In the aftermath of the House hearing on American Muslims, Representative Keith Ellison appeared on HBO’s Real Time to further testify to the benign nature of Islam. Attempting to bring some glint of reality to the conversation, Bill Maher posed the following question:
Have you read Sam Harris’s book, The End of Faith?… [Harris] says, “On almost every page, the Qur’an instructs observant Muslims to despise non-believers.”
The Congressmen rejected this description of the Qur’an as “absurd, ridiculous and untrue”—the result of taking certain passages “out of context.” When Maher asked how jihadists can justify their actions by reading these same passages in context, Ellison claimed that jihadists do nothing of the sort. Rather, they think in terms of “political grievances,” not religious doctrine, and those who oppose them have the true doctrine of Islam on their side.
It is not my purpose to defend the House hearing on American Muslims (which I did not get a chance to watch). But it is growing increasingly disconcerting to see moderate Muslims reflexively lie about the tenets of their faith. Of course, it’s hard to know whether Ellison was actually lying or is merely unaware of the contents of the Qur’an. But I have witnessed too many of these exchanges with Muslim apologists, both in public and private, to ignore the general trend. Who will reform Islam if moderate Muslims refuse to speak honestly about the very doctrines in need of reform?
Here is the section of The End of Faith that Maher was referring to, in which I provide five pages of quotations from the Qur’an. Please know that these are not the only passages of this kind in the text. I simply broke off the litany of sacred hatred once I felt I had proved my point. Even worse passages appear later in the book (in chapters 8 and 9, for instance).
(from The End of Faith, pp. 117-123)
Open the Koran, which is perfect in its every syllable, and simply read it with the eyes of faith. You will see how little compassion need be wasted on those whom God himself is in the process of “mocking,” “cursing,” “shaming,” “punishing,” “scourging,” “judging,” “burning,” “annihilating,” “not forgiving,” and “not reprieving.” God, who is infinitely wise, has cursed the infidels with their doubts. He prolongs their life and prosperity so that they may continue heaping sin upon sin and all the more richly deserve the torments that await them beyond the grave. In this light, the people who died on September 11 were nothing more than fuel for the eternal fires of God’s justice. To convey the relentlessness with which unbelievers are vilified in the text of the Koran, I provide a long compilation of quotations below, in order of their appearance in the text. This is what the Creator of the universe apparently has on his mind (when he is not fussing with gravitational constants and atomic weights):
“It is the same whether or not you forewarn them [the unbelievers], they will have no faith” (2:6). “God will mock them and keep them long in sin, blundering blindly along” (2:15). A fire “whose fuel is men and stones” awaits them (2:24). They will be “rewarded with disgrace in this world and with grievous punishment on the Day of Resurrection” (2:85). “God’s curse be upon the infidels!” (2:89). “They have incurred God’s most inexorable wrath. An ignominious punishment awaits [them]” (2:90). “God is the enemy of the unbelievers” (2:98). “The unbelievers among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews], and the pagans, resent that any blessing should have been sent down to you from your Lord” (2:105). “They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in the hereafter” (2:114). “Those to whom We [God] have given the Book, and who read it as it ought to be read, truly believe in it; those that deny it shall assuredly be lost” (2:122). “[We] shall let them live awhile, and then shall drag them to the scourge of the Fire. Evil shall be their fate” (2:126). “The East and the West are God’s. He guides whom He will to a straight path” (2:142). “Do not say that those slain in the cause of God are dead. They are alive, but you are not aware of them” (2:154). “But the infidels who die unbelievers shall incur the curse of God, the angels, and all men. Under it they shall remain for ever; their punishment shall not be lightened, nor shall they be reprieved” (2:162). “They shall sigh with remorse, but shall never come out of the Fire” (2:168). “The unbelievers are like beasts which, call out to them as one may, can hear nothing but a shout and a cry. Deaf, dumb, and blind, they understand nothing” (2:172). “Theirs shall be a woeful punishment” (2:175). “How steadfastly they seek the Fire! That is because God has revealed the Book with truth; those that disagree about it are in extreme schism” (2:176). “Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage. . . . If they attack you put them to the sword. Thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded: but if they desist, God is forgiving and merciful. Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God’s religion reigns supreme. But if they desist, fight none except the evil-doers”(2:190–93). “Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not” (2:216). “They will not cease to fight against you until they force you to renounce your faith—if they are able. But whoever of you recants and dies an unbeliever, his works shall come to nothing in this world and in the world to come. Such men shall be the tenants of Hell, wherein they shall abide forever. Those that have embraced the Faith, and those that have fled their land and fought for the cause of God, may hope for God’s mercy” (2:217–18). “God does not guide the evil-doers” (2:258). “God does not guide the unbelievers” (2:264). “The evil-doers shall have none to help them” (2:270). “God gives guidance to whom He will” (2:272).
“Those that deny God’s revelations shall be sternly punished; God is mighty and capable of revenge” (3:5). “As for the unbelievers, neither their riches nor their children will in the least save them from God’s judgment. They shall become fuel for the Fire” (3:10). “Say to the unbelievers: ‘You shall be overthrown and driven into Hell—an evil resting place!’” (3:12). “The only true faith in God’s sight is Islam. . . . He that denies God’s revelations should know that swift is God’s reckoning” (3:19). “Let the believers not make friends with infidels in preference to the faithful—he that does this has nothing to hope for from God—except in self-defense” (3:28). “Believers, do not make friends with any but your own people. They will spare no pains to corrupt you. They desire nothing but your ruin. Their hatred is evident from what they utter with their mouths, but greater is the hatred which their breasts conceal” (3:118). “If you have suffered a defeat, so did the enemy. We alternate these vicissitudes among mankind so that God may know the true believers and choose martyrs from among you (God does not love the evil-doers); and that God may test the faithful and annihilate the infidels” (3:140). “Believers, if you yield to the infidels they will drag you back to unbelief and you will return headlong to perdition. . . . We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. . . . The Fire shall be their home” (3:149–51). “Believers, do not follow the example of the infidels, who say of their brothers when they meet death abroad or in battle: ‘Had they stayed with us they would not have died, nor would they have been killed.’ God will cause them to regret their words. . . . If you should die or be slain in the cause of God, God’s forgiveness and His mercy would surely be better than all the riches they amass” (3:156). “Never think that those who were slain in the cause of God are dead. They are alive, and well provided for by their Lord; pleased with His gifts and rejoicing that those they left behind, who have not yet joined them, have nothing to fear or to regret; rejoicing in God’s grace and bounty. God will not deny the faithful their reward” (3:169). “Let not the unbelievers think that We prolong their days for their own good. We give them respite only so that they may commit more grievous sins. Shameful punishment awaits them” (3:178). “Those that suffered persecution for My sake and fought and were slain: I shall forgive them their sins and admit them to gardens watered by running streams, as a reward from God; God holds the richest recompense. Do not be deceived by the fortunes of the unbelievers in the land. Their prosperity is brief. Hell shall be their home, a dismal resting place” (3:195–96).
“God has cursed them in their unbelief” (4:46). “God will not forgive those who serve other gods besides Him; but He will forgive whom He will for other sins. He that serves other gods besides God is guilty of a heinous sin. . . . Consider those to whom a portion of the Scriptures was given. They believe in idols and false gods and say of the infidels: ‘These are better guided than the believers’” (4:50–51). “Those that deny Our revelation We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. God is mighty and wise” (4:55–56).
“Believers, do not seek the friendship of the infidels and those who were given the Book before you, who have made of your religion a jest and a pastime” (5:57). “That which is revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase the wickedness and unbelief of many among them. We have stirred among them enmity and hatred, which will endure till the Day of Resurrection” (5:65). “God does not guide the unbelievers” (5:67). “That which is revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase the wickedness and unbelief of many among them. But do not grieve for the unbelievers” (5:69). “You see many among them making friends with unbelievers. Evil is that to which their souls prompt them. They have incurred the wrath of God and shall endure eternal torment. . . . You will find that the most implacable of men in their enmity to the faithful are the Jews and the pagans, and that the nearest in affection to them are those who say: ‘We are Christians’” (5:80–82). “[T]hose that disbelieve and deny Our revelations shall become the inmates of Hell” (5:86).
“[T]hey deny the truth when it is declared to them: but they shall learn the consequences of their scorn” (6:5). “We had made them more powerful in the land than yourselves [the Meccans], sent down for them abundant water from the sky and gave them rivers that rolled at their feet. Yet because they sinned We destroyed them all and raised up other generations after them. If We sent down to you a Book inscribed on real parchment and they touched it with their own hands, the unbelievers would still assert: ‘This is but plain sorcery.’ They ask: ‘Why has no angel been sent down to him [Muhammad]?’ If We had sent down an angel, their fate would have been sealed and they would have never been reprieved” (6:5–8). “Who is more wicked than the man who invents falsehoods about God or denies His revelations?” (6:21). “Some of them listen to you. But We have cast veils over their hearts and made them hard of hearing lest they understand your words. They will believe in none of Our signs, even if they see them one and all. When they come to argue with you the unbelievers say: ‘This is nothing but old fictitious tales.’ They forbid it and depart from it. They ruin none but themselves, though they do not perceive it. If you could see them when they are set before the Fire! They will say: ‘Would that we could return! Then we would not deny the revelations of our Lord and would be true believers’ (6:23–27). “But if they were sent back, they would return to that which they have been forbidden. They are liars all” (6:29). “Had God pleased He would have given them guidance, one and all” (6:35). “Deaf and dumb are those that deny Our revelations: they blunder about in darkness. God confounds whom He will, and guides to a straight path whom He pleases.” (6:39) “[T]heir hearts were hardened, and Satan made their deeds seem fair to them. And when they had clean forgotten Our admonition We granted them all that they desired; but just as they were rejoicing in what they were given, We suddenly smote them and they were plunged into utter despair. Thus were the evil-doers annihilated. Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe!” (6:43–45). “[T]hose that deny Our revelations shall be punished for their misdeeds” (6:49). “Such are those that are damned by their own sins. They shall drink scalding water and be sternly punished for their unbelief” (6:70). “Could you but see the wrongdoers when death overwhelms them! With hands out-stretched, the angels will say: ‘Yield up your souls. You shall be rewarded with the scourge of shame this day, for you have said of God what is untrue and scorned His revelations” (6:93). “Avoid the pagans. Had God pleased, they would not have worshipped idols. . . . We will turn away their hearts and eyes from the Truth since they refused to believe in it at first. We will let them blunder about in their wrongdoing. If We sent the angels down to them, and caused the dead to speak to them, . . . and ranged all things in front of them, they would still not believe, unless God willed otherwise. . . . Thus have We assigned for every prophet an enemy: the devils among men and jinn, who inspire each other with vain and varnished false- hoods. But had your Lord pleased, they would not have done so. Therefore leave them to their own inventions, so that the hearts of those who have no faith in the life to come may be inclined to what they say and, being pleased, persist in their sinful ways” (6:107–12). “The devils will teach their votaries to argue with you. If you obey them you shall yourselves become idolaters. . . . God will humiliate the transgressors and mete out to them a grievous punishment for their scheming” (6:121–25). “If God wills to guide a man, He opens his bosom to Islam. But if he pleases to confound him, He makes his bosom small and narrow as though he were climbing up to heaven. Thus shall God lay the scourge on the unbelievers” (6:125).
Yes, the Bible contains its own sadistic lunacy—but the above quotations can be fairly said to convey the central message of the Qur’an—and of Islam at nearly every moment in its history. The Qur’an does not contain anything like a Sermon on the Mount. Nor is it a vast and self-contradictory book like the Old Testament, in which whole sections (like Leviticus and Deuteronomy) can be easily ignored and forgotten. The result is a unified message of triumphalism, otherworldliness, and religious hatred that has become a problem for the entire world. And the world still waits for moderate Muslims to speak honestly about it.