Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"Allah Wants Me to Kill People"--Isn't That In the Quran?

The bearded perp who walked into a Canadian military building and started stabbing people may or may not be out of his mind. Toronto's police chief, however, wants us all to chill re the attack because the attacker doesn't seem to be taking his marching orders from one of the many groups waging holy war in our time. Also because it's really crucial that we not succumb, in the chief's words, to any of that "Islamophobia nonsense."

Yeah, under the circumstance, that would be awful.

Anyhoo, despite the assurances of our Islamophobiaphobic top cop, I happen to know that, wackjob or not, the knifer's words were not out of line with the Quran's instructions. In fact, "Allah wants me to kill people," could well be the motto of anyone waging jihad.

Here's how the Religion of Peace website unpacks it:
The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding. Muslims who do not join the fight are called 'hypocrites' and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter. 
Unlike nearly all of the Old Testament verses of violence, the verses of violence in the Quran are mostly open-ended, meaning that they are not restrained by historical context contained in the surrounding text (although many Muslims choose to think of them that way). They are part of the eternal, unchanging word of Allah, and just as relevant or subject to interpretation as anything else in the Quran.  
The context of violent passages is more ambiguous than might be expected of a perfect book from a loving God. Most contemporary Muslims exercise a personal choice to interpret their holy book's call to arms according to their own moral preconceptions about justifiable violence. Their apologists cater to these preferences with tenuous arguments that gloss over historical fact and generally do not stand up to scrutiny. Still, it is important to note that the problem is not bad people, but bad ideology. 
Unfortunately, there are very few verses of tolerance and peace to balance out the many that call for nonbelievers to be fought and subdued until they either accept humiliation, convert to Islam, or are killed. Muhammad's own martial legacy, along with the remarkable stress on violence found in the Quran, have produced a trail of blood and tears across world history.
Update: The Globe and Mail offers us this hair-splitting explanation:
In cases like this, police and prosecutors are finding that religious motivations and a precarious mental state can mix in the minds of the same suspects. This creates questions about motivation and culpability, and whether crimes can truly be considered terrorism. 
“I think there’s a lot of assumptions made that people who are mentally ill can’t also be radicalized, but people can experience both. That link isn’t mutually exclusive,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, a terrorism researcher at the University of Waterloo. “The question is,” he added, “where do you place the emphasis?”
Mr. Ali is alleged to have claimed that he received direction from God. But no religiously literal Muslim claims such a thing. According to the Koran, even the Prophet Mohammed was never spoken to directly by God. 
“Conservative Muslims talk to God. God doesn’t talk back,” Dr. Amarasingam explained. “To say, ‘Allah told me to do this,’ is quite a weird way to word the inspiration.” 
Weird? Maybe. But I'm pretty sure that the dude who's running ISIS thinks his orders come directly from Allah, even if he wouldn't word it that way.

Update: Here are the ISIS caliph's very own words:
Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him, seek His aid, and ask for His forgiveness.  
We seek refuge with Allah from the evils of our souls and the wickedness of our deeds. 
Whomsoever Allah guides, then none can misguide him; and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, then none can guide him. I testify that there is no god but Allah alone, who has no partner, and I testify that Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) is His slave and messenger. As for what follows:  
Allah (the Exalted) said, {Say, “Do you await for us except one of the two good ends while we await for you that Allah will afflict you with punishment from Himself or at our hands? So wait; indeed we, along with you, are waiting”} [At-Tawbah: 52].
Pace the Globe and Mail's "terrorism researcher," Allah sounds pretty chatty to me.

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