The Qur'an propounds a harsh and violence doctrine, promoting the idea of an constant struggle between Muslims and others that can only be ended when everyone has converted to Islam, normally by going through a phase of paying a tax to Muslims after submitting to them, or, if all else fails, through being defeated through war or trickery. Now it might seem contradictory to also point out that there a great number of verses in the Qur'an that preach against Muslims trying to convert others to Islam, but the contradiction isn't that great because, whether or not you actively try to convert them, non-believers can still be fought against and subjugated, and the conversion can just be assumed to start happening "naturally" during that process. The Qur'an does not take a rational or tolerance stance - its very definition of "non-believer" and "disbeliever" is skewed against any chance of amicability, for example in Qur'an 38:74 Satan is called an "unbeliever" yet is standing there talking to God. This is an incorrect use of the word "unbeliever". Satan clearly believes that God exists, hence, is a believer. "Unbeliever" simply means "anyone who doesn't toe the line" - and with such a wide definition of the enemy, there is little scope for peace or human rights within Islamic communities, let alone between Muslims and others. There is little to give hope to liberal proponents of peace and tolerance in the hundreds of verses discussed on this page.
“O you who believe! Take not as (your) Bitanah (advisors, consultants, protectors, helpers, friends) those outside your religion (pagans, Jews, Christians, and hypocrites) since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you.”
Mohsin Khan translation
“Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme.”
The Qur'an contains detailed instructions and examples of how to meet unbelievers. The Qur'an states categorically that Muslims cannot have non-believers as friends, advisors, consultants or protectors (Qur'an 3:118 and 4:144). If a Muslims wife is, or becomes, a disbeliever, the marriage can be discontinued and the dowries paid for them can be demanded back (Qur'an 60:10). The second instruction is that unbelievers should be called to Islam; in fact, the Qur'an says you cannot wage war against unbelievers until you have preached to them. The third instruction is that if they do not convert to Islam, then, they must be fought. The fourth instruction is that if they surrender, or convert, then you must stop waging war. If they do not convert or surrender, then they must be killed. This is the optimum route for Islamist expansion: A tidal wave of war, subjugation and conversion.
There is another provision in the Qur'an though, because sometimes Muslims aren't in a position to wage war. In this occasion, the examples and teachings of the Qur'an are that Muslims may make deals with their enemies, with unbelievers, engage in truces and the like in order to recuperate and gain strength. The overriding concern is the fight against unbelievers; if this can't be achieved then it is ok to strategically lay low. To achieve more sneaky victories, it is acceptable to deceive, double-cross and break deals. Deals with unbelievers are not real deals, anyway, and are to be broken as soon as more aggressive moves can be made.
Robert Spencer, author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam" points out that there are over 100 verses in the Qur'an that exhort Muslims to fight unbelievers; this includes 'chopping their heads off' (Qur'an 47:4). The verse says that Allah forgives only those who have the right beliefs, and non-believers' actions will 'come to nothing'. The reason that such black-and-white morality is permissible is the same reasons that Christians gave during the Dark Ages of Faith: any enemies of Christians were actually Satanic:
“This warfare was only part of the larger spiritual conflict between Allah and Satan: "Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of evil: so fight ye against the friends of Satan" (Qur'an 4:76)
"Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." (Qur'an 9:5). The "poor-due" in this verse is zakat, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and regulates religious tithes."
"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued" (Qur'an 9:29). The jizya was a tax inflicted upon non-believers.”
Many more verses continue the theme: Unbelievers are the utmost evil, and to fight them you can therefore use any means. In fact, Muslims have to use any means they can to convert or subjugate nonbelievers. "The unbelievers are your inveterate foe" or "The disbelievers are ever to you a clear enemy" (Qur'an 4:101 - depending on translation). Now, many Muslims in Western countries don't seem to be doing this... and we will explore why not, later. The verses above from the Qur'an (4:76, 9:29, 9:5, 47:4) and many others affirm that Muslims must fight unbelievers, convert them, or subjugate them. Subjugation always involves non-Muslims paying taxes to Muslims, 'feel themselves subdued', and countless other humiliations and restrictions. Hitler forced Jews to wear special signs; the requirements of Islamic rule are much, much worse. Nonbelievers in Muslim lands are restricted so much that they must either convert to Islam just to live, or, they choose to die. This is how the Muslims want it: Any temporary tolerance is a precursor to conversion or increased oppression.
Some of the pro-war, pro-violence verses include these:
Not all Muslims, however, know the Qur'an very well. Many do not read it; many cannot read it (many Muslims are not Arabs). But in a general environment where the afterlife becomes such a cultural totem, and the way to get there is to 'be a Muslim', it only takes a general anti-Muslim slant in Islam before many pick up on the violent vibes, and take up the sword in order to ascertain their own accession.
“Most Muslims who commit atrocities are explicit about their desire to get to paradise. One failed Palestinian suicide bomber described being "pushed" to attack Israelis by "the love of martyrdom." He added, "I didn't want revenge for anything. I just wanted to be a martyr." Mr Zaydan, the would-be martyr, conceded that his Jewish captors were "better than many, many Arabs." With regard to the suffering that his death would have inflicted upon his family, he reminded his interviewer that a martyr gets to pick seventy people to join him in paradise. He would have been sure to invite his family along. [...]
The believers who stay at home - apart from those that suffer from a grave impediment - are not the equal of those who fight for the cause of God with their goods and their persons. God has given those that fight with their goods and persons a higher rank than those who stay at home. God has promised all a good reward; but far richer is the recompense of those who fight for Him... He that leaves his dwelling to fight for God and His apostle and is then overtaken by death, shall be rewarded by God... the unbelievers are your inveterate enemies." Koran 4:95-101.
Even apparently innocuous beliefs, when unjustified, can lead to intolerable consequences. Many Muslims, for instance, are convinced that God takes an active interest in women's clothing. While it may seem harmless enough, the amount of suffering that this incredible idea has caused is astonishing. The rioting in Nigeria over 2002 Miss World Pageant claimed over two hundred lives; innocent men and women were butchered with machetes or burned alive simply to keep that troubled place free of women in bikinis. Earlier in the year, the religious police in Mecca prevented paramedics and firefighters from rescuing scores of teenage girls trapped in a burning building. Why? Because the girls were not wearing the traditional head covering that Koranic law requires. Fourteen girls died in the fire; fifty were injured.”
"The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason" by Sam Harris (2006)2
Irrationalism and strange beliefs about what the creator of the universe cares about are not merely oddities; they are cancers of human thought. As human action is normally forethought, superstitious beliefs can and do lead to bloodshed. The West has its own example in history: For hundreds of years learning and free thought were suppressed by the Christian church during the dark ages. Although such beliefs were once a minority, they can fatally undermine entire civilisations.
The following is taken from "Islam and the West: Pluralism, Immigration and Danger" by Vexen Crabtree (2011):
Sometimes it appears that communities are en masse engaged in strategic anti-Western practices. This begins to verge on the level of conspiracy-theory, but nonetheless there is governmental evidence to back it up. It is best that Bruce Bawer speaks for himself:
“Kheir Sajer, an Oslo Muslim who describes Islamism as a 'cancer' in his community, tells of an Oslo imam who has preached that Christians, under sharia law, must pay jizra, the protection tax demanded of all infidels living in Muslim lands: 'In Norway, they don't do this. Therefore the Muslims have a right to steal from them. If a Muslim walks straight into a store and steals, it is thus a legitimate act.' Other Oslo imams, says Sajer, agree. [...]
Many immigrants have been extremely successful at exploiting the generosity of Western welfare states [...] In Norway, the handouts come in a wide variety of forms - among them public assistance, unemployment benefits, relief payments, child benefits, disability, cash support, and rent allowance. One reason the Scandinavian welfare system has worked as well as it has is that most Scandinavians have been pretty good about not taking excessive advantage of it. [...] To a surprising extent, much of the social security apparatus functions on a sort of honour system: unless you require it, you don't ask for it.
“After the 2005 terrorist attacks on London, it emerged that the four suspects had raked in more than half a million pounds in welfare benefits from the British government.”
Alas, this is a different kind of honor than many immigrants are familiar with. Most come from poor villages in undeveloped countries with high levels of corruption - a background that tends to breed cynicism, duplicity, and an exceptional skill at manipulating the system. For people with such backgrounds, the goal is to grab everything one can get; only a fool would not take maximum advantage of the kind of bounty that Western Europe offers. Besides, many of them are told by their religious leaders that Muslim law gives them the right to abuse the infidels' system as much as possible - the right, in Kheir Sajer's words, to 'cheat and lie to the countries that harbour them.' They are told to view the benefits they receive as jizya. [...] In Denmark, Muslims make up 5 percent of the population but receive 40 percent of welfare outlays.”
"While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within"
Bruce Bawer (2006)3
Some state investigations have found large-scale and significant abuses of the system by entire extended families and portions of Muslim communities. Such immigrants often claim on behalf of family and relatives that are actually living in, say, Morocco, and who routinely lie about how many dependents they have.
'Apostasy' is the act of leaving a religion. It is deconversion. Normally it involves taking up another religion, sometimes it involves the taking up of a stance skeptical of all religions. If deconversion is the result of no longer believing that gods exist, then, the result is atheism. In the context of a discussion of Islam, an 'apostate' is someone who has left Islam for whatever reason. Muslims have sometimes converted to Zoroastrianism, Bahá'í, Christianity and Hinduism. However, the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death.
“The study of other religions is discouraged by the Qur'an in verses (16:106, 88.23f) prescribing punishment for Muslims who give up Islam for another religion; it was generally maintained in the past that the appropriate punishment was death. This is despite the Qur'anic statement that there is no compulsion in religion (2.256)”
"Islamic Fundamentalism and Modernity" by Montgomery Watt (1989)4
It works like this: Muslims must wage war on non-Muslims. But, those non-Muslims can convert in order to avoid slaughter. In history, hundreds of thousands have converted to Islam, normally en masse, in the face of Muslim armies. No other religion has spread so much by the threat of armed force. Now, Muslims know that many convert but don't really mean it. The crime of apostasy covers this: If you de-convert, then, you can be killed. Also, jihad can be waged against those who do not completely uphold Islamic ideals. These assure that any suppressed communities living in Muslim lands convert along with their children, and cannot de-convert.
Authorities in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia have arrested and tortured people for deconverting, or for teaching non-Islamic religion to others, for example in 2003 October when 22 Christians were tortured for secretly converting from Islam5. In Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and most other Islamic countries, the authorities actively suppress non-Muslims and violence against them is shockingly frequent and nasty.
Muslims do not allow scholarly study of religion, scientific research, the facts of history or philosophical debate to challenge Islam. Anything that questions or challenges the dogmas of Islam is "blasphemy", no matter how honest the enquiry. Anyone who wants to study the history of Islam cannot do so whilst living in a Muslim country as a Muslim. You can't point out that early compilations of Qur'anic texts are different to the ones we now have, you cannot point out that multiple verses in the Qur'an directly contradict scientific findings and that other verses get their history wrong: And you certainly can't question the motives of Muhammad nor his army. All of that is blasphemy.
“They were therefore ready to respond fervently to the call of the late Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran for the assassination of the secularist author, Salman Rushdie - a British citizen of Indian Moslem origin living in Britain - for daring to write a novel, The Satanic Verses, based partly on a critical view of Islam. The author and his American wife (novelist Marianne Wiggins) had to go into hiding as a result of Khomeini's transcontinental death sentence in February. Six months later, his wife emerged to say that after moving with him from place to place every few days (fifty-six moves in five months), she had now left Salman, and no longer knew where he was hiding. He himself may never dare to be seen again in public. [...]
The book has been publicly burned by Moslem mobs in Britain, many booksellers and libraries have responded to threats of arson and personal attack by withdrawing the book, and some of these threats have now been put into practice.
Thus, several bookshops have been seriously damaged by Moslem fire-raisers - including one shop in central London, Collet's, that was burnt out in spite of the fact that it had already, under pressure from its intimidated staff, withdrawn the book.
At the beginning of September, a bomb was thrown from a car at the famous West End store Liberty's, and four passers-by were injured. At that moment, a telephone message claiming responsibility for the incident was received by the police from an obscure Moslem group calling itself "Islamic Concern for Banning the Satanic Verses." Moslem leaders, while expressing regret that people have been injured, say it is the fault not of the Moslems but of Rushdie and his publishers and booksellers and the British government. [...]
The publisher, Penguin Books, owns nine retail bookshops in city centers around the country, and time bombs were planted outside four of these shops during the evening of September 13. A passerby, seeing a man lurking suspiciously in the dark doorway of the shop in York, alerted the local police, who were just in time to clear people from the vicinity, so that when the bomb exploded, causing damage to the building, there were no casualties. Meanwhile, the York police warned their colleagues in the localities of the other eight Penguin bookshops, thus enabling the other three bombs (in Nottingham, Peterborough, and Guildford) to be defused before they exploded.”
Barbara Smoker (1981)
Wherever Islam is the state religion, all other religions lose legal protection, and only Islam remains protected. Anything that offends Muslim sensibilities becomes hotspots of violent riots, protests, and murder. Salmon Rushdie went into hiding in the West after publishing The Satanic Verses, which was a fictional story based partly on a criticism of the hodge-podge formation of the Qur'an. No matter how minor the superstition is, if it is questioned, Muslims rally together to call themselves oppressed, victimized and offended. This mass reaction scares Westerners and non-Muslims, but, we must not give in to it. It is superstition, paranoia on behalf of Muslims, but much more than that: It is STRATEGY. The Qur'an tells Muslims that 'oppression is worse than death', and that anything that challenges Islam, stops people from converting or hinders Muslims is 'oppression'. They use the word freely, and manipulate the politically-correct politicians and do-gooders of the West. When seen in the context of the brooding and tactical moves that educated Muslims wish to make against unbelievers, any 'moral outcry' must be understood to be merely another attempt at increasing the power of Islam. For this reason, I embrace all blasphemy.
Qur'an 9:23, 58:22 instruct Muslims to abandon and do not be friends with disbelievers nor be friends with disbelievers' friends, even if that means abandoning your fathers, sons or kinfolk, as they are wrongdoers. Qur'an 60:1 repeats that you cannot (should not) love disbelievers nor have them as friends although it contradicts itself 6 verses later in 60:7 by saying that sometimes God "brings about friendship" between Muslims and "those who you hold to be your enemies". A number of further verses repeat the idea that you Muslims cannot be friends with disbelievers: 3:28, 3:118, 5:51, 5:80 and 53:29. Although it isn't necessary to look to the Hadiths when the Qur'an itself is so clear, know that they are just as harsh and repeat these same commands.
A phrase which recurs frequently in the Qur'an is translated by N. J. Dawood as "The non-believers will never prosper", by Mohsin Kahn as "The disbelievers will never be successful" and in the Saheeh International translation as "how the disbelievers do not succeed!". However you translate this statement, the facts of the world are apparently contradictory to it. The vast majority of the world is not Muslim; and, of those countries that are not Muslim, most of them are somewhat more stable and successful than Muslim countries. From education to violent crime and rape, it certainly appears that the non-believers are both more prosperous and more successful. Some might reply that those verses mean that disbelievers will not be successful in the afterlife, but, Qur'an 28:82-83 (and others) say that same and are talking about temporal, Earthly issues and certainly does not mean "in the afterlife". It appears that as the real-world changes, as it has modernized, embraced human rights, and developed socially, that the Qur'an has been shown to be morally backwards and flawed in its statements about the success of the non-Muslim world.
In Monotheism and Free Will: God, Determinism and Fate: 4.2. Islam I document the many verses in the Qur'an that deny the possibility that we can change God's will: this also includes many statements that we cannot convert non-believers to Islam because God has blinded them.
God Guides Some, But, Makes Everyone Else Blind. God bestows abundance on those who he guides, and, blinds those others so they don't, and can't, believe. God has set veils on unbeliever's hearts so that they don't understand signs and proofs, it "closes their hearts, eyes and ears" and leads them astray so that even "if they see every one of the Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) they will not believe therein". If God wanted, it could open their eyes and then they would believe. God could have guided all of mankind if it wanted (Qur'an 13:31). These themes are seen time and time again in the Qur'an. See Qur'an 2:213, 3:74, 4:88,143, 5:54,67, 6:25,35,39,111,126, 7:178-179,186, 10:99-101, 13:31, 14:4, 16:9,37, 17:45-46, 18:57 and 24:35. Whether you believe or not is not an issue of free will or personal choice, and any punishments based on belief or lack of belief is therefore arbitrary and without justice especially as Allah has the responsibility to guide people to the right path (16:9).
But this vast array of verses is contradicted in places by the occasional comment that says otherwise. Qur'an 8:38 instructs people to talk to those who have disbelieved in order to encourage them to change. 57:17,25 says "We have made the communications clear to you that you may understand" and 18:54-55 says that "nothing prevents men from believing". Although shortly after that, 18:57 returns to the old story, saying "Who does more wrong than he who turns away from [proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations] [...]. Truly, We have set veils over their hearts lest they should understand, and in their ears, deafness. And if you (Muhammad) call them to guidance, even then they will never be guided".
Human actions cannot change who believes, and who is saved. Allah "bestows His abundance" and purifies "whom He will" (Qur'an 2:212, 4:49, 30:37). Qur'an 2:286 says that "God does not charge a soul beyond what is in its capacity" - if you're not capable of understanding something (because God made you that way), then, God will not then make you capable. You will remain hindered forever. And in Qur'an 5:42 it says "To everyone We have appointed a way and a course to follow". Sura 57 concludes by stating that even the followers of Islam cannot control who receives the grace of God as it gives it to whomever it pleases.
God ordains everything, in a book written before time. "Nothing shall ever happen to us except what God has ordained for us" (Qur'an 9:51) and this includes all misfortune which befalls people (Qur'an 57:22) and their lifespans (3:154, 35:11). When the Qur'an is so clear on a point there is no need to look to the Hadiths for further comments, however, there is every indication that the Hadiths are just as clear: "One was the report that the Prophet had said, 'The first thing God created was the pen; then he said to it, "Write all that will happen until the Last Day'"7.
So what is to be done about disbelievers? Qur'an 3:178 and 6:137 says to let them continue in their ways, so that their sins may increase. They'll then get all the more punishment from God, later on. 15:2-3 says leave them in their wrong ways, with false hope. "If you should strive for the guidance", says Qur'an 16:37, "Allah does not guide those he sends astray". Qur'an 10:99-101 says the same; people only believe with permission from Allah, and showing anyone else proofs of Islam is to no avail. The Qur'an says it is right to take no action against unbelievers. "And whoever has disbelieved - let not his disbelief grieve you" it says in Qur'an 31:23-24 and in 6:69 it says believers are not responsible for nonbelievers; believers are merely to fear God when they see unbelievers. God will judge them on the Day of Resurrection. The message is clear: Muslims must not proselytise, must not take it upon themselves to guide others, as this God's duty alone, so Muslims must simply let unbelievers be, and don't worry about them as they're not responsible for them. Take heed of Qur'an 74:7, "For thy Lord's Cause, be patient!".
By Vexen Crabtree 2013 Oct 12
Originally published 2006 Sep 27
Parent page: Islam: A Critical Look at Contemporary Issues
The Koran. Translation by N. J. Dawood. Penguin Classics edition published by Penguin Group Ltd, London, UK. First published 1956, quotes taken from 1999 edition.
(2006) While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. Published by Broadway Books.
(1987, Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Religion. 16 huge volumes. Eliade is editor-in-chief. Published by Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, USA.
(2006) The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason. 2006 edition. Published in UK by The Great Free Press, 2005.
(1981) "FUNDAMENTALIST MOSLEM VIOLENCE IN BRITAIN" by Barbara Smoker on atheists.org. President of the British National Secular Society from 1981. Page accessed 2000.
(2005) The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam. Published in the United States by Regnery Publishing, Inc, Washington, DC.
(1989) Islamic Fundamentalism and Modernity. Published by Routledge.