In the previous post I noted that I have not been able to find Muslims who will discuss in any serious fashion the elements of Islam that give rise to violence and fanaticism, and what can done about them. This is despite the fact that I’ve discussed these issues with, among others, Jaafar Siddiqui and Salam Al-Marayati (twice) on the Michael Medved Show; Al-Marayati again on the Alan Colmes Show; Hussam Ayloush on the Dennis Prager Show; Hussein Ibish on CNN radio; As’ad AbuKhalil (the “Angry Arab,” and man, is he ever) on a station in San Diego; Ibrahim Hooper on MSNBC TV with Keith Olbermann; Abdul Malik Ali on Pax TV; two Islamic scholars whose names escape me on Michael Coren’s TV show in Toronto; and Ayloush and AbuKhalil, as well as Khaleel Mohammed, in print.
One more try: yesterday Ahmed Bedier, Executive Director of the Tampa, Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who dropped by here to comment the other day, cc’d me on an email to someone who had asked him questions about some of the jihad verses in the Qur’an. In the course of his reply, Bedier said:
All Scripture must be understood in its historical and textual context. The cut and paste approach doesn’t work and is not used by real scholars. If we apply the same technique to the verses in the Bible you would find more violence there than in the Quran. That’s why it’s important for those studying scripture to study all related verses and look at the big picture, not 1/2 of a verse “kill the infidels wherever you find them” is not a verse in the Quran. I challenge you to find a COMPLETE verse that says only that. You will not find it, why because the word infidel is not found in the Quran, and also because the mistranslated English is not the entire translation of the verse….
Why don’t you try reading books by real scholars like Karen Armstrong and John Espesito or others that professors at real universities. Not known bias bloggers, pretending to be scholars.
I sent this reply to him:
Dear Mr. Bedier:
Thank you for kindly cc’ing me…I appreciate your clarification of the fact that the Qur’an does not teach that Muslims should seek to kill all infidels, which is, of course, a point I myself made in the Jihad Watch post on which you originally commented, as well as in my books. I am grateful that you have taken the time to instruct us on this matter, and have just one follow-up question:
I understand that “all Scripture must be understood in its historical and textual context.” 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.). Tafasir by Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti and others also emphasize that Surat At-Tawba 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 Qutb, Maududi, 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.
Hence my question: as a moderate Muslim and vociferous opponent of terrorism in all its forms, you reject this exegesis of the Qur’an — or at least I think it is safe to assume you do (correct me if I’m wrong), since, by the accounts of the terrorists themselves, this expansionist imperative forms the ideological underpinning of much of today’s terrorism. But it is based on a contextual analysis of the Qur’an, a relative weighing of Meccan and Medinan suras, and an examination of the asbab an-nazool for a large number of verses. Thus an appeal to read the Qur’an in context, such as you have made [in your email] here, is not adequate in itself to establish that Islam teaches peaceful coexistence between non-Muslims and Muslims on an indefinite basis.
Could you please therefore provide an Islamic refutation of the arguments of Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti, Qutb, Maududi, Malik, and Humaid? Armstrong and Esposito, to which you refer [us], do not provide this. Armstrong says only that the doctrines of offensive jihad were in the course of time “set aside in practice.” But of course, today they are being taken up again. Thus I look forward to your answer with great eagerness, as it could contain the key to stemming the tide of today’s terrorism, and be used to convince Muslims that violent jihad and Islamic supremacism must be definitively rejected.
Thanks again for your kindness and willingness to instruct us. I look forward to hearing from you.