The Friendly Atheist has an excellent short piece which utterly destroys liberal and moderate Muslims in their case for Islam being a religion of peace. It is not that, as I have shown here, and due mainly to this. The problem stems from the core text, the Qu’ran. And you can’t really be a Muslim and drop the Qu’ran – they are inseparable.
Here is how the article starts:
Rizvi is talking specifically about this verse in the Islamic Good Book:
“The worst of beasts are the disbelievers. They’re the ones you make treaties with, but they break those treaties every time because they have no fear of the law.”
If you flipped that, you’d get
“The worst of beasts are the followers of Allah. They’re the ones you make treaties with, but they break those treaties every time because they have no fear of the law.”
Would a proud Muslim let that insult stand? If not, then why does he consider those words not just acceptable but sacred and supremely truthful if the subject is changed from “followers of Allah” to “disbelievers”?
The core notion here is that the Qu’ran is hate-filled.You cannot contextualise it at the best of times, due to its provenance of being the direct word of God. But, further, you cannot contextualise something which makes such universal claims: that disbelievers are beasts and should be dealt with accordingly. Period.
As Rizvi himself continues:
The primary argument we hear against critics and satirists of religion like the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists — who satirized all religions, not just Islam — is that their speech “offends billions of people.”
But what about the religions they’re targeting? The Abrahamic holy books — respected and revered by billions worldwide — prescribe the killing of disbelievers (Quran 8:12-13, 47:4; Leviticus 24:16); order their adherents to fight and enslave those with differing beliefs, à la ISIS (Quran 9:29-30, Deuteronomy 20:10-18); endorse wife-beating (Quran 4:34) and the stoning to death of non-virginal brides (Deuteronomy 22:20-21); order women to quietly submit to the authority of men (1 Timothy 2:11-12); and mandate the public lashing of fornicators (Quran 24:2) and the killing of homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13).
Who should really be offended here? If hate speech were really the issue, these books would be the first to go.
Let me repeat that: “If hate speech were really the issue, these books would be the first to go.”
When confronted with these facts, apologists will often respond by saying these texts should not be read “literally”—a concern that is certainly well-founded considering their contents. They know how terrible these books would sound if they weren’t liberally “interpreted” (read: distorted, sanitized), or read the way one would read any other book. When the literal word of a deity requires repeated, long-winded explanations from his human followers simply to prevent it being interpreted to mean what it actually says, it doesn’t make a great case for divine authorship. If anything can mean anything, the whole thing becomes meaningless.
The reality is, religious moderates take their scripture “out of context” more than they’d like to think. Islamic apologists, for instance, like to quote the verse 2:256, which says there is “no compulsion in religion.” They won’t tell you (and many don’t know themselves) that the very next verse, 2:257, says that those who do choose to disbelieve will be “companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein.” You’ll also hear them quote verse 5:32, which says, “Whoever kills a soul…it is as if he had slain all mankind. And whoever saves one—it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” But again, if you read on to the very next verse, 5:33, you’ll see that Allah wants anyone opposing him or his messenger to “be killed or crucified…their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides,” for “causing corruption.”
What is more offensive? Those words? Or those who choose to reject and criticize them?
It is true that a religion should not be defined by the actions of its adherents. However, it can be defined by the contents of its canonical texts—like the Quran, which is the one thing common to all Islamic sects and denominations, fundamentalist or moderate. The fact that most Muslims are non-violent doesn’t automatically erase all of the violent verses from the Quran, in the same way that that Jews eating pork or having premarital sex doesn’t mean either act is suddenly allowed by the Jewish faith. In the words of Alishba Zarmeen: most humans are more moral than the scriptures they hold sacred. [my emphasis]
Shabam! This is EXACTLY what I have been arguing for some time now, and coming up against fellow liberals who take issue with this. This is the idea that the “True Muslim” in as coherent a sense as one can get is the one who adheres more closely to God’s direct commands and Muhammad’s role.
Not the moderate or liberal.
The problem is, what do we do with this? Because, to me, it looks like there is no reformation on the horizon and no real tangible soolution, without somehow dropping the Qu’ran; and that ain’t never gonna happen.