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VICTORY Is Not Defeat

Speculation About Selectivity


Speculative has speculated again. His speculation is reproduced here, my response follows beneath the horizontal rule.

Who Needs Sound Methodology and Rigor? Wait…aaah…

A blog I monitor Freedom Aint Free challenged my interpretations of jihad and shahadat (martyrdom) in Islam. His response to my earlier post.

Unfortunately for Mr. dajjal’s argument, selectively copying and pasting snippets from various Islamic texts is simply not a sound methodology for understanding any religion or philosophy.

I am no Islamist apologist, and I won’t pretend that Islam is not dangerously misinterpreted by many Muslims. Nor do I ignore the presence of problematic ahadith (prophetic traditions) and confusing ayat (Qur’anic verses) on the issue of jihad. As I state in my post, jihad and its equivalent is mentioned approximately 35 times in the Qur’an [4 clearly war-like, 11 pacific, and 20 which can be interpreted (especially if one truly understands the problems of direct English to Arabic translation) either way], and there are numerous ahadith (as he posts very often) from al-Bukhari and Muslim. As I don’t just dabble in Islamic thought, I am very aware of these issues.

At first glance I see his argument extremely weak in numerous areas. For instance: the complete message of the Qur’an and ahadith; the idea of naskh (abrogation) in the Qur’an; the importance of the differences between the madhahib (schools of Islamic jurisprudence); the differences between different fuqaha (Islamic jurists) opinion even within each particular madhahib; the historical context of when the Qur’an was “revealed”; the differences between modern practiced Islam and that of the salaf al-salih (the Prophet, his companions, and the next 2 generations after him); his reliance on ahadith which has its many historical problems; his obvious Arabic translation errors, making it clear he does not actually know Arabic so he relies on other’s translations; and the unstated assumption that there remains a single Islamic Consciousness. I could go on…

But to keep this short I will focus where I find the most weakness: his methodology. When one is supposedly informing an audience about something as important as the main tenets of the 2nd most practiced religion in the world, it is critically important to look at the whole picture.

‘Picking and choosing’ is simply not a scrupulous methodology, particularly when it is used to discredit a religion as wholly one thing or another. There is no rigor.

It is very true and undeniable that jihad as ‘war’ is in the Qur’an and ahadith. But these verses must be squared with the numerous other ayat that restrict fighting to self-defense only (2:190-2), declare themes like the diminishing of all mankind by the murder of one single human being (5.32), or the call for religious pluralism (to use a modern term, 2.135, 2.213, 2.285, 3.84, 5.48) and freedom of religion (2.256). The hadith collections too contain an abundance of peaceful traditions of the Prophet that confirm these ideas of morality and pluralism (for instance, al-Bukhari, 9/83/10).

My point here is not to argue the antithesis directly by selecting ayat that fit my ideology – just as radical Islamists, apologists, or Mr. dajjal does – but instead to demonstrate the problem with his epistemology. To ‘pick and choose’ ayat in order to promote God-sanctioned violence (like violent jihadiyya do) and to ‘pick and choose’ ayat in order to discredit Islam, is two sides of the same coin. Thus, two apparently antithetical agendas come together in their methodology. Mr. dajjal props up the Islamists’ interpretations, while simultaneously bolstering the methodology of the apologist, who is selective about his “Islam is peace [only]” argument.

The ayat al-jihad must be read alongside of the ayat al-salam (peace) [and the ayat al-’adalah (justice) and ayat al-tawadu (humility), etc.]. Mr. dajjal recommends to “read the sources carefully” – I wholeheartedly agree and add that one must also read the sources in their entirety before drawing such conclusions.

I end this post with something to think about: The ayah declaring Muslims to enjoin right and forbid wrong (7.157). This is THE essential factor within the faith and determines other behaviors, including jihad. Jihad does not abrogate this decree, nor does this ayah abrogate jihad, instead (as per a modern, mainstream understanding of the central function of Islam) maxims enjoined within the context of jihad must conform to this ethical principle (Morabia, 1993; Cook, 2000). This is where the Islamists, the apologists, and the “whistle blowers”, like Mr. dajjal, get it flat wrong.

January 1, 2008 Posted by Jaime | Islamophobia, jihad and shahadat | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments


  • selectively copying and pasting snippets from various Islamic texts is simply not a sound methodology for understanding any religion or philosophy.

Dealt with in this previous blog post:  Cherry Picking: Selective Quotation; A False Accusation.
I will quote one relevant citation from that post.

Lets consult  Ibn Kathir’s Tafsir concerning this ayeh: The Mutashabihat and Muhkamat Ayat

  • The Muhkamat are the Ayat that explain the abrogating rulings, the allowed, prohibited, laws, limits, obligations and rulings that should be believed in and implemented. As for the Mutashabihat Ayat, they include the abrogated Ayat, parables, oaths, and what should be believed in, but not implemented.

The reference is to 3:7.

3:7. It is He Who has sent down to you (Muhammad ) the Book (this Qur’ân). In it are Verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book [and those are the Verses of Al-Ahkâm (commandments, etc.), Al-Farâ’id (obligatory duties) and Al-Hudud (legal laws for the punishment of thieves, adulterers, etc.)]; and others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation (from the truth) they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah (polytheism and trials, etc.), and seeking for its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings save Allâh. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole of it (clear and unclear Verses) are from our Lord.” And none receive admonition except men of understanding. (Tafsir At-Tabarî).

That leaves us with  major problems.

  1. The Qur’an has internal contradictions.
  2. There may be errors in translation.

The first problem is solved by naskh: the science of abrogation.  Naskh requires knowing the sequence of revelation. Unfortunately, the Qur’an is not in chronological order, so we  are dependent on subjective and speculative sequential lists.

The second problem can  be solved by comparing ayat & observing what Moe said and did when he was not revealing Allah’s word.  Unfortunately, the Sira & Sunnah were transmitted in the same way the Qur’an was; from mouth to ear. They therefore carry the same weakness of reliability.  We are dependent on the Muhaddithin and the Qadi who studied the Quran & Hadith and compiled Tafsirs which explain the meaning of the Qur’an.

Is Islam peaceful or violent?  What ayeh answers this question better than Al-Taubah 29?
Bear in mind the fact that I do not recognize even a single character of the Arabic language. I am dependent on translations.  The translation I generally use was commissioned by the K.S.A. and incorporates commentary from several tafsirs. It was translated by Hilali & Khan. There are other translations, some older, some newer, some by Muslims, others by Kuffar. Comparing them should give us a clue to their accuracy. Results from http://www.quranbrowser.com.

Verse Translations

Two of these translations stand out from the rest: Khalifa says “fight back”, and Rodwell says “make war upon”. Khalifa implies defensive Jihad and he omits the element of humiliation common to the other translations. . But look at the terminal condition:  “until they pay the due tax, willingly or unwillingly.”  By what stretch of the imagination is fighting to collect a tax defensive?

Here is Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s commentary.

v.29 : Jizya: the root meaning is compensation. The derived meaning, which became the technical meaning, was a poll-tax levied from those who did not accept Islam, but were willing to live under the protection of Islam, and were thus tacitly willing to submit to its ideals being enforced in the Muslim State. There was no amount permanently fixed for it. It was in acknowledgment that those whose religion was tolerated would in their turn not interfere with the preaching and progress of Islam. Imam Shafi’i suggests one dinar per year, which would be the Arabian gold dinar of the Muslim States. The tax varied in amount, and there were exemptions for the poor, for females and children (according to Abu Hanifa), for slaves, and for monks and hermits. Being a tax on able- bodied males of military age, it was in a sense a commutation for military service. But see the next note.
* ’An Yadin (literally, from the hand) has been variously interpreted. The hand being the symbol of power and authority. I accept the interpretation “in token of willing submission.” The Jizya was thus partly symbolic and partly a commutation for military service, but as the amount was insignificant and the exemptions numerous, its symbolic character predominated. See the last note.

Ali would have us believe that  Jizya is just another tax, in lieu of military service. He wants us to overlook  one fatal fact: Jizya is only imposed upon “people of the book” who are conquered by  or surrender to Islam.

Hilali & Khan are slightly more honest, if not more direct.

(V.9:29) a) See the footnote of (V.2:193)
b) Narrated Abû Hurairah رضي الله عنه : Allâh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “The Hour will not be established untill you fight against the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him’ ” (Sahih Al-Bukhâri, Vol. 4, Hadîth No.177)
c) Jizyah a tax levied from the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians), who are under the protection of a Muslim government. 

What’s in that reference to Al-Baqarah?

(A) (V.2:193) Narrated Ibn ‘Umar رضي الله عنهما: Allâh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “I have been ordered (by Allâh) to fight against the people till they testify that Lâ ilâha illallâh wa Anna Muhammad-ur-Rasûl Allâh (none has the right to be worshipped but Allâh عز وجل and that Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم is the Messenger of Allâh), and perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât) and give Zakât , so if they perform all that, then they save their lives, and properties from me except for Islâmic laws, and their reckoning (accounts) will be with (done by) Allâh.” (Sahih Al-Bukhâri, Vol.1, Hadîth No.24).
(B) See (V.8:39) and its footnote.

What’s in that reference to Al-Anfal?

(V.8:39) It is mentioned by some of the Islâmic religious scholars that, that will be at the time when ‘Îsâ (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) عليهما السلام, will descend on the earth, and he will not accept any other religion except Islâm – The True Religion of Allâh – Islâmic Monotheism).
[2] (V.8:39)
A) See the footnote of (V.2:193).
B) Narrated Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه: Allâh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “By Him (Allâh) in whose Hand my soul is, surely, the son of Maryam (Mary) [‘Îsâ (Jesus)] عليهما السلامwill shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims), and will judge mankind justly by the Law of the Qur’ân (as a just ruler), and will break the cross and kill the pigs and abolish the Jizyah [a tax taken from the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) who are under the protection of a Muslim government. This Jizyah tax will not be accepted by ‘Îsâ (Jesus) عليه السلام and all mankind will be required to embrace Islâm with no other alternative]. Then there will be abundance of money and nobody will accept charitable gifts.” (See Fath Al-Bari, Vol. 7, Pages No.304 and 305 for details). (Sahih Al-Bukhâri, Vol.3 Hadîth No.425).

A lot of good that does us.  Perhaps Muhammad Taqu Uthmani will be more forthcoming, after all, he was a Supreme Court Justice.

[9:29]
Fight those People of the Book who do not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day, and do not take as unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have declared as unlawful, and do not profess the Faith of Truth; (fight them) until they pay jizyah with their own hands while they are subdued.

Nope!  Just a straight translation without explanation.  Lets turn to Ibn Kathir; The Order to fight People of the Scriptures until They give the Jizyah. [Emphasis added.]

(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.

Ordered? Commanded? Where did Ibn Kathir get such far fetched ideas? Could it be from Al-Taubah 29?  “Fight those, ”
” Fight against”, “Make war upon”.  Those are imperative statements are they not?  How did Muhammad interpret them?  We’ll consult Bukhari’s Sahih collection first.

Volume 1, Book 8, Number 387:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

Allah’s Apostle said, “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.’ And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah.” Narrated Maimun ibn Siyah that he asked Anas bin Malik, “O Abu Hamza! What makes the life and property of a person sacred?” He replied, “Whoever says, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’, faces our Qibla during the prayers, prays like us and eats our slaughtered animal, then he is a Muslim, and has got the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have.”

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 196:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah ‘s Apostle said, ” I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,’ and whoever says, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,’ his life and property will be saved by me except for Islamic law, and his accounts will be with Allah, (either to punish him or to forgive him.)”

Volume 9, Book 84, Number 59:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

When the Prophet died and Abu Bakr became his successor and some of the Arabs reverted to disbelief, ‘Umar said, “O Abu Bakr! How can you fight these people although Allah’s Apostle said, ‘I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, ‘and whoever said, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’, Allah will save his property and his life from me, unless (he does something for which he receives legal punishment) justly, and his account will be with Allah?’ “Abu Bakr said, “By Allah! I will fight whoever differentiates between prayers and Zakat as Zakat is the right to be taken from property (according to Allah’s Orders). By Allah! If they refused to pay me even a kid they used to pay to Allah’s Apostle, I would fight with them for withholding it.” ‘Umar said, “By Allah: It was nothing, but I noticed that Allah opened Abu Bakr’s chest towards the decision to fight, therefore I realized that his decision was right.”

A search for “commanded to fight” turns up two matching records in Sahih Muslim.

Book 001, Number 0030:

It is reported on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah, and he who professed it was guaranteed the protection of his property and life on my behalf except for the right affairs rest with Allah.

Book 001, Number 0033:

It has been narrated on the authority of Abdullah b. ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer, and pay Zakat and if they do it, their blood and property are guaranteed protection on my behalf except when justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah.

Book 005, Number 2333:

Zaid b. Wahb Jahani reported and he was among the squadron which wall under the command of Ali (Allah be pleased with him) and which set out (to curb the activities) of the Khwarij. ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said: 0 people, I heard the Messeinger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: There would arise from my Ummah a people who would recite the Qur’an, and your recital would seem insignificant as compared with their recital, your prayer as compared with their prayer, arid your fast, as compared with their fast. They would recite the Qur’an thinking that it sup- ports them, whereas it is an evidence against them. Their prayer does not get beyond their collar bone; they would swerve through Islam just as the arrow passes through the prey. If the squadron which is to encounter them were to know (what great boon) has been assured to them by their Apostle (may peace be upon him) they would completely rely upon this deed (alone and cease to do other good deeds), and their (that of the Khwarij) distinctive mark is that there would be (among them) a person whose wrist would be without the arm, and the end of his wrist would be fleshy like the nipple of the breast on which there would be white hair. You would be marching towards Muawiya and the people of Syria and you would leave them behind among your children and your property (to do harm). By Allah, I believe that these are the people (against whom you have been commanded to fight and get reward) for they have shed forbidden blood, and raided the animals of the people. So go forth in the name of Allah (to fight against them). Salama b. Kuhail mentioned that Zaid b. Wahb made me alight at every stage, till we crossed a bridge. ‘Abdullah b. Wahb al-Rasibi was at the head of the Khwarij when we encountered them. He (‘Abdullah) said to his army: Throw the spears and draw out your swords from their sheaths, for I fear that they would attack you as they attacked you on the day of Harura. They went back and threw their spears and drew out their swords, and people fought against them with spears and they were killed one after another. Only two persons were killed among the people (among the army led by Hadrat ‘Ali) on that day. ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him) said: Find out from among them (the dead bodies of the Khwarij) (the maimed). They searched but did not find him. ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him) then himself stood up and (walked) till he came to the people who had been killed one after another. He (‘Ali) said: Search them to the last, and then (‘Ali’s companions) found him (the dead body of the maimed) near the earth. He (Hadrat ‘Ali) then pronounced Allah-O-Akbar (Allah is the Greatest) and then said, Allah told the Truth and His Messenger (may peace be upon him) conveyed it. Then there stood before him ‘Abida Salmani who said: Commander of the Believers, by Allah, besides Whom there is no god but He, (tell me) whether you heard this hadith from the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him). He said: Yes, by Allah, besides Whom there is no god but He. He asked him to take an oath thrice and he took the oath.

Why did Muhammad say that he was commanded or ordered to fight?  Why did he declare the lives and property of Kuffar to be forfeit until they submit to Islam?

8:39  commands Muslims to fight Pagans until only Allah is worshiped. 9:29 commands Muslims to fight “people of the book” until they are subjugated and extorted. 2:191 says “kill them wherever you find them” and “Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.”  2:193 says ” fight them until there is no more Fitnah” and ” worship is for Allâh.   2:216 says : “Jihâd  is ordained for you“. 9:73 says “O Prophet (Muhammad )! Strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be harsh against them, their abode is Hell, – and worst indeed is that destination.”  9:111 says “Allâh has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for the price that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allâh’s Cause, so they kill (others) and are killed. ”  61:10…13 makes that crystal clear:  “Shall I guide you to a commerce that will save you from a painful torment. “… ” that you strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allâh with your wealth and your lives,“… “He will forgive you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow, and pleasant dwelling in Gardens “… “and a near victory” … .

What is the basis of Islamic law, if not Qur’an & Hadith? What does Fiqh  say about this subject? Al Misri’s Reliance leaves no doubt!

O-9.8: The Objectives of Jihad
The caliph (o-25) makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians (N: provided he has first invited them to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya, def: o-11.4) -which is the significance of their paying it, not the money itself-while remaining in their ancestral religions) (O: and the war continues) until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax (O: in accordance with the word of Allah Most High,
“Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and who forbid not what Allah and His messenger have forbidden-who do not practice the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book-until they pay the poll tax out of hand and are humbled” (Koran 9.29), … 

“The caliph makes war”!  What is that ruling based on?  Why did Al-Shafi’i rule that the Imam must mount at least one expedition against Kuffar in every year?  Why did Al Ghazali make a similar ruling?

This ain’t cherry picking, its pattern matching. What Muhammad said in Allah’s name, what he said on his own accord, and what he did  form a congruent pattern. The Hadith confirm and reinforce the Qur’an.  Islamic history is one conquest after another. Why is that?  Those who have blinded themselves can’t see the pattern!


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January 2, 2008 - Posted by | Religion | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. The table of ayat did not work as intended. At http://www.quranbrowser.com, click the Select All button, enter 9:29 and hit the Search button.

    Comment by dajjal | January 3, 2008 | Reply


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