A few days ago, one of those upset by my article on Islam in the current Ensign shared with me an image or Facebook meme containing a number of quotations purportedly from the Qur’an. They are intended to demonstrate the violent character both of the book and of Islam in general.
“Islam,” it reads. “A religion of peace?” The quotations follow. And then, at the bottom of the image, it reads “Any questions?”
I’ve seen the meme many times before, but I’m grateful whenever it’s sent to me. It provides a handy checklist of passages that I will need to deal with in the book on Islam that I’m currently writing for a Latter-day Saint audience.
I would like to comment right now, though, on one of the alleged passages from the Qur’an featured in the image:
The Jews and Christians are perverts, fight them.
This statement is identified as coming from Qur’an — or, as the meme puts it, “Koran” — 9:30.
Here is my translation of that verse:
The Jews say that Ezra is the Son of God. The Christians say that the Messiah is the Son of God. That is what they say with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before. May God fight them! How deluded they are!
The verse is, most definitely, among the most anti-Christian in the Qur’an. And there’s much about it that would be very interesting to discuss. (Typically, I teach a course on the Qur’an during both fall and winter terms, once in Arabic and once in English; perhaps I’ll use this meme as a teaching tool during the coming academic year.)
Moreover, there’s no question that, in its devotion to absolute monotheism (tawhid) and strenuous rejection of anything even close to polytheism (shirk), Islam denies the deity of Christ. That is the most stark and most essential difference between Christianity and Islam.
But there also seems little doubt that the internet meme that was sent to me quite seriously misrepresents the actual content of Qur’an 9:30. For example,
- The passage doesn’t call Jews and Christians perverts.
- The verb to fight isn’t in the imperative form; it isn’t a command. It’s a Form 3 finite verb, in the third person singular.
- The subject of the verb to fight is God, not Muslims.
A fully adequate treatment of this and other such verses in the Qur’an would also examine the concept of kufr (often rendered as unbelief or even infidelity). I will do that analysis in my book, but I don’t have the time to do it right now. In my quick translation above, I gave disbelieved as the English equivalent of the Arabic kafaru, but the reality is somewhat more complicated than that.
Anyway, in response to the meme’s rhetorical closing (“Any questions?”), I do have a question: If Qur’an 9:30 really represents such powerful evidence for the moral depravity of Islam and the Qur’an, why was it felt necessary to substantially distort the meaning of the passage?
In fact, I have another question, too: Why do some anti-Muslims and their methods remind me so powerfully of some anti-Mormons?
I’ll examine the other Qur’anic passages mentioned in the meme as I have the opportunity to do so.
Posted from Phoenix, Arizona