By Raymond Ibrahim
Does Islam itself promote hostility for and violence against non-Muslims, or are all the difficulties between the West and Islam based on secondary factors such as “radical” interpretations of Islam, economics, and other grievances?
This is the fundamental question.
Obviously, if “anti-infidel” hostility is inherent to Islam itself, then the conflict becomes existential — a true clash of civilizations with no easy fixes and lots of ugly implications along the horizon. Because of this truism, those who whitewash Islam’s image in the West insist on the opposite: that current difficulties are temporal, and not rooted to innate Islamic teachings.
Enter Shariah: What Everyone Needs to Know, co-authored by John Esposito and Natana J. Delong-Bas. The authors’ goal is to exonerate Sharia — which they portray as enshrining “the common good (maslahah), human dignity, social justice, and the centrality of the community” — from Western criticism or fear, which they claim is based solely on “myth” and “sensationalism.”
Their thesis is simple: Any and all negative activities Muslims engage in are to be blamed on anything and everything — as long as it’s not Sharia.
In order to support this otherwise unsupportable position, and as might be expected, the remainder of the book consists of obfuscation, dissembling, and lots and lots of contextual omissions and historical distortions. A small sampling follows.
Sharia regarding women
The authors quote and discuss at length many Koran verses about women that seem positive (Koran 30:21, 3:195, and 2:187), without alluding to counter verses that, say, permit husbands to beat their wives (4:34) and treat them as “fields” to be “plowed however you wish” (2:223). Nor do they deal with Muhammad’s assertions that women are “lacking in intelligence” and will form the bulk of hell’s denizens, as recounted in canonical hadith.
They partially quote Koran 4:3: “[M]arry those that please you of other women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then marry only one.” This suits the authors’ purpose, which is to present the Koran as implicitly recommending only one wife, since it acknowledges the near-impossibility for a man to treat all wives equally.
Yet the authors deliberately left out the continuation of Koran 4:3. Perhaps because it permits Muslim men to copulate with an unlimited number of sex slaves (ma malakat aymanukum), even if the men are married.
Esposito and Delong-Bas also dissemble about child marriage, saying “classical Islamic law” permits it, but only when “the child reaches a mature age.”
Yet they make no mention that, based on Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha — that is, based on his Sunna, which is immutable and part of Sharia — this means nine is considered a “mature age.”
Freedom of religion and non-Muslims
The authors claim that “[t]here are more than 100 Quranic verses that … affirm freedom of religion and conscience.” They quote many at length, and then assert: “The guiding Shariah principle … underscored by Quran 3:28, 29:46, and 60:89, is that believers should treat unbelievers decently and equitably as long as the unbelievers do not behave aggressively.”
Yet they fail to mention or sideline the many contradictory verses that call for relentless war on non-Muslims — who are further likened to dumb cattle in Koran 25:44 — until they surrender, one way or another, to Islam (e.g., 8:39, 9:5, 9:29). They also fail to quote the verses that form the highly divisive doctrine of al-wala’ w’al bara’ (“Loyalty and Enmity”). This includes Koran 5:51, which forbids Muslims from befriending Jews and Christians. And Koran 60:4, which commands Muslims to harbor only “hate” for non-Muslims, until they “believe in Allah alone.”
Needless to say, they also ignore Koran 3:28, which permits Muslims to feign friendship for non-Muslims whenever the former are under the latter’s authority. (Such is the doctrine of taqiyya; see here, here, and here for examples; for other sanctioned forms of deception, read about tawriya, and taysir.)
It is, incidentally, because of all these Koran verses — because of Sharia — that the Islamic State forthrightly explained: “We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers.”
The closest the authors get to addressing these issues is in a section titled “Can Muslims in the West be Loyal Citizens?” They respond with a “yes.” However, the evidence they cite are polls (based on wishful interpretations), which of course tell the reader little about the topic at hand: Sharia.
As might be expected, when the authors reach the topic of jihad, their dissembling reaches a new level. They repeatedly insist that jihad, as enshrined in Sharia, is simply the Muslim counterpart of Western “Just War” theory, which teaches that war and aggression are permissible only in defense or to recover one’s territory from occupiers. They write: “The lesser or outer jihad involves defending Islam and the Muslim community.”
As usual, they spend much time quoting and elaborating on Koran verses that comport with this position, while ignoring or sidelining the many contradictory verses. In reality, mainstream Islam holds that the Koran’s “Sword Verses” (especially 9:5 and 9:29) abrogate all the peaceful ones, and declare that warfare against non-Muslims — for no reason other than that they are not Muslims — to be not just permissible but obligatory.
Read the entire article and skip the book.