Provocateur pastor Terry Jones is getting his 15 minutes of fame with a “burn-the-Koran” day. The media and politicians are providing him with plenty of attention oxygen. Our America-bashing State Department has dubbed his First Amendment-protected exercise of fame-seeking “un-American.” And the usual grievance-mongers are doing their thing.
Gen. Petraeus says the provocation endangers the troops. But what’s in the Koran is far more of an inflammatory threat to American soldiers than any match with which to light it. What’s in the Koran has inspired decades of bloody warfare by Muslim operatives targeting our troops, civilians, and Western infidels around the world.
Don’t take my word for it. Take the time to re-read Ft. Hood massacre suspect and Muslim avenger Nidal Hasan’s own powerpoint presentation on “The Koranic World View As It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military.”
Instead of burning the Koran, Americans need to be reading it, understanding it, and educating themselves about the Koran passages, Islamic history, and jihadi context that brought us to this 9th anniversary year of the 9/11 attacks.
Flashback: It’s In the Koran…
Reminder via Timothy Furnish in the Middle East Quarterly:
Groups such as Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad (Unity and Jihad) and Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Hasan bin Mahmud’s Ansar al-Sunna (Defenders of [Prophetic] Tradition) justify the decapitation of prisoners with Qur’anic scripture. Sura (chapter) 47 contains the ayah (verse): “When you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads until you have crushed them completely; then bind the prisoners tightly.” The Qur’anic Arabic terms are generally straightforward: kafaru means “those who blaspheme/are irreligious,” although Darb ar-riqab is less clear. Darb can mean “striking or hitting” while ar-riqab translates to “necks, slaves, persons.” With little variation, scholars have translated the verse as, “When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks.”
For centuries, leading Islamic scholars have interpreted this verse literally. The famous Iranian historian and Qur’an commentator Muhammad b. Jarir at-Tabari (d. 923 C.E.) wrote that “striking at the necks” is simply God’s sanction of ferocious opposition to non-Muslims. Mahmud b. Umar az-Zamakhshari (d. 1143 C.E.), in a major commentary studied for centuries by Sunni religious scholars, suggested that any prescription to “strike at the necks” commands to avoid striking elsewhere so as to confirm death and not simply wound.
Many recent interpretations remain consistent with those of a millennium ago. In his Saudi-distributed translation of the Qur’an, ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali (d. 1953) wrote that the injunction to “smite at their necks,” should be taken both literally and figuratively. “You cannot wage war with kid gloves,” Yusuf ‘Ali argued. Muhammad Muhammad Khatib, in a modern Sunni commentary bearing the imprimatur of Al-Azhar university in Cairo, says that while traditionalist Muslims tend to see this passage as only applying to the Prophet’s time, Shi’ites “think it is a universal precept.” Ironically, then in this view, Zarqawi has adopted the exegesis of his religious nemeses. Perhaps the most influential modern recapitulation of this passage was provided by the influential Pakistani scholar and leading Islamist thinker S. Abul A’ la Mawdudi (d. 1979), who argued that the sura provided the first Qur’anic prescriptions on the laws of war. Mawdudi argued
Under no circumstances should the Muslim lose sight of this aim and start taking the enemy soldiers as captives. Captives should be taken after the enemy has been completely crushed.
Accordingly, for soldiers of Islam, victory should be the only consideration. Status of prisoners of war was open to interpretation. Mawdudi maintained that the verse did not clearly forbid execution of prisoners but that “the Holy Prophet understood this intention of Allah’s command, and that if there was a special reason for which the ruler of an Islamic government regarded it as necessary to kill a particular prisoner (or prisoners), he could do so.” As do many Islamists, Mawdudi cited historical examples of the Prophet Muhammad ordering the execution of prisoners, such as some Meccans captured at the Battle of Badr in 624 C.E. and at least one Meccan seized at the Battle of Uhud in the following year. While such examples do not directly address decapitation, they do allow for murder of prisoners-of-war. Mawdudi’s interpretation, though, does not sanction the execution of hostages. Only the government, and not individual Muslim soldiers, could determine the fate of captives.
Another, albeit less-frequently, cited Qur’anic passage also sanctions beheadings of non-Muslims. Sura 8:12 reads: “I will cast dread into the hearts of the unbelievers. Strike off their heads, then, and strike off all of their fingertips.” In the original text, the relevant phrase is adrabu fawq al-‘anaq, “strike over their necks.” This verse is, then, a corollary to Sura 47:3. Yusuf ‘Ali is one of the few modern commentators who addresses this passage, interpreting it as utilitarian: the neck is among the only areas not protected by armor, and mutilating an opponent’s hands prevents him from again wielding his sword or spear. The point of this opening phrase—to “cast dread” or, as some translations have it, “instill terror”—has now been adopted by Islamist terrorists to justify decapitation of hostages…
…Islamic civilization is not a historical anomaly in its sanction of decapitation. The Roman Empire beheaded citizens (such as the Christian Saint Paul) while they crucified noncitizens (such as Jesus Christ). French revolutionaries employed the guillotine to decapitate opponents. Nevertheless, Islam is the only major world religion today that is cited by both state and non-state actors to legitimize beheadings. And two major aspects of decapitation in an Islamic context should be noted: first, the practice has both Qur’anic and historical sanction. It is not the product of a fabricated tradition. Second, in contradiction to the assertions of apologists, both Muslim and non-Muslim, these beheadings are not simply a brutal method of drawing attention to the Islamist political agenda and weakening opponents’ will to fight. Zarqawi and other Islamists who practice decapitation believe that God has ordained them to obliterate their enemies in this manner. Islam is, for this determined minority of Muslims, anything but a “religion of peace.” It is, rather, a religion of the sword with the blade forever at the throat of the unbeliever.
DrewM at Ace of Spades (h/t commenter J.J.):
Another interesting byproduct of this situation is once again the disconnect between the “Islam equals peace” rhetoric and the reality people see on a daily basis. If Islam is so peaceful and only a “tiny minority’ of Muslims are “violent extremists”, why do we constantly have to be so damn sensitive to pissing them off?
When the whole Piss Christ thing happened Christians were told to suck it up and shut up. I don’t remember anyone worrying about marauding bands of Presbyterians going on a murder spree over it. But when it comes to cartoons or a bunch of loons (a true ‘tiny minority) burning some books, the world has to go on red alert if it involves Islam. Why is that exactly?
More: Muslim writer Asra Nomani proposes burning a few, choice deadly passages in the Koran.