Is Islam a Violent Faith? Violence, Hatred and Discrimination in the Koran
by DR. SAMI ALRABAA
January 16, 2009
If you say that Islam is a violent faith, you are accused of being anti-Islam and you are propagating “Islamophobia.”
There are more than one billion Muslims around the world, and I’m one of them. We are told that the Koran is the “word of God.” When you read the Koran, however – which over 90% of all Muslims have never read, according to a survey by Bielefeld University in Germany, and if they ever do, either they do not understand its archaic language or they do not ponder on what it says – you find out that it is full of passages that incite to hatred, killing, and discriminate against women.
Below are some quotations from the Koran. We begin with what the “holy book” of Muslims says about people of other religions.
According to the Koran and many Muslims, Christians and Jews have left the true path of their religion. Therefore, they are infidels (unbelievers) like Buddhists and Hindus, for example. In other words, according to the Koran, only Muslims, i.e. 19% of the world population, are true believers. The rest are “unbelievers” and “infidels.”
Literally, the Koran says the following about the Jews, Christians, and other “unbelievers:”
“O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.” (Sura 5, verse 51
“And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah DESTROY them; how they are turned away!” (Sura 9, verse 30).
“And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow their religion. Say: Surely Allah's guidance, that is the (true) guidance. And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from Allah, nor any helper.” (Sura 2, verse 120).
“And KILL them (the unbelievers) wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.” (Sura 2, verse 191).
“Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully; and Allah makes you cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and to Allah is the eventual coming.” (Sura 3, verse 28).
“And guard yourselves against the fire which has been prepared for the unbelievers.” (Sura 3, verse 131)
“And when you journey in the earth, there is no blame on you if you shorten the prayer, if you fear that those who disbelieve will cause you distress, surely the unbelievers are your open ENEMY.” (Sura 4, verse 101).
“O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).” (Sura 9, verse 123).
“Surely We have prepared for the unbelievers chains and shackles and a burning fire.” (Sura 76, verse 4).
“O you who believe! if you obey a party from among those who have been given the Book (The Jews and Christians), they will turn you back as unbelievers after you have believed.” (Sura 3, verse 100).
“And their taking usury (interests on money) though indeed they were forbidden it and their devouring the property of people falsely, and We have prepared for the unbelievers from among them a painful chastisement.” (Sura 4. verse 161).
“Surely Allah has cursed the unbelievers (Jews, Christians and followers of other faiths) and has prepared for them a burning fire.” (Sura 33, verse 64).
“And whoever does not believe in Allah and His Apostle, then surely We have prepared burning fire for the unbelievers.” (Sura 48, verse 13).
Does Allah discriminate? The Koran says:
“You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah; and if the followers of the Book had believed it would have been better for them; of them (some) are believers and most of them are transgressors.” (Sura 3, verse 110).
Therefore, what does the Koran say about those who turn their back to Islam and commit apostasy?
“They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them (the unbelievers) friends until they flee (their homes) in Allah's way; but if they turn back, then seize them and KILL them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.” (Sura 4, verse 89).
Now, what does the Koran say about women? Here are some quotations:
“Men are superior to women because Allah has made so. Therefore good women are obedient, and (as to) those (women) on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and BEAT them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.” (Sura 4, verse 34).
“And as for those who are guilty of an indecency from among your women, call to witnesses against them, four (witnesses) from among you; then if they bear witness confine them to the houses until death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them.” (Sura 4, verse 15).
According to the Koran, a woman’s testimony is worth half of that of a man.
“O you who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time then call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other.” (Sura 2, verse 282).
As far as sex is concerned, women are sex objects, according to the Koran. They must be ready for intercourse any time the husband wishes so.
“Your wives are a tilth for you, so go into your tilth when you like, and do good beforehand for yourselves, and be careful (of your duty) to Allah, and know that you will meet Him, and give good news to the believers.” (Sura 2, verse 223).
During menstruation, however, men should keep away from women; they are filthy. The Koran says:
“It (menstruation) is a discomfort; therefore keep aloof from the women during the menstrual discharge and do not go near them until they have become clean; then when they have cleansed themselves, go in to them as Allah has commanded you; surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves.” (Sura 2, verse 222).
Women, according to the Koran, are, in general, unclean creature. After a Muslim has washed and prepared himself for prayer, he should not touch a woman. Therefore, “pious” Muslims never shake hands with women.
“O you who believe! do not go near prayer until you have washed yourselves; and if you have touched women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth, then wipe your faces and your hands; surely Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving.” (Sura 4, verse 43).
In case of inheritance, a woman inherits half of the portion a man inherits:
“They ask you for a decision of the law. Say: Allah gives you a decision concerning the person who has neither parents nor offspring; if a man dies (and) he has no son and he has a sister, she shall have half of what he leaves, and he shall be her heir she has no son; but if there be two (sisters), they shall have two-thirds of what he leaves; and if there are brethren, men and women, then the male shall have the like of the portion of two females; Allah makes clear to you, lest you err; and Allah knows all things.” (Sura 4, verse 176).
And what kind of punishment does a thief get, according to the Koran, regardless how much they steal?
“And (as for) the man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off their hands as a punishment for what they have earned, an exemplary punishment from Allah; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Sura 5, verse 38).
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that uses the Koran as its day-to-day law for all kinds of disputes and crimes. It is the Shari’a (Islamic law). For Islamists and conservative Muslims, Shari’a is the constitution and law that must prevail everywhere. They argue, what is better than the law of Allah which He, via the Engle Gabriel revealed to the Prophet Mohammed 1400 years ago?
King Abdullah, the absolute monarch of Saudi Arabia, said on a televised speech August 27, 2008, “We do not need democracy, we do not need political parties, we do not need Western human rights, we do not need their freedom of speech. What we need is the Koran. It regulates our life perfectly. It is the best legislation in the history of mankind, it is the word of Allah. There is nothing better than Allah’s law.”
The “Hadeeth,” a collection of statements and comments which Prophet Mohammed allegedly made during his lifetime, is also full of atrocities. Here is a sample:
“A woman came to the Prophet and admitted that she had committed adultery and thereafter became pregnant. The Prophet summoned her husband and all people of Median (in Saudi Arabia). He said, ‘This woman committed adultery. Therefore, after she delivers her innocent baby, all of you are going to stone her to death. This is Allah’s verdict.’ After she delivered her baby she was stoned to death in the center of the town.” (Narrated by Muslim, (a close contemporary follower of Mohammed), cited by Khoury, The Koran, p. 550).
Stoning women and flogging men for adultery are widely practiced in Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Hester on the scaffold in puritan Massachusetts, America of the 17th century, in the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, must have felt happy that she was not born among the “believers” in the Arabian Peninsula.
The Koran is filled with contradictions. While in sura 2, verse 256, it says “There is no compulsion in religion,” it urges Muslims to kill those Muslims who convert to other religions.
Both the Koran and the Hadeeth were collected after the death of Prophet Mohammed in 632. The second Caliph, Othman ordered collecting the Koran and the Hadeeth which had been written no where. They were memorized by Mohammed’s followers. Then Mohammed and his followers were illiterate. He disseminated Islam by the word of mouth. A committee was formed in Mecca and followers of the new faith queued up to deliver what they could remember from the Koran and Hadeeth. This campaign lasted for over 70 years.
That the vast majority of Muslims have not read or digested the Koran has two major implications. First, if rational, modern-thinking Muslims read the Koran thoroughly, they would desert Islam. They would argue that God cannot incite to hatred and violence. The Koran cannot be the “word of God.” Second, if simple-minded Muslims read the Koran and digested it, they would stick to the above “commandments” and we would have more radical and extremist Muslims around the world.
Certainly the Torah, the Bible, and other holy books have their own atrocious passages, especially those discriminatory ones against women, though with one difference: Muslim fundamentalists adhere to the above cited passages – in belief they are commanded directly by Allah – and implement them to the letter. Think of those suicide bombers in the Middle East and elsewhere and of the violent demonstrations against the “Mohammed cartoon” in some Muslim cities. But it is also true that the majority of Muslims simply ignore these dreadful passages like many Jews and Christians ignore their own.
After he received and read this piece, Henrik Clausen from Europe News asked me if I was not afraid of being declared apostate. I said, “No.” I’m fighting for a human and modern Islam. Besides, the truth must be told at all costs. I also told him, it is not my personal opinion that the Koran incites to hatred, violence, and discrimination, etc., as we have seen above – it is our “holy” book that is preaching all this. The cited passages prove that beyond any shred of doubt. I’m just citing what the Koran commands.
Further, the above quotations are intended to help critics of Islam present tangible evidence for their arguments. It is not enough to say, “I think, I believe, etc.” It is also not enough to say “I’m exerting my right of freedom of speech.”
There is no room for theological interpretations unless you handle the Koran in its own historical perspective. The religious establishment rejects any interpretation anyway. The slightest attempt to do so is rejected and its authors are persecuted as heretics. Think of the Egyptian theologian Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, who is now living in hiding in the Netherlands. Besides, for conservative Muslims and fundamentalists, the Koran, as it is, is valid for all times and for everywhere. It is the “word of God.” He is not fallible and moody like we humans are.
Reformers of Islam, and I consider myself one of them, argue that the Koran and the Hadeeth should be looked at in a historical perspective. Muslims 1,400 years ago were fighting Christians and Jews. Therefore, they hated them. The Muslims wanted to prevail at all costs, therefore these passages in the Koran. Women were discriminated against because this was natural in the Arab culture at the time, and is to some extent today. Apropos, the situation in Medieval Europe was not better.
In addition, it is one of two things: Either the Koran was concocted by the Muslim leader, Mohammed, or at least partly, or it was made up by his zealous followers after his death. Remember that hundreds or thousands of Muslims at the time contributed to compiling this work. They were promised Paradise for their contributions like suicide bombers are nowadays promised it plus 60 virgin girls.
*Note: The verse numbers may vary from one Koran translation to another.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Dr. Sami Alrabaa, an ex-Muslim, is a professor of Sociology and an Arab-Muslim culture specialist. He has taught at Kuwait University, King Saud University, and Michigan State University. He also writes for the Jerusalem Post.