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The Death Penalty in the Koran

November 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Now, I want to talk about the death penalty in the Koran. There is really only one crime for which the death penalty is permitted in the Koran and if one were study the other teachings of the Koran, one would see that the Koran does not recommend the death penalty.

First of all, I want to reiterate that the death penalty shortens a person’s life and provides him with less time to repent and reform himself. Everyone must die. The Bible teaches this. (Ecclesiastes 3:2,20; 8:8; II Samuel 14:14; Romans 5:12; Hebrews 9:27) The Koran also teaches this.

Wheresoever ye may be, death will overtake you, even though ye were in lofty towers. (Koran 4:78, Pickthall)

Every soul must taste of death, and We try you with evil and with good, for ordeal. And unto Us ye will be returned. (Koran 21:35, Pickthall)

So, death is an unavoidable fact of our existence and we usually do not think that we are the next ones to meet death. It may come unexpectedly or we might anticipate it knowing when it will occur.

Another thing I want to clarify before talking about the death penalty is that some passages in the Koran that are often cited as implementations of the death penalty are not the death penalty at all. They must be understood in the context of military battles. Military battles produce death, but people do not die in them because they have committed some crime. Here are the war passages of what I am speaking:

And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers. The forbidden month for the forbidden month, and forbidden things in retaliation. And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who ward off (evil). (Koran 2:193,194, Pickthall)

The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom. (Koran 5:33, Pickthall)

Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain. (Koran 47:4, Pickthall)

The passage in Koran 2:193,194 is talking about a war fought in self-defense. The Muslims were fighting against those who were fighting against them. (Koran 2:190) In Koran 5:33, it tells about the consequences those who fight against God and Muhammad will experience. It is talking about a military war fought against the Muslims in order to stop them from worshiping one God. Those who want to force polytheism on people by means of war are striving after corruption in the land. Idolatry and the spreading of idolatry were punishable by death in the Torah. (Exodus 22:20; 13:1-10; 17:2-7) They were classified by the Koran, therefore, as “corruption in the earth.” (Koran 5:32) The New Testament abrogated the death penalty for these sins. (I Corinthians 5:9-11; I John 2:19) The Koran also teaches that those who start wars are trying to make corruption in the land.

The Jews say: Allah’s hand is fettered. Their hands are fettered and they are accursed for saying so. Nay, but both His hands are spread out wide in bounty. He bestoweth as He will. That which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord is certain to increase the contumacy and disbelief of many of them, and We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, Allah extinguisheth it. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah loveth not corrupters. (Koran 5:64, Pickthall)

So, another way that the enemies of God were striving after corruption in the land was by “lighting a fire of war.” The consequences that those people will experience are that they will be killed, that is, in battle or crucified. Crucifixion was a pagan practice. The Roman pagans practiced it. They crucified Jesus and two thieves. (Matthew 27:27-38; Luke 23:33) The Egyptian pagans also practiced it. (Koran 7:123,124; 12:41; 20:71; 26:49) It seems more likely that those who would be crucified would be crucified by their own pagan people for failure to achieve victory in a military campaign against the Muslims. Their hands and feet would be cut off on opposite sides is either a punishment that the pagans would inflict on their own people for failing to defeat the Muslims in battle or they would lose their hands in feet in battle because people fought with swords in ancient times. Being expelled out of the land would occur because the Muslims would drive them out of the land during the battle.

Koran 47:4 is not talking about a penalty for committing a crime. It is talking about a military battle. Muhammad told the Muslims to smite the necks of the polytheists with a sword. He could have been using hyperbole, but even if it is literal, he is talking about fighting in a military battle. Beheading as a form of criminal punishment does not occur anywhere in the Koran.

I have already shown in my previous blog post, “The Death Penalty in the Torah and Koran 5:32” that the Torah’s death penalty for the commission of certain sins has been abrogated by New Testament teaching. Muhammad accepted the Scriptures of Orthodox Christians. (Koran 29:46) Therefore, he also accepted the abrogations of the Torah’s death penalty for commission of those sins classified by Koran 5:32 as “corruption in the earth.” He also accepted what St. Paul said in Romans 12 about vengeance.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19, NKJV)

Now, I am going to explain the passages in the Koran which prescribe a penalty for murderers. First, let us look at this passage in Koran 2.

O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered — the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks from his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment. And there is for you in legal retribution [saving of] life, O you [people] of understanding, that you may become righteous. (Koran 2:178,179, Sahih International)

One thing that this passaged  cannot possibly mean is that someone is allowed to murder another person’s relative if someone murdered his. It does not mean that one can murder a slave belonging to another person if someone murdered his slave. It does not mean that one can murder another person’s female relative (wife, mother, sister, daughter, etc.), if someone murdered his female relative. This would obviously be unjust. Everyone is responsible for his own actions.

Nor can a bearer of burdens bear another’s burdens if one heavily laden should call another to (bear) his load. Not the least portion of it can be carried (by the other). Even though he be nearly related. Thou canst but admonish such as fear their Lord unseen and establish regular Prayer. And whoever purifies himself does so for the benefit of his own soul; and the destination (of all) is to Allah. (Koran 35:18, Yusuf Ali)

Whoso doeth right, it is for his soul, and whoso doeth wrong, it is against it. And afterward unto your Lord ye will be brought back. (Koran 45:15, Pickthall)

Punishments must be just and equitable.

If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted. But if ye endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient. (Koran 16:126, Pickthall)

There is no justice in punishing another person for someone else’s crimes. The passage in Koran 2 is talking about blood money. The murderer should pay blood money to the heir or heirs of the murder victim. The amount varies according to whether the victim is a free man, a slave, or a female. The amount of the blood money is not specified. If the heir of the murder victim overlooks the offense, then the murderer still must pay the heir a suitable amount.

(I do not want to talk about slavery and women’s rights in this blog post. I have already done that in previous blogs.)

The next passage is in Koran 5.

Lo! We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light, by which the prophets who surrendered (unto Allah) judged the Jews, and the rabbis and the priests (judged) by such of Allah’s Scripture as they were bidden to observe, and thereunto were they witnesses. So fear not mankind, but fear Me. And barter not My revelations for a little gain. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are disbelievers. And We prescribed for them therein: The life for the life, and the eye for the eye, and the nose for the nose, and the ear for the ear, and the tooth for the tooth, and for wounds retaliation. But whoso forgoeth it (in the way of charity) it shall be expiation for him. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are wrong-doers. (Koran 5:44,45, Pickthall)

The “eye for an eye” law was abrogated by Jesus.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:38,39, NKJV)

The Koran tells us to obey Jesus. In the Koran, Jesus says:

And (I come) confirming that which was before Me of the Torah, and to make lawful some of that which was forbidden unto you. I come unto you with a sign from your Lord, so keep your duty to Allah and obey Me. (Koran 3:50, Pickthall)

The Koran says that the Gospel is a “guidance to mankind” (Koran 3:3,4) and in it are “light and guidance.” (Koran 5:46) Muhammad accepted the Scriptures of Orthodox Christians. (Koran 29:46) Therefore, he accepted the entire New Testament.

St. Paul said:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21, NKJV)

The Koran says:

Such as persevere in seeking their Lord’s Countenance and are regular in prayer and spend of that which We bestow upon them secretly and openly, and overcome evil with good. Theirs will be the sequel of the (heavenly) Home. (Koran 13:22, Pickthall)

and:

The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend. (Koran 41:34, Pickthall)

The words that are key in understanding what this passage in Koran 5 is saying are these:

But whoso forgoeth it (in the way of charity) it shall be expiation for him. (Koran 5:45, Pickthall)

The “eye for an eye” law permits one to seek justice, but the better choice is to forgive and overlook.

In Sirach, a book accepted as Holy Scripture by Orthodox Christians, and therefore, also accepted as Holy Scripture by Muhammad, it says:

He that revengeth shall find vengeance from the Lord, and He will surely keep his sins [in remembrance.] Forgive thy neighbour the hurt that he hath done unto thee, so shall thy sins also be forgiven when thou prayest. (Sirach 28:1,2, KJV)

(There was no Protestant Reformation in the 7th century. Therefore, Muhammad accepted the Book of Sirach as Holy Scripture.)

The next passage is from chapter 17 of the Koran.

And slay not the life which Allah hath forbidden save with right. Whoso is slain wrongfully, We have given power unto his heir, but let him not commit excess in slaying. Lo! he will be helped. (Koran 17:33, Pickthall)

This is the “eye for an eye” law in another place in the Koran. One who seeks to avenge the death of a loved one is forbidden to “commit excess in slaying.” The last part of Koran 16:126 needs to be looked at more closely.

But if ye endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient. (Koran 16:126, Pickthall)

The better choice is to endure patiently, not seek vengeance. The Koran says:

Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing. (Koran 2:263, Sahih International)

It also says:

Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah’s cause: let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Koran 24:22, Yusuf Ali)

O you who have believed, indeed, among your wives and your children are enemies to you, so beware of them. But if you pardon and overlook and forgive — then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Koran 64:14, Sahih International)

The Koran, like the Bible, teaches that forgiveness from God is contingent upon us forgiving others.

The Koran says:

And We have not created the heavens and earth and that between them except in truth. And indeed, the Hour is coming; so forgive with gracious forgiveness. (Koran 15:85, Sahih International)

Tell those who believe to forgive those who hope not for the days of Allah; in order that He may requite folk what they used to earn. (Koran 45:14, Pickthall)

The Koran teaches that one of the good deeds that those who will inherit Paradise do is that of forgiving others.

And obey Allah and the messenger, that ye may find mercy. And vie one with another for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who ward off (evil); those who spend (of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good; and those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins — Who forgiveth sins save Allah only? – and will not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did. The reward of such will be forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide for ever — a bountiful reward for workers! (Koran 3:132-136, Pickthall)

Now whatever ye have been given is but a passing comfort for the life of the world, and that which Allah hath is better and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord, and those who shun the worst of sins and indecencies and, when they are wroth, forgive, and those who answer the call of their Lord and establish worship, and whose affairs are a matter of counsel, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them, and those who, when great wrong is done to them, defend themselves, the guerdon of an ill-deed is an ill the like thereof. But whosoever pardoneth and amendeth, his wage is the affair of Allah. Lo! He loveth not wrong-doers. (Koran 42:36-40, Pickthall)

The better choice is to forgive and not to seek vengeance. The Koran says:

Those who listen to the Word, then follow the best thereof, those are they whom Allah has guided, and those, they are the men of understanding. (Koran 39:18)

and:

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)

The Koran gives permissible options, but it tells us to make the best choice. It even tells us what is the best choice. Forgiving and overlooking is better than seeking vengeance. This does not mean that justice within society cannot be meted out to the murderer. The government authorities are responsible for administering justice in the case of murder. (Romans 13:1-4; Koran 2:247; 3:26; 4:59,83)

There is no death penalty for adultery or fornication in the Koran. The death penalty for these sins was abrogated by Jesus. (John 8:2-12) Those who are stoning to death people for having committed these sins are not following Jesus’ example and are, therefore, “walking in darkness.” (Read John 8:12.)

It is absurd to think that the Koran teaches that such people should be stoned to death. Look at this verse:

And whoso is not able to afford to marry free, believing women, let them marry from the believing maids whom your right hands possess. Allah knoweth best (concerning) your faith. Ye (proceed) one from another; so wed them by permission of their folk, and give unto them their portions in kindness, they being honest, not debauched nor of loose conduct. And if when they are honourably married they commit lewdness they shall incur the half of the punishment (prescribed) for free women (in that case). This is for him among you who feareth to commit sin. But to have patience would be better for you. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 4:25, Pickthall)

If a man marries a believing slave girl and she commits lewdness, that is, adultery, she “shall incur the half of the punishment for free women.”

How do you stone someone half to death?

Then, there is this verse:

The adulterer shall not marry save an adulteress or an idolatress, and the adulteress none shall marry save an adulterer or an idolater. All that is forbidden unto believers. (Koran 24:3, Pickthall)

If the adulterer and the aduteress have been stoned to death, how can they marry each other?

The Old Testament death penalty for adultery and fornication has been abrogated by New Testament teaching. I have already talked about this in my previous blog, “The Death Penalty in the Torah and Koran 5:32.”

I have already said that the New Testament punishment within the Christian community is disfellowship. (I Corinthians 5:9-11) The Christian man is supposed to divorce his wife if she has committed adultery. (Proverbs 18:23, LXX; I Corinthians 6:15) The Koran also prescribes divorce in such cases.

O Prophet, when you [Muslims] divorce women, divorce them for [the commencement of] their waiting period and keep count of the waiting period, and fear Allah , your Lord. Do not turn them out of their [husbands’] houses, nor should they [themselves] leave [during that period] unless they are committing a clear immorality. And those are the limits [set by] Allah. And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah has certainly wronged himself. You know not; perhaps Allah will bring about after that a [different] matter. (Koran 65:1, Sahih International)

Christian women should divorce their husbands if they have committed adultery. There is gender equality in the Church. (Galatians 3:28) The Koran, likewise, teaches gender equality.

And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. (Koran 2:228, Pickthall)

The Koran prescribes flogging before believers as the punishment for adultery and fornication. (Koran 24:2,5-9) I think that the purpose of the flogging is to shame the people who have committed these sexual sins, not to cause bodily harm. (Koran 16:126) The only way that one could have four witnesses is if four people were watching them have sex. People do not usually have sex in public. Koran 24:2 is really talking about committing adultery or fornication in public.

There is no death penalty in the Koran for apostasy. If there were, this would seem to be absurd in light of what this verse says:

Lo! those who believe, then disbelieve and then (again) believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never pardon them, nor will He guide them unto a way. (Koran 4:137, Pickthall)

Someone believes, then disbelieves. Then, after that person has been beheaded or stoned to death, he believes again. Then, he disbelieves, and then increases in disbelief. So, now he must be beheaded or stoned to death again. This is an absurdity.

In the Koran, the only punishment for apostasy is the punishment that the apostate gets from God on the Day of Judgment. I believe that this punishment is really self-inflicted. (Koran 41:46; 45:15)

There is no death penalty for blasphemy in the Koran. I have already demonstrated that the death penalty for blasphemy has been abrogated by New Testament teaching in the previous blog post.

The Koran says:

Allah would explain to you and guide you by the examples of those who were before you, and would turn to you in mercy. Allah is Knower, Wise. (Koran 4:26, Pickthall)

And verily We have sent down for you revelations that make plain, and the example of those who passed away before you. An admonition unto those who ward off (evil). (Koran 24:34, Pickthall)

St. Paul told us to follow his example. (I Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17)

St. Paul delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan for blaspheming. I think that means that he excommunicated them.

Of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (I Timothy 1:20, NKJV)

That is the punishment for blasphemy, not the death penalty.

So, there is only one death penalty allowed in the Koran, that is, the death penalty for murder. The death penalty is supposed to be administered to the murderer by the murder victim’s heir. However, if one does avenge the death of his or her loved one by executing a murderer, he or she is not making the best choice. The other option is to forgive the murderer. That is the best choice. The Koran says to follow the best revelations in it. (Koran 39:18,55) If someone forgives the murderer, the murderer should voluntarily pay blood money to the heir or heirs. (Koran 2:178,256) The government authorities are responsible for administering justice. (Romans 13:1-4; Koran 2:247; 3:26) It is necessary for them to do that in order to preserve the social order.

 

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Was Muhammad a Pedophile?

June 30, 2017 Leave a comment

One of the often repeated attacks on Islam is the accusation that Muhammad had sexual relations with a nine year old girl. Many critics of the religion mistakenly think that this is in the Koran. Others cite sources outside of the Koran as authoritative proof that he actually did this. I want to look at this accusation rationally and provide some possible alternative explanations.

First of all, I need to clear up a misconception regarding this alleged incident. Nowhere in the Koran does it say how many wives Muhammad had. We know from Arabic grammar that he had at least three wives because Arabic nouns have singular, dual, and plural number. Respecting the nouns and most pronouns, the plural number indicates three or more. However, the Koran limits the number of wives that a man can have to four. (Koran 4:3) Muhammad claimed to follow the Koran. (Koran 6:50; 7:203; 10:15; 46:9) So, it is reasonable to assume that he had no more than four. The names of his wives are not mentioned in the Koran. The ages of his wives are not mentioned either. We do not know from reading the Koran if Muhammad had a wife named Khadijah who was fifteen years older than he. We do not know from the Koran that Muhammad married a six year old girl named Aisha and had sexual relations with her when she was nine.

So, where do these tales about the Islamic prophet’s wives come from? The answer is from the Sunnah. The Sunnah is a large collection of stories about Muhammad. Many contain alleged sayings of Muhammad. Those sayings and stories are called hadiths (in Arabic, ahadith).

Here are the hadiths that talk about Muhammad having sexual relations with a nine year old girl named Aisha.

Narrated Hisham’s father: Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married `Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage when she was nine years old. (Sahih al-Bukhari 3896)

Narrated `Aisha: that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death). (Sahih al-Bukhari 5133)

Narrated `Aisha: that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said: I have been informed that `Aisha remained with the Prophet for nine years (i.e. till his death). (Sahih al-Bukhari 5134)

Narrated ‘Urwa: The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with `Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death). (Sahih al-Bukhari 5158)

A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah’s Apostle married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old. (Sahih Muslim 1422b)

Narrated ‘A’isha: ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah’s Apostle married her when she was six years old, and he (the Holy Prophet) took her to his house when she was nine, and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old (Sahih Muslim 1422d)

Narrated ‘Aishah: The Messenger of Allah married me when I was seven years old. The narrator Sulaiman said: or Six years. He had intercourse with me when I was nine years old. (Sunan Abi Dawud 2121) Grade: Sahih

It was narrated from ‘Aishah that the Messenger of Allah married her when she was six years old, and consummated the marriage with her when she was nine. (Sunan an-Nasa’i 3255) Grade: Sahih

The hadiths are graded sahih (authentic), hasan (good), or daif (weak). All of the above hadiths were graded by the compilers as sahih (authentic).

Now, before someone jumps to a conclusion, it is good to know more about these hadiths and their compilers. The compiler of the hadith collection titled Sahih al-Bukhari was born in 810 and died in 870. The compiler of the hadith collection titled Sahih Muslim was born in 815 and died in 875. The compiler of the hadith collection titled Sunan Abi Dawud was born in 817 and died in 889. The compiler of the hadith collection titled Sunan An-Nasa’i was born in 829 and died in 915. Muhammad died in 632. The hadith compilers based the truthfulness of the hadiths on a chain of narrators. That chain of narrators is called an isnad. The isnad appears in the Arabic text of the hadith collections but not in the English translations of those collections. It basically says something like, “So-and-so narrated that so-and-so narrated that so-and-so narrated that so-and-so narrated that so-and-so said or did…” Since so much time has passed and none of these hadith compilers were alive between 632 and 810, it is impossible for them to verify the truthfulness of the isnad. They would need a time machine. To this date, no man has ever possessed a time machine. Another thing to remember is that the hadith compilers were Persians. The first Muslims were Arabs. The Arabs and the Persians fought against each other. The Persians did not like the Arabs. So, people from an ethnic group that hated the Arabs were compiling hadiths for Arab Muslims to use in their religion.

Basically then, those hadith collections are nothing more than a large collection of hearsay compiled by people who were members of an ethnic group that hated Arabs. Why should anyone believe any of those hadiths? They are simply a bunch of fabricated stories which, for all that we can really know, may very well have no basis in fact at all.

Think of an ancestor of yours who died 200 years ago. Can you produce a nine volume encyclopedia containing factual accounts of what that ancestor said and did? Can you produce six or seven different nine volume encyclopedias containing such factual accounts about that ancestor? I know that I could not do that. Use your brain then. Those hadiths are hearsay. Would any Superior Court judge in the United States admit those hadiths as evidence in court? No, of course not.

Maybe a ninth century pedophile wanted to justify his pedophilia before various religious leaders and court judges. Maybe that ninth century pedophile invented this story about the Islamic prophet to do that. Maybe the Persians wanted to make fools of the Arabs and have them marrying nine year old girls. Maybe they invented this story about Muhammad and Aisha so that they could do that. Maybe there is some truth to the hadiths regarding this matter.  Maybe Muhammad pretended to do all of that with a nine year old girl, but never really did that. Maybe he did all of that in order to hide his virtues. There are many Christians Saints who have done things to hide their virtues. Muhammad could have been doing the same thing.

Anyway, the Koran teaches that women have a choice regarding whom they marry.

And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Koran 2:228, Pickthall)

A man has the right to choose his wife and women have similar rights to men. So, they have the right to choose their husbands. A woman cannot be inherited from a deceased relative against her will.

O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. (Koran 4:19, Yusuf Ali)

A divorced woman can choose whom she marries. Her next marriage is formed by an agreement between her and her next husband in kindness.

And when ye have divorced women and they reach their term, place not difficulties in the way of their marrying their husbands if it is agreed between them in kindness. This is an admonition for him among you who believeth in Allah and the Last Day. That is more virtuous for you, and cleaner. Allah knoweth; ye know not. (Koran 4:232, Pickthall)

A man who owns a slave girl is forbidden to force her into prostitution.

Force not your slave-girls to whoredom that ye may seek enjoyment of the life of the world, if they would preserve their chastity. And if one force them, then (unto them), after their compulsion, lo! Allah will be Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 24:33, Pickthall)

Since a slave girl can decide to preserve her chastity, her master cannot automatically expect her to become his wife or provide him with sexual favors outside of wedlock. A man may marry his slave girl, but only then with her permission. If he wants to have sexual relations with her, HE MUST MARRY HER!

And whoso is not able to afford to marry free, believing women, let them marry from the believing maids whom your right hands possess. Allah knoweth best (concerning) your faith. Ye (proceed) one from another; so wed them by permission of their folk, and give unto them their portions in kindness, they being honest, not debauched nor of loose conduct. (Koran 4:25, Pickthall)

Concerning slavery, the Koran actually encourages masters to emancipate their slaves. (Koran 2:177; 24:33; 90:12,13) Slavery existed in the seventh century among the Muslims because they lived in a non-Islamic culture that denied women the same rights as those of men. The Muslims used that institution of slavery to protect unmarried women (divorced women and widows) from prostitution. If a woman lost her husband back then, she could not go get a job at a convenience store on the corner of Main Street and Sixth Avenue. She was very dependent on men to help her or she would have to prostitute herself in order to survive. Remember that Arabia is a desert. People lived in the desert, not in a rainforest or subtropical environment with trees and vegetation.

As for this girl named Aisha if she really existed at all, she would have been too young to consent to marriage. She would have needed to have been older in order to make an informed decision. A young six year old girl is under the authority of her parents. She really would not have a choice if her father wanted her to marry a fifty year old man. Marriage is a choice granted to both men and women according to the Koran.

But then again, maybe that girl Aisha was nineteen and not nine when she had sexual relations with Muhammad. Maybe they both agreed to marry each other and then made love after the wedding. I really do not give much credence to that large collection of hearsay called the Sunnah anyway. So, I really do not care what those hadiths say.

 

Slavery in the Bible and the Koran

March 12, 2016 1 comment

Slavery existed in ancient times. No one can deny that. There were slaves during the time of Christ and also during the time of Muhammad. Slavery was an acceptable social convention among ancient Christians and among Muslims. The Bible and the Koran laid down rules for regulating it and moral principles which would eventually lead to its abolition.

In the New Testament, there were commandments given both to masters and their slaves.

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him. (Eph. 6:5-9, NASB)

Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven. (Col. 4:1, NASB)

These commandments were given to promote peace and justice between the slaves and their masters. Slavery was part of the culture and changing the culture would take time. Some passages can be found in the New Testament which encouraged the emancipation of slaves.

Here are two passages in Galatians:

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10, NASB)

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1, NASB)

The first states that one should be a bond-servant of Christ and not a pleaser of men. The other one pertains to the slavery to the Old Testament ceremonial law, specifically the practice of circumcision. However, the principle derived from this verse is that one should prefer freedom over slavery. Another passage is in First Corinthians.

Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. (I Cor. 7:21-23, NASB)

Here, St. Paul clearly tells Christian slaves they should prefer freedom to slavery. If they have the opportunity to become emancipated, they should seize that opportunity.

In Tobit, there is the Silver Rule.

Do that to no man which thou hatest. (Tobit 4:15)

In the Gospels, there is the Golden Rule.

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matt. 7:12, KJV)

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. (Luke 6:31, KJV)

So, if one should prefer freedom to slavery and no one should wish to impose on another person a condition which one should hate (that is, slavery), then no one should purchase slaves except for the purpose of emancipating them. One should always put himself in the other’s place and think about what he would want for himself if he were in that person’s situation. A man who owns slaves should set them free because he himself desires that the slave have what he already has — freedom. He would be obeying the Golden Rule if he did so.

Another passage is in Philemon.

I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel; but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. (Philemon 10-16, NASB)

St. Paul hints to St. Philemon that he should grant St. Onesimus his freedom. So, although slavery existed in the first century, there were moral teachings that would eventually lead to its abolition.

In Orthodox Church tradition, there are Saints who freed their slaves. Christians used to purchase slaves for the purpose of evangelizing them. After they had been converted to Christ, they were set free. St. Basil and St. Macrina owned slaves. They came from a wealthy Christian family. Before they took monastic vows, they set their slaves free and treated them as equals.

In the Koran, there are also teachings which eventually would lead to the abolition of slavery. Slavery existed in seventh century Arabia. The Koran regulated an existing institution and laid down rules which, when practiced by the faithful Muslims, would eventually lead to its abolition.

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God-fearing. (2:177, Pickthall)

And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation), write it for them if ye are aware of aught of good in them, and bestow upon them of the wealth of Allah which He hath bestowed upon you. (Koran 24:33, Pickthall)

Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Ascent is! – (It is:) freeing the bondman. (Koran 90:12,13, Pickthall)

The emancipation of slaves was a penance that Muslims had to fulfill whenever they committed certain sins.

It is not for a believer to kill a believer unless (it be) by mistake. He who hath killed a believer by mistake must set free a believing slave, and pay the blood-money to the family of the slain, unless they remit it as a charity. If he (the victim) be of a people hostile unto you, and he is a believer, then (the penance is) to set free a believing slave. And if he cometh of a folk between whom and you there is a covenant, then the blood-money must be paid unto his folk and (also) a believing slave must be set free. (Koran 4:92, Pickthall)

Allah will not take you to task for that which is unintentional in your oaths, but He will take you to task for the oaths which ye swear in earnest. The expiation thereof is the feeding of ten of the needy with the average of that wherewith ye feed your own folk, or the clothing of them, or the liberation of a slave, and for him who findeth not (the wherewithal to do so) then a three days’ fast. This is the expiation of your oaths when ye have sworn; and keep your oaths. Thus Allah expoundeth unto you His revelations in order that ye may give thanks. (Koran 5:89, Pickthall)

Those who put away their wives (by saying they are as their mothers) and afterward would go back on that which they have said, (the penalty) in that case (is) the freeing of a slave before they touch one another. Unto this ye are exhorted; and Allah is Informed of what ye do. (Koran 58:3, Pickthall)

Sex slavery is forbidden. If a Muslim wanted to have sex with one of his slave girls, he had to marry her first. She could choose to preserve her chastity and not marry her master.

Force not your slave-girls to whoredom that ye may seek enjoyment of the life of the world, if they would preserve their chastity. (Koran 24:33, Pickthall)

And whoso is not able to afford to marry free, believing women, let them marry from the believing maids whom your right hands possess. (Koran 4:25, Pickthall)

And marry such of you as are solitary and the pious of your slaves and maid-servants. If they be poor, Allah will enrich them of His bounty. Allah is of ample means, Aware. (Koran 24:32, Pickthall)

Wed not idolatresses till they believe; for lo! a believing bondwoman is better than an idolatress though she please you; and give not your daughters in marriage to idolaters till they believe, for lo! a believing slave is better than an idolater though he please you. These invite unto the Fire, and Allah inviteth unto the Garden, and unto forgiveness by His grace, and expoundeth His revelations to mankind that haply they may remember. (Koran 4:32, Pickthall)

Marriage, according to the Koran, is contracted “by uttering a recognised form of words” and paying a dowry to the bride.

There is no sin for you in that which ye proclaim or hide in your minds concerning your troth with women. Allah knoweth that ye will remember them. But plight not your troth with women except by uttering a recognised form of words. And do not consummate the marriage until (the term) prescribed is run. Know that Allah knoweth what is in your minds, so beware of Him; and know that Allah is Forgiving, Clement. (Koran 2:235, Pickthall)

And give unto the women (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions; but if they of their own accord remit unto you a part thereof, then ye are welcome to absorb it (in your wealth). (Koran 4:4, Pickthall)

And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what ye do by mutual agreement after the duty (hath been done). Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Wise. (Koran 4:24, Pickthall)

And whoso is not able to afford to marry free, believing women, let them marry from the believing maids whom your right hands possess. Allah knoweth best (concerning) your faith. Ye (proceed) one from another; so wed them by permission of their folk, and give unto them their portions in kindness, they being honest, not debauched nor of loose conduct. (Koran 4:25, Pickthall)

Muslims are permitted to marry Christians and Jews. They are “those who have received the Scripture” in the following verse.

This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And so are the virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who received the Scripture before you (lawful for you) when ye give them their marriage portions and live with them in honour, not in fornication, nor taking them as secret concubines. Whoso denieth the faith, his work is vain and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter. (Koran 5:5, Pickthall)

Muslim men are forbidden to treat their Christian and Jewish wives like “secret concubines.” They must live with them in honor and not in fornication. Muslim men must live with their wives in kindness.

And live with them in kindness. (Koran 4:19, Sahih International)

The Koran also says:

And of His signs is this: He created for you helpmeets from yourselves that ye might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo! herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect. (Koran 30:21, Pickthall)

Having sex with a woman who is not one’s wife is forbidden. The word for this in Arabic is zina.

And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way. (Koran 17:32, Pickthall)

Lo! the doom of their Lord is that before which none can feel secure — and those who preserve their chastity save with their wives and those whom their right hands possess, for thus they are not blameworthy; But whoso seeketh more than that, those are they who are transgressors; (Koran 70:28-31, Pickthall)

The women “whom their right hands possess” in the preceding passage are slave girls whom the men had married. Remember a slave girl could choose to preserve her chastity and not marry her master. Therefore, both consensual and non-consensual sex with a woman who is not one’s wife is a sin. The Muslims call it haraam. Rape is therefore a sin according to the Koran.

Whenever a Muslim captured a married woman during war, he could marry her, but he must “seek her with his wealth in honest wedlock.” In other words, she must first become a Muslim of her own free will if she is an idolater (“There is no compulsion in religion.” Koran 2:256 “Wed not idolatresses until they believe.” Koran 4:32). Orthodox Christians and Jews are not idolaters according to the Koran. If they were, then Muslims would not be allowed to marry them. (Koran 5:5) Then, she must divorce her husband or her husband must be dead. Otherwise, the Muslim man would be committing adultery. (Koran 17:32) He, of course, must marry her by using “a recognised form of words” and paying her a dowry.

And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you. Lawful unto you are all beyond those mentioned, so that ye seek them with your wealth in honest wedlock, not debauchery. (Koran 4:24, Pickthall)

A divorced woman or a widowed woman cannot be forced to marry someone. She marries her next husband by agreement “between them in kindness.”

And when ye have divorced women and they reach their term, place not difficulties in the way of their marrying their husbands if it is agreed between them in kindness. This is an admonition for him among you who believeth in Allah and the Last Day. That is more virtuous for you, and cleaner. Allah knoweth; ye know not. (Koran 4:232, Pickthall)

Women, according to the Koran, have rights similar to those of men. A man can choose his wife and a woman can choose her husband.

And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Koran 2:228, Pickthall)

The Koran does not teach that a married woman who has been captured in war can be treated like a sex slave.

In modern times, all slavery in all its forms has been criminalized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. (Article 4, Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

All predominantly Muslim nations who are members of the United Nations have accepted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although some have violated this international agreement from time to time. Despite the occasional violations, according to the Koran, Muslims are required to be faithful in their observance of treaties with other nations whether those other nations are Muslim or not.

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God-fearing. (2:177, Pickthall)

O ye who believe! fulfil (all) obligations. (Koran 5:1, Yusuf Ali)

Fulfil the covenant of Allah when ye have covenanted, and break not your oaths after the asseveration of them, and after ye have made Allah surety over you. Lo! Allah knoweth what ye do. (Koran 16:91, Pickthall)

Those who believed, and adopted exile, and fought for the Faith, with their property and their persons, in the cause of Allah, as well as those who gave (them) asylum and aid,- these are (all) friends and protectors, one of another. As to those who believed but came not into exile, ye owe no duty of protection to them until they come into exile; but if they seek your aid in religion, it is your duty to help them, except against a people with whom ye have a treaty of mutual alliance. And (remember) Allah seeth all that ye do. (Koran 8:72, Yusuf Ali)

In conclusion, both the Bible and the Koran have laid down principles which have resulted in the abolition of slavery. The Bible and the Koran have rules which regulated slavery when it existed as an acceptable institution in ancient times. There were principles, like the observance of the Silver Rule and the Golden Rule in the Bible and the encouragement to emancipate slaves in the Koran, which eventually led to the practice being criminalized internationally. People who practice slavery today are violating international law and the teachings and principles of two of the world’s largest religions: Islam and Christianity.