Interfaith Dialogue: Faith Shared’s Read this Qur’an Verse but Don’t Read that?

Sunday, June 26, 2011 is a day Muslims, Christians and Jews will gather together in worship services to read passages from the Qur’an, Torah and the Gospel. Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First are jointly offering this event dubbed Faith Shared. The main purpose of Faith Shared is to combat Islamophobia.

I strongly believe Faith Shared is an exercise in futility because its organizers do not acknowledge there is a problem in Islam. They think taking verses of the Qur’an out of their contexts for photo-ops would combat Islamophobia. We can only combat Islamophobia candidly if we distinguish it from Muslimophobia. Photo-ops wouldn’t do it. Only open and honest discussions away from places of worship would do it.

Here are verses (in red) of the Qur’an Faith Shared has suggested for congregants to read next Sunday:

  1. O humankind, We (God) have created you male and female, and made you into communities and tribes, so that you may know one another. (49:13) This verse only applies to Muslims. “O humankind” in the Qur’an is not always inclusive of all mankind. Faith Shared would like the world to believe so. This verse was revealed because a Muslim had insulted a fellow Muslim. More details HERE.
  2. Let there be no hostility except against those who practice Zulm (oppression). (2:193) This verse which organizers of this can only quote partially clearly shows Muslims are not supposed to turn the other cheek. So much for Faith Shared gathering with Christians and Muslims discussing nonviolence. The most prominent Sunni Tafsir says: (And fight them) if they initiate fighting against you whether you are in the Sacred Precinct or not (until persecution is no more) until there is not association of partners with Allah in the Sacred Precinct, (and religion is for Allah) and Islam and worship of Allah reign in the Sacred Precinct. (If they desist) from fighting you in the Sacred Precinct, (then let there be no hostility) you are not allowed to kill them (except against wrong-doers) except those who start the fight against you.

The Qur’an and the Hadith consider Christians who didn’t acknowledge Muhammad’s prophethood as enemies. In fact Christians are considered the worst of sinners because they associate “partners with Allah.” Sadly, this verse does not support the goal of Faith Shared.

3. There shall be no compulsion in matters of faith. (2:256)

This is one of the most misunderstood verses of the Qur’an. Do you know that it was revealed when Muhammad had very few followers? He cursed the first two Muslims who had apostatized and when he gained more power prescribed death for apostasy. You can find more details HERE.

4. Verily! Those who have attained faith as well as those who follow the Jewish Faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians—all who believe in God and the last Day and do righteous deeds—shall have their reward with their Sustainer, and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve. (2:62)

This verse is about “Christians” and Jews who had acknowledged Muhammad as a prophet. Here is what the commentary says:

The verse (Lo! Those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews…) was revealed about the monks with whom Salman al-Farisi kept company. When Salman went to see the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, he informed him about their worship and striving. He said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! They used to pray and fast; they believed in you and bore witness that you will be sent as a prophet’. When Salman finished his praise of them, Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘O Salman! They are of the dwellers of hell fire’. Allah then revealed (Lo! Those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews) up to His saying (neither shall they grieve).

5. Correct and courteous words accompanied by forgiveness are better than a charitable deed followed by insulting words. (2:263)

Now that you have read Faith Shared suggested readings from the Qur’an that supposedly foster interfaith dialogues, please consider these Qur’an verses in three widely available and most notable translations:

3.85

YUSUFALI: If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good).

PICKTHAL: And whoso seeketh as religion other than the Surrender (to Allah) it will not be accepted from him, and he will be a loser in the Hereafter.

SHAKIR: And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers.

4.101

YUSUFALI: When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear the Unbelievers May attack you: For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies.

PICKTHAL: And when ye go forth in the land, it is no sin for you to curtail (your) worship if ye fear that those who disbelieve may attack you. In truth the disbelievers are an open enemy to you.

SHAKIR: And when you journey in the earth, there is no blame on you if you shorten the prayer, if you fear that those who disbelieve will cause you distress, surely the unbelievers are your open enemy.

5.33

YUSUFALI: The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;

PICKTHAL: The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom;

SHAKIR: 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,Surah 8:12: “God revealed His will to the angels, saying…I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers”

5.51

YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.

PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.

SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.

5.59

YUSUFALI: Say: “O people of the Book! Do ye disapprove of us for no other reason than that we believe in Allah, and the revelation that hath come to us and that which came before (us), and (perhaps) that most of you are rebellious and disobedient?”

PICKTHAL: Say: O People of the Scripture! Do ye blame us for aught else than that we believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed aforetime, and because most of you are evil-livers?

SHAKIR: Say: O followers of the Book! do you find fault with us (for aught) except that we believe in Allah and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed before, and that most of you are transgressors?

5.60

YUSUFALI: Say: “Shall I point out to you something much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from Allah? those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil;- these are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even path!”

PICKTHAL: Shall I tell thee of a worse (case) than theirs for retribution with Allah? (Worse is the case of him) whom Allah hath cursed, him on whom His wrath hath fallen and of whose sort Allah hath turned some to apes and swine, and who serveth idols. Such are in worse plight and further astray from the plain road.

SHAKIR: Say: Shall I inform you of (him who is) worse than this in retribution from Allah? (Worse is he) whom Allah has cursed and brought His wrath upon, and of whom He made apes and swine, and he who served the Shaitan; these are worse in place and more erring from the straight path.

8.60

YUSUFALI: Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly.

PICKTHAL: Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others beside them whom ye know not. Allah knoweth them. Whatsoever ye spend in the way of Allah it will be repaid to you in full, and ye will not be wronged.

SHAKIR: And prepare against them what force you can and horses tied at the frontier, to frighten thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them, whom you do not know (but) Allah knows them; and whatever thing you will spend in Allah’s way, it will be paid back to you fully and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.

8.61

YUSUFALI: But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things).

PICKTHAL: And if they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in Allah. Lo! He, even He, is the Hearer, the Knower.

SHAKIR: And if they incline to peace, then incline to it and trust in Allah; surely He is the Hearing, the Knowing.

Muslims who are involved in interfaith dialogues need to explain the meanings behind these verses. I have deliberately left out the so-called “verse of sword” and a few others because the post is getting too long. I am not opposed to Christians having dialogues with Muslims as long as the discussions are open and candid.

  • ahmed

    Your claim on 49:13 was already split apart into oblivion. Now that is going to happen to your next attempt.

    you said:
    “Let there be no hostility except against those who practice Zulm (oppression). (2:193) This verse which organizers of this can only quote partially clearly shows Muslims are not supposed to turn the other cheek. So much for Faith Shared gathering with Christians and Muslims discussing nonviolence.”

    This is false. Your attempt is a category error. Turn the the other cheek is intrinsic to Islam. But we, unlike christians, do not distort its meaning to advertise the religion to prosletyize. A civil law is different from a international law. A defesive war against oppressors is even recognised by the United Nations.

    Allah says:
    “Good and evil are not alike. Repel evil with what is better. Then he, between whom and you there was hatred, will become as though he was a bosom friend.” (Qur’an 41:34)

    “Don’t be a blind imitator saying if people do good, I will do good and if they oppress, I will oppress. Rather stand firm so that if a people do good then do good yourself and if they were to harm you, do not wrong them” (Tirmidhi )

    ^Thats not just turn the other cheek, but infact more superior in which muslims are to do good to them in return.

    “The most prominent Sunni Tafsir says: (And fight them) if they initiate fighting against you whether you are in the Sacred Precinct or not (until persecution is no more) until there is not association of partners with Allah in the Sacred Precinct, (and religion is for Allah) and Islam and worship of Allah reign in the Sacred Precinct. (If they desist) from fighting you in the Sacred Precinct, (then let there be no hostility) you are not allowed to kill them (except against wrong-doers) except those who start the fight against you.

    The Qur’an and the Hadith consider Christians who didn’t acknowledge Muhammad’s prophethood as enemies. In fact Christians are considered the worst of sinners because they associate “partners with Allah.” Sadly, this verse does not support the goal of Faith Shared.”"

    Read it again. It says to fight “if” they fight us and to stop fighting if they stop their oppression. This explicitly says not to fight against those who don’t. Your comment has no basis with the verse whatsoever. Muslims infact quote this verse to expose the distortion of Quran by your types where only the first part of the verse or some verses above it are quoted to make up your mythology that Islam converts by force or is a war monger which rather is more of self projection of christian colonial expansion. In short, fail.

  • ahmed

    Typical obsessed christian strategy. Grow up. People have already learnt and become familiar with the lie. As usual, by ridiculous reasoning negate the meaning of the verses that put your “islam is of the devil” myth into shame and then take another category of verses beyond its context into super exaggerated arena and then force people to swallow it as a fact.