How ISIS Distorts the Qur'an, and How We Can Expose and Defeat Them
Truth will expose and defeat ISIS (or the so-called “Islamic State” also known as Daesh), because while their top leadership claims the Qur’an justifies them, the truth is that the Qur’an, when read and understood in context, proves they are grossly wrong and hypocritical.
ISIS leadership merely selects and quotes certain isolated verses in the Qur’an, taking them out of context to try to justify themselves. But they conveniently ignore all the verses that prove them wrong, and they ignore the real purpose and meaning of the Qur’an in its entirety.
They even claim that one verse in the Qur’an justifies their selective method for justification, but they misinterpret and misunderstand that verse as well, as will be discussed below in the section on The Lie of Abrogation. But the truth is that the greatest weapon to use against ISIS is truth about the Qur’an and Islam, because that truth will help the people of the world to understand the horrible error of ISIS -- and the truth will weaken and ultimately destroy ISIS.
That is why it is imperative that the people of the world know at least some basic information about the roots of Islam, because as an organized religion it is not what was intended by its founder, the Prophet Muhammad. While Muhammad intended to give Arabs their own scriptures to bring them into the family of Abrahamic religions, his successors tended to be Theocrats who assumed the Qur'an gave them cause to rule and build a religious military industrial empire, even if they had to use force and coercion (which Qur'an Surah 2:256 forbids).
Why did they ignore certain verses? Partly for the same reason certain theocratic leaders in other religions have ignored certain verses in their scriptures. After all, to be fair, it must be said that Muslims have not been alone in such error and tendency toward theocratic religious military industrial empire. As the relevant articles in this message explain, most sects of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) have been and are guilty of ignorance about the real purpose and meaning of their religion, and such ignorance is what has enabled aggressive, hypocritical Theocrats to dominate those religions, in the past and the present.
That is a large part of the reason the world is plagued conflict, trouble, violence and destruction caused by hypocrites who think their idea of religion entitles them to rule. And whether these theocratic hypocrites are known as Jewish Zionists, Christian Dominionists and Crusaders, or Muslim “Jihadists,” all of them believe and claim that God is on their side. However, in fact, none of them serve God. They betray God, and they betray the actual purpose of their religion.
Other articles discuss Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But this article is specifically about the murderous hypocrites known as ISIS, because the people of the world need to learn why it is so successful in its recruiting programs, and why so many young and gullible Muslims are deceived by ISIS propaganda.
That is why it is so important to understand when and why Islam became distorted after the death of Muhammad by false Caliphs, and by certain writers of the post-Quranic Hadiths. Moreover, we need to realize why ISIS is such a unique and terrible murderous terrorist organization.
The Basic Problem With ISIS
ISIS claims that its domain is a "Caliphate" ruled by a Caliph, which is a title somewhat equivalent to a Pope. But, while the Roman Catholic Pope symbolically represents the apostle Peter, in the Muslim tradition a Caliph is technically supposed to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.
The so-called "Caliph" of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is apparently not concerned about that, because he has shown no evidence to prove his relationship to Muhammad. (However, even if he could, it doesn’t matter anyway. Bloodlines or biological inheritance does not pass on divine wisdom or spiritual anointing, because only God calls, chooses and spiritually anoints legitimate servants and messengers.)
Baghdadi has proven himself to be the opposite of a servant of God, but he has put a lot of effort in trying to justify his tyrannical and murderous actions on a scriptural basis. Like all “religious” hypocrites and fanatics, he claims that the Qur’an itself justifies his actions and his dictates. And, since he does have university degrees in Islamic studies, he knows very well which verses to quote from the Qur'an to try to support his words and actions. The problem is that he is horribly wrong in the way he and his leadership do that.
Certain isolated verses from the Qur'an are selected and taken out of context to try to justify "killing the Infidels," which means non-Muslims. But such isolated verses simply ignore the full context of the Qur’an. They ignore many specific verses that qualify and clarify Muhammad’s full message. And, more importantly, they ignore the context in which the militant verses they select were written.
Crucial Facts About the Qur’an
The Qur’an was produced between 610 C.E. and 623 C.E. (which was when Muhammad died), and Muhammad’s attitude and tone changed dramatically after he was forced out of Mecca and moved to Medina. In fact, during the last ten years of his life as he and his Muslim followers waged war with the Meccans who had persecuted and rejected them, his tone and attitude changed even more dramatically.
That is why Quranic scholars refer to the two distinct periods when the Qur’an was written – the early period in Mecca following his first revelations, and the second period in Medina when he was at war with the Meccans.
Another factor in the differences in the writings during the second period was because Muhammad’s change in tone and attitude was reflected not only because of war with the Meccans, but also because he had grown impatient and critical of Jews and Christians who did not recognize his views as divinely inspired, and he faulted them for their ignorance.
These are crucial facts that must be known to understand the Qur’an. But few people in the world know that, and most Muslims don’t know it either, because those facts were essentially hidden after Muhammad died. When the Qur’an was compiled after Muhammad died, the Surahs (chapters) were not placed in the order of their production. Instead, they were mixed up and placed in an arbitrary order (rather like the Christian New Testament was), which is part of the reason there is so much misunderstanding of the full message Muhammad produced.
To add to the confusion and misunderstanding, the Muslim Hadith or Hadiths were written after the Qur'an was written and after Muhammad died. They began like the Jewish Talmud and the Christian New Testament, as commentary on the original teachings. But the Hadiths grew into something much more theocratic. (In fact, “Sharia Law” comes from the Hadiths, though many Muslim clerics insist it is based on the Qur’an.) And while these texts contain much truth and much helpful, wise commentary, they also contain myths, opinions and doctrines that have led to a lot of theocratic error.
That misunderstanding is part of the reason the extra-Quranic Hadiths contain opinions, statements, declarations and “laws” that are not consistent with Muhammd’s original revelations, which reflected the wonderful realization that God (Allah in Arabic), is the God of Abraham and Jesus, and is a loving, merciful God.
Mohammed's Qur'an makes it very clear that Islam does not cancel out the messages of previous prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, David, Solomon, Enoch, and Jesus. In fact, it is based on them, and the Qur'an commands Muslims to speak with great courtesy to Jews and Christians, because they "all believe in the same God" (Qur'an 29:46).
The Qur’an 2:136 instructs Muslims to say: "We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us, and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered."
Beyond that, according to Islamic principles and the Prophet Muhammad, even the Hindu Lord Krishna was a true Prophet of God, and the original core teachings of Hinduism and Islam are the same -- the unity of God and Humanity. In fact, the Quran says that God sent "messengers to every people" (10:48 and 16:37).
The Qur'an also condemns violence and aggression, and holds that killing is always a great evil (2:190 and 2:217). Moreover, they ignore the fact that even though the Qur'an does permit a war of self-defense to fight foreign invasion and persecution, when the Prophet Muhammad had it written, one of his main purposes was precisely to stop indiscriminate killing!
The Qur'an states quite clearly that warfare is not the best way of dealing with difficulties and conflict. It says that the faithful should "argue (with unbelievers) in the most kindly manner, with wisdom and goodly exhortation."
It does say that, if attacked, the faithful may retaliate in an appropriate way that is proportionate to the wrong suffered. However, it also says that tolerance is far more advisable than retaliation. It says: "To bear yourselves with patience is far better for you, since God is with those who are patient in adversity." (16:125- 127)
Indeed, it even says it is a meritorious act to "be charitable and to refrain from retaliation." (5:45) It is very similar to the teaching of Jesus, which advises us to "turn the other cheek" rather than retaliate by striking back.
The Qur'an also makes it clear that Mohammed's mission was not to create a new world religion, but to bring the religion of Abraham and Jesus to the Arabs, because they had no prophet before Mohammed, and they had no scriptures in their own language.
However, most of those verses were written during the first period, and during the second period some of Muhammad’s “revelations” were not loving or merciful, or forgiving either.
That is what justified certain rigid and cruel “Sharia laws” in the Hadiths, which are like certain supplemental “commandments” in the Hebrew Torah (the first five “law giving” books of Moses), and they do not reflect the idea of a loving, forgiving, merciful God. Rather, they reflect a God of malice, condemnation, and wrath – which is Man’s influence that shows through in many religious scriptures.
"The Lie of Abrogation"
It would be bad enough if hypocrites masquerading as Muslim “Jihadists” merely quoted isolated verses from the scriptures to try to justify themselves, as hypocrites masquerading as Jews and Christians do. But the hypocrites who wage a False Jihad use an even more deceptive and misleading tactic.
Hypocritical terrorists waging a false Jihad believe they are actually and fully justified by the Quran, and that is largely because of the verse in Surah 2:106.
In many translations of Surah 2:106 it states: “Whatever previous verse We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We reveal in this Qur'an one better or the like thereof.” (And by the way, the “We” reference is to the “royal we,” much as Moses used the term “we” (as in “us” and “our”) referring to God in the first chapter of the book of Genesis.)
The problem regarding Surah 2:106 is that following the death of Muhammad it was used by certain Muslim leaders to simply ignore verses that did not suit their purposes so they could instead focus upon those that did. They assumed and believed that Surah 2:106 justified them in doing so.
however, More educated and reasonable Muslim scholars have called that assumption and belief “The Lie of Abrogation,” and they have explained why. As you will see, it is because it is based on misinterpretation of the Qur’an, and misunderstanding of Muhammad’s full message in context.
In spite of that, in modern times “Jihadist” terrorists have been led to believe that the old lie is the truth. They prefer to believe and claim that Surah 2:106 means previous judgments or verses can be abrogated, forgotten, or substituted for something “better” or more important. And terrorist leaders assume that they have the authority to ignore certain verses and alter or interpret the message of the Quran to suit their purposes. That’s why they focus on the more militant verses that were written while Muhammad was at war with the Meccans in the second period.
However, as more informed scholars have pointed out, in some Arabic interpretations and in most English translations of Surah 2:106, the words “verse” and “abrogate” are inappropriate translations of the original Arabic words, and they can be interpreted differently and more accurately. To be specific, according to some Quran scholars those two words are ayat (or ayah, which is the plural) and nansakh, and the most appropriate meanings of those words are not verse or abrogate.
More Specific and Technical Reasons Exposing The Lie of Abrogation
Here is Surah 2:106 showing where those two words are placed: “Whatever previous ayah We nansakh or cause to be forgotten, We reveal in this Qur'an one better or the like thereof.”
First let’s examine the meaning of the word “Ayah” or "Ayat" (plural) because that word as used in various verses in the Quran can have one of four different meanings:
1) A miracle, such as in “We supported Moses with nine profound Ayat (miracles)." (17:101);
2) An example for people to take heed from, such as in “And the folk of Noah, when they disbelieved the messengers, We have drowned them and made them an Ayah (example) for all people" (25:37);
3) A sign, such as in: "My Lord, give me an Ayah (sign)." (19:10); and
4) A verse in the Quran, such as in: "This is a book that We have sent down to you that is sacred, perhaps they will reflect on its Ayat (verses)." (38:29)
Consider Surah 43:46-48 "And We have sent Moses with Our Ayah’s (miracles or signs) to Pharaoh and his elders proclaiming : ‘I am a messenger from the Lord of the universe’. When he brought them our Ayah’s they laughed at him. Every Ayah We showed them was greater than the one that preceded it."
That makes it very clear that the Ayah is clearly a sign or miracle, and each one was greater that the one that preceded it. Thus the phrase “one better” would make sense.
In any case, the word ‘Ayah’ or ‘Ayat’ can mean a miracle or revelation or example or sign, but not a verse in the Quran or a commandment of God. And there are good reason for that, because:
1) The phrase "cause to be forgotten" could not refer to a verse in the Quran or a commandment of God. After all, if a verse had been abrogated it would no longer exist, so it would not be necessary to mention it, and if it did still exist it could not be forgotten;
2) If the word ‘Ayah’ in 2:106 meant a miracle, an example or a sign, then all the words of the verse would make more sense, because they were “bettered” by a greater miracle or revelation or sign;
3) The phrase "Whatever previous verse We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We reveal in this Qur'an one better or the like thereof" is meaningless, because to “abrogate” or nullify or invalidate or abolish one commandment or verse and replace it with an equal or identical commandment or verse makes no sense whatsoever; and
4) The world “abrogate” is an erroneous translation of the word "Nansakh" or "Nastansikh."
The meaning of the word "Nansakh" in Surah 2:106 comes from the verb "nasakha," and because certain Arabic interpretations and many English translations indicate that it meas “to annul” or “abrogate," that interpretation is used by radical Muslim extremists because they take it to mean that the verses and passages that suit their purposes have priority over others that don’t. And that is a very big problem.
However, most meanings of nansakh have nothing to do with abrogation.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammed Yunus has commented that: “Many early theologians took a restrictive meaning of the word ‘ayah’ (plural, ayat) as a ‘verse of the Qur’an’ to suggest that a few verses of the Qur’an have been abrogated. This is simply untenable as it purports to imply that God Almighty, like a human being, changed his mind with the changing context of the revelation. The majority of Muslim scholars hold that the verse clarifies the doubts of the contemporaneous Christians and Jews as to why God should send a succession of revelations.”
Other Islamic scholars, like David S. Powers, Ph.D. Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Cornell University agree with that view.
Most religious scholars who study Islam agree that a more common use of nansakh is to mean the transcribing or writing down or recording signs or revelations or miracles.
For example, here are three Quranic verses where that meaning of the word has been used, and in parentheses are the actual meanings of the word in the given context.
Surah 45:29 "This is our book; it utters the truth about you. We have been (writing down or recording) everything you did." In that context, the word “abrogating” would certainly not apply, even though the original Arabic word was nansakh.
Surah 7:154 "When Moses" anger subsided, he picked up the tablets, and in (in its written record or in its words ) is guidance and mercy for those who reverence their Lord." In that context, the word annul or abrogate would make no sense either.
Surah 22:52-53 "We did not send before you any messenger, nor a prophet, without having the devil interfere in his wishes. God then (records or writes) what the devil has done.” In that context, the word annul or abrogate would make no sense either.
Therefore, we should question the motive behind the interpreters’ misinterpretations and the translators’ mistranslations of the meaning of 2:106, because the errors are probably not connected to the Quran at all but to the ‘Hadith’. For the Hadith consists mostly of things that were written after the death of Muhammad, and while some Muslims regard the Hadith as Muhammad's words or "Allah's Word," many Hadith scholars believe the concept of abrogation applies to the Hadith since it contains many blatant contradictions.
Furthermore, even the Qur’an contains errors and contradictions. Like all religious scriptures written so many centuries ago, it contains the judgments, opinions and views of a man who was only human. And no religious texts are "the absolute Word of God," regardless of what some Jews, Christians and Muslims have been led to believe.
For example, there are verses in the Quran that would seem to indicate that the Quran supersedes what is written in the Hebrew Torah and Tanakh and the Christian Gospels, which is why some proud Muslims believe that Islam is the superior religion. However, if the meaning of those Quranic verses actually indicates that, it would contradict other verses that reveal that Muslims should honor the Jewish and Christian scriptures.
For example: Qur’an 2:136 declares that Muslims should say: "We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us, and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered."
That makes it clear, as do many other verses that reveal Muhammad's understanding, and point of view.