BURAK BEKDİL > Why do jihadists prefer 5:33 to 5:32?

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“What can you say to a man who tells you he prefers obeying God rather than men, and that as a result he’s certain he’ll go to heaven if he cuts your throat?” 

When Voltaire said that, he was certainly not referring to jihadist violence. 

About three centuries later, simple research will give you 1 million deaths in the all-Muslim Iran-Iraq war; 300,000 Muslim minorities killed by Saddam Hussein; 80,000 Iranians killed during the Islamic revolution; more than 200,000 deaths in Algeria’s civil war; 25,000 deaths from 1970 to 1971, the days of Black September, by the Jordanian government in its fight against the Palestinians; and 20,000 Islamists killed in 1982 by the elder al-Assad in Hama. The World Health Organization’s estimate of Osama bin Laden’s carnage in Iraq was already 150,000 in around 2010. 

Today, a thousand is simply a month’s death toll in Iraq, and in Syria the younger al-Assad has allegedly revived his father’s love affair with chemical substances. In Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Muslims live by the bullets and the bombs, if not by the sword. Death is a no-value currency in Muslim lands because it is too abundant. 

In a 2007 study, Gunnar Heinsohn from the University of Bremen and Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, found that some 11 million Muslims had been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000 (0.3 percent) died during the six years of Arab war against Israel, or one out of every 315 fatalities. In contrast, over 90 percent who perished were killed by fellow Muslims. 

When I visited and revisited these “statistics” earlier in this column, I was often accused of being a Mossad agent (like birds and fish and other animal species smart Islamists often detect). Fortunately, Mossad’s “Turkey cell” is expanding, and I am no longer the lone-man-standing.
During Ramadan, two lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party, Nusret Bayraktar and Hasan Karal (my Zionist colleagues), said, “Muslim blood has been shed almost exclusively in Muslim lands.” 

More recently, Turkey’s top Muslim cleric (and another colleague), Professor Mehmet Görmez, after mentioning “Islam’s miserable shape in which Islam’s adherents fought and killed each other and bombed their own mosques,” said: “No politics could be more important than Muslims being divided into camps and killing each other.” Fine words, no doubt. 

But like most Muslims, Professor Görmez exhibits elements of confusion concerning the etiology of Muslim vs. Muslim violence. In a July speech, Professor Görmez wisely mentioned that “We [Muslims] have a weakness about looking for the root cause of our problems outside the Islamic sphere,” an explicitly critical reference to the common Islamic reference to non-Muslim conspiracies designed to divide the “otherwise indivisible” Muslims. 

But most recently – and ironically in the same speech in which he mentioned Islam’s miserable shape – Professor Görmez also mentioned the “conspiracies, plots and games pitting Muslims against each other.” 

Is Professor Görmez also a victim of the same weakness he complained of just a month or so ago? Are Muslims so stupid that they would grab the gun and kill a fellow Muslim on the spot because a non-Muslim had devilishly plotted the murder? 

A more realistic analysis could put a much more simple case under the magnifying glass if the ulama wished to understand why jihadists prefer the verse 5:33 (“The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land…) to 5:32 (“Whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind”). 

Last month, Muhsin Tüzer, a town imam and a keen musician whose band mixes Sufism with rock tunes, had to request police protection after massive threats of “beheading” shortly after his debut concert. Are those who threaten to behead the imam non-Muslim conspirators pitting Muslims against each other? I wish the ulama had an answer.


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Notice on comments

Geir Fugleberg

9/11/2013 3:59:15 PM

For Christs sake(almost literally!!). The Koran is a DIRECT revelation from GOD,nobody claims that any christian scriptures are so in toto,THIS is the great difference. The Koran is not open to interpretation bcs it is the Direct Words of God. If you are truly pious it can be rejected as untrue,making you an apostate,or,it can be upheld. But,-it can not be interpreted,as in "changed in subte ways" . That would result in a new decorativ religion,which I think is the likely very long term outcome.

Laz Kemal

9/3/2013 7:19:18 PM

Harry, we are saying the same thing with a different angle. You need to understand Islam and requirements better maybe get a trustworthy friend who knows Arabic real well, including where the dots go. Quran says for women to cover their “bosom”, not walk around in a “tent.” Primitive minds and hadiths abuse Islam and are lazy cherry-pickers. Quran says one has to go to Haj by walking or on a lean camel, so why are the Islamists flying to Saudi Arabia which has a huge airport in the region

Hans-Joachim "Terrorist" Zierke

9/3/2013 5:30:21 PM

Laz Kemal, not 13th century. Try 1960s. In pietist areas of Germany, old women covered up in church into the 60s. I grew up with it. "But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head". Yes, Paulus was a an unreformable misogynist.

Harry Foundalis

9/3/2013 9:51:24 AM

Laz Kemal, you missed my point. But it doesn’t matter. I believe change in Islam-dominated nations will happen — and it already started with Kemal Atatürk in Turkey — but it will be excruciatingly slow. It will involve the gradual *indifference* of the populace to religion, because Islam itself is unreformable (see my earlier comments). The Sultan is afraid of indifference. He wants pious, uneducated masses; hence his urge for at least 3 children. But, to his chagrin, people will be educated.

Laz Kemal

9/2/2013 7:21:29 PM

A solid indicator and direction for reform is the freedom, education, advancement of women in a Muslim country. One way to enable that is by having appropriate laws in place. Thanks to Ataturk’s reforms Turkey was the most advanced. But it isn’t going to progress when a country is led by a man known for his sayings “Thank God Almighty, I am a servant of the Sharia” or “women can elect but never have the right to be elected” or “all schools must be converted to Imamhatips” Yes, that’s Erdogan !

Laz Kemal

9/2/2013 7:12:35 PM

Harry, it’s not reasonable to claim archaic and brutal regional tribal traditions are God’s commands. Yet that’s the case in Islamist lands i.e, behaviors re women are like the ultra orthodox Jews. You must know that until 13th century married Christian women covered up. Have very little to do w religion. Rather than hadiths made up centuries later, Muslim country needs a leader who also thinks the verse I quoted is the most important in Quran rather than reliving in the 7th century tribal era

Harry Foundalis

9/2/2013 12:47:08 PM

Finally, dear Laz Kemal, I grant you that for *you* the most important verse of the Qur’an might be the one that says “there is no compulsion in religion”—good for you. But there are the *other* Muslims, too. And those others will tell you that *everything* Allah said is true & valid — are you going to do cherry-picking among Allah’s commands? So they have every right to cut off thieves’ limbs, whip adulterers, and — following the hadiths — stone them to death. Now reform this if you can.

Harry Foundalis

9/2/2013 12:44:17 PM

Thus, dear Laz Kemal, when Christians needed to reform their beliefs, they didn’t have to face the problem of a New Testament (N.T.) that asked for barbarous punishments, such as amputations of limbs, whippings, and murders. As for the Old Testament, as I said, they simply ignored it. Islam is different. Contrary to the N.T., in the Qur’an Allah speaks in the *first person*. And he appears to order such horrendous punishments! How can a Muslim reformer sweep under the rug such a fact?

Harry Foundalis

9/2/2013 12:42:06 PM

Laz Kemal, what you say about the Bible is true, and there are even more horrendous verses in it than the one you mentioned (e.g.: children must be killed if they speak bad about parents!) But that’s the *Old* Testament (O.T.). Christians pay only lip service to the idea that their Bible includes the 3000-yr-old O.T. Their true *Christian* part of the Bible is the *New* Testament, in which God, even if through Christ, makes no atrocious statements, or others that treat women as men’s property …

Laz Kemal

9/1/2013 9:56:19 PM

@Harry, you have a valid point but let’s not forget the major similarities amongst Abrahamic religions. In fact Bible 20:13 basically states “homosexuals must be killed” which most Christians don’t even know about because of the reform. To me the most important verse in Quran is 256 which states ‘There is no compulsion in religion” Yet the primitive minds not only implement all the anti women ones i.e. 4:34 but negative hadiths that many came up with for centuries after the death of Hz.Muhammed
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