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Is Islam a Peaceful Religion?

In this blog I am putting up three videos in order to answer this question. The first video deals with the question: “Should We Fear Islam?” Some people who had lost their loved ones in the 9/11 World Trade Center incident in 2001 respond to this question. Also, some Muslims speak out about their faith. In the second video, there is a debate between two moderate Muslims and an ex-Muslim and an atheist. The last video has an explanation of one of the war passages in the Koran as given by an Islamic sheik. I will provide some comments between videos.

Here is the first video, “Should We Fear Islam?”

One of the Muslim ladies in the  video says that there are as many interpretations of Islam as there are Muslims. That is true, but there are different schools of theology and Islamic law among the Muslims. Some schools of Islamic law have very harsh and, by Western standards, brutal forms of punishment inflicted on people. For example, the hands of thieves are cut off. Some schools of Islamic law require that someone who apostatizes from Islam be put to death. These schools of Islamic law are based on certain Islamic clerics interpretations and/or misinterpretations of the Koran and the Hadiths.

Rev. Franklin Graham brings up the subject of honor killing in this video. An imam in the audience asks Rev. Graham, “Where is that in the Koran?” The Protestant preacher gives no answer. Probably, he never read the Koran. The answer is that honor killing is not in the Koran. Actually, it is forbidden in the Eleventh Surah.

They said: O Shu’eyb! We understand not much of that thou tellest, and lo! we do behold thee weak among us. But for thy family, we should have stoned thee, for thou art not strong against us. He said: O my people! Is my family more to be honoured by you than Allah? And ye put Him behind you, neglected! Lo! my Lord surroundeth what ye do. (Koran 11:91,92, Pickthall)

Killing someone in order to maintain one’s family’s honor and putting Allah behind oneself neglected (that is, ignoring Him and His commandments) are forbidden in the Koran. Nowhere in the Koran does it say that a woman who commits adultery or fornication should be stoned. Honor killings are a Pre-Islamic tradition. They are not Islamic.

In the case of adultery or fornication, there are penalties prescribed in the Koran (Koran 4:15,25; 24:2-10), but forgiveness and patience toward the adulteress, adulterer, or fornicator are encouraged to be practiced instead of punishment.

Kind speech and forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury; and Allah is Self-sufficient, Forbearing. (Koran 2:263, Shakir)

But to be patient is better for you. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Koran 4:25, Sahih International)

If someone is trying to increase the amount of good that one does and follow the best revelations of Allah, then no punishment would be inflicted on the adulterer, adulteress, or fornicator, because no charges would be brought before an Islamic judge. The offended Muslim spouse would be forgiving and patient instead of vindictive.

Every one pursues his goal. Compete with each other in performing good deeds. Wherever you are, God will bring you all together. God has power over all things. (Koran 2:148, Muhammad Sarwar)

And follow the best of what was revealed to you from your Lord before the punishment comes upon you suddenly while you do not perceive. (Koran 39:55, Sahih International)

A radical, extremist Islamic cleric is questioned near the end of the video. He talked about an Islamic flag flying over the White House one day. Apparently, he does not think that the words, “There is no compulsion in religion,” are applicable today. (Koran 2:256)

The next video is titled “Is Islam a Peaceful Religion?” In this video there is a debate between two moderate Muslims and a former Muslim and an atheist. Zeba Khan is a Muslim woman who attends a mosque with a female imam who does not wear a hijab (that is, the head scarf). Maajid Nawaz is a former Islamic extremist who left Islamic extremism in order to adopt a more moderate version of Islam. He tries to promote the pleasant version of Islam among the radicals. Ayaan Hirsi is a former Muslim. She apparently had grown up among some Islamic extremists and that is the version of Islam with which she is most familiar.

The side that took the position that Islam is not a religion of peace won the debate among the audience. Actually, it is not really possible to get a definitive answer on this subject by observing a debate. One must travel around the world spending time with Muslims in order to get a better picture of how people practice Islam. Zeba Khan, in her opening statement, says that there are just as many versions of Islam as there are Muslims. She apparently follows a gentle, pleasant version of Islam. Anyone who spends time among the members of her mosque would say that Islam is a peaceful religion. Maajid Nawaz says that the passages from the Koran and the Sunna need to be contextualized. One must put everything in its historical context. If one does that, then one will have a peaceful version of Islam. I agree with him. One of the problems is not the Koran, but the interpretation of the Koran. One can take the Koran and interpret it in such a way that one thinks that it is encouraging Muslims to spread Islam through violence. One can do similar things with the Bible. There are war passages in the Bible and some of them are more gory than the ones in the Koran. However, most Christians do not believe that we should practice some of those Old Testament war teachings today. Ayaan Hirsi says that if Islam were a peaceful religion she could get rid of her bodyguard. There are Muslims who believe that anyone who leaves the Islamic religion should be put to death. Someone in the audience asked Zeba Khan to interpret one of the war passages in the Koran, Koran 2:190ff. She apparently had not studied that text and could not answer the question. She sort of side-steps it.

I have provided another video in this blog where an Islamic sheik explains that passage. Many people from various different religious faiths have engaged in warfare. Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims have all fought in wars. Many clerics of these different religions have devised reasons to justify warfare based on their religious traditions and sacred texts. I have already talked about this subject in my blog, “War and Peace in the Koran.” I got the perspective on war in that blog from reading what moderate Muslims had put up on the internet.

Here is the video in which the Islamic sheik explains the war passage that Zeba could not explain.

In answer to the question, “Is Islam a Peaceful Religion?”, I would answer it this way. There are peaceful Muslims in the world like Zeba Khan and Maajid Nawaz and there are extremist, radical Muslims like Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. If one were to ask the question, “Is there a peaceful version of Islam in the world?”, I would say yes. Zeba Khan and Maajid Nawaz are proof of that. Is there a violent version of Islam in the world? Yes, there is. The terrorist attacks in Europe and America are proof of that. However, according to many moderate Muslims, those terrorists are not practicing Islam.

I read something on the internet recently. It was written by a Muslim journalist after the Brussels terrorist attacks. He called ISIS NISIS. (The Non-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) He also said that ISIS is Satanic. So, it is really unfair to judge all Muslims by the actions of a few. Still, there are those who practice honor killings, executions of apostates, female genital mutilation, and other atrocities in the name of Islam.

To conclude, I quote the Koran. “Peace is better” (Koran 4:128, Pickthall) “and follow the best of what was revealed to you from your Lord.” (Koran 39:55, Sahih International) Islam can be a peaceful religion. The problem is the interpretation of the sacred texts and not the texts themselves.

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