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Warrior Monks: The Untold Story of Buddhist Violence (I)

This is a part of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series.

The basic plank of Islamophobia can be summed up as follows:

Islam is uniquely violent compared to other world religions.

Of course, it’s just not true.  In previous articles, I’ve taken a Thor-sized hammer to shatter this myth by proving that Judaism and Christianity are scripturally and theologically just as violent, if not more so.  The Bible is far more violent than the Quran, and both the Jewish and Christian traditions have been just as problematic.

It’s also not true from a historical perspective.

Take Judaism for instance:  According to the foundational narrative in the Bible, for instance, the Hebrews were persecuted in Egypt, forcing them to flee to Palestine.  When they found the Promised Land to be already occupied by the native Canaanites, Moses and the Jews invoked their warrior god to mercilessly slaughter the indigenous population in what can only be called a genocidal holy war.

The Jewish kingdoms were then overrun by outsiders.  Eventually, the Jews came under the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who sought to replace Judaism with his own religion.  The Jews revolted and overthrew him, leading to the emergence of the Jewish Hasmonean Dynasty.  Just previously facing down the barrel of religious oppression, the Jews did not lose a beat and immediately set out oppressing non-Jews.  By force of arms, they sought to expand their borders and to ethnically cleanse the land of infidels, either killing non-Jews, forcibly converting them to Judaism, enslaving them, or simply running them off the land.

This Jewish kingdom fell as well, and the Jews would have to wait until the twentieth century to rule again.  They faced several centuries of oppression and finally ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Nazis, but eventually regrouped in Palestine.  Just yesterday having chanted “never again!”, they seamlessly transitioned to the task of ethnically cleansing Palestine of its non-Jewish population.

Although it’s true that Jews have been on the receiving end of oppression for a great deal of history, it’s also true that they have oppressed when in a position of power.  Is oppression then a matter not of religion but simply of opportunity?

Christians had more opportunity for violence than any other religious group on earth, and it is therefore unsurprising that, from a sheer numbers perspective, they have been responsible for the most acts of warlike aggression than any other.  It is true that Jesus himself never engaged in violent action, but again, this seems to be an issue of opportunity rather than moral repulsion to violence: he was never in a position of political power and was in fact killed by the authorities.  But, according to the Biblical narrative, Jesus will return to earth as a conquering warrior king, flanked by a massive army of earthly and heavenly beasts.  He will then kill all his enemies.

The early Church was not pacifist as many modern-day Christians claim.  Instead, the early Church fathers enlisted themselves as prayer warriors for the imperial Roman armies.  The very minute Christianity rose to power with the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine, war in the service of empire and religion was adopted wholesale.  Once persecuted by pagans, Christians now set out to destroy paganism in Europe.  They sent forth armies to conquer new lands in the name of Christ.  Eventually, almost all of Africa, Australia, Europe, South and North America–as well as huge swaths of land in Asia–came under the boots of Christian soldiers.  Even today, the Religious Right in the U.S. leads the country down the path of war.

Not a single inhabited continent was spared by the Christian conquerors, so it is very difficult to accept the idea that Islam is somehow uniquely violent.

Of course, there is no denying that Islamic history had its fair share of violence.  Just as the Christian Church came under the tutelage of the Roman state, so too did many ulema ingratiate themselves to the rulers.  Expansion of the state was religiously justified, and the armies of Islam poured out of the Arabian Peninsula, conquering lands from China to Spain.

Islamophobes often complain that Islam gobbled up a significant part of the Christian world, which is true.  Yet, the Christians themselves had conquered these lands aforetime.  Is this simply not a case of Christians crying foul play when another religious group does to them what they did to the rest of the world?

It seems clear that Westerners of the Judeo-Christian tradition have no leg to stand on when they single out Islam.

But, what about Eastern religions, such as Buddhism?  Is violence merely a problem of the three Abrahamic faiths, as some would have us believe?

Westerners imagine a stark contrast between supposedly violent Muslims on the one hand and pacifist Buddhists on the other.  When we recently linked to a story about Buddhist oppression of the Muslim community in Burma, an Islamophobe quipped:

So, Buddhists acting like Muslims for once?

This remark reveals a profound ignorance of history.  Stereotypes notwithstanding, the Buddhist tradition is no stranger to violence.  This little known story is retold by Professors Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer in the book Buddhist Warfare.  Jerryson writes:

Violence is found in all religious traditions, and Buddhism is no exception.  This may surprise those who think of Buddhism as a religion based solely on peace.  Indeed, one of the principal reasons for producing this book was to address such a misconception.  Within the various Buddhist traditions (which Trevor Ling describes as “Buddhisms”), there is a long history of violence.  Since the inception of Buddhist traditions 2,500 years ago, there have been numerous individual and structural cases of prolonged Buddhist violence. [1]

Prof. Jerryson writes in Monks With Guns: Discovering Buddhist Violence of armed Buddhist monks in Thailand.  He notes that the West’s romantic view of Buddhism

shield[s] an extensive and historical dimension to Buddhist traditions: violence. Armed Buddhist monks in Thailand are not an exception to the rule; they are contemporary examples of a long historical precedence. For centuries monks have been at the helm, or armed in the ranks, of wars. How could this be the case? But more importantly, why did I (and many others) hold the belief that Buddhism=Peace (and that other religions, such as Islam, are more prone to violence)?

He then answers his own question:

Buddhist Propaganda

It was then that I realized that I was a consumer of a very successful form of propaganda. Since the early 1900s, Buddhist monastic intellectuals such as Walpola Rahula, D. T. Suzuki, and Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, have labored to raise Western awareness of their cultures and traditions. In doing so, they presented specific aspects of their Buddhist traditions while leaving out others.

It should be clear that such “propaganda” need not necessarily be construed as something sinister.  Proponents of other religions–including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–will, for obvious reasons, often give a positive spin to their faith traditions.  Many Buddhists believe their history to be relatively peaceful, because they view their religion to be so.  This is no different than Muslims claiming that Islam is “the religion of peace”.

The difference is that the politics of the War on Terror have caused the religion of Islam to be put under heavy scrutiny.  Therefore, there is great incentive to refute Muslim “propaganda”, an incentive which simply does not exist for Buddhist “propaganda”.  The enemy, after all, is Muslim, not Buddhist.  Thus, Buddhism flies under the radar, and Buddhist “advertising” is taken at face-value.

Buddhism’s relative inconspicuousness shields it from the harshest blows of public criticism.  Case in point: the Bible and the Quran are well-known and easily accessible to the public.  Finding the violent verses in them is just a click away on the internet.  Meanwhile, Buddhist scriptural sources are more obscure, at least to the average Westerner.  Most people don’t even know what scriptures Buddhists follow, let alone what is contained within them.

As a consequence, many modern-day Buddhists believe that their scriptural sources are in fact devoid of violence, that this is a problem only of the Bible or the Quran.  But, Prof. Stephen Jenkins points out that this is just not the case.  In fact, “Buddhist kings had conceptual resources [in the religious texts] at their disposal that supported warfare, torture, and harsh punishments.” [2]

For example, the Nirvana Sutra, a canonical Buddhist text, narrates a story about one of Buddha’s past lives: in it, he kills some Hindus (Brahmins) because they insulted the Buddhist sutras (scriptures):

The Buddha…said…”When I recall the past, I remember that I was the king of a great state…My name was Senyo, and I loved and venerated the Mahayana sutrasWhen I heard the Brahmins slandering the vaipulya sutras, I put them to death on the spot.  Good men, as a result of that action, I never thereafter fell into hell.  O good man! When we accept and defend the Mahayana sutras, we possess innumerable virtues.” [3]

Porf. Paul Demieville writes:

We are told that the first reason [to put the Brahmins to death] was out of pity [for them], to help the Brahmans avoid the punishment they had accrued by committing evil deeds while continuously slandering Buddhism. [4]

Here we arrive at a disturbing theme found in Buddhist thought: “compassionate killing”.  Killing is normally forbidden because it is done with evil intent (hatred, vengeance, etc.), but if it is done with “compassion”, it becomes something permissible, even praiseworthy.

The Buddhist does the unbeliever a favor by killing him, “an act of charity”:

In the Zen sect in Japan, they interpreted the argument for taking another’s life as “attempting to bring the other’s Buddha nature to life” (Buddha nature exists in virtually every living being), “by putting an end to the passions that lead astray…”

They make killing an act of charity. [5]

This is of course a disturbing belief to most of us.  As Prof. Bernard Faure puts it: “‘Killing with compassion’…remains a dubious oxymoron.” [6] One is reminded of the odd Christian belief that a Christian soldier can love his enemies even as he kills them.  Of what relevance is such “love”?

Jenkins writes:

If he does so with compassionate intentions, a king may make great merit through warfare, so warfare becomes auspicious. The same argument was made earlier in relation to torture, and the sutra now proceeds to make commonsense analogies to doctors and to parents who compassionately inflict pain in order to discipline and heal without intending harm. [7]

He goes on:

General conceptions of a basic Buddhist ethics broadly conceived as unqualified pacifism are problematic.  Compassionate violence is at the very heart of the sensibility of this sutra.  Buddhist kings had sophisticated and practical conceptual resources to support the use of force…The only killing compatible with Buddhist ethics is killing with compassion.  Moreover, if a king makes war or tortures with compassionate intentions, even those acts can result in the accumulation of vast karmic merit. [8]

There was a second reason to kill the infidels: to defend the Buddhist faith.  Prof. Demieville writes:

The Buddha’s second reason for putting them to death was to defend Buddhism itself. [9]

Faure notes:

Another oft-invoked argument to justify killing is the claim that, when the the dharma [i.e. the Buddhist religion] is threatened, it is necessary to ruthlessly fight against the forces of evil…promoting the need for violence in order to preserve cosmic balance… [10]

What about the first precept of Buddhism, which forbids murder?  Demieville writes:

In another passage, this same sutra (scripture) declares that there is no reason to observe the five precepts [the first of which is the taking of life], or even to practice good behavior, if protecting the Real Law is in question.  In other words, one needed to take up the knife and the sword, the bow and the arrow, the spear and the lance [to defend the faith].  “The one that observes the five precepts is not a follower of the [Mahayana]!  Do not observe the five precepts–if it concerns protecting the Real Law…” [11]

The Nirvana Sutra reads:

The [true] follower of the Mahayana is not the one who observes the five precepts, but the one who uses the sword, bow, arrow, and battle ax to protect the monks who uphold the precepts and who are pure. [12]

The dye is cast for defense in the name of religion.  Elsewhere in the Nirvana Sutra, we are told of a king who goes to war in defense of rightly-guided monks:

To protect Dharma [Buddha’s teachings], he came to the defense of the monks, warring against the evil-doers so that the monks did not suffer.  The king sustained wounds all over his body.  The monks praised the king: “Well done, well done, O King!  You are a person who protects the Wonderful Dharma.  In the future, you will become the indispensable tool of Dharma.” [13]

This king too was Buddha in a past life; Buddha declared:

When the time comes that the Wonderful Dharma is about to die out, one should act like this and protect the Dharma.  I was the king…The one who defends the Wonderful Dharma receives immeasurable recompense…

Monks, nuns, male and female believers of Buddha, should exert great effort to protect the Wonderful Dharma.  The reward for protecting the Wonderful Dharma is extremely great and immeasurable.  O good man, because of this, those believers who protect Dharma should take the sword and staff and protect the monks who guard Dharma

Even if a person does not observe the five precepts, if he protects the Wonderful Dharma, he will be referred to as one of the Mahayana. A person who upholds the Wonderful Dharma should take the sword and staff and guard monks. [14]

Demeiville notes:

Along these lines, the Buddha sings the praises of a king named Yeou-to, who went to war to defend the bhiksu (monks). [15]

The general idea is that “[h]eresy must be prevented and evil crushed in utero.” [16]

As for the Brahmins whom Buddha killed, they were in any case icchantika, those who neither believe in Buddha or Buddhism–historically, the Buddhist equivalent of infidel.  Buddha says in the Nirvana Sutra:

If any man, woman, Shramana, or Brahmin says that there is no such thing as The Way [i.e. Buddhism], Enlightenment, or Nirvana, know that such a person is an icchantika.  Such a person is one of [the demon] Mara’s kindred [Mara = the Lord of Death].  Such a person is not of the world… [17]

An icchantika is “sinful…[because] he does not act in accordance with the Bhuddas’ injunctions.” [18]  “Because the icchantika lacks the root of good,” he “falls into hell.” [19] In fact, “it is not possible…for the icchantika not to go to hell.” [20] The icchantika is “the lowest” and “has to live for an eon in hell.” [21]

Putting to death unbelievers carries no sin or bad karmic result.  Demieville writes:

Regardless, these Brahmans were predestined to infernal damnation (icchantika); it was not a sin to put them to death in order to preserve the Real Law. [22]

There are in fact three grades of murder, in increasing order of seriousness, but killing infidels is not one of them.  The Nirvana Sutra reads:

The Buddha and Bodhisattva see three categories of killing, which are
those of the grades 1) low, 2) medium, and 3) high.  Low applies to the class of insects and all kinds of animals…The medium grade of killing concerns killing humans [who have not reached Nirvana]…The highest grade of killing concerns killing one’s father, mother, an arhatpratyekabudda, or a Bodhisattva [three ranks of Enlightenment]…

A person who kills an icchantika does not suffer from the karmic returns due to the killings of the three kinds above.  O good man, all those Brahmins are of the class of the icchantika.  Killing them does not cause one to go to hell. [23]

The Buddha says in the Nirvana Sutra that icchantika’s status is lower than that of the ants:

[T]he icchantikas are cut off from the root of good…Because of this, one may well kill an ant and earn sin for doing harm, but there is no sin for killing an icchantika.” [24]

In addition to issues of faith and unbelief, the Buddhist tradition offered sophistic justifications for killing and war:

[H]ow can one kill another person when…all is emptiness?  The man who kills with full knowledge of the facts kills no one because he realizes that all is but illusion, himself as well as the other person.  He can kill, because he does not actually kill anyone.  One cannot kill emptiness, nor destroy the wind. [25]

Furthermore, killing is sinful because of the evil it creates inside the killer’s mind.  But, a true yoga master can train his mind to be “empty” even while he kills.  If the killer has “vacuity” of thought, then the murder “did not undermine the essential purity of his mind” and then there is nothing wrong with it. [26] In other words, killing can be excused if it is done by the right person, especially a “dharma-protecting king”.

The Buddhist canonical and post-canonical texts not only provide the religious justifications for war and killing, but provide examples of meritorious holy figures who engaged in it, examples for all Buddhists:

Celestial bodhisattvas, divinized embodiments of the power of enlightened compassion, support campaigns of conquest to spread the influence of Buddhism, and kings vested with the dharma commit mass violence against Jains and Hindus. [27]

In these textual sources, we see dharma-inspired Buddhist kings who “have a disturbing tendency for mass violence against non-Buddhists.” [28]

Buddhist Warfare provides many other examples of the theological justifications for waging war and killing, but these shall suffice us for now: they provide the religious basis for Buddhist holy war: (1) Killing those who slander Buddhism as a necessity; (2) Anyone who rejects Buddhism is by default slandering it; (3) Killing infidels carries no sin; (4) In fact, it is not really killing at all.

These are not merely theoretical justifications found buried in religious texts.  Instead, these beliefs were acted upon historically, and continue to be so in the contemporary age.  The historical record is something we will explore in part II.

*  *  *  *  *

Disclaimer:

Prof. Michael Jerryson issues the following disclaimer:

Our intention is not to argue that Buddhists are angry, violent people—but rather that Buddhists are people, and thus share the same human spectrum of emotions, which includes the penchant for violence.

I could not agree more with Jerryson here.  My intent here is not to demonize Buddhism, but rather, to underscore the reality that all religious traditions, not just Islam, have had their fair share of violence.  This includes Buddhism.

It’s certainly something uncomfortable for me criticizing a religious tradition in this way, but it seems necessary to dispel the enduring myth that Islam holds a monopoly on violence.

I would also like to take this opportunity to distance myself from those who are using the violence in Burma to further Buddhaphobia.  Such claim that “people are ignoring what is happening to Muslims in Burma”, which is certainly true, but we all know that if the shoe were on the other foot–if it were Muslims in Burma oppressing Buddhists–then many of these Muslims would be the silent ones, or even be justifying such oppression (as I have seen many Buddhists doing now).

What is it other than rancid hypocrisy when some Pakistanis are up in arms about Muslims in Burma, but absolutely silent about the oppression of religious minorities in their own country?

How easily these people are able to transfer the same hatred against Islam that is directed toward them on a daily basis to Buddhism!

What I have learned about religions is the following:

#1: Adherents of a religion will cry foul when their coreligionists are the victims of oppression, but will remain silent or even justify such oppression when their coreligionists are the perpetrators of such oppression.  This includes Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus–as well as Muslims.

To this, I recall the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who said: “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is oppressed.”  The people asked him: “It is right to help him if he is oppressed, but how we should help him if he is an oppressor?”  Muhammad replied: “By preventing him from oppressing others.”

#2: The corollary to #1 is that religious groups will cry foul when they are oppressed by another religious group, but as soon as they themselves come to power, the very next minute they set to the task of oppressing the religious other.  Yesterday, the Jews were ethnically cleansed by the Nazis; today, they ethnically cleanse the Palestinians.  It is such a seamless transition–it happens with such mechanistic automatism and absolute obliviousness–that it is something quite amazing to witness.

#3: Following from #2, it becomes obvious that humans oppress when they are given the opportunity to do so.  It is not their religious creed that matters so much but rather whether they have opportunity or not.

#4: No major world religion is vastly different from the other when it comes to its propensity to inspire violence.

#5: Instead of using religious violence to demonize particular faiths–instead of using it as a battle ax to split open heads–we should hold in our hearts a continuous candlelight vigil to end inter-religious violence–holding hands with Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus–and start seeing each other as fellow human beings.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Footnotes:
[1] Jerryson, Michael K., and Mark Juergensmeyer. Introduction. Buddhist Warfare. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 3. Print.
[2] Jenkins, Stephen. “Making Merit through Warfare and Torture.” Buddhist Warfare. By Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 59. Print.
[3] Nirvana Sutra, Chapter 19.
[4] Demieville, Paul. “Buddhism and War.” Buddhist Warfare. By Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 41. Print.
[5] Ibid., 44.
[6] Faure, Bernard. “Afterthoughts.” Buddhist Warfare. By Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 212. Print.
[7] Jenkins, 68.
[8] Ibid., 71.
[9] Demieville, 41.
[10] Faure, 212.
[11] Demieville, 41.
[12] Nirvana Sutra, Chapter 5.
[13] Ibid., Chapter 19.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Demieville, 41.
[16] Ibid., 39.
[17] Nirvana Sutra, Chapter 22.
[18] Ibid., Chapter 24.
[19] Ibid., Chapter 34.
[2o] Ibid., Chapter 39.
[21] Ibid., Chapter 40.
[22] Demieville, 41.
[23] Nirvana Sutra, Chapter 22.
[24] Ibid., Chapter 40.
[25] Faure, 213.
[26] Demieville, 42.
[27] Jenkins, 59.
[28] Demieville, 63.

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  • Ayu Sh

    A seamless analysis of the violence in religions specifically Buddhism. But the authenticity of book ( Monks With Guns: Discovering Buddhist Violence) needs to be established since all the underlining facts are based on that. Nevertheless, a very well spent effort.

  • Kim

    :'( Why do you only see violence evrywhere?
    Why do you have to wage war on anything?
    There are so many bitter prejudices here in the comments and the article.
    I bet you have all been hurt by others in some way or another…
    but did it feel good to get hurt? is it worth inflicting pain on others?
    PLEASE stop this madness before it’s too late.
    one love… one people!
    start to speak to people of other religions! and don’t just read articles full of pain and sorrow

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  • Jark

    The same thing happens in thailand where there is violence between malays and the rest of thailand, but not with chinese muslims or thai muslims.

    East asian people are more likely to hate others based on race than religion. For the 1,300 years china has been in contact with islam, you will not find a single anti islamic polemic or denounciation of muhammad, however, there are plenty of racist polemics describing other ethnic groups to whcih muslims belonged to as “dirty”, “smelly”, “ugly”, etc.

    East asians would hate dark skinned buddhists and hindus as much as dark skinned muslims, while welcoming anyone of their own race regardless of their religion.

  • Jark

    Misleading….. The Picture of the buddhist monks says “BANGALI terrorists states enemies” NOT “muslim terrrorists states enemies”

    The violence betwewen the rakhine and rohingya is all about race and nothing to do with religion, however, both islamic and western media deliberately mentioned the religion of the participants in order to inflame tensions and spread the conflict.

    There are different muslim ethnic groups in Burma. The Chinese panthay muslims are citizens of burma and were welcomed into burma by the burmese kings 200 years ago, they are succesful merchants, and since they look east asian in appearance, like the burmese, they don’t suffer discrimination. They speak chinese and burmese and integrated well into society.

    The rohingya are dark skinned and of the same race as bengalis and indians, they are not citizens of burma, they are said to be descendants of bangladeshi and indian muslims who settled in rakhine for the past few hundred years, and were not welcomed in by the burmese. They don’t look asian, and their skin is ten times darker than that of burmese or chinese muslims.

    The burmese used ethnic slurs like “kalar” (referring to dark skin) and “ogre” when talking about rohingya. They said nothing about islam, alot of burmese netizens online are cursing rohingya with racial slurs and say that they welcome burmese and chinese panthay muslims but not rohingya

  • Chameleon

    @nath,

    It sounds like the debate is over. All I am hearing are crickets, and for quite some time now. If you or anyone else still wants me to address those four verses of “violent subjugation”, as you claimed, then let me know. But if not, then I am not going to waste my time with vacuous claims that are so clearly false. There is not a single verse in the Quran that violates the universally ethical principles of warfare: to fight ONLY in protection of the state and against persecution and oppression. These four verses are certainly no exception.

    As for the “concubines” topic, this is significantly more involved, with a long history of misogynistic interpretations both by non-Muslims and even mainstream Muslims — all of them shockingly wrong. I promise that even most Muslims on this site will be surprised by the compelling nature of the facts and logic behind the conclusion that there is no such concept as “concubines” in Islam. I must say that I was even surprised myself after diving deep into this issue. I have written on this topic before, and I will be updating it soon, after which I can publish the web link for whoever is interested. What would be nice is if Danios or someone else with article admin. authority could introduce my analysis with a short article of their own, since it strikes at the heart of some key Islamophobic arguments. On the other hand, if no one is interested, then I will simply consider this thread closed and leave it at that.

  • Géji

    @The Knocker Says : “who has had to endured at the hands of Buddhist monk, especially since the UN has described the Rohingya as the most-persecuted minority in the world”

    Sorry, but that selective- “as the most-persecuted minority in the world” – as the most powerful world indeed appears to justify the extreme, enduring, worldwide-known oppression of Palestinian people with ease – seem to belong to the Palestinian people.

    UN has no right ‘declaring’, nor has it any right “describing” who, what, where the atrocities human kind is capable, without ever having the bulls to speak-up for human justice in considering to address the blunt reality of Palestine, still in our age and time, “UN” always will be viewed siding with colonialists and up imperialists …

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  • Chameleon

    @nath,

    ISLAMIC MODEL OF WARFARE

    You say, “And your model will never exist as a political reality”.

    The Islamic model of warfare existed at the time of the Prophet, and I would argue that many communities, both Muslim and non-Muslim, throughout history have faithfully implemented this model in establishing their basic freedoms and right to self-determination. The problem, of course, is sustaining that standard, especially after a change in leadership once political power has been established. The Islamic model of warfare is based on using the military only for the protection of the state and to fight against persecution and oppression. All countries today, both Muslim and non-Muslim, clamor to claim and propagandize that they do follow this universally ethical model of warfare, but I would agree with you that, to one degree or another, most have fallen far short of this high Islamic standard. U.S. military history since WWII is one highly visible example of violating that standard today.

    To say that this model has never existed would be wrong. To say that it will never exist in any sustainable way, as you imply, would be hopelessly pessimistic, but perhaps not provably wrong. I believe it is quite possible, but that would be up to much larger communities and humanity to decide, not up to you and me to prove in a debate. Unfortunately, today, as throughout most of history, this decision has only been in the hands of those few individuals who have wielded dictatorial power over the vast majority of the world’s military arsenal.

    But to close on this topic, what is still totally missing from the debate is a clarification of your actual claim. If the Islamic model of warfare as I have defined it via the Quran is wrong, and you have now clearly abandoned the modern Christianity model as the ideal alternative, then what possible model is superior to the Islamic model? Please elaborate so that I can have an actual opportunity to tear it to shreds, like I did with the modern Christianity model. If you can present no better alternative, then I will logically have to consider this debating topic officially closed.

    “SHAHADA NOT IN THE QURAN” CLAIM

    You say “Despite what you say, a person is considered a convert to Islam – at least according to the hadith … when he/she recites shahada in Arabic. This is the foundational pillar of the faith.”

    Yes, they are “considered a convert” at this time BY THE COMMUNITY, as I said in my last post. However, this does not define when they are a Muslim or when they become a Muslim. A public shahada is just a ceremonial formality of joining the community, and is not even required to become a Muslim or even to join in a Muslim community. For example, what proof can any Muslim on this site offer that they ever had a public shahada, let alone uttered the shahada, before joining the various Muslim communities that accept them as Muslims? Is anyone going to demand the shahada from them as proof? Of course not. Their faith is apparent from their actions and words. As for the full sentence to be recited like some magic spell, you clearly have a lot to learn about Islam if you believe this represents the first pillar of Islam. As for the complete sentence being required, this is also false. Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and anyone else who ever lived the faith of “there is no god but God” would be considered a Muslim, before Muhammad even existed. The first pillar of Islam is Iman (faith), plain and simple, not a magic sentence.

    “CONCUBINES” AND “VIOLENT SUBJUGATION VERSES” CHALLENGES STILL UNANSWERED

    With respect to the “concubines” topic, all I am looking for is for you to stand by your claim and accept my challenge – a simple “yes, I accept” will do – or to decline and plead ignorance. I will then respond accordingly. The “inflammatory claims” remark will be clarified by my rebuttal.

    With respect to your “violent subjugation verses” claim, thank you for partly answering the latter challenge by at least quoting the following four verses (I count contiguous verses as just one): 3:56, 48:28-29, 66:9, 9:5. Since I am running short on time, I will reply once you flesh out your response with whatever else you are planning to add as “context”, as you indicate. Again, just to reiterate, I am not going to reply to a long list of about 100+ verses copied and pasted from some hate site. Rest assured, I have gone through all these 100+ before, but it still takes time to respond and debate them properly. I asked for your best 3-5. If you must insist on a few more, then go ahead, but please be respectful of time constraints.

    APOSTASY DEATH PENALTY CLAIM

    You are attributing the claim to me that the 100+ scholars concluding no death penalty for apostasy “represents the majority of modern scholarly opinion on this issue.” I never made any such claim, since a roll call of scholars on this issue has never been important to me. What matters are the facts and logic regarding what Islam actually says, as I emphatically emphasized. The list of scholars was provided not to prove any consensus, but to prove your claim overwhelmingly wrong that there are little or no respected scholarly opinions supporting my conclusion on apostasy. I was stating that you could not even bring forth a single analysis as a rebuttal not because such analysis doesn’t exist – everyone knows it clearly does – but to kick start your brain so that you debate with actual arguments that you believe in, rather than taking the mullah zombie approach of citing fatwas without any arguments. As you can tell, I have no respect for mindless claims or conclusions.

    On that note, you finally brought forth a single fact as a supporting argument, Bukhari 84:58. Congratulations. This hadith, along with Bukhari 52:260, 84:57, and 89:271 (which you did not cite), are not referencing sunnah at all (the practices or direct sayings of the Prophet), but what was done on two occasions by two individuals who killed apparent apostates because they thought they were following the sunnah. In one case, the apostate was burned alive, which even the hadith itself (and several other hadiths too) states is explicitly against Islamic doctrine. So clearly these fellows were not considered scholars of Islam! More likely, however, this hadith is completely false, as has been shown by various scholars (oh, yes, even Bukhari hadiths can be proved to be unreliable). See http://www.examiner.com/article/apostasy-an-unqualified-fatwa for details. Also, the situational context of both incidents is completely omitted, so there very well could have been a treasonous component. What that context was, we will never know for sure, which is one of the key problems in trying to establish new Islamic doctrine from hadiths alone.

    However, we do know at least something about the hadith context. In one of the two incidents, for example (84:58), the individual was already shackled for some crime where he could be a danger to others (i.e., not mere apostasy), either during a time of war or treasonous subterfuge of some sort. Moreover, we also know that if it were not during a time of war or treason, the Muslims would have had to pay the mutually agreed blood money (about 100 camels, which was an enormous amount of wealth) between the Jews and Muslims for any wrongful killing of a Jew or else risk an all-out war. Such was the standard penalty for either party during the Medinan period when they cohabited with the Jews. The law of Qisas (death for murder) only applied within the Muslim community, by the way, but it appears to have become the law of the state after the conquest of Mecca when Muslims gained majority legislative control.

    There is another set of hadiths in Bukhari 84:64 and 84:65-68, which you also did not cite, all of which are versions of the same single quote. These are referencing sunnah hadiths, so they are relevant as direct quotes of what the Prophet actually said or did (sunnah). However, there are clear contextual differences in this quote vs. the other two incidents above: 1) they are talking about a future hypothetical event and 2) the issue is not apostasy at all, but rather treason by a hostile force (i.e., a group acting like Muslims to infiltrate and destroy the Muslims). Here is the quote: “I heard the Prophet saying, ‘There will appear in this nation … a group of people so pious apparently that you will consider your prayers inferior to their prayers, but they will recite the Quran, the teachings of which will not go beyond their throats and will go out of their religion as an arrow darts through the game, whereupon the archer may look at his arrow, its Nasl at its Risaf and its Fuqa to see whether it is blood-stained or not (i.e. they will have not even a trace of Islam in them)…. So, wherever you find them, kill them” (note: I combined two hadiths of the same incident here for brevity). The elements of treason and insincere conversion to Islam are abundantly clear.

    Therefore, contrary to incorrect opinion, there is no penalty merely for changing one’s religion from Islam. It is only when there is treason involved that the penalty could be death, just as is the case in the U.S. for the penalty of treason against the state (once again, the “American values litmus test” is met 100% here, contrary to claims exactly to the opposite). Bukhari 83:37 makes this treasonous component explicitly clear in the context of apostasy. This hadith specifies that the judicial death penalty was applied under three – and only three – circumstances by Prophet Muhammad. Only two of these still apply per Islamic doctrine, since the penalty for Zina (adultery) is now 100 lashes. The quote is as follows (my additions are in square brackets []): “By Allah, Allah’s Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, i.e., was killed (in Qisas,) (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse [i.e., “Zina”, which is the Arabic word for adultery; Jewish law was actually being applied here before the Quranic law of 100 lashes for Zina was revealed per Quran 24:2] and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle and deserted Islam and became an apostate.” (Bukhari 83:37). Note how the act of treason is irrefutably clear in condition #3 with the words “who fought against Allah and His Apostle”.

    There are other hadiths as well (and even the Quran, per below) that show this consistency, where those who were killed were merely acting as Muslims for the sake of subversion against the Muslim community. In other hadiths, the use of the phrase “apostates as renegades” rather than just “apostates” highlights the treasonous element. And, as you requested, there is indeed at least one example where someone became an apostate peacefully – directly in front of the Prophet Muhammad, no less – but was not killed or even threatened whatsoever:

    “Narrated Jabir: A bedouin came to the Prophet and gave a pledge of allegiance for embracing Islam. The next day he came with fever and said (to the Prophet ), “Please cancel my pledge (of embracing Islam and of emigrating to Medina).” The Prophet refused (that request) three times and said, “Medina is like a furnace, it expels out the impurities (bad persons) and selects the good ones and makes them perfect.” (Bukhari 30:107)

    By contrast, there is not even one single hadith that shows any definitively peaceful apostasy that was ever punished, let alone by the death penalty. Now it is my turn to challenge you: prove me wrong with just one example, as I have just proved you wrong.

    Now that we have covered the hadiths, let’s see what the Quran says about apostasy, which is the definitive and ultimate source of Islamic doctrine. Verses from the Quran make it clear that it is possible to become an apostate in Islam without worldly punishment of any sort and then repent and still come back to Islam. The only punishment would be in the hereafter for those who harden in their disbelief and don’t return to Islam before dying. The Quran is most certainly not silent on apostasy at all, but it is completely silent on any punishment being commanded in this world in every case, without exception. Here are some the key verses (again, my notations are added in square brackets []):

    “How can God show the way to those who, having come to faith [i.e., become Muslim], turned away, even though they had borne witness that the Messenger was true, and the clear signs had reached them? For those – their recompense is that on them rests the curse of God, and of the angels, and of humankind, all together [i.e., damnation to Hell]. Therein [in Hell] will they abide. Neither their punishment be lightened, nor will they be granted any respite. But those who repent and reform, God is surely forgiving and merciful.” (Quran 3:86-89)

    “Those who accept the faith, then disbelieve, then return to it, and deny once again and increase in disbelief, will not be forgiven by God or be guided by Him.” (Quran 4:137)

    “Whomever denies having once believed – unless he is forced to do so while his heart enjoys the peace of faith – and opens his mind to disbelief will suffer the wrath of God. Their punishment will be great.” [Incidentally, note the critical importance of niyyah here, as opposed to empty words of denial or shahada]

    “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Quran 2:256)

    “If your Lord had so willed (and, denying them free will, compelled humankind to believe), all who are on the earth would surely have believed, all of them. Would you, then, force people until they become believers?” (Quran 10:99)

    Now let’s see what conclusions logically flow from the facts of the Quran on apostasy, which override any possible hadith to the contrary: 1) The punishment (“recompense”) for apostasy is made explicit in the Quran as severe punishment in Hell, with no mention or even allusion towards any judicial punishment in this world, let alone the death penalty as the most severe punishment of all; 2) it is quite possible to become an apostate and then become a Muslim once again, thereby begging the obvious question of, How could a dead person punished for the first apostasy offense ever be allowed the chance to repent and reform with a true niyyah to become a Muslim once again? 3) Punishment for apostasy would be a gross violation of verses 2:256 and 10:99, which make freedom of conscience and faith inviolable; 4) These verses combined with so many other verses in the Quran emphasize that the punishment for rejection of God is severe, but always in the hereafter, not a judicial punishment in this world.

    Note also the references in my earlier post to @no one regarding verses 4:89-91, where hypocrites who claim to be Muslims have clearly become “disbelievers” (i.e., apostates) are spoken of. Muslims are commanded to fight them, not because they are apostates, but because they have turned against the Muslims and fought the Muslims. This is made clear by the end of verse 4:90: “If they keep aloof and do not fight, and offer peace, God has left you no reason to fight them.” In other words, the key criterion is not apostasy, but the element of treasonous action. Thus, the only verses of the Quran that advocate the killing of hypocrites (turned “disbelievers” as apostates) are for those who fight against Muslims or aid others in fighting against Muslims; otherwise, the killing of hypocrites who demonstrate their apostasy by merely refusing to help the Muslims is explicitly forbidden (Quran 4:90).

    All of the analysis above on apostasy is mine, and even this is not the entirety of it. Moreover, I have only begun to go through all the other analyses from other scholars who share my conclusion to see what else I have not yet covered. But for now, I think this is enough until you provide your rebuttal.

  • Chameleon

    @T63, There is nothing like a visual hyperbole with an overdose of testosterone to make the same point that took me a few paragraphs to make. Good movie, by the way.

  • T63

    “You espoused modern Christianity as the ideal moral example with respect to fighting and war.”

    rambo vurses christian evangelists

  • nath

    @Zan, I’m currently reading some tafsir and hadith material to establish the context and meaning of this sura (very revealing so far – there’s almost a proud celebration of “offensive” [as opposed to defensive] jihad). And that is why I pointed out the futility of just quoting verses from the Qur’an. Quite an industry of apologist material surrounding sura 9, especially the verse of the sword. Verses 1-4 establish context – but this context has been used [and interpreted] as a universal template. Verse 29 is rather stunning: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – fight until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.”

  • I was able to construct this comment on Huffington Post with the links you provided. Thank you for spending so much time and effort making others aware the tragedy that is unfolding against the Rohingya people in Thailand.

    “To just blame the problem on sectarian strife is shortsightedness and does injustice to the plight and suffering to the Rohingya people, who has had to endured at the hands of Buddhist monk, especially since the UN has described the Rohingya as the most-persecuted minority in the world.
    Michael Jerryson has written a book, “Buddist Warfare”, in which he and and co-author Mark Juergenmayer describe the supposedly peaceful aspects of Buddhism is a myth and exposed its dark side unfamiliar to most in the west.

    “During my visits between 2006 and 2008, southern Thai monks shared the challenges of living in their fear-infested communities. All but a few concentrated on survival; peacemaking was the last thing on their minds.”
    “The constant fear and violence took a toll on them. Monks talked about the guns they had bought and now kept at their bedsides. Others spoke heatedly about the violent militant attacks on Buddhist civilians and monasteries. Although the cause of the violence is multilayered—owing much to corruption, drug trade, and corporatization—many monks also felt Islam was to blame. In their minds, the conflict was anchored to the larger discussion of religious violence: Muslims against Buddhists.”

    http://www.religiondispatches.org/books/2158/monks_with_guns:_discovering_buddhist_violence/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/The_Knocker/myanmar-clashes-atrocities_n_1727674_173691810.html

  • Zan

    @nath

    Why people love to quote 9:5 but left out 9:1-4?

    Anyway, the word mushrikun in the verse does not encompasses all idolators. The Quran is consistent with the term and only uses that for the Meccan idolators. And the end of the conflict with the mushrikun culminates with the recapture of Mecca. It unfolds exactly as the verse says, just not in the way that you think.

  • nath

    First, thanks for taking the time to respond. Please forgive me if this sounds harsh – I believe it’s important to state things boldly; sometimes I don’t have a lot of tact. I ask for forbearance.

    “…true scholars, who are far more common today, who had the freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, academic integrity, and the full research resources at their disposal to come to the most thoughtful and independent conclusions possible.”

    Completely agree with you regarding the freedom of conscience part – and other freedoms. So in 1400 years of Islamic history the scholars granted the most freedom are alive today. That’s reassuring. However, you seem to think your list of 100+ scholars/TAM link represents the majority of modern scholarly opinion on this issue – a consensus. I beg to differ. Am I to gamble my freedom on some list of 100 scholars (out of thousands) who disagree with the founders of the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence (I assume these founding scholars represent “scholars for dollars” too]? I think not. In fact I was talking with a couple of [highly educated] Muslims at my university who were lamenting the rise of PC pluralist “Amerikan Islam”. They spoke unapologetically about the ruling of apostasy in the hadith tradition (and the scorn heaped on apostates in the Quran) and scholarly tradition… and invited me to become a Muslim. There are numerous sahih ahadith that support the execution of individuals who “change their religion”. I asked you for an example from Islamic history where an apostate entered the fold of another religion. Here is but ONE example: “Behold: There was a fettered man beside Abu Muisa. Mu’adh asked, “Who is this (man)?” Abu Muisa said, “He was a Jew and became a Muslim and then reverted back to judaism.” Then Abu Muisa requested Mu’adh to sit down but Mu’adh said, “I will not sit down till he has been killed. This is the judgment of Allah and His Apostle (for such cases) and repeated it thrice. Then Abu Musa ordered that the man be killed, and he was killed. Abu Musa added, “Then we discussed the night prayers and one of us said, ‘I pray and sleep, and I hope that Allah will reward me for my sleep as well as for my prayers.'”” [Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 84, Number 58]

    “Unlike you, I really don’t care what any “scholars” – ancient or modern – say about Islam if it conflicts with what Islam actually says.”

    Me too. We agree on this. That’s why I consult the texts and majority of scholars [who you condescendingly label “scholars for dollars”] across 1400 years.

    “The model of modern Christianity, by contrast, is only a “less threatening moral authority” simply because it does not exist, has never existed, and will never exist as a political reality.”

    And your model will never exist as a political reality. If scholars have only recently seen the “true Islam” & experienced “true freedom” to research authentic Islam, then there’s really no point in using this ideology as some sort of template. Complete fantasy. To re-work one of your quotes: “That is why and how the doctrine of Islam was literally hijacked by the caliphate “scholars for dollars” for its own ends.” In fact it seems Islam is constantly being “hijacked” by either the media, Zionists, “scholars for dollars”. Centuries of decline. No surviving Caliphates. Even if we look to the “rightly guided Caliphs”, three out of the four of them were executed. Constant political squabbles. Is this the universal system for all time?

    “With respect to the concubines debate, I am still waiting on your acceptance of my challenge. Quit posturing with inflammatory claims.”

    What inflammatory claims? I cited Qur’anic text and the example of your prophet. Please illuminated me.

    “With respect to the shahada, the words to the shahada are in many places in the Quran. Are you really having that much trouble finding anywhere in the Quran where it says “there is no god but God” and “Muhammad is a messenger of God”?”

    There’s no complete shadada in the Qur’an. One must combine two separate sentences to form this creed. Despite what you say, a person is considered a convert to Islam – at least according to the hadith tradition (oh and most scholars… who you no doubt loathe unless they endorse your modern brand of the faith) – when he/she recites shahada in Arabic. This is the foundational pillar of the faith.

    “So what is your request here exactly? If an apostate is not punished, which is what all the scholars in the TAM links I provided (and elsewhere) are “ruling” upon, and the bulk of them would be Sunni”

    As so much is at stake, please give examples of individuals in Islamic history who were able to leave the faith, join another one, remain in the community & enjoy equal rights under shari’ah. You speak derisively of the caliphates (though inconveniently they form 1300 years of your 1400 year history) – show me legal rulings and examples. I don’t want you to bombard me with “scholars for dollars”. There should be at least some precedent in this “universal” ruling system across the 1300 years of caliphates. If you can’t implement a system in its purest form over 1000+ years, what’s the point? I mean seriously. You had your “perfect example” prophet to kick start the process, what went so horribly wrong? Will these modern scholars do a better job, prevent Islamic systems from failing? I think not. Here now we have a bunch of “scholars” (a slim minority) [and who is not to say these people aren’t “scholars for dollars”; some of them have nice book deals and television spots] who benefit from Western academic environments who proclaim the freedom to leave religion – I want to see examples from history. I’m not going to take your word for it, Chameleon. As I said, too much is at stake.

    “With respect to your question “Would you really like me to do this?” My answer is an emphatic yes. I challenged you. How much more clear can I be?”

    Ok, so you want me to list Qur’anic verses that encourage violence [and by violence I will try to quote beyond cheery condemnation such as “And as for those who disbelieved, I will punish them with a severe punishment in this world and the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.”” [3:56]? Yes, undoubtedly this is a tiresome exercise. For some reason when the violent verses are quoted etc, we haven’t quite understood the “real” Arabic meaning or the context. However, let’s start with a few. And I should point out that the Qur’an *usually* speaks in universal terms [it is true though that in places the text is preoccupied with local grievances and squabbles]:
    – “It is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion. And sufficient is Allah as Witness. Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves.” [48:28-29]
    – “O Prophet, strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.” [66:9]
    – “And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [9:5] So the “polytheists” are spared if they “repent” and “establish prayer”.

    I have two English translations of the Qur’an that I have highlighted. I think instead of just quoting, the best thing for me to do would be to pair Qur’an quotes with contextual understanding from sahih hadith. Right now I have to head off to work – I still have quite a list of quotes that I believe are grievous.

    I thank you for the time you have taken to respond – I do [even if I disagree with most of the things you say].

  • Chameleon

    @nath,

    APOSTASY: SCHOLARS VS. FACTS AND LOGIC

    You still don’t get it. Unlike you, I really don’t care what any “scholars” – ancient or modern – say about Islam if it conflicts with what Islam actually says. I have enough intelligence to assess the facts and logic regarding any argument about Islam, so I don’t blindly follow anyone, particularly self-proclaimed “mullahs” for hire. I will not be sucked into the vortex of anyone else’s erroneous thinking. As I say again and again, all that matters are the facts and logic of the argument. There is nothing else that deserves any respect unless Islam is silent or very unclear about an issue, in which case the consensus of the community of scholars (ijma) comes into play. Lack of clarity or the silence of Islam is not the overriding issue with respect to apostasy.

    Likewise, if my facts and logic (or the facts and logic that I implicitly endorse from others) are challengeable in any way, then be my guest and do so. The very first revealed word of the Quran emphatically exhorted the Prophet and all of us to do one thing – “Read” – which means come to your own understanding and do your own thinking. If you prefer to be a mullah zombie and just regurgitate random fatwas without any supporting facts and logic, as you are doing, then I guess our debate is over on this topic before it can even begin. What is most surprising to me is that you put more weight on scholars who were under the yoke and payroll of a caliphate enforcing propaganda and groupthink for their political ends; as opposed to true scholars, who are far more common today, who had the freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, academic integrity, and the full research resources at their disposal to come to the most thoughtful and independent conclusions possible.

    ISLAMIC MODEL OF WARFARE

    You say, “I have always maintained a secularist standpoint; my claim is that Jesus is a less threatening moral authority. And, yes, here I’ll say the Islamic model is also an unworkable fantasy. 800 years of decline without a reversal of fortune.”

    History has shown again and again that the Islamic model of maintaining a military only for the protection of the state and to fight against persecution and oppression is very successful indeed, including when applied by non-Muslims. The true Islamic model of war is not one of empire building and occupation, as you imply and as the Quran clearly contradicts. Once building empire and expanding occupation become the driving force, and the leaders serve themselves ahead of serving their state, every great empire throughout history has fallen, including the latter caliphates you condemn, the Romans, the Chinese, the various European empires, and many others – and now the U.S., if it doesn’t reverse course very soon. You are only shooting yourself in the foot by bringing up the latter caliphates as a supporting argument, since they clearly diverted from the Islamic model that the Quran expounds, which is not even uniquely “Islamic”, but rather based on the universally most ethical principles of warfare.

    The model of modern Christianity, by contrast, is only a “less threatening moral authority” simply because it does not exist, has never existed, and will never exist as a political reality. It is nothing more than a fairy tale fantasy doomed to fail as soon as it is ever tested. That is why and how the doctrine of Christianity was literally hijacked by the Roman Empire for its own ends.

    “CONCUBINES” AND “VIOLENT SUBJUGATION VERSES” CHALLENGES STILL UNANSWERED

    With respect to the concubines debate, I am still waiting on your acceptance of my challenge. Quit posturing with inflammatory claims. Either accept or blow smoke in some other direction.

    With respect to your question “Would you really like me to do this?” My answer is an emphatic yes. I challenged you. How much more clear can I be?

    “SHAHADA NOT IN THE QURAN” CLAIM

    With respect to the shahada, the words to the shahada are in many places in the Quran. Are you really having that much trouble finding anywhere in the Quran where it says “there is no god but God” and “Muhammad is a messenger of God”? There is no magic “to recite this sentence to gain paradise”, nor will merely reciting it ever make a non-Muslim into a Muslim, since the only thing that matters in Islam is one’s true intention (niyyah). Without the intention, the words are meaningless.

    Similarly, by the time most Muslims publicly declare their faith with a formal shahada, they are already Muslim. The public shahada is technically just a ceremonial formality. However, it is still a moving one, since it takes one’s choice of faith – one’s commitment to be a Muslim – to a whole new level as part of a larger social community, and it is inspiring for the community to witness as well. So just to be clear, to be a Muslim, there is no magic sentence, contrary to your claim. In fact, all that one really needs to have faith in, at a bare minimum, is “there is no god but God”, since those who have never had a chance to know (and accept or reject )Muhammad as the best example to implement this faith would still be Muslims if they consciously lived their lives with nothing more than this simple faith. If you need help finding this basic concept of the first pillar of Islam in the Quran, then let me know.

    APOSTATE RULING REQUEST

    You also made the following request: “Please point me to examples/precedents/legal rulings in any Sunni school where a Muslim can become an atheist, agnostic, or even part of the community called People of the Book and still enjoy equal rights as non Muslim apostates in a Muslim state.”

    So what is your request here exactly? If an apostate is not punished, which is what all the scholars in the TAM links I provided (and elsewhere) are “ruling” upon, and the bulk of them would be Sunni, then what other “rulings” are you looking for to answer your request? In other words, why would an apostate’s rights suddenly be any different vs. the rights of those belonging to any other non-Muslim group he or she is joining? I have never heard any argument or evidence to support the differential treatment of apostates vs. the new group of non-Muslims that they join, so until you can support this differential rights claim, I cannot possibly rebut it.

  • Josh

    @Hatethehaterz

    I am a traditional native and I believe going by the traditional ways. Although my given Europeanize name may be Joshua my original name is aweks’sia meaning “one who soars beyond.” I believe native americans should go by the traditional ways, not the abrahamic religions. Those religions are foreign, they are the ways of this land. Those native muslims (I know some as well) are casting out their traditional ways, same with those catholics. But our politics of the confederacy allows some “freedom of religion”, but I see alot of stuff muslims do that our ancestors would’ve never done.

  • Hatethehaterz

    @josh; and I’ve met native American Muslims (who’s families have been Muslim for generations). The point is not to debate who was here first. The point is that we are not “invaders” as you say. Islam has been a part of the Americas for centuries. Many Muslims in America today (if not the majority) were born right here. Even the immigrants immigrated here legally. Did the western soldiers currently in Muslims countries immigrate their legally? In fact it is the non-Muslims ( from mostly secular Christian majority nations) who are invading Muslim countries. Your warped (ill) logic is bass-ackwards.

    And multple human rights organizations have documented the large number of civilian deaths perpetrated by western soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Regardless of their intentions, these soldiers are part of an invading and occupying force. The very nature of these conflicts is unjust and simply continues a pattern of invasion, occupation, and oppression by western nations against Muslim countries. A pattern which has existed since the crusades and through the “colonial” period.

    It is infact this systematic pattern of military invasion and support of puppet regimes by the west which fuels the anger and violence committed by some Muslims. It is not Islam which is the cause of the violence, but the violence and aggression perpetrated by western forces.

    Even in the video you linked to, you’ll note that Bledsoe sites the murder of Muslim civilians as his reason for committing his crime, NOT Islam. Furthermore, if you are going to use the actions of one man to demonize an entire religion and its followers, let’s do the same for non-Muslims. You’ll recall the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl (al Janabi) and her family by U.S. soldiers; the U.S. soldier in Afghanistan who murderd several dozen Afghan civilians (including children) while they slept; the “kill team” of US soldiers who framed and murdered several Afghan civilians; etc. Your rhetoric is full of double standards and hypocrisy. You ignore the violence and aggression by the west against Muslims yet emphasize violence committed by so called Muslims. And again, it is not Islam which condones or leads to violence. Most “Muslim terrorists” site western state sponsored violence against their community as the reason for committing their crimes.

    And for the record I condemn any all terrorism, including the systematic state sponsored terrorism committed by western forces against Muslim countries.

  • T63

    “Jesus never condemned the VIOLENCE of the Old Testament, he never condemned the SLAUGHTER of INNOCENTS by Yahweh. Silence is acceptance”

    how many times in the nt does jc say that everything god does is GOOD?

    god himself ACCORDING to jc = GOOD .

    so god NOT SENDING A MESSENGER TO THE CANNANITES TO WARN THEM is GOOD

    REFer to post T63 Says:
    August 1st, 2012 at 7:18 am

    jesus himself says that he is not preaching PEACE and in lukes words jesus wishes that the FIRE of hate is already kindled.

    now if robert spencer was there he would have sided with the sanhedrin and put jesus away because jesus’ message of FIRE and opposite of PEACE would be unHEATHLY for jewish people. jesus himself says that he CAME to DIVIDE . division means HATE AND ANGER AND FIRE .

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