhari 6922.
  17. Abu Bakr Naji, Idarat Tawahhusy.
  18. Ibrahim Eissa, ISIS Crimes Are Based on Islamic Sources, Egyptian TV, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rwdOuuaz90.
  19. Nabeel T. Jabbour, The Crescent Through The Eyes Of The Cross, Navpress, Colorado Springs, 2008, p. 106-107.
  20. Ashraf Ezzat, ISIS and Islam: The Ugly Truth, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article39794.htm.