Saturday, 16 July 2016

Chapter 9 of the Quran - The Final Violent Orders of Islam

What is important about Chapter 9 of the Quran is that it is the last major chapter (in the actual order of how events took place). These verses are the final orders given to Muslims by whom they believe to be God. These commands have higher precedence than the earlier commands, some of which even preached tolerance and peace. I am not asking Muslims to obey these violent commands, but rather I am requesting them to examine the information that I am about to give. Obviously, they do not need to obey a war manual that is filled with scientific errors and moral problems.

All of us who read this chapter knows that there are very violent verses in it. But what Muslims do to make their religion look peaceful, is that they claim these verses were orders given on how to behave in the battlefield. Hell, no. Many of those violent verses had nothing to do with battlefield, such as 9:5, 9:73. Then there is a common myth that verse 9:29 (about fighting disbelievers till they pay an oppression tax (Jizya) or convert to Islam) was meant for the battle of Tabouk. Not at all! Verse 9:29 commands Muslims to keep fighting disbelievers aggressively till they pay the tax or embrace Islam. Battle of Tabouk was a result of this violent command. And so were the endless conquests made by the caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali and so on. It is foolish to think that these were all "defensive wars". So defensive that they even conquered Persia, North Africa and Spain within one hundred years of Muhammad’s death.

I) Verse 9:5

Prelude - Muslims under Muhammad captured Mecca in 629 AD December. Then they killed a few people including a girl for singing satirical songs about Muhammad. Many converted to Islam, mainly due to fear. Then Muhammad went to to fight more battles - Hunayn, Taif, Tabouk and came back to Medina at the start of the sacred months - during which fighting was seen as forbidden. This was around October 631 AD. Thus, for a bit less than two years, there were no fights between the pagans of Mecca and Muhammad. However, Muhammad remarked the pagans as "unclean" and didnot like them performing the pilgrimage around Ka'Aba naked (Refer Tafsir Ibn Kathir: So here we go.

Quran 9:1 - 9:6 ( - Pickthall's Translation)

[1. Freedom from obligation (is proclaimed) from Allah and His messenger toward those of the idolaters with whom ye made a treaty.

2. Travel freely in the land four months, and know that ye cannot escape Allah and that Allah will confound the disbelievers (in His Guidance).

3. And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters, and (so is) His messenger. So, if ye repent, it will be better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve,

4. Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfil their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him).

5. Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

6. And if anyone of the idolaters seeketh thy protection (O Muhammad), then protect him so that he may hear the Word of Allah, and afterward convey him to his place of safety. That is because they are a folk who know not.]

Here, Muhammad announces the cancellation of all treaties that Muslims have made with the pagans of Mecca (9:1) except those who never violated any treaty, with whom the treaties would be fulfilled till the end of their term (9:4). He gives the pagans, a deadline of four months, after which he orders the Muslims to kill or take captive (9:5) the ones who did not leave the land (ie, Hijaz - a large area surrounding and including Mecca and Medina, seen as the Holy Land by the Muslims). If any pagan comes to Muslims seeking protection from this genocide that had been ordered, then Muhammad asks them to show them the word of Allah (Quran) and then escort them to a safe place, outside the Hijaz (9:6). This is understood since expulsion had been ordered from the Hijaz.

Let us look at what the authentic commentaries (Tafsirs) have to tell about these verses. Quoting Tafsir Ibn Kathir which is widely regarded as the most authentic commentary of the Quran and is based on information from early Islamic sources:

9:5 - (So when the Sacred Months have passed...), meaning, `Upon the end of the four months during which We prohibited you from fighting the idolators, and which is the grace period We gave them, then fight and kill the idolators wherever you may find them.' Allah's statement next, (then fight the Mushrikin wherever you find them), means, on the earth in general, except for the Sacred Area, for Allah said, (And fight not with them at Al-Masjid Al-Haram, unless they fight you there. But if they attack you, then fight them. )﴿2:191﴾ Allah said here, (and capture them), executing some and keeping some as prisoners, (and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush), do not wait until you find them. Rather, seek and besiege them in their areas and forts, gather intelligence about them in the various roads and fairways so that what is made wide looks ever smaller to them. This way, they will have no choice, but to die or embrace Islam.

Some apologists claim that the verse 9:6 allows the peaceful pagans to remain in the land. Nope. It asks the Muslims to give the Quran to the pagans who come to them, seeking protection. If they do not embrace Islam, they would be escorted to a safe place, outside the Hijaz. The pagans who had not violated any treaty would be allowed in the Hijaz, only till the end of the treaty. No new treaties would be made with the pagans (9:1).

This is partly why Muslims still do not allow a single non-Muslim inside the Hijaz.

II) Verse 9:29

[Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture and believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.]

Clearly, this verse asks the Muslims to fight those who were given the word of Allah and do not believe in Islam, until they pay the Jizya (oppression tax on non muslims). So, this definitely was not a fight for survival, but rather a fight to expand Islamic rule. The verse doesn't say "fight those who attack you"... rather it says to fight non Muslims till they pay a special tax. Apologists claim that this verse was specifically meant for Battle of Tabouk. Wrong.. Let us read Tafsir Ibn Kathir:

(Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the People of the Scripture, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.) Therefore, when People of the Scriptures disbelieved in Muhammad , they had no beneficial faith in any Messenger or what the Messengers brought. Rather, they followed their religions because this conformed with their ideas, lusts and the ways of their forefathers, not because they are Allah's Law and religion. Had they been true believers in their religions, that faith would have directed them to believe in Muhammad , because all Prophets gave the good news of Muhammad's advent and commanded them to obey and follow him. Yet when he was sent, they disbelieved in him, even though he is the mightiest of all Messengers. Therefore, they do not follow the religion of earlier Prophets because these religions came from Allah, but because these suit their desires and lusts. Therefore, their claimed faith in an earlier Prophet will not benefit them because they disbelieved in the master, the mightiest, the last and most perfect of all Prophets . Hence Allah's statement, (Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the People of the Scripture,) This honorable Ayah was revealed with the order to fight the People of the Book, after the pagans were defeated, the people entered Allah's religion in large numbers, and the Arabian Peninsula was secured under the Muslims' control. Allah commanded his messenger to fight the people of the scriptures - Jews and Christians, on the ninth year of Hijrah, and he prepared his army to fight the Romans and called the people to Jihad announcing his intent and destination. The Messenger sent his intent to various Arab areas around Al-Madinah to gather forces, and he collected an army of thirty thousand. Some people from Al-Madinah and some hypocrites, in and around it, lagged behind, for that year was a year of drought and intense heat. The Messenger of Allah marched, heading towards Ash-Sham to fight the Romans until he reached Tabuk, where he set camp for about twenty days next to its water resources. He then prayed to Allah for a decision and went back to Al-Madinah because it was a hard year and the people were weak, as we will mention, Allah willing.

Thus, it is very clear that this was not a command of self-defense, rather a command to keep expanding the Islamic rule.

III) Verse 9:73

[O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey's end.]

This verse is self-explanatory. The Muslims are commanded to be harsh against both disbelievers and hypocrites (namesake Muslims). People who do not join the fight for expanding Islamic rule, and stay at home are seen as hypocrites. Ever wondered why the ISIS are harsh against Muslims who do not join their attempts to expand their rule? This verse is part of the reason.

Let us read Tasir Ibn Kathir to clear any doubts:

Allah commanded His Messenger to strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and to be harsh against them. Allah also commanded him to be merciful with the believers who followed him, informing him that the destination of the disbelievers and hypocrites is the Fire in the Hereafter. Ibn Mas`ud commented on Allah's statement, (Strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites) "With the hand, or at least have a stern face with them.'' Ibn `Abbas said, "Allah commanded the Prophet to fight the disbelievers with the sword, to strive against the hypocrites with the tongue and annulled lenient treatment of them.'' Ad-Dahhak commented, "Perform Jihad against the disbelievers with the sword and be harsh with the hypocrites with words, and this is the Jihad performed against them.'' Similar was said by Muqatil and Ar-Rabi`. Al-Hasan and Qatadah said, "Striving against them includes establishing the (Islamic Penal) Law of equality against them.'' In combining these statements, we could say that Allah causes punishment of the disbelievers and hypocrites with all of these methods in various conditions and situations, and Allah knows best.

Thus, it is very clear that this is not at all for self-defense and rather for aggression against disbelievers with the sword and to be rude to the namesake Muslims who do not join the war or follow Islamic rules properly.

To Be Continued...

Monday, 4 July 2016

Prohibiting Muslim Women from marrying Non-Muslims

We know that the Islamic world is known for prohibiting Muslim women from marrying non Muslims. Although we have the same problem in other religious communities to an extent, the problem is far greater in the Muslim world. In cases where Muslim women get married to non Muslims, they are often met with death threats, physical abuse and social outcry. Countries like Saudi, Afghanistan, Sudan and Iran have laws that declare such a woman as an apostate and sentence them to death penalty. Various other Muslim nations have laws that nullify their marriages, custody of children etc..The situation is better for Muslims living in the west and in some Muslim minority areas of India, but that does not change the situation in the rest of the Muslim world.

Here is a list of 43 incidents of murder/harassment/kidnap/threats involving 25 murders and leading to 4 suicides, all perpetrated by Indian Muslims for the sole reason of Muslim women marrying non Muslims (2008 July - 2018 February).

Let us see what the books of Islam have to state regarding this:

Quran 60:10 - O ye who believe! When believing women come unto you as fugitives, examine them. Allah is Best Aware of their faith. Then, if ye know them for true believers, send them not back unto the disbelievers. They are not lawful for them (the disbelievers), nor are they (the disbelievers) lawful for them. And give them (the disbelievers) that which they have spent (upon them). And it is no sin for you to marry such women when ye have given them their dues. And hold not to the ties of disbelieving women; and ask for (the return of) that which ye have spent; and let them (the disbelievers) ask for that which they have spent. That is the judgment of Allah. He judgeth between you. Allah is Knower, Wise.

This is a Medinan verse where the context is the case of women wanting to be Muslims, coming to join the Muslim community. In one look, it may seem that the Quran is merely asking you to not send them back to the disbelievers against their own will. But the same verse also clearly states that they are not lawful for disbelievers to marry, which is a big problem. Let us keep reading...

Quran 2:221 - 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.

This is a Medinan verse and clearly states that Muslim men shall not marry idolaters (polytheists). It also very clearly states that a Muslim should not give his daughter in marriage to polytheists. The word "daughter" is not mentioned but it is rather understood from the statement "do not give in marriage to polytheists".

There is a verse which gives an exception for Muslim men to marry Jew and Christian women (commonly referred to as "people of the scripture"), but there is no exception given to Muslim women. Read the verse below:

Quran 5:5 - 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.

To put it shortly, a book which is seen as the final, unchanging word of god declares it unlawful for Muslim women to marry non-Muslims. This is exactly the kind of social evil that we should discourage. A healthy society should not impose restrictions on the life choices of people and should rather let them live happily with the partners they choose by mutual consent.