By Hugh Fitzgerald
Last Friday I offered 38 questions to ask those carrying signs proclaiming, “I’m A Muslim — Ask Me Anything.” Here are answers to the first six of those questions.
“M.I.” refers to the Muslim Interlocutor who has invited others to “Ask a Muslim” any questions they may have about Islam. Once the M.I. has answered (or tried, or refused, to), possible responses to him are given below, merely as a guide and not meant to be exhaustive:
1. What is the meaning of Jihad?
“Jihad” in Arabic means “struggle.” More specifically, it is the central duty of all Muslims, the “struggle” to spread Islam all over the globe until all Unbelievers either convert to Islam or accept the status of dhimmis and pay the Jizyah, or capitation tax. Jihad can take many forms, such as defending Islam from its critics, migrating to foreign soil for the purpose of propagating Islam, demographic conquest, and supporting its growth financially. a central duty of all Muslims. But Jihad’s main meaning involves violence. No major Muslim group has ever repudiated the doctrine of armed Jihad. Violent Jihad is founded on many verses in the Qur’an, but in the Ask-the-Muslim context, have at the ready to quote, especially, the Verse of the Sword: (9:5, “Then when the sacred months are past, slay the idolaters wherever you find them…”).
M.I. will claim that the “real” meaning of Jihad is something like a “struggle within one’s soul” to become a better person, or “self-improvement.” He may offer that hadith where it is written that “Upon his return from battle Muhammad said, ‘We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad’ (i.e. the struggle against the evil of one’s soul).” But this hadith is of doubtful authenticity. It does not appear in any of the six sahih sittah (“reliable collections”) of hadith. One Muslim authority speaks for all of them when he writes that “this hadith has no source, nobody whomsoever in the field of Islamic Knowledge has narrated it. Jihad against the disbelievers is the most noble of actions, and moreover it is the most important action for the sake of mankind.” And he concludes that the evidence used as proof that Jihad on the battlefield is Jihad Asghar (lesser Jihad) and Jihad against the desires and Shaitan is Jihad Akbar [greater jihad] are weak if not false hadith. (Then urge onlookers, who will have been suitably impressed with your response, to google “Lesser Jihad” and “Greater Jihad” to find out more about this canard.)
2. Why are Christians and Jews required to pay the Jizyah to Muslims?
“Jizyah” is the capitation or poll tax that non-Muslims must pay to the Muslim state in order to be allowed to stay alive and practice their faith. It is the main, but not the only disability, inflicted on those non-Muslims who are the ahl al-dhimma, the People of the Pact, or dhimmis. While your Muslim propagandist will argue that the “jizyah” is not now exacted everywhere, it remains a permanent part of Islamic doctrine (and is, in fact, collected in the Islamic State). Remind your listeners that some Muslims in the West, such as Anjem Choudary, gloating over the vast amounts of benefits Muslim immigrants receive, call these benefits “the Jihad seekers’ allowance.”
3. Why does it say in the Qur’an that Muslims should not take Christians and Jews as friends, for they are friends only with each other?
Here you hope that your Muslim interlocutor simply denies this passage’s existence altogether. You then quote in full Qur’an 5:51, which is at the ready on your smartphone or on notecards. And to get to the reason for 5:51 (and many other passages of similar import, as 3:28, 3:85, 3:118, 7:44, 9:23 could also be quoted), Muslims are in a state of permanent war – violent Jihad, but Jihad conducted by whatever means, including peaceful ones. To prevent any relapse into Unbelief, to keep the Jihad fervor up, they are taught to distrust, and distance themselves from, all non-Muslims, who are depicted as if in a conspiracy (“they are friends only with each other”) against Muslims. It makes no sense for the “best of peoples” (Qur’an 3:110) to become friends with the “vilest of creatures” (Qur’an 98:6).
4. It says in the Qur’an that “there is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an 2.256). If there is no compulsion in religion, then why are people who leave Islam threatened with death?
The M.I. will have no answer to this, except possibly to claim what is being punished is not an apostate’s loss of belief but, rather, with that apostate’s proclaiming that turn to unbelief and thus harming Islam. The implication is that if an apostate does it quietly then there will be no punishment. But you can have ready 4:89: “They wish that you should reject faith as they reject faith, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.” 2:217, 9:73-74, 88:21, 5:54, 9:66 are ready examples from the Qur’an and Hadith that make no mention of an apostate only being killed if he makes public his apostasy. Have at the ready as well some of the hadith, as for example these:
Sahih Bukhari (52:260) – “…The Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’ “
Sahih Bukhari (83:37) – “Allah’s Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, was killed (in Qisas,) (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle and deserted Islam and became an apostate.”
Sahih Bukhari (84:57) – [In the words of] “Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'”
To which M.I. has NO reply.
5. Why did the Ayatollah Khomeini lower the marriageable age of girls to 9?
The Ayatollah Khomeini was a learned cleric, and he knew that Muhammad, the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil) and Model of Conduct (uswa hasana) had consummated his marriage to little Aisha when she was nine (she was betrothed to him at the age of six). What’s right for Muhammad is right for every Muslim, forever. Hence his eagerness to reduce the marriageable age to that of Aisha. Under the secularizing Shah, of course, the marriageable age of Iranian girls was 18 – for a good Muslim like the Ayatollah Khomeini, that was an abomination. Others, but possibly “not my Muslim friend here,” no doubt feel differently.
Again, NO reply.
6. What is the surest way for a Muslim to get to Heaven?
The surest way to Jannah (Muslim Paradise) is by engaging in violent Jihad and dying as a “martyr” while fighting in the path of Allah.
Such people go directly to Paradise,
Quran (8:15-16) – “O ye who believe! when ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them. If any do turn his back to them on such a day – unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own)- he draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and his abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed)!” Not only does Muhammad lay down the principle that a Muslim can serve time in Hell, but they may find themselves there for neglecting to kill unbelievers when directed to do so.
Quran (9:39) – “If ye go not forth He will afflict you with a painful doom…” It isn’t enough to believe. Muhammad is telling his soldiers (who do not want to fight) that they will be sent to hell if they do not join the battle.
Quran (3:169-170) – “Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord; They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve.“ Martyrs go directly from life to paradise, where they wait for those who must first go through the Day of Judgment.
There are other ways to get to Paradise, some not requiring violence. But if he does so, you must come back to those Qur’anic passages, especially 3:169-170, that rank dying in Jihad as the SUREST AND FASTEST way.