External view of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

External view of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Photo courtesy of Saleh M. Sbenaty, via Wikimedia Commons


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RNS) For years, opponents of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro vowed to take their legal fight to shut down the mosque all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That fight ended Monday (June 2), when the nation’s highest court declined to hear their case.

The four-year conflict over construction of the mosque, which opened in 2012, brought national attention to this Bible Belt city of 112,000 about 30 miles south of Nashville.

Hundreds marched in protest after Rutherford County officials approved plans for the mosque in 2010. Televangelist Pat Robertson labeled the Islamic center a “mega mosque” and claimed Muslims were taking over Murfreesboro. An arsonist set fire to construction equipment on the building site.

Mosque opponents eventually filed a suit against Rutherford County, seeking to block construction of the worship space.

On the surface, the fight was over the minutiae of Tennessee’s sunshine, or public notice, laws. Mosque foes claimed local officials failed to give adequate notice of a meeting where plans for the mosque’s construction were approved.

But a thriving anti-Muslim movement in Tennessee fueled the fight. Mosque foes asserted that the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom did not apply to the mosque. In court,  Joe Brandon Jr., a lawyer for mosque foes, said Islam is not a religion, and he argued that the mosque was a threat to the community.

Initially, a local judge ruled for the mosque foes and ordered a halt to mosque construction. But a federal court quickly overruled that decision, paving the way for the mosque to open in 2012. A state appeals court also later overturned the lower court decision.

Local Muslims, many of whom had worshipped in the community for years, found themselves having to defend their faith and their status as American citizens at the trial.

It was a difficult process, said Saleh Sbenaty, a college professor and longtime member of the Islamic Center.

Members of the Islamic Center found help in local interfaith groups and other local leaders who rallied to their assistance. More than 100 local religious leaders signed a letter supporting the mosque.

Sbenaty said his faith in the American justice system never faltered.

“Today the Constitution prevailed,” he said. “It shows that the Constitution upholds the rights of those who are in the minority.”

Remziya Suleyman, director of policy and administration for the Nashville-based American Center for Outreach, said that a lot of good has come from conflict over the mosque. Local Muslims are more engaged in the community, she said, and have closer ties to local interfaith groups. They’ve also gotten a great deal of community support.

But she regrets that the county had to spend more than $340,000 in legal fees fighting the lawsuit. Suleyman is relieved and grateful that the lawsuit has finally been put to rest.

“Clearly, enough was enough,” she said.

Having a new building has been a boon to members of the Islamic Center.

For years, congregation members had worshipped in converted offices at an industrial park, where the space was cramped and parking limited.

Today, weekly prayer services draw as many as 600 people, and there’s plenty of space for all.

“This is home now,” Sbenaty said.

Imam Ossama Bahloul said the new facility, which includes a playground, gives the community more space to worship and invite guests. The center has hosted visits from a number of church groups and a Nashville synagogue.

He said that the congregation always had faith that the law was on their side.

“We believe in the Constitution and we followed the rules,” he said. “Now it’s time to put all of this behind us.”

Foes of the mosque haven’t given up yet. A group of plaintiffs recently filed suit to block local Muslims from building a cemetery on the mosque grounds.

According to the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, a ruling on the cemetery lawsuit is expected in mid-June.

YS/MG END SMIETANA

49 Comments

  1. Living proof that when a Conservative Christian talks about religious freedom and free exercise of religion, one should tell them simply to blow it out their @$$.

    It is obvious the very concept of those terms are far beyond their comprehension. When given a chance, they attack the free exercise of religion of others.

    There is no legitimate argument being posed by the opponents of the mosque (and soon to be cemetery). Its all about demonizing a religion and engaging in the most plain and unfiltered bigotry one has committed to legal briefs.

    • Exactly, Larry.

      Those of other religions as well as Atheists and Agnostics alike should take notes. The Christians want a theocracy in this country and they will blow millions to try to make it happen.

      Some say, “Atheists shut up and go away!”
      NOT A CHANCE!

      This is why we fight the religious. They are blind to the damage they do.
      They are blind to what their money supports.
      They are always a threat to freedom.

  2. Leave it to “good Christians” to try to stop the speech and interfere with every other right of those who do not subscribe to their beliefs. It’s the evil of so-called religion.

    Such “good Christians” as those of Murfeesboro, TN, who attempted to stand in the way of the Islamic Center continue the shame that religion has always earned everywhere, especially during the history of the U.S. in the so-called bible belt of the South.

    These people are not Christians, they are plainly devilish! In no way do they represent the Jesus they prattle on about.

  3. Glyndon Morris

    I see wonderful Christians stepping up to defend their Muslim brothers and sisters. “More than 100 local religious leaders signed a letter supporting the mosque” and certainly this included Christians, long with Jews and others. “The center has hosted visits from a number of church groups and a Nashville synagogue” and I am sure these church groups included “good Christians.” We Christians are not all dedicated to the eradication of other faiths. Many of us believe strongly that the message of divine love is one that is being lived out in many different ways, some even Christian.

    • It would be nicer if you guys spoke up more often to oppose fellow Christians who initiated this junk in the first place.

      Its like the only time we ever hear of people like yourself is when Christians want to be defensive.When they don’t feel like being lumped in with the crazy fundamentalists (after the fact).

      I appreciate the concern, but the lack of public voices of Christians like yourself are a liability.

      • You mean “speak up” like the Muslims do when Christians are persecuted and killed in Islamic countries?
        You mean “speak up” like the Muslims do when Christian churches are burned to the ground in Islamic countries like Egypt and other parts of the Middle East?
        You mean “speak up” like the Muslims do when an Islamic father kills his daughter for converting to Christianity?
        You mean “speak up” like the Muslims did on 9/11 and every anniversary since?

        • Do you have examples from developed nations, democracies?

          I don’t give a damn about what people are saying in countries on the lowest end of “unfree” on the world freedom stats.

          When Christians organize to engage in activities in this nation which violate all notions of religious liberties, do you speak up or join in?

          Are you offering excuses for the people blocking construction of the mosque?

          • Sure Larry, we are looking for outcry from Muslims about the atrocities they commit, where are the non-third world Muslims and their outcry? You immediately make an excuse of third world-ism as an reason for extremely violent behavior, what makes you think the people there are all that different from the ones here. We just don’t put up with it here.

          • Regular RNS columnists Omar Sacirbey and Omid Safi references the outcry of Western Muslims all the time when people bring that issue up. Its a non-starter of an argument.

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/qasim-rashid/do-you-even-hear-muslims-when-we-condemn-violence_b_3125564.html

            “The fact is Muslims have gone far beyond mere condemnation but taken action. The Muslims for Life campaign has raised over 25,000 blood donations in the past two years to honor 9/11 victims. The #MyJihad campaign serves to demonstrate Jihad’s true meaning. The Muslims for Peace campaign champions true, peaceful Islam. I could go on but hopefully you get the picture.”

            They are crying out, its just not convenient for you to listen. Not when you want to attack an entire religion of over a billion people.
            Maybe you should not try to make a point based on ignorance and fear mongering.

            Fact of the matter is, there is NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER for using the color of law, to block the construction of a house of worship. We don’t put up with using the law to promote bigotry. I don’t care what you think of a given religion, its not relevant to the right of its free exercise.

          • Nice try Larry. Wow huge outcry, ten long years after 911 the blood drive gets started, guess it was safe by then. Regardless of that, the Muslim outcry you reference is small and the Christian outcry you want is insufficient anyway. Guess you can’t be happy. You excuse billions because they live in “other” countries, countries that they built themselves but you throw all Christianity under the bus because some people thought they could thwart the freedom of Muslims to worship here. Are you seeing a pattern here Larry? For what it’s worth I don’t have any problem with people worshipping as they see fit, it’s the oppression and violence that troubles me. I don’t excuse “other” countries for there practices, I don’t find that as convenient an excuse as you do.

          • It is obvious there is plenty of outcry out there Ron, simple google searches bring that up. It is also obvious you are not going to bother to look for them. Hell, I even remember the Iranian government condemning 9/11 that evening. The only Muslims who were celebrating were the Palestinians and Saddam Hussein. [The Arab equivalents to the drunken racist uncle at Thanksgiving]

            You would much prefer well crafted propaganda if it makes your bigotry against Islam socially acceptable. The point is brought up often enough and rebutted by regular columnists here to see its a phony argument. There is no point arguing facts with someone who is unwilling to bother looking at them.

            All Christianity BELONGS under a bus if it represents itself by attacking free exercise of religion of others. You are not defending your faith by attacking another one. You are simply making it easy to disregard both in favor of sanity.

            I don’t excuse other countries either. I am just not stupid enough to knee-jerk blame a religion where political conditions are the real cause. All you are doing is showing your ignorance of a situation when you say, “they are evil because their religion demands them to be so”. That is never the case. That is what people use to excuse “ethnic cleansing” and whatnot.

            I post on a regular basis about the links between Islamic terrorism and dictatorships which spawn them. Only someone ignorant of history would just chalk it up to “Islam being Islam”.

            “For what it’s worth I don’t have any problem with people worshipping as they see fit”

            Then you find the efforts to block the mosque troubling?
            Are you willing to criticize fellow Christians for acting in such a way to violate notions of personal liberties?

            My guess is, despite your prior statement, your answer to both questions will be “No”.

      • It would be nice if you supposed open minded atheists would speak out more against the Islamophobic bigotry of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Bill Maher. So long atheists stay quiet about the New Atheists’ bigotry towards Muslims, you and Atheist Max are hypocrites, Larry.

        • There is nothing to criticize here. Opinions are opinions. Show me a “new atheist” who is using the color of law to prevent a mosque (or any house of worship) being built.

          Do you think free exercise of religion is only for faiths you like?

          Its one thing to criticize a religion, its a free country. We are entitled to do so. Its a very very different thing to demand that our laws willfully antagonize a religion and keep them from worshiping.

          I don’t give a flying crap what you think about atheists or Islam in general. Whatever. Fine by me. But when you try to hijack our laws in accordance to it, it must be objected to it.

          As I see it every time fundamentalists be they Christian or Muslims get a little bit of political power, they abuse it. Murfreesboro is a perfect example of that.

  4. Read the news folks and find out which religion is currently and has been for centuries eradicating other faiths, i.e., Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and Christians. It’s not an opinion; it’s a reality.

    • Christianity!!!

      Even to the point of trying to wipe out fellow Christians. It took them 2 millennia and a century of secularism before Christians finally learned to play nice with each other.

      Demonizing a religion is not going to be a great argument when the subject is 1st amendment rights to free exercise.

    • So Christians are left to advocating vandalism. Nice.

      Do me a favor, don’t ever claim your religious freedom is under attack for any reason. You obviously have no clue what the words mean.

  5. It is not about our nice Muslims friends, it is about “Islam” the religion.
    Anybody heard of the Sudanese Christian sentenced to death by the Sudanese authorities for her faith?
    Anybody checked if there is freedom of religion according to the Islamic law (Sharia) and what is the punishment for leaving Islam?
    Anybody wondered if a “religion” that does not guarantee religious freedoms is constitutional in this country?
    Some preliminary questions before considering the permit for a mosque.

    • “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
      – Anais Nin

      Muslims have been regularly speaking up in condemning injustices against non Muslims and so have Christians regularly condemned what happens to non Christians. Both these statements are demonstrably true, but depending on one’s subjective experience, both may not be as easy as each other to validate.

      For myself the latter has been impossible to miss. I know about the latter because I live in a predominantly Christian country where historically as well as currently, knowledge of the values and traditions of Christianity has been normalised for all, Christian and non Christian alike. They are embedded in, and (by whatever subtle or overt way) permeate through all parts of the culture, including through the popular media. In other words I have grown up with a first hand experience of multi faceted Christianity despite not being Christian. And through this broad exposure (including personal human exposure) am able to discriminate and make nuanced value judgements which are beyond any superficial narrative suggested by ‘the news media’, or the anecdotes of others.

      To be in such a position it was not necessary for me to have studied Christian teaching to any great degree. My living experience, from within the culture, is enough for me to ultimately dismiss any simplistic linear connections made between the Christian religion as a whole, and the at times negative portrayals of some of its diverse followers, e.g. historical injustices or recent widespread child abuse. And while at times the Quran burners, picketers of soldier’s funerals and other bigots professing to be Christian gain a level of exposure and challenge the positive ‘brand’ of Christianity, how can they hope to compete for my subjective opinion of their religion, with the old Christian man next door to me who willingly comes over to help whenever he’s asked?

      I know about Muslims speaking up for non Muslims because I interact with Muslims from my own community as well as others, and have witnessed first hand their opinions, values and practices. I have heard the sermons from my own spiritual leader and leaders past condemning persecution and violence against any faith or belief, and I have read the ongoing published articles and books of other Muslims who practice and believe in freedom of religion as I do. I know about such Muslims because I have joined them in raising money for the Red Cross, for crippled children of different or no faiths, and seen some (such as my wife) volunteer at our local charity church shop. Almost none of this I experienced through watching or listening to news and popular media. But all of it I see as a willing expression of my shared faith.

    • The great thing about freedom of religion is nobody has to give a crap what you think about a faith as a precondition to worship or building a house of worship. Evidently you are delusional enough to think that people have to be deemed acceptable in your eyes to practice their religion.

      They can be worshipers of dread Cthulhu for all it matters. They could preach the destruction of the world and all Christians to become chopped up chum for the Great Old Ones. They would be STILL entitled to build a house of worship.

      Simply put, you have no excuse for using the law to attack the right of free exercise of religion. Obviously Christians as usual think freedom of religion only applies to themselves.

  6. Comparing how we treat other religions to how they are treated in other countries makes no sense. WE here in the U.S. have a thing called the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion, something that the other countries you’re talking about don’t have. So your point is moot.

  7. The American people are truly ignorant of Islam. A basic tenet is that there can be no state or law without Sharia. So, it is not simply about “practicing a religion”, it is about the establishment of a post, where the basic philosophy is to overthrow any government that is not an Islamic government (violently if necessary and capable). That is the stated goal and underlying philosophy of all Islamic Faiths.

    Further, it is perfectly OK to lie and deceive the non-believer regarding these aims, and to remain peaceable until more power is acquired. If Islam were ever to become a powerful majority, we would see that here….

    By the way, to the Atheists – any good Muslim will tell you that a beheading is awaiting you for being an atheist – it is the required punishment for atheism – as well as any other belief not of the “book” – meaning Jews or Christians – although Jews have another fate that awaits them under Islam.

    In our CRAZY liberalism here in the US we seemingly think all religions are equal and should be given the same treatment. In fact, some ideologies are a mix – both government and religion – and are, as such, inextricably intertwined.

    • Deuteronomy 17
      2 If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant,
      3 and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky,
      4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel,
      5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death.
      6 On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.
      7 The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.

    • No Wow, Americans like you are ignorant of what religious freedom actually means.

      Whatever someone believes as their religious faith is their business. Their right to practice their faith unfettered to the extent that it harms nobody else. (No human sacrifices, no suicide bombers, no burning down mosques…)

      Whether you think Islam is the worst most vile religion on the planet is not relevant to anything. Its followers are still free to construct houses of worship, cemeteries and religious schools without being blocked by our government and laws. That is what free exercise of religion is for. Not to protect what is popular, but to protect what isn’t.

      Its a shame you feel such hatred towards another faith that you are willing to treat our rule of law and democratic principles like toilet paper.

  8. Let me add – people keeping talking about the Constitution. What if my religion, required, as a central tenet, to overthrow your Constitution and to kill you if you do not adhere to my belief system? Is that then permissible?

    • So you don’t believe in freedom of religion, freedom of speech or rule of law. You are under the delusion that anyone’s opinion on a given religion affects their right to free exercise. You seem to have no clue about the limits of free exercise which ALWAYS existed.

      “What if my religion, required, as a central tenet, to overthrow your Constitution and to kill you if you do not adhere to my belief system? Is that then permissible?”

      That’s what Fundamentalist Christians have been asking for in this country for years. The Fundamentalist Muslims are just following in your footsteps :)

  9. Again, it is not about what a group says or does, it is about the “holy” books.

    A fundamentalist Christian can ask for whatever he wants but he/she will have difficulty basing his/her violence on statements like “love you enemy” or “turn the other cheek” .

    in contrast, a real Muslim will have difficulty being moderate, tolerant, accepting of others if he wants to follow the teachings of Islam: http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Quran/012-apostasy.htm

    Let us not mix moderate “Muslims” living a delusion in the West with Islam the religion which can NOT be tolerant by definition.

    • No it isn’t. Its about what they do and what they have a right to do.

      Nobody has to care what you think of scripture of any religion. Especially our laws. That is the essence of religious freedom.

      Fundamentalist Christians are only kept in check because sane people are there to curb their excesses. So far nobody is crazy enough to give them unfettered political power. As seen in this case, when given a little bit of authority, they use it to engage in illegal, discriminatory, freedom eroding behavior.

      Let us not mistake your opinion of Islam with anything relevant to free exercise of religion. It is obvious that Christians like yourself believe religious freedom only applies to themselves. That they are the arbiters of what everyone should be believing. Very Talibanish.

      • Larry,
        1. You assumed I am Christian. Are you sure?
        2. Nobody should care what a “holy” scripture says as long as what is says applies only to people willingly adhering to the faith. When it asks its followers (by the authority of a god and/or a prophet) to impose itself on the rest of society, I think everybody should care!!
        3. What keeps fundamentalist Christians in check is the fact that in “Christian” and post-christian societies, at one level or the other, it was possible to separate religion from “state”. This is IMPOSSIBLE in an Islamic society where every constitution starts by affirming that the religion of the State is Islam. How would feel if you are not Muslim?
        4. You don’t have to worry about my opinion. Just read for yourself some of the quotes in the link I provided: http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Quran/012-apostasy.htm.
        5. If you don’t believe me, try looking at religious, political, personal freedoms in Islamic majority countries. Find me the address of the Saudi Atheists society in Saudi Arabia if you can. Try having this conversation in Saudi Arabia or Iran!!

        • 1. Don’t care what your religion is. Probably are a Christian. Fundie Christians are usually at the forefront of attacks on free exercise of religion in this country.

          2. No. It doesn’t matter what you think of a faith or its believers when it comes to free exercise of religion, period. There is no condition to this statement.

          Your prejudices against a faith have no constitutional protection. “Imposition” in this case is existing and exercising guaranteed rights to religious practice. You may be uncomfortable with it, but that is no basis for denying liberties to others. When you talk about imposition, be specific. What is the action, what is being imposed upon here. In this case your frothing at the mouth hatred of things Muslim is being imposed upon by the presence and existence of people practicing their faith in a lawful and protected manner.

          3. There is no such thing as “Islamic society” There hasn’t been one since the 13th Century when Genghis Khan trashed the Caliphate. What you have is a bunch of post-colonial countries who have a Muslim majority and with few exceptions dictatorships. Virtually all of them were secular nationalists at one time. Your ignorance of world politics and history is duly noted.

          4. As I said before, I don’t have to care what you think the religion says or even what the believers claim. Free exercise of religious belief is free exercise of religious belief. Building a mosque and a cemetery are perfectly peaceable actions. You have no rational basis for blocking such things. Religious freedom is not premised on the idea that people accept the ideas of a given religion.

          5. The problems in those countries are a lot deeper than that. Blaming Islam for everything there is just bigoted ignorance writ large. Again, your lack of knowledge of world politics and history are becoming apparent.

          Fundamentalists are given political power there because fundamentalism worked well with dictatorships in preventing democracy, diverting revolution and imposing a repressionary system without getting the government’s hands dirty. Before that many of these countries were radical nationalists and funded by the USSR (Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya…).

          People like you are the best tools Al Queda has. You confirm all the lies they tell when recruiting.

          Why do you hate America and our freedoms so much?

          • Let me make myself really really clear here.

            When the subject is the free exercise of religion, you are never going to make a valid argument with the premise, “X religion is evil incarnate”.

            As I said before, your religion could have as articles of faith that all non-believers shall be ground up into sausage meat to be fed by the hideous dark one from beyond. They are still entitled to build a house of worship.
            [Please note: they are not entitled to grind up non believers into sausage meat]

          • Larry,
            It seems you are a libertarian in your love of personal and religious freedom. We share this love but this does not mean we can be blind to the facts.
            Again, you don’t have to worry about my religion, biases or worldview. What you need to consider is what Islam and its prophet requires from its faithful and what example it provides for them to follow. Instead of accusing me of ignorance, I would be interested in your comments on Quran 4:89 or Bukhari 52:260 for instance. As you consider the issue, you might also need to remember Salman Rushdie and Theo Van Gogh who tried to express their personal freedoms publicly as you propose.
            If you like to keep things lighter, you can check Bill Maher, whom to my recollection is neither Christian nor fundamentalist:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VgUBf0Fhrc

            [Please note: they are not entitled to grind up non believers into sausage meat]. And you show no interest in looking deeper into a world religion that tells its followers to do exactly that!!! very clear and consistent thinking.

          • You obviously do not share a love of personal and religious freedom. Hence you are engaging in an argument entirely consisting of “I hate religion X, they are not entitled to worship in public”.

            You are still under the mistaken belief that your views are relevant to the discussion of free exercise of religion. They never were. They never will be. Any discussion to the effect of “Muslims are evil” will never have bearing on their right to build a mosque or a cemetery.

            I hate to break the news to you but all forms of sectarian discrimination against any religion sounds like yours. You will never come off as someone whose views need to be taken seriously on the subject.

            “the facts” are you are so full of sectarian hated that you are wiling to toss all notions religious freedom aside in support of it. This is about as dangerous and stupid as one can get in a free democratic society. It makes you even more dangerous that the Muslim extremists you claim to oppose (but are doing your best to support)

            Your views of Islam can only be seen as bigoted nonsense. You can’t make generalizations about 1.3 billion people like that and not be. Your views can never, ever, ever, be a justification for how our laws treat people of that faith or any other.

            Even worse, your nonsense is furthering the goals of the Islamic Extremists by giving their nonsense tangible evidence. Their claim that Christians are out to destroy them is supported by you. You are doing the work for them. Does Al Queda know where to send their checks for you?

            Btw Bill Maher is not trying to use the laws to attack Islam or any other religion. Even he knows the laws don’t have to take his opinions on such subjects seriously.

  10. @Wow

    You said: ” A basic tenet is that there can be no state or law without Sharia”

    I’m not sure which basic or central “tenets” you’re talking about? Perhaps I, like “the American people”, am also ignorant of Islam as you’ve said. Islam has five pillars and six articles of faith. None of them mention anything at all about the obligation or otherwise of the formation or required religion of any state.

    I was also bemused to see you assert that the violent overthrow of non Islamic governments is “the stated goal and underlying philosophy of all Islamic Faiths”. Really? Who apart from the wilfully ignorant do you expect to believe such an absurd statement? Do you really think that most Americans, even those with limited personal exposure to American Muslims, are that stupid that they will believe and accept that every Muslim living amongst them is either passively or actively associated with a plot to overthrow the government?

    @phoenix

    You said: “Again, it is not about what a group says or does, it is about the “holy” books”

    I disagree. The implicit argument in your statement is that whatever peaceful, law abiding Muslims may say or do is irrelevant, because by doing so they are merely denying what the Quran teaches. In other words, you hold that your interpretation of the Quran (which conveniently must be the same as that of extremists) is the one and only true interpretation. And so when Muslims are seen not to be speaking up against injustice they are labelled as co-conspirators with extremists, whilst when they do speak up, for you they are merely being “delusional” and not “real Muslims”. The irony is that whether it’s a conspiracy or not, you and the extremists think alike and therefore interpret identically. My only question to you is, why is your interpretation better than mine?

    Your link didn’t work for me, though that section on apostasy can be accessed through the main site. But if I was to make a value judgement of the bias or neutrality of your intentions towards explaining Islam, it wouldn’t be favourable. The website you chose to link to ‘only’ paints Muslims and Islam in the most demonic manner possible, replete with nasty stereotypes, slurs and, like extremists anywhere, is unaccepting of any interpretations other than their own. To read an alternative view of Islam’s teachings about apostasy (by a Muslim who allegedly isn’t “real”), read the book “Murder in the name of Allah”
    http://www.alislam.org/library/books/mna/chapter_7.html

  11. Rashid,
    It is not my implicit argument that peaceful, law abiding Muslims (like many of my friends and probably yours), are denying what the Quran teaches, it is actually my explicit argument. For that matter, a believer in any religion cannot be considered as such if he does not adhere to the teachings of his religion, particularly when they obviously clear.

    When I go through the mental exercise of being a Muslim, I find myself required to emulate the prophet as recommended in Quran 33:21. In such a case, I find it difficult to be tolerant and supporting freedom of religion, as required by my country’s constitution and Bill of Rights, while simultaneously reading Quran 4:89 (“They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper”.) (Shakir), or Bukhari 52:260 (“Narrated Ikrima: Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn ‘Abbas, who said, “Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, ‘Don’t punish (anybody) with Allah’s Punishment.’ No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’ “) to just give a couple of examples.

    Hence my initial question: if Islam is a religion that allows you to go in but not out (without the nonsense of renouncing Islam and keeping it a secret), is it compatible with the Western style of personal freedoms? More specifically, in the US, is Islam compatible with the constitution and the Bill of Rights? Is it constitutional?

    What do you think?

    • @phoenix

      Hi

      Whether your argument is implicit or explicit, your answer to my question (Why is your interpretation better than mine?) was neither. To say that yours (interpretation) is “obviously clear” implies that others whose differ are either not clear, or if they are clear, are provably false. You haven’t even done a comparison, let alone proved the falsity of others. You’ve simply stated your position.

      One note: As an Ahmadi, I use the Quran’s translation at: (http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/guide.htm?region=EN). Due to the difference in referencing from the start of chapter 2, mine will not align with yours – e.g. your 4:89 is my 4:90. Without going into a lengthy explanation of why, suffice to say that nothing has been added or omitted.

      You said: ” ..I find it difficult to be tolerant and supporting freedom of religion, as required by my country’s constitution and Bill of Rights, while simultaneously reading Quran 4:89″

      It helps to read the whole chapter. I promise I’ll try to stay as brief as I possibly can. Leading up to 4:89, in the same chapter, the Quran makes clear that God is talking specifically of hypocrites. God’s instruction on how to deal with such persons is to point out to them their hypocrisy:

      “”Hast thou not seen those who assert that they believe in what has been revealed to thee and what has been revealed before thee? They desire to seek judgement from the Evil One, although they were commanded not to obey him. And Satan desires to lead them far astray.

      And when it is said to them, ‘Come ye to what Allah has sent down and to His Messenger,’ thou seest the hypocrites turn away from thee with aversion.

      Then how is it that when an affliction befalls them because of what their hands have sent on before, they come to thee swearing by Allah, saying, ‘We meant nothing but the doing of good and conciliation.’

      These are they, the secrets of whose hearts Allah knows well. So turn away from them and admonish them and speak to them an effective word concerning themselves” (4:61-64)

      The point at which Muslims are urged to fight is only when these same hypocrites, unprovoked, seek to kill Muslims only for their beliefs:

      “And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and for the rescue of the weak men, women and children – who say, ‘Our Lord, take us out of this town whose people are oppressors, and give us a friend from Thyself and give us from Thyself a helper'” (4:76)

      And while hostilities continue, God reminds Muslims that whoever tries to be an arbitrator will have their intentions judged by God alone. Muslims are to always give the benefit of any doubt to a chance for peace, and should at all times (even in a conflict) be mindful of their manners:

      “Whoso makes a righteous intercession shall have a share thereof, and whoso makes an evil intercession, shall have a like portion thereof, and Allah is Powerful over everything

      And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet ye with a better greeting or at least return it. Surely, Allah takes account of all things.” (4:86-87)

      4:90 which you posted, is then followed by further restrictions on which hostile hypocrites cannot be sought out and fought as described. They include those who are renegades from any group with whom there is a peace treaty – the implication being that they will either be dealt with by their own, or the treaty will cease. Also not to be harmed are those from the hypocrites who wish neither to fight Muslims nor fight the other warring hypocrites, i.e. they are what they are and they just want peace:

      “Except those who are connected with a people between whom and you there is a pact, or those who come to you, while their hearts shrink from fighting you or fighting their own people. And if Allah had so pleased, He could have given them power against you, then they would have surely fought you. So, if they keep aloof from you and fight you not, and make you an offer of peace, then Allah has allowed you no way of aggression against them.” (4:91)

      These principles given by God to Muslims – that only those are allowed to be fought who initiate hostilities for the reason of destroying freedom of belief, and only until such hostilities cease, has been clearly stated in the Quran elsewhere as well:

      “Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged—and Allah indeed has power to help them – Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’—And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty” (22:40-41)

      “Allah forbids you not, respecting those who have not fought against you on account of your religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes, that you be kind to them and act equitably towards them; surely Allah loves those who are equitable.

      Allah only forbids you, respecting those who have fought against you on account of your religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and have helped others in driving you out, that you make friends of them, and whosoever makes friends of them — it is these that are the transgressors.” (60: 9-10)

    • @phoenix

      You said: “Bukhari 52:260 (“Narrated Ikrima: Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn ‘Abbas, who said, “Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, ‘Don’t punish (anybody) with Allah’s Punishment.’ No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’ ”

      If you don’t read the whole book (Murder in the name of Allah) but just the page I linked to in my previous to last post, it directly addresses in depth: this hadith, the narrator Ikrimah and his narrations, and the narrator Ibn Abbas. If you have any doubts of the lack of credibility of this hadith after that, let me know why.

      One principle which perhaps you don’t appreciate, is that for Muslims seeking Islamic guidance, the Quran stands supreme. Hadith (what the prophet said transmitted through history by a chain or chains of narration) and sunnah (what the prophet did as interpreted from passed along tradition) are used to support the Quran – not vice versa. If a contradiction exists between either of the latter
      two and the Quran, and if that contradiction cannot be reconciled, then the contradictory hadith or sunnah is discarded. This is because the Quran is considered by Muslims to be the word of God, while the latter two are considered the (fallible) words and actions of humans. God himself has guaranteed the preservation of the original words of the Quran – no such guarantee exists for other sources.

      “Verily, We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian” (15:10)

      You asked: “Hence my initial question: if Islam is a religion that allows you to go in but not out (without the nonsense of renouncing Islam and keeping it a secret), is it compatible with the Western style of personal freedoms? More specifically, in the US, is Islam compatible with the constitution and the Bill of Rights? Is it constitutional?”

      No it’s not. If it “allows you to go in but not out” then the answer to your questions is no. And anyone who holds such a belief cannot credibly claim to believe in freedom of conscience. But my interpretation of Islam holds both your premise and interpretation to be false. Freedom of belief or no belief is guaranteed in the Quran. No punishment by man for apostasy is sanctioned in it anywhere.

      The Quran addressing believers:

      “There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing” (2:257)

      “If thy Lord had enforced His will, surely all those on earth would have believed, without exception? Will thou, then, take it upon thyself to force people to become believers?” (10:100)

      “And if thy Lord had enforced His will, He would have surely made mankind one people; but they would not cease to differ” (11:119)

      “And obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and be on your guard. But if you turn away, then know that on Our Messenger lies only the clear conveyance of the Message” (5:93)

      The Quran addressing Muhammad(sa):

      “Admonish, therefore, for thou art but an admonisher; Thou art not appointed a warder over them.” (88:22-23)

      So…what do I think? I think my interpretation of Islam is peaceful, valid, provable, does not contradict the Quran, and, whilst I don’t in any way profess to be an authority on the US constitution, believe it in no way threatens or
      contradicts it. What about your interpretation? Can you claim the same?

      • Rashid,

        You being an Ahmadi makes my argument much easier. In your response you are framing the issue as if it is my “biased” interpretation of Islam Vs yours. Instead of making a lengthy response in which I enumerate all the Quranic verses, hadiths and examples of Mohammad’s life promoting violence against hypocrites, infidels, apostates, atheists and people believing in a trinity (ie Christians)… in the name of an Islamic understanding of “Allah”, I will refer you to the following article depicting Islamic intolerance to Ahmadis (probably written by you?) http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/05/29/will-real-moderate-imams-please-stand-up/32197.

        If you are not the author, please note the multitude of prominent Islamic Imams (not to mention all other Imams), known for their progressive views, who were preaching the excommunication and even death of Ahmadis. If the Islamic literature can be interpreted by prominent Islamic figures in such a way to allow such violence towards a group that considers itself Muslim (not to mention the Sunni-Shia violence), what do you think it will allow towards non Muslims?

        For another example, I will refer you to the opinion of the Saudi grand mufti (one of your favorites I imagine) regarding the destruction of churches in the Arabian Peninsula: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/16/destroy-all-churches/. As the author of the article says, “This is not a small-time radical imam trying to stir up his followers with fiery hate speech. This was a considered, deliberate and specific ruling from one of the most important leaders in the Muslim world”.

        This is not to mention the multitude of other examples of Islamic intolerance towards free speech and other personal freedoms such as the fatwa by Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie and the assassination of Theo Van Gogh in Holland.

        So I hope you see that it is not my “biased, Islamophobic” interpretation Vs yours. It seems it is your interpretation of a moderate and tolerant Islam Vs a large volume of violent literature, tradition and modern intolerance to a writer and a film producer!

        On another note, in the second part of your answer, you make the claim that the Quran is the word of God based on God himself guaranteeing “the preservation of the original words of the Quran”. That sounds circular to me. You believe the Quran is the word of God because the Quran says it is the word of God. I am sure you don’t go to a doctor who prescribes medications based only on the information he gets from the manufacturer of the drug. May I ask, how/why should a non Muslim consider the Quran at all? Any objective evidence that what Mohammad reported as messages from God were truly as such?

        • “You being an Ahmadi makes my argument much easier.”

          It means you can engage in ad homiem on top of your nonsense. Of course the irony of using as an example a person who wields political power in a dictatorship who wants to ban churches. You are advocating banning mosques and are disappointed you live in a democracy where you can’t do the same thing.

          Since you are demonizing a religion and advocating its discrimination under the law, how are you any different? Lack of opportunity perhaps?

  12. David Lloyd-Jones

    What of the judge in the court of first instance, given the opportunity to teach the meaning of America to an ignorant segment of the community, and who instead ruled in a way that is obvious in its incorrectness?

    Is he elected? And if so, will he be defeated for his obvious ignorance, silliness, and waste of everybody’s time and money?

    -dlj.

  13. @phoenix

    My apologies for the lengthy replies. I thought a short response in relation to the verse you queried might just invite more questions about it. No I’m not the author Qasim Rashid. Nor do I personally know him.

    You said:

    “..you are framing the issue as if it is my “biased” interpretation of Islam Vs yours.”

    The issue with what you’ve posted is indeed your biased interpretations vs mine. You yourself framed it when you asserted the following:

    “..a real Muslim will have difficulty being moderate, tolerant, accepting of others if he wants to follow the teachings of Islam”

    And you said:

    “Let us not mix moderate “Muslims” living a delusion in the West with Islam the religion which can NOT be tolerant by definition”

    And again you stated:

    “It is not my implicit argument that peaceful, law abiding Muslims (like many of my friends and probably yours), are denying what the Quran teaches, it is actually my explicit argument. For that matter, a believer in any religion cannot be considered as such if he does not adhere to the teachings of his religion, particularly when they obviously clear.”

    It was my understanding from reading your comments, that these were not you quoting a third person but your own “clear” conclusions, beliefs and, as you yourself state – your “explicit argument”. If your comments are not based on your own interpretations, then whose are they based on? And, assuming you have free will, why have you chosen to adopt them? Specifically, why have you chosen your interpretations over others such as mine?

    Similarly I’m puzzled by you now stating:

    “If the Islamic literature can be interpreted by prominent Islamic figures in such a way to allow such violence towards a group that considers itself Muslim (not to mention the Sunni-Shia violence), what do you think it will allow towards non Muslims?”

    Apart from again shifting the blame for your own stated conclusions onto the interpretations of others, the question you ask is also unclear. What will what allow? A violent interpretation will obviously allow violence. A peaceful one will not – also obvious.

    You said:

    “For another example, I will refer you to the opinion of the Saudi grand mufti (one of your favorites I imagine) regarding the destruction of churches in the Arabian Peninsula”.

    I’m disappointed you didn’t substitute your imagination with the reality of what I just posted. Why would I consider someone advocating the destruction of churches to be one of my “favorites” when I’ve just given you Quran (22:41) which explicitly reasons that not allowing Muslims to fight for the freedom of religion would result in the destruction of churches. Did you not bother to read it at all?

    And you also seem to be contradicting your own earlier statement by inferring the importance to your argument of the Saudi grand mufti, the Ayatollah Khomeini and an assassin. How are they relevant to your interpretation of what Islam actually teaches when you yourself believe that:

    “…it is not about what a group says or does, it is about the “holy” books”

    No phoenix, I don’t want you to:

    “…enumerate all the Quranic verses, hadiths and examples of Mohammad’s life promoting violence against hypocrites, infidels, apostates, atheists and people believing in a trinity…”.

    What I’d like you to do is first address what you initially asked. You posted a specific verse (4:89 or 4:90) claiming it to be a reason why you:

    “…find it difficult to be tolerant and supporting freedom of religion, as required by my country’s constitution and Bill of Rights”

    I have not only taken the time to give you my interpretation of this verse (with context), I believe I have also refuted yours. Before moving on, I would like to know what your response is. If you disagree with my interpretation of that verse, explain to me what’s wrong with it. If you still believe that it should be interpreted as being dangerous to the US constitution, tell me why. And while you’re at it, do the same for the hadith you posted in light of the comprehensive refutation of it which I linked you to.

    I have no interest in engaging over your selective quotations and interpretations when you seem reluctant to take personal responsibility for your own assertions regarding Islam, and then fail to even acknowledge, let alone directly refute, my responses to them. That’s not a debate.

    As to the question of:

    “..why should a non Muslim consider the Quran at all?”

    The answer is for the same reason a Muslim or non Muslim should consider any holy book, belief system, philosophy etc – because they’re there.

    • Rashid, it is wonderful that you are bothering to rebut Phoenix’s claims point by point. I certainly would never bother doing so.

      My objections are on the form of the argument and its irrelevancy to all notions of free exercise of religion,.

      In essence it is no different than the nabobs who used to (still do) say:
      “You can’t trust the Jews, they will never be loyal to our country and will betray it for Israel”

      “Catholics cannot be trusted. They will always obey the word of the Pope over our laws and government” [Very big in the 1960 presidential election]

      “Atheists are immoral people who want to ban your churches”

      “Jehovah’s witnesses are evil. They profess that all other faiths will perish by the hand of God. They respect no other faith but theirs”

      “The Jewish faith professes that no gentile is to be trusted or treated fairly. Their holy books state it is the duty to kill Jew who marries outside of the faith and their gentile spouse”

      “The evil of the Jews is apparent, they control the media, politics and banks and will enslave all of Christendom [or Islam] to their ways.”

      “Jews set up their own laws that do not recognize modern democratic principles and they demand the government recognize it”
      [Actually true, but like Sharia Law in a democratic nation, its based on a right to contract and arbitration]

      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      • Hi Larry

        Though we may disagree on matters of faith, I’m a big fan of your always rational posts. And I understand and agree with where you’re coming from on this issue. The principle of freedom of belief or no belief is one I personally hold as paramount, and one I feel explicitly exists in my religion. I’m not familiar with the US constitution but I assume it exists there too. This principle should generally of itself be enough to allow people to believe whatever they want as long as they don’t break the law of the land. Even if their beliefs ‘may’, according to some, potentially lead to bad behaviour, they’re still just beliefs. And beliefs can and should neither be legislated for or against.

        The motivation for me entering this debate is the generalising of ‘Muslims’ as some sort of monolithic group which all share the same evil intentions based on the alleged compulsion to do so found within their scripture. Such assertions ignore the beliefs, rationale and living example of those of my community and others. Why should we be marginalised in this debate? Ahmadi Muslims have been explicitly instructed by our founder to reject violence in favor of a ‘Jihad of the pen’. This we wage against both those (generally Muslims) who seek to physically harm us as well as those (Muslims and others) who seek to disparage our beliefs. I just need to learn
        how to give more concise answers!

        • I’m rational? Thank you for the compliment.

          You understand the concepts of religious freedom as described in the US constitution better than many Americans do. Even if you are unfamiliar with the details.

          Don’t worry about being concise.

          You are describing your faith and refuting hateful nonsense. Your rebuttals are pretty rational yourself in how you are picking apart the contradictions and silly aspects of Phoenix’s rather half-baked rhetoric.

    • Rashid,

      I am sorry you missed my joke about the Grand mufti of SA!!

      Going back to Quran 4:89, and despite all the limitations on killing the hypocrites/apostates that you like to emphasize in the rest of the chapter, the reality of the verse remains the same. It gives Muslims the right to kill, with some qualifications, anybody who changes his mind and decides to leave the Islamic cause. There is only one way of understanding “But if they turn away, then seize them and KILL wherever you find them”. You can qualify this verse as much as you want, but it means what it means.

      Between this and the other verses in the Quran that prescribe violence towards the unbelievers (eg 5:33, 8:12…), a Muslim individual, group or government will always find a “legal” reason to persecute, if not kill, non believers. I am sure you will tell me that the violence allowed in these verses is only allowed when non Muslims wage war against Muslims. But how do you apply this teaching to this modern era? Is war only by the sword or a tank? How about a book that is critical of Islam? A Hollywood movie or a newspaper caricature of the prophet? Are these acts of war against Islam? It seems to me that for many “orthodox” Muslims the answer has been yes. Hence the antiblasphemy rules in certain, if not all Islamic countries, the Khomeini fatwas against Salman Rushdie, the Saudi Grand mufti’s opinion about the churches in the Arabian Pininsula, the recent death penalty of Mariam Ibrahim in Sudan…

      I don’t doubt your sincerity in presenting Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance. Unfortunately, such efforts have not succeeded for the last 13 or 14 centuries and I don’t see how and why they can succeed now. In my opinion this is because it is much easier to justify violence (for the cause of Allah and His prophet) than peace in the Islamic literature. Regardless of how you look at the story, the prophet of Islam did not sacrifice himself for the sake of his followers teaching them to love their enemies (Matthew 5:44); instead he took the sword and fought back. Since a religion can never be superior to its prophet, it is inevitable that Islam will always include violence. This has been its story since the 7th century!!

      • Hi phoenix,

        Oops – no ‘I’m’ sorry I didn’t get the irony. It seems obvious now.

        The point about 4:89 (my 4:90) in terms of “the right to kill” is not whether the persons are hypocrites or apostates. Hypocrites are used as a unique example as they were the relevant offenders at the time of this revelation. That’s not though mentioned as a factor for the ruling at all. The point is that those being fought, initiate hostilities (war) and even women and children are targetted. This is what’s mentioned as one prerequisite, not apostasy or hypocrisy itself.

        The allowance of such action (retaliation) is predicated on the situation being that believers are targetted for violence ‘only’ for being believers and for no other reason. Again, this is what’s mentioned here as well as explicitly at 22:40. And this is why it is explicitly mentioned at 4:91 that any (from the hypocrites being fought) who either don’t fight or want peace are not to be harmed. In other words only fight those who fight you. If the reason for fighting (including taking life) was just that the persons being fought are apostate or hypocritical, the exemptions would be meaningless.

        “Take not, therefore, friends from among them, until they emigrate in the way of Allah. And if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and take no friend nor helper from among them.” (4:90)

        This part of the verse comes after the declaration to fight against such persons who are attacking vulnerable men, women and children simply for being believers. It also comes after 4:89 (your 4:88) which says:

        “What is the matter with you that you are divided into two parties regarding the Hypocrites?”

        Muslims were divided into those who kept relations and friendships with those from among the hypocrites and those who didn’t. The hypocrites by very definition had two sides to themselves, in one of which they purported to be part of them (the Muslims). And so some Muslims thought it worthwhile to maintain these relationships.

        But at the point where this group (of hypocrites) began warring with Muslims (for being Muslim), Muslims are told to not maintain these ‘two faced’ friendships, until it is certain that these friends are truly what they themselves claim they are – i.e. they “emigrate in the way of Allah”. If they “turn away”, i.e. make clear that they actually side with the warring hypocrites, then they are enemy combatants in this time of war. But, again, if they “turn away” and are not hostile (i.e. seek peace) then the Quran makes it clear that, “Allah has allowed you no way of aggression against them.” (4:91)

        You asked: “Is war only by the sword or a tank? How about a book that is critical of Islam? A Hollywood movie or a newspaper caricature of the prophet?”

        Nothing in the Quran could be construed by a thinking person as justifying war for your examples – including 5:33 and 8:12 which I won’t elaborate on in this post.

        You said: “Unfortunately, such efforts have not succeeded for the last 13 or 14 centuries and I don’t see how and why they can succeed now. In my opinion this is because it is much easier to justify violence (for the cause of Allah and His prophet) than peace in the Islamic literature.”

        I don’t think it’s easier, though it may be more convenient. When preaching Islam to people who are uneducated or ignorant, I think peace and violence are equally easy to justify. When it comes to the Quran, preaching injustice such as violence against disbelievers for being disbelievers is impossible to justify in my opinion. Or at least impossible to maintain that justification in the face of a contradictory, holistic peaceful interpretation. As to whether the effort to convey peaceful and tolerant Islam can succeed, obviously my answer as an Ahmadi Muslim is – just watch us.

        “There is not the least truth in the assertion that it is time for resorting to the sword and gun for spreading the true religion and righteousness. The sword, far from revealing the beauties and excellence of truth, makes them dubious and throws them into background. Those who hold such views are not the friends of Islam but its deadly foes. They have low motives, mean natures, poor spirits, narrow minds, dull brains and short sight. It is they who open the way to an objection against Islam, the validity of which cannot be questioned. They hold that Islam needs the sword for their advancement, thus brand its purity and cast a slur upon its holy name. The religion that can easily establish its truth and superiority by sound intellectual arguments, heavenly signs or other reliable testimony, does not need the sword to threaten men and force a confession of its truth from them. Religion is worth the name only so long as it is in consonance with reason. If it fails to satisfy that requisite, if it has to make up for its discomfiture in argument by handling the sword, it needs no other argument for its falsification. The sword it wields cuts its own throat before reaching others.” – from The Review of Religions 1902, The Promised Messiah and Reformer of Muslims, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

        • Rashid,
          I don’t think we will agree. From now on it will be a repetition of the same arguments. I hope you are correct. I will believe you when Ahmadis are not persecuted, when churches are built in Saudi Arabia as mosques are built in Europe and the US or when we can have this discussion freely on the streets of Riad or Islamabad.

          Maybe now you can answer my more basic questions:
          1. Why should anybody believe that the Quran contains any heavenly revelation at all? All what we have is that Mohammad claims so.
          2. How can we be sure that what is written in the Quran is really what Mohammad said and not an edited version of what he said?

          • 1. The same reason any religious believer accepts their scripture, faith. No scripture holds up to rational and detailed readings. The Quran is no different from the Bible, precepts of Buddha, writings of Zoroaster, Shinto legends or any other religious texts in terms of ridiculous stuff people take as articles of their religious belief.

            2. The same assurances one has with all religious texts from the Torah to the Book of Mormon. None whatsoever. Singling out Islam in this respect is also ridiculous because it applies to all religions.

            As for Saudi Arabia, what you are ignorant of is how recent the Islamicism is in that nation. Prior to 1979 and Iran’s sponsored siege of Mecca, the country was largely nationalist and secular.

            With the changing fortunes of a nation whose economy is solely based on oil, and entirely in the personal control of corrupt autocrats, Islamicism provides a way to divert dissent outwards. Rather than criticize the corrupt leaders who use the GDP as their piggy bank, the West is scapegoated. Rather than try to overthrow the government, young hotheads are encouraged to fight in foreign wars such as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Checnya…

            Saying its all the fault of Islam is short-sighted and ignorant of the real situation. It contributes nothing to dealing with the problems and emboldens terrorists. You do the job for them. You are a very good stooge for Al Queda.

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