Violence and Islam

Saleem Ahmed, Ph.D 1-808-371-9360
A lecture organized by the Muslims Students Association - Faculty Advisor: Prof.Yasmeen Mohiuddin was delivered at Sewanee: The University of the South, TN, in mid February,2010.

“The Qur’an carries several mixed signals,” explained Honolulu-based author Saleem Ahmed (Islam: A Religion of Peace? 2009), “For example, while verse 5.51 prohibits Muslims from trusting Jews and Christians, verse 5.5 permits Muslims to eat and intermarry with them.” On what basis can Muslims decide which verse to follow? “Unfortunately, since the Qur’an is not arranged chronologically, individuals select verses which justify their pre-determined agenda,” added Ahmed. “For example, while the Islamic Society of North America quotes more than 50 verses in its July 28, 2005 press release to underscore Islam as religion of peace (www.ISNA.net), Sheikh Abdullah, a former Saudi chief justice, quotes more than 50 other Qur’anic verses to inciteMuslims to fight non-Muslims continuously.” The Sheikh’s essay appears in Al-Hilali and Khan’s translation of the Qur’an (1996). “It is the latter interpretation which breeds terrorists,” Ahmed lamented. “And, since both sides quote sacred Muslim text, neither side challenges the
other.”

Fortunately, Ahmed believes this dilemma can be resolved by Qur’anic verse 2.106 which clarifies that later guidance superseded earlier guidance. But how do we determine which is the ‘later guidance’? Ahmed uncovered the answer in the earliest extant book on Muhammad written within 150 years of the prophet’s death. This explains that verse 5.51 was revealed shortly after Muhammad fled from Mecca to Medina (622 CE), but still was very vulnerable. And verse 5.5 was part of the last guidance he received a decade later (632 CE). By then, all Arabia had been conquered and danger dissipated. Thus, “peace-inspiring” verse 5.5 replaced “war-inciting” verse 5.51. “Similarly, gender equality replaced misogyny and forgiveness replaced punishment,” Ahmed added.

Finally, Ahmed discussed the Qur’an’s “less traveled path” and highlighted several Qur’anic verses (such as 2.62 and 4.152) underscoring that God sent messengers to all nations of the world, and Muhammad clarifying there were 124,000 such messengers. Thus, Ahmed believes all religions revering the One Eternal Reality and asking followers to lead a righteous life are God’s religions. Ahmed invited his audience to join the “One Reality, One Humanity, Converging Paths” conference being organized in Hawaii in Summer 2011 by the All Believers Network (www.AllBelievers.net) in co-sponsorship with other organizations. Additional information can be obtained from the author (AhmedInHawaii@aol.com).

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