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A Beginner’s Review of the Qur’an, Part 3: The Best Defense

By Shanon Brooks

This is part three of a three-part series.

Read Part I Here
Read Part II Here

I asked my good Christian friend and Muslim expert, Mark Siljander, to weigh in on this subject. Here is his reply:

“I would humbly suggest your students read A Deadly Misunderstanding. Many of their questions will be answered and much more.

I also recommend they read this article by Karen Armstrong that responds to some of the violent Qur’anic verses.

Also one must keep in mind that the Qur’an was written during a time of constant battles against the new Muslims, so several passages indeed deal with warfare.

The radicals use verses like 4:89 & 2:191 that say: ‘slay [enemies] wherever you find them!’ against the West and numerous verses that speak of Jihad and promises to martyrs.

However, it is more prudent to undermine the extremist interpretation with the historical context and correct meanings of key words.

For example, these two verses refer to the people of the Quraishi tribe who persecuted the Muslims wherever they found them and hence, gave permission to the early Muslim community to fight back.

Even better, we should emphasize the verse just after (4:90), ‘But, if they depart from you, and make not war against you and offer you peace, the God alloweth you no occasion against them.”

And the verse just before (2:190) that says “but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.”

What about ‘Jihad’?  Actually, it is an Aramaic word that means internal ‘struggle’ NOT  external ‘holy war.’

And the 72 virgins? Sorry for the wasted deaths, but the word in the Qur’an is also Aramaic that actually means ‘pure (white) grapes’ and just for the record, there is no ’72’ mentioned anywhere.

Perhaps we should encourage focus the attention of the world on verses in the Qur’an such as, ‘Thus, if they let you be, and do not make war on you, and offer you peace, God does not allow you to harm them (4:90) but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.’

‘The only permissible war is one of self-defense. Muslims may not begin hostilities (2:190).’

I am not an apologist for Islam or the Qur’an, but it behooves us all to encourage a nonviolent interpretation allowing the arguments our scholars use for the over 1,000 violent verses in the Bible.

  • Historically contextual & hence not meant for today;
  • Metaphorical;
  • Misunderstandings of the rabbinical and Eastern traditions, parables, axioms, etc.; and
  • Mistranslations of the original language.

In terms of the other verses pertaining to trinity and the nature of Jesus the Messiah; they are outlined in A Deadly Misunderstanding and I would refer you to review and then have them ask questions they feel the book does not or inadequately addresses.

Blessings dear Friend;
Mark Siljander”

I am not denying that there is a real threat from adherents of a radical interpretation of the Qu’ran. I am not saying that the world does not have terrorist elements in it, because is certainly does.

Careful study of original sources and documents is vital to understanding others, and certainly should be engaged in before we accuse persons of any particular belief or intention.

If the threat is large, perhaps the best defensive posture we could take is to become the best Christians we can be. America would be a better place if we all more fully embraced our espoused religions.

Who can judge the intent of a person’s heart? How do we really know what others intend to do or not do?

Trust in God the scriptures say. At the very least, we should thoroughly and personally read the scripture and history of a people before we judge them.

And even before we do that, it might be a good idea to read our own scripture first.

**********************************

Shanon Brooks is the President of Monticello College, the Director of Education and Training for Humanitarian Visions International, S.A., and a founding partner of the Center for Social Leadership. He co-authored Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens.

Shanon and his wife Julia are raising their six children in Monticello, Utah.

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Comments

  1. Below is Amazon’s most valuable review on Siljander’s “A Deadly Misunderstanding”… by a true expert in Middle Eastern culture:

    * * * *

    – Ron Brackin –
    In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Mark Siljander for many years, having served on Capitol Hill as his press secretary during the Reagan Administration. I know no man of greater integrity. My critique is of the work, not the man.

    A Deadly Misunderstanding pushes ahead in an ever-increasing frenzy of semantic gymnastics, ignoring literary context, until it convinces itself–but hopefully not many readers–that it has discovered what millennia of Jewish, Christian and Islamic scholars and followers have overlooked.

    . . . A Deadly Misunderstanding is a laudable attempt “to bridge the Muslim-Christian divide.” To make sense out of senseless hatred and violence. To resolve the planet’s most ancient and obstinate feud.

    I wanted it to succeed. But it does not.

    It is an entertaining read and a fine-sounding argument. But therein lies the danger.

    http://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Misunderstanding-Congressmans-Bridge-Muslim-Christian/product-reviews/0061438286/ref=cm_cr_dp_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addOneStar

  2. Richard, thanks for your input.

    I don’t know Ron. I do agree with him on one thing though, Mark is a man of impecable integrity, which begs a question…how does a man of unquestioned integrity (and those of us who know him would say intelligence also) make such a huge mistake on such a volatile subject?

    I think Mark would say that if you believe in the words and philosophy of Jesus, if you believe that it is truth, the thing to do is to live it fully and trust it.

    No question that there has been little headway in the clash of religion and civilizations. My question is, when was the last time someone offered a solution as that offered by Mark Siljander?

    Easy to say that something won’t work when we have never tried it.

  3. Here’s more on Ron Brackin, again, a man who knows both Siljander and Islam better than any of us. http://ronbrackin.com/about-2 Essentially his opinion is that Mark Siljander is a decent man, but quite naive.

    Of course, as I noted earlier, until you understand the full meaning, application and scope of Taqiyya, you will never quite “get it” with regard to Islam and will forever remain behind the curve and played the fool. Here’s a modest primer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkC6G7LYfQc&feature=related

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A Beginner’s Review of the Qur’an, Part 3: The Best Defense