This is part 2 of a series where I discuss how a non-Muslim friend of mine forwarded an anti-Muslim email chain to me. The initial exchange with my friend is found in Part 1. Here is my lengthy response to my friend which addresses a number of theological issues regarding Islam, infidels and murder. My non-Muslim friend then eventually reached out and confronted the person who sent him the original chain email; But that’s for another time. Hope you find it beneficial:
[My friend’s name]
Thank you for trusting me with this, I appreciate your kindness and appreciate you asking.
I have seen similar texts in different formats before in online chat groups, Facebook posts/comments, emails, etc. This is fake, as in a fabricated incident/interaction, which either did not happen at all or was significantly altered to fit the hateful aim of its author. The language of these types of texts is laughable to Muslims who know the ABC’s of Islam, but it is heartbreaking that so many people, including educated people, fall for it. It is very similar to the chain email that claimed Obama is a Muslim. I guess this is the confirmation bias phenomenon, especially when one doesn’t know enough about Islam or hasn’t interacted with Muslims in a meaningful way.
My own brother in law (American born non-Muslim) watched me read my prayer once when I first got to meet him 14 years ago (after 9/11). When I finished, I noticed he was visibly angry and questioned why I said Allahu Akbar many times in my prayer. I didn’t understand the question and simply told him that’s how Muslims pray. It wasn’t until a few years later, after reading some anti-Muslim text, that I realized he thought saying Allahu Akbar meant something related to fighting/war/etc. He didn’t know better then, and millions still don’t know better today. Allahu Akbar simply means that Allah/God/The-Creator is greater than anything and anyone (duh, right? Well, if one believes in God). The prescribed prayers that practicing Muslims read 5 times a day include Allahu Akbar almost a hundred times. It is recited at the beginning of the prayer and at the intervals that you might have noticed if you watched a Muslim prayer before.
Needless to say that Allah is the same God of the old and new testaments, but ignorant and hateful people keep denying that fact. The word God, as we use it in the English language, did not exist a thousand years ago because the English language did not exist a thousand years ago. That means Jesus PBUH and Moses PBUH did not use the word God in worship, because English did not exist at their times. Moses used the Old Hebrew Elohim, among other names of God, and Jesus used the Aramaic Elah, among other names of God. Old Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic are the three Semitic languages, with only Arabic still being widely spoken in today’s world (about 500 million speakers). You can even see the phonetic similarities between Elohim, Elah, and Allah. Also, Christian and Jewish Arabs use the name Allah in their worship (see attached image). So, God is Allah is The Creator; The God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad PBUThem all.
Linguistically, an “infidel” is someone who is convinced with (internalized without coercion) the truth about something but rejects and works against it. In the religious context, it is someone who is convinced with (internalized without coercion) the truthfulness of God, the Quran, Islam, etc., yet rejected and worked against it. How would anyone know if a person is convinced with or believed in something? No one has the ability to know what’s inside someone else’s heart and mind. So Muslims (and hopefully other people of conscience) are not to judge people because it is only Allah/God/The-Creator who knows what’s inside the hearts and minds. If someone voluntarily declares it then it’s a different story but even then (see next paragraph) it is a myth that Muslims are required or encouraged to kill infidels. Also, most people who fashionably sport “Infidel” paraphernalia in both Arabic and English don’t really know what they’re talking about and are victims of misinformation such as this text you forwarded to me.
As far as killing the infidels, the most famous verse anti-Muslim bigots always use is the one that says: “kill them wherever you find them”. They hold this as proof the Quran is ordering Muslims to kill Jews and Christians. What they don’t tell you is that they conveniently omit the first word in the verse, which is “and”. That indicates, to the fair minded, that there is some missing context. Scholars of “Tafsir” (explanation of the meanings) utilize a rule of seven verses before and seven after, in order to get the basic immediate context of a given verse. For this example, let’s just go one verse before and one after. So here’s Quran 2:190-192: “Fight in God’s cause against those who fight you, but do not transgress, for God does not love those who transgress. And kill them wherever you encounter them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, for persecution is more serious than killing. Do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque unless they fight you there. If they do, kill them– this is what such disbelievers deserve. But if they stop, then God is most forgiving and merciful.” I think this speaks for itself in relation to what Muslim bashers claim, but it’s also important to note this was revealed after 13 years of persecution of Muslims in Mecca and after they migrated to Medinah and the pagans who were in control of Mecca wanted to wipe them off earth, so these verses were revealed to allow Muslims to fight back, not against Jews and Christians, but against the pagans who persecuted them for 13 years and were coming to fight them after they left Mecca. Context is important and scholarly knowledge is important. Most people who repeat these lies about Islam and Muslims usually get their information from dubious sources.
The golden rule of human sanctity in Islam is Quran 5:32: “…We decreed to the Children of Israel that if anyone kills a person– unless in retribution for murder or spreading corruption in the land– it is as if he killed all mankind, while if any saves a life it is as if he saved the lives of all mankind…” Even with this license to retribution, it’s not up to individuals to take matters into their own hands; there must be a trial, judge, witnesses, defense, etc.
Regarding freedom of belief and choice, here are two verses, Quran 18:29: “Whoever wills, let them believe; and whoever wills, let them disbelieve…”, and Muslims for Liberty’s slogan, Quran 2:256: “Let here be no compulsion in matters of religion/choice…”.
These are fundamentals of Islamic teachings that are not negotiable. There is no interpretation of the Quran or a school of thought in Islam that permits killing innocents. These are not hidden verses and this is not hidden knowledge; it’s out there for those who seek it, and even Muslim children know these things. I feel pain and anger that I have to explain this to people, but I know most don’t know better. I feel pain because it hurts my brain and my heart that people could be easily duped and turned into hateful bigots, and feel anger because those who fabricate these lies know exactly what they’re doing as they prey on people’s fear and ignorance. All this creates an atmosphere where this toxic rhetoric leads to serious situations such as 3 attacks on Mosques in the last 24 hours in Brooklyn, NY, Houston, TX, and Fort Pierce, FL, as well as a hysteric atmosphere towards Muslims. All this is designed to numb the American public and make them view Muslims as subhuman so wars can continue overseas and rights can be more restricted at home. Dehumanizing your (perceived) enemy is the first step toward killing or violating them, but most people don’t know they are being played.
I received a similar email once that referenced Quran 9:11 (get it? 9/11). The text claimed the verse calls for killing Christians and Jews, etc. So I went to my copy of the Quran to look for myself, not because I thought it might be a possibility the Quran would actually say something like that, but because I wanted to share with the person who sent me the email what the verse actually says. So in case you don’t have access to a copy of the Quran, here’s a PDF of one of the better translations of the meanings, or you can find other file formats here.
You asked me what you can do. Maybe you can forward my email to the person who sent you the fake story and ask him/her to read and forward to the ones who sent it to them. As the fake story went in a chain, the truth should get back to the same chain. Maybe also you can visit your local Mosque and get to know the people there. Maybe you can organize visits and joint events with local Muslims and your civic, religious, or political groups. It is when we get to know each other on the human level that most of these lies, myths, and stereotypes become absurd in the mind as they should be.
Please don’t hesitate to ask me anything else; there are no offensive or stupid questions when you sincerely want to learn. Most people don’t reach out to Muslims with questions, so I truly appreciate you doing it.