Quran and the common criticism of Islam

What-is-the-Quran1

While there is a lot of criticism of Islam available online there are some controversial issues that get more attention than others. In this blog I try to understand those controversial issues from the Quranic perspective. This article is not a testimony of what Islam and Muslims are, nor is this an attempt to present an apologia for the atrocities committed in the name of Islam or in the name of Mohammed, the prophet of Islam.

Apostasy

There is no verse in the Quran that says that people who quit Islam should be punished or harmed. There are verses in the Quran that say there is no compulsion in matters of religion (2:256). Then Quran goes further to make a case against forcing religion on people. “If your God had willed he would have created everyone a believer, will you then force religion on people?” it asks (10:99). So the “Islamic” problem of punishment for apostasy has an Islamic solution.

Blasphemy

There is no concept of punishment for blasphemy in the Quran. On the contrary Quran says Muslims should disassociate with people who mock their faith so they don’t become like those who indulge in such acts (4:140). Then Quran goes further and stops Muslims from mocking the religious leaders and gods of other faiths. (6:108)

Child Marriage

Quran prescribes marriage between adults who have a sound mind. Quran also forbids from marrying women against their will. (4:6)

Divorce

Quran prescribes a long negotiated settlement between the husband and the wife after appointing one lawyer for the man and one lawyer for the woman. (4:35)

Polygamy

Quran allows polygamy recommends monogamy (4:3 and 4:129). There was no way earlier tribes could have survived without the concept of polygamy when a large proportion of men died in wars. Polygamy allowed widows and their children another chance to become a part of family as family was the most important unit of tribal culture.

Female Genital Mutilation

There is absolutely nothing in the Quran that sanctions female genital mutilation. FGM is mainly practiced in some African countries both by Muslims and non Muslims. There is nothing in the Quran that sanctions this practice.

Circumcision

There is nothing in the Quran that sanctions male circumcision. Circumcision for males comes from an ancient Jewish practice that Muslims adopted. Today both Jews and Muslims follow this practice. So it may not be in the Quran but since Jews practice it and since it is not prohibited in the Quran then it means that circumcision can be considered as a practice sanctioned by Islam.

Female infanticide

Quran explicitly forbids female infanticide.(17:31, 81:8-9)

Violence against non believers

Quran asks Muslims to be fully equitable towards those non believers who peacefully live with Muslims (60:8). Quran allows Muslims to form marriage bonds with Christians and Jews (5:5). The idea that Quran has a general sanction to fight or kill non believers is baseless. Quran sanctions Muslims to fight those who threaten their nation state. This is a common modern law. If you try to challenge Indian state then Indian state will fight against you. If you try to fight any state in the modern world the state will fight against you. So Quran sanctions a just war and says that hostilities must cease when the enemy offers peace. Quran forbids killing of innocents saying that killing one innocent is like killing entire humanity (5:32).

Jizya (Tax on non believers)

Since Quran says that Zakat (charity) is compulsory on Muslims (9:60,2:177) it recommends that Jizya could be collected from non Muslims. Millions of Hindus have worked in the middle east, forget about paying Jizya they are not even required to pay any tax. Since Zakat is not being charged by the state there is no point of imposing Jizya either. So why cant Zakat be charged from non Muslims? For the simple reason that Zakat is a Islamic ritual while Jizya is tax imposed by the state hence imposing Zakat on non Muslims would be forcing an aspect of Islam on non believers. This is not permissible.

Slavery

Quran says freeing slaves from bondage is true righteousness (2:177,9:60,5:89). During those days there was no concept of nation providing security, it was the responsibility of the tribes and clans to guarantee security of the people. The people who lost the war were taken captives and then they were kept as slaves forever.Tribes guaranteed security to the captives in return for their services.

Quran allowed marriage between captives and victors (4:25). The eventual aim was to free all captives after war.  The earliest converts to Islam like Bilal were African slaves freed by Mohammed. In fact Quran bans trading in usury (3:130) because the unending cycle of interest eventually resulted in slavery. People borrowed money from the loan sharks and when they could not return the interest they were forced to become bonded labor. Mohammed banned this in the seventh century. India banned the practice of bonded labor in 1976.

Niqab

There is no verse in the Quran that asks Muslim women to cover their face, however there is a verse that prescribes covering of head and bosom (24:31). Quran also prescribes men to dress modestly (33:35). Also asks people not to walk with arrogance and pride (17:37). Also asks people not to eat more than what is required (20:81,7:31). Basically ask Muslims to be moderate in whatever they do.

Alcohol and Gambling

Quran prohibits Muslims from consuming alcohol and playing game of chance.(2:219-220)

Diversity

Quran does not give racial or cultural superiority to Arabs. Quran acknowledges cultural diversity in the world and asks people to learn from each other (49:13).

Science

While Quran endorses the concept of past miracles it definitely puts an end to the concept of miracles (6:109). There is nothing in the Quran that asks Muslims to do something that would harm their well being. In fact Quran even allows Muslims to eat pork in times of peril (2:173). Quran asks Muslims to go and explore the world (29:20). So there is nothing as such in the Quran that stops Muslims from exploring Science. In fact early Islam had many Muslim scientists.

72 Virgins

There is no verse in the Quran that talks about 72 virgins.

Stoning

There is no verse in the Quran that prescribes stoning as a punishment for any crime.

 

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17 thoughts on “Quran and the common criticism of Islam

  1. You use the verse 2:256 to establish that there is no punishment for leaving Islam. The freedom in this verse refers to the right of non-Muslims to choose Islam and not of Muslims to give up Islam. I quote from Tafsir al Qurtubi (I have made some changes as certain characters got lost in copying, e.g ayat was copied as iiyat, jihad as jiihid, etc):

    • Unless you can reasonably show from the Quran that there is punishment for apostasy I am really not interested in what other scholars say because I obviously disagree with them.

      Also I don’t believe that abrogation of Quranic verses is consistent with reasonable interpretation of Quran.

      Also I prefer comments section is not used for copy pasting entire texts, just a link would suffice hence truncated your post.

      • I see that this conversation can continue along multiple threads. I can show you verses which call for punishing those who go astray and give up Islam. However, before discussing theology I would like to ensure that we agree on the basics because it will be meaningless to have a long back and forth discussion without hashing these out.
        To me Islam=Quran+Sunaah(Sira+Hadith). I have concluded that reading the Quran requires some background information. This information is contained in the Sunnah and is available to a person who was brought up in a Muslim family. This information is unavailable to a non Muslim. So a non-Muslim can make sense of the Quran by reading the Quran along with the Sunnah. That’s why the various Quranic tafsirs speak about the events which occurred when a particular Ayat was revealed, therby providing the context required to make sense of the Quranic verses. This allows non-Muslims to understand the Quranic verses and it also does away with a lot of ambiguity.
        But let’s say I disregard the tremendous amount of work that has been carried out by Islamic theologians and jurists for over a millennia. I simply want to read the Quran using the background information available to me. However, this will result in my biases distorting the meaning. It’s what Reza Aslan says, that you bring your own value system to the religion. So when you say,”I obviously disagree with them” , does it mean that you want to read the Quran without historical context and to you Islam is only about the Quran and not about the Sunnah?

      • I see that you are struggling to come up with a single verse from the Quran that sanctions punishment for apostasy.Like I said earlier, if you can point to the verse that says otherwise then it is fine, I will correct myself or else you are simply wasting your time and my time on this. Thanks.

  2. How about verses 2:217 and 4:89? How have you concluded that the verse 4:89 doesn’t call for killing of apostates? Similarly, look up the narration in Tafsir al Qurtubi for the verse 2:217.

    • Dear Anu,
      please read the Ayat with context. This Ayat 4:89 was revealed in Madinah when the Muslim state nation was already established and where non believers in the guise of Muslims had intruded. These were the hypocrites, people who outwardly proclaimed to be Muslims but inwardly were not so. They were the impostors and spies among the Muslim community who were out to create mischief and strife. These traitors were also guilty of instigating other communities and nations to attack Muslims, as mentioned in several books of history. The context of this section of the chapter tells us clearly that verse 89 refers to Hypocrites and not to disbelievers such as the Jews, Christians, or Pagan Arabs.
      How do you expect a nation to deal with spies, mischief mongers who are out to damage your country? Also refer to the next verse 4:90 which you conveniently skipped which instructs Muslims to protect those very non believers and spies and deliver them to safety if they forsake Fitnah and/or surrender. It doesn’t ask even for incarceration nor even mild punishment !! Can you imagine an enemy spy responsible for a number of deaths and war to be delivered to safety away from the very country he caused mayhem just because he apologised and promised not to indulge in such activities again! even in these so called modern civilised times? .But Islam did this even in those dark ages. Islam is not what today’s misguided bunch of thugs, who unfortunately have Muslim names, are trying to project.

      • From http://quran.com/4/89-90

        verse 4:89 and 4:90

        They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah . But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.

        Except for those who take refuge with a people between yourselves and whom is a treaty or those who come to you, their hearts strained at [the prospect of] fighting you or fighting their own people. And if Allah had willed, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause [for fighting] against them.

        How does a straight forward reading of these verses leads you to believe that they are about traitors and hypocrites?
        The words traitors and hypocrites don’t show up.

        You said something about reading them in the context in which they were revealed.
        So how will someone arrive at the proper context? There are two ways:

        (a) Read the Quran along with relevant passages from the Sunnah

        (b) Rely on an authoritative exegesis of Quran to arrive at the proper conclusions.

        Given these two translations of the verses, can you provide me your source which led you to believe that verse 4:89 doesn’t call for killing of apostates.

      • Yusuf Ali translates 4:89 as

        “But if they turn renegades”

        Muhammad Asad translates 4:89 as

        “if they revert to [open] enmity”

        The next verse clearly talks about wars and treaties. So as much as you try to misrepresent these two verses you cant succeed.

    • Either you have not read the Quran or worse you are being malicious, 4:90 clearly explains that the verse in relation to nation not individuals. All modern nations have laws against sedition and treachery.

  3. I am glad that you cleared that up. I will pass this message onto thousands of Muslim apostates who fear for their lives and tell them that there is nothing to worry about. They can go on living their lives without taking any precaution against being killed for the simple act of having denounced their religion.

    But let’s for a moment assume that you are correct. That the verse 4:89 is only for hypocrites and traitors and not apostates in general. Now think about the enormity of your claim.
    Classic Islamic jurists and theologians have held the view that an apostate must be put to death whether he is muhaarib or not. These individuals spent their entire life studying the Quran and the Sunnah. Some of them like Ibn Ishaq and al-Bukhari compiled the books which form the bedrock of Islamic theology. According to you every single one of them has been wrong for over a millennia.
    Similarly, the maulavis who preach death for apostasy have spent their entire life studying Islamic scriptures. They are also wrong. The idea that apostates should be dealt with severely and killed enjoys widespread support in Islamic nations. A conservative estimate is that about 10% of global Muslim population support death punishment for apostasy.
    You are saying that all these people have got the wrong idea because they have misinterpreted the Quran. That all of them have somehow read it out of context.

    So it’s not me who has to be convinced that this verse applies for the traitors and not apostates. It’s the Muslim theologians and other such opinion makers in the Islamic world.

    I will show you that my interpretation of this verse is correct as it is consistent with the Sunnah and the larger theme of the Quran.

      • So

        Abu Hanifa an Numan got it wrong.

        Malik ibn Anas got it wrong.

        Muhammad ibn Idris ash Shafii got it wrong

        Ahmad ibn Hanbal got it wrong.

        Jafar al Sadiq got it wrong

        Al Bukhari got it wrong.

        Ibn Ishaq got it wrong.

        Ibn Tamaiyya got it wrong.

        and so on and on and on

        And yet you blame of malicious intentions.

      • I have not read any of them. When I write blog on their books you can comment on these authors.This blog is about Quran and you are simply spamming it by talking about everything else but Quran. 4:90 is so self explanatory that it needs no special research. Simple words in Arabic , simple words in English

  4. This blog is about Quran, if you can reasonably prove that those two verses are in relation to personal belief and not in relation to state related issues (wars,treachery,enmity) then come back with that argument. If your argument is that “hey look he says so it must be right” then you really don’t have an argument. I did not quote Muhammad Asad or Yusuf Ali because it was their opinion. I shared popular translations with you since you are not educated in Arabic. For someone like me who can understand a bit of Arabic those verses are very clear. Closing this thread, any further post on this from you that does give reasonable evidence from Quran to make a point will simply be binned.

  5. So the catch news article titled “Nashik: Man terminates marriage in 48-hours after wife fails ‘virginity test'” has a hijabi women and a man as the “representational image”, because ofcourse Muslim men are wife abusers! [Sarcasm, for those with weak detectors]

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