My article "Of Islam, Churches and Temples" drew much attention from Malaysians and foreigners alike. Many readers posted positive comments on my blog as well as other blogs where that article appeared. There are many non-Muslim readers who were in fact appreciative of Islam's position when it comes to the rights of non-Muslims to practise their respective faith and belief.
However, there are two commentators on my blog who posted some really inflammatory remarks about Islam. Hiding behind the skirt of anonymity, these two persons displayed so much hatred against Islam that I found it necessary to delete their respective comments from my blog. And I make no apology for doing so.
It is quite obvious that bigotry exists on both side of the fence. I don't mind engaging with anybody on whatever subject which are closed to my heart. But when people merely spew hatred and baseless allegations, especially against my faith, even more so in the comfort of anonymity, I find solace in my delete button. And I am gleeful that I don't even have to state a reason for so doing.
Having said so, I must hasten to add that this is not the first time I have encountered such baseless tirade from non-Muslims about Islam. And we, the Muslims and the so called Muslims, are not entirely blameless. Judging from the propensity of some so called Muslims to blow themselves up in crowded places nowadays, all in the name of "jihad", I am not surprised if non-Muslims think that Islam propagates violence, especially against non-Muslims.
And to add to that, the fact that Muslims began killing each other just after Prophet Muhammad's - peace be upon him - passing also lend credence to such belief. To further add to the image of violence, just look at the number of times we read about the Shiite bombing the Sunnis's mosque after or during Friday prayers and vice versa.
Such is the image of Islam nowadays that it is hard for non-Muslims not to be convinced that Islam is a faith which preaches violence and that "jihad" in Islam is all about killing non-believers for a place in heaven surrounded by 72 virgins and nice little boys who would serve drinks.
Sad. But that is the reality of it all, nowadays.
Most of the non-Muslims' misconception about Islam being a religion which propagates violence against non-Muslims stems from several verses in the Quran which seem to suggest that Muslims should go all out to kill non-Muslims. And the killing of non-Muslims is considered as a "jihad".
Among others, the followings are the relevant verses:
- 8:12 Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them."
47:4 Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.
2:190 Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loves not aggressors.
2:191 And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.
The above verses, when read out of context and without knowing the circumstances under which they were revealed, tend to suggest that Islam propagates violence against non-Muslims. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If verses from old scriptures are to be read out of context and without any knowledge of their surrounding circumstances, many of their verses could be interpreted wrongly. This misinterpretation would lead to suggestions that they propagate violence. Even the Bible is replete with these verses.
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Mathew 10:34)
"I have come to turn " 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Matthew 10:35)
"Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." (1 Samuel 15:3)
"The people of Samaria must bear their guilt because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open." (Hosea 13:16)
Surely the Bible is not a scripture which propagate violence. It is a book of love, of peace and harmony. As is the Quran.
Verse 8:12 of the Quran above was brought during the battle of Badar where 300 Muslims were facing about 1000 non-Muslims enemies who were bent on obliterating the then new faith which was just gaining it's footing. The Muslims were scared and some were in doubt of their strength. They were being persecuted and subjected to torture and ridicule on daily basis. The verse was revealed in those circumstances. That verse is not a general decree from God for Muslims to kill all non-Muslims by cutting off their head!
The same is also the case with verse 47:4 of the Quran. It asks the Muslims to kill the non-believers in a fight (war or battle). But Muslims can only fight when attacked by the enemies. The Quran commanded:
2:190 Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.
In fact, the Quran forbids fighting when the enemies want peace.
- 8.61 But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in God: for He is One that hears and knows (all things).
- 60.8 God forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for God loves those who are just.
- 60.9 God only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong.
It is clear from the above verses that God commands Muslims to be kind and just to non-Muslims because God loves those who are just (60:8).
On the other hand God forbids Muslims from befriending or turning for protection to people who fight the Muslims because of their faith and who drive Muslims out of their homes or support those who do so (60:9).
Nowhere is there in the Quran that Muslims are commanded to kill non-Muslims or to act in an unfair or unjust manner to non-Muslims.
Those people who spew so much hatred against Islam and who have been quoting verses out context are nothing but religious bigots who are bent on giving Islam a bad name. But bigots being bigots, these people would refuse to be drawn into any meaningful engagement. They would sit within this huge field of hatred and prejudices. And in the comfort of anonymity, they would attack and spew their hatred.
They know who they are.