Saturday, May 28, 2016

Robert Spencer`s Blogging the Qur`an: Sura 9

Foremost expert on Islam, Robert Spencer is also the author of The Infidel`s Guide to ISIS (and many more books, monographs and articles) and his widely read and respected Blogging the Qu´ran, published at Jihad Watch and recently PJ Media (in an updated verson). To read a bit about him at the Jihad Watch site, kindly click on this link:

Here are some brief quotations from the article dealing with Sura 9, "Repentance", which I kindly suggest you read in full by clicking on the links below (The first link will provide a brief introduction to the whole series which the reader is asked to follow with a Qur`an of their own. Reliable translations are suggested by Mr. Spencer and can be found and read online for free).

A Worldwide Must-Read: Robert Spencer’s Blogging the Qur’an

To read the entire article, kindly click on the link below:

THE MOST IMPORTANT SURA: Robert Spencer’s Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 9, ‘Repentance’

If you don't know Sura 9, then you don't know Islam, you don't understand the Middle East.
Why do some Muslims consider it their responsibility before Allah to wage war against Jews and Christians?
Because of this chapter of the Qur’an.
Sura 9, “Repentance,” is the only one of the Qur’an’s 114 chapters that does not begin with “Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim” – “In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful.” Explanations for this vary. The caliph Uthman (and others, including the Islamic jurist Zamakhshari) explains that it was because some believed that Sura 8 and Sura 9 were actually one sura, and that “the holy prophet passed away without informing us whether Surah Bara’ah [Sura 9] was part of Surah Anfal [Sura 8] or not.” Ibn Kathir says that the omission is simply “because the Companions did not write it in the complete copy of the Qur’an (Mushaf) they collected.” Maududi asserts that the correct explanation was given by Imam Razi, who says that the Bismillah was left off because Muhammad himself didn’t recite it at the beginning of this Sura. Al-Hakim says that Muhammad not only didn’t recite the Bismillah himself, but commanded that it not be recited at the beginning of this Sura.
Why not? The Tafsir al-Jalalayn explains Muhammad’s command by saying that the Bismillah “is security, and [Sura 9] was sent down when security was removed by the sword.”
One of Muhammad’s earliest followers, Ali ibn Abi Talib, agrees, saying that the Bismillah “conveys security while this Sura was sent down with the sword. That is why it does not begin with security.” The Tafsir al-Jalalayn adds:  “Hudhayfa reports that they called it the Sura of Repentance, while it is, in fact, the Sura of Punishment.”
Punishment, that is, of the unbelievers.
The prohibition on saying the Bismillah at the beginning of this Sura, in any case, remains. Scholars such as Jazari and Shatbi say that the Bismillah should not be recited at the beginning of this Sura, although Bulandshahri says that if someone recites Sura 9 starting from anywhere other than its beginning, he may recite the Bismillah if he chooses to do so.
According to a hadith recorded by Bukhari, Sura 9 was the last to be revealed as a whole, although part of another sura came later. Another hadith says that Sura 110 was actually the last, but in any case Sura 9 is very late, among the last revelations Muhammad received. It came around the time, according to an Islamic tradition, of an inconclusive expedition Muhammad undertook against a Byzantine garrison at Tabuk in northern Arabia in 631, and much of its contents revolve around the events of that attempt to engage the army of the great Christian empire in battle.


While Islamic law does stipulate that the jizya is not to be collected from women and children, reality in many cases has been different. According to the pioneering historian of dhimmitude, Bat Ye’or:
The poll tax was extorted by torture. The tax inspectors demanded gifts for themselves; widows and orphans were pillaged and despoiled. In theory, women, paupers, the sick, and the infirm were exempt from the poll tax; nevertheless, Armenian, Syriac, and Jewish sources provide abundant proof that the jizya was exacted from children, widows, orphans, and even the dead. A considerable number of extant documents, preserved over the centuries, testify to the persistence and endurance of these measures. In Aleppo in 1683, French Consul Chevalier Laurent d’Arvieux noted that ten-year-old Christian children paid the jizya. Here again, one finds the disparity and contradiction between the ideal in the theory and the reality of the facts. (The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, pp. 78-9).

 In explaining how the Jews and Christians must “feel themselves subdued,” Ibn Kathir quotes a saying of Muhammad: “Do not initiate the Salam [greeting of peace] to the Jews and Christians, and if you meet any of them in a road, force them to its narrowest alley.” He then goes on to outline the notorious (and almost certainly legendary) Pact of Umar, an agreement made, according to Islamic tradition, between the caliph Umar, who ruled the Muslims from 634 to 644, and a Christian community.
This Pact is worth close examination, because despite its slight historical value, it became the foundation for Islamic law regarding the treatment of the dhimmis. With remarkably little variation, throughout Islamic history whenever Islamic law was strictly enforced, this is generally how non-Muslims were treated.
Working from the full text as Ibn Kathir has it, these are the conditions the Christians accept in return for “safety for ourselves, children, property and followers of our religion” — conditions that, according to Ibn Kathir, “ensured their continued humiliation, degradation and disgrace.” The Christians will not:
1. Build “a monastery, church, or a sanctuary for a monk”;
2. “Restore any place of worship that needs restoration”;
3. Use such places “for the purpose of enmity against Muslims”;
4. “Allow a spy against Muslims into our churches and homes or hide deceit [or betrayal] against Muslims”;
5. Imitate the Muslims’ “clothing, caps, turbans, sandals, hairstyles, speech, nicknames and title names”;
6. “Ride on saddles, hang swords on the shoulders, collect weapons of any kind or carry these weapons”;
7. “Encrypt our stamps in Arabic”
8. “Sell liquor” — Christians in Iraq in the last few years ran afoul of Muslims reasserting this rule;
9. “Teach our children the Qur’an”;
10. “Publicize practices of Shirk” — that is, associating partners with Allah, such as regarding Jesus as Son of God. In other words, Christian and other non-Muslim religious practice will be private, if not downright furtive;
11. Build “crosses on the outside of our churches and demonstrating them and our books in public in Muslim fairways and markets” — again, Christian worship must not be public, where Muslims can see it and become annoyed;
12. “Sound the bells in our churches, except discreetly, or raise our voices while reciting our holy books inside our churches in the presence of Muslims, nor raise our voices [with prayer] at our funerals, or light torches in funeral processions in the fairways of Muslims, or their markets”;
13. “Bury our dead next to Muslim dead”;
14. “Buy servants who were captured by Muslims”;
15. “Invite anyone to Shirk” — that is, proselytize, although the Christians also agree not to;
16. “Prevent any of our fellows from embracing Islam, if they choose to do so.” Thus the Christians can be the objects of proselytizing, but must not engage in it themselves;
17. “Beat any Muslim.”
Meanwhile, the Christians will:
1. Allow Muslims to rest “in our churches whether they come by day or night”;
2. “Open the doors [of our houses of worship] for the wayfarer and passerby”;
3. Provide board and food for “those Muslims who come as guests” for three days;
4. “Respect Muslims, move from the places we sit in if they choose to sit in them” — shades of Jim Crow;
5. “Have the front of our hair cut, wear our customary clothes wherever we are, wear belts around our waist” — these are so that a Muslim recognizes a non-Muslim as such and doesn’t make the mistake of greeting him with As-salaamu aleikum, “Peace be upon you,” which is the Muslim greeting for a fellow Muslim;
6. “Be guides for Muslims and refrain from breaching their privacy in their homes.”
The Christians swore: “If we break any of these promises that we set for your benefit against ourselves, then our Dhimmah (promise of protection) is broken and you are allowed to do with us what you are allowed of people of defiance and rebellion.”
The imperative to subjugate non-Muslims as mandated by Qur’an 9:29 and elaborated by this Pact remained part of Islamic law, and does to this day.
In the Nineteenth Century, the Western powers began to pressure the last Islamic empire, the Ottoman Empire, to abolish the dhimma. In Baghdad in the early nineteenth century, Sheikh Syed Mahmud Allusi (1802-1853), author of the noted commentary on the Qur’an Ruhul Ma’ani, complains that the Muslims have grown so weak that the dhimmis pay the jizya through agents, rather than delivering it themselves on foot.