Did El-Sisi Say Revise the Qu’ran?

Did El-Sisi Say Revise the Qu’ran? January 8, 2015

On April 4, 2014, I posted an article on this blog entitled, “Are We Doing Enough About Islamic Suicide Bombers?” In it, I quote several disturbing, hostile verses in the Qu’ran (Koran) that advocate killing and beheading people who don’t accept Islam for themselves as their faith, which it often calls “unbelievers.” Sometimes, it designates “Jews” and “Christians” as “unbelievers.” The Qu’ran often tells Muslims to “fight for the cause of God.” Sometimes, this statement is in a clear context of physical fighting, even war.

With so many recent incidents of Muslims commiting terrorist acts in the name of Allah (God), which include killing people, an increasing number of nonMulsim people throughout the world are turning against Islam because they consider it a violent religion. I have had peace-loving Muslim friends. Yet, you really get an opposite impression of Islam from reading these texts in the Qu’ran that I quote in my post that advocate such violence against nonMuslims. Thus, you ask whether it is the peaceful Muslim majority that adheres most faithfully to the Qu’ran or these Muslim extremists who claim that they do. There is nothing new about this question. People have been asking this about Islam since its inception in the seventh century AD. It’s just that Islam is experiencing a renewed sector of this violence, especially with the likes of al-Queda in the Middle East and now ISIS in Syria and Iraq. And this Muslim violence is spreading into the Western world.

In Gerald McDermott’s patheos blog today, he has an excerpt from the speech Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi made on New Year’s Day to Al-Azhar University in Cairo. It is the leading world center for Islamic learning. Last year I read remarks that el-Sisi made on this subject. As President el-Sisi called for a “religious revolution” and mentioned Islam’s “texts” that are “sacralized,” did he mean a revision of the Qu’ran? Here is the except McDermott quotes from el-Sisi’s speech (translation by Michele Antaki):

I am referring here to the religious clerics. We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before.  It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.  Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world.  It’s antagonizing the entire world!

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.

All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.

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