ISLAM – THE RELIGION OF PEACE
Paul Zanetti is a Walkley award winning syndicated cartoonist with over 30 years in the media. He blogs at www.zanettisview.com
Each time we hear or see on our news deadly or violent events in the name of Islam, we are told by Muslims that ‘Islam is the Religion of Peace’. The Imams, Islamic scholars and Muslim spokespersons are quick to make the claim of 'peace'. Young Muslims call up radio talk-back to also make this claim.
It’s common after a violent act by a Muslim, to hear Muslim callers quote a selective passage from the Qur’an to demonstrate their teachings are peaceful, "our religion tells us to love everyone." (and yet other passages clearly teach that Muslims may not be a friend with the Christian or the Jew).
How can two opposing teachings both be right?
There are a couple of explanations.
Islam is like no other religion. Muslims are unlike any other religious followers.
It’s impossible for a non-Muslim to understand the rationale or belief system of Islam without studying the teachings of Islam as believer - or student.
Foremost it’s important to understand the life of the prophet Mohammed.
Mohammed was born around 1400 years ago (570AD) in Mecca, now a part of Saudi Arabia which, at that time was a collection of tribes in a dry, hot and inhospitable area.
Mecca was a tolerant town, home of many different religions including Jews and Christians. It was a sophisticated, successful, multi-cultural and multi-religious community.
Mohammed came from the nobility of Mecca, known as the Quraysh, and his clan was known as the Hashim.
The main God of the Quraysh was Allah, the Moon God, (which is why every Mosque has a crescent moon on top) although many other Gods were worshipped.
Because it was a holy place, fighting was not allowed in Mecca and disputes had to be settled outside of the town.
Mohammed's father died before he was born, and his mother died when he was just five.
He was raised by his grandfather, until he too died, so then his uncle, Abu Talib, took over his care.
Abu Talib was a powerful member of the Quraysh. He seems to have been a kindly figure who, while he was alive, protected Mohammed and treated him well.
The main business of the Quraysh was religion, though they also made money from trading.
When he grew up, Mohammed was hired by a wealthy widow named Khadija who traded with Syria. Mohammed managed the caravans and did the deals with the Syrians.
Syria was a Christian country at that time, and far more sophisticated and cosmopolitan than Arabia.
There were no books written in Arabic at that time.
Religious traditions were passed down by word-of-mouth, and the Christians and Jews were known as the ‘people of the book’ because they possessed written Scriptures.
Mohammed did well as a trader and made a good profit for Khadija.
After a while Khadija proposed marriage to him, and they had four daughters and two sons.
Because of his background, Mohammed was familiar with many different religions.
He was of course very familiar with the rituals of his own clan, the pagan Arabs of Mecca, many of whose rituals were later incorporated into Islam.
Since most religions were not written down, it was not uncommon for people to have different versions of each religion, or even to start their own type of worship.
To be a Muslim means to accept that Mohammed was the perfect Human Being.
His life is the example for all Muslims to follow in every way possible.
Of course not all Muslims are very successful in this endeavour but the level of devoutness of a Muslim is judged by how closely he follows Mohammed’s example and teachings.
This fact is not disputed in Islam, which is why it is so important to know his story. There is even a word to describe Mohammed’s behaviour, which is “Sunnah” , hence Sunni Muslim – as are the Islamic State (IS) Muslims – those who follow strictly the teachings, life and practices of the prophet Mohammed.
When he was around forty years old, Mohammed began to take month-long retreats, to pray and perform the religious practices of the Quraysh.
He began to have visions where he claims he was visited by the Angel Gabriel. He said Gabriel would show him Scriptures, and then tell him to recite them so he could teach them to his followers.
These would later be written down by his followers to become what is known today as the Qur’an (aka Koran).
His wife Khadija supported him, and became the first convert to the new religion of Islam, which in Arabic means “submission”.
Khadija was soon joined by Mohammed's adopted son and other family members.
Eventually others outside the family joined them. As Mohammed gained more followers he became more confident, until soon he began to preach quite openly from his new religion. In the beginning this didn’t cause a problem.
The Quraysh were very tolerant of different religions, as that was how they made their money. For them, more religion meant more money.
If Mohammed's new religion brought in more people to worship, all the better.
Things soon began to sour however, as the tone of Mohammed's teachings became steadily less tolerant.
Mohammed began to teach that his religion was the right one, which was okay, and all the other religions were false, which wasn’t.
He mocked the other religions and ridiculed their gods.
What was even worse for the Quraysh, was Mohammed’s claim that because their ancestors were not Muslims, they would burn in hell.
For the Quraysh whose ancestors were sacred, this was intolerable.
They begged him to stop doing this, and return to promoting his own religion without rubbishing theirs. When he refused, the Quraysh wanted to kill him. Unfortunately for them, Mohammed still enjoyed the protection of his powerful uncle, Abu Talib.
The Quraysh tried to offer his uncle inducements to hand over Mohammed so that they could kill him, but he steadfastly refused.
Mohammed was a charismatic confident preacher who gradually gained more followers, and this increased the divisions within the community. There were quarrels and constant bickering.
Mecca was a small town, and everybody knew everybody else's business.
What had once been a peaceful and profitable community was now split badly, between the Quraysh, and the new converts who were known as Muslims (which means those who have submitted).
Some of the less powerful Muslims and especially slaves who had converted, were treated quite badly by the Quraysh; however Mohammed's uncle was able to prevent serious harm from befalling any of them.
Some of the Meccans who converted were also among the strongest and most powerful members of the community, and gradually it became harder for the Quraysh to do anything about Mohammed.
Although he had called them stupid, insulted their gods, and claimed that their ancestors were burning in hell, they were unable to stop him.
The Quraysh tried to reason with Mohammed, and even tried to cut him a deal.
They offered him money or even the leadership of the tribe if he would just stop his preaching.
Mohammed refused, insisting that he was only the messenger of Allah, and had no choice in the matter.
Whilst he lived in Mecca, Mohammed was surrounded by enemies.
Although he made threats at that time, he was never violent. Now he was a political force and set about making good on those threats.
The Qur'an clearly reflects this change.
THE ‘TWO’ QUR'ANS
Scholars divide the Qur'an into the Qur'an of Mecca (1st) where Mohammed first lived and the Qur'an of Medina (2nd), to where he fled and worked on spreading Islam.
Because it is not arranged chronologically, this distinction is hard for a layman to recognise. Once you arrange the Qur'an in its correct chronological order however it becomes very clear.
From the Qur'an of Mecca:
88:21 Warn them, because you (Mohammed) are merely a warner. You have no authority over them, but whoever turns back and disbelieves, Allah will punish them terribly.
Compare this with the later Qur'an of Medina:
8:12 Then your Lord spoke to His angels and said, “I will be with you. Give strength to the believers. I will send terror into the kafir’s hearts, cut off their heads and even the tips of their fingers!”
This was because they opposed Allah and His messenger.
Ones who oppose Allah and His messenger will be severely punished by Allah.
We said, “This is for you! Taste it and know that the kafirs (non-Muslims) will receive the torment of the Fire.”
Mohammed made it clear that wherever there was a contradiction in the Koran; the earlier verse would be abrogated (cancelled out) by the later verse.
Since the Koran is not written in chronological order, it is impossible to understand it without knowing which verses have been abrogated.
Muslims often point to non-violent quotes from the Meccan Koran, but fail to point out that these verses have been abrogated by later ones.
As we have just seen, later verses of the Qur'an abrogate earlier ones, and yet we already know that the Qur'an is considered to be the perfect word of Allah.
In Western logic, when two things contradict each other, one of them must be wrong.
In Islamic logic however, two things can contradict each other and yet both be right. The Qur'an is the word of Mohammed, and Mohammed is perfect, so the Qur'an is perfect. No matter how versus contradict each other they must all be right because Mohammed is always right.
The Qur'an tells Muslims to follow the example of Mohammed but which example?
In Mecca, Mohammed never used violence against kafirs and in the very early days even showed some tolerance of other religions. (This is where you get the radio talk-back callers saying Islam is peaceful and tolerant).
Once in Medina, Mohammed used violence almost all the time to achieve his aims, and never showed any tolerance to kafirs at all. (This is where the violence, beheadings, suicide bombings, jihad etc comes from).
The Medina Qur'an is the later one and so abrogates the Meccan Qur'an, and yet the Meccan Qur'an is still valid because the Qur'an (and Mohammed) is perfect.
So a Muslim can follow either example, though the Medina example is better because it is later.
So how does a Muslim know which one to choose?
As usual we have to look at Mohammed’s example to know the answer.
In Mecca, Mohammed was not powerful, and was surrounded by enemies. During that time he preached some tolerance and non-violence.
When he went to Medina, he became powerful and used violence frequently to achieve his goals.
Mohammed’s example of how to behave is not consistent but varies according to circumstance.
When you are not in a position of power, be quiet and do not draw attention to yourself.
Use the time to build up strength and numbers until you become powerful enough to begin jihad.
This is Mohammed’s example or “Sunnah”, which comes from the hadith (Traditions of Mohammed) and The Sira (his official biography).
Mohammed divided the world into two parts, Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb.
Dar al Islam was the land of Islam, which had submitted and was ruled by sharia law.
Dar al Harb on the other hand was the land of war which was all the other parts of the globe.
Nations may not think that they are at war with Islam, but if they are not ruled by sharia law, then Islam is at war with them.
All Muslims are part of a nation known as The Ummah, which is always at war with all other non-Muslim nations.
Whilst hostilities may not be happening at a given moment, they are still technically at war, even though the ordinary Muslims may not know it. This is why the media refers to the 'moderate' Muslim and the 'extreme' Muslim.
It is only once the entire world is converted to sharia law by tolerant countries' institutions via economies through halal certification taxes, education systems, political parties and parliaments, welfare benefits, and jihad, that peace can finally be declared, hence 'Islam is the Religion of Peace'.
This returns us to the earlier point that the logic or definitions of the Muslim is different to the logic or definitions of the non-Muslim.
'Religion of Peace' may in fact be true to the Muslim, while different to the definition of the non-Muslim.
(Referenced and sourced with edited extracts from 'The Story Of Mohammed - Islam Unveiled' by Harry Richardson. An interesting easy to read primer in understanding the religion of peace.
Download from the website free in just a few seconds or buy the book from the author for just $6. This book has in just a few months reached the amazon.com (world's largest bookseller) 3rd highest ranking when searching for 'Islam'. It gets mostly a 5-star rating with excellent reader reviews.)
Harry Richardson in an English-born, now Australian based, author. He spent over 6 years studying Islam from the teachings of the Qur’an. The Sira and Hadiths, which together make up all the teachings of Islam. He has brilliantly compiled the references into an easy to read book of just 130 pages.