Another dishonest bit of anti-Islamic propaganda

Another dishonest bit of anti-Islamic propaganda April 18, 2018


A 2011 eruption at Mt. Etna
The entrance to Hell?  The place where such memes are forged?   (Wikimedia Commons)


The anti-Islamic Facebook image or meme that was sent to me the other day, and on which I’ve been occasionally commenting since then, includes twelve quotations from the Qur’an — or, anyway, twelve quotations that are purportedly from the Qur’an — that have been carefully selected (out of a book that’s roughly comparable in length to the New Testament) in order to portray Islam as inherently violent and intolerant.  And some folks are evidently voraciously eager to gobble such stuff up.


“Islam,” the meme asks, “a religion of peace?”  And then, having supplied the seemingly damning evidence, it rhetorically asks “Any questions?”


Well, we shall see.  I turn for the moment to Qur’an 22:19 or, as the meme itself says, to Koran 22:19.


Here is how that verse is represented, within quotation marks, in the Facebook image that I received:


“Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water, melt their skins and bellies.”


This seems to be a commandment, presumably given to faithful Muslims.  The verbs punish and melt are represented as imperatives.  These are actions — clothing unbelievers in garments of fire, torturing them with hooked iron rods and boiling water, melting their skins and their bellies — that followers of Islam are apparently obliged to do to non-Muslims.


Pretty frightening, no?


You may now, if you wish, compare the meme’s version of Qur’an 22:19 with the original Arabic and with an accurate and representative English translation of it and of the other verses that form its context:


Please note, for what it’s worth, that what the meme ascribes to Qur’an 22:19 actually relates to Qur’an 22:19-21.


But not in the same order and, even then, only loosely.


Notice also that the verbs in the relevant passage aren’t imperatives or commands.  They’re Arabic perfect passives, translated into English as future tense verbs in the passive voice.  That’s very, very different.  And it changes the meaning dramatically.  This isn’t a command, or a series of commands, issued to earthly Muslims.  It’s a prophecy of things to come, things that will be done at a future time by an unnamed agent or by unnamed agents.


Who is this agent?  Or who are these agents?  Manifestly, the passage is talking not about earthly tortures but about the future torments of hell.  Who is doing these actions?  God and/or God’s angels.


For some reason, perhaps rather easy to guess, the creator of the meme omitted Qur’an 22:22:


Whenever they desire to leave it [hell] out of anguish, they will be turned back into it [and told]: ‘Taste the punishment of the burning!’


And notice the contrast offered in Qur’an 22:23, which follows immediately after the passage in question:


Indeed Allah will admit those who have faith and do righteous deeds into gardens with streams running in them, adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearl, and their dress therein will be silk.


It’s plainly referring to paradise in the life to come.


Let me offer an analogy, drawing on the Savior’s discussion of hell in Mark 9:43-48:


And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.


In the spirit of that anti-Islamic meme-writer, I offer the following paraphrase, placed within quotation marks as if it were a New Testament commandment addressed to faithful Christians:


“Throw the unbelievers into a pit of fire that will never go out!  And cut off your hands and your feet!  Pluck out your eyes!  if you don’t cripple and maim yourselves, you too will be thrown into the flaming pit!”  (Mark 9:43)


Why, if they believe that their claims are true, do some anti-Muslim polemicists feel the need to flagrantly distort and misrepresent what Islam and the Qur’an teach?  Shouldn’t the truth be damaging enough?



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