Once again, my reply to a comment on one of my articles is much too long for the comment section; so I’m making it a blog article. The commenter is the same one to whom I previously replied. I very much appreciate his willingness to comment on my articles, despite the fact that he and I are strongly in disagreement. Such comments challenge me to think, and that’s always a good thing! 😀 It has in fact caused me to see and appreciate even more the beautiful way in which the verses of God’s Qur’an are related to each other. So thank you, “InPeace”; and please comment further any time you wish.
Here is what “InPeace” wrote:
Sura 9:29, which Islam bashers love to quote, also has a context; and part of that context is 9:13: How could you not fight a people who have broken their oaths, who tried to drive the Messenger out, who attacked you first?
Sorry, but it DOESN’T have that context just because you say it does.
v9:29 is clearly refering to the people of the book – Jews and Christians – where v9:13 refers to the Pagans of Mecca.
The two verses are not connected.
The whole of this first portion of Sura 9 refers to those from both the polytheists and the “people of the Book” who had violated their oaths and covenants, and aggressively attacked the Muslim believers over and over.
No, it doesn’t. The first part of the sura only refers to the Pagans Muhammad ended his treaty with. Christians and Jews are first mentioned in verse 9:29. Even the context of the first 28 verses precludes Christians and Jews since the Pagans being mentioned are Meccans – Jews and Christians weren’t major players in Mecca. But it’s a moot point anyway, since you can’t find show where the first 28 verses mentions or implies Jews and Christians are the people being referred to.
However, it was explicitly stated that this rescinding of the covenant did not apply to those unbelievers (polytheists and “people of the Book”) who had not themselves violated the terms of the covenant. It only applied to those who had first attacked the Muslim believers.
Please post where “People of the Book” are referred to in the first 28 verses of the Koran. I have no difficulty quoting passages referring to Pagans and Meccans but I’m unaware of where the a single passage includes Jews and Christians prior to verse 9:29.
It was these 2 things (breaking of oaths and acts of violent aggression) which these “people of the Book” were specifically accused of doing
Verse 9:29 doesn’t say the People of the Book broke oaths or committed acts of aggression!
Here’s what it says:
Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden — such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book — until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.
The passage is about fighting unbelievers (Jews and Christians) because they believe differently from Muslims. It never says what you claim it does.
Just as Jesus Christ (God’s blessings on him) repudiated the “traditions of the elders” (what we know as the Talmud)
Actually, Jesus was a Talmudist. He wouldn’t preach of Heaven/Hell or quote Talmudic rabbis and follow Pharisaic interpretations of Judaism if he wasn’t.
it [Jihad] never has anything to do with waging war against people merely because they don’t believe the “right doctrine” or practice the “right rituals”
That’s simply your opinion. I can’t argue with opinion presented as fact. What is not opinion are fourteen centuries of Jihad doctrine in Islam which flatly contradict what you believe.
And here is my response:
Regarding your contention that there is no contextual connection between verses 13 and 29 of Sura 9, I’ll just have to respond in kind to you: just because you insist that there is no connection does not mean that there actually isn’t such a connection! 🙂 Your inability to see the contextual connection is just a reflection of the fact that you do not read carefully and reflect on the Qur’an.
There simply can’t be any legitimate denial that verses 1-28 provide a ‘context’ for verse 29. Obviously verse 29 follows immediately on verse 28; and actually verse 28 may be seen to provide the connecting link – it speaks of the uncleanness of those who ascribe “partners” to God. Clearly the polytheists of Mecca were guilty of that; but verses 29 ff say that some among the “people of the Book” also did that very thing, in violation of the very “religion of truth” which was reflected in the portion of God’s Scripture which they had been given. Therefore it was no major surprise that such people, even though they had God’s Book, would have supported and helped the Meccans in their attacks against the Medinan community. By virtue of the fact that they were followers of God’s previous prophets, they should have been natural allies of the Muslim believers, and should have been loyal to the covenant and charter of Medina. But because they did not truly follow the ‘religion of truth’, they found affinity with the polytheists instead of the pure monotheists of Islam.
What needs to be understood is that when the inhabitants of Medina invited Muhammad (peace be with him and his family) to come to Medina, it wasn’t simply out of the kindness of their hearts – desiring to offer refuge to those who were being persecuted. That was indeed a good part of the reason, but it was not the sole reason.
Prior to the Prophet’s immigration to Medina, the various tribes of that area had been constantly bickering and fighting with each other – the Arabs, Jews, and those among them who had embraced Christianity. They had heard of the wisdom and message of Muhammad, and asked him to come as a neutral outsider and help them resolve their conflicts.
This was accomplished by God’s Prophet in an exemplary manner. I believe the ‘community’ he established there could probably be called a “federated republic”. The various tribes maintained their individual identities and religious practices; but they agreed to unite as a community for mutual protection. Each group was the equal of the other groups, and when disagreements arose they were to practice mutual consultation – with Muhammad himself being the final authority in resolving such conflicts. They were pledged to be loyal to each other when faced by outside invasion; no tribe could form a separate peace with an invader or could join in support of the invading forces.
All able bodied male Muslims were pledged to fight for the protection of the whole community; but it was recognized that non-Muslims – particularly among the followers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (God’s blessing be on him) – might be conscientiously opposed to engaging in combat. Such people (monks, for instance) were excused from fighting in defense of the community even though they might be able bodied males. As compensation for not participating in combat, and in order to support the defense of the community by the Muslims, they were expected to pay a tax (‘jizya’) which was considerably less than the ‘zakat’ all Muslim believers paid. But allowance was made for such men who were so poor they couldn’t afford to pay even that small tax.
Women, children, old men, the sick and disabled, were not expected to fight at all; so they were also excluded from paying the ‘jizya’. This was quite a fair arrangement – certainly not ‘worse’ than our system of taxation and ‘defense’ in the USA! 😀
The problem arose when some of the Jewish and Christian citizens of the Medina community violated the Charter and their oaths of loyalty by supporting and helping the invading Arab tribes (particularly the Quraysh). Several of the Jewish tribes openly sided with the invaders at various times.
Among the Christians, one such outstanding traitor was a well known man named Abu Amir. He and his followers (particularly some hypocritical Muslims who sided with him against the rest of the Medina community) are referred to later in this 9th Sura. I probably can’t do better than just quote a note on verse 107, concerning this man, from Muhammad Asad’s English ‘interpretation’ of the Qur’an:
- v.107 : Lit., “who have been warring against God and His Apostle aforetime” – i.e., before the expedition to Tabūk. The historical occasion to which this verse refers may be thus summarized: Ever since his exodus from Mecca to Medina the Prophet was violently opposed by one Abū ‘āmir (“The Monk”), a prominent member of the Khazraj tribe, who had embraced Christianity many years earlier and enjoyed a considerable reputation among his compatriots and among the Christians of Syria. From the very outset he allied himself with the Prophet’s enemies, the Meccan Quraysh, and took part on their side in the battle of Uhud (3 H.). [Emphasis mine, in each case – SGP]. Shortly thereafter he migrated to Syria and did all that he could to induce the Emperor of Byzantium, Heraclius, to invade Medina and crush the Muslim community once and for all. In Medina itself, Abū ‘āmir had some secret followers among the members of his tribe, with whom he remained in constant correspondence. In the year 9 H. he informed them that Heraclius had agreed to send out an army against Medina, and that large-scale preparations were being made to this effect (which was apparently the reason for the Prophet’s preventive expedition to Tabūk). In order that his followers should have a rallying-place in the event of the expected invasion of Medina, Abū ‘āmir suggested to his friends that they build a mosque of their own in the village of Qubā’, in the immediate vicinity of Medina (which they did), and thus obviate the necessity of congregating in the mosque which the Prophet himself had built in the same village at the time of his arrival at Medina (see note 145 below). It is this “rival” mosque to which the above verse refers. It was demolished at the Prophet’s orders immediately after his return from the Tabūk expedition. Abū ‘āmir himself died in Syria shortly afterwards. (For all the relevant Traditions, see Tabarī’s and Ibn Kathīr’s commentaries on this verse.)
So at the very time of revelation of this Sura 9 (during the 9th year after the Prophet’s immigration to Medina) the community of Medina was facing a very possible invasion by the Byzantine Christian army, due in part at least to the instigation of this traitorous Christian man Abu Amir. They gathered together a large force and marched toward Syria in expectation of having to fight against an army of would-be Christian invaders.
Verse 29 of Sura 9, then, was quite appropriately put within the context of the rescinding of covenants made previously with the non-Muslim tribes. Verses 1-28 had to do specifically with the ‘polytheists’; then verses 29 ff concerned other oath breakers and violent aggressors from among the “people of the Book”. These ‘people of the Book’ had violated the message of God in that portion of the Scriptures they had received, by doing just what the polytheists did: they set up others as ‘partners’ with God (whether that was some of the Jews of Arabia going to an extreme by calling Ezra a “Son of God” just as the Christians call Jesus “God’s Son”, or believing in monks/saints and rabbis as intercessors and ‘lords’). Like the polytheists, they sought to “extinguish God’s light with their mouths” (that is, like someone blowing out a candle – verse 32); and the end of verse 33 directly equates them with the ‘idolaters’ (‘polytheists’, “those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God”).
As they had allied themselves, in past fighting, with the idolaters, and sought to get a Christian army to aggressively invade the Muslim community, the Muslim believers were called to fight them just as they were called to fight the ‘polytheists’ – and under the same ‘rules of engagement’.
It seems rather strange that you want us to believe that God’s Prophet would employ double standards with regard to ‘rules of engagement’ in warfare: he wouldn’t fight against the polytheists unless they first attacked him and the Muslim believers; but he would fight ‘innocent’ Christians and Jews simply because of what they believed (or didn’t believe). You say this despite the fact that the injunction to fight the ‘people of the book’ is in the same immediate context as the injunction to fight the polytheists because of their oath breaking and being the first to attack the Muslims. It is also despite the fact that every other passage in the Qur’an about fighting always states that it is to be done in self defense – whether it’s in Sura 2, 4, 8, 9, or 22 (or elsewhere).
If this one solitary verse about fighting Christians and Jews were indeed saying that they were to be fought solely because of their beliefs, it would be in violation of every other instruction in the Qur’an about fighting. I’m fairly sure you’ll not be able to convince any Muslim who carefully reads and reflects on the Divine Message that such is the case. We all will recognize that God has not flagrantly contradicted the whole mass of His teaching about ‘struggle’ (‘jihad’) in His cause by this one single verse.
Again, if this verse were really instructing Muslims to fight the “people of the Book” simply because of what they believed, it’s very strange indeed that about 1 year after the revelation of Surah 9 another Sura was revealed – Sura 5, believed to be the last Sura, and revealed only shortly before the death of Muhammad (God’s blessing on him and his family) – in which Christians and Jews were still living side by side with Muslims in Medina; and each group still maintained – with God’s authorization – its own distinctive beliefs and practices (Sura 5:41-49). The instruction of God in this final Sura was simply that the Muslims not take the Jews and Christians (those who ridiculed and made fun of the Muslim religion – verses 51 and 57) as allies (supporters and protectors).
Isn’t it strange that they’re still there, maintaining their beliefs and practices, and even ridiculing the Muslims – and all God says is that the Muslims should not go to them for support and protection? Why haven’t they already been killed or converted? Why isn’t God saying that the Muslim believers have failed to fulfill His command, and they’d better get busy and kill or convert those ‘people of the Book’? 😆
No, those who carefully read and reflect on God’s Qur’an will most certainly not find in 9:29 a command to fight Jews and Christians simply because of what they believe. Perhaps some “extremists” seeking to find an excuse to follow their own Satan inspired whims will distort this verse to that end. In fact they ought to obey Sura 7:199-202: (199) Be tolerant and command what is right. (200) If Satan should prompt you to do something, seek refuge with God – He is all hearing, all knowing – (201) those who are aware of God think of Him when Satan prompts them to do something and immediately they can see [straight]; (202) the followers of devils are led relentlessly into error by them and cannot stop.
Certainly there will continue to be non-Muslims who seek to turn others from God’s way, trying to make it crooked: such people have gone far astray (14:3). I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when such people are ‘hell bent’ on misrepresenting God’s words. Robert Spencer is definitely one such, and it appears you are following in his footsteps. But I still have hope that God will be pleased to guide you “the straight way”.
One other comment, concerning Jesus (God’s blessings on him) and the Talmud (or “traditions of the elders”), though that subject is not really relevant to the main point of our discussion (but it was I who introduced it): Jesus’ denunciation of the “traditions of the elders” is explicit, and is one of the reasons the Jewish leaders of his time rejected him and many Jews still continue to do so. Whatever you may infer from his teachings about heaven/hell, it can’t counteract Jesus’ explicit, ‘no punches pulled’ statements.
Consider Mark 7:1-13 for instance. When the Pharisees (whose interpretations of Judaism you say Jesus followed) asked why his disciples defied the tradition concerning the washing of hands, Jesus said the prophet Isaiah referred to people like them when he said: This people honors with me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. He then gave an example of one of the traditions which in fact was a rejection of the Law of God; and concluded by saying: thus [you make] void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do. If you can make that consistent with your idea that Jesus was a Talmudist, and practiced the teachings of the Pharisees, more power to you; but it sure doesn’t sound that way to me.