2. Praise be to God, the Lord of all creatures, the Compassionate, the Merciful." (Surah 1: 1, 2.)
C. ~ Had the God of the Qoran been the Lord of all creatures, and been Merciful and kind to all, He would never have commanded the Mohammedans to slaughter men of other faiths, and animals, etc. If He is Merciful, will He show mercy even to the sinners? If the answer be given in the affirmative, it cannot be true, because further on it is said in the Qoran "Put Infidels to sword," in other words, he that does not believe in the Qoran and the Prophet Mohammad is an infidel (he should, therefore, be put to death). (Since the Qoran sanctions such cruelty to non-Mohammedans and innocent creatures such as cows) it can never be the Word of God.
Here we have to deal with serious misunderstandings of the passages of the Quran concerning Muslim and Non-Muslim relationship. We have already dealt with the issue of animal slaughter in our first response. Although, Swamiji has not provided any references from the Quran, which is not a scholarly approach, we know the passages he is referring to and also how he has taken them out of their historical context to put his own meanings on them.
The Importance of Context
The word ‘context’ has two dictionary meanings:
1. The parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect. 2. The set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.
Any discussion on Qur’anic verses that refer to violence would be meaningless, without a study of the surrounding context. Before we study the verses in question, therefore, let us examine this issue in a wider perspective:
The Sanctity of Life
The Glorious Qur’an says:
“…take not life, which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.” [Al-Qur’an 6:151]
Islam considers all life forms as sacred. However, the sanctity of human life is accorded a special place. The first and the foremost basic right of a human being is the right to live. The Glorious Qur’an says:
“…if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” [Al-Qur’an 5:32]
The value of human life is so great, that the Qur’an equates the taking of even one human life unjustly with the killing of all humanity.
The Verses of War
The words that often cause consternation among those unfamiliar with Islam, are: “…and slay them wherever ye catch them…”
The truth is that this is only part of verse 191 of Chapter 2 of the Qur’an. Let us read the verses 190 to 191 in order to get a complete picture:
“Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.” [Al-Qur’an 2:190-191]
It is a well-known fact of Islamic history, that fighting against aggressors was prohibited during the first thirteen years of the Prophet’s mission. After Muslims migrated to Medina, the verses above were revealed to enable the community to fight in self-defense. The verses that follow clearly indicate Islam’s prohibition on aggression and inclination towards peace:
“But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.” [Al-Qur’an 2:192-193]
The verses above specifically refer to fighting against oppression and in defense of religious freedom as the Glorious Qur’an says:
“Let there be no compulsion in religion” [Al-Qur’an 2:256]
Fair-Dealing Towards All
When read in context, the above verses do not even remotely suggest an exhortation for Muslims to be vicious or hateful towards people of other faiths. Far from this, the Qur’an actually requires that Muslims conduct themselves with fairness and dignity in all matters, and especially in regard to interfaith relations, as indicated by the following verse:
“Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just." [Al-Qur’an 60:8]
So, how can Swamiji or any critic of Islam claim that Islam calls for killing infidels? The anti-Islamic writers never give the complete historical context of the pasages mentioning fighting in the Quran. However, when the Quran is read completely, one easily sees the deceptive picture of Islam which is presented by such anti-Islamic writers. The ignorant readers are also deceived by such write ups as majority never try to verify the truth in these claims.
Fighting in Hindu Scriptures
Let us also try to see what do the Vedas and other hindu scriptures speak about this subject of fighting.
Following is a Battle Charm from Atharva Veda
1. May Indra churn (the enemy), he, the churner, Sakra (mighty), the hero, that pierces the forts, so that we shall slay the armies of the enemies a thousandfold!
2. May the rotten rope, wafting itself against yonder army, turn it into a stench. When the enemies see from afar our smoke and fire, fear shall they lay into their hearts!
3. Tear asunder those (enemies), O asvattha (ficus religiosa), devour (khâda) them, O! khadira (acacia catechu) in lively style! Like the tâgadbhanga (ricinus communis) they shall be broken (bhagyantâm), may the vadhaka (a certain kind of tree) slay them with his weapons (vadhaih)!
4. May the knotty âhva-plant put knots upon yonder (enemies), may the vadhaka slay them with his weapons! Bound up in (our) great trap-net, they shall quickly be broken as an arrow-reed!
5. The atmosphere was the net, the great regions (of space) the (supporting) poles of the net: with these Sakra (mighty Indra) did surround and scatter the army of the Dasyus.
6. Great, forsooth, is the net of great Sakra, who is rich in steeds: with it infold thou all the enemies, so that not one of them shall be released!
7. Great is the net of thee, great Indra, hero, that art equal to a thousand, and hast hundredfold might. With that (net) Sakra slew a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, a hundred million foes, having surrounded them with (his) army.
8. This great world was the net of great Sakra: with this net of Indra I infold all those (enemies) yonder in darkness,
9. With great dejection, failure, and irrefragable misfortune; with fatigue, lassitude, and confusion, do I surround all those (enemies) yonder.
10. To death do I hand them over, with the fetters of death they have been bound. To the evil messengers of death do I lead them captive.
11. Guide ye those (foes), ye messengers of death; ye messengers of Yama, infold them! Let more than thousands be slain; may the club of Bhava crush them!
12. The Sâdhyas (blessed) go holding up with might one support of the net, the Rudras another, the Vasus another, (Still) another is upheld by the Âdityas.
13. All the gods shall go pressing from above with might; the Angiras shall go on the middle (of the net), slaying the mighty army!
14. The trees, and (growths) that are like trees, the plants and the herbs as well; two-footed and four-footed creatures do I impel, that they shall slay yonder army!
15. The Gandharvas and Apsaras, the serpents and the gods, holy men and (deceased) Fathers, the visible and invisible (beings), do I impel, that they shall slay yonder army!
16. Scattered here are the fetters of death; when thou steppest upon them thou shalt not escape! May this hammer slay (the men) of yonder army by the thousand!
17. The gharma (sacrificial hot drink) that has been heated by the fire, this sacrifice (shall) slay thousands! Do ye, Bhava and Sarva, whose arms are mottled, slay yonder army!
18. Into the (snare of) death they shall fall, into hunger, exhaustion, slaughter, and fear! O Indra and Sarva, do ye with trap and net slay yonder army!
19. Conquered, O foes, do ye flee away; repelled by (our) charm, do ye run! Of yonder host, repulsed by Brihaspati, not one shall be saved!
20. May their weapons fall from their (hands), may they be unable to lay the arrow on (the bow)! And then (our) arrows shall smite them, badly frightened, in their vital members!
21. Heaven and earth shall shriek at them, and the atmosphere, along with the divine powers! Neither aider, nor support did they find; smiting one another they shall go to death!
22. The four regions are the she-mules of the god's chariot, the purodâsas (sacrificial rice-cakes) the hoofs, the atmosphere the seat (of the wagon). Heaven and earth are its two sides, the seasons the reins, the intermediate regions the attendants, Vâk (speech) the road.
23. The year is the chariot, the full year is the body of the chariot, Virâg, the pole, Agni the front part of the chariot. Indra is the (combatant) standing on the left of the chariot, Kandramas (the moon) the charioteer.
24. Do thou win here, do thou conquer here, overcome, win, hail! These here shall conquer, those yonder be conquered! Hail to these here, perdition to those yonder! Those yonder do I envelop in blue and red!
( Atharva Veda Khanda 8, Sukt 8)
The original text and the hindi translation can be read from the following link of Arya Samaj Jamnagar website. Choose page 7 from the page numbers given on that link.
The question to be asked here is that shall a Non-Hindu who reads this passage conclude that Vedas promote violence and glorify war?
Further, it is mentioned in Atharva Ved,
"Rend, rend to bits, rend through and through, scorch and consume and burn to dust, the denier of Vedas." [Atharva Ved, Kaand 12; Sukt 5; Mantra 62. Translation of Arya Samaj]
These are only few of the numerous references in the Vedas that speak about war and wiping your enemies to the last. How sad is it that those who attack Islam forget to read their own books. I just want to give one more comparison between the rules of warfare in Islam and Hinduism.
Comparison between Hindu and Islamic Rules of warfare
During his life, Prophet Muhammad gave various injunctions to his forces and adopted practices toward the conduct of war. The most important of these were summarized by Prophet Muhammad's companion and first Caliph, Abu Bakr, in the form of ten rules for the Muslim army:
O people! I charge you with ten rules; learn them well! Do no betray or misappropriate any part of the booty; do not practice treachery or mutilation. Do not kill a young child, an old man, or a woman. Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees. Do not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel, except for food. You will meet people who have set themselves apart in hermitages; leave them to accomplish the purpose for which they have done this. You will come upon people who will bring you dishes with various kinds of foods. If you partake of them, pronounce God's name over what you eat. You will meet people who have shaved the crown of their heads, leaving a band of hair around it (monks). Go in Gods name, and may God protect you from sword and pestilence. [Quoted from Tabari]
Compare these rules with what Maharishi Manu prescribes in his Law Book Manu Smriti:
194. After arranging his troops, he should encourage them (by an address) and carefully inspect them; he should also mark the behaviour (of the soldiers) when they engage the enemy.
195. When he has shut up his foe (in a town), let him sit encamped, harass his kingdom, and continually spoil his grass, food, fuel, and water.
(Manu Smriti Chapter 7: Verses 194,195.)
Lest any Arya Samaj person questions the authenticity of our quotation or say that they do not recognize Manu Smriti as authentic, I bring to his notice that these verses have been quoted by Swami Dayanand in Satyarth Prakash, Chapter 6. Below is the scanned image from Hindi Satyarth Prakash Chapter 6 taken from Arya Samaj Jamnagar website
An interesting point to be noted here is that if the fodder, the grass and the water is to be spoiled, what will the "innocent" cows eat? So are not Hindu rules of warfare harmful for the cows? Comparing the rules set by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Manu Smriti, it is clear that Islamic rules of warfare are much more humane as compared to the rules of warfare in Hinduism.
This ends our second response. New points may be incorported in these articles if we feel the need to do so.