The Quran does not Preach Hatred
If the Quran is clear in what it preaches, why is the fact that non-Muslims are not to be treated harshly, as some moderate Muslims claim, not understood by most Muslims from its text? The truth is that many Muslims believe the reality to be otherwise, and if one goes by their interpretation, the Quran too seems to be supporting their perception.
Let me respond by admitting that the Quran can appear a little unclear to some of the beginners. However, once an individual starts reading its text carefully, if possible through the help of a good guide, its initial lack of clarity gradually begins to disappear. There do appear apparent contradictions, I agree, to begin with. However, with deeper reflection they all turn out to be unreal. My response to the claim that the Quran is unclear is this question: Where is it unclear? If people haven’t understood it properly then there could be one of these two reasons for it: Either the Quran is vague or the people have not done enough to understand it. I insist that the latter is the only correct explanation.
Clarity of a message is its intrinsic attribute which an open and discerning mind can appreciate and uncover. Counting of heads is no way of proving whether a certain text was clear or otherwise.
The question however would still remain bothering many minds that if the Quran was really clear, as I claim, why then was it badly misunderstood in some of its vital teachings by even the apparently most devoted of its readers? The answer to this question has been provided by the Quran itself: This life is a trial for all humans. If one were to seek the truth one would get it; if one were not to seek it, one would not get it. This principle is true both in case of total as well as partial truth.
If an individual has gone against the truth completely and is not interested to know it, he will not get to know it by any means. Likewise, if a person avoids knowing some partial aspect of truth and therefore doesn’t concentrate fully to uncover it, he would miss the opportunity of knowing it. However, in case truth, total or partial, is not discovered, it is not the fault of the truth that it didn’t appear clearly; it was in fact the fault of those who didn’t do enough to uncover it that they couldn’t get the glimpse of it.
As regards the verses that are often quoted to show that Quran condemns non-Muslims and discriminates against them, let me clarify that they were all revealed to condemn such disbelieving non-Muslims who had learnt about the fact that the Islamic message was truly from God and yet they were not willing to accept it. Indeed God condemns them as criminals. However, many other non-Muslims too have been mentioned in the Quran whose truthfulness and good character have been applauded. Take for instance the following verses:
“Among the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) there are those who if you trust them with a treasure, they will return it to you; and among them there are those who, if you trust them with a dinar, they will not return it to you, unless you keep standing over them.” (3:75)
“They are not all alike. Among the people of the Book there is a group of men who have stood (by their covenant with God); they recite the Word of God in the hours of night and prostrate themselves before Him. They believe in God and the Last Day, and enjoin good and forbid evil, and hasten to vie with one another in good works. And these are among the righteous.” (3:113)
“And surely among the People of the Book there are some who (truly) believe in God and in what has been sent down to you and in what was sent down to them, humbling themselves before Allah. They trade not the signs of God for a paltry price. It is these who shall have their reward with their Lord. Surely God is swift in settling account.” (3:199)
The condemning expressions for non-Muslims in verses people often quote from Quran are for such people who were Kafir: those who denied the message of God despite knowing it to be from Him. Take the following two verses that describe the reason why such non-Muslims were considered Kafir:
“They (the people of the book) recognize him (the prophet) the way they recognize their own children.” (Quran; 6:20)
“And they (the disbelieving non-Muslims) denied them (the signs brought by Prophet Moses) even though they were convinced about their truthfulness out of unfairness and arrogance.” (Quran; 27:14)
Given the above, there could be only two possibilities: Either the Quran is, God forbid, full of contradictions — which is most certainly not the case — or the verses condemning non-Muslims are talking about only those amongst them who were guilty of knowing the truth about the message of Islam and were yet bent upon rejecting, ridiculing, and opposing it.
The greatest believer in and follower of the Quran, the prophet, may God’s mercy be upon him, is known to have adopted two different approaches towards non-Muslims: In the vast majority of the cases, he was very kind with them and showed magnanimity to even his worst enemies amongst them, but in some cases, which all happened in the later part of his prophetic mission, he desired a few of them to be put to death. It seems obvious that when he was left to follow his own discretion, he was always forgiving. However, he had to follow God’s commands when the promised deadline for the disbelievers reached and His command to take them to task was revealed.
No human can kill another human. It is a huge sin. Only God can kill. He kills humans by causing them to die through illness, accident, natural disaster, or by asking His messengers to get rid of some of the criminals who rejected His message that came to them directly through His messengers. Since no new messenger shall come to this world, the possibility of man killing another man because of religious differences is not there anymore until the day when this world would give way to another.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, March 13th, 2011.