UPDATE December 2006: Greetings, students of Carl Ernst! If you are reading this because of its link from Dr. Ernst’s syllabus for Religious Studies 161, don’t fail to read Sura 8, which doesn’t seem to have made the cut! For the context of Sura 8, see Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, pp. 321-327 in Guillaume’s edition. (Also, remember that Sura 8 is entitled “Al-Anfal,” or “The Spoils of War,” which was the name Saddam Hussein gave to his Kurd-gassing expedition.) Note also that while Dr. Ernst’s heading for this section of his course is “Fundamentalist insistence on violence (both Islamic and anti-Islamic),” he includes no Islamic sources for you to read, and his inclusion of a Chick tract seems to be a peculiar attempt to caricature and dismiss a perspective that unfortunately is taken with the utmost seriousness today by millions of Muslims worldwide.
But I’m happy to help with those Muslim sources. Many people besides Osama bin Laden and Jack Chick have affirmed a connection between Qur’anic teaching and violence. In his sira, Ibn Ishaq explains the contexts of various verses of the Qur’an by saying that Muhammad received revelations about warfare in three stages: first, tolerance; then, defensive warfare; and finally, offensive warfare in order to convert the unbelievers to Islam or make them pay the jizya (see Qur’an 9:29, Sahih Muslim 4294, etc.). This is in Guillaume, pp. 212-213. Tafasir by Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti and others also emphasize that Surat At-Tawba (sura 9) abrogates every peace treaty in the Qur’an.
In the modern age, this idea of stages of development in the Qur’an’s teaching on jihad, culminating in offensive warfare to establish the hegemony of Islamic law, has been affirmed by Sayyid Qutb (in Milestones and elsewhere), Syed Abul Ala Maududi (see his commentary on Sura 9:29 in Towards Understanding the Qur’an, the Pakistani Brigadier S. K. Malik (author of The Qur’anic Concept of War), Saudi Chief Justice Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid (in his “Jihad in the Qur’an and Sunnah“), and others. It is, of course, an assertion of no little concern to non-Muslims, since it encapsulates a doctrine of warfare against non-Muslims and their ultimate subjugation under Sharia rules, with all that implies. To reduce all that to sneers at Jack Chick is, in my view, apologetically motivated and academically irresponsible.
But of course, Dr. Ernst, although he has not hesitated to slander me as bigoted for daring to note that the ideology of warfare is taught by authorities many Muslims value more highly than they do Jack Chick, has declined to produce any inaccuracy in my work or debate me on these issues. You can inform him that the invitation is still open. (I might add also that it is amusing that a man whose work has been published by that august scholarly press, Shambhala Publishers, would find fault with my books not for their substance, but because of who published them.)
Immediately below is the original post to which Dr. Ernst has referred you, and here is comment seven, where I have repeated this message. I don’t want anyone to miss it.
The students at UNC may be surprised to hear this claim from Taheri-azar, since their professors made sure they wouldn’t read, and probably wouldn’t even know about, the passages of the Qur’an that mandate violence against unbelievers when they were required to read Michael Sells’ selective and sanitized Approaching the Qur’an right after 9/11. From AP, with thanks to James:
RALEIGH, N.C. — The University of North Carolina graduate charged with driving a sport utility vehicle through a plaza at the school, which he called revenge for America’s treatment of Muslims, said in a letter the assault was justified based on his reading of Islam’s holy book.
“Allah gives permission in the Koran for the followers of Allah to attack those who have raged war [sic] against them, with the expectation of eternal paradise in case of martyrdom,” Mohammed Taheri-azar wrote in a two-page letter sent to a television news reporter and anchor at WTVD-TV, an ABC affiliate station in Durham….
Sura 9:111 promises Paradise to those who “slay and are slain” for Allah. Sura 9:13 asks: “Will ye not fight people who violated their oaths, plotted to expel the Messenger, and took the aggressive by being the first (to assault) you? Do ye fear them? Nay, it is Allah Whom ye should more justly fear, if ye believe!”
But instead of acknowledging that such verses (and many other similar ones) exist and could be taken by someone like Taheri-azar as inciting to violence, and then suggesting positive ways to counteract this, CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper takes the easy way out and drags out his tired old hobbyhorse: Islam condemns the killing of the innocent. Great, Ibrahim. But when Taheri-azar says that “Allah gives permission in the Koran for the followers of Allah to attack those who have raged war [sic] against them,” clearly he has already decided that the UNC students he tried to kill were not innocent.
Hooper might actually have done some good if he had addressed that and explained why Taheri-azar’s victims were indeed innocent and why Taheri-azar himself should gave known that. But no such luck.
A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group based in Washington, said Taheri-azar’s claims of religious support for his actions are an old and repudiated claim.
“Islamic scholars have clearly and repeatedly stated that attacks on innocent civilians of any kind are prohibited by Islam and should be repudiated,” spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said Tuesday.
“There are people who have strange views about any number of faiths and they shouldn’t be taken as representative of those faiths. The people who kill abortion doctors claim they are doing it in the name of Christianity and we all know it is a distortion of Christian beliefs,” he said.
Cheap shot, Ibrahim, especially since Taheri-azar can quote the Qur’an in support of his views. Where are the Bible verses that sanction the killing of abortion doctors? You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.