Posted by: mystic444 | April 16, 2012

“The People of the Book” and “Shirk”

My last couple of posts have been responses to a commenter who calls himself “InPeace”. His initial comment was on my article ‘Islamist’ Terrorism in Nigeria, regarding my question as to how any real Muslim could take part in bombing Christian churches and murdering Christians. Not only may it be inferred from statements of the Qur’an that such actions are ‘beyond the bounds’; such actions are explicitly prohibited in the Qur’an and in other statements of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be with him and his family) such as the Charter with St. Catherine’s monastery – in which the protection by Muslims of Christians “both near and far” is mandated “until the Last Day”.

Anyone who honors God and His Prophet is bound to honor these laws laid down in God’s Revelation (the Qur’an) and that Charter. The Muslim believes that there is no contradiction in the Qur’an; so he does not have the liberty of claiming that while some places in the Qur’an prohibit aggressive warfare, murdering Christians and Jews, and destroying their churches and synagogues, others permit it or command it. He does not have the liberty to pick and choose from ‘conflicting’ accounts. Whatever a non-Muslim may believe about the inerrancy of the Qur’an, Muslims insist on it. Hence my question: how can any real Muslim carry out such atrocities in defiance of the clear and explicit prohibitions of “God and His Prophet”?

In my last article Fight Christians and Jews Because of What They Believe I made the point that in all other passages in the Qur’an which concerned fighting in the cause of God (besides 9:29 which was under discussion), all fighting is explicitly required to be defensive in nature; and I stated that one surely will not expect a Muslim to believe that in this one verse God contradicted everything else He had ever said in the Qur’an on the subject (including in the immediate context of verses 1-28, verse 13 in particular).

“InPeace” replied in a comment that the Qur’an is full of contradictions, and gave one instance which he believes to be an obvious contradiction. I’m not going to get into a ‘back and forth’ discussion concerning alleged contradictions in the Qur’an, because it’s irrelevant. Whatever “InPeace” or any other non-Muslim may believe about such alleged contradictions, no Muslim will accept the idea. For him, as 4:82 says, contradictions within the Qur’an would prove that the Qur’an did not come from God; so if he finds any such contradictions, that in itself would compel him to abandon his Muslim faith. There are articles and books written by Muslims explaining the alleged contradictions. One may accept such explanations, or may believe they are rather mere attempts to “explain away” things that are legitimate discrepancies. But no Muslim can accept such internal errors without abandoning his Muslim faith. And of course if he abandons his Muslim faith, then he would no longer have a basis for attacking “people of the Book” because of what they believe, supposedly based on 9:29.

So again, no one can legitimately expect a Muslim to accept that 9:29 contradicts all other Qur’anic regulations on ‘rules of warfare’. A Muslim is bound to interpret 9:29 in a way which is compatible with all of the other teaching of the Qur’an on the matter.

This is not hard for the Muslim believer to do, though. Despite the determined efforts of “InPeace” to prove otherwise (based on his reading of such anti-Muslim sites as TheReligionofPeace.com and the writings of Robert Spencer), verse 29 of Sura 9 does indeed fit right in with the context of verses 1-28.

Although verses 1-28 are generally believed to be written at least primarily concerning the ‘idolaters’ of Mecca – and this is probably true – nevertheless neither the inhabitants of Mecca nor any of the Arab tribes (such as the Quraysh) are specifically mentioned anywhere in those verses. The initial proclamation was made by Ali ibn Abi Talib (may God be pleased with him) on “the day of the Great Pilgrimage” and was addressed to “all people” or “all mankind” because people from all over Arabia and other lands were congregated there on that day.

Those whose treaties were revoked, and whom the Muslims were called on to fight (from the Arabic root ‘QTL’) are consistently referred to as those who ‘disbelieved’ or ‘rejected’ God and His Message (based on the Arabic root ‘KFR’ – ‘kafir’ for instance), and ‘idolaters’, ‘polytheists’, ‘pagans’, ‘those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God’ (based on the Arabic root ‘ShRK’ – ‘shirk’ and mushrikun for instance). Never in these verses are those terms specifically limited to the people of Mecca or the surrounding tribes. The terms refer to all such people with whom Muhammad had made treaties, covenants, or charters, and who had violated those charters.

In verse 28, those ‘mushrikun’ (“those who ascribe partners to God”, “idolaters”, “polytheists”, etc.) are said to be unclean; and after that year they were not to be allowed to “come near the Sacred Mosque”. Remember, this was addressed to pilgrims from all over Arabia and other countries, not just the inhabitants of Mecca.

Then verse 29 and following verses introduce for the first time a specific group of “disbelievers” and those who “ascribe partners to God”: the “people of the Book” who do not truly follow the “religion of Truth” which was revealed in those portions of “the Book” which they had been given, and who had (like other ‘mushrikun’) violated their treaties or charters and either fought against the Muslims or supported invaders.

That these “people of the Book” were in violation of their charter with Muhammad (peace be with him and his family) and were in rebellion is, I believe, at least part of what is meant by who do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden. Some of the things forbidden by God and His Messenger, and spoken of frequently in the preceding verses, are the breaking of oaths, oppression, and violent aggression. Whether or not that is part of what is meant by that phrase, though, it is explicitly said that they had to be fought until they paid the protection/exemption tax (‘jizya’) and that they needed to be “subdued”.

People who are quietly and inoffensively living their lives don’t need to be “subdued”; and if they were not at that time paying the ‘jizya’, they were in violation of their charter. This tax was part of the charter which was established in Medina when Muhammad first arrived there to settle the Medinans’ disputes; and it was a part of other charters established with other ‘communities’ who accepted the authority and protection of Muhammad. The very fact that they were refusing to pay this tax showed that they were in rebellion. In addition, the “people of the Book” over and over had supported and joined in with the invaders from Mecca and the Arab tribes whenever they attacked the community at Medina.

Also, although “InPeace” wishes to maintain that Muhammad Asad’s explanation concerning the threatened attack by Byzantine Christians is just “apologist spin and hearsay”, this is historical fact which I don’t believe is seriously questioned by historians. It seems to be fairly overwhelming consensus that it is this threatened invasion which formed the background for this Sura 9. The whole of the Sura was revealed shortly before, during, or shortly after the expedition to Tabuk by the Muslim army, and verses 1-37 are said to have been revealed all at one time. The efforts of the Christian man known as Abu Amir to incite the Byzantine Emperor against the Muslims are a valid part of the historical setting.

“InPeace” says that by referring to historical events, I am going outside the Qur’an to interpret it; but any reasonable person knows that a good part of interpreting any writing “in its context” is to interpret it in its historical context. Certainly with the Qur’an, every portion of the Revelation was given in a particular historical setting and was given in reference to that historical setting. Those who reject the consideration of that setting in ‘interpreting’ the Qur’an – whenever knowledge of that history is available – cannot be expected to be able to arrive with any certainty at the correct meaning of the Qur’an.

Certainly the people who first heard the recitation of the Qur’an were aware of that history; and they would understand the Revelation in keeping with that setting in which it was given. When we are able to acquire knowledge of that history, we also will have a better chance of understanding the Revelation given in that setting. The frequent attacks by non-Muslim Arab tribes, and the support given to them by the “people of the Book”, are very much a part of the historical background which explains what is meant by Sura 9 when it speaks of those who ascribe partners to God breaking their oaths, attacking the Muslims and seeking to kill them and the Prophet.

How, then, are “the people of the Book” related to those ‘disbelievers’ and ‘ascribers of partners to God’ who are spoken of in verses 1-28? “InPeace” thinks they are totally different groups of people, not at all related; so verses 1-28 don’t form a “context” for verse 29. In fact, though, the verses following verse 29 tell us that the “people of the Book” being referred to are specifically Jews and Christians; and that they are ‘disbelievers’ (‘kafirun’) and “those who ascribe partners to God” or “idolaters” (‘mushrikun’).

Verses 30 and 31 first describe the “shirk” by saying that the Arabian Jews had been heard to say that Ezra (peace be with him) was a Son of God, and the Christians of course said that the Messiah (Jesus – God’s blessings be with him) was God’s Son. Also, those “people of the Book” took their Rabbis and Monks (again, Jews and Christians – despite “InPeace” wanting to add others into the designation of “people of the Book”) as lords in addition to God – as well as Christ, the son of Mary.

Then the end of verse 31 explicitly says that what those Jews and Christians (who weren’t truly following the religion of Truth which they had been given) were doing was “shirk”: But they were commanded [“people of the Book” – SGP] to serve only one God: there is no god but Him; He is far above whatever they set up as His partners (yushrikun).

At the end of verse 32, these Christians and Jews who don’t truly follow the religion of Truth revealed in that portion of “the Book” which they were given are said to be kafirun (“disbelievers” or “rejecters of truth”): They try to extinguish God’s light with their mouths, but God insists on bringing His light to its fullness, even if the disbelievers [kafirun] hate it.

At the end of verse 33, they are again specifically accused of “shirk”: It is He Who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, to show that it is above all [other] religions, however much the idolaters [mushrikun – “those who ascribe partners to God” or “those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God”] may hate this.

Verse 34 shows us that the Message had not suddenly shifted to the Meccan “polytheists” when it referred to “disbelievers” and “idolaters in verses 31-34: You who believe, many rabbis and monks wrongfully consume peoples’ possessions and turn people away from God’s path…

So verse 31 refers to the ‘partners’ of God which those Christians and Jews (“people of the Book”) imagined (yushrikun); verse 33 refers to them as “idolaters” or “those who ascribe partners to God” (mushrikun); and verse 32 calls them “disbelievers” or “rejecters” (kafirun). In other words, these verses specifically say that these “people of the Book” definitely belong in the category of those “mushrikun” and “karfirun” referred to in the first 28 verses; and the Muslims are told to “fight” them (QaTiL) just as they were told to fight (faQaTiL –verse 12) and “slay” (faQTuL – verse 5) the previously mentioned “karifun” and “mushrikun” who were oath breakers. All of these verses were originally revealed at the same time, and form one context concerning fighting “kafirun” and “mushrikun” who violated their oaths and either aggressively attacked the Muslim community or supported such attackers.

“InPeace” mentions the cousin of Muhammad (peace be with him and his family) named Ibn Abbas (may God be pleased with him), who is highly regarded for his knowledge and wisdom by both Sunnis and Shias. He (“InPeace”) asserts that Ibn Abbas taught offensive warfare against Christians and Jews – just because of their beliefs – from Sura 9:29. I would have to be able to read the actual words (in a good and accepted English version) of Ibn Abbas in order to be able to determine whether or not he actually taught such a thing. I am not willing to accept that he did simply because “InPeace”, Robert Spencer, TheReligionof Peace.com, “AnsweringIslam”, etc assert that he did. Seeing the way such people distort and twist the Qur’an which I can read and have read, I have no confidence that they are correctly ‘interpreting’ Ibn Abbas.

I tried to find a commentary on this verse by Ibn Abbas online; but all I could find was a statement that a number of medieval commentaries cited Ibn Abbas as supporting the practice of symbolically showing the subjugation of the “people of the Book” by ‘striking their necks’ when they brought the ‘jizya’ (protection/exemption tax) each year. If that is correct, it’s not the same as teaching offensive warfare just because of what the Christians and Jews believed. It was merely a way of symbolically illustrating that the rebellious “people of the book” had indeed been subdued and recognized it. Note that the Qur’an itself did not prescribe that symbolic action; all that was required was that the “people of the Book” clearly show their submission (or that their rebellion had been completely subdued).

There is no ‘abrogation’ of previous verses of Revelation in 9:29 – certainly not of 2:256 (there is no compulsion in religion) and similar verses that teach the same thing. Just as earlier verses in the chapter tell the Muslims to fight and kill the “mushrikun” (idolaters, or those who acribe divinity to others beside God), yet any of those idolaters who have not broken their oaths and fought against the believers (or supported those who fought) are excluded from this command to the Muslims; so in verse 29 and following, the “people of the Book” are to be fought – but only those who have broken their oaths by refusing to pay the tax required in their charter with Muhammad, and who have revolted against the Muslim community or supported other attackers. Their revolt must be subdued, and they must be compelled to pay the tax required by their oath and charter.

The whole of Sura 5 is recognized by Muslims as having been revealed in the 10th year following the immigration to Medina – about 1 year after Sura 9, and shortly before the Prophet’s death. It makes no difference if some Islam-haters wish to deny this because it’s inconvenient for their position; the point is that Muslims themselves believe this to be true. Therefore, they must recognize that a year after the revelation of Sura 9, there were still “people of the Book” present in Muslim territory who were mocking and ridiculing the Muslims and their faith, and practicing their own faith; yet the Muslims were merely told that they must not take such people as allies and protectors. They were not told to fight those mocking disbelievers and ‘idolaters’ until their disbelief, mockery, and ‘idolatry’ were “subdued”.

Yes, they were almost certainly paying the ‘jizya’, as was their responsibility under their charter; and their previous rebellion had been subdued so that they were no longer fighting the Muslim community or supporting those who fought. But the disbelief and ascription of divinity to others beside God still existed. Therefore, the false beliefs of these “people of the Book” could not have been the cause of the command in 9:29 to fight them.

This has been longer than usual; but let me summarize the argument.

(1) Verses 1-28 of Sura 9 concern “kafirun” (disbelievers) and “mushrikun” (those who ascribe divinity to others beside God) who have broken their oaths and covenants, and have initiated fighting against the Muslim community.

(2) These “mushrikun” in the first 28 verses are not specifically identified with any tribe or city. The revocation of treaties was announced to all the pilgrims – from all over Arabia and other countries – who were present at this “Day of the Great Pilgrimage”.

(3) In verse 29, a specific group of people who are to be fought is mentioned: “people of the Book” who do not truly follow the religion of Truth which they had been given in that Book.

(4) These “people of the Book” are said to have broken their covenant, because they were not paying the required tax and they were in a state of rebellion which needed to be subdued. They, like the “mushrikun” mentioned earlier, initiated fighting against the Muslims or supported those who fought.

(5) These covenant breaking “people of the Book” are identified as “kafirun” (disbelievers) and “mushrikun” (those who ascribe partners to God) – first by describing their “shirk” (ascription of partners to God), and then explicitly saying they are “mushrikun” and “kafirun”. They are explicitly among those who were spoken of in the first 28 verses.

One more thing, and I promise I’ll quit! 😀 “InPeace”, in his comment on my last article, brought up Sura 8:39: Believers, fight them until there is no more persecution, and all worship is devoted to God alone He considers this as obvious proof that the verses about “no compulsion in religion” and fighting only those who first fought them were either ‘abrogated’, or there is a ‘contradiction’.

His mistake is the same as when he referred to 8:35 – So taste the punishment for your disbelief; he refuses to read verses in their contexts. The context of verse 39 is the same as verse 35 (which he referred to in his original comment): the people to be fought are those who had plotted to take you captive, kill, or expel you (verse 30). Specifically, with reference to verse 39, they sought to debar people from the Sacred Mosque, although they are not its [rightful] guardians. Only those mindful of God are its rightful guardians, but most of the disbelievers do not realize this (verse 34); or as verse 36 put it: They use their wealth to bar people from the path of God, and they will go on doing so…

When verse 39 says that all worship must be for God alone, it is speaking about worship at the Sacred Mosque. This “Ka’ba” was built by Abraham and Ishmael and dedicated to the worship of God alone; things must return to that state. The “mushrikun” were currently seeking to keep the true worshipers of God out of the “Ka’ba”; fighting would continue until that ended, and only God’s true worshipers were allowed there.

Sura 9:28, which was written about 7 years after Sura 8, says that after that year, no “mushrikun” (those who ascribe partners to God) were to be allowed near the Sacred Mosque (and the following verses state that many of the “people of the Book” fit that category); worship there would indeed return to the way it was originally: dedicated to God alone.

Yet, as pointed out previously, 1 year after Sura 9, and 8 years after Sura 8, Christians and Jews were still being allowed to practice their distinctive versions of the religion of truth – and even those who didn’t really follow that religion of truth and who ridiculed the Muslim faith were permitted – and this was explicitly authorized by God. They may not have been permitted to use the Sacred Mosque for their worship, but they were not forced to ‘convert’. They could use their own churches and synagogues; and such buildings were under the protection of Muhammad and his followers. The Sacred Mosque, however, was for God alone.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. The Muslim believes that there is no contradiction in the Qur’an

    Muslims for 14 centuries have believed and accepted verses in the Koran they consider contradictory. There is an entire system devoted to figuring out which contradictory verses were revealed first to determine the passage being abrogated.

    Your assertion, therefore, is simply untrue.

    Now you go on to claim all verses on fighting are clearly in self-defense.

    Can you explain how revenge attacks and waging war against usurers – who are actually believers – is self defense?

    2:278-279: O believers, fear you God; and give up the usury that is outstanding, if you are believers.

    But if you do not, then take notice that God shall war with you, and His Messenger; yet if you repent, you shall have your principal, unwronging and unwronged.

    So we see that your statement that war is only permitted in self-defense rings hollow.

    War is explicitly allowed against Muslims who practice usury. No matter how you want to spin this verse, fighting against usury is not an act of self-defense.

    such actions are explicitly prohibited in the Qur’an (killing ‘innocent’ civilians)

    Well, I beg to differ. The Koran explicitly allows the exact same type of transgressions against the enemy that the enemy carried out against Muslims.

    As for these explicit Koran verses prohibiting the killing of innocent civilians – where does the Koran define ‘innocent’? Which verses are you referring to?

    Then verse 29 and following verses introduce for the first time a specific group of “disbelievers” and those who “ascribe partners to God”

    Nope. More made up claims on your part. V9:29 doesn’t mention shirk.

    and who had (like other ‘mushrikun’) violated their treaties or charters and either fought against the Muslims or supported invaders

    Try sticking with what V9:29 actually says. The verse doesn’t say anything about treaty violations or fighting against Muslims or supporting invaders.

    b>That these “people of the Book” were in violation of their charter with Muhammad (peace be with him and his family) and were in rebellion is, I believe, at least part of what is meant by who do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden.

    Really? The Koran explicitly commands warfare against usury (so much for self defense). How do you know that isn’t what the passage means? Or anything else the ‘People of the Book’ do differently from Muslims?

    People who are quietly and inoffensively living their lives don’t need to be “subdued”

    That’s one translation/interpretation. Here are two more providing more perspective:

    until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.

    until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

    Being brought low can mean what it means for Christians in many parts of the Muslim world facing discrimination. Christians are ‘brought low’, ‘humbled’ with oppressive laws forbidding or restricting Church construction/repairs, legal ownership of Bibles or public displays of their religion, etc.

    This tax was part of the charter which was established in Medina when Muhammad first arrived there to settle the Medinans’ disputes; and it was a part of other charters established with other ‘communities’ who accepted the authority and protection of Muhammad. The very fact that they were refusing to pay this tax showed that they were in rebellion. In addition, the “people of the Book” over and over had supported and joined in with the invaders from Mecca and the Arab tribes whenever they attacked the community at Medina.

    Once again, you’re going outside the Koran and providing your own historical spin (which I totally reject) to give insight into the mean of the Koran’s verses.

    The Koran says it’s a complete and clear book. I’ll continue to rely on Koranic verses to explain the meaning of the Koran and will not rely on extra-Koranic material to interpret the Koran.

    Also, although “InPeace” wishes to maintain that Muhammad Asad’s explanation concerning the threatened attack by Byzantine Christians is just “apologist spin and hearsay”, this is historical fact which I don’t believe is seriously questioned by historians.

    Tell that to the Christian tribes attacked by the Muslim expedition to Tabuk. Did Muhammad Asad leave those historical facts out, too? Just like, perhaps, when he (mis)informed you that jizya is ‘much lower’ than the taxes Muslims pay?

    As usual, your version of history is highly selective. Spin indeed.

    “InPeace” says that by referring to historical events, I am going outside the Qur’an to interpret it; but any reasonable person knows that a good part of interpreting any writing “in its context” is to interpret it in its historical context.

    Except:

    1) the Koran says it is a clear and complete book.

    2) I have no problem citing/quoting *heavyweight* Muslim scholars who provide their own version of history regarding the 9th chapter of the Koran and its key verses and coming to polar opposite conclusions that you have made. You cannot even deny this last fact.

    Certainly the people who first heard the recitation of the Qur’an were aware of that history;

    I agree. Why don’t we cite the earliest scholars on Islam to find their views on jihad warfare, interpretation of V9:29 and Koranic abrogation; as well as the actions of the rightly guided caliphs, including the invasion of far and away (non-threatening) territories/lands such as Sindh or swathes of Black Africa that could not possibly threaten Islam or the expansive Muslim empire in any realistic manner.

    In fact, though, the verses following verse 29 tell us that the “people of the Book” being referred to are specifically Jews and Christians; and that they are ‘disbelievers’ (‘kafirun’) and “those who ascribe partners to God” or “idolaters” (‘mushrikun’).

    Well, almost all Christians are guilty of ascribing partners to God according to that verse. So, by your argument, V9:29 encompasses virtually all Christians. But I don’t agree that the following verse, V9:30, excludes other people of the Book simply because it describes some of the offensive actions of some of the people of the Book (which, interestingly enough, isn’t ‘treachery’, or ‘waging war’, etc).

    “People of the Book” includes all Jews, Christians and Sabeans. Unless the Koran explicitly refers to the people of the Book to only refer to a subset population, then the phrase will automatically refer to Jews, Christians and Sabeans.

    At the end of verse 33, they are again specifically accused of “shirk”: It is He Who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, to show that it is above all [other] religions, however much the idolaters [mushrikun – “those who ascribe partners to God” or “those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God”] may hate this.

    Another, apparently more accurate, translation of V9:33 is:

    He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion, however much the idolaters may be averse.

    It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad SAW) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it superior over all religions even though the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) hate (it).

    He it is Who sent His Apostle with guidance and the religion of truth, that He might cause it to prevail over all religions, though the polytheists may be averse.

    HE it is Who has sent HIS Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, that HE may make it prevail over every other religion, even though the idolaters may resent it.

    He is the One who sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, and will make it dominate all religions, in spite of the idol worshipers.

    He it is who hath sent His Apostle with the Guidance and a religion of the truth, that He may make it victorious over every other religion, albeit they who assign partners to God be averse from it.

    ********

    So, a more accurate translation of V9:33 appears to be about making Islam dominant/superior/’prevail’ over all other religions; and that unbelievers/polytheists would be averse to Islam prevailing over their religion.

    That’s therefore interesting and relevant for our discussion and the possible meaning of V9:29. V9:29 says to wage war against “the people of the book” and a few verses later the Koran says Islam will become dominant over other religions. So, the context of V9:33, which says to dominate other religions, is military engagement.

    One can therefore conclude that fulfilling V9:33 is by following V9:29 to attack “the people of the book” as anyone would read the passage in the most literal and straightforward sense to mean.

    Verse 34 shows us that the Message had not suddenly shifted to the Meccan “polytheists” when it referred to “disbelievers” and “idolaters in verses 31-34: You who believe, many rabbis and monks wrongfully consume peoples’ possessions and turn people away from God’s path…

    So this is self-defense?

    The Koran is simply dehumanizing groups of people. Nothing new here. But that is not the casus belli for V9:29.

    So verse 31 refers to the ‘partners’ of God which those Christians and Jews (“people of the Book”) imagined (yushrikun); verse 33 refers to them as “idolaters” or “those who ascribe partners to God” (mushrikun); and verse 32 calls them “disbelievers” or “rejecters” (kafirun). In other words, these verses specifically say that these “people of the Book” definitely belong in the category of those “mushrikun” and “karfirun” referred to in the first 28 verses;

    No, sorry…that’s not definite from the reading at all. The first 28 verses of chapter 9 definitely refer to the Pagans Muslims were at war with. V9:7, for instance, is clearly connected with V9:13, which is clearly connected to V9:28 and ends there.

    I am not willing to accept that he did simply because “InPeace”, Robert Spencer, TheReligionof Peace.com, “AnsweringIslam”, etc assert that he did. Seeing the way such people distort and twist the Qur’an which I can read and have read, I have no confidence that they are correctly ‘interpreting’ Ibn Abbas.

    You can start with this thread which quotes and links to Ibn Abbas that is in no way connected to “InPeace”, TheReligionofPeace.com, “AnsweringIslam” or Robert Spencer. Good luck in your quest to find out Ibn Abbas’ views regarding abrogation of ‘peaceful’ verses and his view on offensive Jihad (I think it’s safe to assume he supports offensive jihad if he believe the peaceful verses of the Koran have been abrogated by V9:5, etc):

    http://www.sunniforum.com/forum/showthread.php?58514-Ibn-Abbas-says-the-verse-quot-if-they-incline-towards-peace-quot-is-abrogated.is-this-Ikhtilaf

    yet any of those idolaters who have not broken their oaths and fought against the believers (or supported those who fought) are excluded from this command to the Muslims

    Where? The Koran allows certain exceptions but I don’t know where the Koran says to leave idolaters alone otherwise.

    so in verse 29 and following, the “people of the Book” are to be fought – but only those who have broken their oaths by refusing to pay the tax required in their charter with Muhammad

    Oh, I thought V9:29 was revealed in response to an invading Byzantine army at Tabuk. Now it’s about taxation issues. When did Muhammad become the tax collector of Christian tribes? It wouldn’t have been when Muslims set out for Tabuk and ‘annexed’ Christian tribes they passed? Self defense, dontchya know?

    but only those who have broken their oaths by refusing to pay the tax required in their charter with Muhammad

    It’s an offer the people of the book couldn’t refuse.

    It makes no difference if some Islam-haters wish to deny this because it’s inconvenient for their position

    I find this statement funny coming from someone claiming that Jews are quick to label people Antisemites. In truth, people like are you the Jews you imagine are always decrying Antisemitism. As opposed to imagined Jew-hatred, anyone with a differing interpretation of Islam that isn’t approved by how you want the narrative of Islam to read transforms into an ‘Islamophobe’.

    Jews aren’t hypersensitive to perceived Antisemitism. You are, however, hypersensitive to differing views and opinions of Islam. That’s why you need labels. It’s easier to deconstruct someone simply by name calling as opposed to critical analysis.

    the point is that Muslims themselves believe this to be true. Therefore, they must recognize that a year after the revelation of Sura 9, there were still “people of the Book” present in Muslim territory who were mocking and ridiculing the Muslims and their faith

    And the verse from chapter five about not befriending Jews and Christians says Jews and Christians mock and ridicule Muslims and their faith…where?

    These “mushrikun” in the first 28 verses are not specifically identified with any tribe or city. The revocation of treaties was announced to all the pilgrims – from all over Arabia and other countries – who were present at this “Day of the Great Pilgrimage”.

    Interesting. You said it yourself. All treaties with unbelievers were revoked. In fact, all treaties with unbelievers are impossible in light of V9:7 *and* V9:28.

    V9:7 declares that treaties with unbelievers/idolaters can only be made at the Great Mosque but V9:28 prohibits idolaters from the Great Mosque. So, all future treaties with idolaters are impossible based on what the Koran says.

    4) These “people of the Book” are said to have broken their covenant, because they were not paying the required tax and they were in a state of rebellion which needed to be subdued. They, like the “mushrikun” mentioned earlier, initiated fighting against the Muslims or supported those who fought.

    No, sorry. No verse says that beyond your ‘grasping at straws’ logic.

    The Koran repeatedly chides ‘people of the book’ for their beliefs and practices, not for any transgressions against Muslims.

    (5) These covenant breaking “people of the Book” are identified as “kafirun” (disbelievers) and “mushrikun” (those who ascribe partners to God) – first by describing their “shirk” (ascription of partners to God), and then explicitly saying they are “mushrikun” and “kafirun”. They are explicitly among those who were spoken of in the first 28 verses.

    Uh, no, they aren’t. The people explicitly mentioned in the first 28 verses are clearly identified as idolaters. While the Koran refers to idolaters as unbelievers, the Koran (at least in the 9th chapter) does not seem to specifically refer to the people of the book as idolaters. In other words, all idolaters are unbelievers but not all unbelievers are idolaters.

    V9:33, which I have already covered, is no longer specifically referring to the people of the book but all unbelievers. It essentially says all religions will become subordinate to Islam (Islam will “dominate” all other religions after calling for war against people of the book). But that passage, while including people of the book, is no longer specifically referring to them anymore than it would various other religious groups.

    And have all other religious groups ‘broken’ their treaties with Muhammad? Well no, they haven’t.

    You’re citing V9:33 as evidence that the mushrikun referred in the passage are connected to the mushrikun in the first 28 verses of chapter 9. But that reasoning obviously doesn’t fly.

    It is He who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may uplift it above every religion, though the unbelievers be averse.

    Your argument is that ‘unbelievers’ only refers to a specific group. Unfortunately, V9:33 is explicitly referring to all religions and I would say the unbelievers “averse” to Islam dominating over their religion refers to all unbelievers of all religions.

    Ergo; your argument that the ‘kafirun’ or ‘mushrikun’ of V9:31-34 must refer to the mushrikun and kafirun mentioned earlier is sapped.

    The ‘unbelievers’ mentioned in V9:33 refers to ALL unbelievers who are members of ALL religions that Islam will dominate (in a clearly militant context), NOT the select few unbelievers and/or idolaters referred to in the first 28 verses of the 9th chapter.

    One more thing, and I promise I’ll quit! 😀 “InPeace”, in his comment on my last article, brought up Sura 8:39: Believers, fight them until there is no more persecution, and all worship is devoted to God alone…

    Sigh. The verse does not use the word persecution. That’s what the translations say. It could be interpreted as either persecution or temptation or shirk (the last two could be combined).

    Specifically, with reference to verse 39, they sought to debar people from the Sacred Mosque, although they are not its [rightful] guardians. Only those mindful of God are its rightful guardians, but most of the disbelievers do not realize this (verse 34); or as verse 36 put it: They use their wealth to bar people from the path of God, and they will go on doing so…

    Interesting. Doesn’t the Koran debar idolaters from the same Sacred Mosque in V9:28?

    What’s the difference?

    fighting would continue until that ended, and only God’s true worshipers were allowed there.

    Well, you said it. That’s probably why the Pagans were in conflict with the Muslims, then. If the Muslims insisted they only had a right to a house of worship Pagans regarded as sacred then of course the Pagans will be in conflict with the Muslims.

    Your religious supremacist statement is jaw dropping.

    I hope you’ll never argue that Jews don’t have an exclusive right to Israel/Palestine from now on. And if you do, realize the hypocrisy in your belief.

    Sura 9:28, which was written about 7 years after Sura 8, says that after that year, no “mushrikun” (those who ascribe partners to God) were to be allowed near the Sacred Mosque (and the following verses state that many of the “people of the Book” fit that category); worship there would indeed return to the way it was originally: dedicated to God alone.

    If V9:28 applies to all Pagans and most people of the book (in reality, all people of the book), then V9:29 must also as well.

    I also notice you have avoided my previous comment to your claim that jizya was far less than the tax Muslims paid.

    • “InPeace” – For some reason, your lengthy comment was picked up as “spam” initially; that’s why it didn’t show up right away. Normally once I have approved the first comment by someone, future comments are automatically approved. I have to assume that it was the length of the comment which caused it to wind up in my “spam” folder.

      I’m not going to attempt a reply in a comment to everything you’ve brought up; and I’m not inclined at this time to write another long article or two (or more) about the same section of the Qur’an. I’m thinking of trying 😆 to write some shorter articles about individual points in your attempt to refute my arguments – though I may not get around to covering every one of your objections. I’ll probably, for instance do a (hopefully relatively short) article on ‘contradictions’ in the Qur’an, and ‘abrogation’ – even though I’ve previously written a couple of articles about abrogation. Some things I’ll probably deliberately not respond to because I feel it’s pretty obvious to any discerning reader how you’ve twisted and distorted my arguments (whether intentionally or not).

      I didn’t comment on Khaybar and how that relates to the concept of ‘jizya’ simply because my article was already too long – pretty much the same reason I didn’t make any further comment about Jesus (God’s blessings be with him) and the Pharisees. My article was originally over 3700 words long – which was considerably longer, I believe, than the longest of my previous articles. I managed to cut it down to a bit over 3300 words, but I had to leave out things I would have liked to say. (I have great difficulty in being “brief”, in case you haven’t noticed. :grin:)

      Regarding Jesus, the Pharisees, and the “traditions of the elders”: I tend to believe that both Jesus and his cousin John (“the Baptist”) were Essenes. I certainly can’t believe that the one who over and over denounced the Scribes and Pharisees, called them hypocrites, and pronounced God’s woe on them, identified himself as a Pharisee. Neither is the one who said that they made void God’s Law by their traditions a follower of those traditions. Nevertheless, that does not mean that he was in total disagreement with everything the Pharisees believed and everything the “traditions” taught.

      I was raised in fundamentalist Protestant Christianity; by the time I was in college I had embraced Calvinism (Absolute Predestination), though I was still a Dispensational Premillenialist; but by my mid-twenties I had fully embraced the “Reformed” version of Protestantism (Presbyterian, Postmillenial, Paedobaptist, etc.) During all that time, though, I most definitely did not identify myself as “Catholic” (or “Roman Catholic”). I despised their “salvation by works” theology, their use of images (which I considered ‘idolatry’), their ‘worship’ of Mary the “Mother of God”. their “priestcraft”, the very idea of the Papacy, and so much more. I certainly did not accept the decisions of ‘Church Councils’. Nevertheless, there were still certain areas of ‘orthodoxy’ in which I agreed with Roman Catholic theology: the virgin birth of Jesus, the ‘Deity’ of Jesus Christ and the Trinity, heaven and hell (though of course I completely rejected ‘purgatory’), etc.

      Today, I am neither Protestant nor Catholic (nor Eastern Orthodox, nor any other ‘orthodox’ version of Christianity). I identify myself as “muslim in spirit”; yet I still believe certain things ‘orthodox’ Christianity believes: the virgin birth of Jesus, his miracles, that he was and is the Messiah and a Prophet of God, and taught God’s Truth. I still don’t identify myself as a “Christian”, though – except in the sense in which I say I am a Christian-Jewish-Muslim-Buddhist-Hindu (meaning I find a ‘thread’ of God’s Truth in them all, no matter how corrupted that Truth may have become in current versions of those religions).

      I believe it was the same with Jesus: he was not a Pharisee, and did not follow the traditions of the elders, although there were certainly points of agreement with the Pharisees’ beliefs and the traditions. My view of the “hadith” and “sunna” in Muslim tradition is very similar: I simply reject the overwhelming majority, although recognizing that there is truth in at least some, and some may well be truly authentic sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be with him and his family).

      Concerning Khaybar and the tribute demanded from them by Muhammad, it would of course be senseless for me to deny the validity of the fact that half of their produce was required as tribute after their defeat. However, it would also be senseless of me to deny the other historical traditions concerning the usually relatively small tax (‘jizya’) required of non-Muslim members of the Islamic community. The system set up under the Charter of Medina, in which the community voluntarily accepted the wise and just regulations Muhammad gave, is in my estimation normative. When groups from that community rebelled against their Charter and initiated warfare against the community (or supported outside invaders), additional punitive tribute was obviously at least sometimes required once they had been defeated. Such was the case with Khaybar: when their rebellion had been subdued, the punitive tribute required was rather high – just as a judge in a court of law may impose very high punitive fines on someone found guilty of unlawful activity. Perhaps that was also the case with those “people of the Book” mentioned in 9:29 – the ‘jizya’ for them after their rebellion was subdued may have been much higher than it was before their rebellion.

      The idea that the stipulations of the Medina Charter were “an offer they couldn’t refuse” is of course absurd. When Muhammad and the Muslims from Mecca arrived at Medina, they were weak and in no position to be able to impose their will on the Medinans who had invited them there. They were completely dependent themselves on the ‘helpers’ (‘Ansar’) of Medina, and could easily have been driven out (or killed, no doubt) had the people of Medina wished. It was only because of the voluntary support of the people of Medina that Islam could take root there and become the predominant faith. The Medinans were certainly not forced to embrace Islam; but those who accepted the Charter (even though they remained Christians, Jews, or polytheists) and then violated it were definitely compelled to submit or were banished. They were indeed ‘humbled’ after the violation of their oaths.

      You see how long this comment has become, although I have only addressed a couple of points. 🙄 That’s why I can’t do an adequate job in replying to your comment. From time to time, though, as I said, I hope to post some relatively short responses to some of your other points. Perhaps you’ll see them.

  2. However, it would also be senseless of me to deny the other historical traditions concerning the usually relatively small tax (‘jizya’) required of non-Muslim members of the Islamic community.

    What I’ve read on jizya was that it was a higher rate of tax than what Muslims were required to pay. That’s why later Muslim dynasties discouraged conversion to Islam because they stood to lose enormous sums of tax revenue as the populations converted to pay lower rates of taxes. Eventually, decades after the Muslim invasions of the Middle East, jizya and zakat were normalized to fix the problem of tax revenue losses that resulted when the populace began converting to Islam.

    Otherwise, I’m not familiar with the historical traditions. Academic historians I’ve read all seem to agree that jizya was a higher rate of tax than zakat.

    Your other points are quite interesting. Your argument for connecting V9:29-33 to the first 28 verses of the 9th chapter of the Koran is by word matching. Specifically, because the Koran uses the words ‘unbeliever’ (kafirun) and ‘idolater’ (mushrikun), this must mean that the idolaters and unbelievers of V9:29-33 are the same as the ones in the first 28 verses. I’m not sure if I can explain why I don’t buy into that type of argument but that reasoning certainly doesn’t fly with me.

    For one, V9:33 is clear that idolaters from all religions will oppose Islam’s dominating role. V9:33 uses the word ‘mushrikun’ to refer to adherents of all religions other than Islam. Unfortunately, this is one demonstrable example where your word matching use of interpretation seems to snag. How can mushrikun automatically refer to mushrikun of the first 28 verses – and only the mushrikun of the first 28 verses – of the Koran when the Koran uses mushrikun in this verse to refer to adherents of all religions? Clearly, your word matching way to interpret the Koran does not apply for V9:33 – the ‘mushrikun’ are not just the idolaters Muhammad was in contact with but a much larger group that would include Hindus, Buddhists, animists, Christians, Jews, etc., etc. the Muslims never encountered.

    You go on to argue that V9:28 is applicable for all times and restricts unbelievers from entering the sacred mosque due to their beliefs. But if 9:28 is still applicable today, and V9:28 is connected with V9:29, why isn’t V9:29 applicable for today as well? In fact, V9:28 says the ‘mushrikun’ are unclean to enter the sacred mosque. But because you believe the ‘mushrikun’ are forever restricted from the sacred mosque, that must mean the mushrikun here are not just some tribes who were in conflict with Muhammad but a much broader group that actually encompasses all mushrikun. Here, you do not appear to use your word matching method of interpretation. You’re fine to interpret this verse at face value without claiming that the ‘mushrikun’ mentioned are only a small group of unbelievers but do not represent all ‘mushrikun’.

    And lastly, there is the issue of the historical context of Muhammad’s last years and the revelation of V9:29 and the actions of the Muslims in dealing with Christian (and Jewish) tribes to the north and south of the hijaz. Glubb briefly discusses the Muslim military expedition to Tabuk that included the Muslims forcing the Christian tribes into paying jizya to the Muslims. However, an overlooked aspect for the context of V9:29 could be the Muslim raids against the Christian tribes to the south of the hijaz that mentioned by Montgomery Watt. Watt writes about these military expeditions:

    Sometimes Muhammad encouraged energetic men to use force against their neighbours. One was Surad b. ‘Abdallah of the tribe of Azd Shanu’ah, who came to Muhammad with a dozen or so men; Muhammad put him in charge of these men and of any others of his tribe whom he could persuade to become Muslims, and gave them carte blanche to fight in the name of Islam against any non-Muslims in the region. Surad chose to attack a fortified place called Jurash; after a month’s siege he pretended to retire; the besiegers sallied out, hoping to take the withdrawing force at a disadvantage, but instead they found Surad prepared for them and with some loss. Eventually the men of Jurash came to make their peace with Muhammad and to accept Islam.

    Muhammad at Medina p.120

    But Watt actually believes, as most historians, I suppose, that 9:29 was revealed during the expedition to the north. Watt writes:

    It is clear, then, that by the late autumn of 630 Muhammad had adopted the policy suggested by a verse of the Qur’an (9.29): ‘Fight against those who . . . do not practice the religion of truth, of those who have been given the Book (Jews and Christians), until they pay the jizyah. . .’

    By this new policy non-Muslim tribes were given a choice between accepting Islam and paying annual tribute. In either case they became members of the Islamic security system. If they refused that, they were killed or enslaved.

    p.116

    Watt provides more examples of military engagements of Muslims against non-Muslim tribes to both the south and north of the hijaz.

    • Thanks for your replies, InPeace. This one in particular indicates that you have misunderstood my line of reasoning in analyzing the first part of Sura 9. I am willing to take the blame for that, since I realize that sometimes when I think I have been “as clear as glass”, someone else thinks I’m “as clear as mud! 🙄 😆

      You wrote: “For one, V9:33 is clear that idolaters from all religions will oppose Islam’s dominating role. V9:33 uses the word ‘mushrikun’ to refer to adherents of all religions other than Islam. Unfortunately, this is one demonstrable example where your word matching use of interpretation seems to snag. How can mushrikun automatically refer to mushrikun of the first 28 verses – and only the mushrikun of the first 28 verses – of the Koran when the Koran uses mushrikun in this verse to refer to adherents of all religions? Clearly, your word matching way to interpret the Koran does not apply for V9:33 – the ‘mushrikun’ are not just the idolaters Muhammad was in contact with but a much larger group that would include Hindus, Buddhists, animists,

        Christians, Jews

      , etc., etc. the Muslims never encountered.”

      It was intended to be my main point that ‘mushrikun’ (“those who ascribe divinity to others besides God”) refers to all people who deviate from the worship of God alone not just the “Meccan polytheists” presumed to be the ones being addressed in verses 1-28. This is why I belabored the point that the Christians and Jews – from among the people of the Book – referred to in verses 29 and following were also called ‘mushrikun’ and ‘kafirun’ (“disbelievers” or “rejecters of the truth”). Verses 1-28 are linked to verses 29 ff. by this fact, forming one context. They’re all rejecters of the truth and ascribers of divinity to others besides God – even though the ways their ‘shirk’ is manifested may differ.

      Therefore, although it may be particularly the “Meccan polytheists” who are being addressed in the first 28 verses, what is said about them applies also to the ‘mushrikun’ from the people of the Book. There are not two sets of rules: the Meccan ‘mushrikun’ to be fought if they have violated their covenant and first attacked the Muslims; but the people of the Book to be fought because of what they believe regardless of whether or not they have violated covenants and attacked the Muslims (or supported those who attacked the Muslims).

      And conversely, what is said in particular about the Jewish and Christian ‘kafirun’ and ‘mushrikun’ in verses 32 and 33 applies equally to the Meccan ‘mushrikun’ and ‘kafirun’ – as well as all other such people. God intends to make His light prevail over all religion which is not “Islam” – the submission and devotion to, and worship of, God alone. That includes the false religion of those Christians and Jews who did not truly follow the “religion of Truth” given to them in the Book (or that portion of the Book of God which was given to them); but it also includes all others who deviate from the “religion of Truth”. It’s all one context.

      One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that, despite the fact that we find it almost unavoidable to refer to ‘Islam’ as an entirely distinct religion – distinct from Christianity and Judaism as well as all other religions – the Qur’an does not use the word ‘Islam’ (or ‘Muslim’) in that way. ‘Islam’ is just the one “religion of Truth” – submission and devotion to God alone – which God has been promoting through all of His Prophets throughout all time. Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac were “Muslims’; Moses and Aaron were ‘Muslims’; and Jesus and his disciples were ‘Muslims’. Therefore those Jews and Christians who truly followed the “religion of Truth” as it was taught by their Prophets in those portions of God’s Book given to them (the Torah/Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel) were in reality ‘Muslims’; and the Qur’an many times asserts that there were indeed some among the Jews and Christians who were on the ‘right path’ – even though they were perhaps in the minority. It was only those who did not truly follow that “religion of Truth” they were given in the Law, Prophets, and Gospel who were called ‘kafirun’ and ‘mushrikun’. “They were commanded” [in their Book] “to serve only one God…”; but instead they had set up others as His ‘partners’ (whether Ezra, Jesus, or their rabbis and monks).

      It was the ‘mushrikun’ and ‘kafirun’ among the people of the Book who had fought against the Muslim community, not those who were ‘on the right path’; and it was those ‘mushrikun’ who needed to be “humbled” (“subdued”, “made to submit”) and compelled to pay the ‘jizya’ as proof of their submission after their rebellion (whether that ‘jizya’ was a resumption of payment of the ‘exemption tax’ they owed as a result of the Charter [which they had broken], war reparation charges, or an extra punitive tax – or a combination of those ideas). Once they had been fought into submission, they were free to continue with their disbelief and ascription of partners to God if they wished. The ‘jizya’ was not a payment they made in order to be ‘permitted’ to believe in Judaism or Christianity (or polytheism) – that was a non-negotiable ‘right’ in Islam (“there is no compulsion in religion”). Rather it was what they owed as citizens of the community; war reparation charges; a special punitive tax because they had fought against the community; or a combination of those three.

      One other thing before I end this comment: you said in a previous comment that 9:7 says treaties can only be made at the Sacred Mosque; and since 9:28 says that in the future only Muslims were to be allowed in the Sacred Mosque, then obviously future treaties would be impossible. Actually, 9:7 does not say that treaties can only be made at the Sacred Mosque. It refers to a specific treaty which had (in the past) been concluded at (or near) that Mosque; as long as they remained true to that treaty, they were exempt from the renunciation of treaties and the consequent fighting.

      It was never true that all treaties were made at the kaaba in Mecca, or any other Mosque. Treaties were made with people wherever those people were. Obviously the very first treaty made with all of the inhabitants of Medina was not made at the Sacred Mosque. When the Covenant was made with the monks of St. Catherine’s monastery, it was not made at the Sacred Mosque. Interestingly, it was made while Muhammad and his army were encamped at Tabuk, close to the time of revelation of this proclamation. The monks had voluntarily come from Mt. Sinai to Tabuk to seek a treaty with Muhammad. Most treaties were made elsewhere. The particular treaty being referred to may have been the treaty of Hudaybiyya, made a year or two previously when the Muslims from Medina had come to Mecca to make the Minor Pilgrimage, and were turned away by the Meccans. This treaty was made at a place named Hudaybiyya just outside of Mecca (and therefore “near the Sacred Mosque”), and one of its provisions was that the Medinans would be permitted to return the next year to make the Pilgrimage. There were a number of other provisions, but perhaps the chief point was that a treaty of peace was made for a 10 year period. Some of the Meccans – or Arab tribes which were parties to the treaty – violated the treaty in less than 2 years by attacking a tribe allied with the Muslims of Medina. This was probably “the final straw” which resulted in the proclamation that all treaties were revoked – except with those who had been faithful to the treaties and had not fought the Muslim community or supported others in fighting them.

      • “InPeace” – I need to make one other point. You wrote:

        “You go on to argue that V9:28 is applicable for all times and restricts unbelievers from entering the sacred mosque due to their beliefs. But if 9:28 is still applicable today, and V9:28 is connected with V9:29, why isn’t V9:29 applicable for today as well? In fact, V9:28 says the ‘mushrikun’ are unclean to enter the sacred mosque. But because you believe the ‘mushrikun’ are forever restricted from the sacred mosque, that must mean the mushrikun here are not just some tribes who were in conflict with Muhammad but a much broader group that actually encompasses all mushrikun. Here, you do not appear to use your word matching method of interpretation. You’re fine to interpret this verse at face value without claiming that the ‘mushrikun’ mentioned are only a small group of unbelievers but do not represent all ‘mushrikun’.”

        In fact, I never meant to imply that 9:29 is not applicable today. It is just as applicable today – supposing the same type of situation exists – as it was then. What I argue is that your interpretation of this verse – that Muslims are under obligation to fight all “people of the Book” simply because of what they believe, until they either convert or agree to submit to Islamic government and pay a ‘tribute’ – in incorrect. It is not only not applicable now – it was not applicable at any time including the time of the Prophet.

        Let’s say Jews and/or Christians within the country of Iran decided to quit paying whatever taxes they owe as citizens, and took up arms against the Government (or supported an invading army). In such a situation, Sura 9:29 is very much applicable. The invading army, if and when defeated, could be required to accept Islamic Government and pay taxes to that Government as well as war reparations- or make some other peace treaty which would include some sort of war reparations or punitive taxation. The Jews and Christians who had rebelled and supported the invaders could also be fought until they were defeated and acknowledged their subjugation by paying the taxes due from citizens as well as any additional punitive taxes placed on them because of their rebellion.

        But neither Iran nor any other Muslim nation has any justification from 9:29 to wage war against Christians or Jews in other nations (or “Christian/Jewish nations”) to force them to submit to Islamic Government and/or pay ‘tribute’.

        You wrote in your very first comment (on Islamist Terrorism in Nigeria):

        “Muslims need to be open about what their religion has historically taught and re-interpret their religious teachings in order to peacefully co-exist with the non-Muslim world. That includes repudiating militant, mainstream Muslim teachings on Jihad and also the discriminatory laws and behaviors non-Muslims are subject to in Muslim majority nations that feeds intolerance and fills the ranks of Muslim hate supremacist groups such as Boko Haram and al-Qaeda.”

        I would think that you would be happy to see people such as me – and many, many others – doing just that “re-interpret[ing]” you call for. For us, or course, “re-interpret” does not mean “renounce”. Instead of seeing any need to renounce the Qur’an, we have found that only bad interpretations need to be renounced; the true interpretation of the Qur’an does not lead to aggressive violence – fighting is in defense of oneself, one’s family, one’s nation, and others who are being oppressed. This is pretty much “mainstream” today, whatever you may believe about previous centuries. Instead of trying to argue us out of our “re-interpret[ed]” beliefs, you should be encouraging us by saying something like “Yeah! Go for it!” 😀

  3. Testing, testing. . .

    • Peace be with you, Michael. Thanks for the response. I haven’t heard from Zakariah Ali Sher yet, so I think I’ll wait a bit before e-mailing you. Hopefully I can post the same question or questions to both of you at once.

  4. Okay. I’ll check my email periodically.

    salaam

  5. So verse 31 refers to the ‘partners’ of God which those Christians and Jews (“people of the Book”) imagined (yushrikun); verse 33 refers to them as “idolaters” or “those who ascribe partners to God” (mushrikun); and verse 32 calls them “disbelievers” or “rejecters” (kafirun). In other words, these verses specifically say that these “people of the Book” definitely belong in the category of those “mushrikun” and “karfirun” referred to in the first 28 verses

    I’m sorry, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems to be the basis for your argument regarding the continuity between V9:29 and V9:1-28.

    Again, this is simply nothing more than a word matching methodology you’re using. That would be like finding every verse in the Koran where mushrikun or karfirun is used in a verse and say it relates back to the first 28 verses of chapter 9.

    I don’t see anything “definite” that Jews and Christians referred to as mushrikun and karfirun in later verses belong in the same category as the karfirun and mushrikun in the first 28 verses. The Koran refers to Jews and Christians as karfirun and mushrikun throughout the Koran. So, is it really noteworthy that ‘people of the book’ would be called karfirun and mushrikun? Well, no. That would be consistent.

    The logic I can’t seem to wrap my head around, though, regarding V9:29 and the first 28 verses of chapter 9 is why would V9:29 call for warfare against the ‘people of the book’? Remember, according to mystic’s argument, certain ‘people of the book’ are already mentioned in the first 28 verses. It’s like saying, I declare war against Europe…Oh, and I also declare war against Germany. Or, I declare war against the Axis powers and I also declare war against Germany. Declaring war against Germany would be redundant…unless Germany wasn’t a member of the Axis powers. Similarly, calling for warfare against the ‘people of the book’ would be redundant unless the verse is not continuous with the first 28 verses.

    Mystic claims that the command to fight ‘people of the book’ until they pay jizya (literally a tax) actually means that the ‘people of the book’ had rebelled from paying jizya. But, actually, the command to tax ‘people of the book’ is first mentioned in V9:29. From a Koran-only approach, the verse is introducing jizya. Logically, the ‘people of the book’ could not have rebelled from paying jizya if they were not commanded to pay a tax and feel humiliated prior to V9:29.

    I believe mystic can also find a copy of MW’s “Muhammad at Medina” online, so I’ll give him a few more days to read through the chapter concerning the early Muslim raids and military excursions addressed by Watt which concern our discussion regarding Muslim military aggression and the historical context of V9:29.

    • “InPeace” – You wrote: “I’m sorry, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems to be the basis for your argument regarding the continuity between V9:29 and V9:1-28.

      Again, this is simply nothing more than a word matching methodology you’re using. That would be like finding every verse in the Koran where mushrikun or karfirun is used in a verse and say it relates back to the first 28 verses of chapter 9.”

      The use of the words ‘mushrikun’ and ‘kafirun’ to tie together the “two” sections is one part of my argument that they form one complete context; but it is not the entirety of my argument. Let me try to number the various points:

      1- The whole of Sura 9 was revealed in the same general time frame during the 9th year following the immigration to Medina.

      2- More specifically, verses 1-37 were all revealed together at one time – which fairly obviously indicates that they were intended to be taken together as a whole.

      3- Both sections (1-28, and 29-37) contain instructions about “fighting” people (“fighting” coming from the root QTL).

      4. The people to be fought, in both sections, are ‘mushrikum’ (people who ascribe divinity to others besides God) and ‘kafirun’ (people who ‘disbelieve’ or ‘reject’ the Truth).

      5. “Mushrikun’ and ‘kafirun’ are themselves categories, to which belong both the ‘Meccan polytheists’ and the ‘people of the Book’ who don’t truly follow the religion of Truth contained in that Book. That’s why I say they both belong to the same category/categories.

      I would indeed say that every verse in the Qur’an that speaks of ‘mushrikun’ and ‘kafirun’ – and particularly those which speak of ‘fighting’ (QTL) such people – belongs to a wide ‘context’ and they relate to each other. This is one of the principles of interpretation – when one says that each verse must be interpreted in its context, there are at least 3 ‘contexts’ to be considered:

      1- The context of the immediately surrounding verses.

      2- The wider context of the Qur’an as a whole, because it is ultimately one Revelation, completely consistent with itself. Each part must be compared with other related parts if one wishes to form a correct interpretation. 9:29, for example, cannot be disassociated either from the immediate context of the first 28 verses, or from the wider context of other passages which speak about fighting in God’s cause. There is nothing in 9:29 which would nullify all of the verses which say that only those who have been the first to attack the Muslim community are to be fought by the Muslims,including in this very 9th Sura. Even the reference you made to Ibn Abbas did not say that 9:29 ‘abrogates’ anything. Instead, it says that the “verse of the sword” (9:5) – not 9:29 – supposedly ‘abrogates’ a verse of peace. And if Ibn Abbas actually said that (if it’s not a false attribution to him) then he was clearly mistaken. But I intend to have more to say about that in another article.

      3- The historical context. This is another area of disagreement I have with your comments. You seem to imagine that one must bury his head in the sand like an Ostrich and completely ignore the historical context- though of course you don’t mind bringing up what certain modern ‘orientalist’ historians have written when it suits your purpose.

      The Charter of Medina is a historical Covenant or Charter, and the ‘compensation tax’ which non-Muslim participants in that Charter were required to pay in lieu of the ‘zakat’ which the Muslims paid is a historical reality which refuses to disappear just because some people wish to ignore it.

      Sura 9:29 may be the first (and only) time that ‘jizya’ is mentioned in the Qur’an; but the Qur’an was not revealed in a historical ‘vacuum’. The original hearers of the Qur’an did not need the Prophet to define the term ‘jizya’ because they knew the meaning of the term, and they knew of its existence in the treaties or charters the Prophet made with various people (including of course the people of Medina). Any attempt to ignore that historical context is going to result in a serious ‘fail’ in interpreting 9:29.

      To say that the Qur’an is clear in itself does not require one to ignore any part of its context – immediate, Qur’an as a whole, or historical. It’s as if I wrote a note to one of my sons and said: “I really enjoyed our time together at Roy Rogers last night”. Most anybody would have no trouble knowing that when I said “Roy Rogers” I was speaking of a Restaurant, part of a chain of Restaurants by that name. However suppose someone saw that note who was completely unaware of the historical and cultural context (maybe someone from another country, or someone 200 years in the future who managed to come across that note and was unaware of a Restaurant chain known as Roy Rogers). All he knows is that Roy Rogers is obviously a man’s name. He would then probably assume I was talking about having visited – together with my son – a friend named Roy Rogers. Then suppose someone tried to explain that Roy Rogers was a Restaurant chain, and it was that to which I had been referring. If the historically and culturally ignorant person who had read the note refused to accept that explanation, saying that the note was clear in itself and didn’t need to be understood in its historical context, wouldn’t that be absurd? Of course the note is clear – to people (like my son and most people in the USA probably) who are aware of the ‘context’.

      As to why the ‘people of the Book’ were specifically mentioned if they were already included by implication from the words used (mushrikun and kafirun), anything I answer will of course be merely speculation. God/Gabriel/Muhammad did not say “By the way, I’m specifically referring to the Jews and Christians because…” But in my speculation, I can well imagine someone objecting – if verses 29-35 had not been revealed – “hey, he didn’t saying anything about the ‘people of the Book’! He was only talking about the idol worshipers of Mecca!” You try to say that concerning the first 28 verses even with the specific inclusion of the people of the Book in verses 29-35; how much more likely would it be if the people of the Book had not been called by name?

      There was an understandable special relationship between the followers of the Prophet Muhammad and the followers of previous Revelation. The Qur’anic Revelation calls the former Prophets ‘Muslims’ and says they taught the ‘religion of Truth’, Islam. One can easily imagine that there might be a greater reluctance on the part of the Muslim people to fight against ‘people of the Book’ – even though they had fought the Jews particularly in the past – and that God and His Prophet would find in helpful to repeat the necessity to fight even against ‘people of the Book’ who broke their Covenants and were aggressors. But the Qur’an is a highly repetitive Book anyhow, and it even emphasizes the fact that the repetition is deliberate. It is not strange that God would remind people that even ‘people of the Book’ who aggressed against them should be fought.

      That’s mere speculation on my part though, so it doesn’t really matter if you think you can pick it apart. While it might be nice to know the ‘why’, it is not necessary as long as we know that he did refer to the “people of the Book” ‘subset’ of mushrikun – even though perhaps technically it wouldn’t have been absolutely necessary.

      Thank you for your recommendation of Montgomery Watt’s book. I had not realized that I might be able to download it free. I have downloaded it using Kindle, and will probably read the whole book eventually. Could you give me a more specific reference to the name of the chapter or section you want me to read? I looked through the ‘Table of Contents’ and couldn’t figure out which section you intended.

      I did skim through a few sections, and frankly found good reason to be a bit leery of what he says. There were just too many statements like “perhaps…” or “it might be…” or “it would be reasonable to assume…” or similar phrases. Maybe that’s because historical data is somewhat scarce; but he seemed to be doing an awful lot of speculating.

      In particular I happened to be reading a section concerning letters which Muhammad (peace be with him and his family) wrote to 6 major foreign leaders (Byzantine, Persian, Egyptian, etc.) inviting them to embrace Islam (the worship of God alone). Mr. Watt persuaded himself that this was simply impossible to believe, so the historical evidence – including transcripts of the letters – must ‘obviously’ be flawed, and is to be discounted for the most part. There might be a ‘grain of truth’ in the historical evidence, but it obviously can’t be really true because Mr. Watt found it impossible to believe! As I said, that kind of thing doesn’t tend to give me a great deal of confidence in his reliability, no matter how acclaimed he may be and how basically sympathetic to Islam he was. (I’m aware that, in general at least, he had a very high regard for Muhammad and the religious/political ‘structure’ which sprung from his teachings. He believed Muhammad to be an ‘inspired’ Prophet, just as he believed the Biblical Prophets to be; but he didn’t believe in the infallibility of any of them).

  6. (5) These covenant breaking “people of the Book” are identified as “kafirun” (disbelievers) and “mushrikun” (those who ascribe partners to God) – first by describing their “shirk” (ascription of partners to God), and then explicitly saying they are “mushrikun” and “kafirun”. They are explicitly among those who were spoken of in the first 28 verses.

    I surprised today by two posts I read at loonwatch.

    Two posters informed me that ‘people of the book’ in no way are directly called mushrikun as you say, but mushrikun actually refers only to Pagans:

    It is incorrect to say that the Quran refers to the Jews and Christians as mushrikun. It does say in places that such-and-such belief of theirs is shirk, but this is not the same as being called mushrikun. One can, for example, be accused of having committed an act of kufr but not be a kaafir, commit an act of bidah but not be a mubtadi, etc…Just like in the English language one can have said a lie but not be known as a liar. In fact, the Quran distinguishes between the pagans/polytheists (mushrikun) and the People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians (Ahl al-Kitab).

    And

    Actually, the Quran makes a distinction between Jews/Christians and Mushrikun in 98:1 and 98:6. You’re an idiot.

    To be fair, since the poster to originally propose that “mushrikun” includes Jews and Christians in that thread was borrowing from your idea, you deserve to be called an idiot just as much as that poster.

    But seriously, the two posters have corrected that poster on his / her mistaken belief that Jews and Christians are “mushrikun”. Therefore, the named enemies of V9:1-9:28 cannot be connected with V9:29 because the players in the first 28 verses are named “mushrikun” numerous times.

    As for the argument of Christians and Jews committing shirk…well, regardless, they are not named “mushrikun” whereas the antagonists in the first 28 verses of chapter 9 explicitly are.

    Therefore, the Koran calling for warfare against ‘people of the book’ and citing their offenses which all relate to their beliefs is not redundant. V9:29 is referring to completely new players who have no connection with the first 28 verses. It would be illogical to argue otherwise.

    • InPeace – I would say the posters on Loonwatch are partially correct and partially incorrect. The “people of the Book” are not, as a whole, called either ‘kafirun’ or ‘mushrikun’ – because some of them are on the right path and are believers. But some from among the ‘people of the Book’ are indeed called both ‘kafirun’ and ‘mushrikun’, as the passage in Sura 9 clearly says. They do not truly follow the ‘religion of Truth’ which they were given in the Book. They were told in the Book to serve only one God; but instead they set up ‘partners’ with God (or ‘ascribed divinity to others beside God’). Those others to whom they ascribed divinity are called ‘yushrikun’; and those who do the ascribing are called ‘mushrikun’. When verses 32 and 33 refer to ‘kafirun’ and ‘mushrikun’, those verses are clearly referring directly – though also clearly not exclusively – to those Jews and Christians who did not truly follow the ‘religion of Truth’ which they had been given in the book.

      So I do not say that all Jews and Christians are ‘mushrikun’, even though at present the majority may be. There are still some who are on the right path and are true believers.

      I do not accept the argument that one can tell a lie without being a liar. I’m pretty sure a ‘lie’ is defined as a deliberate untruth, not an untruth told simply due to misinformation. Anyone who deliberately tells an untruth is, in my estimation, a ‘liar’ and I would not hesitate to call him/her by that name.

      In the same way, those who deliberately ‘ascribe partners to God’ – knowing what they’re saying – are ‘mushrikun’. I am convinced that there are Christians who call themselves ‘Trinitarians’ and who call Jesus ‘God’ without ever really thinking about what they’re saying. They ‘confess’ these things merely because that’s what they’ve been taught, and perhaps they’ve been threatened with ‘hell’ if they deny it. But most of what they say about Jesus relates to his humanity, and the example he set for us his fellow humans. I would hesitate to call such people ‘mushrikun’. Perhaps they are – God knows best. But those who knowingly and with understanding believe in the ‘Trinity’ and in Jesus as the ‘God/man’ (so far as one can be said to be able to ‘understand’ such absurd and incomprehensible ideas) are indeed ‘mushrikun’ from a Qur’anic perspective. And I believe anyone who will use his reason in examining these verses from Sura 9 will have to come to that conclusion – however much he may wish to think of all ‘people of the Book’ as ‘believers’.

      Those who disagree are welcome to call me an idiot; I’ve been called worse. 😀 But I don’t back down from what I have said, as I find it to be a clear teaching of the Qur’an and I believe it.

      Why don’t we quit this back and forth argument? You will never convince me that verses 29 and following form an entirely separate subject from verses 1-28; and that as a consequence verse 29 can be legitimately seen as calling on Muslims to aggressively attack ‘people of the Book’ just because of what they believe rather than because of violent attacks on their part. I would think that you would be glad that I, as being ‘muslim in spirit’, do not believe that the Scripture I love teaches such a thing. (I don’t believe that the Scripture teaches me to attack anyone simply because he/she is a ‘mushrikun’.)

      On the other hand, it appears that I will not be able to convince you that verses 29 and following fit in the context of verses 1-28 and everything else the Qur’an has to say about fighting. So we probably ought to just let the subject lie.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: