The Koran: Peace and Tolerance

Figure 1.-

A Muslim reader complains that we have selected out verses from the Koran that portray war and violence for this page. That is BOT what we have done as anyone who actually read this page can immediately see. We have collected Islamic passages which address the issue of peace and tolerance. If readers know of a pertient verse that we have missed, please let us know. And there are quite a number. Let us stress that we are not about to DELETE verses readers may find embarassing, but we are quite willikng to ADD verses readers think are important. We are trying to understand why so many Muslims are carrying out terrible acts of violence while most Muslims insist that Islam is a religion of peace. We are of course not saying that most Muslims are doing this, but substantial numbers are involved in the violence. And many more seem willing to accept violence as long as the perpetrators express Islamic motivations. It us fair to say, however, that there are many more passages in the Koran that deal with peace and human values. Quite frankly this would impress us if Muslim leades and Islamic scholars were at the forefront of actually making peace. There certainly are prgressive voices in Islsam. A reader writes, "The time has come that we should take action and try our best to prevent terrorism in the world. We hope to bring love, peace and tolerance into this world based on respect, compassion, and a solid foundation of knowledge." Just howc much influence such voices have, seem limited. Somehow it seems satisfactory to many Muslims to simply reiterate the claim that Islam is a religion of peace and list the Koranic references to peace. Passages about peace ad human dignity certainly exists. And many Muslims believe passionately in them. We are more than happy to list some of them. , A reader writes, "I'd like you to know that the Quran grants dignity, and freedom of choice to all man-kind." And she had provided Koranic verses that should be mentined.

Surah 2

Verse 2:62

"Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve."

The Koran states that any one who believes in God, the Hereafter and leads a righteous life is granted salvation and forgiveness. This is a beautiful statement of tolerance. Nothing like it is found in the Bible. It is an amazing statement for the 7th century. The problem is that the Koran also has extremnely ugly passages expressing intolerance and reliious hated toward other religions, especially the Jews.

Verse 2:148

"Each of you chooses the direction to follow; you shall race towards righteousness. Wherever you may be, GOD will summon you all. GOD is Omnipotent."

Verse 2:136

"We believe in GOD, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters."

A Muslim reader tells us that this passage means "Our God is one and the same. The Creator. Master of this whole universe. The One who sent down to us all prophets and messengers with guidance and knowledge to worship Him alone and lead a righteous life."

Verse 2:191

"You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers."

Here the Koran insists that God condemns oppression in the strongest language.[BK] The language we agree is strong against oppresors, but it is aimed primarily at non-believers. And this selective view of opression seems very widesprad in the modern Arab world. There are constant protestations against Jews and Israel in favor of the Palestinians. We note few Arab leader or relgius leaders particulrly duisturbed by te genocide in Darfur and in this case the Darfur people are Muslims, salthough not Arabs.

Verse 2:193

"You may also fight them to eliminate oppression, and to worship GOD freely. If they refrain, you shall not aggress; aggression is permitted only against the aggressors."

The Koran here teaches that Muslims should wage war only against agressors, meaning self defense. The problem here is that there are many Koanic passages legitimizing violence and war. And the idea that Muslims only fight defensive wars is an historical absurdity. In fact the history of Islam is a series of aggressive wars which spread the religion in just a few decades east to central Asia and west to Spain. These were no defensive wars. They were wars of aggression. On single war would not bring this passage into question. Nor would seceral wars. But the entire series of wars which led to the Caliphate do bring this Islsamic contention that Muslims only wage wars in self defense into contention.

Verse 2: 256

"There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in GOD has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient."

Surah 4: 29

"O you who believe, do not consume each others' properties illicitly -- only mutually acceptable transactions are permitted. You shall not kill yourselves. GOD is Merciful towards you."

Surah 8

Verse 8:39

"You shall fight them to ward off oppression, and to practice your religion devoted to GOD alone. If they refrain from aggression, then GOD is fully Seer of everything they do."

Verse 8:61

"If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust in GOD. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient."

Surah 17

Verse 17:33

"You shall not kill any person - for GOD has made life sacred - except in the course of justice. If one is killed unjustly, then we give his heir authority to enforce justice. Thus, he shall not exceed the limits in avenging the murder; he will be helped."

Here the Koran explains that God has made life sacred. Killing is absolutely prohibited except for self-defense and to fight back oppression. [BK]

Verse 17: 70

"We have honored the children of Adam, and provided them with rides on land and in the sea. We provided for them good provisions, and we gave them greater advantages than many of our creatures."

Surah 49:13

"O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant."

Here the Koran states that the only differentiating factor between humans is righteousness. [BK] Many other Koranic verses make very sharp destinctions between men of other faiths. The Koran instructs, for example Muslims to not befriend or associate with Christians and Jews. "O you who believe, do not take certain Jews and Christians as allies; these are allies of one another. Those among you who ally themselves with these belong with them. GOD does not guide the transgressors. [Koran 5:51] Other passages set up rules and taxes for non0-believers. Mohammed himself adopted this practice in Medina.

Surah 60:8-9

"GOD does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. GOD loves the equitable. GOD enjoins you only from befriending those who fight you because of religion, evict you from your homes, and band together with others to banish you. You shall not befriend them. Those who befriend them are the transgressors.

A Muslim reader writes, "Here the Koran promotes tolerance to others irrespective of their religious background or lack thereof, as long as it is mutual. We, submitters to God alone, are adding our voices to all those who cherish the human values and rights granted to man-kind by the One God, the Creator. We definitely share with you the hate of all what the so-called Muslims all over the world are practicing in the name of Islam. We'll keep declaring, with a very loud and firm voice that the Quran and this great religion of Abraham (Submission), both, condemn all kinds, forms, and names of unjustified killings and blood shed. We call upon Christians, Jews, Muslims and all the believers in God to verify the truth about the religion of Submission (Islam) through this most comprehensive website where we have the most clear, accurate and modern translation of the Quran by Rashad Khalifa, Ph.D.Knowledge is the cure for one's ignorance." [BK] It is fair to say that Islam during the Caliphate or even much of the Ottoman period was more tolerant that Chrisendom. Unfortunately this no longer appears to be the case. Acts of violence against Chritians are common place in the Arab world. Christian populations such as Arab Christians in Bethleham have been largely forced to leave. Christian Copts in Egypt face mounting presure. Christian Iraqis have also been attacked. This is not the case in all Arab countries, but it is the case in many. Christians also face attacks in Pakistan. Attacks on Jews are no longer commn because amost all of the once numerous Jewish population has been forced to flee. In sharp contrast, Muslim communities in America, Canada, and Western Europe live in security.

Surah 73:19

"This is a reminder; whoever wills, let him choose the path to his Lord."

Surah 88:21-22

"You shall remind, for your mission is to deliver this reminder. You have no power over them.


BK. Chief Editor of Submission.Org. eMail message, December 3, 2007. B.K. has suggested these passages to demostrate Islam's committment to peace and toleration.


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Created: 2:09 AM 12/4/2007
Last updated: 5:20 PM 10/7/2009