Alas, I must run out and don’t have time for a full discussion of this piece, “The Koran and non-Muslims — myths versus facts,” by Mustafa Akyol (with whom I had some exchanges a few years ago — search the archives) in the Turkish Daily News, although I hope to get to it later. Still, I had to stop and post about this, because if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this, I’d be a very rich man:
One should also note the Koranic verse which tells that “all who have faith in God and the Last Day and act rightly” including “those who are Jews, and the Christians” will be rewarded by God in afterlife. (2:62) In other words, the Koran does not denounce Jewish and Christians an “unbelievers,” as it is often thought.
Why not just tell the truth and deal with that? Is Mr. Akyol unaware of the existence of these passages?
“They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary.” — Qur’an 5:17
The key word in that verse is kafara, كَفَرَ. Derived from kufr, unbelief.
And 4:44-59 is an invective against the People of the Book in general and the Jews in particular. The Jews “traffic in error” and, and wish that the Muslims would “lose the right path” (v. 44). They twist Allah’s words, and Allah has “cursed them for their unbelief” — كُفْرِهِمْ, kufrihim (v. 46) — again, derived from kufr.
There, then, are two Qur’anic passages clearly calling Christians and Jews unbelievers — which Mustafa Akyol and many, many others say the Qur’an never does. I have often been criticized for not being as enthusiastic about this or that Islamic reformer as others think I should have been. Well, here is a good example of why I find so often that my enthusiasm is dampened. Whether Mr. Akyol doesn’t know that the Qur’an actually does call Jews and Christians unbelievers, and that mainstream Muslim exegetes interpret 2:62 as meaning only that Jews and Christians who accept Islam will be saved, or whether he just doesn’t want us to know all this, I have no way of knowing. But either way, his writings are not going to impress any jihadists or make them discard their notions of Islamic supremacism.