Monday, September 20, 2010

Let It Speak

Speaking with my wife yesterday I told her, "I wish that I could just post the Qur'an on my blog." She encouraged me to do just that so today I have decided to do a verse by verse comment on a passage in the Qur'an I have read and will give some amazing insight on what the book actually says on conflict compared to the Old Testament view of conflict. I am comparing with the old testament because it contains most of the biblical narrative about conflict and war. I will begin with my quote form yesterday and continue on until the thought is concluded in the text.

"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors, and slay them (those who fight you) where ever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter/ but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith." Verses 190-191

I made extended comment on these verses in my last post but they begin the discussion of this topic in the text so they must be included here. Please notice that the text says that a conflict of violence should only occur when violence is brought upon the Muslim community for the sake of their faith. Also if you are a Christian I am sure you notice the stark contrast between this and the "turn the other cheek" approach. If nothing else you must agree that this passage makes more common sense than the other, but many think that lack of common sense makes the Bible so great as a message. That may be true but the Qur'an contains a message that can be attained, a more logical allowance for human conflict.

"But if they cease, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful" Verse 192

Everyone please read that again. I am not attempting to oversimplify conflict with Muslim nations but is there a possibility that this verse could help us all understand how to end the problems. What would be wrong with diplomatically approaching a Muslim leader with this verse from their own Holy Book and ask, "If we stop, will you obey your teachings." I also am aware that the conflicts that some Muslim leaders have with the west is a cultural war, but even that can be discussed in length after the bullets stop flying and peoples oppression ends. Yes, there are many other issues of human rights in these countries, but none of us honestly believe they are easier to deal with as mortars are going off 50km from the negotiation site. Perhaps we should be imploring Imams across the world to petition these leaders with this verse. Thinking with the Qur'an instead of against it could become an amazing step for world peace.

"And fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression." Verse 193

If a Muslim community does find it self in conflict with a power or people that refuse to back down this will certainly be a verse in the battle cry of the soldier. Allah gives permission to both begin and end a conflict, along with parameters for clear and concise guidance for each step. If a conflict is started is is continued until the party becomes destroyed or the party discontinues the engagement. It is a bullheaded approach to conflict but one that every nation on earth has adapted and is willing to prove with endless lives. In there Christian world there is much room for debate about the topic of war and conflict, mostly because there are not specific rules spelled out and everything is up to theologians to interpret. Even Augustine, the man who developed what most "just war" theory is based upon today, took many pages to fully discuss conflict inside of the Bible and come to a conclusion. So again the Qur'an wins points for conciseness.

"The prohibited month for the prohibited month, - and so for all things prohibited, -there is a law of equality. If then anyone transgresses the prohibition against you, Transgress ye likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves." Verse 194

This is the concluding verse of the section her on conflict. The prohibited month discussed her would certainly be Ramadan, the month of fasting, prayer and humility. And inside of this discussion we a wonderful rule of equality. It is quite similar to the "eye for an eye" rule found in the old testament. That practice was followed until Jesus made his "other cheek" statement. It is the most basic form of justice, retributive. However, note the end of the verse, Allah is with those who restrain themselves. This conflict can be undergone with direct retribution but the heart of the passage suggests that it is more honorable by Allah to withhold complete retribution if it is possible, again quite akin to the conclusion Augustine had drawn about conflict.

I hope reading this brought thoughts to mind about our worlds current affairs. Possibly it may have changed your mind on how to deal with those issues. At the very least after reading these passages I would like you to know that everything you hear about the Muslim religion, that is not coming form a Muslim or the Qur'an, will be incomplete. Even the words I write are an attempt at defining the whole, and there is plenty left to read and much more to write, bear with me and we will all be changed for the better.

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