Answering objections against Islam

Jews in the Quraan

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Q: A lady asks, why are Jews referred to as pigs in the Quraan? She gives reference as follows, from the Quran itself, in three different verses: 7:166, 2:65, and 5:60. Kindly explain.

The Holy Quran does not refer to Jews as pigs. This is a false notion and a distortion spuriously and deviously attributed to the Book of Allah. The verses cited do not call Jews pigs. Whoever said this is guilty of quoting the Quran out of context and positing total falsehood as fact. It is indeed an unforgivable crime when people distort and manipulate the Word of God to suit their false motives and mischievous designs, and to sow the seeds of anti-Semitism between Muslims and Jews.

In verses 2:65 and 7:166, Almighty Allah speaks refers to a group of Jews in the time of The Prophet Moses. These Jews disobeyed the command of God given to Moses regarding the Sabbath. The Sabbath was and still is a sacred day for the Jews. The group referred to in the Quran are those followers of Moses who desecrated and disregarded the sanctity of the Sabbath by catching fish on this day. As a punishment for them Almighty Allah turned them into monkeys and pigs. The story is mentioned in verse 2:65 and then repeated in verse 7:166.

As for verse 5:60, a translation of  the full verses provides the answer: Say: (O Muhammad): Shall  I inform you of what is worse (than that) as a punishment from Allah? (It is the punishment of) he who Allah has cursed, and became angry with, and made from among them monkeys and pigs and slaves of the Devil. They are (in a) worse (of) position and further away from the straight path."

Again this verse refers to those Jews who were punished by Allah for their violation of the Sabbath. It is clear that the Quran does not call Jews pigs. Anyone who makes this fictitious claim knows full well that such an averment is totally devoid of truth and absolutely detached from reality. The reference to monkeys and pigs is made with regards to a group of people in the time of Moses who disobeyed his commandments. It is totally against reason and logic to construe this as a label attached to all Jews.

Let us turn our attention briefly to a similar reference as above in the Holy Bible of the Christians. In Mark 7:27, Jesus is reported to have said: "Jesus said to her who sought his help: "It is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it unto dogs." And further in Matthew 7:6: "Do not give that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls to the pigs."

We ask our Christian friends, who are the dogs and pigs referred to in this verse? The answer to this will leave the Christians with serous considerations

Mufti Siraj Desai

Versions of the Quraan

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Q: 1. A Christian said that there are many versions of the Quran, that there may be one literal version of the Quran, but many de facto versions? Put another way, how does a good Muslim know which verses are more important?
2. The Christian also posed this objection: The first Caliphs were both spiritual and temporal leaders of Islam, but as intrigue and assassination hewed through the ranks of believers and Islam shattered into warring factions each intent on putting their man into the Caliphate, it subsequently became a purely political office. By the 1600's, it was just an empty figurehead office, by the beginning of the twentieth century, there was no one to fill it at all. The Caliphate has been empty for over a century and it will remain so — it would be impossible for the various Islamic sects to agree on a successor.
The Christian claims that there are now as many versions of the Quran as there are imams to interpret it. If one imam or group of imams says this Sura is more important than that one, and another group says something else, what are we to do? There is no one to adjudicate between the two groups, no one who can exert authority and say with authority that one group is wrong while the other is right. Thus, when modern commentators claim to oppose Islamic fundamentalism, it simply isn't clear what they mean. Are the fundamentalists the ones who insist on the primacy of the Meccan verses or are they the ones who insist on the primacy of the Medinian verses?
A: 1. There are no literal or de facto versions of the Qur'aan. There is only one version, and that was the version revealed to The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and that is still read and studied around the Muslim world today. In fact it is logically and linguistically incorrect to make a division such as literal and de facto with regards to the Qur'aan. It must be understood that The Holy Qur'aan in its literal and original form was compiled in the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and his Disciples after him. The Holy Qur'aan does not need legal, official, or sovereign recognition or endorsement in order to maintain its authenticity. The purity of Qur'anic words and its authenticity has been and still is accepted among all strata of the Muslim world and, unlike the Bible, is not ratified or approved by a particular group of clergy or religious panel. The veracity and originality of the Holy Qur'aan is axiomatic and natural in Islam. The reason for this is that the Holy Qur'aan in its originality is preserved in the hearts of millions of Muslims, called Huffaaz, so it has become a household fixture. No one dare tamper with the text, for such an endeavour is easily exposed through the thousands of people who can recite The Qur'aan from memory without s single mistake! In light of this it is easy to understand why the authenticity of the Qur'aan is embedded in the Islamic Nation and needs no official or state approval. 

The questioner, being a Christian will be forgiven for asking a question of this nature, as well as the question of how a good Muslim will know which verses are more important, because this is how Christians approach their Bible. The Bible had to be sanctioned by the Church, which had to officially declare which books are authentic and which are not, and which are “more important” and which are not; consequently they had to expunge some books and even verses from the Bible on the basis that these books were of doubtful origin and source, thus giving rise to the Apocrypha. 

As for the Qu'aan, every chapter and section are equally important and enjoy the same sanctity among the whole Muslim nation. The entire Qur'aan was revealed in the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and after him all revelation ceased, meaning that there was to be no addition to or deletion from the Holy Qur'aan. Therefore, its compilation was finalized and printed in proper book form soon thereafter. At no stage did new chapters of the Qur'aan come to light after the Messenger of God, nor were any scrolls containing chapters of the Qur'aan discovered afterwards in hidden caves or under rocks. No part of the Holy Qur'aan became extinct or obsolete at any stage, nor did any chapter go missing or disappear; how could it, when thousands knew the entire Qur'aan from memory. The question of different versions, therefore, is totally inappropriate. One part of the Qur'aan is neither less doubtful nor more authentic than the other. Every single aspect of Qur'anic text enjoys equal authenticity.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 June 2010 01:36

Verses of the Quran Ordering Killing

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Q: I was recently engaged in a religious discussion with a Christian colleague of mine at work and he asked me to explain to him a verse in the holy Quran which he seemed to have a problem with. The verse is Surah 4, Verses 89-90, wherein Allah commands Muslims to kill disbeleivers on two different occassions. I told him that I am no expert in the meaning of the Quran but that I will consult with my respected Scholars and get back to him regarding these verses. Can Mufti Saheb please explain to me and give me a detailed tafseer of these verses so that I can respond to my non-Muslim colleague in the correct manner? Please can you also give me other verses in the Quran wherein Allah commands good treatment towards non-believers?

We begin with a literal translation of these verses:

4: 89: And they wish that you should disbelieve like they have, then you will be equal; so take them not as your friends until they migrate in the Path of Allah. And if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or helper.
4: 90: Excluding those who join a people with whom you have a peace treaty or those who approach you whilst their hearts are restrained from fighting you or fighting their people. And if Allah willed He could have imposed them over you then indeed they would fight against you. So if they withdraw from you and fight you not but instead send you peace (offers) then Allah has not given you any right to fight them.

From this literal translation and a thoughtful reading of the above verses it is clear that the command to kill is constrained and conditioned with certain special circumstances. Normally the verses of the Holy Quran need to be understood within a certain context. If read out of context, the meaning is distorted. Christians and other antagonists of Islam are guilty of such misreading and distortion of Quranic meanings because they ignore the context of the verses, either through sheer negligence or deliberate suppression. By context we mean the collective meaning derived from a group of verses. Instead of taking one verse and citing it out of context, the correct procedure is to look at the verses before and after in order to acquire a proper meaning of what The Quran is saying. Secondly, to understand certain intricate verses, the reader needs to resort to official and authentic commentaries of The Quran.