Reference checking Sam Harris

Sam Harris wrote an article for The Daily Beast titled, "Obama Backpedals on Mosque".

It's an interesting read, but one passage in particular caught my eye. He writes,

Thus, when Allah commands his followers to slay infidels wherever they find them, until Islam reigns supreme (2:191-193; 4:76; 8:39; 9:123; 47:4; 66:9)—only to emphasize that such violent conquest is obligatory, as unpleasant as that might seem (2:216), and that death in jihad is actually the best thing that can happen to a person, given the rewards that martyrs receive in Paradise (3:140-171; 4:74; 47:5-6)—He means just that. And, being the creator of the universe, his words were meant to guide Muslims for all time.

It wouldn't have been useful to fully quote all of the Koranic references in the article, but I wanted to go through them on my own. Figured you might find it useful as well.

I'll repost Sam's above quote in bold, filling in the references using Yusuf Ali's translation (and a link to the USC copy of the text).

Thus, when Allah commands his followers to slay infidels wherever they find them, until Islam reigns supreme

2:191-193 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.
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.

4:76 Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject Faith Fight in the cause of Evil: So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan.

8:39 And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do.

9:123 O ye who believe! fight the unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you: and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.

47:4
Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.

66:9
O Prophet! Strive hard against the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed).

only to emphasize that such violent conquest is obligatory, as unpleasant as that might seem

2:216
Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.

and that death in jihad is actually the best thing that can happen to a person, given the rewards that martyrs receive in Paradise

3:140-171
If a wound hath touched you, be sure a similar wound hath touched the others. Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns: that Allah may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself from your ranks Martyr-witnesses (to Truth). And Allah loveth not those that do wrong.
Allah's object also is to purge those that are true in Faith and to deprive of blessing Those that resist Faith.
Did ye think that ye would enter Heaven without Allah testing those of you who fought hard (In His Cause) and remained steadfast? ... (too long to quote in full, go to the link and read though 171 if you're interested.)

4:74
Let those fight in the cause of Allah Who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah,- whether he is slain or gets victory - Soon shall We give him a reward of great (value).

47:5-6
Soon will He guide them and improve their condition,
And admit them to the Garden which He has announced for them.

- He means just that. And, being the creator of the universe, his words were meant to guide Muslims for all time.

Sam's conclusion is that "American Muslims should be absolutely free to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, but that the ones who should, probably wouldn't want to." I understand the sentiment entirely. I also think that the government should allow it -- it simply isn't the place of the government to start shutting down legal operations because they are unpopular.

Now that my stance on the legality of the matter is stated, I'd like to flesh out a few of my thoughts that the coverage of this 'mosque at ground zero' has generated. I've heard several interviews in response to the public outcry that the people who think that Islam is dangerous just need to learn about Islam -- essentially that the opposition to Islam stems from ignorance of Islam. While ignorance is certainly a common rationalization to oppose something, it's simply wrong to suggest that it's always the main underlying reason.

In playing to the more liberal side of the political spectrum, the call to learn more about other religion and cultures is a seductive message, too. It gives a liberal, who might know nothing about Islam himself, the sense that he's a cultured and sensitive creature while the yokels who only read their Bibles need to learn a thing or two about multiculturalism.

This thinking ignores the possibility of someone like me who has taken a considerable amount of time to learn about Islam. While not being an expert in religion, I can say with confidence that my concern about Islam was not ameliorated the more I learned, it was heightened. When I finished reading the Koran, for example, I was more disturbed than before I had read it.

I think that there are many reasons to argue against Islam, at its core it is another example of a faith-based system for determining how to live ones life. The general promotion of wishful thinking as a good way of deciding ANY decision of consequence is recipe for trouble. Besides that, there is an unbending adherence to the letter-by-letter word of the creator of the universe which seems particularly hard to keep some small percentage from actually believing it.

The selection of quote from the Koran quoted and cited above should give a clear smattering of examples of ideas that can be argued against because of the ideas themselves and not because of some ignorance of what they say. I hope you found this entry informative and useful.

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