Recently I explained how, by Muslims’ own (inadvertent) logic, various Koran verses stand to be banned on the basis that they defame and incite violence against non-Muslims. Two days later, the French newspaper Le Monde published a letter signed by some 300 French public figures across party lines, including former president Nicolas Sarkozy. In it, they “ask that the verses of the Qur’an calling for the killing and punishment of Jews, Christians and unbelievers be obsoleted by theological authorities.”
Titled “Manifesto Against the New Anti-Semitism,” the signed letter focuses especially on the rise of Muslim violence against France’s Jewish minority:
French Jews are 25 times more likely to be attacked than their fellow Muslims. 10% of the Jewish citizens of Ile-de-France — that is to say about 50,000 people — were recently forced to move because they were no longer safe in some cities and because their children could not attend the schools of the Republic anymore. This is a low-noise ethnic cleansing …
Of course, the notion that Muslims will willingly strike out certain verses from the Koran because they upset or threaten infidels is a nonstarter.
From a Muslim perspective, because the Koran is Allah’s word, it cannot be tampered with or altered in any way. If Sarkozy, et al made these claims in certain Muslim countries, they would either be incarcerated on blasphemy charges or killed outright.
But while more forthright Muslims base their rejection of the French call on this simple fact, those more skilled in “dialoguing” with the West follow a different strategy.
Enter Al Azhar. Located in Cairo and attached to the government of Egypt, it is the Muslim world’s most prestigious “university” (that is, madrassa) and regularly hosts — and engages in “dialogue” with — the likes of Barack Obama and Pope Francis. Responding to the French letter, the deputy chief of Al Azhar, Dr. ‘Abbas Shuman, said:
The call from 300 French persons to freeze verses in the Noble Koran, which they claim urges the killing of non-Muslims, is unjustifiable and unacceptable. (emphasis added)
And if that wasn’t clear enough, he exclaimed:
No to freezing one letter from the Koran — and those calling for it can go to hell!
As usual, however, whereas entities such as the Islamic State proudly embrace the fact that the Koran does call for enmity and violence directed against non-Muslims, Al Azhar went into apologetic mode:
For we have no verses that command the killing of others, unless they commit one of the crimes that do earn the death penalty, such as murder, or raising weapons against us. Nor are we responsible for those [e.g., ISIS] who do not correctly understand the verses, who take them at face value without referring to the tafasir [exegeses] of the ulema.
Perhaps he had forgotten Koran 9:29:
Fight those among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden [i.e., embrace sharia law], and who do not embrace the religion of truth [Islam], until they pay the jizya [extortion money] with willing submissiveness and feel themselves utterly subdued.
All authoritative exegeses see this verse as enshrining Islam’s “messianic” mission of subjugating infidels by force.
Not only is Allah’s command here rather straightforward in meaning, but for a millennium, Muslims executed it — and conquered some three-quarters of the original Western world in the process (as recounted in my new book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West).
It is only now, when Muslims are militarily/economically weaker than and vulnerable to the Western world, that claims that such verses don’t really mean what they say have become popular among Muslims.
Especially those involved in “dialogue” with the West.