Islamic apologist Juan Cole claims jihadis ‘cherry-pick the Qur’an and quote half a verse to justify themselves’
Juan Cole is one of the legion of far-Left academic Islamic apologists who do all they can to absolve Islam of all responsibility for the crimes done in its name and in accord with its teachings. Here, he attempts to show that the Qur’an contradicts jihadis’ beliefs and actions. If only he could convince jihadis of this, but they would see right through it. It’s actually an attempt not to convince them to lay down their arms, but to make Westerners complacent regarding the jihad threat, and to lead them to assume that jihadis are rejected by Muslims who are aware of the Qur’an’s actual teachings. More below.
“Top 7 Ways al-Qaeda’s Terrorism Violated the Precepts of the Holy Qur’an,” by Juan Cole, Informed Comment, September 12, 2021 (thanks to Gary):
Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – One of the great tragedies of the early twenty-first century is that the great civilization of Islam, over 1400 years old and with tremendous achievements should have had its escutcheon besmirched with the terrorism of a small fringe of extremists such as Usama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. It is the faith of nearly a quarter of humanity (and heading toward being that of a third),
Bully-boys and sociopaths like Bin Laden and his associates cherry-pick the Qur’an and quote half a verse to justify themselves. They completely ignore the peace verses in the Qur’an, which address a situation in which there is no state and no head of state and in which, therefore the early Muslim community was instructed to avoid conflict….
1. The Criterion 25:63 says, “The servants of the All-Merciful are those who walk humbly upon the earth — and when the unruly address them, they reply, ‘Peace!’” The Qur’an urges believers to emulate God, the compassionate and merciful, serving the All-Merciful. When ruffians (al-jahilun) taunt and harass them, they are to reply by wishing peace on their enemies. They are praised for walking humbly upon the earth.
Sufis such as Qushayri and Sulami saw this verse as an encouragement to cultivate the divine characteristics of mercy and compassion on all human beings, and thought only spiritual adepts could reach the state where they could sincerely wish peace, security and prosperity on people who were persecuting them.
Bin Laden for all his pretensions was just a rich psychopath (an increasingly worrisome phenomenon about which those old James Bond movies were prescient). He was not a recognized leader or head of state. He was just a civilian.
According to the rules of the Qur’an, his situation was like that of the early community in Mecca, which had no authority and therefore was instructed to let God handle such disputes.
Cole’s own article contradicts his attempt to use Qur’an 25:63 to show that the jihadis are wrong. Clearly this verse has never been understood to teach some sort of pacifism or nonviolence, and there are numerous verses calling for violence that are also in the Qur’an, some of which Cole discusses here. When the unruly address the Muslims, the Muslims are to reply, “Peace!” — but there are circumstances, delineated in the Qur’an, in which Muslims are to wage war, and that’s what jihadis consider themselves to be doing, waging war as the Qur’an commands.
2. In fact, ordinary Muslims are ordered to do good to their enemies to win them over.
Distinguished 41:33-35 observes, “Whose discourse is more beautiful than one who calls others to God and performs good works and proclaims, ‘I am among those who have acquiesced in the monotheist tradition? The good deed and the evil deed are not equal. Repel the latter with what is better and behold, it will be as though the one, with whom you have a mutual enmity, is a devoted patron. Yet to none is this granted save the patient, and to none is it granted save the supremely fortunate.”
This instruction to do good to your enemies perhaps goes even beyond what Jesus recommends in the New Testament. It is dialogical, urging believers to reach out to those who would do them harm, and attempt to transform them into supportive patrons….
Repel the evil with what is better. In the Qur’an’s context, what is better may be waging war against unbelievers. Cole’s assumption that the Qur’an considers waging war to be something evil in itself is not borne out by the text.
3. When civilians not at the head of a state kill, they simply are committing murder: Murder is strictly forbidden in the Qur’an. 5:53 says, “… whoso kills a soul, unless it be [a sanctioned execution] for murder or for committing brigandage in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and he who saves a life, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind,” This is a paraphrase, as the Qur’an admits, of the Jerusalem Talmud.
If killing one soul is equivalent to xenocide, to the killing of a whole species, then what is slaughtering 3,000 innocents?
Actually this is 5:32. There is some variation in the numbering of Qur’an verses, but Cole’s “5:53” is too far from the actual verse’s number to be a simple numbering variation. Either it’s a typo, or Cole simply doesn’t know where the verse really is. In any case, Cole here commits the notorious sin of omission that is so common among Islamic apologists. He quotes 5:32 without 5:33, which prescribes the killing and/or dismembering of those who “wage war against Allah and his messenger.” It’s hard to see 5:32, which is addressed to the “Children of Israel” alone, as forbidding murder on a universal basis when the verse that immediately follows provides ample justification for murder in all sorts of circumstances.
4. The Cow 2:190 instructs Muhammad’s believers: “Fight in the path of God those who enter into combat against you, but do not commit aggression. God does not love aggressors.” This was one of the first verses to permit self-defense, once the early Muslim community had relocated to Medina. The arrogant pagan Meccans came after them there, and if they had not taken up arms at that point, they and their families would have been massacred by the attackers.
Nevertheless, the Qur’an, unlike the Bible, only authorizes defensive military actions.
Not even one of those killed on September 11 had entered into combat against Bin Laden and al-Qaeda….
Cole doesn’t mention Qur’an 8:39, “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah.” That is an open-ended declaration of war against unbelievers simply because they are unbelievers, and demonstrates that Qur’anic warfare is not solely defensive.
6. The Spoils 8:61 says: “If they incline toward peace, you must incline toward it. Trust in God–he is all-hearing and omniscient.”
Since al-Qaeda staged a sneak attack on thousands of innocents, it had no way of knowing whether they inclined toward peace. There is no reason to think they weren’t peaceful people. This verse shows that the Qur’an disapproves of aggressive warfare and only authorizes defensive actions. After all, wouldn’t any enemy that was being attacked by Muslims declare for peace and so trigger an end to the war?
The Muslims should be ready to make peace if the enemy wishes to do so. Some however, do not believe this truce should be indefinite in length. Sayyid Qutb explains: “At the time when this surah was revealed, God instructed His Messenger to remain at peace with those groups who refrained from fighting him and the Muslims, whether they entered into a formal treaty with the Muslims or not. The Prophet continued to accept a peaceful relationship with unbelievers and people of earlier revelations until Surah 9 was revealed, when he could only accept one of two alternatives: either they embraced Islam or paid jizyah [see 9:29] which indicated a state of peace. Otherwise, the only alternative was war, whenever this was feasible for the Muslims to undertake, so that all people submit to God alone.”
7. The Qur’an recognizes that Jews and Christians are, like Muslims, monotheists and it guarantees them liberty of life and property. The Qur’an assures Christians and Jews of paradise if they believe and do good works, and commends Christians as the best friends of Muslims. I wrote elsewhere, “Dangerous falsehoods are being promulgated to the American public. The Quran does not preach violence against Christians.
Quran 5:69 says (Arberry): “Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabeaans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness–-their wage waits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.”
In other words, the Quran promises Christians and Jews along with Muslims that if they have faith and works, they need have no fear in the afterlife. Fred Donner has argued that Muhammad created a rainbow coalition of monotheists, of Jews Christians and Muslims. Muslims are permitted to share food with the other communities and even to intermarry.
Bin Laden’s characterization of all Christians as “crusaders” was a slap in the face to this Qur’anic ecumenism….
5:69 is one of the Qur’an’s oft-quoted “tolerance verses,” which seems to promise a place in paradise to Jews, Christians, and Sabeans.” A tafsir attributed to Ibn Abbas contends that 2:62, which says the same thing, was abrogated by Qur’an 3:85, which states that no religion other than Islam will be accepted in the next world. The thirteenth-century Qur’an commentator Abu Abdullah al-Qurtubi, whose commentary is still respected and widely read among Muslims, notes Ibn Abbas’s opinion and adds: “Others said that it is not abrogated and that it is about those who believe in the Prophet, peace be upon him, and who are firm in their belief.” Thus it would apply only to those Jews, Christians, and Sabeans who accept Islam. Those who do not are “the unbelievers of the People of the Book,” for whom Allah’s disdain is noted vividly in 98:6, where they are called “the most vile of created beings.”
So much for the peace and tolerance Juan Cole would have you believe is in the Qur’an.