Seeds of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Holy Koran?
We all know that most Muslims are not terrorists, nor do they want to quarrel with others. The majority of them simply want to worship God in their way and live a peaceful life. So why does there seem to be friction and difficulties that often involve Muslims? And why are there so many terrorists in the world who, indeed, call themselves followers of Islam? Where do we find the seeds?
The Koranic References for the Sword
Does the Koran itself give credence to strike against kafirs and infidels, those who are non-Muslims, or to conduct a holy war to protect and expand the faith? When we study the Koran, it certainly seems that it provides for such viewpoints.
There are numerous ayats (verses) in the Koran that confirm the ways for Muslims to view and treat non-Muslims. For example: “O Prophet! Rouse the believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding.” (Surah 8:65) “Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): ‘I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their fingertips off them.” (Surah 8:12) “Truly Allah loves those who fight in His cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure.” (Surah 61:4)
In this mood, as we have seen, many Islamic terrorists are ready to give up their lives for the cause. They engage in suicide attacks wherein it is part of the plan that they will give up their lives, often believing that by doing so they automatically go to heaven. So does the Koran justify this idea? In this respect we find the following verses:
“Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord.” (Surah 3:169) “O ye who believe! What is the matter with you, that when you are asked to go forth in the Cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter.” (Surah 9:38) Herein we find the Koran practically encouraging the anticipation for reaching the next life.
Furthermore, does the Koran specifically relate a harsh view toward infidels, non-Muslims? If it does, then that would make it even easier for militant Muslims to feel there is little harm in ill-treating or even killing those who are participants of other religions. In this regard we find the following verses in the Koran:
“Verily ye (unbelievers), and the (false) gods that ye worship besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell! To it will ye (surely) come!” (Surah 21:98) “(The sentence will be:) Throw, throw into Hell every contumacious Rejector (of Allah)!; Who forbade what was good, transgressed all bounds, cast doubts and suspicions; who set up another god beside Allah: throw him into a severe penalty.” (Surah 50:24) “Therefore, when ye meet the unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks [cut off their heads]; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah’s Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); But (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others, but those who are slain in the way of Allah [for the cause of Allah]–He will never let their deeds be lost. Soon He will guide them and improve their condition, and admit them to the Garden which He has announced for them.” (Surah 47:4-6) “Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst creatures. Those who have faith and do righteous deeds–they are the best of creatures.” (Surah 98:6 and 7)
This all seems to give justification to expanding the faith not necessarily with spiritual knowledge, understanding and purity, but by what would be military strength under the Will of Allah. Furthermore, it would seem that with this mentality, infidels and all non-Muslims are fit to be exterminated, that it could be a favor to Allah to rid the world of them. These verses also show that those who die for Allah or the cause of Islam will be delivered to the garden of paradise. With the basis of verses like these, it is no wonder that it is not difficult to arouse young Muslims for the Islamic cause in the training camps of Al-Qaida and other militant and fundamentalistic groups. How much bloodshed has already been shed throughout history because of this teaching is inestimable. So it should not be surprising that the radical Islamic leader Abdullah Shah Mazhar recently got 5,000 volunteers to take the “oath of death” and commit themselves to suicide squads in attacks against the U.S. and other “infidel forces”.
However, this is not new. Swami Vivekananda in a lecture in California in January of 1900 said regarding this aspect of Islam: “Every step forward was made with the sword–the Quran in one hand and the sword in the other: Take the Quran, or you must die; there is no alternative!”
Mahatma Gandhi also spoke about this aspect of Islam. After the assassination of Swami Shraddhanand by a Muslim fanatic in December, 1926, he said: “Mussalmans have an ordeal to pass through. There can be no doubt that they are too free with the knife and the pistol. The sword is no emblem of Islam. But Islam was born in an environment where the sword was, and still remains, the supreme law. The message of Jesus has proved ineffective because the environment was unready to receive it. So with the message of the Prophet. The sword is yet too much in evidence among the Mussalmans. It must be sheathed if Islam is to be what it means–peace.
The Rewards and Punishments in the Koran
What makes the idea of who is saved and who is worthy of hell more clear, there are specific rewards for the believers and punishments for the non- believers that are related in the Koran. Some of these are as follows:
“For the Rejectors We have prepared chains, yokes, and a blazing fire. As to the righteous, they shall drink of a cup (of wine) mixed with Kafur. A fountain where the devotees of Allah do drink, making it flow in unstinted abundance.” (Surah 76: 4-6) “But Allah will deliver them from the evil of that day, and will shed over them a light of beauty and a (blissful) joy. And because they were patient and constant, He will reward them with a garden and (garments of) silk. Reclining in the (garden) of raised thrones, they will see there neither the sun’s (excessive heat) nor (the moon’s) excessive cold. And the shades of the (garden) will come low over them, and the bunches (of fruit), there will hang low in humility. And among them will be passed round vessels of silver and goblets of crystal.” (Surah 76:11-15)
“Those who reject (Truth) among the People of the Book and among the polytheists, were not going to depart (from their ways) until there should come to them clear evidence. . . Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hellfire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures. Those who have faith and do righteous deeds–they are the best of creatures. Their reward is with Allah: Gardens of Eternity, beneath which rivers flow, they will dwell therein forever; Allah well pleased with them, and they with Him: all this for such as fear their Lord and cherisher.” (Surah 98:1, 6-8)
“Verily the [judgement] day of sorting out is a thing appointed. The day that the trumpet shall be sounded, and ye shall come forth in crowds; and the heavens shall be opened as if there were doors, and the mountains shall vanish, as if they were a mirage. Truly Hell is a place of ambush–for the transgressors a place of destination: They will dwell therein for ages. Nothing cool shall they taste therein, nor any drink, save a boiling fluid and a fluid, dark, murky, intensely cold–a fitting recompense (for them).” (Surah 78:17-26)
In the following verses we also find that the infidels include the Christians, those who think that God begot a son. “(Those) who say (Allah) Most Gracious [Lord] has begotten a son! Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous! As if the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin. That they should invoke a son for (Allah) Most Gracious. For it is not constant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget a son.” (Surah 19:88-92) “Further, that He may warn those (also) who say, ‘Allah hath begotten a son’; No knowledge have they of such a thing, nor had their fathers. It is a grievous thing that issues from their mouths as a saying. What they say is nothing but falsehood!” (Surah 18:4)
The Basis of Muslim Brotherhood
In the Koran there are several ayats (verses) that dictate the basis of Muslim brotherhood and how they should view one another. For example: “Verily, this Brotherhood of yours is a single brotherhood, and I am your Lord and cherisher. Therefore, serve Me (and no other).” (Surah 21:92) “To each is a goal to which Allah turns him; then strive together (as a race) towards all that is good. Whosoever ye are, Allah will bring you together. For Allah hath power over all things.” (Surah 2:148) “Those who believe, and adopt exile and fight for the Faith, in the cause of Allah as well as those who give (them) asylum and aid–these are (all) in very truth the Believers: for them is the forgiveness of sins and a provision most generous.” (Surah 8:74)
In this way, the Koran establishes the basis of a Muslim Brotherhood in which they serve and support each other and their activities that are considered to be the cause of Allah, or for Islam in general. Thus, they are motivated to work to help each other. This is most favorably viewed while under the dictates of the Koranic law, which takes priority over the civil or state law of the local country. This is the foundation of what is called the “Islamic Nation”, which Muslims call the general Islamic community that consists of Muslims throughout the world. Furthermore, few outsiders are allowed to be part of this brotherhood. It tends to divide Muslims from all others who are non-Muslims, who are considered non-believers in view of the Koranic verses quoted above.
The problem with this sort of brotherhood has been noted by numerous people. In a lecture in California in January of 1900, Vivekananda said: “Mohammedans talk of universal brotherhood, but what comes out of that in reality? Why, anybody who is not a Mohammedan will not be admitted into the brotherhood; he will more likely have his throat cut.”
Another example is from Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, who formed the Indian Constitution. He could see the dangers of what is the Islamic brotherhood. In his book, “Thoughts on Pakistan”, published in 1940, he explains: “Hinduism is said to divide people and in contrast Islam is said to bind people together. But this is only a half truth. For Islam divides as inexorably as it binds. Islam is a close corporation and the distinction that it makes between Muslims and non- Muslims is a very real, very positive and very alienating distinction. The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is the brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is a fraternity but its benefit is confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation there is nothing but contempt and enmity.”
In 1941, Ambedkar spoke further about the effects of the Islamic brotherhood, at least in India. However, it reflects an attitude in Muslims that is found in numerous other areas as well. “It is this which leads every Mussalman in India to say that he is a Muslim first and Indian afterwards. It is this sentiment which explains why the Indian Muslim has taken so small a part in the advancement of India but has spent himself to exhaustion by taking up the cause of Muslim countries and why Muslim countries occupy the first place and India occupies the second place in his thoughts.”
In conclusion, if any of the above information and Koranic references are taught to young Muslims in such places as the thousands of madarsas (Islamic schools) in India, and that the 880 million fellow citizens of India are but kafirs and infidels who deserve or are ultimately going to be thrown into the hellfire; and that their primary allegiance is not to the country of their residence but to the State of Islam; and that the Koran justifies them to engage in Jihad against all non-Muslims; then their psychological and spiritual well-being, along with the peace of the world and the safety of anyone else, is in jeopardy.
(Verses were taken from “The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary” by ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali, published by Amana Corporation, Brentwood, Maryland, USA.)