Teachings of the Koran – Part 1
This is the first in a short series of articles to bring together the Koran’s teachings on a number of subjects of interest and importance to non-Muslims.
Before the first of these, I would like to draw the readers’ attention to a peculiarity of translation (or interpretation) into English of the Koran.
Translators use both the words “unbeliever” and “disbeliever” to mean “people who do not believe” or, in short, a non-believer. (Some translators even alternate both words without much care.) The reason seems to be that, in many instances, this non-belief, (the state of being a “Kaffir”) implies that the non-belief is ‘active’ in the sense that it is a choice; something practised deliberately, rather than something arising out of ignorance about Islam.
Thus the word “disbeliever” does not mean, as it would in strict English grammar, someone who has “ceased to believe” – i.e. an apostate; but, like “unbeliever” someone who chooses not to believe.
To dispel this possible confusion, my usage is simply non-Muslim for “Kaffir” as well as a range of other (derogatory) descriptions of those who are not Muslim – eg “Mushrikoon”.
Teachings of The Koran, part one
Words in ( ) in the main text are the translators’ interpolations, those in [ ] are added by me for:
1.clarifications where necessary,
2.Amplifications of meaning.
Text in bold highlights key words/phrases.
Be aware that interpretations of the Koran vary in versification, wording and, on occasion, meaning. As a result I have indicated the particular interpretation used for each verse quoted immediately after the Koran reference.
2:98-99 (Shakir): Whoever is the enemy of Allah and His angels and His messengers and Jibreel and Meekaeel, so surely Allah is the enemy of the unbelievers. And certainly We have revealed to you clear communications and none disbelieve in them except the transgressors[= evil-doers in other translations].
Comment: Allah is an enemy of non-Muslims and only evil people don’t believe, see 4:101 (below)
2:161 (Malik): Surely those who are unbelievers and die while they are unbelievers, they are the ones on whom is the curse of Allah…
Comment: Allah curses non-Muslims who don’t become Muslim.
2:257 (Shakir): Allah is the guardian [wali] of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light; and (as for) those who disbelieve, their guardians [auliya] are Shaitans [Satan] who take them out of the light into the darkness; they are the inmates of the fire, in it they shall abide.
Comment: Non-Muslims are allied to “Shaitans” or “devils”. Thus non-Muslims are “in league with the devil” and hence themselves evil, (see also 7:27 which says that devils are the non-Muslims protectors/friends). In 47:11 however the non-Muslims have no “auliya”s at all; thus contradicting the above.
3:19 (Shakir): Surely the (true) religion with Allah is Islam, and those to whom the Book had been given [Jews and Christians] did not show opposition [to Mohammed] but after knowledge [of Islam] had come to them, out of envy among themselves; and whoever disbelieves in the communications of Allah then surely Allah is quick in reckoning.
Comment: This verse comes close to declaring Jews and Moslems apostates from Islam. It certainly states that no other religion has any validity. It also shows that the word “disbeliever” does not mean “apostate” but has the same meaning as “unbeliever”.
3:28 (Pickthall):Let not the believers take disbelievers for their [trusted] friends [as in supporters, helpers, protectors; Arabic “auliya”] in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them, taking (as it were) security. Allah biddeth you beware (only) of Himself. Unto Allah is the journeying.
Comment: This verse says that Muslims cannot take non-muslims as “trusted friends”(auliya), on pain of becoming apostate; except in a deceitful way if they have to as a “security” to protect themselves against the non-muslims. This verse is also the basis for the doctrine of Taqiyya/Muda’rat. See also 4:144.
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I think that “trusted friend” is the most succinct translation of “auliya” and its derivatives. This word (auliya) implies someone who can be relied on to help, support, protect or guard; so it is more than just a friendship. Thus the verse does not mean that Muslims can’t be friends with, or friendly to, non-Muslims (despite poor translation in many Korans), rather it means that they should not repose trust or reliance in non-Muslim friends. Some translations use “allies” for auliya (which is better), but I think this too somewhat “undervalues” the meaning, since an ally is not necessarily a friend.
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3:31-32 (Malik):Tell the people (O Muhammad): “If you sincerely love Allah, then follow me; Allah will also love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” Also tell them, “Obey Allah and His Messenger.” In spite of this, if they turn back, (then warn them,) that Allah does not love the disbelievers.
Comment: Allah doesn’t love non-Muslims, (in fact he curses and hates them see also 4:10, 4:47, ).
3:56 (Hilali-Khan): “As to those who disbelieve, I [Allah] will punish them with a severe torment in this world and in the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.”
Comment: Here Allah states that he will punish non-Muslims in this World, simply for being non-Muslims. Thus, since non-Muslims are worthy of Allah’s punishment and Allah only punishes wrong-doers (e.g. 2:286, 3:11, 5:49, 6:47 to give but a few references), no non-Muslim is an innocent. This is often the attitude of the “jihadi” or “mujahid” who thus only regards Muslims as (potential) “innocents”.
3:85 (Shakir): And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers.
Comment: It is not “acceptable” to be non-muslim in this world (here I include atheism etc as a “religion” in the sense that it is a religious position).
3:151 (Pickthall): We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve because they ascribe unto Allah partners, for which no warrant hath been revealed. Their habitation is the Fire, and hapless the abode of the wrong-doers. See also 8:12.
Comment: Different version of this verse use “unbelievers” and “disbelievers” interchangeably. Allah here promises to terrorise non-Muslims (Islam polemically calls all non-Muslims “polytheists”). Other exegetes consider that this verse refers particularly to Christians whom the Koran accuses of worshipping three gods: Allah, Jesus and Mary (4:171, 5:73 and 5:116). This verse was later extended to Hindus and other polytheists as Islam encountered them in its expansionist, Imperialistic wars.
4:10 (Malik): (On the Day of Judgement) it will be said to the disbelievers: “Allah’s hatred towards you was far greater – (during your worldly life) when you were called to the Faith and you used to refuse – than your hatred of yourselves.”
Comment: This verse states that Allah hates non-Moslems (and thus it is obligatory to for Muslims to hate non-Muslims, see doctrine of Al-Wala’ Wal-Bara’) worse than non-Muslims can ever hate themselves.
4:47 (Shakir): O people of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Believe in what We have now revealed (The Qur’an), confirming your own scriptures, before We obliterate your faces and turn them backward, or lay Our curse on you as We laid Our curse on the Sabbath-breakers: and remember that Allah’s command is always executed.
Comment: Allah finds it necessary to threaten to murder and curse Jews and Christians. A person who’s “face is obliterated and turned backwards” has had his/her head beaten in and neck broken.
4:76 (Pickthall): Those who believe do battle [Arabic 'qital' = fight] for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil. Lo! the devil’s strategy is ever weak..
Comment: This verse declares non-muslims to be Satan’s “minions”, ie non-muslims are themselves “little satans” and thus evil. (We will also look at this verse in connection with war/jihad.)
4:101 (Pickthall): And when ye go forth in the land, it is no sin for you to curtail (your) worship if ye fear that those who disbelieve may attack you. In truth the disbelievers are an open enemy to you.
Comment: This verse categorically states that all non-muslims are enemies of muslims/Islam and therefore all Muslims must hold all non-Muslims in enmity.
5:51 (Shakir): O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for [trusted] friends [as in supporters, helpers, protectors - auliya]; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.
Comment: Muslims are here expressly forbidden from taking Jews and Christian as trusted friends – to do so makes one an apostate and apostasy is punishable by death under Sharia law.
7:176 (Shakir): … so his parable is as the parable of the dog; if you attack him he lolls out his tongue; and if you leave him alone he lolls out his tongue; this is the parable of the people who reject Our communications [ie remain non-Muslims]; therefore relate the narrative that they may reflect.
Comment: In this verse non-Muslims are compared to dogs – the dog is an “unclean” (ritually polluting) animal in Islam, thus reinforcing the idea that non-Muslims are “najjis” – dirty, filthy, unclean, polluting.
7:177 (Shakir): Evil is the likeness of the people who reject Our communications and are unjust to their own souls.
Comment: non-Muslims are declared evil, yet again.
8:22 (Hilali-Khan): Verily! The worst of (moving) living creatures in the Sight of Allah are the deaf and the dumb, those who understand not (i.e. the disbelievers).
Comment: In other words non-Muslims are not human, they are lower than motile bacteria in Allah’s sight.
8:55 (Shakir): Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve
Comment: See 8:22.
9:3-4 (Hilali-Khan): And a declaration from Allah and His Messenger to mankind on the greatest day that Allah is free from (all) obligations to the Mushrikoon and so is His Messenger. So if you repent, it is better for you, but if you turn away, then know that you cannot escape Allah. And give tidings of a painful torment to those who disbelieve. Except those of the Mushrikoon with whom you have a treaty, and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor have supported anyone against you. So fulfil their treaty to them to the end of their term. Surely Allah loves the pious.
Comment: The word “Mushrikoon” means polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers – ie all non-Muslims. It also implies that Allah and Mohammed (and their inheritors – the Islamic state in the person of the Caliph) are free from all treaty and other obligations to non-Muslims, unless the non-Muslims have abided by every “jot and tittle” of the condition with no lapses whatsoever – and these treaties are only of fixed term. But it gets worse …
9:7-8 (Malik): How can there be a treaty with the pagans [mushrikooon, non-Muslims] on the part of Allah and His Messenger, except for those with whom you ratified a treaty at the Masjid-al-Haram? So long as they honour it, you also honour: for Allah loves the righteous. How can you trust them? If they prevail against you, they respect neither treaty nor ties of relationship. They just flatter you with their tongues, but their hearts reject you, and most of them are transgressors.
Comment: This verse implies that their can be no treaty between non-Muslims and the Islamic state, with the sole exceptions of those made at the Mecca Mosque – from which all non-Muslims are barred! It also states that non-muslims do not honour treaties with the Islamic state. See also 25:52. And it gets worse yet …
9:10 (Malik): They [non-muslims] neither honour the ties of relationship nor observe the obligations of treaties with the believers; it is they who are the transgressors.
Comment: States that non-Muslims will not abide by a treaty and that in all cases of “breach of treaty”, it is the non-Muslims who are to blame, irrespective of the real cause; thus allowing Muslims to “get in their retaliation first”.
9:28 (Malik): O believers! Know that pagans [non-Muslims] are unclean…
Comment: the word “unclean” is a translation of “Najis” which means filthy/untouchable/impure. Thus contact with non-muslims defiles muslims. So now you know why some Muslims refuse to shake hands.
9:30 (Malik): The Jews say: “Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah,” and the Christians say: ” Messiah (Christ) is the son of Allah.” That is what they say with their mouths, imitating the sayings of the former unbelievers. May Allah destroy them! How perverted they are!
Comment: In this verse Allah prays to himself that he will destroy Jews and Christians and calls them “perverts”. This verse is another declaration of enmity between Allah and the other “abrahamic” faiths. See also 38:2. (I’m setting aside the lie towards the Jews in this verse and the absurdity of Allah praying to himself.)
9:73-74 (Arberry): O Prophet, struggle [lit. “wage/make jihad”] with the unbelievers and hypocrites, and be thou harsh with them; their refuge is Gehenna, an evil homecoming! They swear by God that they said nothing, but they indeed said the word of unbelief and disbelieved, after they had surrendered[Arabic: Islamihim].
Comment: A command to wage a harsh jihad against non-Muslims. Also: here “hypocrites” are those that “said the word of disbelief … after they had surrendered” (ie accepted Islam)” (9:72). Thus they apostatised. Hence apostates are classed as “hypocrites” in the Koran (along with Muslims holding heterodox beliefs).
25:52(Pickthall): So obey not the disbelievers, but strive [lit. “wage Jihad”] against them with a great endeavour.
Comment: In this verse Muslims are commanded to disobey non-Muslims and to wage a strenuous Jihad against them. Further note that “ obey not the disbelievers” relieves Muslims of any need to obey non-Muslim authority. See also 26:151, 33:1, 33:48.
26:198-99 (Arberry): If We had sent it [the Koran] down on a barbarian and he had recited it to them, they would not have believed in it.
Comment: Other translations use “non-Arab” or “foreigners” instead of “barbarian” as ‘softer’ translations, but here the Koran is stating the supremacy of the Arabs over all others, including non-Arab muslims.
28:86 (Stephens-Darwish): You did not hope that the book [Koran] would be given to you except as a mercy from your Lord. So do not be a supporter [or: helper] of the unbelievers.
Comment: This verse commands Muslims not to help or support non-Muslims under any circumstances. Does this explain the general paucity of response to emergencies in the non-Muslim world by Islamic states?
33:64 (Malik): Surely Allah has laid a curse on the unbelievers and has prepared for them a blazing fire.
Comment: Yet again Allah curses non-Muslims.
38:2 (Malik): And by the Qur’an which is full of admonition! Surely the unbelievers are in sheer arrogance and perverseness.
Comment: Non-Muslims are in “perverseness”, that is they are perverts – and arrogant as well.
48:29 (Pickthall): Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves…
Comment: The word translated as “Hard” means merciless/ unforgiving /relentless. Thus Muslims are commanded to be merciless/ unforgiving /relentless against non-Muslims.
60:1 (Shakir): O you who believe! do not take My enemy and your enemy for friends: would you offer them love while they deny what has come to you of the truth, driving out the Messenger and yourselves because you believe in Allah, your Lord? If you go forth struggling hard [i.e. waging Jihadi war] in My path and seeking My pleasure, would you manifest love to them? And I know what you conceal and what you manifest; and whoever of you does this, he indeed has gone astray from the straight path.
Comment: Those who “deny …the truth” of Islam are non-Muslims. This verse declares non-Muslims who oppose Islam to be Allah’s enemy, yet again.
60:4 (Malik):You have an excellent example in Abraham and his companions. They said to their people plainly: “We are clear of you and (your gods) whom you worship besides Allah. We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall reign between us forever until you believe in Allah, the One (and Only God).” But do not emulate what Abraham said to his father: “I will pray for your forgiveness, although I have no power to get anything for you from Allah.” (Their collective prayer was:) “Our Lord! In You we have put our trust, to You we turn in repentance and to You is our final goal.
Comment: This verse refers to Abraham (or Ibrahim in Arabic), whom Islam claims as the “first Muslim” or as a “proto-Muslim”. His example is “excellent” when he declares eternal “enmity and hatred” of non-Muslims, but bad when he prays for his non-Muslim Dad. Thus the lesson to be learned by Muslims in this verse is to have eternal hatred for non-Muslims.
98:6 (Pickthall): Those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings.
Comment: Yet again non-muslims are the worst (some translations say “lowest” or “vilest”) of created beings (or: men).
40:35 (Shakir): They [non-Muslims] who dispute the signs [Arabic “ayah” also means Koran verses] of Allah without authority having reached them are greatly hated by Allah and the believers. So Allah seals up every arrogant, disdainful heart.
Comment: This tells muslims to hate any non-muslim who argues with them about Islam and also states that non-Muslims have no “authority” to so argue. Does this explain the Islamic reaction to criticism?
On the other hand:
2:256 (Pickthall): There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower. [AND] 109:6 (Pickthall): Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.
Comment: These verses are often used by Muslims to claim that you can freely leave Islam, however, see “on Muslim Apostates” in part two of this series. Further, the Ahadith and Sharia judgement is unequivocal; apostasy is punishable by death.
Thus the best interpretation one can give these verses is that the non-Muslim should not be forced/compelled to become Muslim, though s/he can be forced to become a “dhimmi” or second-class citizen, if s/he does not spot how the “ right direction [Islam] is … distinct from error [non-Islam]”.
Some Tafseers (Koran commentaries) go further, stating that offering a person the choice “become Muslim or I will kill you” (to put it at its bluntest) does not amount to “forcing” a conversion, since the non-Muslim is given a choice – Islam or death.
However, no Tafseer (of which I am aware) relates either of these verses to apostasy from Islam and, in fact, these verses have nothing to do with apostasy from Islam at all, despite all apologetic statements to the contrary.
9:6 (Hilali-Khan). And if anyone of the Mushrikoon (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) [i.e. non-Muslims] seeks your protection then grant him protection, so that he may hear the Word of Allah (the Quran), and then escort him to where he can be secure, that is because they are men who know not.
Comment: this verse sounds benign, especially in contrast the the immediately preceding “verse of the sword” (see part four of this series), but it must be remembered that a “protected person” is Islam’s way of describing a “dhimmi”, who is a second-class and dis-enfranchised person.
In summary the Koran teaches that non-muslims:
are declared by Allah to be his eternal enemies.
are declared by Allah to be the eternal enemies of muslims.
are cursed and hated by Allah.
are not “allowed” to argue with Muslims about Islam – and are to be hated (that’s twice over, once for just being non-Muslim and again for arguing) for daring so to do.
will be terrorised by Allah (perhaps referring to Christians in particular).
are Satan’s allies and minions.
are inherently evil, arrogant and perverted.
Are never “innocents”.
deserve punishment in this world for the sin of “khufr” – non-belief in Islam.
are not to be taken as trusted friends (this makes a Muslim an apostate).
cannot be trusted to uphold treaties or other obligations, so none should be made with them and Muslims are free from all obligations under such treaties.
are not to be protected, supported or helped.
are not to be obeyed by Muslims; (nor are laws, oaths, treaties etc made by or with non-Muslims).
are to have jihad (which includes war, though it is more than merely war) waged against them.
are to be shown no mercy.
are vile, unclean sub-human animals of the lowest sort whose mere touch defiles a muslim.
but you are allowed to become a dhimmi.
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Post-script: If anyone knows of any other relevant verses, please contribute them in comments, I do not regard the verse lists in these articles as definitive in any way.
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