Sixteen Reasons Why Islam Is Not the Religion of Peace
By James M. Arlandson
By James M. Arlandson
Islam is not the religion of peace. The following sixteen reasons, all sourced from the original sacred documents (the Quran and Traditions), classical law, and history, tell us why.
Each item in the list has one or more back-up articles. Readers should click on them to find out that the points come right out of original Islam and are not invented out of thin air.
Nearly all of the back-up articles also have a section on modern Islam, mentioning Muslims -- too few -- who advocate reform.
And if readers would like to see various translations of the Quran, they may go to the website quranbrowser.com and type in the references. If readers are in doubt about the meaning of a verse, they may go to the tafsir ( ) written by Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), one of the most authoritative and highly regarded classical commentators in the Sunni world, at qtafsir.com. Or the readers may search through the modern commentary by Sunni Indo-Pakistani religious scholar and politician Sayyid Abul A'La Maududi (d. 1979) at englishtafsir.com.
The first reason is the foundation of all the others.
1. The mosque and state are not separate.
To this day, Islamic nations that are deeply rooted in sharia, like Iran and Saudi Arabia, do not adequately separate the two realms, giving a lot of power to courts and councils to ensure that legislation does not contradict the Quran (never mind whose interpretation).
Back-up: Mosque and State
2. Jihad may be waged against injustice or an unjust nation, as Islam defines the terms.
Classical texts say Islam is justice, and no Islam is injustice. Therefore, a "just war" can be waged against a nation or people who does not submit to Islam.
Yet we are told in the 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, which is based on sharia, that humane rules must be followed (Article Three). Does that article offer hope that modern Islam can move past old Islam? Maybe.
However, the Quran, sacred traditions, classical law, and historical Islam contradict or balance out some elements in Article Three. Would there be a conflict between the old Islam and modern Islam if war broke out? Many Islamic clerics issue fatwas (religious rulings) to wage jihad.
3. Jihad may be waged to spread Islam and force conversions -- a holy war.
Waging jihad to spread Islam and force conversions is a perfect description of "holy war." See Quran 8:39, 9:5, 9:11-12, 9:14, and 9:29; and then see 9:33, 61:9, and 48:28.
Yet we have been told for many years now that holy wars and forced conversions were never done in Islam. That's a myth imagined by Westerners.
Back-up: Jihad and Qital, The Mission of Muhammad and the Sword, and The Early Muslim Community and the Sword.
4. Muhammad nicknames his weapons.
Tabari (AD 839-923) is an early Muslim historian who is considered largely reliable by scholars today. In fact, the of New York Press selected his history to be translated into 38 volumes. (We use The Last Years of the Prophet, trans. Ismail K. Poonawala, vol. 9, 153-55.)
In the context of the list of Muhammad's assets at the end of his life (horses, camels, milch sheep, and so on), Tabari records the nicknames of Muhammad's weapons.
Muhammad nicknames three swords that he took from the Jewish Qaynuqa after he banished them from Medina in April 624: "Pluck Out," "Very Sharp," and "Death." Two other swords from elsewhere are named: "Sharp" and "That is wont to sink" (presumably into human flesh). Finally, there is "Having the vertebrae of the back." This last sword Muhammad collected as booty after his victory at the Battle of Badr in March 624.
Next, Muhammad took three bows from the Jewish Qaynuqa tribe and named them as follows: "Most conducive to ease, or wide," "white," and "of nab wood" (species of tree from which bows are made).
Muhammad's name for a certain coat of mail implies "ampleness" or "redundant portions," probably because Muhammad was portly (cf. Ibn Ishaq, Life of Muhammad, trans. Guillaume, p. 383).
Finally, even Muhammad himself has a nickname. After Tabari lists the positive ones, he matter-of-factly provides one that is not so positive: "The obliterator."
5. A captive in jihad may be executed, enslaved, ransomed for money, exchanged for other prisoners, or released freely.
Quran 47:4, 33:25-27, and 4:24 say these things (and the last option -- free release -- is positive). Yet we are told that in a jihad today, everything must be done humanely and justly.
However, as stated before, the back-up article, this fourth item, and the next four items in this list balance out that claim. One must ask whether there be a conflict between old Islam and modern Islam in the event of a war.
6. A woman captive of jihad may be forced to have to sex with her captors (now owners).
Quran 4:24 and especially the sacred traditions and classical law allow this. The sacred traditions say that while out on military campaigns under Muhammad's leadership, jihadists used to practice coitus interruptus with their female captives.
7. Property can be destroyed or confiscated during jihad.
Quran 59:2 and 59:5 discuss those rules. Sacred traditions and classical law expand on the Quranic verses. Modern Islamic law officially improves on the Quran: see Article Three of the 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, which is nonetheless based on sharia but outlaws wanton destruction of property. Once again, would there be any conflict between old Islam and modern Islam in a war today?
8. Jihad may be waged to collect spoils.
Quran 8:1, 8:7, 8:41, and 48:20 show this clearly. Early Islam followed the old Arab custom of raiding caravans, but as its military grew, the raids were elevated to jihad. The spoils of war were coveted. Which Islam would prevail in a war today -- the old one or the modern one?
9. The Quran promises gardens for martyrs dying in jihad.
Throughout the Quran, Muhammad promises the men in his fledgling Muslim community that if they die fighting for Allah and for him, Allah will reward them with a "virgin-rich" garden (Quran 44:51-56; 52:17-29; 55:46-78).
In Quran 4:74, 9:111, and 3:140-143, the Arabic word "jihad" (root is j-h-d) is the means or currency to trade in this life for the life to come in an economic bargain.
Back-up: Martyrdom and the Sword
10. A second-class submission tax, called the jizya, must be imposed on Jews and Christians (and other religious minorities) living in Islamic countries.
Quran 9:29 offers three options to Jews and Christians: (1) fight and die, (2) convert to Islam, or (3) keep their religion, but pay a tribute or submission tax, the jizya, while living under Islam.
In Islamic history, vanquished Jews and Christians became known as dhimmis. This word appears in Quran 9:8 and 9:10, meaning a "treaty" or "oath," but it can also mean those who are "condemned," "reviled," or "reproved" (Quran 17:18, 17:22, 68:49). The word "submission" in Quran 9:29 can also be translated as "humiliation," "utterly humbled," "contemptible," or "vile." It can mean "small" as opposed to "great."
11. Muhammad executes around 600 male Jews and enslaves the women and children.
Quran 33:25-27 justifies this atrocity. After the Battle of the Trench in March 627 (named after a trench that the Muslims dug around parts of Medina) against a large coalition of Meccans and their allies, Muhammad imposed the ultimate penalty on the men in the Jewish clan called Qurayzah.
The sentence: death by decapitation for around 600 men (one Islamic source says 900) and enslavement for the women and children (he took a beautiful Jewess as his own prize).
12. Slavery is allowed.
It is true that freeing slaves was done Islam (Quran 5:89 and 24:33), and the Quran says to be kind to slaves (Quran 4:36), but that is not the entire story.
In addition to those verses, Quran 4:24, 23:1-7, and 33:52 allow the institution. Muhammad owned slaves, even one who was black (so says a sacred tradition). He was militarily and politically powerful during his later life in Medina, but he never abolished slavery as an institution.
Officially, Islamic nations have outlawed slavery (Article 11, which is still based on sharia). That proves that Islam can reform on at least one matter. Can it reform on the other sharia laws? And we are told that "no other nation or religious group in the world treated slaves better than the Muslims did." The back-up article and next two items in this list contradict that claim.
13. A male owner may have sex with his slave-women, even prepubescent slave-girls.
See Quran 4:24 and 23:1-7 -- but it is classical law that permits sex with prepubescent slave girls and describes them as such. Some Muslim religious leaders and others still advocate this practice, taking the slaves as concubines (though sex with prepubescent slave-girls is another matter).
14. Slaves may be beaten.
That's what sacred Traditions and classical laws say. See "Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism, and Slavery."
15. Apostasy laws, including imprisonment or execution, may be imposed on anyone who leaves Islam (an apostate).
Normally this is a prescribed punishment, but it is also political, since it is about freedom of religion. Surprisingly the Quran does not cover punishing apostates down here on earth, though in the afterlife they will be punished. Does this mean modern Islam can reform old Islam? Quran 4:88-89, 9:73-74, and 9:123, read in that sequence, might deal with earthly punishments. Mainly, however, the sacred traditions and classical law permit harsh treatment for anyone who leaves Islam.
Islamic courts and laws still impose these punishments today, or religious scholars today argue for the law.
Back-up: Freedom of Religion
16. Blasphemy laws, including imprisonment or execution, may be imposed on critics of Islam or Muhammad.
These verses should be read in historical sequence, as follows, for they show that as Islam's military power increased, the harsh treatment of mockers and critics also intensified: Quran 3:186, 33:57-61, 9:61-66, 9:73, and 9:123. Sacred traditions, classical laws, and historical Islam are unambiguous about the punishments, recording the people, and often their names, who were assassinated for mocking Muhammad and the Quran.
Back-up: Free Speech
For those sixteen reasons, Islam is not the religion of peace.
The thinking world was laughing at Islam behind its back. Now we're laughing at it to its face.
Islamic religious leaders must reform their religion. Those sixteen points have expiration dates on them -- from back in the seventh century.
Only after reform will we have even slight peace.
In the meantime, while we wait patiently for this Islamic Reformation and Modernization (if it happens), the Western elites may want to remember three universal rights that are self-evident, according to the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The hallmarks of those three rights are, among other things, freedom of conscience to follow a religion of one's choice (or no religion at all) without being harassed. Freedom of speech -- even the kind that criticizes the Quran and Muhammad -- is a sign that democracy and justice have taken root. Equality before the law for both sexes also defines the three universal rights.
If we bend any part of those God-given rights, we will weaken our nation.
James M. Arlandson, Ph.D., has written a book: Women, Class, and Society in Early Christianity. He has recently completed a series on "The Sword in Early Christianity and Islam." He has posted a series on sharia at jihadwatch.org, from which this article is inspired (also from Top Ten Reasons Islam Is Not the Religion of Peace ).