In hands of extremists, Koran justifies Ft. Hood massacre

Fred ReissThe Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran by Robert Spencer, Regnery Publishing, Washington, DC ISBN 978-1-59698-104-1, 2009, $19.95, p. 232

By Fred Reiss, Ed.D

WESTMINSTER, California–President George W. Bush, in December 2006, issued greetings to the Muslim world on the occasion of the Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha, which commemorates both the Hajj and Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. This past June, President Obama addressed the Muslim world in Cairo. Obama’s speech contained many platitudes about the compassionate teachings of the holy Koran, and quoted it by saying, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.”

In the wake of the recent Fort Hood massacre of army soldiers by what appears to be a lone Muslim US Army officer, Nidal Hasan, Islamic centers around the country issued press releases assuring the American public that the Koran condemns violent attacks on innocent people. Simultaneously, the Islamic Society of North America – the largest US Muslim umbrella body – also launched a special fund for the benefit of the families of the victims of the Fort Hood attacks. Yet, the website notes that the Koran contains over one hundred verses calling Muslims to war with the Infidels, which author Robert Spencer says the Koran defines as anyone not submitting to Allah.

Prominent Muslim scholar, Anwar al-Aulaq, calling Nidal Hasan a hero, wrote on his blog
Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.

Five of the Muslims accused of plotting the September 11 attack in a response to the government’s accusations wrote, “Therefore, killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you, responding back to your attacks, are all considered to be great legitimate duty in our religion.” Last month, Dutch right-wing lawmaker Geert Wilders told an assembly of Temple University students, “Where Islam sets roots, freedom dies.”

So which face of Islam is the truth? Robert Spencer, Director of Jihad Watch, a program of the conservative foundation, David Horowitz Freedom Center, wrote The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran to direct the spotlight on a holy book mentioned by many, but read by few, including most Muslims. This is so, because translations of the Koran are not acceptable in the religion. The original language of the Koran is Arabic, and ninety percent of Muslims do not speak Arabic.

Spencer, who has been accused of Islamophobia, argues that he is not against Muslims. He acknowledges that The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran is not written from the Islamic frame of reference, and asserts, “whether the Koran really says what this guide claims it says can be easily verified. And if this guide reports its contents accurately, that couldn’t possibly be an act of ‘hatred’ or ‘bigotry’. If the Koran really curses Jews and Christians [Sura, meaning chapter] (9:30) and calls for warfare against them in order to bring about their subjugation (9:29), it is not Islamophobic.”
Spencer wins his argument. An Internet review of the various translations of the Koran shows that Spencer has encapsulated the message in the verses cited in his book, and clearly points out inaccuracies found in the Koran. For example, he shows that the Koran has a clear misconception about Judaism. Sura 9:30 begins, “The Jews said, ‘Ezra is the son of God.’” Of course, in Judaism neither Ezra, nor anyone else, is called “son of God.” Even the Jewish Messiah, God’s anointed, is referred to metaphorically as “the son of [King] David,” and “the son of Jesse.” Both are very human.

The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran is a succinct volume that moves quickly from the basics of “What is the Koran?” through its history and development, and into the details of its inherent theology and practices, including the Koran’s view of women. Thus, Spencer not only discusses war-mongering verses aimed at infidels, but also exposes the meaning of “nonviolent” verses, as understood by Islamic hearts and minds.

In his view, the previously cited congratulatory statements made by Bush and Obama convey one message to the Western world and a completely different one to the Muslims. To Christians and Jews, the message about Abraham conjures up images of the reward for a courageous father. God tells Abraham that he will become the father of a great nation. But, in all likelihood, the biblical message is lost on Muslims unfamiliar with the Book of Genesis. Abraham is a Muslim in the Islamic world. So is Moses, the patriarchs, Jesus, and so forth. In Sura 60:9, Abraham tells the people that unless they become Muslims there is nothing except animosity and hatred between them. To the Muslim mindset, according to Spencer, Bush holds up hatred as exemplary.

As far as Spencer is concerned, when Obama reminded the Muslims to be conscious of God and speak the truth, he makes out no better than Bush. In fact, the translation of Sura 9:119 is, “O believers, do not stray from the path of Allah, and be with those who are truthful.” So, Spencer appears to be right again, when he asserts that the Koranic passage is “actually about fighting unbelievers, and doesn’t remotely advocate peaceful coexistence.”

The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran is unrelenting in its assault on the Koran and Islam as a peaceful religion, except to fellow Muslims. On one hand, we have statements from Islamic organizations condemning terrorist attacks, such as the one on the World Trade Center. “We condemn, in the strongest terms, the incidents, which are against all human and Islamic norms. This is grounded in the Noble Laws of Islam which forbid all forms of attacks on innocents.” On the other, the Koran says (9:5), “When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful.”

Both sides are right. Jewish extremists would stone you to death should you transgress the Sabbath in Mea Shearim, and Muslim extremists believe they have a God-given obligation to convert you, subjugate you, or kill you. The words of moderate Islamic organizations show that Muhammad’s revelations can be reinterpreted. Spencer lays out a plan for dealing with both types of Muslims. His plan, some of which borders on the unconstitutional, includes monitoring mosques and Islamic schools in America for preaching or teaching extremists’ views. Spencer argues that interfering with the Muslim religion is one thing, but prosecuting anyone fomenting the overthrow of the government is not. The framers of the Constitution did not intend the Bill of Rights to be a death knell for the country.

The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran provides a deep understanding of the Koran and Muslims who believe in it, and offers a starting point for a legitimate debate on how to monitor a religion whose extremists advocate the elimination of Western Civilization. Is Richard Spencer an Islamophobic? Only if he is not telling the truth.

Dr. Fred Reiss is a retired public and Hebrew school teacher and administrator. He is the author of The Standard Guide to the Jewish and Civil Calendars; Public Education in Camden, NJ: From Inception to Integration; Ancient Secrets of Creation: Sepher Yetzira, the Book that Started Kabbalah, Revealed; and Reclaiming the Messiah.

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