Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 24, “The Light,” verses 21-64

posted at 8:00 am on May 11, 2008 by Robert Spencer

Verses 21-26 of sura 24 warn the believers not to imitate Satan (v. 21) by committing sins – such as the sin of not aiding those who have left their homes “in Allah’s cause” (v. 22). This refers to the early Muslims who left Mecca and settled in Medina with Muhammad – it is a call to the new Muslims of Medina to ease their transition. Another sin to avoid is that around which this entire sura revolves: the sin of accusing chaste women of adultery, which will get the false accuser Allah’s curse in both this world and the next (v. 23). Allah will pay them back on the Day of Judgment (v. 25).

All this refers, of course, to the accusation of adultery made against Muhammad’s wife Aisha — as does the phrase “Evil women are for evil men and evil men are for evil women, and good women are for good men and good men are for good women” from v. 26, which Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam explains thusly: “Allah would not have made ‘A’ishah the wife of His Messenger unless she had been good, because he is the best of the best of mankind. If she had been evil, she would not have been a suitable partner either according to His Laws or His decree.”

Verses 27-29 lay down rules for the etiquette of visiting someone else’s house: don’t just barge in. This leads in verses 30-31 to rules for modesty. Men should “lower their gaze” (v. 30): says Ibn Kathir, “They should look only at what is permissible for them to look at, and lower their gaze from forbidden things. If it so happens that a person’s gaze unintentionally falls upon something forbidden, he should quickly look away.”

Women, meanwhile, should cover their “adornment” (v. 31). Contrary to what some Islamic apologists in the West claim today, this is not a matter of choice, but a divine commandment. Ibn Kathir explains: “This is a command from Allah to the believing women, and jealousy on His part over the wives of His believing servants. It is also to distinguish the believing women from the women of the Jahiliyyah [the society of unbelievers] and the deeds of the pagan women.”

What should they cover? In a hadith, Aisha recounts that Muhammad said that “when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands.” Even today some Muslims use this hadith to justify mandating the hijab, or headscarf, for women. In another hadith, a woman with a veil over her face came to see Muhammad; she was looking for her son, who had been killed in battle. Muhammad asked her: “You have come here asking for your son while veiling your face?” She responded: “If I am afflicted with the loss of my son, I shall not suffer the loss of my modesty.” Pleased, Muhammad told her: “You will get the reward of two martyrs for your son,” because “the people of the Book have killed him.” The Tafsir al-Jalalayn agrees that v. 31 means that when in public women should cover “all that is other than the face and the hands.”

V. 31 also says: “And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment.” Ibn Kathir continues: “During Jahiliyyah, when women walked in the street wearing anklets and no one could hear them, they would stamp their feet so that men could hear their anklets ringing. Allah forbade the believing women to do this.” And: “women are also prohibited from wearing scent and perfume when they are going outside the home, lest men should smell their perfume.”

Verses 32-34 contain laws for marriage and direct Muslims to free their slaves upon their request (v. 33), “provided,” says Ibn Kathir, “that the servant has some skill and means of earning so that he can pay his master the money that is stipulated in the contract.” Muslims should not force their slave girls to become prostitutes and live off the profits, if the slave girls want to remain chaste (v. 33).

Then verses 35-45 celebrate Allah. He is the light of the heavens and the earth (v. 35, the verse that gives this sura its name), and of the homes of the believers who pray and gives alms (vv. 36-37) – while the unbelievers live in darkness (vv. 39-40). All beings praise him in their own way (v. 41); he rules the natural world (vv. 43-44); he created every animal from water (v. 45).

But still there are those who don’t believe or only pretend to believe, and these are excoriated again, while the believers are praised, in verse 46-57. Allah has sent down signs (ayat, revelations or verses of the Qur’an, v. 46), but some only pretend to believe in Allah and Muhammad: they are not really believers (v. 47). Some of them don’t even come when Muhammad summons them (v. 48); if they were right, they would have come to him obediently (v. 49). They are wrongdoers (v. 50), while the believers, when Muhammad summons them, answer “We hear and obey” (v. 51). Those who obey Allah and Muhammad will be victorious in the end (v. 52) – a conviction that sustains many a jihadist today through setbacks and defeats.

The Hypocrites swear they’ll leave their homes if Muhammad commanded it, but rather than swearing mighty oaths, they should just obey (v. 53). Ibn Kathir explains: “Allah says about the hypocrites who had promised the Messenger and sworn that if he were to command them to go out for battle, they would go.” However, of the Hypocrites “it is known that your obedience is merely verbal and is not accompanied by action. Every time you swear an oath you lie.” If they turn away from Muhammad’s message, they will bear the responsibility; he has done his duty by calling them to Islam (v. 54).

Then comes a momentous promise: Allah will establish the believers as rulers of the earth (v. 55). “This is a promise,” says Ibn Kathir, “from Allah to His Messenger that He would cause his Ummah [community] to become successors on earth, i.e., they would become the leaders and rulers of mankind, through whom He would reform the world and to whom people would submit, so that they would have in exchange a safe security after their fear.” Ibn Kathir then says “this is what Allah did indeed do,” and recounts some of the early Islamic conquests.

Verses 58-64 lay down instructions for when the believers’ slaves and children must ask permission before coming in Muhammad’s presence (vv. 58-59); allow elderly women to go uncovered in public (although modesty is better) (v. 60); and greetings and eating together (v. 61), as well as direct the believers to ask permission before leaving Muhammad’s presence (v. 62), for Muhammad’s summons is not like that of an ordinary man (v. 63).

Next week: Sura 25, “The Criterion.” Muhammad’s detractors say of the Qur’an: “Tales of the ancients, which he has caused to be written: and they are dictated before him morning and evening.”

(Here you can find links to all the earlier “Blogging the Qur’an” segments. Here is a good Arabic/English Qur’an, here are two popular Muslim translations, those of Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, along with a third by M. H. Shakir. Here is another popular translation, that of Muhammad Asad. And here is an omnibus of ten Qur’an translations.)


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…the sin of accusing chaste women of adultery, which will get the false accuser Allah’s curse in both this world and the next (v. 23). Allah will pay them back on the Day of Judgment (v. 25).

This is a good tie-in to last week, Mr. Spencer.

But the Koran seems to state that a false accuser will incur “Allah’s curse” and “Allah will pay them back”…But does the false accuser, under Islamic law, receive punishment from man…such as penalties or jail time? Or is it simply understood that Allah alone will take care of it?

JetBoy on May 11, 2008 at 10:00 AM

And: “women are also prohibited from wearing scent and perfume when they are going outside the home, lest men should smell their perfume.”

Yes, because arab men are raging horny animals who can’t control their urges. They must be so proud.

Tony737 on May 11, 2008 at 10:49 AM

So the niqab is better than the hijab?

koolbrease on May 11, 2008 at 11:37 AM

JetBoy:

But the Koran seems to state that a false accuser will incur “Allah’s curse” and “Allah will pay them back”…But does the false accuser, under Islamic law, receive punishment from man…such as penalties or jail time? Or is it simply understood that Allah alone will take care of it?

“And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations), flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors…” (Qur’an 24:4)

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 2:08 PM

koolbrease:

So the niqab is better than the hijab?

By the standards of the hadith I quoted above and the passage from the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, yes.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 2:09 PM

I’m confused.

At what point does the “four witness” rule override the judgment of Allah when He picks who should be married to who?

Does it mean that even with four “witnesses”, if her husband does not believe all four of them, and she proclaims her innocence, she’s off the hook but the four men are punished?

Who decides how far it goes in a Sharia court? If the woman is married, does it even get to a court?

Jaynie59 on May 11, 2008 at 3:07 PM

Does it mean that even with four “witnesses”, if her husband does not believe all four of them, and she proclaims her innocence, she’s off the hook but the four men are punished?

I think it means more that people in prominent positions have a loop hole they can use to maneuver.

jasnell on May 11, 2008 at 3:54 PM

Jaynie59:

At what point does the “four witness” rule override the judgment of Allah when He picks who should be married to who?

I’m not sure I understand the question. The four witnesses are needed to establish whether or not adultery took place. They have nothing to do with who marries whom, which traditionally was usually settled by dealings between the prospective groom and the father-in-law.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 3:57 PM

It’s really maddening and sad that about 1 BILLION people believe this crap.

SouthernGent on May 11, 2008 at 3:57 PM

It’s really maddening and sad that about 1 BILLION people believe this crap.

SouthernGent on May 11, 2008 at 3:57 PM

Given the preponderance of evidence I am forced to surmise that it is largely in their nature to believe it.

Holmes on May 11, 2008 at 4:05 PM

SouthernGent:

It’s really maddening and sad that about 1 BILLION people believe this crap.

Well, religious belief is a complex issue, but consider that when one grows up surrounded by a culture formed by this, and by people of all kinds and stations expressing reverence for it, and everything suffused by it, coming to believe in it isn’t as simple as simply expressing consent to a number of propositions on a printed page, and it isn’t at all easy to reject, either. It is an entire way of life, an entire culture, an entire world — this is something we cannot approximate just by reading the book alone.

Of course, I am all for reading the book — if I weren’t, I wouldn’t be leading this exercise, although with returns ever diminishing, maybe I’m getting a subtle hint that it is getting to be time to pack it in, rather than to press on ahead to the second half of the Qur’an. Still, whatever happens with this, I would caution you and everyone against conceptualizing the contents of the book in a way abstracted from the culture and civilization to which it has given birth. This book doesn’t stand alone any more than any book does.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 4:18 PM

…although with returns ever diminishing, maybe I’m getting a subtle hint that it is getting to be time to pack it in, rather than to press on ahead to the second half of the Qur’an

Nooo! You can’t quit now! Heck, I know a few people who read your series here, but they just aren’t registered to comment.

And today’s Mother’s Day, so traffic is a bit light. More people actually comment after the weekend anyways…

Please Mr. Spencer, please continue. I sound so smart when I argue this topic with my friends…heh…and all from what I learned here. I mean, this series of yours should really be syndicated in every major newspaper in the country, so more people could have a better understanding of Islam.

JetBoy on May 11, 2008 at 5:09 PM

Of course, I am all for reading the book — if I weren’t, I wouldn’t be leading this exercise, although with returns ever diminishing, maybe I’m getting a subtle hint that it is getting to be time to pack it in, rather than to press on ahead to the second half of the Qur’an. Still, whatever happens with this, I would caution you and everyone against conceptualizing the contents of the book in a way abstracted from the culture and civilization to which it has given birth. This book doesn’t stand alone any more than any book does.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 4:18 PM

I know I read each entry with interest.

I find that the culture spawned by the Koran is just as poor an example of humanity’s potential as the theology embedded in the text. It’s ironic that Muslims think they are superior to me, yet I also think, unabashedly so, I am superior to them and to anyone who sympathizes with them. Yes, Islamic society often resembles the “golden chain” concept of the Middle Ages, when everyone, from the serf to the king, had his place in God’s universe, but the fact that there exists some kind of abstract order in the Muslim world can’t blind us to the patent absurdity of the Koran’s claims, where those claims can be tested. I realize that there are times when religous people hesitate to criticize other’s religion due to the inscrutability of it all (and even though I adhere to no particular religion, I do concur that they can be inscrutable), but even setting the bar low doesn’t allow me to give Islam a pass.

venividivici on May 11, 2008 at 5:20 PM

JetBoy:

I mean, this series of yours should really be syndicated in every major newspaper in the country, so more people could have a better understanding of Islam.

Pigs will fly!

Anyway, thank you. I certainly enjoy doing it and think it should be done, and will keep on Michelle wants me to. I just don’t want to be completely oblivious to the possibility, as evidenced by the sparse commentage, that there just isn’t much interest.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 5:22 PM

All this refers, of course, to the accusation of adultery made against Muhammad’s wife Aisha — as does the phrase “Evil women are for evil men and evil men are for evil women, and good women are for good men and good men are for good women” from v. 26, which Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam explains thusly: “Allah would not have made ‘A’ishah the wife of His Messenger unless she had been good, because he is the best of the best of mankind. If she had been evil, she would not have been a suitable partner either according to His Laws or His decree.”

I took this to mean it applied to all Muslim men, and not just Muhammad.

If a Muslim man chooses to not believe the four witnesses, can he over rule them? Or do those four witnesses take away the husband’s “right” to believe what he wants to about her, as Muhammad did?

I read that if a Muslim man kills another Muslim man, and he offers payment to the mans family to atone for his act, and the family accepts, then he is off the hook as far as any kind of formal charge or judgment goes. Seems like adultery should have the same kind of out. Other than the fact that it’s about women.

As far as you giving up the series? You’ll just be accused of giving up, period. This was not the best choice of websites to do this kind of thing on. It’s a closed blog that very rarely opens up to new members, and it’s not updated very often on the weekends. I check it out when I’m bored, but other than coming here on Sunday mornings to read this series, there is little else of interest here for people who are not interested in the subject.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are not interested in it. Learning anything about it, anyway.

Maybe you could continue it at Jihad Watch where registration is open and you have a more interested audience.

I don’t know if it would make you feel any better about it, but I can’t wait until 8AM to read it.

Jaynie59 on May 11, 2008 at 5:24 PM

venividivivi:

I find that the culture spawned by the Koran is just as poor an example of humanity’s potential as the theology embedded in the text.

I wasn’t actually characterizing the culture in any way. I was just saying that it existed, and that its existence should be taken into account when one is pondering, as was the fellow above, how it is that anyone could believe all this.

It’s ironic that Muslims think they are superior to me, yet I also think, unabashedly so, I am superior to them and to anyone who sympathizes with them.

Glad to know you. I myself ain’t superior to nobody.

Yes, Islamic society often resembles the “golden chain” concept of the Middle Ages, when everyone, from the serf to the king, had his place in God’s universe, but the fact that there exists some kind of abstract order in the Muslim world can’t blind us to the patent absurdity of the Koran’s claims, where those claims can be tested.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with what I was saying above. I was saying we should avoid abstracting the book from the culture when considering the power of Islamic belief. I was not saying that because the Qur’an gives some abstract order to the universe, that that order is therefore in itself compelling.

I realize that there are times when religous people hesitate to criticize other’s religion due to the inscrutability of it all (and even though I adhere to no particular religion, I do concur that they can be inscrutable), but even setting the bar low doesn’t allow me to give Islam a pass.

That is not what I said, or meant, at all.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 5:25 PM

Jaynie59:

If a Muslim man chooses to not believe the four witnesses, can he over rule them?

No.

Or do those four witnesses take away the husband’s “right” to believe what he wants to about her, as Muhammad did?

If they accuse a woman, and their testimony agrees, then their testimony is established.

I read that if a Muslim man kills another Muslim man, and he offers payment to the mans family to atone for his act, and the family accepts, then he is off the hook as far as any kind of formal charge or judgment goes.

Yes. See this Q-Blog (v. 178) for an explanation of that.

Seems like adultery should have the same kind of out. Other than the fact that it’s about women.

It doesn’t.

As far as you giving up the series? You’ll just be accused of giving up, period.

As Nixon said, “I am not a quitter.”

Unfortunately, a lot of people are not interested in it. Learning anything about it, anyway.

Indeed.

Maybe you could continue it at Jihad Watch where registration is open and you have a more interested audience.

I post it there every Monday.

I don’t know if it would make you feel any better about it, but I can’t wait until 8AM to read it.

Much appreciated indeed. Thanks.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 5:28 PM

Oh, don’t forget, too, that today is Mother’s Day.

My kid is 15 so I suspect she’ll remember, oh, about Wednesday:)

Jaynie59 on May 11, 2008 at 5:30 PM

I just don’t want to be completely oblivious to the possibility, as evidenced by the sparse commentage, that there just isn’t much interest.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 5:22 PM

Please don’t stop. Easy for me say, I know. I have enjoyed this and I’ve learned a lot. I don’t always comment because sometimes nothing needs to be said after you’ve broken it down so well.

I suppose I can’t conceptualize living like they do, but I get tired of hearing about how “peaceful” islam is when the facts just don’t support the notion.

SouthernGent on May 11, 2008 at 6:02 PM

Anyway, thank you. I certainly enjoy doing it and think it should be done, and will keep on Michelle wants me to. I just don’t want to be completely oblivious to the possibility, as evidenced by the sparse commentage, that there just isn’t much interest.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 5:22 PM

Speaking only for myself here, but maybe one of the reasons these posts don’t get many comments is because nobody wants to offend you, or make you look bad. Anybody who has followed your work, and read your critics, knows that the comments on your posts are often used to attack you. You seem to take offense yourself at some of them, or feel the need to deride to comments in an attempt to distance yourself from them.

I’m not here for a scholarly discussion of Islam. I’ve read all I need to about it and I made up my mind a long time ago. You will never convince me that it is NOT all Muslims who are a threat, and that it’s NOT Islam itself that is the problem. It is Islam and it is all Muslims.

Using euphemisms and qualifiers like “moderate” and “radical” and “extremists” have gotten us nowhere. Even that’s not enough now. Call them what they are. Muslims.

Let’s just say I’m of the Pamela Gellar school of thought on this subject.

Let us rant once in a while. These people want us dead. We’re entitled to a little rant.

Jaynie59 on May 11, 2008 at 6:18 PM

I am glad you are doing this, Mr. Spencer, as it is an eye-opening series. It does make me curious of both the culture in which Mohammed spread his words, and of the culture Islam itself fostered. Perhaps, with enough interest, you could write on this as well? It seems as if it is difficult to discuss one topic without a comprehensive understanding of the other.

Pent. on May 11, 2008 at 6:51 PM

I know that I haven’t commented many times since the first few installments because I’ve learned to find my own answers to items that were confusing me. I learned how to do that from your excellent responses. Anything that I don’t answer with my own research is almost always mentioned by other commenters and cleared up for me. If actual page views are decreasing, I would have no explanation.
Perhaps HotAir has been attracting more of the sort of readers that just want to argue the same points over and over since those seem to be the threads that get the most comments. Even if you stop doing this here, I would encourage you to keep it going on your site.

TBinSTL on May 11, 2008 at 7:20 PM

I myself ain’t superior to nobody.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 5:25 PM

I cannot agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one’s self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one’s own powers.

Holmes on May 11, 2008 at 7:26 PM

I find this entire series completely counterproductive. We’re Christians and every night we have a Bible study with our children. Currently we’re studying the Old Testament.. Genesis, Exodus. Here are some goodies to consider:

-Adam and Eve’s children had incestous relationships to begin expanding the human race.
-Lot, who is considered a saint and called by St. Paul a member of the “hall of faith”, offered up his daughters to a crowd of homosexual men in Sodom and Gomorrah, later had sex with his two daughters. He may have been drunk, but NO one is THAT DRUNK.
-Abraham, the father of both Israel and the Arabs, had sex with his maidservant and fathered her child, Ishmael.
-King David commanded another man’s wife to have sex with him, father her child and had her husband murdered so he wouldn’t find out. David also had many concubines and wives.
-King Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines.
-God commanded Israel not intermarry with other races.
-God sanctioned many of Israel’s wars and commanded that the enemy be killed down to the women and children.
-God commanded Moses, who told Israel, that anyone committing adultery, being rebellious to parents, etc., should be stoned to death.
-Jews had temple prostitutes (compare that with “temporary marriages” in Islam)
-God struck dead a man in the OT for masturbating instead of impregnating his new wife.

Where’s the outrage? There has got to be some context to these verses. We cannot look at ancient civilization, whether Jewish or Arab, and make cultural sense of it today. I’m not sure Mohammad was all that much worse than the fathers of Israel.

In the New Testament, St. Paul urged slaves to remain slaves and told women to be subject to their husbands. There was also polygamy in the church, which is why St. Paul told elders to be the husband of only one wife.

My point is this: We cannot judge an entire religion by literally interpreting its past. Both Muslim and Israeli cultures had to overcome rampant paganism which led to some of the problems we see in the Quran and Torah today. The verses Robert Spencer posted above could easily have a couple words changed and come out of the Torah. We we prepared to condemn Judaism?

I am not a defender of Muslim theology. I am a Christian and would love everyone to convert to Christianity. But in the meantime, there is a war to be won and the misperceptions generated in this feature, along with Michelle Malkin’s “What Muslims Don’t Like”, go to damage the efforts of soldiers and commanders in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world. We must lose our religious and cultural arrogance and get on board with what we have to deal with today, not thousands of years ago.

That is, billions of people who are rejecting terrorism under the name of their religion (we Christians might want to remind ourselves of our darker days and the Crusades when pointing fingers) who are ready to move ahead. This is clearly evidenced by the plethora of Muslim groups like “Terrorism is not Us” and “Terrorism has no Religion”, etc., Muslim scholars reaching out to the pope…..

I seem to recall this blog and Michelle Malkin’s praising Muslims helping raise the cross on a Catholic church in Baghdad, and Muslim clerics showing solidarity with Iraq’s Christians time and time again at risk of their own safety, sitting in the pews with Catholics in Mass for example… why do we only demonize Muslims after those glossy stories from Michael Yon have disappeared from the headlines?

How many here supported Mitt Romney and loved his speech on religion in America? I did. If there is any religion that is strange it is Mormonism, but that is for them to work out.

It isn’t a war against Islam we’re involved in. The battle at Waco wasn’t a war against Christianity, it was a war against a quack who used Christianity for his own purposes (David Koresh). We are in a war against terrorists who misuse and literally interpret Islam to suit their desires. We damage all the hard work of our soldiers, of whom my husband and our friends are among, when we continue to mispresent Islam. Leave the theology to Muslims.

I don’t respect the commentary by Protestants about Catholic (I am Catholic). When Muslim scholars and devout followers emerge to correct our misconceptions and we marginalize him, we’re stupid and really don’t care about winning the war on terrorism despite our lip service.

Amy Proctor on May 11, 2008 at 7:38 PM

That is, billions of people who are rejecting terrorism under the name of their religion

Your claim is disconnected from reality.

This is clearly evidenced by the plethora of Muslim groups like “Terrorism is not Us” and “Terrorism has no Religion”, etc., Muslim scholars reaching out to the pope…..

There is in plain and obvious fact no such plethora.

It isn’t a war against Islam we’re involved in.

To our peril as they are most assuredly at war with us.

Holmes on May 11, 2008 at 7:55 PM

…with returns ever diminishing, maybe I’m getting a subtle hint that it is getting to be time to pack it in, rather than to press on ahead to the second half of the Qur’an….
Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 4:18 PM

That’s quitter talk. My mother would not approve. She would want me to finish what I started.
I appreciate what you are doing here to push back the frontiers of ignorance, mine included. As an author, Mr. Spencer, please remember that many authors man not be appreciated at the time that they wrote. Melvile comes to mind, he died before Moby Dick was famous, Billy Budd was found years after he died in a trunk in his niece’s attic!

Do not stop, since the beginning, I have seen questions repeated. (Just look at Amy’s post above, she touches on themes that you have already covered.) You are attracting new readers. As for comments, have you read them on jihadwatch.com from last week? I stopped counting at 100! Even if I away for the weekend, I always read during the week when comments slow up.

You are building a body of irrefutable knowledge here that will be referenced for a long time. For that sir, I salute you.

dentalque on May 11, 2008 at 8:24 PM

Jaynie59:

Speaking only for myself here, but maybe one of the reasons these posts don’t get many comments is because nobody wants to offend you, or make you look bad.

I can’t imagine why that would be so. I’ve never shied away from answering hostile questions, and invite them here or anywhere.

Anybody who has followed your work, and read your critics, knows that the comments on your posts are often used to attack you. You seem to take offense yourself at some of them, or feel the need to deride to comments in an attempt to distance yourself from them.

If I have ever taken offense at or “derided” a comment without explaining why I disagree with its substance, I apologize, but it has never been my intention to do so. But I do reserve the right to disagree with comments that may be made here, just as much as everyone else has the right to disagree with what I say here.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 8:26 PM

Shoud be …many authors MAY not be appreciated at the time that they wrote

Sorry.

(Don’t stop, I’m learning too much)

dentalque on May 11, 2008 at 8:29 PM

Jaynie59:

I’m not here for a scholarly discussion of Islam. I’ve read all I need to about it and I made up my mind a long time ago. You will never convince me that it is NOT all Muslims who are a threat

That may be, but it’s simply a fact. Not everyone who calls himself a Muslim is pursuing the Islamic supremacist agenda. All Muslims are not a threat, but unfortunately there is no way to distinguish those who are from those who are not and never will be, and so a prudent government would take steps accordingly.

…and that it’s NOT Islam itself that is the problem. It is Islam and it is all Muslims.

In fact, what I have said for years now is that the problem is embedded within core texts and teachings of Islam, texts and teachings that are violent and supremacist, and that that fact, however politically incorrect, is ignored at our own peril.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 8:30 PM

Jaynie59:

Using euphemisms and qualifiers like “moderate” and “radical” and “extremists” have gotten us nowhere. Even that’s not enough now. Call them what they are. Muslims.

While there are people who use such terms to imply that the core teachings of Islam are peaceful and the problem is just a few “extremists” who have hijacked the religion, I believe too much is made of this terminology. There needs to be some term to distinguish those Muslims who are waging jihad against us from those who aren’t, and those terms are useful in that way — and I don’t believe they necessarily do imply or have to imply that the violent and supremacist teachings of Islam do not exist.

Let’s just say I’m of the Pamela Gellar school of thought on this subject.

If you’re trying to oppose Pamela to me on this subject, you might wish to consult with Pamela first. She and I are good friends and as far as I know have no disagreements on these issues.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 8:33 PM

Jaynie59:

Let us rant once in a while. These people want us dead. We’re entitled to a little rant.

My problem with ranting is that it can play into the hands of the very people who wish to destroy us.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 8:34 PM

Pent.:

I am glad you are doing this, Mr. Spencer, as it is an eye-opening series. It does make me curious of both the culture in which Mohammed spread his words, and of the culture Islam itself fostered. Perhaps, with enough interest, you could write on this as well? It seems as if it is difficult to discuss one topic without a comprehensive understanding of the other.

It is an important and fascinating issue. I doubt anything I could write on it would surpass The Arab Mind by Raphael Patai or The Closed Circle by David Pryce-Jones.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 8:36 PM

Holmes:

I cannot agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one’s self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one’s own powers.

Thanks, but you just don’t know me.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 8:39 PM

Mr. Spencer…

Well it’s good to hear you’ll continue this series. You have to remember too, it’s the weekend. Heck, comments are light on just about all the posts here on Saturday and Sunday.

And yes…it’s certainly not likely the MSM would pick this up. But they should.

JetBoy on May 11, 2008 at 8:43 PM

Thanks, but you just don’t know me.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 8:39 PM

My dear fellow, it is my business to know what other people don’t know.

Holmes on May 11, 2008 at 8:46 PM

Amy Proctor:

I find this entire series completely counterproductive. [...]

-Adam and Eve’s children had incestous relationships to begin expanding the human race.
-Lot, who is considered a saint and called by St. Paul a member of the “hall of faith”, offered up his daughters to a crowd of homosexual men in Sodom and Gomorrah, later had sex with his two daughters. He may have been drunk, but NO one is THAT DRUNK.
-Abraham, the father of both Israel and the Arabs, had sex with his maidservant and fathered her child, Ishmael.
-King David commanded another man’s wife to have sex with him, father her child and had her husband murdered so he wouldn’t find out. David also had many concubines and wives.
-King Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines.
-God commanded Israel not intermarry with other races.
-God sanctioned many of Israel’s wars and commanded that the enemy be killed down to the women and children.
-God commanded Moses, who told Israel, that anyone committing adultery, being rebellious to parents, etc., should be stoned to death.
-Jews had temple prostitutes (compare that with “temporary marriages” in Islam)
-God struck dead a man in the OT for masturbating instead of impregnating his new wife.

Where’s the outrage? There has got to be some context to these verses. We cannot look at ancient civilization, whether Jewish or Arab, and make cultural sense of it today. I’m not sure Mohammad was all that much worse than the fathers of Israel.

I’m not sure you have actually read much or any of the Blogging the Qur’an series, but actually in all cases I’ve tried to provide all relevant historical context, and commentary from approved mainstream Islamic commentators.

The relevance of reading the Qur’an today, and at a site like Hot Air, of course, is to understand more fully the motives and goals of those who have vowed to destroy us in the name of the teachings of this book. And there your analogy breaks down. If there were organized multinational groups numbering in the hundreds of thousands or millions of Jews and/or Christians advocating incest on the basis of Adam and Eve, or the destruction of cities on the basis of Israel’s wars, or the stoning of adulterers, it would be cause for concern. But there aren’t such groups, because both Judaism and Christianity have developed interpretative traditions that militate against the literal understanding of such verses, and anyway those verses aren’t presented as commands to all the faithful for all time.

But there are multinational organized groups teaching Islamic supremacism and jihad warfare against all governments that are not organized according to Islamic law. When we see Qur’an 24:55, it helps illuminate where they got such a notion — to take an example from this present Q-Blog.

More soon — I have to take care of something here in the office, and will return asap.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 8:48 PM

Amy Proctor:

My point is this: We cannot judge an entire religion by literally interpreting its past. Both Muslim and Israeli cultures had to overcome rampant paganism which led to some of the problems we see in the Quran and Torah today. The verses Robert Spencer posted above could easily have a couple words changed and come out of the Torah. We we prepared to condemn Judaism?

The Qur’an is not Islam’s “past.” The Qur’an is the supreme guide to Islamic behavior, and I have been for a year posting mainstream Muslim commentary on it. Where there are disagreements about the understanding of various passages, I have noted them — as most notoriously in sura 1, the Fatihah, during the discussion of which I noted by name the Muslim commentators who consider it to be condemning Jews and Christians, and also by name those who do not.

Can you please explain to me how it is “condemning” Islam to report on how mainstream commentators — ancient and modern — understand its holy book?

I am not a defender of Muslim theology. I am a Christian and would love everyone to convert to Christianity. But in the meantime, there is a war to be won and the misperceptions generated in this feature, along with Michelle Malkin’s “What Muslims Don’t Like”, go to damage the efforts of soldiers and commanders in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.

Do you have any evidence for this assertion?

We must lose our religious and cultural arrogance and get on board with what we have to deal with today, not thousands of years ago.

I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I do this, and all the work I do.

That is, billions of people who are rejecting terrorism under the name of their religion (we Christians might want to remind ourselves of our darker days and the Crusades when pointing fingers) who are ready to move ahead. This is clearly evidenced by the plethora of Muslim groups like “Terrorism is not Us” and “Terrorism has no Religion”, etc., Muslim scholars reaching out to the pope…..

When sincere, these efforts are to be commended. Unfortunately, however, you may not be aware that many of these efforts in the West have been spearheaded by groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations — an unindicted co-conspirator in a terror funding case — and others, suggesting that these condemnations of terrorism may not be all that they appear to be. Also, as I’ve discussed many times at my website Jihad Watch (here is one example), condemnations of terrorism from Muslim groups have generally avoided the key issues: defining what is meant by “terror,” and by “innocent” (some Muslims say no non-Muslims can be innocent), and rejecting Islamic supremacism and the imperative to subjugate non-Muslims, as prescribed by Qur’an 9:29 and all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

This is not to say that no Muslims condemn jihad terror. Some do. But we should, as a matter of simple prudence, approach all such condemnations with a prudent and watchful eye, given the possibility of deception (already amply demonstrated — the now-deported jihadist Imam Fawaz Damra, formerly of Cleveland, signed the Fiqh Council of North America’s condemnation of terror), and examine them to see if they really do what needs to be done to convince Muslims to stop doing violence in the name of their religion, or if they’re just designed to lull unwary infidels into thinking that all is well when it isn’t.

I seem to recall this blog and Michelle Malkin’s praising Muslims helping raise the cross on a Catholic church in Baghdad, and Muslim clerics showing solidarity with Iraq’s Christians time and time again at risk of their own safety, sitting in the pews with Catholics in Mass for example… why do we only demonize Muslims after those glossy stories from Michael Yon have disappeared from the headlines?

But you’re quite right: Michelle did feature those stories. So why is it “demonizing” Muslims to explore how they themselves — today, not 700 years ago — understand the teachings of their holy book?

How many here supported Mitt Romney and loved his speech on religion in America? I did. If there is any religion that is strange it is Mormonism, but that is for them to work out.

I don’t have a thing to say about Mormonism. As far as I know it has no supremacist agenda, or an imperative for political rule comparable to Qur’an 24:55. If it does, that is a legitimate cause for concern for non-Mormons, just as Qur’an 24:55 and 9:29 etc., acted upon today by Islamic jihadists around the world who quote chapter and verse of the Qur’an to present themselves as the pure and true Muslims, are legitimate causes of concern for non-Muslims.

It isn’t a war against Islam we’re involved in.

That may be, but it is undeniable that there are millions of Muslims who believe that that is exactly what they are engaged in — a war on behalf of Islam. Is it not prudent to understand fully their point of view?

The battle at Waco wasn’t a war against Christianity, it was a war against a quack who used Christianity for his own purposes (David Koresh). We are in a war against terrorists who misuse and literally interpret Islam to suit their desires.

Can you please provide for me evidence of this misuse? There is as far as I know no orthodox Sunni or Shi’ite sect or school of Islamic jurisprudence that does not teach the necessity for the Islamic community as a whole to make war against unbelievers and subjugate them under the rule of Islamic law. Do you know of one? If so, can you please point it out to me?

We damage all the hard work of our soldiers, of whom my husband and our friends are among, when we continue to mispresent Islam. Leave the theology to Muslims.

Can you please give me an example of where exactly I have misrepresented Islam? In this series I have relied most heavily on Ibn Kathir and the Tafsir al-Jalalayn. Ask any Muslim who are the two most important and widely consulted commentators on the Qur’an — today — and he will say Ibn Kathir and the two Jalals (that is, the authors of the Tafsir al-Jalalayn). Can you please explain to me why it would be misrepresenting Islam for me to quote such sources, and point out where specifically in this series I have misrepresented Islam, with evidence from Islamic sources demonstrating the misrepresentation?

I don’t respect the commentary by Protestants about Catholic (I am Catholic). When Muslim scholars and devout followers emerge to correct our misconceptions and we marginalize him, we’re stupid and really don’t care about winning the war on terrorism despite our lip service.

Who exactly have I marginalized, and on what occasion?

Thanks in advance for your answers.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 9:13 PM

dentalque:

Thanks. I apologize. Frustrating days for many reasons.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 9:14 PM

Mister Spencer, your mind is like a racing engine, it would tear itself to pieces if it was not connected up with the work for which it was built.

Holmes on May 11, 2008 at 10:13 PM

Holmes,

Thanks, I think. Maybe I’ll go have another beer.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 10:15 PM

I was saying we should avoid abstracting the book from the culture when considering the power of Islamic belief. I was not saying that because the Qur’an gives some abstract order to the universe, that that order is therefore in itself compelling.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 5:25 PM

But the book formed the culture, not vice versa, even granted that the Koran simply ratified many of the things that pre-existed it, so it is logical to wonder how anyone could have believed in the book so much as to build the culture around it and in that sense you can abstract the book from the culture. I read the same Koran as Muslims do, but I don’t find any of it compelling as a belief system and not just because of the culture I was born into, but because reason doesn’t allow me to find it compelling. If you go back far enough in history, it’s reasonable to ask why the first Muslims would have found it compelling, when, as the poster you were responding to pointed out, the text is clearly full of “crap”. That there was ever a single Muslim besides Mohammed is mind-boggling. That Muslims persist in holding out Mohammed as some sort of model makes me wonder if they aren’t all as crazy as he was, or at least crazy in the same way Charles Manson’s followers are crazy.

venividivici on May 11, 2008 at 10:15 PM

venividivici:

But the book formed the culture, not vice versa

That, sir, ain’t necessarily so — not at all. Christoph Luxenberg, Ibn Warraq, Hans Jansen and others have been doing so fascinating work in this area.

…even granted that the Koran simply ratified many of the things that pre-existed it…

Yes, it did.

…so it is logical to wonder how anyone could have believed in the book so much as to build the culture around it and in that sense you can abstract the book from the culture.

All right.

I read the same Koran as Muslims do, but I don’t find any of it compelling as a belief system and not just because of the culture I was born into, but because reason doesn’t allow me to find it compelling.

Actually your response to it does have a great deal to do with the culture you were born into. You are freer, in fact, to take it on its own terms as a series of claims and propositions, etc., whereas for someone born into Islamic culture it is much harder to approach the Qur’an that way. That is why there are so few people like Ibn Warraq, Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nonie Darwish, etc., who grew up in that milieu and yet freed themselves intellectually. That is not as easy to do as it may seem to be, and that’s why I initially cautioned the guy above against assuming that anyone who believes this is nuts. It is a lot easier to believe it growing up in Karachi than it is growing up in New York.

If you go back far enough in history, it’s reasonable to ask why the first Muslims would have found it compelling, when, as the poster you were responding to pointed out, the text is clearly full of “crap”.

Fair enough, but even then, you have to consider what they had to compare it to in seventh-century Arabia. After the Night Journey incident Muhammad lost many of his followers, but Abu Bakr scoffed at the idea of leaving Muhammad, and said essentially that he would believe anything he told him. I do marvel at that kind of a mindset, and have pondered the source of Muhammad’s appeal — it’s obviously a very strong appeal, and I think we sell ourselves short analytically by dismissing it as “crap” without trying to understand what can make it so compelling for some people. After all, it is the ones who find it most compelling who are our most determined foes around the world today.

That there was ever a single Muslim besides Mohammed is mind-boggling. That Muslims persist in holding out Mohammed as some sort of model makes me wonder if they aren’t all as crazy as he was, or at least crazy in the same way Charles Manson’s followers are crazy.

I think you dismiss Muhammad, and his ancient and modern followers, far too lightly. I do not believe Muhammad is any kind of adequate role model, but the fact that so many do can’t possibly be explained by some kind of Mansonian mystique, when Manson commanded — what? — 20 followers? and a movement with no staying power at all, compared to one that has lasted through 14 centuries and is newly resurgent. To understand its appeal is not to accept or believe it or to fall into relativism, and I invite you to distinguish between those things.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 10:29 PM

Thank you Robert and please don’t ever stop this, it is too important. Our very survival as a culture depends upon the dialogue that you and others present so eloquently. If you ever decide to put this in book form,…… can I place an order now? Blog on!! ;>)

jerrytbg on May 11, 2008 at 10:59 PM

That, sir, ain’t necessarily so — not at all. Christoph Luxenberg, Ibn Warraq, Hans Jansen and others have been doing so fascinating work in this area.

While I agree that the work on the historical evolution of the Koran is fascinating and important, even if they find that the Koran evolved, the status of the Koran in Islamic culture did not, hence I think it is fair to say that the book shaped the culture, again, along with the other canonical texts surrounding Mohammed’s life. Thus, if a verse was added to the Koran at a later time that had implications for the culture, the new vision of what the culture is was thus given a sacred dimension. Also, no new elements could be added to the culture that contradicted the Koran, not that anyone was trying to do so back then.

You are freer, in fact, to take it on its own terms as a series of claims and propositions, etc., whereas for someone born into Islamic culture it is much harder to approach the Qur’an that way.

Well, debating this could take us far into the realm of philosophy and the idea of human nature being hardwired versus being simply the product of an environment. I believe that “claims and propositions” are things that are naturally understood by human beings, much in the same way that Socrates used the slave, whose name escapes me at the moment, to prove that all humans were born able to reason. I realize that Islam makes so many claims on its adherents as to block out nearly everything non-Islam, but if Socrates is right, we are all free to take what is given to us as a set of “claims and propositions”.

I do marvel at that kind of a mindset, and have pondered the source of Muhammad’s appeal — it’s obviously a very strong appeal, and I think we sell ourselves short analytically by dismissing it as “crap” without trying to understand what can make it so compelling for some people. After all, it is the ones who find it most compelling who are our most determined foes around the world today.

Nietzsche had a brilliant aphorism on the founders of religion (Gay Science 353), saying that they had the genius for finding and bringing together a “certain average type of soul who have not yet recognized they belong together”. Mohammed recognized a certain type of man and promised that type of man that he would, as this week’s sura says, rule the world, if he only followed Mohammed’s rules.

I think you dismiss Muhammad, and his ancient and modern followers, far too lightly

I dismiss them because I am quite certain that at a future point in time, there will be no more Islam in this world (in a world of “venividivicis”, it already wouldn’t exist). I think 9/11 was the beginning of the end for Islam because normal people will not put up with that sort of thing for long. If Islam does come to rule the world, then I will definitely concur with Shakepeare that life is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. But, let’s not forget that republican political ideas were strong enough to make a comeback after being suppressed by monarchism for even longer than Islam has existed (end of Roman republic to French/American revolutions), so it’s not as if our ideology is some fly by night pretender to the throne.

venividivici on May 11, 2008 at 11:07 PM

Robert, the content in this entry’s comments alone should be incentive for you to continue.

I know that I myself, an avid fan of your books and JW for years now, comment little here. However, there have been many instances when I’ve used this series to comment elsewhere, especially in response to Muslims practicing da’wa, preaching about their “religion of peace”.

Besides, the clarity you provide answers most of the questions that many of us would have asked had we not had your commentary in the first place. You should consider the quantity of comments an indication of the clarity of your writings.

This is a great resource. Stay right where you are!

Shy Guy on May 12, 2008 at 12:01 AM

Robert –

Please do continue. Your postings here help me understand. I don’t comment, but I certainly read carefully and value your postings.

Thank you

Dr. Bob on May 12, 2008 at 12:19 AM

I just don’t want to be completely oblivious to the possibility, as evidenced by the sparse commentage, that there just isn’t much interest. – Robert

I think we’ve had this discussion before, JetBoy, myself and others have told you, just because there aren’t a lot of comments, doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of interest. You cover your topics in such detail that you don’t leave much room for questions. I think more people read ‘em than comment on ‘em, so keep ‘em comin’!

Thanks for all your hard work, it’s more appreciated than you know.

Tony737 on May 12, 2008 at 1:12 AM

Let’s just say I’m of the Pamela Gellar school of thought on this subject.

If you’re trying to oppose Pamela to me on this subject, you might wish to consult with Pamela first. She and I are good friends and as far as I know have no disagreements on these issues.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 8:33 PM

I’m glad to hear it. I like her style. Sometimes, after I read Jihad Watch, I get so pissed off that reading Pamela is like a breath of fresh air.

It’s nice to see someone who is so passionate in defense of her own religion, culture, and history.

Most of us don’t have any place to do that. No place but anonymous comments on a message board or a blog.

I don’t know how you do it, I really don’t. Don’t you ever get pissed off?

Nevermind, don’t answer that.

Jaynie59 on May 12, 2008 at 3:29 AM

I get the importance of reading and understanding the Koran (know thy enemy), but it can be summed up as: they wish me dead, and cannot be talked out of this, negotiated with, or contained. The details are just that: details.

The real question is: what can I do about the “believers”?

stonemeister on May 12, 2008 at 3:40 AM

Tony737:

Yes, I have seen that before, and thanks, but of course no comments out of indifference and no comments out of having nothing to add look the same, and are hard to distinguish.

Robert Spencer on May 12, 2008 at 5:46 AM

stonemeister:

I get the importance of reading and understanding the Koran (know thy enemy), but it can be summed up as: they wish me dead

Actually you have two other choices as well.

, and cannot be talked out of this, negotiated with, or contained. The details are just that: details.

Not contained? Really? Only by our own choice.

The real question is: what can I do about the “believers”?

A number of things. Defend against the ideological challenge. Raise awareness among your countrymen, because sound policy will never come without adequate awareness of the issues involved here, and there is abysmal ignorance about them even at the highest levels.

Many other things will flow from there.

Robert Spencer on May 12, 2008 at 5:48 AM

No question.
Just leaving a comment if it helps this series to continue.

I read and learn from every post, I just don’t question or comment much.

Thanks Robert!

bridgetown on May 12, 2008 at 8:15 AM

If I can’t get to it Sunday, I’ll read Monday morning. I may not comment, but I read! Keep up the good work!

BNCurtis on May 12, 2008 at 8:48 AM

Awesome thread. I so appreciate reading the dialog with the author as well as the post.

RushBaby on May 12, 2008 at 10:06 AM

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 5:22 PM

If there’s enough interest in what you are doing to have someone start an online petition against you, then I think that should indicate that what you are doing is extremely important and worthwhile. I would like to see some trackbacks here, however. Considering your own effort to link heavily in articles at JW/DW, you’d think more bloggers would return the favor. Still, Robert, don’t give up. You are an integral part of the community of scholars who have forced the beginning of a very overdue internal dialogue in the Islamic world. Even though it is frustrating that it is taking so long to try to educate your own country, remember that a few years ago, very few knew your name. Now you are an international figure. We are gaining ground, Robert. Believe it!

Connie on May 12, 2008 at 10:26 AM

Robert Spencer on May 12, 2008 at 5:48 AM

Has anyone ever brought up the idea of having state “chapters” of JW?

Connie on May 12, 2008 at 10:32 AM

I think the appeal of Islam comes from several sources:

1) It gives divine sanction to the darkest part of our natures. Islam is gaining traction in our prison systems precisely because it says that theft, rape, and murder are moral acts.

2) It hides its true nature until your corruption is complete and it’s too late to switch horses. Look at the transformation of Cat Stevens into Yusuf Islam. He looked for solace from the violence and tumult of the 1970s and ends up converting to Islam, the most violent and tumultuous religion in the world? How can that be? It is incredible how anybody could believe as Cat Stevens did and not be utterly repulsed by Islam.

3) It is a Complete System. Islam purports to answer all questions and regiments life to the minutest detail. The believer need not spend a minute looking for answers or figuring out how to live their own life (and indeed is encouraged not to). That is very comforting to many people.

aynrandgirl on May 12, 2008 at 10:38 AM

This may seem a bit of levity, but I recommend that venividivici read this page and then ponder the fact that this involved putatively rational products of Western culture. Then ponder Spencer’s point, that in the real world this kind of re-enforcement would go on all the time, multiple times per day, in various ways.

Or, I could just say “Heaven’s Gate”, “Order of the Solar Temple”, or the “People’s Temple”. My view is that we don’t see any of these sweeping the globe because that belief space is already occupied by world religions. Things were a bit more open back in 7th Century Arabia.

P.S. There’s also the lottery effect. It may be that Mohammed was very unlikely to have succeeded, but if Arabia were ripe for the emergence of a comprehensive pan-tribal religion, Mohammed could simply be the lucky winner from a number of “prophets” who were starting things, the losers having been erased from history by the winner.

Annoying Old Guy on May 12, 2008 at 10:41 AM

Jihad Watch reader and occasional contributor Anne Crockett asked me to post this here:

I am not registered to comment at Hot Air, but I really wanted to respond to Amy’s comments.

I myself have read the Bible. You know what happens? I come across something that is opaque and I find myself asking, “Well, what is that all about?” For example, “Why is the sacrifice of Abel accepted but not Cain’s?” “Lot’s daughter’s did what with him?” “Why is Jacob’s treachery rewarded?” and those are just off the top of my head recalling questions from Genesis.

So what do I do with these questions? I don’t just give a dumb, happy grin and say, “Well it’s in the Bible so it must be okey-dokely!” Instead I try to find out how Jews and Christians throughout the ages have considered these passages. What do the Fathers of the Church say, what do Biblical scholars say, what do Jewish rabbis say?

I could go on at length about interpreting each of the points you raised, but that would deprive you of the useful exercise of researching something. On the other hand, I am not sure you would. It seems to me from your criticism of David’s behavior that you must have flung the Bible from your hand in mid-verse. Otherwise you might have noticed the second part of 2 Sam 11:27, “But the LORD was displeased with what David had done.” Hello??? That’s a clue in the text itself about how to view the behavior, and it is fundamentally dishonest of you to present this as a problem of Biblical morality. You are simply taking refuge in willful ignorance of both the Bible and the Koran.

Robert is in fact providing context about each and every part of the Koran. He is systematically, week-by-week going through the Koran and showing how Muslim commenters view the passage.

Comments at Hot Air are closed, but Jihad Watch is open, and anyone with an alternative commentary is entirely welcome to post it.

Most people are too lazy to wonder why adulterers are not stoned to death in Jewish or Christian societies, and why they are in Muslim societies. They buy into a watered down historical determinism that says, “Ah yes! Islam is such a young religion, and we used to stone adulterers back in the day, and I am sure Muslims will grow out of it.” I suppose that if you turn your head and pretend you don’t see what is going on in Muslim societies and even Muslim communities in the west that you think that you will have nobody’s blood on your hands. Countless women can be put in prison or murdered for the crime of being raped, and you can ignore it, and feel ever-so-good about yourself for being tolerant and respectful of other religions.

Perhaps Robert could post this at Hot Air where Amy commented. If so, thanks.

Robert Spencer on May 12, 2008 at 12:00 PM

And this, also from Anne Crockett:

and another thing…
Amy asked, “Are we prepared to condemn Judaism?” My answer, “Yes, of course. And I am prepared to condemn Christianity, and Islam and any other religion that walks through the room.” It is up to the religion to convince ME that it should be treated respectfully, and not MY job to put on a Stepford wife smile whenever anyone talks about religion.

Robert Spencer on May 12, 2008 at 12:04 PM

Didn’t get to this section until now.

Robert, please continue this work, here (or elsewhere). Despite this site’s name, some of us are shy.

Thank you for your work so far!

deesine on May 12, 2008 at 12:40 PM

Robert, While I rarely comment, I always read your series. And, I’ve found it educational, logical and interesting. I’ve attempted to read through the Koran several times and never succeeded. The work you do here is very helpful. Actually, this series was the impetus for me to buy a couple of your books and I found those equally interesting. Keep going!

SoonerMarine on May 12, 2008 at 1:16 PM

It’s really maddening and sad that about 1 BILLION people believe this crap.

SouthernGent on May 11, 2008 at 3:57 PM

Given the preponderance of evidence I am forced to surmise that it is largely in their nature to believe it.

Holmes on May 11, 2008 at 4:05 PM

Of course, I am all for reading the book — if I weren’t, I wouldn’t be leading this exercise, although with returns ever diminishing, maybe I’m getting a subtle hint that it is getting to be time to pack it in, rather than to press on ahead to the second half of the Qur’an. Still, whatever happens with this, I would caution you and everyone against conceptualizing the contents of the book in a way abstracted from the culture and civilization to which it has given birth. This book doesn’t stand alone any more than any book does.

Robert Spencer on May 11, 2008 at 4:18 PM

The first four paragraphs of this thread would be a great teaser for your book, except it might terrify people who already believe their world is being threatened by a militaristic cult. To Westerners it is mind bending to understand how people submit themselves to this level of control. There is your problem Robert. If you simply (hah it is not simple) reveal all that is islam, it will scare people from reading your book.

Your book is terrifically important but must be promoted carefully.

Westerers must come to terms now with the enveloping culture of islam so we can understand how it blocks rational communication, and so we can defend outselves from being absorbed into the unrelenting dominance without giving up our love for liberty and our desire to repect others.

The old rules do not work with a culture that is divorced from our context

The most important part of your book will be the preamble. You must set a context for us so that we will read the details of this alter culture for self defense.

The second most important part of your book would be any suggestions you might have for how to bridge this world without a nuclear holocaust.

Pope Benedict sent out requests to islamic leaders for a dialogue about the concept that there are universally held beliefs in certain human rights that transcend all religions including freedom to practice a chosen faith. Multiple times he was given the reply that they were willing to discuss the concept that there is but one god. I believe Benedict expected this answer but intentionally set up the dialogue to show the world exactly the problem we face

Why do people stay in islam when it seems so controlling? Because a faith that micromanages how you wash your hands becomes your world in the same way putting food in a refrigerator to keep it from spoing becomes a part of our world. We learn to tie our shoelaces, put on a warm coat etc etc. Their list of etceteras in islam begin before a baby can speak and become part of the survival mechanism.

A Christian who converted to islam said she was so consumed by meeting the physical requirements there was no time to think about the reasonableness of the requirements.

And then who defines ‘reasonable’?

You can do it Robert. We need someone to put it together. This is survival

entagor on May 12, 2008 at 1:50 PM

Thank you Professor S for this exercise. While it is certain there are many of us that do not comment each week, we are learning from this class. On ocassion it may of necessity be night school, nevertheless, we have near perfect attendance. Hang in and we’ll be here, too.

OkieDoc on May 12, 2008 at 1:57 PM

Thank you Robert and please do continue. I have read every one and refer to the series on JW as well. It won’t be worth much if you don’t finish it.

As far as the comments go (or lack of questions), others have noted that Sunday mornings are not exactly prime net surfing times.

awake on May 12, 2008 at 2:30 PM

Robert, if you are worried about the interest in this feature, why not put in a poll to measure interest. I hope you would not be surprised at the amount of interest there is in this blog. I think there is more than you realize or give yourself credit for.

While I rarely post, I can’t express how interesting and important the work you are doing is. It is my Monday morning must read. While some posters here may say “crap”, you leave that up to the reader to decide. You simply present what IS and leave the rest for us to digest. I applaud you for that.

Boot Hill on May 12, 2008 at 2:34 PM

Dr. Spencer,

First, my husband and I have watched some of your speeches on C-Span and agree with most of your comments. We respect your expertise.

Secondly, my husband is an active duty soldier (a Master Sergeant –E-8 in the U.S. Army) and is a subject matter expert in the field of Religious Leader Engagement in the war on terror. He has been to Iraq twice; once for a year with the 82nd ABN and once recently to draft policy for the Army on dealing with Muslim leaders in Iraq. This was at the request of MNF-I. He also authored A Leaders Guide to Shiaism which is used internally by the military.

I preface my comments with this to let you know of our concern and aim regarding Islam. It is not to bless its theology but to win the war on terror.

What is wrong with your Blogging the Quran series? Nothing in and of itself. I see nothing to disagree with in content but my concern comes when looking at the audience it is presented to. Michelle Malkin often has inflammatory entries on her blog that act as a thumb in the eye of the Muslim community both stateside and abroad. So in the context that you are cementing misconceptions among her readers, not necessarily by error of your own but by the stubbornness of her readers, I find the series unproductive. That is a rebuke to conservatives who refuse to understand the difference between apostates and real, devout Muslims.

A scholar could do a series on Blogging the Torah with equally disturbing content that would yield positive commentary from Hot Air readers because we understand Judaism in friendly terms. However, the anti-Islamic bias by many conservatives based on terrorists rather than Muslims is hurting the war effort and frankly prolonging the war in Iraq. That is my concern.

Christianity has some highly unusual theology as well that we just accept because it is our culture. Eating the flesh and drinking the blood of a divine man doesn’t make anyone bat an eye, nor does the return of a savior from heaven who was killed and risen from the dead. The return of the Messiah is a theme not exclusive to Christianity, but Islam and Judaism as well, yet only Islam is labeled as a freakish religion for nutty ideas. I think not.

So my concern is that this series cements misconceptions.

This is an example of what we address in the Army:
http://www.StrategicStudiesInstitute.army.mil/

PRECISION IN THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR:
INCITING MUSLIMS THROUGH THE WAR OF IDEAS
By Sherifa Zuhur
April 2008

SUMMARY
This monograph questions the messages conveyed to Muslims about their religion and extremism in the war of ideas. Why do American strategic messages on this issue play so badly in the region? Why, despite broad Muslim disapproval of extremism as shown in surveys and official utterances by key Muslim leaders,
has support for bin Ladin actually increased in Jordan and in Pakistan since some polling suggests bin Ladin’s approval in Jordan suffered a great deal after the hotel
bombings?

A reason that the United States is winning so few “hearts and minds” in the broader Islamic world is confusion and imprecision in American strategic messages. The grand strategy of defining, isolating, and destroying Islamism or radical Islamism may not be possible if America does not proceed more carefully, and listen to what its allies think, know, and feel about their faith.

This monograph will not revisit the origins of Islamist violence. It is instead concerned with conceptual failure that wrongly constructs the War on Terror and discourages Muslims from supporting it. They are unable to identify with the proposed transformative countermeasures because they discern some of their core beliefs and institutions as targets in this endeavor.

ISLAM AS THE ENEMY?
An excellent preface to American strategic communications on the GWOT are frequent statements that “Muslims are not our enemy.” These have featured
in many of President George W. Bush’s addresses9 or in media coverage of Islamist violence or militance. Unfortunately, the very next statement often denies key
faith concepts of our “enemies,” as in “we [the United States] honor the traditions of Islam. . . . Our enemy does not. Our enemy doesn’t follow the great traditions of Islam.”10 The President is attempting to describe the radicals as bad Muslims, or “evil,” but many Muslims see the “enemies” literally as “extremists” or coreligionists
who do honor the traditions of Islam, but unfortunately to an extreme.

Initial disclaimers that Islam is the enemy may precede references to the Caliphate, an idealized historical form of rule for all Muslims, as in President Bush’s comments that:
6
They (the terrorists) hope to establish a violent political
utopia across the Middle East, which they call a
“Caliphate”—where all would be ruled according to
their hateful ideology. Osama bin Laden has called the
9/11 attacks—in his words—“a great step towards the
unity of Muslims and establishing the Righteous . . . [Caliphate].”
This Caliphate would be a totalitarian Islamic
empire encompassing all current and former Muslim
lands, stretching from Europe to North Africa, the Middle
East, and Southeast Asia.11

This statement correctly quotes bin Laden, but primarily informs Americans that the “Caliphate” is an evil goal of extremists, and does not mention the historical role of the Caliphate in Muslim history, weltanshauung, or imaginaire. If President Bush wants
to reassure Muslims that they are not the enemy and they are not totalitarians, it would be better to attack the alleged totalitarianism of bin Ladin’s promised
state, rather than imply that its form (as Caliphate) would necessarily be totalitarian.

Our media analysis of actual attacks may begin by excusing ordinary Muslims, but immediately describe radicals as those “who are loyal to the ummah,”12 the name for the Muslim community. Muslims then understand that the initial disclaimer that Islam “is a great world religion, and Muslims are U.S. allies in the GWOT”—is just rhetoric. They cannot help reacting this way when they hear condemnations of “bad” Muslims
who are totalitarians, or Islamofascists who believe in the Caliphate, the ummah, or the principles of jihad or tawhid (the concept of oneness, or strict monotheism).

When it comes to Iran, and the Iraqi Shi`a, we hear statements about fanatic millenarianism, defined as belief in the Twelfth Imam, the Imam Mahdi (the messianic figure who will appear before the Day of Judgment), which impart wrongly sinister, or uncompromising ideas to the population. Belief in the Day of Judgment and the Mahdi are core concepts to all Muslims, although only certain Muslims are attracted to the current that prepares for the return of the Twelfth Imam, as in frequent references made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

When my husband and I see some of the entries about Islam on Michelle Malkin’s site we cringe. I am not suggesting all Muslims are benevolent but I would suggest along that line that Christianity also has its struggles against apostasy. It doesn’t look as violent as a suicide bomber and can look quite attractive in the name of tolerance, love and acceptance, all the while the commandments of Christ are sacrificed on the altar of relativism. That sends as many people to hell as any IED, in my opinion.

Amy Proctor on May 12, 2008 at 3:02 PM

Amy Proctor,

With all respect, I request that you answer the questions I asked you in my replies to your earlier post before I assay another lengthy reply to another lengthy post. The questions were not rhetorical ones: I would honestly like to know your answers to them.

Thanks and kind regards
RS

Robert Spencer on May 12, 2008 at 3:10 PM

I see nothing to disagree with in content but my concern comes when looking at the audience it is presented to
Amy Proctor on May 12, 2008 at 3:02 PM

Amy-

I find the above statement offensive. You should not generalize in such a way. Do you think I (or any of the other bloggers) are too stupid or too uneducated to understand what Mr. Spencer is doing here?
I find that when people cannot discuss or debate on the issues, they resort to name calling or assume that the intended audience is dumb. Please reevaluate.
YOU HAVE JUST INSULTED ALL OF US WHO READ THIS WEEKLY.

I have an education, I can understand. What audience should Mr. Spencer direct it to? I await your reply.

dentalque on May 12, 2008 at 3:21 PM

I just don’t want to be completely oblivious to the possibility, as evidenced by the sparse commentage, that there just isn’t much interest.

I can’t speak for others, but I read this every Sunday (or when it appears at Jihad Watch). If I don’t comment, it’s for one of two reasons: 1) Nothing I’ve read particularly stimulates a comment, often because it would be an observation I’ve made before (or others have); or 2) Something in what I read so bugs me that I can only think of something snarky to write about Islam or Muhammad, and I’d rather not drag the conversation down. :)

However, I’ve found it edifying reading and I’ve recommended it to friends, just as I have with your biography of Muhammad and “Religion of Peace” (which I’m reading now). I hope you’ll continue this project and someday turn it into a book.

irishspy on May 12, 2008 at 3:41 PM

I find this entire series completely counterproductive. We’re Christians and every night we have a Bible study with our children. Currently we’re studying the Old Testament.. Genesis, Exodus. Here are some goodies to consider:

Amy Proctor on May 11, 2008 at 7:38 PM

First, my husband and I have watched some of your speeches on C-Span and agree with most of your comments. We respect your expertise.

What is wrong with your Blogging the Quran series? Nothing in and of itself. I see nothing to disagree with in content but my concern comes when looking at the audience it is presented to.

Amy Proctor on May 12, 2008 at 3:02 PM

So which is it Amy, a completely counterproductive waste of time or accurate analysis?

It appears that you and your husband know little to nothing about “Dr.” Spencer and his work, but then again, your little rant here is really directed at Michelle Malkin, isn’t it?

This “war on terror” that you and the hubby so desperately want to win is hampered by your inability to properly identify the enemy. Terrorism is a tactic. not an enemy.

In your zeal for fairness and religious moral equivalence, which was painfully apparent by your attempt to portray Christianity and Judaism as equally violent in textual presentation, you fail to acknowledge the basic reality that Jews and Christians are not waging global warfare against other faiths like many followers of Islam are.

That is, unless of course you feel that the primary perpetrators engaging in terrorist acts worldwide these days, Muslims of Arab descent, is simply a grand-scale coincidence?

If you had actually read Spencer’s Q-blog you would know that he relies mainly on Islamic sources, so as to avoid being labeled as a purveyor of conjecture. Knowing that, shouldn’t you be on Muslim blogs correcting those misunderstanders of their own religion, explaining to them that they do not really mean what they say, day in and day out?

awake on May 13, 2008 at 8:49 AM

I find the above statement offensive. You should not generalize in such a way. Do you think I (or any of the other bloggers) are too stupid or too uneducated to understand what Mr. Spencer is doing here?

Not only that, but in her zeal for us to not generalize Muslims, she has generalized the readers of this blog. Kind of ironic, huh?

I will add my two cents and repeat what’s already been asked – Judaism and Christianity did commit violence in the name of religion. Problem was it was centuries (or mellinia, in the case of Judaism) ago. Islam is commiting violence in the name of religion now. You can say what you want about it being “a minority of extremists” but the fact still remains that a global-scale jihad is being waged by Muslims now. Not 700 years ago, not thousands of years before Christ, but now. Why the moral equivelance?

The other problem is that Islam teaches and encourages violence in their holiest of books. Jesus never would have said to kill the infidels and make them feel humiliated. If you’re the Christian that you claim to be Amy, you should know the basic difference between Christianity and Islam. Jesus taught to bring people to Him through demonstration – live a Christian life and people will want to follow your example. Mohammed taught to bring people to Islam through the sword – conquer their lands and force them to submit and be humiliated or convert. We have to look no further than the lives of these two men to see the glaringly obvious difference – Jesus died for our sins, sacrificing himself in order that countless others can be saved. Mohammed spent his life marauding and conquering. He was a warlord who used relition as a tool to whip his followers into a frenzy.

If what I’ve said above somehow offends you then read it in Mohammed’s own words – specifically Sura 9 and (I believe) Sura 22.

You can’t have moral equivelance when things aren’t equal. Islam’s violent tendancies come directly from the words of their most revered figure. Christianity had a violent past, but Christians weren’t instructed by Christ to violently conquer their enemies (or have you forgotten a little thing called the “Roman persecution”? You know… lions and all).

crazy_legs on May 13, 2008 at 9:42 AM

relition = religion. Shouldn’t type before coffee.

crazy_legs on May 13, 2008 at 9:52 AM

Robert Spencer:

…although with returns ever diminishing, maybe I’m getting a subtle hint that it is getting to be time to pack it in,…

What are you basing these ‘diminshing returns’ on? Do you count number of comments or are you relying on a site meter to see how many are actually reading?

As for comments, I read every week, along with all three translations you link to, although I usually don’t get to it until Tuesday or Wednesday. I don’t have as many questions as I did early on – now that I have read a fair bit of the Quran, I sort of understand the game a little better and usually understand what is going on with the help of your commentary.

HeIsSailing on May 13, 2008 at 11:14 AM

Last Word

Mr. Spencer if you are still having doubts, please realize you have the most loyal, if not largest, following on Hotair.com.

dentalque on May 13, 2008 at 10:56 PM

Robert Spencer:

although with returns ever diminishing, maybe I’m getting a subtle hint that it is getting to be time to pack it in, rather than to press on ahead to the second half of the Qur’an.

Dear Mr. Spencer,

I for one read every entry in your Quran blog, sometimes a few weeks late, but always with great interest. Please continue your excellent work.

Martin

Martin500 on May 26, 2008 at 9:40 PM