FrontPageMagazine.com | 4/18/2008
(Also published, together with other debates, in Edip Yuksel’s Peacemaker’s Guide to Warmongers, by Brainbow Press)
The organization Muslims Against Sharia is creating a new Koran with the violent verses removed. How legitimate and wise is this action? There is an effort in Turkey, for instance, to also revise Islamic texts. What real hope can these acts offer to bring Islam into the modern and democratic world? To discuss this issue with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel. Our guests are:
Khalim Massoud, the president of Muslims Against Sharia, an Islamic reform movement.
Edip Yuksel, a Kurdish-Turkish-American author and progressive activist who spent four years in Turkish prisons in the 1980′s for his political writings and activities promoting an Islamic revolution in Turkey. He experienced a paradigm change in 1986 transforming him from a Sunni Muslim leader to a reformed Muslim or rational monotheist.
Thomas Haidon, a Muslim commentator on human rights, counter-terrorism and Islamic affairs. He is active in the Qur’anist movement and works with a number of Islamic reform organisations as an advisor. He has provided guidance to several governments on counter-terrorism issues and his works have been published in legal periodicals, and other media. Mr. Haidon has also provided advice to and worked for United Nations agencies in Sudan and Indonesia.
Abul Kasem, an ex-Muslim who is the author of hundreds of articles and several books on Islam including, Women in Islam. He was a contributor to the book Leaving Islam – Apostates Speak Out as well as to Beyond Jihad: Critical Views From Inside Islam.
Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Religion of Peace?
Bill Warner, the director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam (CSPI) and spokesman for politicalislam.com.CSPI’s goal is to teach the doctrine of political Islam through its books and it has produced an eleven book series on political Islam. Mr. Warner did not write theCSPI series, but he acts as the agent for a group of scholars who are the authors. The Center’s latest book is The Submission of Women and Slaves, Islamic Duality.
FP: Khalim Massoud, Abul Kasem, Edip Yuksel, Thomas Haidon, Bill Warner and Robert Spencer, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.
Khalim Massoud, let’s begin with you.
Your group Muslims Against Sharia is creating a new Koran with the violent verses removed. Tell us about this effort and what you hope to achieve and how realistic you think it is.
MASSOUD: Thank you Jamie.
We don’t look at it as a new Koran, but rather a reversion to the original. We base it on three premises:
* God is infallible
* God is the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
* The Koran contains contradictory verses
We believe that unless you are a fundamentalist Muslim, a pagan or an atheist (and there is nothing wrong with being a pagan or an atheist), you would agree with all three premises.
If two verses in the Koran contradict each other, then at least one of them could not have possibly come from God because it would contradict the doctrine of God’s infallibility. And because God is the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate, the peaceful verse could come from God and the violent could not.
If you are a Muslim and you follow our logic, you would agree with us. So what we are trying to achieve is to educate Muslims that the doctrine of Islamic supremacy is not divine, but rather a perversion put in the Koran by nefarious people to fit their agendas. Once we get rid of Islamic superiority doctrine, which is the cornerstone of all evil in Islam, Islam once again could become peaceful, loving, enlightened religion as we believe God has intended.
As to how realistic it is, it really depends on how many Muslims we can reach and on the position, which will be taken by non-Muslims. Unfortunately Western governments and media chose to embrace Western Muslim establishment, which overwhelmingly comprised of Islamists masquerading as moderates, thereby ignoring true moderates by default. It is beyond me why most of the Westerners ignore Islamists’ terrorist ties and believe their words that clearly contradict their actions. The latest example of this madness is URJ-ISNA alliance. If this is the direction the West is heading, no matter what we do will fail.
FP: Sorry, with all due respect, I am a bit confused about the business of humans moulding God into their own image. Who says that contradictory messages can’t come from God? Who says that peaceful verses have to come form God and not the violent ones? What human is the arbiter of these things? What’s the process here? You leaf through the Koran and on your own whim say: “No God could have possibly said that, so I’ll just strike that out.” etc.?
And if God is only peaceful in your view, and therefore incapable of making violent commands, then how do you explain the life of Muhammad? Are you going to strike the proven facts of Muhammad’s life out of the historical record like you are doing with the verses of the Koran?
I ask the panel, and our readers, to look at the historical records outlined by Bill Warner and Abul Kasem about Muhammad’s life. I would like you, Mr. Massoud, and then the rest of the panel, to explain how this fits with reversing the Koran to its “original” — or to the reality of a peaceful Allah. If the Koran was intended to be peaceful from the very beginning, then how do we explain these aspects of Muhammad’s life?
MASSOUD: Contradictory messages cannot come from God (the God, not a God), because God is infallible. If we assume that God is fallible, then he ceases to be a Supreme Being.
We believe that God is a loving God, that’s why we believe that only peaceful verses can come from him. Jihadis believe that violent verses come from him. That’s the difference between us and Jihadis. We love our God and they are terrified of theirs.
In regards to proven historical facts about Prophet Muhammad’s life, let’s consider this. We all know, or at least we think we do, that Muhammad was illiterate, therefore he did not write anything himself. The Koran, the Sira, and the Ahadith were written by people, most of whom weren’t even Muhammad’s contemporaries. So we are talking about oral tradition that went from one person to another for dozens, and in some cases hundreds of years before it was actually put in writing. Then, there was more than a millennium for those writings to be changed.
Now, let’s consider the events of September 11, the most documented event in the history of humanity. Just several years after the events, it is quite easy to find many different “historical” versions of what “really” happened, including some versions that are diametrically opposed to each other. So the statement like “proven historical facts” is at the very least a stretch. Having said that, I would like to emphasize that we believe that Muhammad was God’s messenger, which does not make him a perfect human being. It is quite possible that he did all the things that he is accused of. We also need to consider that norms of today’s society are very different from the norms of many centuries ago. Slavery, polygamy, pedophilia, gender discrimination, etc., are not unique to the Seventh century Arabia. We can find all of that in the religious texts preceding the Koran.
FP: I don’t know, perhaps maybe I am missing something here, but I don’t understand how people can arrogate the authority to themselves to explain who God is, what he is and how he behaves and how he thinks. Contradictory messages cannot come from God? Really? Who decides this exactly? What happens if they can and they do? What happens if our minds are so tiny that we interpret something to be a contradiction which in God’s grand design is not a contradiction at all?
In terms of Muhammad, I don’t get it either: so now Islam’s prophet may have very well engaged in slavery, polygamy, pedophilia, gender discrimination, murder, rape etc., as the historical record suggests he did (click here and click here), but it’s ok because such acts were not in conflict with the norms back then? So there’s not a timeless and universal morality? I thought the idea was that God disapproves of that kind of behavior because he is peaceful and just and incapable of contradiction? Therefore his prophet wouldn’t engage in those acts right? Or is there some kind of thinking that since the prophet is a messenger and not a perfect human being, it is ok that he engaged in all of those acts? Or, as it appears to be also implied by you Mr. Massoud, since it all happened so long ago, and we can’t really trust any accounts about anything, we can just attribute to Muhammad any and every quality we simply wish him to have?
In any case, Thomas Haidon go ahead.
HAIDON: Thank you for inviting me to partake in this discussion Jamie.
At the outset, I will categorically state that I find Mr. Massoud’s approach to “Islamic reform” to be ludicrous. While I accept that he may be a progressive/or moderate Muslim, I find his thesis, which lacks any clear rationale or methodology, to be disingenuous. If Mr. Massoud were basing his arguments in a similar fashion to the late reformer Mohammed Taha, who argued from a historical and theological perspective that the Meccan verses of the Qur’an should effectively be removed, I would be more attentive. Not only has Mr. Massoud failed to provide any intellectually persuasive arguments (so far) in this symposium, he has failed miserably to do so on his own website, which sets out his organisation’s ideas and mission statement. Ideas that are bereft of any substance are meaningless, and potentially harmful. We must support our arguments with ideas, and not merely emotions.
Mr. Massoud correctly points out the dangers of Islamists masquerading as moderates. I would further state that Muslims who make incomplete and incompetent arguments for reform also do harm, particularly when non-Muslims are lulled into a false sense of security and hope. “True moderates” (the term that Mr. Massoud uses) must not only talk about Islam’s problems, but must develop responses that are rooted in Islam, and have some probability of success.
While I am supportive of attempts to modernise and contextualise the hermeneutics of the Qur’an, I am opposed to the removal of parts of the Qur’an. In other words, I am supportive of a new understanding of the Qur’an, not a new Qur’an itself. There is no debate among Muslims that the Qur’an is the “Criterion”, and represents the culmination of Allah’s revelations to Muhammad. The Qur’an, on a number of occasions, affirms its primacy and completeness (Qur’an, 6:114-116, 16:89 39:23, et al.). To argue therefore, that parts of the Qur’an should simply be removed is fatally flawed. Mr. Massoud offers no insight into how he would address this core issue. This is the primary doctrinal obstacle, and there are others as well. From a practical perspective, I think it is relatively clear that Muslims will never accept, on any level, removal of parts of the Qur’an. There is virtually no internal debate or discourse on the whether the Qur’an is complete or “perfect”.
I am conscious that this symposium, given the topic, could shift to a discussion on the fundamental question of Islamic reform, or whether there is any capacity for this to happen within Islam. I suspect we will find little consensus between the Muslims and non-Muslim panelists. However, in response to Mr. Massoud’s ill-conceived approach I will say that the key to reforming Islam is not abandoning the Qur’an, but returning to a modern, contextual understanding of it, and rejecting man made traditions that are a primary source for what Islam has become.
Mr. Massoud apparently assumes that the Qur’an is only capable of being interpreted as ulaema have traditionally interpreted it. Mr. Massoud uncritically accepts the concept of abrogation in the Qur’an, and the historical record of Muhammad. I find this perplexing. My colleague on this panel, Edip Yuksel, has authored (along with other scholars) a modern, contextual interpretation and translation of the Qur’an which seeks to confront the very verses that Mr. Massoud wishes to toss out. I will leave it to Mr. Yuksel to further address the fallacy of Mr. Massoud’s approach from this perspective.
In summary, Mr. Massoud’s “Islamic reform movement” is not a movement at all. Mr. Massoud’s thesis is intellectually bankrupt and lacks any methodology or substance, and has no prospects of being accepted on any scale among Muslims. I suspect that Mr. Spencer and Abul Kasem will agree with me, albeit for contrasting reasons.
The public debate on Islam and its role in terrorism, human rights abuses and oppression, suffers significantly from political correctness, disinformation and obfuscation. We need to strip down this discourse to its bare bones and ugliness, in order to move forward. Genuine reformers have an obligation to contribute to this through open discussion, and practical solutions. We cannot distil and whitewash the Islamic record, we must confront it, especially the unattractive elements. Genuine reformers also need to contribute to this debate by not raising expectations. Wide-scale reform unfortunately aspirational, and while yes, there is some good work being done, we have not scratched the surface.
FP: Bill Warner?
WARNER: Thank you Jamie for this opportunity to discuss the reform of Islam.
First, let me establish the basis for my logic with regards to Islam. To Mr. Massoud, I say: I have no interest in whether there is no god, one god or a million gods. I also have no interest in whether the texts of Islam—Koran, Sira and Hadith (the Islamic Trilogy)—are accurate or false. For over a billion Muslims, the Trilogy is the basis of the doctrine of their life, politics and civilization. They believe the Trilogy to be true and live their lives by it.
The Koran, the Sira and the Hadith are of one cloth. They form an integrated and complete ideology. The logical perfection of the Trilogy is the reason that it has lasted so long.
The other basis for my logic is that the reform be comprehensive and logical. We must have principles, not beautiful opinions.
One of those opinions was stated by Mr. Massoud, “God is a loving God.” I don’t know anything about Allah, but I do know what the Koran says. While there are over 300 references in the Koran to Allah and fear, there are 49 references to love. Of these love references, 39 are negative such as the 14 negative references to love of money, power, other gods and status.
Three verses command humanity to love Allah and 2 verses are about how Allah loves a believer. There are 25 verses about how Allah does not love kafirs.
This leaves 5 verses about love. Of these 5, 3 are about loving kin or a Muslim brother. One verse commands a Muslim to give for the love of Allah. This leaves only one quasi-universal verse about love: give what you love to charity and even this is contaminated by dualism since Muslim charity only goes to other Muslims.
So much for love. Fear is what Allah demands.
Mr. Haidon says, “…we need to strip this discourse down to its bare bones and ugliness.” I agree and the ugliest parts of Islam are the concepts of the kafir, political submission and duality.
My only concern is how Islam treats me and my people, the kafirs. How Islam views and deals with the kafir is political Islam. The Trilogy determines the political doctrine and practice of relating to the kafir. The Koran says that the kafir may be murdered, tortured, plotted against, enslaved, robbed, insulted, beheaded, demeaned, mocked and so forth. The Hadith and Sira agree. That’s ugly.
The Trilogy establishes the fundamental principles of Islam—political submission and duality–the basis of dualistic ethics. The Trilogy advances one set of ethics for the Muslims and another for the kafirs. A Muslim is not to lie to another Muslim; a Muslim may lie to a kafir, or not. A Muslim is not to kill another Muslim; a Muslim may kill a kafir, or not. And so forth.
The word “kafir” is pure dualism.
The Trilogy also establishes a dualistic logic. The early (Meccan) Koran and the later (Medinan) Koran frequently contradict each other, but since they are both the words of Allah, both sides of the contradiction are true. It is just that the later Koran is better and can “abrogate” the earlier Koran. Western logic says that if two things contradict, then one of them is false—a unitary logic. Dualism is the heart of the Trilogy’s logic.
Dualism explains the two types of Muslims and which one is the “real” Muslim. The “nice” Muslim and the Taliban-type Muslim both follow a dualistic Koran and are both “real” Muslims. Dualism gives the “nice” Muslim plausible deniability. They can say that those jihadists are not “real” Muslims.
There can be an infinite number of reforms, but the only reform that matters to the kafir is ethical reform. That removes the principles of political submission and duality. There is a very easy way to see the problem and its solution. Go back to how the Koran defines the kafir and what can be done to them. No one wants to be insulted, raped, robbed, killed, threatened or tortured. No one wants to be treated badly. No one wants to be rejected as the “other”, the kafir.
I propose a rational reform based upon how to treat the “other”–the Golden Rule: treat others as you wish to be treated.
The Golden Rule is centered on ethics, not god, and is universal to all cultures, except Islam. Indeed, the whole Islamic Trilogy denies the truth of the Golden Rule. Therefore, the Golden Rule reform has to be applied to the Koran, Sira and Hadith. Only then will the reform be comprehensive. Mr. Haidon says, “Muslims will never accept, on any level, removal of parts of the Koran.” To just reform the Sira and the Hadith is petty change. I wantALLof the ugliness towards the kafir removed. That means that the Koran must also be subject to analysis.
The Golden Rule removes the brutality, insults and prejudice directed at the kafir. The constant attacks would disappear. The Rule is very simple and logical to apply to the texts.
What is amazing is how much the Golden Rule removes from the Trilogy. About 61% of the Koran vanishes, 75% of the Sira and 20% of the Hadith also go away. As I said, I only care about Islam treats the kafir, but the Golden Rule also removes all of the dualistic rules about women. So the reductions will be even greater when the material about the treatment of women is removed.
The Golden Rule even changes Hell. Islamic Hell is primarily political. Hell is mentioned 146 times in the Koran. Only 9 references are for moral failings—greed, lack of charity, love of worldly success. The other 137 references to Hell involve eternal torture for not agreeing that Mohammed is right. That is a political charge, not a morals failure. Thus 94% of the references to Hell are as a political prison for dissenters. The Golden Rule would empty Islam’s political prison.
The Golden Rule annihilates the cruelty of dualistic ethics. Golden Rule Islam would be a reformed Islam that the kafirs would not fear and dread. We are tired of living in fear of political Islam. We have suffered enough and would welcome an Islam that did not argue, demand, pressure, dhimmize, threaten, deceive and destroy kafirs and their civilization.
However, all of Islam’s success has been based upon political submission and dualism. Mohammed preached the religion of Islam for 13 years in Mecca and converted 150 Arabs to Islam. When he went to Medina he became a politician and a warrior. In the last 9 years of his life he conquered all of Arabia. In those 9 years Mohammed was involved with a violent event on the average of every 7 weeks. The violence destroyed the native Arab culture of tolerance. Political submission and duality triumphed.
But even if this symposium group could change the ideology of political Islam by integrating the Golden Rule, who would follow Golden Rule Islam? Islam is like the Internet; it has no central ruling body. Islam is a distributed network with the Trilogy as the operating system. An upgrade is not possible. But if Muslims want to show me to be wrong, the only reform worth anything to a kafir is an ethical reform based upon the Golden Rule.
[A technical note: I use Ishaq for the Sira and Bukhari for the Hadith. Ibn Sa'd, al Tabari, Muslim and Dawud add little additional information. The percentages stated above are not based upon verses. Analyzing the Koran only by verses amounts to analysis by sentences. Who would analyze Plato or Kant by sentences? We want to measure ideas, topics and concepts; not just sentences. See the Epilogue in A Simple Koran for details.]
FP: Mr. Yuksel?
YUKSEL: This is an exciting symposium. Thank you for having me and get ready for a good fight. Mr. Warner is summarizing the problem well with the Trilogy of traditional Islam and yet at the same time he is indulging in intellectual acrobatics with jaw-opening contortions and distortions against the Quran. Meanwhile, the FP moderator is introducing the Sunni hearsay stories like a CNN news report about current events, and he is promoting assumptions and false accusations like the Laws of Thermodynamics. A careful reader will notice that the entire symposium is designed to promote the “click-here and click-there” propaganda activities of a cabal. Let me first start with Mr. Massoud’s claims and then respond to the claims of Mr. Walter and his tennis partner, Mr. Glazov, FP moderator.
I nominate Khalim Massoud, whoever he is and wherever he is, for the Ignoble Prize for his theologically inconsistent, logically Swiss-cheese, practically useless, objectively insincere, substantially oldie-moldy, academically elementary, mathematically innumerate, Quranically unacceptable, and politically neo-conning project. I also acknowledge that it has some merits as Thomas Haidon indicated: it is entertaining and ludicrous.
Now let me support each of my characterization:
It is THEOLOGICALLY INCONSISTENT, since it does not address many important theological and philosophical problems, such as Socrates’ question, “Is it good because God says so, or God says so therefore it is good?” Sure, it could be both. But Mr. Massoud is even unaware of the existence of such an important question. If the Quran is the word of God, then whom am I to “correct” or “censor” his words? Massoud thinks he has an answer for that. Whichever he dislikes, or whichever does not agree with his current culture, or whichever does not please the FrontPage, or whichever he cannot comprehend, it cannot be from God. That is so simple. Just give him a pair of scissors and he will reform the Muslim world. Archimedes needed a fulcrum to move the world; our friend just needs a pair of scissors. A sharp scissoring reform. In other words, he devolves God to his level or evolves himself to become a god. He has nothing to learn from God; to the contrary, he wishes to teach God.
If Massoud lived in medieval times, and had a scissors in his hand, he would end up with a very different Quran that he envisions now. He would cut off verse 21:30 and 51:47 since they did not make any sense: how could the space and earth be one single body and then explode and expand? He would perhaps have problem with a round earth since he would never feel upside down wherever he traveled; so to bestow some reason and common sense to his Wise God he would cut off verses 10:24; 39:5; and 55:33. He would find the idea of egg-shaped earth ridiculous, so, he either would toss out the egg in the verse 79:30 (indeed, his contemporaries with no scissors would try to interpret the egg as a metaphor for a flat nest). He would find verses suggesting an evolutionary method of creation to be unfit to the wisdom of his Omnipotent God and would save his Quran from 7:69; 15:28-29; 24:45; 32:7-9; and 71:14-17. He would find equality of man and women bizarre and unfit to a Just God, so he would slash 3:195; 4:124; 9:71; 16:97; 33:34; 49:13; 60:12, and many other verses. He would have problem with too much freedom of expression of “evil ideas” and would like to save his Almighty God from allowing the expression of blasphemous ideas; so he would discard 2:226; 18:29; 10:99; and 88:21-22. He would find the verses promoting peace unrealistic and would chop 60:8-9; 8:60 and many others. Verses abolishing slavery (3:79; 4:3,25,92; 5:89; 8:67; 24:32-33; 58:3-4; 90:13; 2:286; 12:39-42; 79:24), verses promoting public elections and consultations (42:38; 5:12; 4:58; 58:11), verses condemning profiteering from religion and rejecting clergymen and religious intermediaries (2:48; 9:31; 9:34; 2:41,79,174; 5:44; 9:9) and hundreds of other verses promoting progressive ideas would get eliminated by Mr. Massoud.
It is LOGICALLY SWISS-CHEESE. I do not mean offence to Swiss cheese since I enjoy it, but this Quran-with-a-Scissors package has too many holes in it. Mr. Massoud appears to be engaging in a logical activity. Since I teach logic and philosophy classes at college, I cannot ignore it. He asserts three premises to reach his conclusion:
(1) God is infallible
(2) God is the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
(3) The Koran contains contradictory verses
Thus, WE need to conduct a surgery on the Koran!
But wait. What about questioning the third premise? What about modifying it this way?
(3) It appears to me that the Koran contains contradictory verses.
Thus, I need to improve my knowledge and comprehension skills in studying the Quran, OR I need to ask those real reformists who do not distort the message of the Quran through hearsay stories.AND, IF I still see contradictions in the Quran, then I need to conduct a surgery on my Koran.
It is PRACTICALLY USELESS, since if we can subject our holy book to such a personal cut-and-discard operation, we would not need to have a leader like Massoud. In fact, any person can grab a marker and cross out the verses they do not like. Even if I lost my mind for a moment and followed the suggestion of Massoud, I would never purchase his version of the Quran, since I am not his clone. So, all what Massoud is telling people is this: “cross out the verses you think that are contradictory!” So, why anyone should follow a version published by Massoud or any other person? If I were going to write a blurb for the book, it would be the following: “This is an infidel-friendly, neoconized lite-version of the holy book with zero cholesterol. Yet, it contains plenty of turn-your-left-cheek-and-behind attitudes against imperialistic invasions and aggression. Three thumbs up Massoud & Co!”
It is OBJECTIVELY INSINCERE, since Massoud should know that no teacher would ask students to tear the pages of a text book if they thought it contains wrong or contradictory ideas. No text book would survive such a collective task of weight-reduction! And no author would like to see a reader like Massoud mobilizing others to cut the statements, paragraphs and pages off his book and republish it in his or her name! If Massoud really believes that there is an original Quran hidden inside the circulated Quran, he cannot be sincerely hoping to discover it by the votes of a particular group of unidentified people in a particular time. So, either he does not really believe the divinity of the Quran, or he has no clue about what he is saying.
It is SUBSTANTIALLY oldie-moldy, since already skeptics have done a great job in annotating the Quran, and indicating the “perceived” contradictions. Though I disagree with their (mis)understanding, but I find their work thought-provoking and very useful. Skeptics provide their critical arguments. All what Massoud suggests is to delete those arguments together with the verses they address! And for this ingenious idea he is now participating in a symposium organized by FP!
It is ACADEMICALLY ELEMENTARY, since it does not provide a methodology to accomplish the task. Since the Quran is an interconnected book, where each verse is etymologically and semantically connected to many other verses, any modification will cause the need for another series of modification. The number of combinations is enormous and so is the potential chain reaction and unintended consequences. I could give dozens of examples but I have limited room here.
It is MATHEMATICALLY INNUMERATE, since the Quran is not only a literary prose, but it is also a numerically structured book (83:7-21), it is the most interesting book in the world. For instance, 29 chapters of the Quran start with combination of numbers and letters, such as A1L30M40, or K20H5Y10A70S90, or Q50. For instance, the frequency of the word ShaHR (Month) in singular form is exactly 12, the frequency of the word YaWM (Day) is exactly 365, and there are many more interesting nu-semantic examples. For instance, the numerical structure of the Quran based on the number 19 is so extensive that it involves every element of the Quran, the count and order of letters, words, sentences, verses, and chapters. They fill volumes of books. (You may find a good summary of the Code 19 in the Appendix of the Quran: a Reformist Translation). Thus, Mr. Massoud’s project is aimed to destroy such an incredible structure that bears witness to the divine nature of the Quran.
It is QURANICALLY UNACCEPTABLE, since numerous Quranic verses reject the very same attempt. Here is a sample:
15:90 As We have sent down on the dividers.
15:91 The ones who have taken the Quran apart.
15:92 By your Lord, We will ask them all.
15:93 Regarding what they used to do.
15:94 So proclaim what you have been commanded and turn away from those who set up partners.
15:95 We will relieve you from the mockers.
15:96 Those who sat up with God another god; they will come to know.
15:97 We know that your chest is strained by what they say.
15:98 So glorify with the praise of your Lord, and be of those who prostrate.
15:99 Serve your Lord until certainty comes to you.
Most likely Massoud would chop these verses too, by an additional maxim: “Delete all the verses that rejects our deleting activities!” Ironically, Massoud is not suggesting something new. Sunnis and Shiites already disregard many verses of the Quran: they do not hear nor understand them. Furthermore, their sectarian teachings contain a rule called “abrogation” thereby they reject the decree of the many verses of the Quran, while at the same time they declare their belief in every letter of the Quran. I have discussed this issue in detail in the endnotes of the QRT.
And it is POLITICALLY NEO-CONNING, since it serves the policy of Neocon-led coalition of warmongers. I do not know whether Massoud is a hired petty officer for this agenda or just a naive person, but, it is clear that his project will only irritate and provoke Muslims who are frustrated and traumatized under cruel military invasions and occupations (such as Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Chechnya), or suffering under USA-supported oppressive regimes (such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan). When a few angry and pathetic Muslims engage in some stupid and violent action, the Western media will salivate and rush to focus their cameras on the ugly faces of “barbarians”, while the American capitalists will continue their racket by transferring billions and billions of our tax money to the accounts of war industry and its sub contractors.
IN SUMMARY, I am astounded that FP is taking this ridiculous idea seriously. If we are going to take any idea published on the web seriously, then we will be volunteering for an alien abduction adventure. I feel like I am talking in a symposium organized by the flat-earth society. Sir, do you also discuss cubic meteorites with avocados in their center?
Since I do not have space for more words, I would like to say a few words about the claims of FP moderator. His depiction of Muhammad is based on unreliable hearsay stories, yet he craftily sandwiches the “proven historical facts” into his complex question. If he introduced those accusations as “according to Sunni or Shiite story books written centuries after Muhammad” then it would be an accurate depiction. I challenge the integrity of each of the story books he is peddling as “historical fact.” Where did he find those “proven historical facts”? As for brother Massoud’s response, well, there is no surprise: he is receiving a “proven” false accusation from the moderator and after putting a petty spin on it he passes it back to him: intact!
As for brother Warner, he is perhaps doing statistics on Thalmud or Old Testament. His claim is far from truth. The most repeated and most highlighted Quranic verse that opens every chapter, except one, is Bismi Allah al-Rahmani al-Rahim, which means “In the name of God, Gracious, Compassionate.” Let me give you the attributes of God most frequently mentioned in the Quran (The following list does not include the frequencies of the attributes in unnumbered 112 opening statements mentioned above). The Quran contains about 114 attributes for God. The most frequently used attributes of The God (Allah repeated 2698 times) are:
- Lord/Sustainer/Nourisher (Rabb): 970
- All-Knowing (Alim): 153
- Loving/Caring/Compassionate (Rahim): 114
- God (Elah): 93
- Wise (Hakim): 91
- Forgiving (Ghafur): 91
- Honorable (Aziz): 88
- Gracious (Rahman): 57
- Hearer (Sami): 45
- Planner (Qadir): 45
- Knower (Khabir): 44
- Seer (Basir): 42
These most frequent attributes of God, which are used in semantically relevant contexts, depict a very different Quran than Warner wishes us to believe. Perhaps, the Quran, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
As for Warner’s assertion about the Golden Rule removing 61% of the Quran, I am glad to hear that. This shows that the Quran is a book of reality, not a book of fairy tales. First, the so-called Golden Rule is not a realistic rule and it is very rarely used, usually among family members and close friends. In fact, experiments show that the Golden Rule promotes immorality and crimes in real life. In my ethic classes, I have repeated the experiments and reached the same conclusion. I recommend Carl Sagan’s article, titled “The Rules of the Game,” where Sagan quotes the verse of the Quran, “If the enemy inclines toward peace, do you also incline toward peace,” concluding that the best rule is not the golden rule but the gold-plated brazen rule, that is, retaliation with occasional forgiveness, which is exactly what the Quran promotes (See Quran 42:20; 17:33).
The irony is not in Warner’s lack of knowledge; the irony is in the iron. Warner is aligning with those who promote and practice the Iron Rule (pre-emptive strike), and yet he bashes Muslims for not abiding by the Golden Rule. Perhaps this is the rule of double standard in generosity: iron for us, gold for you. No my dear: I cannot enjoy gold while you have the iron.
FP: Well Mr. Yuksel, you are astounded that I am taking a “ridiculous idea serious” but nowhere did I say I am taking it seriously. As a matter of fact, all my comments so far reveal that I don’t know how it could be taken seriously. But the idea needs to be put on the table because it is one of the efforts being made right now by a Muslim reformer and his organization to try to bring Islam into the modern and democratic world – if that is at all possible.
And a discussion of an issue like this can bring a very important dialogue to the table. I find it a bit strange that you affirm that you are “astounded” that I am taking this “ridiculous idea” seriously and yet you yourself have agreed to join a panel to discuss it. Perhaps you see no point to your own contribution to this symposium, even though you have spent quite a bit of energy and time to offer it.
I also remain a bit confused as to how American “warmongers” are behind taking violent verses out of the Quran. And I am yet still to hear what you yourself think of the violent verses and the problem that jihadists point to them as their inspiration.
Also, calling me and other people names is, unfortunately, no way to delegitimize the aspects of Mohammad’s life that people like Warner, Kasem and Spencer have pointed to.
Abul Kasem, go ahead.
KASEM: I appreciate that Khalim Massoud understands there are problems with the Koran.
Khalim Massoud writes that Allah is infallible. Then he writes that the Koran contains contradictory verses. How is it possible for an infallible God (Allah) to contradict Himself? Here Massoud is playing the role of another God to correct Allah. Isn’t this quite bizarre that a human being, such as Massoud, has to correct Allah?
Massoud confounds us further when he says:
‘If two verses in the Koran contradict each other, then at least one of them could not have possibly come from God because it would contradict the doctrine of God’s infallibility. And because God is the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate, the peaceful verse could come from God and the violent could not.’
Who says Allah is always compassionate and merciful? He is certainly not, as can be demonstrated from many other verses in the Koran. Allah has peculiar temperament, to say the least. Under this circumstance why must we accept that Allah only sends the merciful verses? Who inserted those unkind, hateful, belligerent and barbaric verses? Without identifying these people, Massoud calls them nefarious. Why does he not identify these people? Could it that they were Muhammad and his coterie of power hungry people who surrounded him for a share of Islamic loot and plunder?
If we were to accept that the Koran is the absolute words of Allah, then how could Allah allow such calumny as tampering with the Koran?
Massoud says: If we assume that God is fallible, then he ceases to be a Supreme Being.
I simply do not get it. The Koran says clearly that Allah is the Supreme Being. Massoud further contradicts himself.
It appears that Massoud has accepted the truth that the Koran contains the words of humans, such as Muhammad, and possibly others. This completely breaks down Massoud’s logic that the infallible Koran is the authorship of Allah.
In this context, Thomas Haidon is correct when he says: From a practical perspective, I think it is relatively clear that Muslims will never accept, on any level, removal of parts of the Qur’an. There is virtually no internal debate or discourse on whether the Qur’an is complete or “perfect”.
I agree that the vast majority of Muslims hold the Koran as the incorruptible, unchangeable words of Allah, valid for eternity.
It is important to comprehend that Islam derives its mighty power not only from the Koran but also from ahadith and sirah. How about these important sources of Islam? Will Massoud edit these sources, especially those blood-thirsty, barbaric, inane ahadith? Will Massoud go ahead with the task of purgation of Muhammad’s sirah to remove the unsavory, cruel, and inhuman disposition of Muhammad?
One important point: if Massoud agrees that parts of the Koran are human-created, why does he not abandon the Koran itself? Why he wants to mess with the task of editing the Koran with his own hand which, will cast him as an apostate and render him liable to severe Islamic punitive measures?
It appears that Massoud has forgotten that the Koran says that none can change the words of it (6:34, 6:115, 10:64,18:27, 27:6). Verse 10:15 clearly says even Muhammad could not change a single word in the Koran. Thus, according to the Koran, Massoud’s act will be the greatest of all Islamic crimes. Massoud should not forget the fate of Rashad Khalifa who attempted to do similar acts of revising the Koran, but paid a heavy price. Zealot Islamists murdered him while he prayed in his mosque. To day, Rashad Khalifa’s minions are known as ‘Submitters’ or the Qur’an-only Muslims. Needless to say, most of them live in the western countries, for had they expressed their views in an Islamic paradise they would be certainly killed for tampering with the Koran.
Nevertheless, I appreciate the efforts of Massoud and Thomas Haidon who sincerely want to reform Islam and bring it to conform to the current civilized world. They are genuinely appalled at the barbaric, cruel and inhuman aspects of Islam, largely emanating from the application Koran and ahadith. Unfortunately, history of Islam demonstrates that many such attempts in the past had been dismal failures, and there is very little prospect that such current attempts or future attempts will succeed. I might sound pessimistic, but Islamic history uncannily confirms that playing with Koran and ahadith is a dangerous game that is destined to failure.
I agree with Bill Warner when he says: The Koran, the Sira and the Hadith are of one cloth. They form an integrated and complete ideology.
This means if one edits the Koran he must also edit the other two sources of Islam. Is Khalim Massoud willing to do this job? Will the Muslims, by and large, will agree with Khalim Massoud’s versions of Sira and Hadith? I doubt they will.
What I disagree with Bill Warner is that, while he accepts that the Koran is reformable, I do not. I have already stated my reason/s why this is just not possible—the Koran completely forbids its reformation, and whoever attempts to do so will be murdered, Islamically.
There is only one choice left, to abandon the Koran, totally.
I find quite hilarious Edip Yuksel’s discovery of numerical miracles in the Koran. This is akin to Rashad Khalifa’s discovery of miracle of the number 19 in the Koran. I doubt if any mathematician will agree with Edip Yuksel’s discovery.
Yuksel chastises Bill Warner for exposing the Korans’ inanities and its stipulations to extirpate un-Islam by killing infidels, if need be. Unfortunately, Yuksel cannot refute Warner’s allegation that the Koran commands Muslims to kill the Kafirs. Yuksel simply avoids this important topic by alleging that Warner is resorting to word gymnastics. It is interesting that Yuksel himself indulges in the intellectual gymnastic just to avoid the truth: the Koran has barbaric provisions for those who do not accept Islam.
It is sad to note that Yuksel has hurled vitriolic attack on both Khalim Massoud and Bill Warner. Instead of refuting/and/or arguing their cases in a dignified manner, Yuksel simply resorts to personal attack and logical fallacies. He indulges in irrelevant topics, America’s foreign policies, Palestine issues and so on. This demonstrates his attempt to ‘flight’ from the burning issues of Islam and whether it is reformable.
We must appreciate that Massoud and Thomas Haidon have, at least, have plans to reform Islam—no matter how much we might disagree with their methods.
I find it very unbecoming of an Islamist scholar like Yuksel to reprimand the FP editor for opening a dialogue session with people of contrasting views.
Finally, here are a few suggestions, which, to my mind, will be of help not only to Massoud and Haidon, but to the entire world.
We need to expose Islam, the truth about it, and nothing but the truth. The world must pay heed to the fundamental messages of the Koran which is to conquer (by sword) the entire world and enforce sharia laws.
The infidel world must digest the fact that Islam wants to obliterate un-Islam, replace the western/un-Islamic civilization with Islamic/ Arabic civilization.
It is important that all infidel leaders must have a working knowledge of the Koran and Islam, and understand the language of the Islamists, which is anything but peaceful.
SPENCER: Khalim Massoud is correct that the “Islamic superiority doctrine” is “the cornerstone of all evil in Islam,” or at least of the evil that some Muslims perpetrate in the name of Allah against unbelievers. Bill Warner is right: reform should eradicate Islamic supremacism and the institutionalized mistreatment of women and non-Muslims sanctioned by Islamic law. The rest is just window dressing. But how that doctrine can be removed or reformed, and whether or not it can be accomplished by a drastic re-editing of the Qur’an, as proposed by Mr. Massoud, is another question.
Thomas Haidon is clearly right when he says that “from a practical perspective, I think it is relatively clear that Muslims will never accept, on any level, removal of parts of the Qur’an.” This is true regardless of whatever logical or theological merits the plan may or may not have. Abul Kasem also raises an important conceptual question for Mr. Masoud: “If we were to accept that the Koran is the absolute words of Allah, then how could Allah allow such calumny as tampering with the Koran?”
So how, then, can it be done, if it can be done at all? It is noteworthy that Mr. Haidon says that he would be “more attentive” to Mr. Massoud’s arguments if they more closely resembled those of Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, “who argued,” says Mr. Haidon, “from a historical and theological perspective that the Meccan verses of the Qur’an should effectively be removed.” Mr. Haidon clearly has in mind the Medinan verses, which Taha actually targeted, not the Meccan ones, but the main problem here is that for his views Taha himself was executed by the Sudanese government in 1985. Abul Kasem is correct that most of the Qur’an-only Submitters “live in the western countries, for had they expressed their views in an Islamic paradise they would be certainly killed for tampering with the Koran.” Nothing is more certain than that those who attempt reform of Islamic doctrine in Muslim regions take their lives into their hands. One notorious example is that of Suliman Bashear, who “argued that Islam developed as a religion gradually rather than emerging fully formed from the mouth of the Prophet.” For this his Muslim students in the University of Nablus in the West Bank threw him out of a second-story window.
Western non-Muslim analysts need to have a steady and sober awareness of these realities. Mr. Haidon is absolutely right that “Muslims who make incomplete and incompetent arguments for reform also do harm, particularly when non-Muslims are lulled into a false sense of security and hope.” But those suffering from that false sense of security are legion. Numerous Western analysts, policymakers, and even law enforcement officials are so anxious not to appear “anti-Muslim” that they embrace any self-professed reformer, and have been gulled many times. They should bear in mind that Mr. Haidon is also correct when he says that “we cannot distil and whitewash the Islamic record, we must confront it, especially the unattractive elements,” and that “genuine reformers have an obligation to contribute to this through open discussion, and practical solutions.” But so far this has not been done, despite many loud proclamations to the contrary from many quarters.
And as an example of a Muslim who, in Mr. Haidon’s words, makes “incomplete and incompetent arguments for reform,” we have here with us Mr. Yuksel, whose bluster and abuse of other Symposium participants may be entertaining, but only exposes the bankruptcy of his arguments. He accuses Jamie Glazov of relying on “unreliable hearsay stories” for information about Muhammad, but fails to inform us that the great majority of Muslims around the world rely on those same “unreliable hearsay stories,” and offers no program for convincing those hundreds of millions of Muslims of the historical weakness of these stories.
Mr. Yuksel’s presentation likewise suffers from inaccuracies that will it extremely unlikely that it will ever be accepted by large numbers of Muslims. To take just one of many possible examples, he asserts that in the Qur’an “the frequency of the word YaWM (Day) is exactly 365.” But another Muslim writer has noted that Yuksel only arrived at this total by not counting many forms of the word, including every time it appears as “that day” rather than “the day” or “a day.” When Mr. Yuksel’s fellow Muslims so readily notice such inaccuracies in his presentation, it’s unlikely that many will accept his program for reform.
MASSOUD: Mr. Glazov states, “the idea was that God disapproves of that kind of behavior because he is peaceful and just … [t]herefore his prophet wouldn’t engage in those acts.”
Not necessarily. God gave people, including Prophet Muhammad, Free Will. I do not claim that evil deeds attributed to the Prophet are false. I am not justifying rape and murder as acceptable practices of medieval times. What I’m trying to do is to raise the possibility of the historical record being incorrect. We also need to consider things like polygamy in historical perspective. When the female/male ratio is roughly 1/1, polygamy is a clear form of gender discrimination. But when half of the men are killed in a war and the ratio becomes 2/1, polygamy becomes a practical solution. When life expectancy is 75, marrying a young teenager is clearly inappropriate, but what if the life expectancy is 20? All I’m saying is that the Prophet Muhammad should not be looked at from black-and-white perspectives. He was not the perfect human, but he was not pure evil either.
Mr. Haidon finds our approach disingenuous, ludicrous, and lacking any clear rationale or methodology. I believe that Mr. Haidon refuses to see what is right in front of him, i.e., the contradictions in the Koran. The question is: does Mr. Haidon believe that the Koran contains contradictions? If so, our rationale should be pretty clear, if not, how can you explain something to a person who refuses to accept reality?
Mr. Haidon is proposing a new understanding of the Koran. I find that approach disingenuous and ludicrous. Attempts to reinterpret verses like 2.191 or 9.5 are simply pathetic. It is nothing more than whitewashing of genocide.
“The Qur’an, on a number of occasions, affirms its primacy and completeness (Qur’an, 6:114-116, 16:89 39:23, et al.).”
Should I remind Mr. Haidon that the Koran also affirms Islamic supremacy on a number of occasions? If he thinks that “kill them [infidels] wherever you find them” (2.191) means something other than what it says, why “there is none who can change His words” (6.115) cannot mean something else? Or what if someone already disregarded 6.115 and added 2.191?
Mr. Haidon keeps referring to “modern, contextual understanding” of the Koran. How can one possibly interpret “slay the idolaters wherever you find them” (9.5) other than “you must kill the infidels whenever you can”? Or does Mr. Haidon’s “modern, contextual understanding” refer to simply ignoring the violent verses? If so, I believe removing the verses rather than ignoring them is a more practical approach.
“Mr. Massoud apparently assumes that the Qur’an is only capable of being interpreted as ulaema have traditionally interpreted it.”
Apparently. Every single non-Muslim layman that we discussed the Koran with interpreted the Koran exactly the same way, which leads us to believe that the problem is not with interpretation, but with the source.
Mr. Haidon states that our “thesis is intellectually bankrupt and lacks any methodology or substance, and has no prospects of being accepted on any scale among Muslims.” Neither I, nor any other member of Muslims Against Sharia (which is a movement, even if Mr. Haidon does not consider it such) claim that our proposal to reform Islam is perfect. As a matter of fact, we believe that there are no good solutions to reform Islam; there are bad and worse. We believe that our solution is most practical, and therefore, the best. Or the least bad, if you want to call it that. There are three points of view: Islam is perfect, Islam needs to be eradicated, and Islam needs to be reformed. If you believe that Islam needs to be reformed and could offer a more effective solution than ours, we’ll support you all the way.
Mr. Warner’s argument is based on his belief that “The Koran, the Sira and the Hadith … form an integrated and complete ideology.” We believe that anything except for the Koran is pure hearsay. Some of the ahadith are so vile that if there is an argument for book burning they should be prime examples together with Mein Kampf. As many Westerners, Mr. Warner fails to separate Islam, the religion, from Islamism, the political ideology. In regards to the concept of dualism, it stems from the concept of Islamic supremacy. We believe that our proposal, however ludicrous Mr. Haidon might find it, is the only one on the table that completely eliminates the doctrine of Islamic supremacy, and with it, concepts of dualism, infidel, and every other concept that Westerners and moderate Muslims find objectionable.
Mr. Warner states, “I propose a rational reform based upon how to treat the “other”–the Golden Rule: treat others as you wish to be treated.” This idea is practically identical to the paragraph in our manifesto (www.reformislam.org) titled “Equality.”
I see no reason to address Mr. Yuksel’s diatribe. Any Muslim who considers liberations of 50+ million Afghanis and Iraqis “cruel military invasions and occupations” by “Neocon-led coalition of warmongers” or believes that the Prophet or the Koran is above criticism is a radical. And I have zero interest in arguing with Islamic extremists. I wanted to address Mr. Yuksel’s hypocrisy of participating in a “ridiculous” forum, but Mr. Glazov already did that.
Next, I will address Mr. Kasem’s analysis. He writes: “Khalim Massoud writes that Allah is infallible. Then he writes that the Koran contains contradictory verses. How is it possible for an infallible God (Allah) to contradict Himself?”
It is impossible. That’s why we believe that the contradictory parts of the Koran did not come from God.
“Who says Allah is always compassionate and merciful? He is certainly not, as can be demonstrated from many other verses in the Koran. Allah has peculiar temperament, to say the least.”
Again, we believe the verses Mr. Kasem is referring to did not come from Allah.
“Who inserted those unkind, hateful, belligerent and barbaric verses? Without identifying these people, Massoud calls them nefarious. Why does he not identify these people?”
Anyone who was involved in a chain of custody of the Koran could have changed it. People who write new copies, people who kept the Koran in oral form, and maybe the Prophet himself. I wish I could give a more specific answer, but I cannot.
“How could Allah allow such calumny as tampering with the Koran?”
People have Free Will.
“Massoud says: If we assume that God is fallible, then he ceases to be a Supreme Being. I simply do not get it. The Koran says clearly that Allah is the Supreme Being. Massoud further contradicts himself.”
Let me clarify it. God is infallible. If he were fallible, he wouldn’t be God.
“It appears that Massoud has accepted the truth that the Koran contains the words of humans, such as Muhammad, and possibly others. This completely breaks down Massoud’s logic that the infallible Koran is the authorship of Allah.”
I never claimed that the Koran is infallible and that Allah is the sole author of the modern Koran.
“From a practical perspective, I think it is relatively clear that Muslims will never accept, on any level, removal of parts of the Qur’an.”
Our poll contradicts that “practical perspective.” Almost a quarter of Muslim responders either agrees with our plan or thinks that our reforms do not go far enough.
“There is virtually no internal debate or discourse on the whether the Qur’an is complete or “perfect”.”
Isn’t that the more reason to start one?
“I agree that the vast majority of Muslims hold the Koran as the incorruptible, unchangeable words of Allah valid for eternity.”
And what of those Muslims who disagree with that? Should we just kill them off?
“Will Massoud edit these sources, especially those blood-thirsty, barbarous, inane ahadith?”
I believe I addressed this earlier.
“One important point: if Massoud agrees that parts of the Koran are human created, why does he not abandon the Koran itself?”
Because if we remove the human-created parts, we’ll give the Koran back its divine nature.
“Verse 10:15 clearly says even Muhammad could not change a single word in the Koran.”
We are not trying to change the Koran, we are trying to un-change it.
There is no reason to bring up fates of some Muslim reformers. We are quite aware of the dangers.
I agree that “history of Islam demonstrates that many such [reformist] attempts in the past had been dismal failures”, but it does not mean that “there is very little prospect that such current attempts or future attempts will succeed.” Past attempts to reform Islam were made inside Islamic world when reformers were greatly outnumbered. Now we have many non-Muslims on our side.
Mr. Haidon says (and Mr. Spencer agrees) that “from a practical perspective, I think it is relatively clear that Muslims will never accept, on any level, removal of parts of the Qur’an.” I would have to disagree. Our experience shows that an average open-minded Muslims is likely to be receptive to the idea that the Koran has been corrupted and that the corrupted parts must be removed. We firmly believe that while the concept of Islamic supremacy is enshrined in the Koran, Islam cannot be reformed. Interpreting violent verses as non-violent is the same as calling terrorist acts ‘freedom fighting’ or ‘God’s will’.
HAIDON: There are a number of divergent views emerging from this symposium. I think what we need to reinvigorate this discussion with a little bit of good old fashioned reality. As Muslims on this panel, I think we have an obligation to be forthright and honest about the Qur’an and potential solutions for addressing its core problems. Mr. Massoud has been forthright about identifying the problems of the traditional, literalist understanding of the Qur’an, but has provided an illogical and incoherent solution to address it. While I agree on some points with Mr. Yuksel makes about the primacy and inviolability of the Qur’an, and his identification of problems with the Muslim tradition. I strongly disagree with his characterisation of Mr. Glazov, Mr. Spencer and Mr. Warner. Mr. Glazov, Mr. Warner and Mr. Spencer are merely stating the positions of traditional Islam. Given that millions upon millions of Muslims rely on the traditions of Muhammad and associated commentaries, it is only right that our panellists point this out. I also am perplexed about his characterisation of the United States, which is locked in a battle with traditional Islamic extremists.
I stand by my strong criticism of Mr. Massoud, and his ill-conceived approach to reforming Islam. Mr. Massoud has once again missed a golden opportunity to explain the methodology of his approach to unilaterally remove parts of the Qur’an. In response to Mr. Massoud’s initial question, I do believe that there are, at face value, contrary verses in the Qur’an. I do believe however that these verses can be rationalised, when read in a contextual manner. Recent translations of the Qur’an published by Mr. Yuksel, Amina Wadud, and the Progressive Muslims provide a new framework of thinking about these verses. Mr. Massoud’s assertion that if I recognise that there are contradictions in the Qur’an, I should automatically subscribe to his approach is pure absurdity.
Mr. Massoud is welcome to consider my argument that the Qur’an must be re-interpreted, as equally ludicrous and disingenuous. Fair enough. The reality is, however, there is a body of literature, and scholarly material which supports my arguments. There is an emerging body of literature from Muslim scholars, including Ahmed Subhy Mansour, Abdulahi Na’im, Kasem Ahmed, Amina Wadud, and others who have sought to challenge classical translation and interpretation of the Qur’an. These scholars have not attempted to “whitewash genocide”, but to end genocidal understandings of the Qur’an. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Mr. Massoud. Mr. Massoud’s has expressly rejected the work of Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, leaving him with no support from Islamic literature or scholars. In other words, Mr. Massoud’s approach lacks any theological support. Further, it is over-inclusive and ignores the entire body of Qur’anist literature. This is another reason why I consider Mr. Massoud’s approach to lack any intellectual rigour. My question to Mr. Massoud is, why have you ignored this body of literature and what is your response to their arguments for re-interpreting the Qur’an differently?
Despite Mr. Massoud’s continued insistence that his approach is both logical and practical, he has failed to demonstrate the case for either. Muslims are unlikely to accept an approach that lacks no methodology, or theological basis. If Mahmoud Mohammed Taha’s well crafted and hermeneutical approach can be rejected, I suspect that Mr. Massoud’s approach will garner no support among traditional Muslims. I have to admit, I am sceptical about Mr. Massoud’s claims of support among Muslims. I would hardly consider Mr. Massoud’s “online poll” to be empirical evidence of a paradigm shift among Muslims towards acceptance of his views. For him to attempt to use the results of this poll to demonstrate his point is misguiding, and dangerous. This relates to my earlier point that pseudo-reformers can be dangerous because they tend to build false expectations, and lull non-Muslims into a false sense of security.
I do not consider Mr. Massoud’s organisation to constitute a movement. For Mr. Massoud to say so is disingenuous. I would suspect that Mr. Massoud’s organisation contains not more than a handful of actual and committed members. This is hardly enough to be considered a movement at the cusp of challenging the traditional Islamic establishment. To conclude, my apparent hostility towards Mr. Massoud’s approach does not stem from my contempt of the notion of removing parts of the Qur’an, it stems from Mr. Massoud’s ineptness in being able to articulate an adequate rationale.
WARNER: I would like to thank Mr. Yuksel for restating my thesis. The “beauty of the Koran is in the eye of the beholder”. There are three kinds of eyes that look at the Koran—the kafir, the dhimmi and the believer. Restated, all scholarship in Islam is either from the viewpoint of the kafir (kafir-centric), the dhimmi (dhimmi-centric) or believer (believer-centric).
For the believer, Allah is wise, forgiving, knowing, and so forth. But for the kafir, Allah is a hater, a torturer, a plotter, a sadist, and an enemy. Allah makes us kafirs. Then he goes ahead to tell the Muslims what filthy scum we are. The word “kafir” is the worst word in the human language. No other pejorative is so cruel, demeaning, bigoted, insulting, and hateful as kafir. Why? It is not just the Muslim who believes this, but Allah, himself.
From the kafir-centric point of view, the Koran is not remotely a holy book. For the scholar, who sees the Koran as simply another old text, the Koran is a derivative work, taken from the Torah, heretical Christianity, Zoroastrianism and the aboriginal Arabic religions. The only new ideas in the Koran are jihad and that Mohammed is the “messenger” of Allah.
Mr. Yuksel calls me, “brother Warner”. But, according to some 14 verses in the Koran a Muslim is not the friend of a kafir. Therefore, I cannot be your brother. And since you agree with my thesis that Islam does not use the Golden Rule, but instead uses “retaliation” (pure submission and duality), you cannot be my friend.
This is the saddest part of Islam. Islam rejects the bond of love between humans and substitutes submission, retaliation and other forms of dominance by the “best of people”. The Koran, Sira and Hadith say that you are better than me in every way, and that I am an enemy of all Muslims. It also says that Islam must destroy my civilization over time. The Trilogy says that that if you want to be my brother and friend then you are an apostate.
I also appreciate Mr. Yuksel giving us a perfect example of Islamic logic with his insults. This is pure Islam since the Koran is filled with insults. Mohammed insulted the kafirs as well. But Mr. Yuksel goes further and gives us an example of dualism. He says that he teaches logic and philosophy, so he knows insults are an example of the “ad hominem” fallacy, attacking the person, instead of the idea. Mr. Yuksel is a Western logician who uses Islamic insults as ad hominem attacks. This is contradictory. He holds two opposite “truths” in his mind at the same time. He does not see the compartmentalization and dualism of his own mind.
The divided Koran, the Koran of Mecca and the Koran of Medina, is the foundation of dualism. The two Korans are in contradiction, but Islam considers them both to be true. Dualism creates a mental barrier that compartmentalizes the mind and allows the Muslim to never be bothered by the contradictions, such as those stated here.
Dualism affects all Muslims. It creates a lack of empathy with the suffering of the kafir and an inability to see how the Koran is filled with hate for them. Kafirs are not really humans in the eyes of Islam. This is supported by the dualistic ethics of Islam. In Islam all Muslims are brothers and sisters, but the kafir may be treated well or murdered, robbed, raped…. When these things happen to us, Muslims never really take responsibility. The closest Islam gets to acknowledges our suffering, is to say, “Well, that … is not really Islam.” This is a total lack of empathy.
The gentlemen address the contradictions in the Koran and the nature of god. But they overlook the obvious. Allah is dualistic—he contradicts himself, but he is a perfect god. Therefore, the Koran is filled with contradictions and both sides of the contradiction are true.
Here we see the foundation of the Islamic doctrine of dualistic logic. Kafir logic is based upon eliminating contradictions. A contradiction in an argument shows that the argument is false. Islamic logic is based upon accepting contradictions as truth. It is a dualistic logic.
The genius of Islam is that it defines a dualistic morality and a dualistic logic that creates a civilization that is completely outside of kafir civilization. To try to apply kafir logic to eliminate contradictions about the Koran and Mohammed is to miss the point. Islam is inherently contradictory, that is its nature. There is no compromise or resolution between the two civilizations. We live in parallel universes.
Let’s take the concept of integrity. In kafir ethics integrity is a high measure of character. It means that our words and actions are consistent at all times. Integrity is a measure of unity and lack of contradictions. You can trust a man with integrity.
But, Islamic ethics allow the Muslim to lie or tell the truth to the kafir. [Mohammed consistently told his jihadists they could lie and deceive the kafirs to advance Islam.] Islam’s ethical values do not even allow a definition of integrity, since it permits deceit. The most common Islamic deceit is to only speak of the Koran of Mecca and equivocate about the Koran of Medina. Speaking half-truths is a lack of integrity, but it is not a fault in Islam. Mohammed had no integrity with respect to the kafirs, only with Muslims.
Kafirs see a contradiction in Mohammed being such a violent man and yet being called a prophet of a loving god. Muslims see this as a bountiful generosity of ethical choices Allah sets forth. They can be violent and peaceful. Muslims can have their cake and eat it too. They can choose peace and war and both are sacred choices. Islam offers a bounty of moral choices in its dualistic ethics.
I sense a need in our Muslim scholars to try to create an Islamic integrity that would be the same as the kafir is. But there is no bridge between unitary kafir ethics and dualistic Islamic ethics.
When Mr. Kasem says that I believe that the Koran can be reformed, I think that I did not pose my argument well enough. I argue that if the Koran is to be reformed, the only reform that matters to the kafir is to remove the kafir hatred. If you reform the text this way, 61% is eliminated. Of course that destroys the Koran. My argument is to assume it can be reformed and when we see the result, it is absurd. Reform leads to absurdity. Mr. Kasem and I agree, the Koran cannot be reformed; or if it is reformed, it is no longer the Koran.
Islam is a political and religious doctrine found in three books–Koran, Sira and Hadith. Those books are posited to be complete, eternal and perfect. They are all based on the principles of submission and duality. They form a unified whole. To reform one is to reform the others. So how is the reform of Islam possible? The Mohammed of Medina cannot be thrown out. The Koran of Medina cannot be deleted. The texts cannot be altered.
And there is no mechanism for reform. Our results–good, bad or indifferent—do not make any difference. There is no body or group that could vote or agree on any change. Islam is like wild yeast. There is no way to control it. It has no center.
The only reform that matters is the reform of the dhimmis into kafirs. Only as kafirs can we survive. We are a civilization that has been dhimmified. We refuse to acknowledge the 270 million killed and the enslavement of all races of humanity for 1400 years, the Tears of Jihad. We won’t teach about the dreadful spread of Islam that annihilated kafir culture in Egypt, North Africa, Anatolia (Turkey) Iraq and the Middle East. We won’t acknowledge that Islam has always annihilated all kafir civilizations.
The very idea of needing to take the time to argue about of the reform of Islam shows how we are a dhimmi civilization. A kafir civilization would have taught the doctrine and history of political Islam to us as children. We would know with whom we were dealing and why Islam does what it does. All of the knowledge of the Tears of Jihad, the suffering of the dhimmi and the doctrine of political Islam would have come in our mother’s milk.
Since we did not get this wisdom from our ancestors, we must teach ourselves the political nature of the Koran, Sira and Hadith. We must honor our dead by learning the stories of their suffering. Our reform efforts must not be directed towards Muslims. We must reform ourselves, stop being dhimmis and become kafirs.
Instead of reasoning with believers, we should reason with our dhimmi leaders, our near enemies. We should aggressively call them out and challenge politicians, ministers, rabbis, and media types who apologize for Islam. We should use our time more productively.
As a political goal, kafirs must demand that the history of the dhimmi and the Tears of Jihad—the 270,000,000 dead and the enslavement of the European, African and Hindu—must be taught in all levels of our public schools. The survival of our civilization depends upon it.
YUKSEL: I would like to thank FP moderator for reminding the contradiction in my joining a panel that I accused of taking a ridiculous project seriously. I confess my guilt for becoming an accomplice with FP in discussing a silly agenda. However, a silly agenda can become a seriously silly agenda if it receives the attention of a serious media, like Frontpage. Regardless of the degree of my fault in this, I am going to let Masoud alone with his project. So, I will focus on other issues.
Kasem’s argument has some problems. He asks, “Who inserted those unkind, hateful, belligerent and barbaric verses?” I challenge him to quote verses fitting those descriptions from the Reformist Translation of the Quran without taking them out of their context. As for removing hadith and syra, we have already a powerful theological and historical argument for that. I invite Kasem to read the Manifesto for Islamic Reform.
As for Kasem’s invitation to “reform Islam and bring it to conform to the current civilized world,” I have to defer. What does “current civilized world” refer to? If it is referring to the practices of super duper powers that are major parties of the two world wars and responsible of numerous invasions, massacres, genocides, and atrocities that have caused the death and suffering of tens of millions, then such a “civilized world” is not worth conforming. However, if he is referring to the expressed ideals and the democratic practice of the civilized world, then it is a different story. Sure, I would also correct the “reforming Islam” to “reforming Muslims” or “Islamic reform”.
Kasem continues: “Unfortunately, Yuksel cannot refute Warner’s allegation that the Koran commands Muslims to kill the Kafirs.” Well, this symposium has limitations and I cannot properly answer all the laundry lists of accusations and distortions hurled by Kasem and Warner. If he is honest in his belief in Warner’s accusations, I recommend him to see my translation of those verses and my arguments in the endnotes, especially in the endnote for verse 9:29. He will learn that the Quran justifies fighting against aggressor and violent Kafirs, that is warmongering ingrates, not peaceful ingrates like Kasem and Warner. [At this point, I was still hoping that these two ingrates were not warmongers.]
Let me briefly deal with Warner’s complaint about the horrible descriptions of hell, which are clearly metaphors. A dash of logic, I believe, will save Warner from his nightmare. If the Quran is not word of God, then he does not need to worry, since all those consequences will never happen. However, if the Quran is the word of God, then he should either save his complaint for the Day of Judgment to God and ask for forgiveness for his wrongdoing, or he should just accept the truth and set himself free from incubating false ideas. Thus, Warner has no good reason to fear ending up in hell. Perhaps, Warner’s complaint is less philosophical: “You see me deserving hell and you masochistically enjoy it.” No sir, just to the contrary. Otherwise, I would not have invited you to study the Quran without distorting it with false ideas borrowed from fabricated Sunni liturgy.
As for the America’s militaristic foreign policies and the Jewo-fascist aggression against Palestinians being “irrelevant topics,” no sir. We cannot discuss today’s reactionary Islamist movements and their fascist and violent organizations without considering their causes, effects, ecology and their opponents.
It is simply dishonest and foolish to focus on violence committed by Muslims but ignoring the much greater violence they have been subjected to by the so-called “civilized world” that does not terrorize but “shocks and awes”, does not torture but does “water-boarding”, does not kill civilians and children but turns millions of them into “collateral damage,” does not support dictators, but supports the oppressive and corrupt Leaders, Kings and Generals. There were no suicide bombers among Muslims until the Second Intifada, which started at a time when for every 1 Israeli soldier 25 Palestinians, mostly teenagers, were killed before year 2000. There was no al-Qaida until Afghanistan became the battle ground of the clashing “civilized world” in 1980s. There were little prospects of the so-called Islamic Republic in Iran, until theCIA planted back its dictator, Shah Reza Pahlawi, by toppling Iran’s elected prime minister in 1950s. There was no Hamas, until the Zionist regime destroyed Palestinian cities, massacred them in their tents and towns, and treated them like animals. Sure, there are Sunni and Shiite teachings justifying violence, but there are similar and even more violent teachings (and their historic practices) in Christian and Jewish liturgy. So, you cannot ask us to close our eyes to the super barbarism and violence of the “civilized world”, and give all our attention to the barbarians among Muslims.
No sir; only those who sold their sense of justice will buy your double standard. If we are for a peaceful world, we should show the wisdom, the honesty and bravery to denounce all parties promoting violence and atrocities. I have yet to hear a word from you condemning the atrocities committed against Muslims by Christian and Jewish soldiers. That is telling.
And Kasem manages to sneak in the “Islamist scholar” title while describing me. I think that it is not an innocent slip of tongue; it is a calculated and pathetic threat. Why? Because I do not use a double standard in condemning all sorts of terrorism and barbarism? Because I stand for justice and peace for all humanity? The adjective Islamist is used by the media for a group of reactionary forces that is intolerant of diversity, freedom and peaceful co-existence. Kasem intends to make me the target of his “civilized world” with its invasions, destructions, carpet bombing, “harsh interrogation techniques,” Gitmos, Abu Ghraibs, millions of orphans, widows, and displaced people in just last few years.
I do not believe that Kasem is using that adjective by accident, since by now, he knows that I am one of the organizers of the Celebration of Heresy Conference, I am the author of Quran: a Reformist Translation, and he knows that I have brave standing against the Islamists, and my mentor and colleague was the first victim of Islamist terrorists in the USA. Despite all these facts, he attributes to me an adjective that describes my enemies. I understand his message very well: “Edip, if you continue exposing the violence and hypocrisy of my allies, then I will brand you with a title so that our civilized world will take care of you.” My only response to Kasem is this: a monotheist is the ultimate free person and cannot be hushed by implicit or explicit threats. We will see each other in the Day of Judgment, where God will be the only judge.
Kasem continues: “He accuses Jamie Glazov of relying on ‘unreliable hearsay stories’ for information about Muhammad, but fails to inform us that the great majority of Muslims around the world rely on those same ‘unreliable hearsay stories,’ and offers no program for convincing those hundreds of millions of Muslims of the historical weakness of these stories.” Wrong, again. If you had read the Reformist Translation or Manifesto for Islamic Reform you would learn that we offer a theologically consistent and very powerful argument to trash all those hearsay stories. No wonder, with little effort, our message is welcomed by many around the world.
Kasem also finds the mathematical structure of the Quran hilarious, yet he does not provide a single substantial argument for his position, except claiming that some people reject it: “To take just one of many possible examples, he asserts that in the Qur’an ‘the frequency of the word YaWM (Day) is exactly 365.’ But another Muslim writer has noted that Yuksel only arrived at this total by not counting many forms of the word, including every time it appears as ‘that day’ rather than ‘the day’ or ‘a day.’ When Mr. Yuksel’s fellow Muslims so readily notice such inaccuracies in his presentation, it’s unlikely that many will accept his program for reform.”
I am glad that he brought that up. Well, if he looked at the entire argument, which is posted at my website, he would learn that my opponents finally accepted their error. See: http://www.yuksel.org/e/religion/365days.htm
As for Massoud, I will briefly mention his distortion of the Quranic verse 2:191. To serve his agenda, he plucks and chops the verse from its context. It is a primitive and yet a very common ploy used by intellectually bankrupt warmongers who push for another holocaust, this time against Muslims. Let’s read the verse together with its context from QRT:
2:190 Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress, God does not like the aggressors.*
2:191 Kill them wherever you find them, and expel them from where they expelled you, and know that persecution is worse than being killed. Do not fight them at the Restricted Temple unless they fight you in it; if they fight you then kill them. Thus is the reward of those who do not appreciate.
2:192 If they cease, then God is Forgiving, Compassionate.
2:193 Fight them so there is no more persecution, and so that the system is God’s. If they cease, then there will be no aggression except against the wicked.*
002:190 War is permitted only in self-defense. See 9:5; 5:32; 8:19; 60:7-9.
002:193 God’s system is based on freedom of faith and expression. God’s system recommends an egalitarian republic, and a federally secular system that allows multiple jurisdictions for different religious or non-religious groups. See 58:12 and 60:8-9.
Now let’s look at Massoud’s quotation of the verse. He shows the audacity to expunge the verse which he just distorted by plucking and chopping it!:
“kill them [infidels] wherever you find them”.
Massoud reminds me of the anecdotal would-be businessman whose brilliant plan for a glass repair company is no more than breaking the glasses of windows in the neighborhood by giving slingshots to some brats. Distort the verses of the Quran through mistranslating, chopping and slicing, and then promote your crusade to save the world from those verses. And the success is guaranteed.
Massoud does his chopping and distortion in this very symposium on my own words. Let’s see how he distorts my position. “I see no reason to address Mr. Yuksel’s diatribe. Any Muslim who considers liberations of 50+ million Afghanis and Iraqis ‘cruel military invasions and occupations’ by ‘Neocon-led coalition of warmongers’ or believes that the Prophet or the Koran is above criticism is a radical.”
I have not opposed the invasion of Afghanistan, since I believe the USA was justified to attack there. Though, its conduct of war has been harshly criticized by human rights agencies, the USA had a legitamate reason for invading Afghanistan: al-Qaida. But, the same cannot be said about Iraq, and today the majority of American public has finally came to agree with my position, that war against Iraq had nothing to do with liberating Iraqies or fighting against terrorists, but a lot to do with oil, imperialistic agenda, and profit for war industry.
Massoud, deliberately distorts my position by mixingAfghanistanwithIraq, so that his audiance will have a knee-jerk reaction to whatever I may say. Massoud must be one of the few gullible people out there still buying the “liberating Iraq” mantra. That is his choice, but he has no right to distort my position about Afghanistan. Bill Moyer, in his recent film exposed the series of lies and scams played by the Bush’s neocon administration to lead the nation to an unnecessary war. The cost of this unjust war is enourmous: 4,000 dead Americans, tens of thousands injured, one million dead Iraqies, millions more injured… About 600 billion dollars have been wasted for this attrocious destruction and annihilation.
I have also, since 1986, never claimed that the Prophet of the Quran to be above criticism. To the contrary, in my books and articles, I emphasized his human side and vulnaribility to commit errors. Only God can be immune of errors and sins. Thus, in one sentence, Massoud manages to fabricate and attribute two false ideas to me, while I am still alive. If he lived centuries ago, perhaps he would be among those narrators who fabricated numerous hadiths in the name of the Prophet Muhammed. I will leave the rest of his aruguments, since it will take too much space to correct so many factual and logical errors he is commiting. Interestingly, he managed not to address any of my criticism to his project.
Now let me finish this round with Warner. . “Then he goes ahead to tell the Muslims what filthy scum we are. The word ‘kafir’ is the worst word in the human language. No other pejorative is so cruel, demeaning, bigoted, insulting, and hateful as kafir. Why? It is not just the Muslim who believes this, but Allah, himself.”
Here is the allegory for Warner: A hiker is attacked by a dozen hungry and angry javelinas and he starts throwing rocks at them while cursing at javelinas. After javelinas escape, he hears another hiker behind him complaining: “you are a bigoted, insulting, and hateful man. I am a javelina and you hurt my feelings.” Warner is proudly volunteering for the title kafir (ingrate, unappreciative, aggressor) as it is described in the Quran, and at the same time he is complaining about its meaning! Kafirs are described by the Quran to be active opponents of monotheists who are unappreciative and aggressive, oppressive, misogynistic, racist, or hypocritical. Furthermore, there is variety of kafirs (ingrates) and each treated according to the severity of their hostility, aggression and crimes. For instance, the Quran condemns the ingrates (kafirs) for attacking weak men, women and children (4:75-76), and Warner’s feelings are hurt because we are asked to stand against those Kafirs.
No wonder Warner has blinded himself to the progressive message of the Quran and sees nothing novel in it but “Jihad and Muhammad.” I would invite him to see the list of verses in the beginning of the Reformist Translation describing Muslims, Islam and the Quran, but with this attitude he might have handicapped himself to appreciate the wisdom in the Quran.
As for me calling him “Brother Warner.” The Quran calls all humanity as the “children of Adam,” in other words, sisters and brothers. “O children of Adam enter the peace all together.” However, now learning that Warner is a hostile opponent, an ingrate activist against the message of the Quran which promotes peace, freedom and justice, I cannot call him “brother” in this context. So, his system is to him, mine is to me.
Warner complains about me insulting him through ad hominem attacks. I will leave it to the reader to compare my statements critical of Warner’s position with the definition of ad hominem. What Warner does is called projection, and I confess he is very good at it. If anyone is defaming and attacking a historical character based on selective hearsay sources, my pointing at the contradiction and dishonesty in such a tactic cannot be considered ad hominem, since it is perfectly relevant.
Warner accuses the Quran for condemning the Kafir (the unappreciative, the aggressor opponent): “Dualism affects all Muslims. It creates a lack of empathy with the suffering of the kafir and an inability to see how the Koran is filled with hate for them.” Well, I invite the readers to read all the verses that describe and define Kafirs and then ask themselves whether anyone who acts as such is worthy of empathy. According to the Quran Kafirs kill and evict people because of their beliefs, Kafirs violate the treaties, Kafirs kill children and women, Kafirs engages in slavery, Kafirs do not appreciate God’s blessings, Kafirs considers women lower than man, Kafirs do not help the poor, etc.
Warner continues his diatribes and vitriolic attacks: “But, Islamic ethics allow the Muslim to lie or tell the truth to the kafir. [Mohammed consistently told his jihadists they could lie and deceive the kafirs to advance Islam.] Islam’s ethical values do not even allow a definition of integrity, since it permits deceit.” The real deceit is committed by Warner, since he knows that I do not subscribe to hearsay stories about Muhammad, to the contrary that I reject all. He is implicitly attacking my integrity by referring to the sources that ironically neither of us trusts. I challenge him to find a single verse in the Quran permitting Muslims to lie. The Quran, however, is a realistic book and do not promote the Kantian principle of categorical imperative. For instance, if one fears of injury or death because of his opinion and conviction, that person might choose to hide his opinion to avoid harm to his or her person. If Warner is imprisoned by Taliban, perhaps he would act the same way to avoid harm to his person. Warner is so biased and hostile; he has blinded himself to hundreds of verses advising people to be honest, truthful even if it is against their interest and family members.
Furthermore, the Quran advises Muslims not to defend a group of Muslims who violated the treaty between Muslims and non-Muslims, thereby putting the rule of law above religious affiliation.
Warner might defend his position by pointing at Shiite and Sunni liturgy. Then, he should also declare Christians and Jews too with lack of integrity and honesty, since the Bible and Talmud contain numerous verses encouraging deceit and double standard. If I had no integrity and honesty, as Warner suggest, I would be acting as a stooge of the powerful. But, anyone familiar with my struggle since my youth will know that Warner’s attack to my integrity and honesty is a pathetic lie. Ironically, he is the one who is attacking my person rather my position, and he is using falsehood. He is the one who is making a diabolic accusation, since his accusation is not falsifiable. Whatever I do, whatever I say, Warner’s accusation regarding my intention will remain unchallenged.
Warner is rightly critical of Muslim invasions and occupations in the past. I condemn all aggression regardless of the religion or tribe of the culprits. In my articles and books I have promoted the Quranic position clearly. However, Warner, unable to face me and my reformist theology, is resorting to punching the straw man in his pocket. Well, he does not only punch the straw man, he attempts to eat it. For instance, he puts the following words in my mouth in an accusatory tone: “We won’t acknowledge that Islam has always annihilated all kafir civilizations.” ALWAYS? Well, surprise: Though I question the Islamic identity of the empires he is alluding to, yet I accept that statement in general, since history contradicts what Warner wants us to believe.
Muslims had invaded Spain and ruled there for about five hundred years. But, for the most part, Jewish and Christian population found justice and peace in Muslim Spain. Furthermore, when Muslims were forced out from Spain, we know what they left behind: a Christian population, libraries, universities, civilization, seeds of reform and renaissance in Europe. The same with theOttoman Empire. They invaded south eastern part of Europe for a long period of time, and we know what they left behind. Compare those two great empires, which I am fond of neither, and their evil deeds during the course of 1000 years to the destruction and atrocities of the USA-Inc led by a born-again Christian president overwhelmingly supported by evangelical Christians just in Iraq alone during the course of just 5 years. Warner has never condemned the atrocities of the USA-Inc, but I have in my writings condemned the atrocities committed by Muslim kings, caliphs, and empires numerous times. Who has honesty and integrity? I will not ask Warner from which hat has he pulled out the 270,000,000 dead, since I know if he can get the ALWAYS despite several hundreds years of exception, I am surprised that he did not get 27 billions dead.
FP: There is so much rhetoric here that I wouldn’t even know where to start. Suffice it to say that when America liberated Iraq it freed 25 million Muslims from a Fascist dictator. The destruction and atrocities there are not the result of what the U.S is doing; they are the result of Islamist violence and Islamic sectarian violence. If the jihadists never waged war in Iraq, if they didn’t intend to build a caliphate, and the Sunnis and Shiites never massacred each other, there would have been no destruction and atrocities; there would be a building of a civil, democratic and modern society, which is what the U.S. objective is.
There were no suicide bombers among Muslims until the Second Intifada because the Palestinians had not reached the zenith of their genocidal program against Israel. The death cult had not completely manifested itself until then. And what triggered the Second Intifada? Israeli Prime Minister Barak offered the Palestinians their own state and the possibility of peace at Camp David in July 2000. It was an extraordinarily generous offer. But because the Palestinians lust to kill Jews more than to have their own state, they punished the Israelis severely for this offer and began to kill not only Jews but also themselves and their own children — by strapping them up with bombs and sending them into Israeli restaurants and cafes.
Mr. Yuksel, I am shocked at the equivalency you apply to Islamic and Judaic and Christian teachings. Surely you know that when Christians have behaved in aggressive ways, their acts were not based on Christian teachings; their acts were un-Christian. The same cannot be said for Muslims when they engage in aggression and intolerance, since such behavior is a fulfillment of their theological mandates. All the schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that it is part of the responsibility of the umma to subjugate the non-Muslim world through jihad. There is nothing in the New or Old Testament that teaches any such thing.
KASEM: I thank Robert Spencer for pointing out the gross inanities in the arguments of Mr. Khalim Massoud and for admonishing the very angry and belligerent tone of Mr. Yuksel’s red herring fallacies. Robert Spencer has correctly identified the true problem with the Koran. Like him, I agree that the efforts of either Mr. Massoud or Mr. Yuksel to tamper with the Koran with their own version of interpretations and/or contextual relevance will be of little importance to the vast majority of the Muslims.
Mr. Massoud relapses to contradictory statements, again and again. It is difficult to proceed with dialogue with such absurd arguments and statements. For example: when I posed the question: How is it possible for an infallible God (Allah) to contradict Himself? Mr. Massoud’s answer was:
“It is impossible. That’s why we believe that the contradictory parts of the Koran did not come from God.”
Then in other parts Mr. Massoud writes:
“Let me clarify it. God is infallible. If he were fallible, he wouldn’t be God.”
I never claimed that the Koran is infallible and that Allah is the sole author of the modern Koran.
There is virtually no internal debate or discourse on the whether the Qur’an is complete or “perfect”.
We are not trying to change the Koran, we are trying to un-change it.
Past attempts to reform Islam were made inside Islamic world when reformers were greatly outnumbered. Now we have many non-Muslims on our side.
Honestly, Mr. Massoud, I do not get what is the true message you want to convey to your readers. Do you want to reform the Koran with such convoluted and hard-to-understand statements?
Just like Mr. Thomas Haidon, I do not at all trust your poll. Firstly, the sample size is too small to have any statistical significance, secondly, when I added up the figures you quoted for the Muslim response it was merely 10 percent and not 25 percent that you claimed. Correct me if I am wrong in interpreting your statistics.
Mr Warner grasped the essence of Islam when he wrote:
“Islam is inherently contradictory, that is its nature. There is no compromise or resolution between the two civilizations. We live in parallel universes.”
It is true that there cannot be any compromise with Islam. In Islam, it is either submission or annihilation. Thus, currently, we have two worlds, confronting each other: the world of Islam and the world of un-Islam. This state of perpetual confrontation is stated in a number of verses in the Koran (such as: 4:76, 3:175, 40:51-52, 47:7, 58:19, 58:21). This state of everlasting altercation precludes any reformation of the Koran and Islam.
Mr. Warner wrote further:
“If you reform the text this way, 61% is eliminated. Of course that destroys the Koran. My argument is to assume it can be reformed and when we see the result, it is absurd. Reform leads to absurdity. Mr. Kasem and I agree, the Koran cannot be reformed; or if it is reformed, it is no longer the Koran.”
I thank Mr Warner for stating the reality about the futility of creating a new Koran a-la Khalid Massoud and Mr. Yuksel.
In passing, it will be interesting to note the fate of another reformist of the Koran in our time, Rashad Khalifa.
Mr. Yuksel is very fond of throwing challenges. He writes:
“I challenge him to quote verses fitting those descriptions from the Reformist Translation of the Quran without taking them out of their context.”
How nice of Mr. Yusel to ask me to meet his challenge by using his version of the Koran. Even the dumbest person will know the trap you have set. Why must I trust your version of the Koran when the age-old, and the most eminent translators are there? Mr. Yuksel, please tell me why must I not trust the most celebrated exegetes of the Koran, such as Jalalyn, ibn Abbas, ibn Kathir, Maududi and so on? Are you claiming they are inferior to you, or that they did not understand the Koran?—rather you are the only person who correctly understands the Koran? I could easily challenge you to prove these eminent scholars of the Koran to be wrong. But I shall refrain from this, as this will simply render me as a person bent on vengeance.
Having said this, let me provide just one example of how the Koran commands the Muslims to fight and kill the infidels.
Mr. Yuksel, I am certain you have heard about the verse of the ‘sword’. Let us read what the eminent exegetes of the Koran has to say on this verse
After the four sacred months (Rajab, Zulqad, ZulHajj, Muharram) have passed, slay (fight and kill) the pagans wherever (that is, the earth in general—ibn Kathir) they are found. (Do not wait until you find them, seek and besiege them in their areas and forts, gather intelligence about them in various roads and fairways and force them to Islam. If they do not embrace Islam, then kill them. This verse allowed Muslims to fight the non-Muslims until they embrace Islam. These verses allowed fighting people unless and until, they embrace Islam and implement its rulings and obligations. Allah mentioned the most important aspects of Islam here, including what is less important—ibn Kathir, Jalalyn, ibn Abbas. Also see 2:190, 2:194, 5:2, 8:39, 9:36); if they repent and become believers then forgive them. (Note: This verse is called the verse of the sword. This verse abrogates all verses of forgiveness to the pagans. i.e., this verse cancels about 124 verses that espouses mercy, tolerance and forgiveness to the pagans)…9:5
I am certain Mr. Yuksel will deny the tafsirs of ibn Abbas, Jalalyn, and ibn Kathir. But please tell us who understood the Koran better—those who were close to Muhammad (such as ibn Abbas), and those earlier Islamist scholars, or the 21st. century scholar such as you?
Mr. Yuksel then advises me to read his tafsir of verse 9:29. As mentioned previously, what is wrong with the tafsirs of the most eminent Islamic scholars?
Mr. Yuksel writes:
“He will learn that the Quran justifies fighting against aggressor and violent Kafirs, that is warmongering ingrates, not peaceful ingrates like Kasem and Warner.”
This seems fair enough. If we extend the logic of the Koran to justify war and killing against the warmongering then why should Mr. Yuksel blame the West for what it is doing? They are simply responding to the armed insurgency of the Islamist terrorists. Why is it that only Islam has the inalienable right to fight oppression and injustice and not the others? Surely, you are now caught in your own logic. Do you not think that countries such as India, Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia have the right to invade Saudi Arabia and exact reparation for what the Arab invaders did to these lands? Do you not agree that the Jews and the Christians have the right to settle in Medina, in their ancestral lands, from where they had been forcibly evicted by Caliph Umar? Be fair, and let us know.
Mr. Yuksel even issued a challenge to Mr. Warner. He wrote: “I challenge him to find a single verse in the Quran permitting Muslims to lie.”
Well, Mr. Yuksel, here are a few verses for you to peruse, of course they are not your translation. If you do not trust the most eminent translators, why must we trust your translation?
Allah judges you by your innermost intentions not by your swearing by Allah (Foundation of Islamic taqiyya and kitman; telling lies and adopting deception for the sake of Islam is permissible; also see 3:28, 40:28, 16:106, 66:2)…2:225
Do not take unbelievers as friends; caution is necessary to befriend the unbelievers (the foundation of Islamic taqiyya and kitman;). (Do not befriend the deniers, even if they are among the closest relatives. In case of danger, Allah allows Muslims to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly. The taqiyya is allowed until the Day of Resurrection. Allah has reserved unremitting torment for those who give their support to His enemies, and those who have enmity with His friends.—ibn Kathir; it is all right to tell lies/ adopt deception (taqiyya and kitman) for the sake of Islam. Maududi 3/25: This means that it is lawful for a believer, helpless in the grip of the enemies of Islam and in imminent danger of severe wrong and persecution, to keep his faith concealed and to behave in such a manner as to create the impression that he is on the same side as his enemies. A person whose Muslim identity is discovered is permitted to adopt a friendly attitude towards the unbelievers in order to save his life. If he considers himself incapable of enduring the excesses to which he may be subjected, he may even state that he is not a believer.)…3:28
A believing man among the Pharaoh, who hid his faith (He was the paternal cousin of Pharaoh—Jalalyn), defended Moses, but Pharaoh said that he (that is, Pharoh himself) holds the supreme authority. (This believing man was an Egyptian Copt, a cousin’s son the paternal uncle of Pharaoh; only Pharaoh’s wife and this man were the believers. They concealed their faith from the Egyptians—ibn Kathir; foundation of Islamic taqiyya and kitman; telling lies and adopting deception for the sake of Islam is permissible)…40:28-29
Allah’s wrath is for the apostates; apostasy under duress is forgiven (foundation of Islamic taqiyya and kitman; telling lies and adopting deception for the sake of Islam is permissible; otherwise, there is a dreadful punishment for an apostate)…16:106-107
Muhammad (Muslims) is allowed to break oaths in certain cases (not specified); Allah is Muhammad’s protector (it meant that Muhammad is allowed to break his vows to his wives or others; foundation of Islamic taqiyya and kitman; telling lies and adopting deception for the sake of Islam is permissible.)…66:2
To duck the main issue Mr. Yuksel the resorts to America, Palestine, Afghanistan, and so on. This tactic is nothing new, whenever Islam is scrutinized, the Islamists often bring in such red herrings to divert the attention. Nevertheless, we can defeat Mr. Yuksel’s diatribe by simply saying that whatever the Americans and the non-Muslim world is doing is just to protect their interest. Why must the world be apologetic to Islam? Why does the Islamic world think that the world owes it a living, that they have the right to fight ‘injustice’ and ‘oppression’?. When America does not act to remove an Islamic despot, she is criticized for supporting a tyrant. But when America deposes a brutal dictator like Saddam, she is chastised for invading Iraq and killing innocent people.
Currently, in Iraq, the major fighting is between various factions of Islam. In Pakistan, Egypt, Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia, there are no American soldiers, yet what do we read in the newspapers? Amazingly, Mr Yuksel is completely coy on this.
Mr Yuksel chastises me for having called him an Islamist scholar. I have no intention to hurt you, neither do I attack you personally. Because you have such an impressive background in the knowledge of the Koran and Islam, is not this fair to call you a scholar of Islam? You even translated the Koran (in your own way). Only people who have unparallel knowledge of the Koran and Islam could do such a feat. So, is it wrong to say that you are an Islamist scholar? If you are perturbed with the epithet ‘Islamist’ then let us know what would be the best way to describe you.
Mr Yuksel wrote:
Kasem intends to make me the target of his “civilized world” with its invasions, destructions, carpet bombing, “harsh interrogation techniques,” Gitmos, Abu Ghraibs, millions of orphans, widows, and displaced people in just last few years.
This is just a fib. I never issued any threat to Mr Yuksel. Please show me a single sentence where I have done this.
Mr Yuksel continues:
I do not believe that Kasem is using that adjective by accident, since by now, he knows that I am one of the organizers of the Celebration of Heresy Conference, I am the author of Quran: a Reformist Translation, and he knows that I have brave standing against the Islamists, and my mentor and colleague was the first victim of Islamist terrorists in the USA. Despite all these facts, he attributes to me an adjective that describes my enemies. I understand his message very well: “Edip, if you continue exposing the violence and hypocrisy of my allies, then I will brand you with a title so that our civilized world will take care of you.” My only response to Kasem is this: a monotheist is the ultimate free person and cannot be hushed by implicit or explicit threats. We will see each other in the Day of Judgment, where God will be the only judge.
Again, this is a very old game of playing victim. Mr Yuksel, I wish you all the best. Despite our differences, I have great respect for your scholarship and for your courage to proceed with the reformation of Islam. I have no personal enmity with you, rest assured on this.
FP: Mr. Kasem, why do you call Mr. Yuksel an “Islamist scholar”? Surely you see why he has taken offense to this. He says he is not an Islamist and he appears to be fighting Islamism and this is why he has been threatened by Islamists. Why don’t you just call him an “Islamic scholar.”? Surely you see the difference here?
KASEM: All right, if Mr Yuksel is offended by the term ‘Islamist’ then I do apologize. Yes, I have no objection in calling him an Islamic scholar.
The reason why I thought that he might be an Islamist scholar, is the manner, in which he attackedAmericaand the non-Islamic world, holding them responsible for all the ills of the Islamic world. This is quite simlar manner in which the Islamists often attack the non-Islamic world, to justify their jihad and terrorism.
Now that Mr Yuksel has clarified himself, I would recognise him as a scholar of Islam rather than an Islamist scholar. Hope this should suffice.
FP: Thank you Mr. Kasem.
Mr. Yuksel, Mr. Kasem has a point does he not? If you are really part of the anti-Islamist agenda and are on the side of the West, why do you spend so much of your time and energy in this symposium attacking America and the non-Islamic world, blaming them for Islam’s tyranny and failures? Why do you apply moral equivalency in the terror war? Why do you attack the noble members of this panel that have the courage to point to the ingredients of Islam that fertilize Islamic terror? They have put their lives on the line to tell the truth. Surely you are aware that your words and stances on many of these realms serve the Islamist agenda, no?
And Mr. Kasem has made an apology in terms of the label “Islamist” in being applied to you, despite the doubts you put in peoples’ minds with some of your positions and attacks. You have made some attacks in the symposium as well. Do you think you owe anyone an apology of any kind?
Because this symposium has become way too long and you are getting an extra turn, kindly try to be brief.
YUKSEL: Since I am asked by the FP Moderator to be brief I will not be able to respond to all the spins and distortions. I will only address briefly to a few points and will post my response in detail later at 19.org. Mr. Glazov asserts, “All the schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that it is part of the responsibility of the umma to subjugate the non-Muslim world through jihad. There is nothing in the New or Old Testament that teaches any such thing.”
Our school of Islamic jurisprudence does not teach such a thing. To the contrary, we consider such an belief and practice to be anti-Quranic and Satanic. (I know, the modern inquisition court will continue accusing me and the Quran with the contrary).
As for FP moderator’s second assertions: The Old Testament contains numerous instructions for violence and terror, which cannot be attributed to a benevolent and just God. They are mixed and introduced together with beautiful and constructive instructions:
“Joshua and his men utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox, sheep and ass, with the edge of the sword.” (Joshua 6:20-21).
“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (1Samuel 15:3)
“Israel’s God will direct his jealous anger against Babylonians, Chaldeans, Pekod, Shoa, Koa, and the Assyrians, and they will be dealt with in fury. Their noses and ears will be cut off, and they will fall by the sword. Their sons and daughters will be taken, and those who are left will be consumed by fire.” (Ezekiel 23:25)
In the Manifesto for Islamic Reform, I have listed several dozens of Biblical verses expressing the cruel, violence, racist and misogynistic teachings of the Old Testament, which pales compared to Thalmud.
The New Testament, however, contains a different teaching. Nevertheless, since the New Testament relies on many verses of the Old Testament and there are ambiguities regarding the degree of its validity for Christians, Christians have justified many barbaric acts, atrocities, and torture by using and abusing the verses of both Old and New Testaments. For instance, see:
- Mat 5:17-19, 29-30;
- Mat 10:34;
- Mat 19:12;
- Mat 21:19;
- John 15:6 (was abused by the church and used together with Exodus 22:18 to burn witches)
- 1 Peter 2:13-14 (following this instruction, many atrocities and wars were committed by Christians)
As for Kasem’s question: “Mr. Yuksel, please tell me why must I not trust the most celebrated exegetes of the Koran, such as Jalalyn, ibn Abbas, ibn Kathir, Maududi and so on? Are you claiming they are inferior to you, or that they did not understand the Koran?”
This is a fair question, yet it also tells me that Kasem has no idea about our translation and our arguments. He is just happy to classify me with his stereotypes and criticize me with no knowledge at all. Since I have to cut this short, I will invite the reader to check my translation and find the my answer to this question, which initially sounds reasonable.
I would like to end this section with the following verses:
2:109 Many of the people of the book have wished that they could return you to being unappreciative after your acknowledgment, out of envy from themselves after the truth was made clear to them. You shall forgive them and overlook it until God brings His will. God is capable of all things
2:110 Observe the Contact prayer, and contribute towards betterment, and what you bring forth of good for yourselves, you will find it with God. God sees what you do.
Eternal Salvation is not Exclusive to a Race or Sect
2:111 They said, “None shall enter paradise except those who are Jewish or Nazarenes;” this is what they wish! say, “Bring forth your proof if you are truthful.”
2:112 No, whosoever peacefully surrenders himself to God, while being a good-doer; he will have his reward with his Lord. There will be no fear over them, nor will they grieve.
3:84 Say, “We acknowledge God and what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Patriarchs, and what was given to Moses, Jesus and the prophets from their Lord. We do not discriminate between them, and to Him we peacefully surrender.”
FP: Well, Mr. Yuksel, you say, “Our school of Islamic jurisprudence does not teach such a thing.” I am a bit confused. What is the name of your madhhab (school of Islamic jurisprudence)? I have never heard of it. Who established it and when? How many adherents does it have? How do you propose to convince Muslims to forsake the traditional view and follow yours?
Again, one can find quotes in the Old Testament that are violent, but the key distinction is that there is no equivalent teaching of subjugating by force the world of the unbelievers.
The Qur’an clearly teaches that Muslims are the “best of peoples” (3:110) while the unbelievers are the “vilest of creatures” (98:6). And these vilest of creatures must be converted, killed or subjugated. There is no equivalent in Christian or Judaic teachings in terms of this theme. And that is why there are no armed Jewish or Christian groups anywhere in the world today who are committing acts of violence and justifying them by referring to any of their religious texts. And throughout history, the texts, for instance, that Mr. Yuksel has pointed to, have never been taken as divine commands that either must be or may be put into practice by believers in a new age. And this is the key: all these passages are descriptive, not prescriptive. None of these scriptures amount to any kind of marching orders for believers. They nowhere command believers to imitate any kind of described violent behavior, or to believe under any circumstances that God wishes them to act as his instruments of judgment in any situation at any time.
And this is why Jews and Christians haven’t formed terror groups around the world that quote these Scriptures to justify killing civilian non-combatants. And this is why violent jihad is a constant of Islamic history – and why violent warfare in the name of Christianity is not a constant of Christian history. There was never a consensus among Jews or Christians that their religious texts justified violence and none of their sects of any significance ever taught that they did.
In any case, it is noted that Mr. Kasem found something to apologize for, but that Mr. Yuksel did not.
Robert Spencer, your turn.
SPENCER: Nothing I have read in this elephantine and contentious exchange has led me to modify my view that, as Mr. Haidon has said, “Muslims will never accept, on any level, removal of parts of the Qur’an.” Not only are large numbers of Muslims ever likely to accept a drastically edited Qur’an, but they are also unlikely ever to flock to a wholesale reevaluation of Islamic theology involving the dismissal of the Hadith and Sira as “hearsay stories.”
Mr. Warner is correct: “And there is no mechanism for reform. Our results–good, bad or indifferent—do not make any difference. There is no body or group that could vote or agree on any change.” Many strange things have happened in history and I would never say that Islamic reform is absolutely impossible, but Westerners are extraordinarily foolish when they harbor any hopes of it actually happening on a large scale. We need instead to focus on efforts to defend ourselves both militarily and culturally from the jihadist challenge, and to continue to call the bluffs of pseudo-reformers who intend ultimately only to deceive Western non-Muslims – many of whom are quite anxious to be deceived.
Because of the entrenched nature of Islamic orthodoxy, and its willingness to commit violence to enforce conformity, I am skeptical of the claims put forward by both Mr. Massoud and Mr. Yuksel to the effect that Muslims are flocking to their reform efforts.
Mr. Warner’s insight is excellent — that “all scholarship in Islam is either from the viewpoint of the kafir (kafir-centric), the dhimmi (dhimmi-centric) or believer (believer-centric).” In a world in which dhimmi-centric and believer-centric studies dominate the universities and media treatments of Islamic issues, Mr. Warner and others have stepped into the breach and begun to provide kafir-centric analyses to help non-Muslims understand exactly what we are dealing with. I myself have tried to fill a gap in kafir-centric scholarship on Muhammad with my book The Truth About Muhammad, and on the Qur’an in my Blogging the Qur’an series at hotair.com. At this point, which such a fog of ignorance and propaganda enveloping us and impeding our understanding of the jihad threat, to be informed is an essential first step.
And Mr. Warner is also quite right, of course, that “for the believer, Allah is wise, forgiving, knowing, and so forth. But for the kafir, Allah is a hater, a torturer, a plotter, a sadist, and an enemy. Allah makes us kafirs. Then he goes ahead to tell the Muslims what filthy scum we are.” This dualism is deeply rooted in the Qur’an, which tells Muslims to be merciful to one another but harsh or ruthless to unbelievers (48:29), and tells them that they are the “best of people” (3:110) while the unbelievers are the “vilest of created beings” (98:6). Even worse, unbelievers have no control over their fate – while there are many verses in the Qur’an that assume that human beings have free will, early in Islamic history the proponents of this idea, the Qadariyya, were defeated, and human free will was declared a heretical infringement of Allah’s absolute sovereignty.
The guiding principle on this issue in Islamic theology has been Qur’an 10:99-100: “And if thy Lord willed, all who are in the earth would have believed together. Wouldst thou (Muhammad) compel men until they are believers? No soul can believe, except by the will of Allah, and He will place doubt (or obscurity) on those who will not understand.” Allah even boasts that he could have made everyone a believer, but instead will fill hell with humans and spirit beings: “If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind one people, but they will not cease to dispute, except those on whom thy Lord hath bestowed His Mercy, and for this did He create them. And the Word of thy Lord shall be fulfilled: ‘I will fill Hell with jinns and men all together.’” (11:118-119).
This put the unbeliever in the position of being a victim of Allah’s decision not to make him a believer – a decision over which the unbeliever has no control, but for which he will suffer. This only reinforces the idea that the unbeliever – hated by Allah, more vile than any other creature, is not to accorded basic human respect. The presence of such material in the Qur’an first demonstrates, along with the Islamic supremacist and violent material that is also in the Qur’an, that a Qur’an-only Islam would not necessarily be an Islam in which Muslims respect and live in peace with their neighbors as equals
When, however, Mr. Warner makes his excellent observations about the position in which Islam puts the kafir, the inimitable Mr. Yuksel responds by scratching his head in wonder that anyone would want to be classed as an unbeliever. “There is variety of kafirs (ingrates),” he informs us, “and each treated according to the severity of their hostility, aggression and crimes. For instance, the Quran condemns the ingrates (kafirs) for attacking weak men, women and children (4:75-76), and Warner’s feelings are hurt because we are asked to stand against those Kafirs.” But unless Mr. Yuksel is postulating that anyone who doesn’t believe in Islam will inevitably attack weak men, women and children, he is putting the cart before the horse.
The fundamental reason why the Qur’an demonizes kafirs is because they are kafirs, and any evil they do other than disbelieve in Allah flows from that disbelief. This is the sort of attitude, as Mr. Yuksel’s demeanor here abundantly demonstrates, that militates against establishment of the basic respect that is required for people of differing views to live together in peace. For orthodox Muslims, and even unorthodox ones like Mr. Yuksel, to be able to have that respect would require that they first reject all this demonization. But it is deeply embedded in the Qur’an.
Mr. Yuksel errs when he attributes to the estimable Abul Kasem this statement: “He accuses Jamie Glazov of relying on ‘unreliable hearsay stories’ for information about Muhammad, but fails to inform us that the great majority of Muslims around the world rely on those same ‘unreliable hearsay stories,’ and offers no program for convincing those hundreds of millions of Muslims of the historical weakness of these stories.” Actually, I said that, and I stand by it. Mr. Yuksel responds to this by saying, “If you had read the Reformist Translation or Manifesto for Islamic Reform you would learn that we offer a theologically consistent and very powerful argument to trash all those hearsay stories.”
That’s great, if it’s true, but that’s only part of what I said. Since Mr. Yuksel doesn’t deign to share his “theologically consistent and very powerful argument” with us, but only asserts that it exists, I can’t evaluate the chances of its gaining wide acceptance among Muslims worldwide, but that remains the key question. I haven’t heard of any of the established Islamic sects or jurisprudential schools or the ulama of any Muslim country embracing his vaunted Reformist Translation. Perhaps Mr. Yuksel would be so kind as to provide us with a list.
Mr. Yuksel again errs by attributing to Abul Kasem my objection to his Qur’anic numerology. I pointed out that another Muslim writer had noted the forced and artificial character of Mr. Yuksel’s apologetic, and concluded that “When Mr. Yuksel’s fellow Muslims so readily notice such inaccuracies in his presentation, it’s unlikely that many will accept his program for reform.” Mr. Yuksel, however, now tells us that his “opponents finally accepted their error.” In this, however, he did not simply ask us to take his word for it, but gave us a link – and I went there, only to find the Muslim source to which I had referred earlier saying this about Mr. Yuksel: “He is the man who published a list, supposedly of all occurrences of the word ‘day’ in the Qur’an, and this list was false on its face, and even more false when examined in detail. If I have erred in my publication, I invite correction, something Yuksel does not do; in fact he hates it.”
This is Mr. Yuksel’s opponent eating crow? It is in fact illustrative of a trait Mr. Yuksel shares with the Islamists he abhors: an inability to engage in self-criticism, and the displacement of one’s own faults onto another, as in his complaint about Mr. Warner’s alleged “diatribes and vitriolic attacks,” when he himself is the only one who has actually engaged in such attacks. I am not saying, after all the squabbles above, that Mr. Yuksel is an Islamist; however, his attitudes are still redolent of the supremacism and contempt that characterizes Islamists. I respectfully suggest that his reform efforts would find better reception were he to rid himself of such attitudes.
Finally, he tells us that in his Reformist Translation we will “learn that the Quran justifies fighting against aggressor and violent Kafirs, that is warmongering ingrates, not peaceful ingrates like Kasem and Warner.” Unfortunately, given the widespread Muslim belief that a resistance to or even a simple rejection of Islamic proselytizing constitutes “aggression,” or that non-Muslims are aggressors against Allah for having rejected Islam, this is not enough to establish a framework for peaceful coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims as equals on an indefinite basis.
Finally, Abul Kasem’s question is highly pertinent and brilliantly put: “Mr. Yuksel, please tell me why must I not trust the most celebrated exegetes of the Koran, such as Jalalyn, ibn Abbas, ibn Kathir, Maududi and so on? Are you claiming they are inferior to you, or that they did not understand the Koran?”
To this, Mr. Yuksel answers only by telling us that he has answered this question elsewhere. Great. But in a symposium discussing the reform of Qur’anic ideas and Islam in general, it would have been nice if he had deigned to favor us with his wisdom on this all-important question. And his ridiculous finger-pointing Bible quotes, which are used today by no Jewish or Christian group to justify violence, have already been well answered by Jamie Glazov. But they put the coup de grace to any hope I might have had that we will see any real reform effort coming from such quarters.
FP: Khalim Massoud, Abul Kasem, Edip Yuksel, Thomas Haidon, Bill Warner and Robert Spencer, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.