14 March 2011

Taking the Quran out of context (to justify belief in it)

My last post was about Keith Ellison's Real Time interview with Bill Maher. In that post, I focused on what Bill Maher said about the Quran (quoting from Sam Harris' book, The End of Faith):

On almost every page, the Quran instructs observant Muslims to despise nonbelievers.

I defended Harris' statement by quoting a couple dozen verses and referring to hundreds of others. And I challenged everyone to do the Harris test to see if it's true that "on almost every page, the Quran instructs observant Muslims to despise nonbelievers."

But Keith Ellison's defense of the Quran was even more interesting.

When Maher said that Islamic terrorists were getting their inspiration from the Quran, Rep. Ellison said:

They're not getting it from the Quran.

And used the usual "out of context" defense.

Taking them [verses from the Quran] out of context is a very easy thing to do.

Then he showed the truth of his statement by taking the Quran out of context.

Why don't you read the part where it says that anyone who takes a life, it's as if he'd killed the whole world, and anyone who saves a life it's aas if he'd saved the whole world?

And that is a nice verse, too. Here it is:

We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Quran 5:32

But then context goes and ruins everything by having the next verse say this:

The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom; Quran 5:33

So what do these verses say in context? That Allah told the Jews not to kill each other. But now Allah says to that whoever fights against Islam or encourages corruption should be either killed, crucified, have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or be banished from the land.

Doesn't sound quite as nice in context, now does it?

Then Congressman Ellison has another question for Bill Maher.

What about the one where it says let there be no compulsion in religion?

And there is such a verse in the Quran. Here it is.

There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower. Quran 2:256

But, once again, context strikes. Here's the next verse.

Allah is the Protecting Guardian of those who believe. He bringeth them out of darkness into light. As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are false deities. They bring them out of light into darkness. Such are rightful owners of the Fire. They will abide therein. Quran 2:257

There's no compulsion in religion. It's just that if you believe in the wrong religion, Allah will torture you after you die by burning you forever in hell.

And finally, Congressman Ellison says this:

Like any ideologue, they [the terrorists] will take things out of context to do what they want to do.

But it's not the terrorists who take the Quran out of context. There's plenty of nasty in-context material in the Quran to inspire terrorists.

It's the good, kind people (like Keith Ellison) that have to take the Quran out of context so that they can believe in it. Because the Quran, like all the other hateful holy books, can only be believed if it is taken out of context.

Here's the interview again.

10 comments:

skanksta said...

Steve nails it again :)

uzza said...

According to As-Sudi, one of the most reliable commentators,

“mischief is disobeying Allah” and
"'Wage war' mentioned here ... includes disbelief”


So what it says is

5:32 it would be (bad) if any one slew a person--unless it be for disobeying Allah:
33 The punishment of those who disbelieve is execution,
etc.

Context!

http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/03/mischief.html

RaptorJesus said...

Mr. Ellison needs to go read his holy book more closly.

Isn't it blasphemous if a muslim changes the context of the quran's message to fit his argument? Wouldn't that make him/her a sorta non-believer? He should be proud of anything the quran says, but how anyone could be is beyone me. I can see why it would be hard to defend an embarassing book of pseudoscience.

I'll bet in muslim counties, most people only believe in the quran because its the society's norm, that and you could die for non-belief.

Fatman said...

RaptorJesus said:

"I'll bet in muslim counties, most people only believe in the quran because its the society's norm, that and you could die for non-belief."

Yes. Like the self-proclaimed Christian believers, who claim to believe in the Bible but have never read it, the vast majority of Muslims embraces Islam simply because they were brought up in that particular tradition.

It has been mentioned here before: if Christians and Muslims actually took the time to read the nonsense in the Bible and Quran, there would be far fewer Christians and Muslims.

That said, there are no predominantly Muslim countries where non-believers are systematically executed. There are isolated incidents, but religious murders happen even in non-Muslim, secular and predominantly Christian countries like the US.

capercaillie said...

If you are a man of violence, you will cherry pick the thorns and hurt people with them, but if you are a man of peace you will cherry pick the rose and bring joy to people. However, whichever bit you cherry pick, you cannot simply pretend that IT ALONE is all there is, and this is what irks me with all religions and religious followers..

If I love band camp and playing in an orchestra, I wouldnt pick the nazis as my heroes because they were good at marching and doing parades, and then ignore the horrendous acts committed by them. Yet, This is how I feel religious people operate at times.....

Now islam: how does Muhammad and the way he dealt with the Banu Qurayza match up with 5:32? Mo' and his merry men killed all of humanity several hundred times..?

Patricia Kayden said...

How did you interpret Quran 5:32 as referring to killing fellow Jews? Doesn't it read "all mankind"?

Steve Wells said...

Patricia Kayden,
How did you interpret Quran 5:32 as referring to killing fellow Jews? Doesn't it read "all mankind"?

I interpreted 5:32 that way because that's what it says.

"We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind."

The law applied to "the children of Israel" -- the Jews.

skanksta said...

"If you are a man of violence, you will cherry pick the thorns and hurt people with them, but if you are a man of peace you will cherry pick the rose and bring joy to people."

beautifully put, Capercaillie. :)

Gary T. Burnaska said...

"It has been mentioned here before: if Christians and Muslims actually took the time to read the nonsense in the Bible and Quran, there would be far fewer Christians and Muslims."

Penn Jilette said, the quickest way to Atheism is to read the bible. It is true.

All the people I knew who actually READ the Bible front to back were Atheists. Because religious people do not fully read their texts, just hear the happy parts in their Church, Mosque or Synagoge.

Gary T. Burnaska said...

It has been mentioned here before: if Christians and Muslims actually took the time to read the nonsense in the Bible and Quran, there would be far fewer Christians and Muslims.

Penn Jilette said the quickest way to Atheism is to read the damn bible.