The Candid Eye

October 22, 2009

The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran – Part2

Filed under: Islam,Jihad — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
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Source: Frontpage Magazine

An interview with Robert Spencer,the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is the author of nine books on Islam and Jihad, a weekly columnist for Human Events and Frontpagemag.com, and has led numerous seminars for the U.S. military and intelligence communities. He is the author of the new book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran.

Infidel's Guide to Koran

Infidel's Guide to Koran

FP: What does the Koran think of infidels and what does it teach for Muslims to do to them? Why?

Spencer: In the Koran the Infidels (kuffar) are, simply, those who reject Islam. They are those who do not believe in Muhammad’s message: they “treat it as a falsehood that they must meet Allah” (6:31) and “believe not in the Hereafter” (16:60). They “have bartered guidance for error” (2:16). They even dare to mock Muhammad in his proclamation of Islam. Allah tells his prophet, “When ye proclaim your call to prayer they take it (but) as mockery and sport; that is because they are a people without understanding” (5:58).

The Infidels are those who have made themselves enemies “to Allah, and His angels and His messengers, and Gabriel and Michael.” Allah himself, in turn, “is an enemy to the disbelievers” (2:98). And Satan and his minions are their friends: “Lo! We have made the devils protecting friends for those who believe not” (7:27). They are also, naturally enough, the enemies of the Muslims. Allah gives permission to the believers to shorten their prayers while traveling “for fear the unbelievers may attack you: for the unbelievers are unto you open enemies” (4:101).

Who specifically are Infidels? First there are polytheists (mushrikun), whom Allah particularly disdains for committing the cardinal sin of shirk – associating partners with Allah (2:105, 3:95, and many other passages identify the polytheists as apart from and opposed to Islam’s central monotheism).

There are also People of the Book – mostly Jews and Christians. Islamic apologists argue that Islam does not consider them Infidels, since the Koran never specifically identifies them as such. The Koran, they further note, speaks of the “unbelievers among the People of the Book” (59:2), implying that at least some People of the Book were believers, and therefore were not Infidels.

But who comprised this group among the People of the Book that the Koran identifies as believers? They were Jews and Christians who distinguished themselves by “believing” in one thing: that the Biblical prophets, as well as Jesus, preached Islam and anticipated Muhammad’s arrival — and thus they became Muslims when they heard about Islam. In other words, they were proto-Muslims who recognized that the true teachings of Moses and Jesus were identical to Muhammad’s teachings. Any Jews and Christians who rejected this idea and stayed true to their own religions were “unbelievers among the People of the Book” – and therefore Infidels.

The Koran consistently assumes that the Infidels are not people who have come to a good faith decision that Islam is false – neither the Koran nor Islamic tradition allows for the existence of such people. The Koran declares that “the Religion before Allah is Islam,” and that the People of the Book reject it only because of “envy of each other” (3:19). The Jews and Christians, says Maulana Bulandshahri, a twentieth-century Islamic scholar, recognized Muhammad “to be the final Prophet but their obstinate nature prevented them from accepting.”

Thus, in the Koran the unbelievers know that Muhammad is a prophet, and yet, purely out of bad faith, they refuse to become Muslim and follow him. The Koran repeatedly emphasizes the oneness of Allah, and claims that “those to whom We have given the Book” – that is, the Jews and Christians – “know this” – that is, the truth of Muhammad’s message – “as they know their own sons” (6:20). This is because, says Ibn Kathir, “they received good news from the previous Messengers and Prophets about the coming of Muhammad, his attributes, homeland, his migration, and the description of his Ummah.” In other words, their unbelief in Islam is not a sincere rejection based on honest conviction, but sheer perversity: they “lie against their own souls” (6:24). For “in their hearts is a disease; and Allah has increased their disease. And grievous is the penalty they (incur), because they are false (to themselves)” (2:10).

Muslims have the responsibility to fight the Infidels (4:89, 2:191, 9:5) and subjugate the People of the Book under the rule of Islamic law (9:29).

FP: Why do Muslims regard the Jews as their worst enemies? Why such targeting of Jews?

Spencer: The Koran says that the Jews will be the Muslims’ worst enemies, along with the pagans (5:82). This comes from the Koranic presentation of Muhammad as the last and greatest in the line of Biblical prophets, preaching a message identical to theirs. The authentic Torah supposedly commands Jews to follow Muhammad and recognize his prophecy – those who refuse to accept Muhammad as a prophet are, in the Muslim view, rejecting both Moses and the prophecies of the Torah. It is no surprise, then, that in the Koran both David and Jesus curse the disbelieving Jews for their disobedience (5:78).

Yet of course, Torah-observant Jews did not and do not accept Muhammad as a prophet, and this enraged the prophet of Islam during his lifetime. Muhammad initially appealed energetically to the Jews, hoping they would accept his prophetic status. He even had the Muslims imitate the Jews by facing Jerusalem for prayers, and he adopted for the Muslims the Jews’ prohibition of pork. But he was infuriated when the Jews rejected him, and Allah shared his fury in Koranic revelation: they had the Torah, and the Koran confirmed it, and yet they refused to accept the Koran! “And when there came to them a messenger from Allah, confirming what was with them, a party of the people of the Book threw away the Book of Allah behind their backs, as if (it had been something) they did not know!” (2:101).

Another Jewish leader noted that “no covenant was ever made with us about Muhammad.” Allah again responded through his Prophet: “Is it ever so that when they make a covenant a party of them set it aside? The truth is, most of them believe not” (2:100).

FP: Muslims say they believe in Jesus and respect him, but what they say about him is quite different from what the New Testament says about him. How does the Koran alter the New Testament’s accounts about Jesus? Why?

Spencer: Jesus has a prominent place in the Koran. The Islamic holy book refers to Jesus frequently, usually either as “Jesus Christ” or as “Jesus the Son of Mary” (although it uses a form of the name Jesus, Isa, that is not used by Arabic-speaking Christians, and which in reality is closer to “Esau” than to “Jesus.”) The references to the “Son of Mary” reflect the Koran’s acceptance of the Virgin Birth – everyone in antiquity was referred to as the son of his father, not of his mother, unless his father was unknown. And the Koran also affirms the Virgin Birth directly (3:47). Besides “Son of Mary,” Jesus is called Christ (3:45; 4:157; 4:171-2; 5:17; 5:72; 5:75; 9:30-1) and the “Word” of Allah (3:45; 4:171), recalling the Gospel of John, which also identifies Jesus as God’s Word in a striking passage that also says that “the Word was God” (John 1:1, 1:14).

But the Koran and the New Testament also disagree, quite profoundly, about Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus is the Word of Allah in the Koran, but the Word is not Allah. Allah explains, “The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: ‘Be.’ And he was” (3:59).

Similarly, in the Koran, “Christ” (al-Masih) is essentially a proper name, not a title; Jesus is not the “anointed one” promised to the Jews or to anyone else. Islamic scholars explain that the name is derived from the Arabic verb Massaha, which means to anoint someone with oil for healing. So then is Jesus the Messiah, the anointed one? Not in the Christian sense — they say he bears this name solely because he healed others.

Instead of the Messiah and the Savior of the world, Jesus in the Koran is only one among many prophets — even if he is favored above his fellow prophets, for Allah has given him “clear (signs), and strengthened him with the holy spirit” (2:253). In fact, another passage says that Jesus is himself a “spirit proceeding from” Allah (4:171).

The spirit of a being is, of course, its very life, but Muslim theologians have never considered the implications of this title, any more than they have considered the implications of calling Jesus Allah’s “word.” The Koran repeats twelve times that Allah has no son, saying that to claim that he does would impugn his transcendent majesty (2:116; 10:68; 17:111; 18:4; 19:35; 19:88; 19:91; 19:92; 21:26; 23:91; 39:04; 43:81). It also specifically rejects the Christian idea that Jesus is the Son of God (4:171; 9:30), at one point implying, remarkably, that Muhammad thought of the question in purely physical terms: “How can [Allah] have a Son when He has no consort?” (6:101).

Ultimately, the Koran concludes that Christians have departed from the truth by teaching the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ: “So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not ‘Three.’ Cease! (It is) better for you! Allah is only One Allah. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son” (4:171).

The most significant Koranic departure from Christianity is its denial of the reality of the crucifixion of Christ: “They did not kill him, nor crucify him, but they thought they did [or literally, it appeared so to them].” The Jews boast that they killed Jesus—but they only think they did (4:157). In fact, Jesus escaped crucifixion, though how he did so is the source of some dispute. The traditional Islamic scholar Ibn Kathir argues that “when Allah sent ‘Isa [Jesus] with proofs and guidance, the Jews, may Allah’s curses, anger, torment and punishment be upon them, envied him because of his prophethood and obvious miracles. . .” Consumed by this envy, Ibn Kathir continues, the Jews stirred up “the king of Damascus at that time, a Greek polytheist who worshipped the stars” to order his deputy in Jerusalem to arrest Jesus. Jesus, perceiving this, asked those with him, “Who volunteers to be made to look like me, for which he will be my companion in Paradise?” A young man volunteered, whereupon “Allah made the young man look exactly like ‘Isa, while a hole opened in the roof of the house, and ‘Isa was made to sleep and ascended to heaven while asleep.” Then “those surrounding the house saw the man who looked like ‘Isa, they thought that he was ‘Isa. So they took him at night, crucified him and placed a crown of thorns on his head. The Jews then boasted that they killed ‘Isa and some Christians accepted their false claim, due to their ignorance and lack of reason.”

The Koran emphasizes that Jesus was a prophet of Allah, who did all his mighty works by order of Allah – and is thus not himself divine. Interestingly, unlike Muhammad, Jesus is depicted performing various miracles. But after these miracle stories, Allah again stresses that Jesus is not divine, asking him point blank: “O Jesus, son of Mary! Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?” (5:116)

The Koran here seems to be criticizing the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, which it apparently envisions as consisting of Allah along with a deified Jesus and Mary. Ibn Kathir says the same thing, claiming the Christians elevated Jesus “and his mother to be gods with Allah.” The actual Christian Trinity of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not envisioned in the Koran.

In any case, Jesus denies having told his followers to worship him and his mother, and the passage concludes by repeating that those who believe otherwise will, of course, be punished (5:116).

The Koran even asserts that those who believe that Jesus is divine are themselves Infidels, and hell-bound to boot: “They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! Whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers.” (5:72).

Jesus is, far from being divine, a “slave of Allah” (Abdullah: 4:172; 19:30; 43:59). Calling Jesus a slave of Allah, of course, puts him on the same level as all created beings – for the master–slave relationship is the primary paradigm in Islam for human relations with the divine. Despite his Virgin Birth, despite his miracles, despite his being favored above the other prophets, Jesus is, in the final analysis, simply another created being, a slave of Allah. Those who assert otherwise, identifying Jesus with God, are Infidels: “They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary” (5:17).

In case the point is not clear, Allah directs Muhammad to say that Allah could destroy Jesus, his mother, and the entire earth if he so wished (5:17) – thereby vividly reasserting Allah’s absolute sovereignty, which the Koran appears to regard as threatened by the idea of the divinity of Christ.

The Koran declares that, just as Muhammad’s message confirmed that of the Gospel before it, Jesus told the Jews that his message confirmed that of the Torah. Jesus also said, according to the Koran, that he was the precursor of a messenger who would come after him, whose name would be Ahmad. But the people would dismiss Jesus’s miracles as “sorcery” (61:6) – recalling their dismissal of Moses (28:36) and Muhammad (28:48).

“Ahmad” means “the Most Praised One,” and it is etymologically related to Muhammad, which means “Praised One.” Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, a British Islamic scholar and convert to Islam, drove the connection home by translating “Ahmad” simply as “Praised One.” And Muslims universally understand the verse as depicting Jesus predicting the coming of Muhammad.

Muslims contend that this prophecy is the uncorrupted version of the words of Jesus that survive in corrupted form in John 14:16-17, where Jesus says, “And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.”

“Counselor” here is parakletos, or Paraclete. Some Islamic apologists have claimed this is a corruption of periklytos, which means “famous” or “renowned,” i.e., “Praised One.” However, there is no textual evidence whatsoever for this: no manuscripts of the New Testament exist that use the word periklytos in this place. Nor is it likely that the two words might have been confused. That kind of confusion may be theoretically possible in Arabic, which does not write vowels and hence would present two words with identical consonant structures. But Greek does write vowels, so the words would never in Greek have appeared as even close to identical.

In light of all this, it is clear that when the Koran refers to Jesus, it has in mind a figure who is strikingly different from the one in the New Testament. And the Koran is presented as the corrective to these New Testament “corruptions.” The idea that Christianity is a “distorted, deformed religion” created by people who were bent on rejecting the prophet Muhammad fuels a great deal of Muslim hatred for Christianity, Christians, and the West to this day.

To  be continued…..

Also read the Part1 & Part3 of this series.

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