Thursday, January 4, 2007

Deathmatch: Quran vs. Bible
What Does the Constitution Say?

UPDATED BELOW:


I don't get it.

Honestly.

People are all in an uproar (see here, here, or even here for a real doozer!!) because Keith Ellison, the Muslim dude elected to Congress, swore into office, not on the bible which he doesn't believe in, but the Quran, which he does believe in. Now, I'm not going to go into the silliness of making people swear on fairy tales and legends to uphold the Constitution--we'll be laughing about that in what I predict will be another 50 to 100 years.

But, really people, wouldn't you rather the guy swear on a book he feels is holy as opposed to a book you feel is holy? Not only that, but it simply reiterates on a certain level that we take freedom of religion seriously. It's not "under attack" as some Christian fundies would have you believe--we just don't put up with you telling people how to live and what to believe. You may like your "freedom" in your gilded cage of religion, but it ain't for everybody, and that, at least, we can be thankful that the forefathers wrote it down on parchment: freedom of religion & freedom of speech.

This also kind of blows the lie that we are a "Christian nation" right out of the water (as, wouldn't it be in the Constitution that you must "swear on the bible" if we were a "Christian nation"?) As if the fact that the first amendment and the first commandment are in total contradiction isn't enough... In fact, you know what the Constitution does say? Of course, if you're a fundie, you'll willingly ignore this part:

The Senators and Representatives ... and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
Basically, Christian fundamentalists are upset not only because the dude won't be a hypocrite, but because they know the lies they've been perpetuating are going to be blasted out into the open.

Doesn't the irony just make you want to laugh? In fact, on the one blog I read, the poster wrote the following to his congressman:

I ask that you introduce and help get passed a law making the Bible the book to be used in swearing in Representatives, Senators, the President and Vice-President and other public officials.
Where's that concern for religious freedom? Of course, in his little rant, he uses an example of an extremist Muslim to point out "how dangerous they are." (And here I am, pointing out the idiocy of these Christian extremists to show how dangerous they are... just a little more irony for you to digest...)

I wonder which fundie will be the first to realize any of this... Any bets on how long it will take Robertson to ask for Jesus to kill Ellison?

As the argument progresses on another site, it was pointed out that the Quran seems to promote violence, and that was the core of the issue with him swearing on the Quran... It was also questioned whether one could be a servant of Allah and still uphold the constitution... (I don't know why if you can believe in the bible and still uphold the constitution, why not the quran?) Regardless, here are some thoughts I left for them...
Islam does not allow or sanctify the killing any innocent person regardless of his or her religion (much like you claim your holy book doesn't either). According to the Qur'an and Hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) life is sacrosanct.

In the Qur'an: ". . . Do not take life, which Allah has made sacred, except through justice and the law. He orders this so that you may acquire wisdom" (6:151) and, "Do not take life, which Allah has made sacred, except for a just cause. If anyone is killed unjustly, We allow his heir (to seek justice) but do not allow him to exceed bounds when it comes to taking life, for he is helped (by the law)" (17:33). According to the Qur'an, killing a person unjustly is the same as killing all of humanity, and saving a person is the same as saving all humanity. (See 5:32.)

Another oft quoted verse that people say promotes violence is: "Kill them wherever you catch them. . . " (2:191), ". . . But if they turn away, seize them and kill them wherever you find them. (In any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks." (4:89), and similar verses.

But within their textual and historical contexts, however, their true meanings emerge:

"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for Allah does not love transgressors. Kill them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out, for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. But do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there. If they fight you, kill them. Such is the reward of those who reject faith. But if they cease, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression and justice and faith in Allah prevail. If they cease, engage in hostility only against those who practice oppression. There is the law of equality of for the prohibited months, and so for all things prohibited. If any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress likewise against him. But be conscious of Allah and know that He is with those who restrain themselves" (2:190-194).

The other verses read: "They hope that you will reject faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they). So do not take friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (from what is forbidden). If they become renegades, seize them and kill them wherever you find them. (In any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks, except for those who join a group with whom you have a (peace) treaty or those who approach you with hearts calling upon them to be neutral. If Allah had pleased, He could have given them power over you and they would have fought you. So if they withdraw from you and do not fight you, and (instead) send you (guarantees of) peace, then Allah has opened no way for you (to fight them). You will find others who wish to gain your confidence as well as that of their people. Every time they are sent back to temptation they succumb to it. If they do not withdraw from you or give you (guarantees) of peace besides restraining their hands, seize them and kill them wherever you find them. In their case, We have provided you with a clear argument against them" (4:89-91).

Nowhere do these verses give general permission to kill any one. They were revealed to Prophet Muhammad at the time when the nonbelievers were attacking Makkah's Muslims and threatening those in Madinah. In contemporary jargon we may say that as the Muslims were subject to constant terrorist attacks on Madinah, Allah allowed them to defend themselves. These verses do not allow Muslims to engage in terrorism; rather, they are warnings against terrorism, but they also contain clear calls for restraint and care.

You can appreciate how religious texts, if not read within their proper textual and historical contexts, are easily manipulated and distorted. Let's look at the Bible and apply the standards applied above.

In Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Torah, Moses shares this message from God as the Israelites prepare to enter the Promised Land: "I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the long-haired heads of the enemy." (Deut. 32:42)

"When the Lord, your God, brings you into the land that you are entering to possess, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you. And when the Lord, your God, delivers them before you and you defeat them, destroy them utterly. Make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them" (Deuteronomy 7:1-2).

"When your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying 'Let us go and serve other gods,' . . . you shall kill him, your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God. . . " (Deuteronomy 13: 6-10)

"When you approach a city to fight it, offer it terms of peace. If it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, all the people found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, besiege it. When the Lord your God gives it into your hand, kill all the men in it. Take as booty only the women, children, animals, and all that is in the city, all its spoils. Use the spoils of your enemies which the Lord your God has given you. . . Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. Do not leave alive anything that breathes" (Deuteronomy 20:10-17).

"Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But spare for yourselves all virgin maidens" (Numbers 31:17-18).

"I will send my terror in front of you. . . you shall utterly demolish them and break their pillars in pieces" (Exodus 23: 23-24, 27).

The New Testament attributes the following statements to Jesus:

"Do not think that I have come to send peace on Earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword. I am sent to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Mathew 10:34-35).

"I say to you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. As for my enemies who do not want me to reign over them, bring them here and kill them in my presence" (Luke 19:26-27).

There are dozens of other verses that, if removed from their context, favor violence. Some violent Muslim groups misuse the Qur'anic verses just as various violent Jewish and Christian groups have used them to justify their causes. The Crusaders used them against Muslims and Jews. The Nazis used them against Jews. Serbian Christians used them against Bosnian Muslims, and Zionists regularly use them against Palestinians. David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Baruch Goldstein all relied on religious texts to justify their violence.

Much like you preach that "Christians who claim to be Christians don't act against god's word," so Muslims can (and do) claim the same about Muslims who kill in the name of Allah. Face it, you guys are on the same side of the street, you just don't realize it yet...

So I ask you again: within this accurate context of the preachings of the Quran, do you still hold issue with him swearing on the Quran? As pointyed out, the bible and the quran both have their passages promoting violence...

4 comments:

davida said...

Let's see.....the terrorists who crashed planes into the World Trade Center were Muslims......now that I think about it, most of the terrorists in the world are Muslims........so, it seems that there is some sort of correlation there. I have read many verses from the Quran and it definitely is a hate-filled book. Did you know that the Koran actually advises Muslims to kill those who are not Muslims? Personally, I think that it is not a peaceful religion - anyone who reads the Quran can see that. I dont know alot about Christianity, but I do know that my safety has never been threatened by a christian (the safety of all Americans has been threatened by Muslims), so I cant see a similarity between the two religions.

Jason Hughes said...

Islam is going through the same thing that Christianity went through back in the Middle Ages--kill the infidels, save the holy lands for the chosen of god, yadda yadda... It is simply the technology of today that has allowed for them to do so on a differing scale...

But make no mistake... They're on the same street in Lala land... It's just that one is farther down the street and right now it's considered "the wrong side of the tracks"...

Weird said...

They should be swearing on the Constitution, that is the document that they are vowing to uphold. Separation of Church and State all the way.

davida said...

Let's see.....the terrorists who crashed planes into the World Trade Center were Muslims......now that I think about it, most of the terrorists in the world are Muslims........so, it seems that there is some sort of correlation there. I have read many verses from the Quran and it definitely is a hate-filled book. Did you know that the Koran actually advises Muslims to kill those who are not Muslims? Personally, I think that it is not a peaceful religion - anyone who reads the Quran can see that. I dont know alot about Christianity, but I do know that my safety has never been threatened by a christian (the safety of all Americans has been threatened by Muslims), so I cant see a similarity between the two religions.