Re-Interpreting the Koran


koran1As I’ve written on several previous occasions, there exists a sect of reformist Muslims who believe that the Koran has been grievously misread by cavilers and doubters who are convinced that Islam is not a religion of peace, but a violent and imperialistic faith intent on world conquest. The passages in the Koran—and the environing literature as well—that give rise to the animosity of nit-pickers and quibblers, the enlightened Muslims claim, require to be re-interpreted so that their temperate and merciful essence can be made plain to all. Embarking on the process of re-interpretation can be a salutary and liberating task, one that we spurn at the peril of darkest ignorance and counter-productive rancor. Eventually the detractors of Islam may realize that they have failed to grasp the beauty, elegance and rhetoric of conciliation that animate the holy texts and be moved to make amends for their anti-Islamic vitriol and stubborn recidivism.

To consider only a few salient instances of controversial passages that have been consistently misapprehended.

Koran 2:191, speaking of infidels who do not accept the word of the Prophet, commands us to “kill them wherever you may find them.” Here we must be particularly alert, subtle and astute, for killing the unbelievers does not mean to slay them bodily, but to kill them with kindness, in other words, to shower the candy of life upon them, to reward them with prestigious appointments and lavish emoluments, to bow before them in the streets and welcome them into the homes of the devout, to address them with profound respect, to decorate them with titles and ply them with accolades—until, bedazzled by the nobility and magnanimity of Islam, they are ready to convert.

Similarly, in Koran 2:216, where we read that “fighting is prescribed”  for the faithful, we are to understand that the battle is enjoined to vanquish the evil impulse in Muslim and non-Muslim alike, until universal harmony and jubilation dominate the world. This is the true meaning and purpose of the Caliphate.

When Allah warns in Koran 3:56, with regard to those who reject the faith, “I will punish them with terrible agony,” the supreme Lord does not propose insupportable physical torment but, rather, the moral suffering that comes from the recognition of apostasy or denial, which can only strengthen the fibre of a mortified conscience.

Koran 5:33 informs us that “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement.” Admittedly, this is hard verse to fathom; however, as is often the Prophet’s wont, he is not targeting body parts but engaging in graphic allegory to impress upon both believers and unbelievers the self-torture they will feel, smitten by their higher selves, should they curse the Almighty.

In the same way, Koran 8:12, which reads: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them,” is not meant to be taken literally. The true meaning is: browbeat them tactfully and lightly slap their wrists if they persist in their folly and continue to rebuff your acts of philanthropic munificence. This is the Islamic version of tough love.

Koran 18:65-81 is often taken to condone honor killing, since what appears to be the senseless murder of a young man is only meant to spare his parents the trauma of his imminent misdeeds and to prepare the way for a successor.  Of course, one knows that killing is frowned upon in Muslim culture, and this apparent killing of the young man is nothing but the symbolic correlate of expunging his “disobedience” and mischief-making and replacing his wayward sensibility with contrition and the promise of rehabilitation.

Koran 47:35 adjures: “Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when you should have the upper hand, for Allah is with you.”  The “upper hand” (Arabic: shakir) refers not to arrogant predominance or to the hand the strikes downward from the crown to the jaw, cleaving the skull in two, but to the hand that is raised heavenward in prayer. Nor should the Muslim “cry for peace,” that is, for relaxation or diversion or couch-potatohood, but should be above all triviality in his desire to know the peace of exaltation. Genuine peace can only be found in the bosom of God

The same procedure leading to the extraction of authentic purport applies, for example, to the Hadith (sayings and acts ascribed to Mohammed). For example:

When, in Bukhari 11:626, Mohammed discloses that “I decided to order a man to lead the prayer and then take a flame to burn all those who had not left their houses for the prayer, burning them alive inside their homes,” he does not envision the burning of the flesh but the inward fire of self-contempt that slackers and tergiversators will eventually experience. The pain of remorse can indeed be searing.

In Bukhari 52:177, we read that “the Hour [of Resurrection] will not be established until you fight with the Jews.” This admonition obviously has nothing to do with anti-Semitism; the idea is to engage in playful sparring and amiable argumentation with Jews in order to reveal the high spirits, good humor and self-deprecating modesty of Islam, thus impressing the initially skeptical Jews with the genial nature and friendly feelings inherent in the faith.

Analogously, when we find in Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 9:90 the divine behest that “A prophet must slaughter before collecting captives,” neither the term “slaughter” nor “captives” connotes anything malevolent or untoward. “Slaughter” refers to animal sacrifice in homage to the deity; “captives” alludes not to slavery, an abomination which critics of Islam unfairly accuse it of practicing even to this day, but to the human heart binding itself in the golden chains of celestial beatitude.

Thus, when Mohammed, in Tabari 9:69, is reported as saying that “Killing unbelievers is a small matter to us,” we come to understand that this is among the most pacific of passages in the Hadith. By “unbelievers,” Mohammed is once again drawing attention to animal sacrifice on the altar of devotion, for animals do not believe or worship. And by “a small matter,” Mohammed, a master ironist, is merely being facetious. The “small matter” is clearly of gravest importance, the carrying out of certain ritual decrees regarding the treatment of animals, which today justify the custom of halal cuisine.

Again, those who are strangers to nuance will misconstrue a text like Muslim 19: 4294, in which we are told that “When the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him [to] make a holy war.” A reset is needed if we are to grasp the Prophet’s tenor, for by prosecuting holy war, we are to understand righteous preaching for the benefit of the human soul. No one is to get hurt for Islam is the religion of peace, amity and concord.

I have isolated merely a sparse handful of the myriad comparable passages and tropes that proliferate throughout the Islamic canon. The same habit of re-interpretation—which is actually proper interpretation—of the scriptures is the sine qua non for reading and understanding the traditional texts of Islam. Indeed, every venomous, inflammatory or disturbingly ambiguous passage in the entire range of Islamic writings, counsels, messages and prescriptions, when placed in the appropriate light, can be seen to denote the opposite. We are all dhimmis, second class beings, compared to the Creator. We must all pay the jizzya, or tribute tax, of genuine worship to the Lord of the Universe. We discover our freedom in “perfect slavery” (a term popularized by the medieval Islamic scholars al-Qushayri and Ibn Arabi) to the dictates of an enlightened conscience and ethical behavior. Life is a blessing and a miracle, which the Sharia, by ordering our activities down to the minutest details, confirms and extols—Sharia may look like totalitarian compulsion but it is really perfect love. “Submission” is the triumphal assertion of the sanctified will, that is, submission to our best selves, aka our Islamic selves. Beheading (“smiting of the neck”) is only a metaphor for changing one’s mind about first and last things. And so on.

It is only the literalists, the barbarians, the uneducated, and the unevolved among Muslims who will act in defiance of their sacred texts, even if they happen to constitute a majority. They are patently unable to process what any sensitive and informed person among the ummah—or for that matter, among Jews, Christians and secular Westerners—recognizes immediately: the Koran and its outriders are not what they appear to be to primitive, malicious and uninstructed minds. What seems opaque or problematic becomes instantly transparent to an agile and sympathetic intelligence. For there is no violence or niggardliness in Islam, only light, majesty and infinite tolerance for suffering mankind. This is the charm of the initially paradoxical passage in Koran 5:54: “O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Those of you who make them his friends is one of them. God does not guide an unjust people.” By which Mohammed means that one should embrace the foreigner not simply as a friend but as a more-than-friend, a brother, a soul mate, in short, as one cherishes one’s own spirit. Otherwise, one will be in dire want of divine guidance.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the school of Muslim thinkers, editors and redactors without whom we would remain trapped in a tangle of misconceptions respecting the religion of peace.

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  • bruce lorraine

    Taqiyya at it’s finest.

    • Chez

      I’ve said it for a long time….Muslim societies CAN be reformed, but only OUTSIDE the purview and traditions of Islam. That’s why the example of Western liberty is so important….and why it’s so tragic that such an example is being undermined by the stultifying restrictions of political-correctness and excessive government regulation.

    • JoJoJams

      Satire at its finest!! lol! ~ :-)

  • miy

    The effort is futile,but might be rewarding in that the love vertion of koran might guide sincere muslims away erom Islam and help in making them accept the love of God in Christ.

  • TGP

    They can CLAIM we are misinterpeting their scriptures all they want, but as long as they are “misinterpreting” them, I feel better not being around them. I think that they have named their knives, “kindness” and that is what they are going to kill us with.

  • bj affordable

    Hitler would be very proud of Islam.

    • dartson

      As a matter of fact, he was. While planning the final solution, Hitler was inspired by the Armenian genocide, committed by Turks. One of his closest allies was the Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who helped Hitler recruit Bosnian Muslims to the Balkanian SS division and urged him to conquer Palestine to put an end to the Jewish presence there.

    • DilloTank

      I haven’t studied this topic thoroughly, or even casually, but I do remember reading somewhere that Hitler admired Islam. It appears that Nazism is at least partially modeled after Islam.

      The Nazis claimed that the Jews were descended from apes and pigs, just as the Muslims claim. Could this be a coincidence? I rather doubt it.

  • knowshistory

    what to believe………these soothing words, or our lying eyes? a really difficult decision, for a multiculti traitor who is happy to see his kind, culture, nation, and existence erased, and replaced by the mouth foaming, screaming, hate filled minions of the religion of peace. I think I will go with the lying eyes.

    • David Solway

      Dear knowshistory
      please, my friend, bone up on satire.
      David

      • knowshistory

        this isn’t satire. the author clearly states that the peaceful interpretations are not his own. the traitors i refer to occupy positions of power in western governments. they are the ones importing muslims to replace our legal populations. number one among such multiculti traitors, IMNSHO, is George w. “religion of peace” bush, who, in response to an unmistakable act of war on the population of the united states by its muslim invaders, here at the permission of, or due to the criminal negligence of, our government. the only reasonable response to 9-11-01 was the expulsion of all muslims, both home grown and domestic, from our country. this would have been a victory of unprecedented proportions over the ever-victorious legions of the religion of pure evil. instead we got “islam is a great religion of peace”, earning gwb his place in the world record annals of treason and stupidity.

        • knowshistory

          I don’t even mention Obama, inasmuch as he is a self admitted muslim, and this was well known before the elections. the dreadfully harmful things that Obama does are not treason, since he is clearly one of the enemy. his actions are exactly what we should reasonably expect. in his case, the traitors are the fools that voted for him, against all the evidence of his sympathies. shame on us.

          • JoJoJams

            You do realize the “David Solway” you are responding to IS the writer of the article, don’t you? :-)

        • David Solway

          Dear friend
          I never seriously state that the quotes are not my own. They are, every one, invented for the purpose of the satire. I humbly recommend the writings of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift as a primer in the art.
          David

        • alihusaini

          Yea,your so right.And when we tire of deporting them,lets just put them in cattle cars and send them to the camps!!

      • ObamaYoMoma

        If that is the case, your sarcasm isn’t obvious, but then again I glossed over most of the article.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        Okay I see it now. For a while, I thought you lost your mind and flipped over to the other side. Indeed, I was quite disappointed. It’s funny now.

  • Life’s Traveller

    A wonderfully satyric and sarcasm-laced article.

    Warning, like the Qur’an, not to be taken literally.

  • CGleason

    Yeah right..

  • riverfred

    WHY EXTREMIST MUSLIMS KILL NON-MUSLIMS (JIHAD): A Muslim can be devout, pray five times a day, make the pilgrimage to Mecca, etc., and still have to face judgment (with a chance of not making it to Paradise). But if he or she dies while killing non-Muslims, there is no judgment. The Muslim who dies in jihad goes straight to Paradise.Quran 8:12 – Terrorize and behead the infidels wherever you find them.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      WHY EXTREMIST MUSLIMS KILL NON-MUSLIMS (JIHAD)

      I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are no extremist Muslims as I’m sorry to inform you that Islam is not a so-called religion of peace. Instead, it is a very aggressive and destructive totalitarian cult with the sole purpose of subjugating into Islamic totalitarianism all religions and all infidels via the imposition of Sharia, which is Islamic totalitarian law. Furthermore, Jihad is not only the highest pillar of Islam, but it is also a fundamental holy obligation incumbent upon all Muslims in one form or another. Therefore, all Muslims are jihadists in one form or another. Otherwise they are blasphemous apostates that according to the texts and tenets of Islam must be executed.

    • eib

      In other words, all salvation in Islam is the result of violence against the non-Muslim.
      If you do not hate and do violence, you are not saved. Sounds positively demonic.

      • alihusaini

        WOW!!!You guys are sooooooooooo smart!!

  • Jake-a-runi

    I only believe what I read in the Reader’s Digest condensed versions.

  • geneww1938

    Rewrite, rethink, reinterpret and do as you want with the Koran and it will always be Satan’s masterpiece of hate and subjection of people. The Koran hates what God authored, the atonement and resurrection of Jesus and the Judeo-Christians.

    • Jeff Ludwig

      Amen.

      • alihusaini

        Yeeeeehaaawwwwwww!!You guys want to keep the Jews around just long enough to kill them after they reject your God!

        • Jeff Ludwig

          Sir, to me, yours is a strange and unintelligible reply.

          • alihusaini

            Sorry about that Jeff,so please allow me to explain.geneww1938 says,”the atonement and resurrection of Jesus and the Judeo-Christians.”.According to Christian and specifically Evangelical Christian eschatological understanding,the Jews will be given a final time to accept Jesus as the Messiah and more importantly,to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior,ie.,God.And if they do not,they will be killed and thrown into the fire.Therefore,it has always baffled me as to why some Jews are in bed with the Evangelicals when in the end,all they want to do is to kill the Jews.I hope this is a better understanding of my previous post.

          • Jeff Ludwig

            Thank you for clarifying your meaning Mr. Husaini. I take it that you are drawing a parallel between Evangelical Christian eschatology and Islamic teaching. Why do Jews accept support from evangelicals when, as you see it, they envisage killing the Jews just like the Muslims? I think the main answer is that evangelical Christians are not killing Jews anywhere in the world, and have not done so since Protestantism began although Martin Luther’s later writings are clearly anti-Semitic. There were pogroms murdering Jews by Ukrainian Orthodox and Russian Orthodox Christians, but they are not evangelical. So evangelical Christians are not only not killing Jews and not speaking vehemently against Jews outside or inside Israel, but they are also investing tens of millions of dollars to help Jewish people and the State of Israel.
            Further, in the Holy Bible there are NO invitations to the followers of Jesus Christ to kill anybody in order to bring about their conversion or to take retribution for Jewish unbelief. This is different from the Qu’ran where killing the infidel is promoted as legitimate or even necessary activities for believers in Allah.
            All unbelievers, both Jew and non-Jew, will at the Great White Throne judgment be cast into the lake of fire. This will be ultimate judgment, and it will be done by Almighty God as a final expression of His justice. At that time, Christians will not be charged to kill Jews. Rather, all Christians are called upon to show love and mercy to all people and to pray for all people and, as Holy Scripture says, “to live at peace with all people as much as possible.” No Christian can take it upon himself or herself to kill Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, etc. in the name of his or her God; however, it is every government’s duty to protect its citizenry from attacks by enemies internal or external who would seek to harm its citizens whatever their religion.
            Christians want to show love to others who do not believe as they do because (1) they are commanded to do so, and (2) to demonstrate that the love that flows from those faithful to Jesus Christ is unique, amazing, and true, so that those receiving that love will convert because of their contact with such an excellent witness.

          • Jeff Ludwig

            Here’s another question for you Mr. Husaini. I have never heard a good answer to it or any answer for that matter. Why, pray tell, is it that in every country where Muslims live they spawn terrorist groups that attack the majority population or government they live in? This applies in India, the Philippines, Chechnya, Spain, Sudan, USA, Nigeria, England, France, and even in China. Further, why is there constant war between Shi’ites and Sunnis, and even between Sunni Muslim groups in Libya, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tunisia, and Yemen? There is almost continual strife, bombings, massacres, bloodshed, riots, revolutions, mass murders and mutilations, killing of women and children, etc. etc. throughout the Middle East. Hamas is killing Fatah and vice-versa in Gaza and elsewhere. Sir, I am not saying this mainly to point a finger, but I know that if I were a Muslim I would be deeply concerned about this and would want to remedy the situation before I started pointing fingers at Jews and Christians.
            In Iran since the Sassanids of the 16th century we see NO peaceful transitions of power (even in the West when we had kings and queens their children or other relatives would peacefully inherit the throne on a pretty consistent basis); instead, we see endless fratricides, patricides, and murders of sons and cousins whenever the government would change hands. This has continued into the modern era. While there are many innocent victims of these bloody events, does that not suggest to you that there is some kind of fundamental dysfunction in Muslim culture throughout the Middle East and world? Believe me, I’m not saying this out of hate. It’s an historical observation. I am literally praying that the Lord God Almighty will bring more peace into the hearts and minds of the Muslim peoples of the world.

          • DilloTank

            There are no Judeo-Christians. There is a Judeo-Christian tradition and value system, not to be confused with the two religions.

            Your eschatological ideas are nonsense. You should not be commenting on subjects of which you have no understanding. Evangelical Christians have there faults to be sure, but to say that “all they want to do is kill Jews” is a blood libel of the fist order. I suppose you think that Christians kill Jewish children and bake them into communion wafers?

            If you want to talk about Christian anti-semitism, why don’t you talk about the real thing.

  • VLParker

    Hahahaha. That’s a good one.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    As I’ve written on several previous occasions, there exists a sect of reformist Muslims who believe that the Koran has been grievously misread by cavilers and doubters who are convinced that Islam is not a religion of peace, but a violent and imperialistic faith intent on world conquest.

    The words “Reformist Muslims” is an oxymoron. Anyway, per the doctrine of abrogation and the infamous sword verses of the Koran, the sole purpose of mainstream orthodox Islam is the subjugation into Islamic totalitarianism of all religions and all infidels via the imposition of Sharia, which is Islamic totalitarian law.

    If there exist a legit sect of reformist Muslims who aren’t practicing taqiyya in order to dupe gullible useful idiot infidels, then those people aren’t Muslims at all, as they ceased being Muslims the instant they abandoned their total, complete, and unconditional submission to the will of Allah under the pain of death for blasphemy and apostasy. Instead, those so-called reformist Muslims would be blasphemous apostates that per the texts and tenets of Islam must be executed. However, the overwhelming odds are they are really stealth jihadists practicing taqiyya to dupe gullible useful idiot infidels.

    The passages in the Koran—and the environing literature as well—that give rise to the animosity of nit-pickers and quibblers, the enlightened Muslims claim, require to be re-interpreted so that their temperate and merciful essence can be made plain to all. Embarking on the process of re-interpretation can be a salutary and liberating task, one that we spurn at the peril of darkest ignorance and counter-productive rancor. Eventually the detractors of Islam may realize that they have failed to grasp the beauty, elegance and rhetoric of conciliation that animate the holy texts and be moved to make amends for their anti-Islamic vitriol and stubborn recidivism.

    Who the hell is this guy writing for? Anyway, the Koran is immutable because to change it would be to put the word of man above that of the divine word of God (Allah), and any Muslim attempting such impudence would be instantly executed. Not the mention that since the Koran is the direct testimony of Allah as dictated to Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel, it is absolutely perfect because again it is divine since it emanates directly from God (Allah). Indeed, this is also why all Muslims consider all laws other than Sharia Law to be abominations that must be eradicated. Hence, it is impossible for the Koran and Islam in its current incarnation to ever be changed or reformed.

    It is only the literalists, the barbarians, the uneducated, and the unevolved among Muslims who will act in defiance of their sacred texts, even if they happen to constitute a majority.

    The Koran is the literal word of Allah. Thus, the only way that the Koran has ever been interpreted is in its most literal sense. In fact, any Muslim perceived as trying to reinterpret the Koran as the writer is suggesting here would instantly be recognized as a blasphemous apostate and earn a death sentence in the process.

    Apparently, this writer had been duped by some slick taqiyya artists that blew a lot of hot wind up his infidel butt. It’s amazing what some people will fall for and believe. Roll eyes.

  • TienBing

    Odd, I had an exchange here in the FPM comment section with a couple of Mohammedan apologists who tried very similar arguments and explanations to assert that Islam is a religion of peace. But they were serious. It would be great if they read this and could see the absurdity of their arguments. Not likely.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    Ridicule is a powerful weapon … I enjoyed a good laugh.

  • JoJoJams

    Apparently you missed the sarcastic tone of the article. At least, that was the take I got from it. :-)

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Read my response above. I wrote that response after I only skimmed the article. After I actually read it, I realized it was satire.

  • alihusaini

    Man,you are a scholar!!And I’m sure you got your very accurate info from other scholarly individuals.You should write a book so all of the unknowing people in America can have access to you immense store knowledge.

  • DebRollin

    And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is Gracious, Merciful…Sura IX..Immunity…Medina

    This is not a moderate or peaceful religion! These people are born and trained at an early age to hate Jews and infidels!

  • USA Retired

    The Koran is a non religious piece of garbage , Dictated by a mortal lunatic named Mohammad, in a cave, in the 6th century, Islam is a faciest ideology, and not a religion!
    America must wake up to the fact that Islamist are our very worst enemy!