I know it’s not the smartest thing to do, moving from the swamp of politics to the quagmire of religion, but something has been bothering me for some time. After 9/11, as the signs of Islamaphobia began to appear, I was inundated with emails that had attachments warning of a world-wide religious war insidiously bent on destroying Western civilization, and the "Great Satan” America in particular. Some cooler heads differed and held that devout Muslims were not necessarily extremists. A very cursory reading of parts of the Koran led me to support the latter position. Now I just finished a novel that has me conflicted.
(From “The Last Patriot” by Brad Thor – a former member of the Department of Homeland Security)
“Muslims believe that the Koran is the complete and immutable word of God. To suggest anything else is considered blasphemy and an outright attack on Islam. Nevertheless, about a fifth of the Koran is filled with contradictions and incomprehensible passages that don’t make sense. For example, in the beginning of Mohammed’s career as a prophet in Mecca, Allah revealed to him through the Angel Gabriel the concept of living peacefully with Jews and Christians. Later when Mohammed, who had been shunned by the Jews and Christians, became a warlord and raised a powerful army in Medina, Allah supposedly revealed that it was every Muslim’s duty to subdue all non-Muslims and not rest until Islam was the dominant religion on the planet.”
“Part of the confusion comes from the fact that the Koran isn’t organized chronologically. It’s organized predominantly from the longest chapters, or suras, to the shortest. The peaceful verses from the beginning of Islam can therefore be found throughout. The problem is that the violent verses take precedent due to something called abrogation.”
“Basically, it says that if two verses in the Koran conflict, the later verse shall take precedent (it abrogates the previous verse). The most violent sutra in the Koran is the ninth. It is the only chapter in the Koran that doesn’t begin with the phrase known as the Basmala _ Allah the compassionate,the merciful. It contains verses like slay the idolaters wherever you find them and those who refuse to fight for Allah will be afflicted with a painful death and will go to hell, as well as calling for warfare against and the subjugation of all Jews and Christians.”
“Although it is the next-to-last chapter, it’s the last true set of instructions Mohammed left to his followers and it’s those verses that have been driving violence in the name of Islam ever since. The difficulty for peaceful Muslims who do not espouse violence is that they don’t have a contextual leg to stand on in their religion. When Mohammed said “go do violence” and when he himself committed violence, Muslims are not allowed to argue with that. In fact they are expected to follow his example.”
“Why - because Mohammed is viewed as the “perfect man” in Islam. His behavior – every thing he ever said or did – is above reproach and is held as the model for Muslims to follow. Basically, Islam teaches that the more a Muslim is like Mohammed, the better off he or she will be”
The author of this novel contends that everything included above is based on fact. The book, through its plot and fictitious characters’ also expresses the author’s opinion that there is a “campaign by Muslim extremists to destroy Western civilization from within – quietly, peacefully; even legally.” And then describes the means and methods being used.
My curiosity now aroused I naturally went to the internet and found a ton of information on this –both pro and con. One interesting position was the first one listed when I Googled “Koran Abrogations”. If you’ve not been exposed to this issue as was my case, it’s an eye opening read:
Here is another interesting observation, according to the author; America fought its first war against Islamic extremists. Additional quotes from “The Patriot”:
“….Thomas Jefferson was the first American president to have gone to war against fundamentalist Islam. Jefferson was convinced that one day Islam would return and pose an even greater threat to America.”
“Most Americans were unaware of the fact that over two hundred years ago, the United States had declared war on Islam, and Thomas Jefferson had led the charge. At the height of the eighteenth century Muslim pirates were the terror of the Mediterranean and a significant swath of the North Atlantic. They attacked every ship in sight and held the crews for exorbitant ransoms. The hostages were subjected to barbaric treatment and wrote desperate, heart-wrenching letters home begging their governments and family members to pay whatever their Mohammedan captors demanded.”
“These extortionists of the high seas represented the Islamic nations of Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers – collectively referred to as the Barbary Coast – and presented a dangerous and unprovoked threat to the new American republic. In 1784, seventeen years before he would become president, Jefferson left for Paris to become America’s Minister in France. That same year, the United States Congress sought to appease the Muslim adversaries by following in the footsteps of European nations who paid bribes to the Barbary States, rather than engaging them head-on in war.”
“In July of 1785, Algerian pirates captured two American ships and the Dey of Algiers demanded an unheard-of ransom of nearly $60,000. It was extortion, plain and simple, and Jefferson, now U.S. Minister in France, was vehemently opposed to any further payments. Instead, he proposed to Congress the formation of a coalition of allied nations who together could force the Islamic states into perpetual peace…but, Congress was disinterested in Jefferson’s plan and decided to pay the ransom. In 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with Tripoli’s ambassador to Great Britain to ask him by what right his nation attacked American ships and enslaved American citizens. He claimed that the right was founded on the laws of their prophet and that it was written in the Koran that all nations who didn’t acknowledge their authority were sinners and that it was not only their right and duty to make war upon these sinners wherever they could be found, but to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Muslim slain in battle was guaranteed a place in Paradise.”
“Despite this stunning admission of premeditated violence on non-Muslim nations, as well as the objections of numerous notable Americans, including George Washington, who warned that caving in was both wrong and would further embolden their enemy, the United States Congress continued to buy off the Barbary Muslims with bribes and ransom money.”
“They paid Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers upwards of one million dollars a year over the next fifteen years, which by 1800 amounted to twenty percent of the United States Government’s annual revenues. Jefferson was disgusted. To add insult to injury, when he was sworn in as the third president of the United States in 1801, the pasha of Tripoli sent him a note demanding an immediate payment of $225,000 plus $25,000 a year for every year thereafter.”
“Jefferson let the pasha know, in no uncertain terms, what he could do with his demand. The pasha responded by chopping down the flagpole in front of the U.S. Consulate and declaring war on the United States. Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers immediately followed suit.”
"Jefferson had been against America raising a naval force for anything beyond coastal defense, but having watched his nation cowed by Islamic thuggery for long enough, he decided that it was finally time to meet force with force.”
“He dispatched a squadron of frigates to the Mediterranean to teach the Muslim nations of the Barbary Coast a lesson they would never forget. Congress authorized Jefferson to empower U.S. ships to seize all vessels and goods of the pasha of Tripoli and to ‘cause to be done all other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war would justify.’”
“The war with Tripoli raged for four more years and flared up once more in 1815. The bravery of the United States Marine Corps in these wars led to the line ‘to the shores of Tripoli’ in the Marine hymn and they would ever after be known as ‘leathernecks’ for the leather collars of their uniforms that prevented their heads from being chopped off by Muslim scimitars when boarding their ships.”
“Islam, and what its Barbary followers justified doing in the name of their prophet and their god, disturbed Jefferson deeply. America had a tradition of religious tolerance, in fact Jefferson himself had coauthored the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, but fundamentalist Islam was like no other religion the world had ever seen. A religion based upon supremacism whose holy book not only condoned but mandated violence against unbelievers was unacceptable to him.”
“Jefferson wasn’t anti-Islam. He was anti-Islamist. There’s a distinction. He didn’t give a damn whether his neighbor claimed there were twenty Gods or no God, as long as the man neither picked his pocket nor broke his leg. Fundamentalist Islam, though, picks pockets and breaks legs and that’s why Jefferson had to find a way to stop it. He was the father of separation of church and state, after all.”
“But the underlying problem with fundamentalist Islam is that it is both political and religious. It teaches that the two cannot be separated. The Islamists believe that man-made laws are inferior and must be replaced with God-given Islamic or sharia law and that all governments worldwide should be Islamic.”
Here are some of questions this brings to mind and that are bothersome to me:
1. Are we in a war against “terrorists” or should we more accurately define it as being against Islamists or, better yet, Islamic Extremists?
2. Why do Muslims not react with a greater hue and cry against these extremists of theirs and their terrible actions? Such reaction may exist but I haven’t seen any sign of it in the popular media. I thought it was silly of New Yorkers to be hostile to the proposed mosque within a few blocks of ground zero but I also found it disturbing that its Imam did not equivocate in saying he’ll build it wherever he wants to. Another strange and disturbing Muslim action or reaction was what happened when that nutty preacher burned the Koran. Their rioting, flag burning and violence that resulted in injury and death. Other than what happened in the Middle Ages, have Christians and Americans ever reacted that way when bibles and flags have been burned by others? I don’t think so.
3. How is it possible for a Muslim to follow the teaching of their religion and not be an extremist?
4. Do the Bible or the Torah contain abrogations and inconsistencies? As a matter of fact they do, at least many feel so although these conflicts in language are not as violent as those found in the Koran; a noted one in the Bible concerns the issue of divorce. On the other hand, some scholars feel the Koran does not abrogate the Bible! This is getting weird but Google “Bible Abrogations” and read some interesting stuff.
5. So, if a Muslim is a true believer in Islam’s contradictory Koran must he or she be a violent extremist and if a Christian is a true believer in the Bible must he or she be unable to divorce their spouse? I don’t get it!