Grey Thoughts
Islam, The Pope and Violence
Mark Drurie, a well known expert in Islam, has a great piece in the Australian on Islam and Violence.
On the other hand, no less a figure than the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh, issued a statement on the official Saudi news service, defending Muslims' divine right to resort to violence: "The spread of Islam has gone through several phases, secret and then public, in Mecca and Medina. God then authorised the faithful to defend themselves and to fight against those fighting them, which amounts to a right legitimised by God. This ... is quite reasonable, and God will not hate it."

Saudi Arabia's most senior cleric also explained that war was never Islam's ancient founder, the prophet Mohammed's, first choice: "He gave three options: either accept Islam, or surrender and pay tax, and they will be allowed to remain in their land, observing their religion under the protection of Muslims." Thus, according to the Grand Mufti, the third option of violence against non-Muslims was only a last resort, if they refused to convert or surrender peacefully to the armies of Islam.
Yep...Three choices, Convert, Pay us tax and be subject to Sharia Law, or Die.

Mark goes on to talk about interpreting the Koran and the verses in question.
But does the Koran incite violence, and how does its message compare with the Bible?

The Koran: It is self-evident that some Koranic verses encourage violence. Consider for example a verse which implies that fighting is "good for you": "Fighting is prescribed upon you, and you dislike it. But it may happen that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. And Allah knows and you know not." (2:216)

On the other hand, it is equally clear that there are peaceful verses as well, including the famous "no compulsion in religion" (2:256).

Resolving apparently contradictory messages presents one of the central interpretative challenges of the Koran. Muslims do not agree today on how best to address this. For this reason alone it could be regarded as unreasonable to claim that any one interpretation of the Koran is the correct one.
Nevertheless, a consensus developed very early in the history of Islam about this problem. This method relies on a theory of stages in the development of Mohammed's prophetic career. It also appeals to a doctrine known as abrogation, which states that verses revealed later can cancel out or qualify verses revealed earlier.

The classical approach to violence in the Koran was neatly summed up in an essay on jihad in the Koran by Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Hamid, former chief justice of Saudi Arabia: "So at first 'the fighting' was forbidden, then it was permitted and after that it was made obligatory: (1) against those who start 'the fighting' against you (Muslims) ... (2) And against all those who worship others along with Allah."

At the beginning, in Mohammed's Meccan period, when he was weaker and his followers few, passages of the Koran encouraged peaceful relations and avoidance of conflict: "Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious." (16:125)

Later, after persecution and emigration to Medina in the first year of the Islamic calendar, authority was given to engage in warfare for defensive purposes only: "Fight in the path of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for God does not love transgressors." (2:190)

As the Muslim community grew stronger and conflict with its neighbours did not abate, further revelations expanded the licence for waging war, until in Sura 9, regarded as one of the last chapters to be revealed, it is concluded that war against non-Muslims could be waged more or less at any time and in any place to extend the dominance of Islam. Sura 9 distinguished idolators, who were to be fought until they converted - "When the sacred months are past, kill the idolators wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in every place of ambush" (Sura 9:5) - from "People of the Book" (Christians and Jews), who were to be given a further option of surrendering and living under Islamic rule while keeping their religion: "Fight ... the People of the Book until they pay the poll tax out of hand, having been humbled." (Sura 9:29)

The resulting doctrine of war was described by the great medieval philosopher Ibn Khaldun: "In the Muslim community, the holy war (jihad) is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the (Muslim) mission and the (obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force." (The Muqaddimah)

The popular Muslim scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, and al-Jazeera television personality, in July 2003 invoked the classical dogma of the Dar al-Harb or "domain of war" that encompasses all the regions of the world in which Islam is not yet dominant. In the Dar al-Harb the lives and possessions of non-Muslims are muba'a, or "licit", making them a legitimate target for military action: "It has been determined by Islamic law that the blood and property of people of Dar al-Harb is not protected ... in modern war, all of society, with all its classes and ethnic groups, is mobilised to participate in the war, to aid its continuation and to provide it with the material and human fuel required for it to assure the victory of the state fighting its enemies."

All this explains Sheikh Abdel Aziz's response to the Pope's speech.

Yep. It explains it well. Islam will be peaceful as long as we are stronger. It will try and use our own systems to get Sharia law introduced in smaller areas first, and then larger ones. It will continue to work with the secular humanists and marxists to weaken our society. The battle is on. We just need people to realise it and understand it. Whether it remains a war of ideas, or devolves into a full scare physical war depends on how many people realise it. In this, it is where secularists and cowards who embolden Islam and end up staying silent and trying to shut everyone else up.

Great link. Thanks for that. I agree with your insight, too.
One of the ME blogs I frequent was just having this very conversation.
Have you participated at Big Pharoah or Sandmonkey? (I don't recognize your name, I just happened upon your blog by accident.) They're Egyptian bloggers and I think you'd find them quite interesting. Judging from your posts, you would contribute a lot to the conversation!

(I'm still just a commenter. I'm from California, nice to meet you!)
Thanks Bec,
I haven't been over on their sites. I will check em out.

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