Is Islam a religion of peace?


Is the Koran peaceful?

The truth is that Islam, for as long as the name has been around, has always meant submission, and has never meant peace. Besides the rich tradition of its name are Muslims a people of peace? Is their holy book the Koran a book of peace?

There is, however, not a verse in the Koran that tells the Muslim to love, say, a Christian, unlike whereas the Christian Bible instructs its followers to do so (Matthew 5:44), as well as to turn the cheek (Matthew 5:39). When this topic of peace is brought up Muslims in response will often turn our attention to Surah 2:256. Jay Smith, an Islamic scholar who has been familiar with Muslims and the Islamic religion for over 30 years, says:

“There are some verses they [the Muslim] will go to, Surah 2:256: “for there is no compulsion in religion”, just read the rest of the verse, or the verse right after it, 257. Then you will see that it has nothing to do with peace, it has nothing to do with you and me. It has to do with Muslims, and it says very clearly that there is no compulsion in religion but those who stand against Allah great will be their perdition in hell.”

Another verse the Muslim will often bring up is Surah 2:190: “Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress.” Although this sounds reasonable in the way of defending oneself from attackers the next verse is illuminating: “And then slay them wherever you find them.” (2:191)

In that context this doesn’t sound very peaceful. These few verses often cited by the Muslim have little to do with peace, or at least peace for the non-Islamic. But it seems to be even worse than that, for instance, the first 20 Surahs of the Koran known as the Medinan Surahs are chock full of commands to do violence: “Slay the unbeliever wherever you may find them”, “Besiege them”, “Wait for them in every kind of ambush”, “Make war upon the people of the book”, “Cut off the heads of the unbeliever”, “Those who participate in Jihad if they die great will their reward be in heaven for they shall be in paradise”, “They should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off”. In fact, there over 140 of these such verses inciting violence found within the Koran. As Jay Smith goes on to say: “Is Islam a religion of peace? Not according to the Koran.”

Even further in Surah 98:6 the Koran goes on to call the People of Scripture, the Jews, “the worst of creatures”, and in the Hadiths the picture is even grimmer. In them it tells the Muslim exactly how to cut up a human body, and how to effectively slay the enemy. As Jay Smith concludes: “There is not a verse of peace here.”

So in essence, if a Muslim is committing Jihad (holy war) on the unbeliever it is wholeheartedly supported by the Koran. This all gives quite a spin on the words of American president Barrack Obama when he said: “The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent it is as if he has killed all mankind.”

Are Muslims peaceful?

It is true that most Muslims one will come across, especially in the USA or UK, will affirm that Islam is a peaceful religion. In fact, they will say that the Koran is a book of peace (which we briefly saw that it isn’t by its own admission), and that Muhammad was a man of peace – these things they are taught to say. However, most Muslims in places like the UK and the USA have not read the Koran but they will still make claims about it – that it is peaceful – they do so because it is what they have been taught by their imams to say. Smith says in an interview:

“The Muslims that you will meet here in the United States have not read this book [Koran], and so they will hear whatever their imam tells them, and many of the imams now living here in the Los Angeles area and in the United States know that they dare not let people read this book [Koran] because if they read the book they will find that there are no real peaceful verses for people like me or like you.”

But we are all familiar with terrorist bombings and activities perpetuated in Islam’s name – according to David Wood, a Christian apologist who has degrees in biology and philosophy as well is working towards his PhD, he notes that there have been “21 000 terrorist attacks that have been committed in the name of Islam since 9/11.” But what does that make of the peaceful Muslims? Surely, they aren’t like those fundamentalist few who commit such atrocities?

Indeed, they aren’t. Most Muslims are peaceful, loving people who have no qualms about living in multicultural and multi-religious communities. However, it is their Koran that isn’t peaceful, not the majority of Muslims. I am also not at all going to accuse the majority of Islamic people as being violent just because a minority of them makes it bad for everyone else. I am also not judging the truthfulness of the Islamic religion on the evident verses of violence found within its sacred book, even though it may constitute a reason why many reject it as the word of God.

This article has simply shown that, by its own admission, the Koran is not a peaceful book even though most of its adherents are peaceful by nature. Of course we could go into a more in-depth discussion but that will be the subject for another article post. Just on a surface study I think we can be absolutely confident that the Koran is not a book of peace. For that reason Islam is therefore both peaceful and violent – it’s peaceful because many Muslims live it out in that way, whereas the fundamentalist Muslim who is true to the Koran continues to commit horrors in the name of God, thus in the process making Islam a violent religion.

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