Tuesday, February 01, 2011

On page 547 (814 in the Arabic) of the earliest Muslim biography of Muhammad, Muhammad permits a threat of beheading to force a conversion to Islam:
[Muhammad] said: "Woe to you Abu Sufyan, isn't it time that you recognize that I am God's apostle?"  [Sufyan] answered, "As to that I still have some doubt."  [Ibn Abbas] said to [Sufyan], "Submit and testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the apostle of God before you lose your head," so [Sufyan] did so.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Ground Zero Declaration

Here's an interesting new initiative that could be the seed of something very important in time.

It's called the Ground Zero Declaration, which everyone should sign. 

By signing the Ground Zero Declaration, you join in its request of four things from the Ground Zero Imam (Rauf) and his associates:

1. Rauf and his associates should go through a questionnaire titled "The Qur'an vs. the Constitution: Questionnaire for Muslims seeking free practice of their religion in America" -- the questionnaire asks ten questions (each of which highlights an aspect of Islamic doctrine that conflicts with U.S. law, the Constitution, and Bill of Rights) and then asks Muslims to answer yes or no, as to whether they repudiate each aspect of Islamic doctrine that conflicts with American law and values.

2. Rauf and his associates should sign the "Freedom Pledge" -- this is a document that former Muslims are asking American Muslim leaders to sign.  The Freedom Pledge points out that Islamic doctrine calls for the death of persons who leave the Islamic faith.  The Freedom Pledge repudiates that aspect of Islamic doctrine, and opposes any physical intimidation or worldly or corporal punishment for apostates from Islam.

3. Rauf and associates should demand that Muslim nations grant non-Muslim religions the same freedom to build houses of worship that America grants Muslims.

4. Rauf and associates should postpone, relocate, reconfigure their plans for an Islamic Center within a mile of Ground Zero.

The Declaration then ends by saying that
These simple steps would demonstrate their goodwill, and open the door to a productive dialogue with and about Islam. It would establish a clear distinction between a Reformed Islam that is compatible with American values and a jihadist Islam that seeks to destroy them.

Apart from these steps, we have no reason to believe that the Cordoba House [the Ground Zero Mosque] will in any way be beneficial to American society or inter-faith dialogue. In the shadow of 9/11, the burden of proof is on Imam Rauf to help us understand why we should tolerate an ideology that, at first glance, seems intolerant of everything America stands for.

If he refuses to supply such proof [for example, by carrying out the four actions listed above], then we ask our city, state and federal leaders to judge them by their own standards and give them no more freedom than they are willing to give others. We do not believe a commitment to freedom means giving our enemies the freedom to destroy us.

The choice is theirs.
(my bolding)  I like the bolded paragraph a lot, especially since I've read the three documents: the Ground Zero Declaration, "Freedom Pledge", and the Questionnaire: Qur'an vs. the Constitution. These documents are brilliant seeds for the future, ideas in need of ongoing development and refinement.  The three documents seem to me to be very much in the spirit of suggestions made by Robert Spencer to require some kind of pledge from Muslims who want to become citizens. 

It should be noted that even if a Muslim lied in answering documents like these, s/he could be held accountable for those lies if exposed.  At some point in the future, documents like these could perhaps be given legal force, so that lying in one's answers could be made a crime, leading in some circumstances to loss of citizenship and deportation. 

The other value of these documents is that they often compel Muslims to reveal themselves.  For example, a number of "moderate" American Muslim leaders have refused to sign the Freedom Pledge, and that reveals that the "moderate" Muslims in question are not willing to condemn Islam's death-to-apostates law.  That rips off the "moderate" mask and reveals the ugly face beneath for all to see. 

And as for the Questionnaire, even if no Muslim ever answers it, it's a powerful educational tool for non-Muslims, because the Questionnaire makes crystal clear a dozen specific ways in which Islamic law and culture are barbarically in conflict with basic American values and laws.  I think the Questionnaire could use some more refinement, by experts like Spencer, but it's already a powerful beginning.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sam Shamoun Responds Again

Over the last few days, I've had a little back and forth in a website's comments thread with the brilliant Christian apologist Sam Shamoun.

 Sam on ABN

First there was this.  Then this.  Now Sam responds again, and he's not happy:
Traeh, why am I not surprised that you twist and distort the meaning of these passages in order to maintina your belief in the almighty sovereignty of man's free will?

Do you really want me to drop everything and go through your "reply" and refute your gross eisegesis?
I never said I wanted him to drop anything to reply to me.  Here's what I wrote: "I grasp and everyone else should grasp the obvious: that if you don't respond to this it's not that you agree or have nothing to say, but that you are busy with other debates, work, life."  I was trying to make it easy for him to ignore me!  Anyway, here's the rest of Sam's latest response:
I will be more than happy to do that to show you how you are demeaning God and imposing your own spin and interpretation upon these texts in order to promote and affirm the almighty free will of man at the expense of the sovereignty of God.

Better yet, why don't you come on Paltalk since in that way I can demonstrate the error of your eisegesis and record it so that others can listen to what happens when a person imposes his imperfect, fallible spin upon God's word in order to make it fit in with his unblblical philosophical presuppositions and traditions.

Let me know when you sign up on Paltalk so I can invite you in the room and begin refuting your assault against God's glorious sovereignty so as to exalt your creaturely free will.

Your approach is not only insulting to God and to those who love him but is outright dangerous since this is the path of the cults and heretics who manhandle God's Word in order to keep to their traditions and philosophies.
To that from Sam, I responded with the following.
Sam, I'd like to come to your Paltalk group, but not to debate with you.  I'd be more interested in listening.  I learn a lot that way, and having watched you on the Jesus and Muhammad show many times, I know how knowledgeable you are, and I expect I'd learn a great deal from listening to you interact with a group.

I wouldn't want to argue with you any further, because I don't sense friendliness from you, but rather something like hostility, belligerence, pugnacity, impatience, and an insistence that you are being insulted or offended, when all I've done is express my current thoughts on God, freedom, and a few biblical verses.  If you want to be offended, go right ahead, but it has nothing to do with me.  To me it seems like you are offended because I have my own perspective and it doesn't agree with yours. It seems like you want to pepper your statements to me with an incipient ad hominem quality, and in fact I feel insulted by you.  But it doesn't matter; it's just a part of the territory of people arguing their thoughts: in their intolerance and impatience and weakness they sometimes insult each other without really wanting to do so.  That's one reason I love Socrates: the grace and politeness with which he defeated his opponents in argument.  I gather that for other reasons, he has sometimes been called a Christian before the time of Christ.  In any case, Sam, suppose my view of God is wrong; there is nothing insulting about a person having mistaken views, provided that person is willing to listen and learn.
 Update:  Here is Sam's final (non)-response:
@ Apollos and Zang, I think as brothers it is time for us to drop this debate since this is not the purpose of this thread. Unfortunately, this all started because of Traeh's rather insulting and demeaning remarks against God's sovereignty in order to elevate man's creaturely free will. In spite of that I think we need to bring this debate to a close. If you guys are still interested in debating this issue then there are other forums where we can continue this debate.

Lord bless you both.
Sam, in this discussion you've considered it an "offense" and an "insult" against you and against God to think about free will and God, except along lines that you, as God's representative, peremptorily lay down. 

We'll just have to agree to disagree.

Second update: A day has gone by without further response from Sam, but another commenter, "getrealman," posting on the same thread, says this.
Unfortunately, Sam seems to have a little bit of an anger problem and tendency to fly off the handle pretty easily. I love Jesus and Sam loves Jesus, so he is my brother, but if he were on the other side I don't think any of us would be quite as tolerant. He is frequently condescending and speaks with quite a bit of belligerence. He is clearly bring knowledgeable and is good at refuting the Islamic opponents. He just likes to call others on the carpet, insist he will destroy their puny arguments, and expose them before everyone for what they really are, which is clearly hypocrites in gross error. Clearly this man "has arrived" and is more than willing to announce his doctrinal certainty. I've only been a Christian a little less than 40 years, which is probably not as long as Sam. Funny though, the older I get the less I know, except for the main things. Someone much wiser said, "the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things". Jesus is Lord. Plain and simple. Salvation only through Christ. Plain and simple. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in my heart God has raised him from the dead by shalt be saved". Plain, and very simple. Other things sometimes are not as easily grasped or differences reconciled. Sometimes better to say, "I hear what you're saying, but I see it a little differently". Sam, a lot of people here feel differently, which does not immediately grant you the position of inerrancy in the matters of which you so clearly speak. Don't be offended when others disagree with you, as as hard as it is to believe, you probably are not "there" either. In transit, definitely! "There", not yet, dear brother.

Needless to say, I have seen the "sovereignty of God" drum being beaten by him quite a bit lately. I don't think anyone has ever said God is not sovereign, at least not in this thread, but I do think there is some pretty difficult to explain passages. Cut and dried, black-and-white, this or that, is rarely where the full truth is found, at least in areas "seen through a glass dimly" of which others of equal devotion disagree.

Starting off each of the shows with public prayer is noble, but it doesn't really accomplish anything that praying quietly before the show will not also accomplish. It's especially not fruitful when you bring out the sharp tongue and continual condescension. Let's see, I will probably be asked to document this and then I will be told I am a liar because I am running it cannot do this. My response to this would be, "get real man". Ask anyone else that sees what is going on and they will most likely suggest you turn down the aggression and subdue the testosterone surges. Ask the monitor of this blog, David, in private, as he is the only person whose opinion really matters regarding the activities that occur here. This is as it should be as he is the one who pays the bills and does the work.

Lest I be misunderstood, Sam really seems to know his stuff, he just needs to repackage his presentation and soften the delivery of his communiqu├ęs. People rarely convert when someone is swinging a sledgehammer at their face. Probably not the best of behavior to engage in whether with brother or nonbeliever.

Just my two cents, which can easily be refuted, I'm sure. "Blessed is the man who sits on the floor as he shall not have far to fall", said Leonard Ravenhill. May we all hit the pavement, put down the stones, come out of our glass houses, and quit telling other people what to do. David owns the site and can do as he wills. Everyone else, not so much.

Chill and get real, man.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sam Shamoun Responds

A day ago I posted a response to a comment by the brilliant Christian apologist Sam Shamoun.

Following is his response to my post:
Traeh, some brotherly advice. Go back and study the Scriptures more carefully because the theology you are espousing is unbiblical and borders on heresy. It seems you are more into the almighty free will of man than into God's sovereignty.

Spend less time philosophizing and more time exgeting Biblical texts such as Job 14:5; Psalm 33:10-11; 115:3; 135:6; 139:16; Proverbs 16:1-4.

If I had more time I would dissect your entire post and refute it Biblically. But unfortunately for you I don't have that kind of time right now.

So Traeh I appreciate it if you don't chime in with very bad analogies which demean God and exalt the free will of man. You insult me when you do that.

And here is my response to Sam's response:
Insult you?  I don't see how my having a perspective insults you.  Perhaps we've misunderstood each other. But since I'm hardly infallible, it's possible I've insulted you somehow without being aware of it, in which case I'm sorry.

I have now read the verses you cited.  I grasp and everyone else should grasp the obvious: that if you don't respond to this it's not that you agree or have nothing to say, but that you are busy with other debates, work, life.

I'll go through the verses you referred me to:

Job 14:5 says to God that He has determined man's days and decreed the number of his months, and set limits he cannot exceed.

My response to this verse is:

1. I understand there are limits set by heaven that human beings cannot exceed.

2. The above statement by Job contains nothing I can see that requires one to conclude it allows of no exceptions or qualifications whatsoever.  Job could be speaking of a general pattern or rule, not a rule without any qualifications. For example, people sometimes repent and may live longer than they would have lived otherwise. Or less long. I think I have heard Sam -- or perhaps it was David -- point out that God is very patient and gives human beings many chances to repent, but at some point unrepentant human beings will fall into hell. So, Sam, doesn't God's patient waiting mean that God hopes for something He is not sure will happen?  He hopes a human being will repent and be redeemed, but He is not sure that will happen, He is not omniscient about that question, because it depends on human decisions not yet made.

3. Apart from possible qualifications to the rule in Job's time, Job's statement in the above verse does not say the rule will always be true in the same exact way for all times.  What if, as human consciousness matures over centuries and millennia, a more co-creative partnership in questions of personal human destiny, appears in the relation between human beings and God?  The notion that there is nothing new under the sun is an ahistorical and thus pre-Judeo-Christian perception of things; the ancient perception of time as cyclical was superceded by the Jewish discovery of unreapeatable history and therefore of unique personal history and true, unrepeatable individuals.  Couldn't the divine and the human have advanced a little, and couldn't our knowledge of them also have advanced a little, since the time of Job's inspirations?  I see nothing in truth that calls for us to take Job as the last word. 

Psalm 33:10-11 says that God foils the plans of the nations but the plans of God stand firm forever through all generations.

Sam, I believe and know that God is and eternally will be the highest.  But that does not mean He is omnipotent or omniscient. Psalm 33:10-11 does not say that human beings have no freedom, nor does it say that God controls every single thing and every single action and thought of every person at every moment, i.e., that He is omnipotent. 

33:10-11 says that God, the living truth, foils the ambitions of the nations; they seek to endlessly expand their earthly realms and powers and to banish death in an earthly way, all at the expense of truth and goodness. What the above verse says is that God is never in the long run defeated or resisted; sin is always eventually defeated.  God in the long run coordinates all things and ultimately redeems and makes good all sin.  But none of that, nor the verse above, requires that God be in control at every moment of our every action, i.e., that God be omnipotent and that human beings have no real freedom.

Psalm 115:3 says that God is in heaven and does whatever pleases him.

Psalm 135:6 says God does whatever pleases him in the heavens and on the earth, and to the bottom of the oceans.

In terms of logic, the statement that God does whatever pleases him, whatever he wants to, does not necessarily mean, does it, that He is omnipotent and can do just anything and everything notionally conceivable.  On the contrary, suppose God only wants to do what He can do. Then the above psalm verses could represent not God's omnipotence, but harmony between His desires and His powers. 

Psalm 139:16 tells God that His eyes saw the writer's unformed body and that all the days ordained for him were written in God's book before the first of those days came into existence.

My above response to the Job verse will stand for a response to Psalm 139:16, since they deal with the same question.

Proverbs 16:1-4 ends by saying that God works out everything for His own ends, even the wicked for a day of disaster.

16:1-4 does not require a belief in omnipotence nor a disbelief in human freedom.  It can mean simply that God always wins in the end, in the long run. 

None of these verses by themselves shows that God is omnipotent or omniscient, nor that that there is no such thing as human freedom. 

You say I am demeaning God and exalting human freedom above God.  I certainly don't want to do that.  And if I'm mistaken, I hope I can learn to see my mistakes.  I believe that one reason Christianity is relatively weak in Europe and by some accounts weakening in the U.S. is that people too often demean and misunderstand God and Jesus by conceiving God as if He were like an omnipotent tyrant and dictator whose pervasive surveillance extends omnisciently even to all the outcomes of all our own decision-processes, even before those outcomes have been reached.

To avoid misunderstanding, I probably should have said at the very beginning that I understand that in the deeper sense, the freedom that Christ brings is responsibility, not license. Was it Augustine who said, that provided you are truly loving, you have absolute freedom, you can do whatever you will?  Love -- love properly so called and not the many counterfeits -- seems to be that form of reality in which absolute freedom and absolute responsibility become one.  I wonder if my not saying the like earlier is one reason you reacted in the way you did, as if I had been promoting the ethos of libertines.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Reuters Cuts a Knife

Reuters has apparently been mischievous with photos before.  From Fox News:  
The British-based Reuters news agency has been stung for the second time by charges that it edited politically sensitive photos in a way that casts Israel in a bad light. But this time Reuters claims it wasn’t at fault.

The news agency reacted to questions raised by an American blogger who showed that Reuters' photo service edited out knives and blood traces from pictures taken aboard the activist ship Mavi Marmara during a clash with Israeli commandos last week. Nine people were killed and scores were injured in the clash.

The pictures of the fight were released by IHH, the Turkish-based group that sponsored the six-ship fleet that tried to break Israel's blockade of Gaza.

In one photo, an Israeli commando is shown lying on the deck of the ship, surrounded by activists. The uncut photo released by IHH shows the hand of an unidentified activist holding a knife. But in the Reuters photo, the hand is visible but the knife has been edited out.

The blog “Little Green Footballs” challenged Reuters' editing of the photo.

“That’s a very interesting way to crop the photo. Most people would consider that knife an important part of the context. There was a huge controversy over whether the activists were armed. Cropping out a knife, in a picture showing a soldier who’s apparently been stabbed, seems like a very odd editorial decision. Unless someone was trying to hide it,” the blog stated.

In a second photo the unedited print issued by IHH showed blood along the ship's railing and a hand holding a knife as an Israeli soldier lies on the deck. Both the blood and the knife were missing in the photo that Reuters released.
Check out the rest.

Sam Shamoun and the length of our years

Ultimately, our life is in the hand of the sovereign Triune God who has decreed the length of our years.
So said "Sam" -- I think Sam Shamoun, the master debater -- over in the third comment to an article at www.answeringmuslims.com.

Sam's comment made me think of that story about a holy man who was told there would be a flood. Another man came to the holy man's house and said, "holy man, come with me now in my car, I will save you from the flood." The holy man said, "No, God will take care of me." So the other man drove off in his car. It began to pour so hard that the wise man had to go up on his roof, as the water level rose and rose. A man in a boat came by and said he would save the holy man, who said, "no, God will save me." So the boat went away. Finally a helicopter came, as the water was rising above the man's roof. A ladder was lowered, and still the holy man said, "no thank you, God will save me." So finally the helicopter flew away. After a while, the holy man drowned and went to heaven. Standing before God, the holy man said, "God, I believed in you. Why didn't you save me?" And God said, "I sent you a car, then I sent you a boat, and then I sent you a helicopter!"

God often works through the things of this world and through earthly limitations, including through ourselves, so from that point of view, it's partly up to us when we die and how we die. And there is real human freedom, so perhaps God does not always determine in advance how or when we will die.

Ultimately everything is turned to the Good and the Eternal, but not immediately. I do think the length of our years is sometimes determined in advance by heaven. But the world and human destiny may be complex enough that God does not always or entirely decree the number of our years. I suspect there is sometimes flexibility. Sometimes there seem to be dialogues between man and God, converse that happens in dreams, or near death, or otherwise, and thus people sometimes confer with the divine about whether years can be prolonged. Or shortened. I recall an account from a woman who lost all vital signs, clinically died, felt her soul rise out of her body and into a heavenly world where she met a being of light she perceived to be God or Jesus. The Being asked her to come and be with Him. She felt great joy, and she felt tremendous love coming from the Being of light, and she laughed and said "But I want to go back, I haven't danced enough yet!" At that, Jesus laughed with her and agreed to her going back. Whereupon she found herself again back in her body.

I believe in God, but I think God's superlative qualities do not include omnipotence or omniscience, insofar as human freedom is real. Since our decision processes are real, the outcome of our decision processes cannot always be known in advance, not even by God. If God knew in advance everything we were going to decide, then our decision-making processes would not really be decision-making processes. They would be a sham, because the outcome would already have been decided in advance. And for similar reasons God is not omnipotent: human freedom is real, perhaps especially since Christ's incarnation. I suspect the notion that God must be omnipotent and omniscient comes from man conceiving God in the image of earthly tyrants; and we know a lot about that from Islam. Nicholas Berdaev wrote at times about how the true Christian God was a God of freedom, and about how authoritarians and tyrants had tried to reconceive the Christian God in an authoritarian image, to help enforce earthly authorities. Charles Hartshorne claimed there is nothing in scripture that really requires the notion that God is omniscient or omnipotent.

I wouldn't be surprised if all this is familiar to Sam...including whatever parts he might think false.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Crowd Size at 6/6/10 Demo against 9/11 Mega-Mosque

One can estimate the crowd size from this video of the June 6 protest.



As the camera pans from right to left and left to right, one can count 14 metal gates lined up from one end of the pen to the other end. Those 14 gates form the side of the whole pen closest to the video camera.

The crowd leans against 10 of those 14 gates, while 4 of them, the 4 gates farthest to the left, are in the speakers' area and are more or less unoccupied.

The shape of the crowd narrows toward the front of the demo, where the speakers are.

First I'll estimate that along the side of each of the ten gates where there are demonstrators, one finds an average of about 4.5 demonstrators. You can sort of count them, though the video is not very clear.
10 gates x 4.5 people per gate = 45 people from one end of the demo to the other end where the speakers area begins.

Then, assuming that the crowd was approximately square (admittedly a big assumption), one gets 45 x 45 = 2025 demonstrators.

A further consideration might increase that number: it seems that leaning on the gates causes people to spread out a bit: unless I'm mistaken, the crowd is denser as soon as one looks at people not leaning on the gates.

Thus the real multipliers might not be 45 x 45, but, say 50 x 50 = 2500 demonstrators.

Then we must add to that the front of the crowd near the speakers and their staff, in the area of the front four gates. Also we must add some other people who were crowding up across a street that was visible at the beginning of the video.

Thus if we calculate all of those at the narrowing front of the demo plus all of those on the street at the back of the demo as an additional 300 people, we get a total of about 2800.

So media reports of 1000 certainly seem to be low-ball reports.

If anyone can find errors in my guesstimates here, or make them more precise, please do. I counted 14 gates as the camera pans from right to left and left to right, but the overall count of people depends also on something I could not count, namely the depth of the demo as one looks toward the horizon. Was the demo space as deep as it was long (14 gates long)? Was it deeper still? Or less deep? It looks about square, or perhaps less deep than long. In my guesstimate of the crowd count, I've assumed the crowd was the equivalent of ten gates deep. But if the demo was, for example, ten people (two gates) deeper than I've assumed, that added depth would increase by about 500 my guess at the total crowd count.

Another consideration is how much turnover there was during the course of the demo, i.e., people leaving and people arriving. For example if 3000 people come and stay an average of an hour, and another 3000 mingle in later as the first 3000 mingle out, the size of the crowd the whole time might stay constant at 3000, yet the total number of people coming and going to the event would be 6000.

How many hours did this demo last? Perhaps there was not much turnover, but it might be one factor in a calculation.

How Can Islam Be Legally Constrained in the United States?

I’ve been trying to understand how people might be able successfully to mount legal challenges to some of the mosques in the United States.

It seems the U.S. Constitution prevents us from setting up legal limits on Islam's religious aspect except in those cases where Muslims explicitly support violence.

But I wonder if any legal challenge could be successfully mounted to the political aspects of Islam. The fact that Islam does not separate religion and politics does not mean that we, non-Muslims, cannot legally compel such a separation on Islam in the United States and the West.  Robert Spencer has advocated that.

As individuals, Muslims are apparently within their First Amendment rights to advocate that Islamic law replace the Constitution, provided they do not support violent or forceful replacement, and advocate only democratic means.  Insofar as Islamic law and belief do advocate violent overthrow of the U.S. government, that advocacy seems to be legally defined as the crime of sedition, in theory punishable by ten years in prison. 

Religious organizations are legally permitted to influence politics in the United States, but may not actually seek to run the government, not without losing tax-exempt status and colliding with the First Amendment. To the extent that a mosque supports a particular political candidate, or supports the introduction of government policies that are specifically Islamic (even if there is no advocacy of force or violence), it might be possible to get courts to classify such mosques as political organizations, which are not entitled to tax exempt status. And it might then be possible to mount a First Amendment challenge against the very existence of such theocratically ambitious political organizations.

But I wish experts in constitutional law would help the Islam-critical movement to better understand whatever legal options we might have.

Friday, March 02, 2007

D´Souza Mirrors the Left on Islam

D´Souza is a conservative who is doing what many on the American left have done: reducing grave foreign policy challenges to mere reflections of petty domestic animosities between the opposing American political parties. Thus Democrats hate Bush so much that they often care more about their dispute with him than they do about the external totalitarian threat. D´Souza adopts the same absurd misplacement of priorities and makes what the Democrats are allegedly doing wrong more significant than what the terrorists and totalitarian Islam are doing wrong. D´Souza and the conservatives who follow him, and many Dems, are thus guilty of a kind of navel-gazing narcissism that fails to recognize that not everything in the world is purely a function of American domestic politics. Islam has its own internal forms that have been developing since the time of Muhammad, long before Bush and long before the supposed decadence of American liberal culture. Islam is innately more fundamentalist than the other major religions, in part because violence is systematically built into the Koran as a very effective means of suppressing doubt and questions and as a way of maintaining an extreme fundamentalist interpretation. By contrast, Christian fundamentalism is just one part of Christianity, and even among Christian fundamentalists, hardly any would advocate state theocracy or the use of violence to compel belief. It just ain´t there in the New Testament to do that. But theocracy and religious violence are certainly there in the Koran and in the reports of Muhammad´s life that most Muslims consider reliable, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.
Too frequently people assume, without question, that every great religion is ¨the same.¨ But such an assumption needs at least to be put in question. Especially when a religion appears to be totalitarian in its documents and practices, and when its chief (Muhammad) was the ruler of a state theocracy and a leader of many wars. By the end of the century, at least under current trends, Muslims will be a majority in Europe, so if one cares at all about religious freedom and civil rights and liberties, one should not blindly assume anything about Islam. Else it may soon be too late to save Europe´s freedoms.
Muslims´ own primary documents show that Muhammad employed torture, assassination of critics, rape, and deception for the purpose of spreading Islam´s dominance. The use of Koranically sanctioned deception by Muslim apologists seeking to make Islam look compatible with Western values must be kept well in mind. Please check these facts for yourselves, check thoroughly.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Image Links to Jean-Mairet's Site; New Movie on Radical Islam

At Jean-Mairet's site, check out this great cartoon about the recent apostasy trial in Afghanistan, and also this beautiful promotional image for the new award-winning documentary: "Obsession, Radical Islam's War Against The West". If you click on the above link to the promotional image, once the image appears you can click on the image itself and you'll be taken to the movie's website, where you can inquire about getting a showing near you and find other info. Nationally syndicated radio host Micheal Medved:
"Obsession" is one of the most powerful, expertly crafted and undeniably important films I've seen this year. This courageous, utterly gripping expose deserves the attention of every American -- and merits serious consideration for the Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary.

Ledeen Responds to Hersch, and Believes Iran Has the Bomb.

On the Laura Ingraham radio show Tuesday evening, Iran analyst Michael Ledeen, who writes for National Review Online, said he didn't believe Seymour M. Hersch's claim (made in the April 17th New Yorker magazine) that American special ops are even now swarming secretly throughout Iran to prepare the ground for American bombing. Ledeen apparently thinks little of Hersch's anonymous inside sources. I'm assuming Ledeen read the New Yorker piece, knows it was not merely speculative, and knows that Hersch claimed inside sources.

Ledeen also noted to Ingraham that it took the U.S. only four years, without outside help, to create atomic weapons. He made it clear that for him it strained credibility to believe the Iranians don't have the Bomb, given the fact they have been working on it for fifteen years and have had all kinds of outside help. He clearly believes they've got it, and argues that's not really the concern anyway. What matters, he said, is not the Bomb per se, but the kind of regime that has it. A liberal democratic Iran would not be a threat. I didn't catch whether he supports a U.S. bombing campaign in Iran at this point. He advocates regime change there, and counts strongly on the 70% of Iranians he says hate the regime. He thinks any regime change program should involve generous U.S. support for Iran's internal resistance forces.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Iran To Nuke Israel? Fallows, Frum and Hersh Respond

James Fallows in the latest Atlantic Monthly argues we shouldn't bomb Iran to stop it from making nukes. Among other things, war games conducted by retired Pentagon and intelligence people in 2004 under the auspices of the Atlantic demonstrated this, Fallows claims. Meanwhile Frum at National Review Online retorts that following Fallows' do-nothing counsel would be tantamount to giving nukes to Iran. And on Friday, Amadinejad repeats his thinly veiled threat to nuke Israel (AP article):
"Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation," Ahmadinejad said at the opening of a conference in support of the Palestinians. "The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."
And Seymour M. Hersh in the latest issue of the New Yorker details the various signs and indications from insiders that the U.S. administration is already heavily into military planning, including infiltration of special ops into Iran with targeting lasers:
If the order were to be given for an attack, the American combat troops now operating in Iran would be in position to mark the critical targets with laser beams, to insure bombing accuracy and to minimize civilian casualties. As of early winter, I was told by the government consultant with close ties to civilians in the Pentagon, the units were also working with minority groups in Iran, including the Azeris, in the north, the Baluchis, in the southeast, and the Kurds, in the northeast. The troops “are studying the terrain, and giving away walking-around money to ethnic tribes, and recruiting scouts from local tribes and shepherds,” the consultant said. One goal is to get “eyes on the ground”—quoting a line from “Othello,” he said, “Give me the ocular proof.”

Karsh Sums Up History of Islamic Imperialism

Efraim Karsh, whose book on the history of Islamic imperialism is about to be published by Yale, has a brilliant short piece in the latest Commentary. An excerpt:
“I was ordered to fight all men until they say, ‘There is no god but Allah.’” With these farewell words, the prophet Muhammad summed up the international version of the faith he brought to the world.
Does anyone know where Karsh got this quote? The only similar thing I recall is the online USC translation of Sahih Bukhari*, Volume 1, Book 2, number 24:
I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform a that, then they save their lives an property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.
(my emphasis) To continue the Karsh excerpt:
As a universal religion, Islam envisages a global political order in which all humankind will live under Muslim rule as either believers or subject communities. In order to achieve this goal, it is incumbent on all free, male, adult Muslims to carry out an uncompromising “struggle in the path of Allah,” or jihad. As the 14th-century historian and philosopher Abdel Rahman ibn Khaldun wrote, “In the Muslim community, the jihad is a religious duty because of the universalism of the Islamic mission and the obligation [to convert] everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.”
Karsh’s article is an extremely useful short summary of the whole history of Islamic imperialism. Take a look.

*According to the University of Southern California website, Compendium of Muslim Texts:

"...Bukhari's collection is recognized by the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world to be one of the most authentic collections of the Sunnah [life] of the Prophet... The Sunnah is the second source of Islamic jurisprudence, the first being the Qur'an. Both sources are indispensable; one cannot practice Islam without consulting both of them."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

In Short Compass, the Quran's Attitude to Love

One way to begin to understand the Quran's attitude to love is to see how many of its verses mention the word 'love,' and what they say. I searched the USC-MSA database and out of the Quran’s roughly 6,220 verses, there are 76 in which at least two of the three translations in the database use the word ‘love.’ (In an additional 17 verses, love is mentioned, but only by one of the three translations.)

I put the 76 verses below into 3 color coded categories:

23 verses speak of what Allah does not love;
19 verses speak of what Allah loves;
34 verses are harder to categorize, but most of them mention kinds of love of which Allah approves or disapproves.

Taken altogether, what sort of love doctrine do the 76 contain? One thing to notice is that only one or two of the 76 use love as a noun or focus on love itself. Instead, the verses focus on what Allah loves or does not love, or what someone else loves. Love itself is hardly noticed. In fact its use as a word seems to be mostly a slightly veiled way to explain how to please and not to anger Allah, whom the Quran conceives after the fashion of an extremely despotic earthly tyrant. Here are all the verses in which the Qur'an mentions love:

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 165
(SHAKIR VERSION): And there are some among men who take for themselves objects of worship besides Allah, whom they love as they love Allah, and those who believe are stronger in love for Allah and O, that those who are unjust had seen, when they see the chastisement, that the power is wholly Allah's and that Allah is severe in requiting (evil).

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 177
(SHAKIR VERSION): It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteousness is this that one should believe in Allah and the last day and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and give away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for (the emancipation of) the captives, and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in time of conflicts-- these are they who are true (to themselves) and these are they who guard (against evil).

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 190
(SHAKIR VERSION): And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 195
(SHAKIR VERSION): And spend in the way of Allah and cast not yourselves to perdition with your own hands, and do good (to others); surely Allah loves the doers of good.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 205
(SHAKIR VERSION): And when he turn,s back, he runs along in the land that he may cause mischief in it and destroy the tilth and the stock, and Allah does not love mischief-making.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 216
(SHAKIR VERSION): Fighting is enjoined on you, and it is an object of dislike to you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 222
(SHAKIR VERSION): And they ask you about menstruation. Say: It is a discomfort; therefore keep aloof from the women during the menstrual discharge and do not go near them until they have become clean; then when they have cleansed themselves, go in to them as Allah has commanded you; surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 276
(SHAKIR VERSION): Allah does not bless usury, and He causes charitable deeds to prosper, and Allah does not love any ungrateful sinner.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 014
(SHAKIR VERSION): The love of desires, of women and sons and hoarded treasures of gold and silver and well bred horses and cattle and tilth, is made to seem fair to men; this is the provision of the life of this world; and Allah is He with Whom is the good goal (of life).

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 031
(SHAKIR VERSION): Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, MercifuL

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 032
(SHAKIR VERSION): Say: Obey Allah and the Messenger; but if they turn back, then surely Allah does not love the unbelievers.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 057
(SHAKIR VERSION): And as to those who believe and do good deeds, He will pay them fully their rewards; and Allah does not love the unjust.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 076
(SHAKIR VERSION): Yea, whoever fulfills his promise and guards (against evil)-- then surely Allah loves those who guard (against evil).

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 092
(SHAKIR VERSION): By no means shall you attain to righteousness until you spend (benevolently) out of what you love; and whatever thing you spend, Allah surely knows it.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 118
(SHAKIR VERSION): O you who believe! do not take for intimate friends from among others than your own people; they do not fall short of inflicting loss upon you; they love what distresses you; vehement hatred has already appeared from out of their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater still; indeed, We have made the communications clear to you, if you will understand.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 119
(SHAKIR VERSION): Lo! you are they who will love them while they do not love you, and you believe in the Book (in) the whole of it; and when they meet you they say: We believe, and when they are alone, they bite the ends of their fingers in rage against you. Say: Die in your rage; surely Allah knows what is in the breasts.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 134
(SHAKIR VERSION): Those who spend (benevolently) in ease as well as in straitness, and those who restrain (their) anger and pardon men; and Allah loves the doers of good (to others).

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 140
(SHAKIR VERSION): If a wound has afflicted you (at Ohud), a wound like it has also afflicted the (unbelieving) people; and We bring these days to men by turns, and that Allah may know those who believe and take witnesses from among you; and Allah does not love the unjust.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 146
(SHAKIR VERSION): And how many a prophet has fought with whom were many worshippers of the Lord; so they did not become weak-hearted on account of what befell them in Allah's way, nor did they weaken, nor did they abase themselves; and Allah loves the patient.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 148
(SHAKIR VERSION): So Allah gave them the reward of this world and better reward of the hereafter and Allah loves those who do good (to others).

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 159
(SHAKIR VERSION): Thus it is due to mercy from Allah that you deal with them gently, and had you been rough, hard hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you; pardon them therefore and ask pardon for them, and take counsel with them in the affair; so when you have decided, then place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who trust.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 188
(SHAKIR VERSION): Do not think those who rejoice for what they have done and love that they should be praised for what they have not done-- so do by no means think them to be safe from the chastisement, and they shall have a painful chastisement.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 036
(SHAKIR VERSION): And serve Allah and do not associate any thing with Him and be good to the parents and to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the neighbor of (your) kin and the alien neighbor, and the companion in a journey and the wayfarer and those whom your right hands possess; surely Allah does not love him who is proud, boastful;

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 107
(SHAKIR VERSION): And do not plead on behalf of those who act unfaithfully to their souls; surely Allah does not love him who is treacherous, sinful;

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 148
(SHAKIR VERSION): Allah does not love the public utterance of hurtful speech unless (it be) by one to whom injustice has been done; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 5, Verse 013
(SHAKIR VERSION): But on account of their breaking their covenant We cursed them and made their hearts hard; they altered the words from their places and they neglected a portion of what they were reminded of; and you shall always discover treachery in them excepting a few of them; so pardon them and turn away; surely Allah loves those who do good (to others).

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 5, Verse 018
(SHAKIR VERSION): And the Jews and the Christians say: We are the sons of Allah and His beloved ones. Say: Why does He then chastise you for your faults? Nay, you are mortals from among those whom He has created, He forgives whom He pleases and chastises whom He pleases; and Allah's is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and what is between them, and to Him is the eventual coming.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 5, Verse 042
(SHAKIR VERSION): (They are) listeners of a lie, devourers of what is forbidden; therefore if they come to you, judge between them or turn aside from them, and if you turn aside from them, they shall not harm you in any way; and if you judge, judge between them with equity; surely Allah loves those who judge equitably.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 5, Verse 054
(SHAKIR VERSION): O you who believe! whoever from among you turns back from his religion, then Allah will bring a people, He shall love them and they shall love Him, lowly before the believers, mighty against the unbelievers, they shall strive hard in Allah's way and shall not fear the censure of any censurer; this is Allah's Face, He gives it to whom He pleases, and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 5, Verse 064
(SHAKIR VERSION): And the Jews say: The hand of Allah is tied up! Their hands shall be shackled and they shall be cursed for what they say. Nay, both His hands are spread out, He expends as He pleases; and what has been revealed to you from your Lord will certainly make many of them increase in inordinacy and unbelief; and We have put enmity and hatred among them till the day of resurrection; whenever they kindle a fire for war Allah puts it out, and they strive to make mischief in the land; and Allah does not love the mischief-makers.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 5, Verse 087
(SHAKIR VERSION): O you who believe! do not forbid (yourselves) the good things which Allah has made lawful for you and do not exceed the limits; surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 5, Verse 093
(SHAKIR VERSION): On those who believe and do good there is no blame for what they eat, when they are careful (of their duty) and believe and do good deeds, then they are careful (of their duty) and believe, then they are careful (of their duty) and do good (to others), and Allah loves those who do good (to others).

Of Abraham:
From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 6, Verse 076
(SHAKIR VERSION): So when the night over-shadowed him, he saw a star; said he: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: I do not love the setting ones.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 6, Verse 141
(SHAKIR VERSION): And He it is Who produces gardens (of vine), trellised and untrellised, and palms and seed-produce of which the fruits are of various sorts, and olives and pomegranates, like and unlike; eat of its fruit when it bears fruit, and pay the due of it on the day of its reaping, and do not act extravagantly; surely He does not love the extravagant.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 7, Verse 031
(SHAKIR VERSION): O children of Adam! attend to your embellishments at every time of prayer, and eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 7, Verse 055
(SHAKIR VERSION): Call on your Lord humbly and secretly; surely He does not love those who exceed the limits.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 7, Verse 079
(SHAKIR VERSION): Then he turned away from them and said: O my people I did certainly deliver to you the message of my Lord, and I gave you good advice, but you do not love those who give good advice.

From the USC triple translation of the aQur’an: Chapter 8, Verse 058
(SHAKIR VERSION): And if you fear treachery on the part of a people, then throw back to them on terms of equality; surely Allah does not love the treacherous.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 9, Verse 004
(SHAKIR VERSION): Except those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement, then they have not failed you in anything and have not backed up any one against you, so fulfill their agreement to the end of their term; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty).

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 9, Verse 007
(SHAKIR VERSION): How can there be an agreement for the idolaters with Allah and with His Messenger; except those with whom you made an agreement at the Sacred Mosque? So as long as they are true to you, be true to them; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty).

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 9, Verse 023
(SHAKIR VERSION): O you who believe! do not take your fathers and your brothers for guardians if they love unbelief more than belief; and whoever of you takes them for a guardian, these it is that are the unjust.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 9, Verse 108
(SHAKIR VERSION): Never stand in it; certainly a masjid founded on piety from the very first day is more deserving that you should stand in it; in it are men who love that they should be purified; and Allah loves those who purify themselves.

story of Shu’eyb/Shu’aib
From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 11, Verse 090
(SHAKIR VERSION): And ask forgiveness of your Lord, then turn to Him; surely my Lord is Merciful, loving-kind.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 12, Verse 030
(SHAKIR VERSION): And women in the city said: The chiefs wife seeks her slave to yield himself (to her), surely he has affected her deeply with (his) love; most surely we see her in manifest error.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 14, Verse 003
(SHAKIR VERSION): (To) those who love this world's life more than the hereafter, and turn away from Allah's path and desire to make it crooked; these are in a great error.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 16, Verse 023
(SHAKIR VERSION): Truly Allah knows what they hide and what they manifest; surely He does not love the proud.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 16, Verse 107
(SHAKIR VERSION): This is because they love this world's life more than the hereafter, and because Allah does not guide the unbelieving people.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 19, Verse 096
(SHAKIR VERSION): Surely (as for) those who believe and do good deeds for them will Allah bring about love.

Story of Moses and Aaron:
From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 20, Verse 039
(SHAKIR VERSION): Saying: Put him into a chest, then cast it down into the river, then the river shall throw him on the shore; there shall take him up one who is an enemy to Me and enemy to him, and I cast down upon you love from Me, and that you might be brought up before My eyes;

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 22, Verse 038
(SHAKIR VERSION): Surely Allah will defend those who believe; surely Allah does not love any one who is unfaithful, ungrateful.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 24, Verse 019
(SHAKIR VERSION): Surely (as for) those who love that scandal should circulate respecting those who believe, they shall have a grievous chastisement in this world and the hereafter; and Allah knows, while you do not know.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 28, Verse 056
(SHAKIR VERSION): Surely you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases, and He knows best the followers of the right way.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 28, Verse 076
(SHAKIR VERSION): Surely Qaroun was of the people of Musa, but he rebelled against them, and We had given him of the treasures, so much so that his hoards of wealth would certainly weigh down a company of men possessed of great strength. When his people said to him: Do not exult, surely Allah does not love the exultant;

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 28, Verse 077
(SHAKIR VERSION): And seek by means of what Allah has given you the future abode, and do not neglect your portion of this world, and do good (to others) as Allah has done good to you, and do not seek to make mischief in the land, surely Allah does not love the mischief-makers.

(Shakir's translation of this verse uses "friendship", but the other two translations use "love" or a form of the word "love.")From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 29, Verse 025
(SHAKIR VERSION): And he said: You have only taken for yourselves idols besides Allah by way of friendship between you in this world's life, then on the resurrection day some of you shall deny others, and some of you shall curse others, and your abode is the fire, and you shall not have any helpers.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 30, Verse 021
(SHAKIR VERSION): And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 30, Verse 045
(SHAKIR VERSION): That He may reward those who believe and do good out of His grace; surely He does not love the unbelievers.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 31, Verse 018
(SHAKIR VERSION): And do not turn your face away from people in contempt, nor go about in the land exulting overmuch; surely Allah does not love any self-conceited boaster;

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 42, Verse 023
(SHAKIR VERSION): That is of which Allah gives the good news to His servants, (to) those who believe and do good deeds. Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives; and whoever earns good, We give him more of good therein; surely Allah is Forgiving, Grateful.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 42, Verse 040
(SHAKIR VERSION): And the recompense of evil is punishment like it, but whoever forgives and amends, he shall have his reward from Allah; surely He does not love the unjust.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 49, Verse 009
(SHAKIR VERSION): And if two parties of the believers quarrel, make peace between them; but if one of them acts wrongfully towards the other, fight that which acts wrongfully until it returns to Allah's command; then if it returns, make peace between them with justice and act equitably; surely Allah loves those who act equitably.

part of Quran’s description of paradisal virgins:
From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 56, Verse 037
(SHAKIR VERSION): loving, equals in age,

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 57, Verse 023
(SHAKIR VERSION): So that you may not grieve for what has escaped you, nor be exultant at what He has given you; and Allah does not love any arrogant boaster:

(Shakir uses "befriending" in this verse, but the other two translations use "love" or a form of the word "love".) From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 58, Verse 022
(SHAKIR VERSION): You shall not find a people who believe in Allah and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to Allah and His Messenger, even though they were their (own) fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kinsfolk; these are they into whose hearts He has impressed faith, and whom He has strengthened with an inspiration from Him: and He will cause them to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein; Allah is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him these are Allah's party: now surely the party of Allah are the successful ones.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 59, Verse 009
(SHAKIR VERSION): And those who made their abode in the city and in the faith before them love those who have fled to them, and do not find in their hearts a need of what they are given, and prefer (them) before themselves though poverty may afflict them, and whoever is preserved from the niggardliness of his soul, these it is that are the successful ones.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 60, Verse 001
(SHAKIR VERSION): O you who believe! do not take My enemy and your enemy for friends: would you offer them love while they deny what has come to you of the truth, driving out the Messenger and yourselves because you believe in Allah, your Lord? If you go forth struggling hard in My path and seeking My pleasure, would you manifest love to them? And I know what you conceal and what you manifest; and whoever of you does this, he indeed has gone astray from the straight path.

(Shakir uses "friendship" for this verse, but the other two translations use "love" or a form of the word "love.") From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 60, Verse 007
(SHAKIR VERSION): It may be that Allah will bring about friendship between you and those whom you hold to be your enemies among them; and Allah is Powerful; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 60, Verse 008
(SHAKIR VERSION): Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allah loves the doers of justice.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 61, Verse 004
(SHAKIR VERSION): Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way in ranks as if they were a firm and compact wall.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 61, Verse 013
(SHAKIR VERSION): And yet another (blessing) that you love: help from Allah and a victory near at hand; and give good news to the believers.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 75, Verse 020
(SHAKIR VERSION): Nay! But you love the present life,

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 76, Verse 008
(SHAKIR VERSION): And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive:

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 76, Verse 027
(SHAKIR VERSION): Surely these love the transitory and neglect a grievous day before them.

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 85, Verse 014
(SHAKIR VERSION): And He is the Forgiving, the loving,

From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 89, Verse 020
(SHAKIR VERSION): And you love wealth with exceeding love.

Of man:
From the USC triple translation of the Qur’an: Chapter 100, Verse 008
(SHAKIR VERSION): And most surely he is tenacious in the love of wealth.


Following are the verses in which only one of three translators used the word "love": 2:93, 2:96, 2:105, 3:103, 3:152, 7:189, 12:8, 14:37, 21:90, 22:59, 24:22, 31:15, 38:32, 49:12, 50:23, 57:19, 69:35.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Quran: How Much Does It Rely on Fear? (Third Draft)

To help nail down the answer to that question, I decided to search the USC-MSA Quran database to see how many verses contain one or more of the following words:
hell, fire, boiling, punish, agony, pain, burn, perdition, doom, torment, suffer, woe, awful, terrible, horrible, scourge, warn, fear, retribution.
I found 1,027 unique verses each containing at least one of the above-italicized words. The Quran totals 6,220 verses (give or take ten or fifteen, depending on which of the five counting methods you use). I estimate that of the 1,027 verses linked below, about 500 to 600 contain threats of hell and divine punishment. Another 150 to 200 do not specifically mention divine punishment, but advise fear of Allah, or warn of Allah. And the remaining 250 or so (about 1 in 4 of the verses listed below) have little or nothing to do with divine punishment. (These numbers are extrapolations based on random sampling.)

If the estimate of 550 verses with distinct threats of hell/divine punishment is correct, that would mean the ratio of such verses to all other verses in the Quran is about one in eleven. When we consider that this ratio would go to one in nine if we add the 150 or so verses that do not mention punishment but warn of Allah or advise fear of Allah, and when we recall that the roughly 550 "hell threat" verses are not islands unto themselves, but involve preceding and following verses, it becomes apparent that a quite substantial portion of the Quran is concerned with threats of punishments in hell.

Here is an example of one of the more explicit (and sadistic) warnings:

From the USC-MSA triple translation of the Quran, Chapter 22, Verses 19, 20, 21, and 22:

(PICKTHAL version):
These twain (the believers and the disbelievers) are two opponents who contend concerning their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads,

Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted;

And for them are hooked rods of iron.

Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning.
The Quran's threats of hell usually do not go into this kind of sadistic detail. Instead we read again and again brief phrases referring to a "grievous and enduring punishment" after death, or to burning in "hell-fire" and so on.

What kind of doctrine is it that once in every eleven verses (on average) speaks of divine punishment or of hell? Are we to be good mainly because we are terrified of what someone will do to us if we are not good? Isn't it oddly crude of "God" to rely so strongly on this 'carrot and stick' (with a lot of stick) approach? Are we nothing more than animals to be controlled with the threat of pain and the promise of pleasure? (The Quran also speaks of beautiful couches, delicious food and drink, and gorgeous virgins for the righteous Muslim male after death.) What about the nobler possibilities within us? Our deepest desire, though we often lose touch with it, is to love and learn. Is it God who would drive us with whips and physical pleasures as if we were slaves or subhuman? Sounds more diabolical than divine. And what about 'love'? (I'll look into the Quran's statements on that subject in a future post.)

Here are links to the 1,027 verses I culled (through a database search for all verses with one or more of the words in the italicized word group at the top of this post) from the Quran's total of about 6,220 verses. Of the 1,027 below, I estimate about 500 to 600 contain distinct threats of hell/divine punishment, another 150 to 200 warn of Allah or advise fear of Allah, and the remaining 250 or so have nothing to do with hell/divine punishment:

002.002    002.006    002.007    002.010    002.017    002.019    002.024    002.038    002.039    002.040    002.041    002.049    002.057    002.062    002.063    002.066    002.074    002.079    002.080    002.081    002.085    002.090    002.096    002.104    002.112    002.114    002.119    002.126    002.150    002.155    002.162    002.165    002.166    002.167    002.174    002.175    002.176    002.177    002.178    002.189    002.194    002.195    002.196    002.197    002.201    002.203    002.206    002.217    002.221    002.223    002.229    002.231    002.233    002.239    002.243    002.257    002.262    002.266    002.274    002.275    002.277    002.278    002.279    002.281    002.282    002.283    002.284    002.286    003.004    003.010    003.012    003.016    003.021    003.024    003.028    003.030    003.050    003.056    003.073    003.077    003.088    003.091    003.102    003.103    003.105    003.116    003.123    003.128    003.130    003.131    003.138    003.151    003.162    003.170    003.173    003.175    003.176    003.177    003.178    003.181    003.183    003.185    003.188    003.191    003.192    003.195    003.197    003.198    003.200    004.003    004.009    004.010    004.014    004.016    004.018    004.025    004.030    004.034    004.035    004.037    004.039    004.055    004.056    004.077    004.083    004.093    004.097    004.101    004.104    004.113    004.115    004.119    004.121    004.131    004.138    004.140    004.145    004.151    004.161    004.169    004.173    005.002    005.003    005.004    005.007    005.008    005.010    005.011    005.018    005.028    005.029    005.031    005.033    005.036    005.037    005.041    005.044    005.046    005.049    005.052    005.054    005.057    005.060    005.064    005.069    005.072    005.073    005.080    005.088    005.094    005.095    005.096    005.100    005.108    005.112    005.115    005.118    006.015    006.016    006.019    006.027    006.030    006.031    006.048    006.049    006.051    006.063    006.069    006.070    006.072    006.080    006.081    006.092    006.093    006.128    006.139    006.148    006.151    006.157    007.002    007.009    007.012    007.018    007.034    007.035    007.036    007.038    007.039    007.041    007.044    007.047    007.049    007.050    007.056    007.059    007.063    007.065    007.069    007.073    007.100    007.127    007.136    007.141    007.154    007.164    007.167    007.170    007.171    007.179    007.185    007.201    008.001    008.002    008.011    008.012    008.014    008.016    008.025    008.026    008.029    008.032    008.033    008.034    008.035    008.036    008.037    008.048    008.050    008.056    008.057    008.058    008.068    008.069    009.003    009.013    009.014    009.017    009.018    009.020    009.024    009.028    009.034    009.035    009.039    009.040    009.049    009.052    009.055    009.061    009.063    009.064    009.066    009.068    009.073    009.074    009.079    009.081    009.085    009.086    009.090    009.095    009.101    009.106    009.109    009.113    009.115    009.119    009.120    009.122    009.123    010.002    010.004    010.006    010.008    010.011    010.015    010.027    010.050    010.052    010.054    010.062    010.070    010.083    010.088    010.097    010.098    011.002    011.003    011.008    011.012    011.015    011.016    011.017    011.020    011.026    011.039    011.048    011.058    011.063    011.064    011.067    011.070    011.072    011.074    011.076    011.078    011.083    011.084    011.089    011.093    011.094    011.095    011.098    011.101    011.103    011.106    011.113    011.115    011.116    011.119    012.013    012.025    012.056    012.075    012.090    012.092    013.005    013.012    013.017    013.018    013.021    013.025    013.032    013.034    013.035    013.041    014.002    014.006    014.007    014.014    014.016    014.017    014.021    014.022    014.028    014.029    014.030    014.043    014.044    014.047    014.050    015.005    015.018    015.027    015.043    015.050    015.053    015.069    015.073    015.079    015.083    016.002    016.026    016.029    016.033    016.045    016.047    016.050    016.051    016.052    016.061    016.062    016.063    016.077    016.085    016.088    016.094    016.104    016.106    016.112    016.113    016.117    016.126    017.005    017.008    017.010    017.015    017.016    017.018    017.031    017.039    017.040    017.054    017.057    017.058    017.059    017.060    017.063    017.082    017.097    017.098    017.099    017.100    017.102    017.105    018.002    018.004    018.006    018.029    018.030    018.042    018.049    018.052    018.053    018.055    018.058    018.086    018.087    018.096    018.100    018.102    018.106    019.005    019.018    019.037    019.039    019.045    019.059    019.068    019.075    019.079    019.086    019.097    020.003    020.010    020.011    020.021    020.044    020.045    020.046    020.047    020.048    020.061    020.067    020.068    020.074    020.077    020.087    020.088    020.097    020.112    020.113    020.119    020.127    021.014    021.018    021.028    021.029    021.039    021.045    021.046    021.049    021.068    021.069    021.087    021.090    021.097    021.098    021.102    022.001    022.002    022.004    022.009    022.018    022.019    022.021    022.022    022.025    022.035    022.044    022.047    022.048    022.051    022.055    022.057    022.060    022.072    023.023    023.032    023.041    023.043    023.052    023.057    023.060    023.103    023.104    024.002    024.004    024.011    024.014    024.016    024.023    024.034    024.035    024.037    024.050    024.052    024.055    024.057    025.011    025.015    025.018    025.019    025.021    025.028    025.034    025.037    025.040    025.042    025.065    025.069    026.011    026.012    026.014    026.091    026.094    026.106    026.108    026.110    026.115    026.124    026.126    026.131    026.132    026.135    026.142    026.144    026.150    026.156    026.158    026.161    026.163    026.177    026.179    026.184    026.189    026.201    026.204    026.214    027.007    027.008    027.010    027.021    027.087    027.089    027.090    028.007    028.018    028.021    028.025    028.029    028.030    028.031    028.032    028.033    028.034    028.038    028.041    028.046    028.061    028.064    028.080    029.010    029.016    029.023    029.024    029.025    029.029    029.033    029.036    029.040    029.053    029.054    029.055    029.068    030.016    030.024    030.028    030.031    030.044    030.047    031.006    031.007    031.021    031.024    031.033    032.003    032.013    032.014    032.016    032.020    032.022    033.001    033.008    033.019    033.024    033.032    033.037    033.039    033.055    033.057    033.061    033.064    033.066    033.068    033.070    033.073    034.005    034.008    034.012    034.014    034.017    034.023    034.033    034.038    034.042    034.045    034.046    035.006    035.007    035.010    035.018    035.026    035.028    035.032    035.036    035.045    036.006    036.010    036.011    036.045    036.052    036.063    036.064    036.070    036.080    037.009    037.010    037.020    037.023    037.031    037.033    037.038    037.039    037.047    037.055    037.056    037.057    037.063    037.064    037.067    037.068    037.097    037.101    037.123    037.124    037.127    037.133    037.139    037.163    037.171    037.176    037.181    038.008    038.014    038.022    038.026    038.027    038.041    038.056    038.057    038.058    038.059    038.061    038.064    038.076    038.085    039.008    039.010    039.013    039.016    039.019    039.020    039.022    039.023    039.024    039.025    039.026    039.032    039.037    039.040    039.047    039.054    039.055    039.056    039.058    039.060    039.071    039.072    040.003    040.005    040.006    040.007    040.010    040.015    040.018    040.022    040.025    040.026    040.030    040.032    040.037    040.041    040.043    040.045    040.046    040.047    040.048    040.049    040.060    040.072    040.076    040.084    040.085    041.006    041.013    041.016    041.017    041.019    041.020    041.023    041.024    041.027    041.028    041.030    041.040    041.043    042.007    042.016    042.018    042.021    042.022    042.026    042.042    042.044    042.045    043.025    043.039    043.041    043.048    043.050    043.055    043.063    043.065    043.068    043.074    044.003    044.011    044.012    044.015    044.016    044.030    044.045    044.046    044.047    044.048    044.056    045.007    045.008    045.009    045.010    045.011    045.014    045.034    046.012    046.013    046.015    046.017    046.020    046.021    046.024    046.029    046.031    046.034    046.035    047.004    047.008    047.012    047.015    047.020    048.006    048.013    048.016    048.017    048.027    049.001    049.010    049.012    050.019    050.024    050.026    050.030    050.042    050.045    051.010    051.013    051.014    051.028    051.037    051.055    051.060    052.007    052.009    052.010    052.011    052.013    052.014    052.016    052.018    052.026    052.027    052.029    054.006    054.016    054.018    054.021    054.030    054.036    054.046    054.048    055.015    055.035    055.043    055.044    055.046    056.005    056.019    056.042    056.046    056.054    056.071    056.072    056.093    056.094    057.013    057.015    057.019    057.028    058.004    058.005    058.008    058.009    058.013    058.015    058.016    058.017    059.007    059.013    059.016    059.017    059.018    059.020    059.021    060.011    061.010    064.005    064.010    064.016    065.001    065.002    065.004    065.009    065.010    066.006    066.009    066.010    067.005    067.006    067.007    067.010    067.011    067.012    067.017    067.018    067.026    067.028    068.027    068.031    068.044    068.048    069.005    069.031    070.001    070.015    070.027    070.028    071.001    071.003    071.013    071.025    071.028    072.009    072.013    072.015    072.017    072.023    073.012    073.013    074.002    074.017    074.019    074.020    074.026    074.027    074.031    074.035    074.042    074.053    074.056    075.029    075.034    075.035    076.004    076.007    076.010    076.031    077.006    077.012    077.015    077.019    077.024    077.028    077.029    077.034    077.037    077.040    077.045    077.047    077.049    078.002    078.021    078.025    078.027    078.030    078.040    079.019    079.025    079.036    079.039    079.040    079.045    080.009    080.017    081.006    081.012    082.014    082.015    083.001    083.005    083.010    083.016    084.002    084.005    084.011    084.012    084.024    085.004    085.005    085.006    085.010    087.010    087.012    088.004    088.005    088.024    089.013    089.023    089.025    090.020    091.015    092.014    096.018    098.006    098.008    100.002    101.001    101.002    101.003    101.011    102.006    104.001    104.006    106.004    107.004    111.001    111.003