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Monday, December 17, 2007

Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 9, “Repentance,” Verse 29 (Part Two), Verses 30-49

Oops, I let last week's installment slip - it's easy to forget about the Koran during Christimas season. Time for a little catch-up.

Robert Spencer's second article on verse 29 focuses on the Pact of Umar, "an agreement made, according to Islamic tradition, between the caliph Umar, who ruled the Muslims from 634 [two years after Mohammed's death - AKH] to 644, and a Christian community." The pact outlines how Umar chose to inplement the "state of subjection" (Shakir translation) called for in Sura 9:29 - what the conquered Christians must and must not do.

Why should we care about what some caliph wrote over 13 centuries ago? Because that document influences Muslims today (emphasis added).

The influential twentieth century jihadist theorist Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) emphasizes that these rules should be revived, for "these verses are given as a general statement, and the order to fight the people of the earlier revelations until they pay the submission tax with a willing hand and are subdued is also of general import" (In the Shade of the Qur'an, Vol. VIII, p. 126).

Likewise the Pakistani jihadist writer and activist Syed Abul A'la Maududi (1903-1979) states that "the simple fact is that according to Islam, non-Muslims have been granted the freedom to stay outside the Islamic fold and to cling to their false, man-made, ways if they so wish." That heads off any potential contradiction between his understanding of v. 29 and 2:256, "There is no compulsion in religion." Maududi continues by declaring that the unbelievers "have, however, absolutely no right to seize the reins of power in any part of God's earth nor to direct the collective affairs of human beings according to their own misconceived doctrines. For if they are given such an opportunity, corruption and mischief will ensue. In such a situation the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge them from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life" (Towards Understanding the Qur'an, vol. III, p. 202).

Qutb's In the Shade of the Qur'an has a large following among Muslims. Maududi is the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami political party in Pakistan. It is part of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal political coalition; MMA holds 21 of the 100 Senate seats, and 63 of the 342 National Assembly seats.

This week's verses bash Jews and Christians, going as far as to accuse the Jews of claiming Ezra to be the Son of God. Does the International Criminal Court handle libel cases?

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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