As we reported here earlier this week, on November 2 a group of Counterjihad activists spoke at an event in Copenhagen hosted by Trykkefrihedsselskabet (the Danish Free Press Society). The occasion was the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Theo Van Gogh.
The two most prominent speakers were Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV) in the Netherlands, and Daniel Pipes, the founder of the Middle East Forum.
After Mr. Wilders’ speech there was a question and answer session that included a debate between Dr. Pipes and Mr. Wilders about the possible existence of a “Moderate Islam”. The audio track in the original video, which began with Mr. Wilders’ speech, was hard to hear, especially during the Q&A session. Thanks to the efforts of Apollon Zamp — who transcribed the responses of the two men — and Vlad Tepes — who subtitled the excerpt — we now have a six-minute video of this debate.
The issue of a hypothetical “Moderate Islam” is a crucial one in our movement. It offers a siren song of hope to those who would dearly love to escape the dreadful choices that lie ahead of us if Western Civilization is to be salvaged. Actually, all of us would dearly love to avoid the horrors that lie ahead. However, after long experience, the hard-nosed realists among us have come to understand that such eventualities are sadly unavoidable.
To grasp at the straw of “Moderate Islam” is to risk drowning in the rising flood of the Great Jihad.
I had a few things to say about this the other day, and I have a few more tonight. But first, let’s watch the video:
Geert Wilders is clear and forthright in his explanation of the Doctrine of Abrogation. He is also correct: the later verses of the Koran abrogate and nullify the earlier verses. As it happens, all the peaceful verses were later abrogated by the violent verses, which exhort the faithful to behead infidels and take their property as war booty.
Daniel Pipes has studied Islam for forty-five years. He is able to quote “there is no compulsion in religion” in Arabic. Yet oddly enough, he seems completely unfamiliar with the Doctrine of Abrogation, which is the juridical backbone of all four schools of Sunni Islamic law.
The following abbreviated explanation of abrogation is drawn in large part from the comprehensive research of Major (ret.) Stephen Coughlin, the pre-eminent American expert on Islamic law.
This is what Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee has to say about abrogation in Islamic Jurisprudence:
The law was laid down in the period of the Prophet (peace be unto him) gradually and in stages. The aim was to bring a society steeped in immorality to observe the highest standards of morality. This could not be done abruptly. It was done in stages, and doing so necessitated repeal and abrogation of certain laws.
As you can see, Nyazee acknowledges that the Koran contradicts itself. It is well understood among Islamic scholars that the Koran contradicts itself. This fact is explained, and taken into account. There are methods for dealing with it.
This becomes significant when non-Muslims approach a Muslim cultural expert or “moderate” to ask about certain verses of the Koran that are cited by radicals to justify their violent jihad. The cultural expert or “moderate” will respond with something like this: “You (infidel) must read from the entire body of the Koran to understand the true meaning. Those radicals cherry-pick from the back of the Koran.”
With this reply the cultural expert gives the impression that he does not agree with the radicals, but he never actually says that what they cherry-pick is wrong.
So what is the Koranic basis for the doctrine of abrogation?
It is a Qur’an which We have divided into parts from time to time, in order that thou mightest recite it to men at intervals: We have Revealed it by stages. (Qur’an 17:106)
Concerning this verse, the Qur’an commentator Yusuf Ali says:
The marvel is that these parts, revealed at different times and in different circumstances, should fit together so closely and consistently as they do. All revelation is progressive. The previous revelations were also progressive. Each of them marked a stage in the world’s spiritual history. Man’s mind does not take in more than his spiritual state will have prepared him for. Allah’s revelation comes as a light to illuminate our difficulties and show us the way in actual situations that arise.
Here is another verse covering the same subject:
When We substitute one revelation for another — and Allah knows best what He reveals in stages — They say, “Thou art but a forger”: But most of them understand not. (Qur’an 16:101)
And once again, a comment by Yusuf Ali:
The doctrine of progressive revelation from age to age and time to time does not mean that Allah’s fundamental Law changes. It is not fair to charge a Prophet of Allah with forgery because the Message, as revealed to him, is in a different form from that revealed before, when the core of the Truth is the same, for it comes from Allah.
The final Koranic verse on progressive revelation:
None of Our revelations do we abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but we substitute something better or similar; knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things? (Qur’an 2:106)
Thus we have three different citations from the Koran in which Allah says he reveals things in stages, and that with each stage he abrogates the previous stages. We would expect — because it is the uncreated word of Allah — that what was said later would overrule what was said earlier. And any Islamic law which did not reflect this fact would be suspect.
That means that if the radicals are cherry-picking chronologically from the back of the Koran, they are correct.
In Outlines of Muhammadan Law, Asaf A.A. Fyzee remarks:
The Koran according to this theory is the first source of law. … It is for this reason that the verses of the Koran (ayat), although only a few of them deal specifically with legal questions, are held to be of paramount authority. In interpreting the Koranic verses, one important principle has to be observed. Some verses are deemed to be the abrogating (nasikh) verses and some to be the abrogated (mansukh) ones. Generally speaking the earlier verses are deemed to be repealed by the later ones.
Thus, because the later Koranic verses are always considered to be the valid and binding points of Islamic law, it becomes important to arrange the Koran chronologically.
When the Koran is arranged chronologically, it is divided into the early, middle, and late Meccan periods, and the Medina period. Surah 2 is generally understood to be the first surah of the Medina period. Surah 9 is the penultimate surah of the Koran and, 5 is the last surah of the Koran. However, there is some disagreement among scholars about the ordering, and different orderings exist. Some authorities name 110 as the final surah, rather than 5, and some say 9 is the last.
What is important in this context is the general agreement that Surah 9 is the last to talk about jihad, 5 is the last to talk about relations with non-Muslims, and 3 is understood to come after 2. All four schools of Sunni Islamic are in general agreement on abrogating/abrogated texts, and on the major issues they are in general agreement. 75% of Sunni Islamic law is recognized in common across all four schools.
So a Muslim jurist does not read Islamic law and decide what is or is not abrogated. These issues have already been decided. If you are a Hanbali, or Hanafi, or Shafite, or Maliki Islamic scholar, you will refer to your school’s books on abrogated texts. No one can become a judge unless he knows them by heart; they are that important.
How are the surahs in the Koran arranged? When you open the Koran, you see Surah 1, which is very brief, and serves as an introduction. Next comes Surah 2, which is the largest surah in the Koran, about a hundred and fifty pages long. Surah 3 is the second largest, Surah 4 is the third largest, and so on. It becomes obvious that when the scholars constructed the Koran, they put the introductory surah first, but after that the Koran was ordered by the size of the surahs, from the largest to the smallest chapter. The Koran is not arranged chronologically.
When you look at the entire body of the Koran, the Meccan period seems much bigger than the Medinan period. But surahs 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 9 — all from the Medinan period — comprise about 80% of the Koran, while surahs 109, 112, 113, and 114 — from the Meccan period — occupy less than entire pages. In other words, the number of a surah does not refer to its order in the chronology, but to its size.
Islamic law is entirely derived from the Medinan period. Anything said during the Medinan period overrules anything on the same subject that was said in the Meccan periods. And anything said in the later part of the Medinan period overrules anything said in the earlier part.
Whenever a moderate finally concedes that there is such a thing as jihad, he will quote Surah 2 (with some support from Surah 8), because the first jihad was mentioned in Surah 2, and can reasonably be expected to be defensive jihad. But remember: the last surah that talks about jihad is Surah 9 — the Sword Surah, which mandates jihad in the path of Allah for all Muslims.
So how does this affect our understanding of Islam?
Surah 2 says:
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy handhold. (Qur’an 2:256)
Virtually any Westerner who knows anything about Islam has heard this. It says let there be no compulsion in religion. But what most people have not heard is this:
Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam will never have it accepted of him, and he will be of those who have truly failed in the hereafter (Qur’an 3:85)
So if you have not come to Islam, what is going to happen to you? You are going to go to Hell.
An afterthought from Vlad, in answer to the question in the title of this post:
To quote Hillary Clinton, but this time in an appropriate context: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
|00:01||As you know, I admire your courage and your clear analysis. But I also disagree, as you know,|
|00:07||with one thing you’re saying. You said there will never be a moderate Islam. I don’t know how|
|00:14||you know that. Islam has changed — I’m a historian, and a historian studies change over time.|
|00:22||Everything human changes over time. I took up the study of Islam in 1969, 45 years ago.|
|00:29||Islam is very different and much worse than it was in 1969. If it can get worse, it can get better.|
|00:36||Islam changes. I could spend an — we could have a summit on it. I’ll tell you about how Islam has|
|00:41||changed. How do you know it can’t get better? How do you know there can’t be a moderate Islam?|
|00:46||Why are you rejecting this possibility beforehand? Lars is skeptical. I accept that.|
|00:52||But you’re saying, “Absolutely, no, it can’t happen.”|
|00:57||Well, Daniel and I have known each other for a long time. We do respect each other|
|01:04||and we have had the discussion many times before, and sometimes we can agree to disagree.|
|01:09||But, indeed, I don’t believe that Islam will ever change. Islam is the word — look at the Koran.|
|01:15||The Koran is, together with the Hadith and the Life of Mohammed, the Sira, the Koran is the way,|
|01:22||the basis of Islam. And the Koran, Muslims believe, is the word of God.|
|01:30||It cannot be changed. And of course people change, Daniel. I believe that. I don’t believe|
|01:37||that Islam has ever changed in the past. When it got worse — and indeed it did,|
|01:42||it’s worse every day — then it’s because people changed. And people changed|
|01:47||unfortunately for the worse, not for the better. So yes, I believe that even though today,|
|01:54||it gets worse every second — look at the Islamic State, look at what is happening in your country,|
|01:59||my country — and that will not change. But the people can change. And I’m not a theologian.|
|02:05||I believe that once again, why people, and why people believe in Islam is none of my business.|
|02:12||But I am a politician. I’m a lawmaker. And I’ll tell you I just told you before,|
|02:17||that I’m not interested in changing [them] or not. I’m interested in the people. And if you adhere|
|02:22||to our values, you are welcome and if you do not adhere to our values, you have to go.|
|02:29||You have to leave. I don’t care if it will change, or it will not. I care about the people in my society:|
|02:36||Will women in Copenhagen, in Amsterdam be free to walk the streets or will they be harassed?|
|02:43||Will children be free to walk our streets? Will homosexuals be beaten up in Amsterdam|
|02:50||by Moroccan youths or not? This is the question we should answer, and if the [answer] is “no”,|
|02:55||we should send them away and stop the immigration [from] countries where we have this aggression.|
|03:01||That is the only question that I want to answer.|
|03:10||Daniel, do you want to comment on that?|
|03:15||Yes, we have argued this for decades and more. And I agree with your point about the actions|
|03:26||being unacceptable and people changing, so we agree on that. Still, you made very clear|
|03:33||in your opening remarks that Islam, moderate Islam can — there’ll never be a moderate Islam.|
|03:39||So let’s put aside the actions of people. Why can there not be a moderate Islam?|
|03:45||It’s — the Koran remains the same, but interpretations of it change. Let me give you one example.|
|03:51||There’s a short phrase in the Koran, [la ikraha fiddin], meaning “there should be|
|03:56||no compulsion in religion.” This is a phrase which over the millennia has changed in its|
|04:03||understanding, its interpretation. I wrote an article in which I showed some|
|04:08||dozen different historical understandings of what this term means,|
|04:12||from the most rigid and limited to the most liberal. Now, every aspect of the Koran|
|04:18||can be dealt with in this same way. For example, the contradictions in the Koran.|
|04:22||As it is now, it tends to be the more severe that are accepted and the less severe|
|04:27||which are rejected. That could change. This is human. This is not divine;|
|04:31||this is interpretation of the Koran. Interpretation of the Koran has changed and is changing,|
|04:37||and it has changed for the worse and the more severe. Why don’t you admit the possibility|
|04:41||of a change for the better? – Well, you know, the Koran,|
|04:45||in Islam there is a rule called “abrogation”. And abrogation means that the latest verse in the Koran|
|04:54||is valid and invalidates everything that was written before. That’s a rule that even moderates|
|05:00||in Islam agree with. So indeed, yes, there are passages in the Koran that were saying|
|05:05||maybe not the harshest things but they were, at the end of the day, replaced through abrogation|
|05:13||by many parts of the Koran, which I don’t believe but many Muslims believe in,|
|05:17||that this the fact today. Second point: it’s the word of God. It’s the word of God|
|05:23||[that] there are not interpretations today about; there are no Arab or Islamic yeshivas|
|05:31||being active today, but where people study and interpret the parts of the Koran,|
|05:35||they are non-existent. So please, let us once again agree to disagree; just let us not focus|
|05:43||on something that I believe will never happen, and you believe that it might happen|
|05:47||in five thousand years. But I am interested in what will happen today, and tomorrow,|
|05:51||and the day after tomorrow, and our countries should be safe, and safe from the brutality of Islam.|
|1.||Imran Asham Khan Nyazee, Islamic Jurisprudence, (Kuala Lumpur: The Other Press, 2003), 319.|
|2.||Yusuf Ali, Qur’an, Comment 2317.|
|3.||Yusuf Ali, Qur’an, Comment 2140.|
|4.||Asaf A. A. Fyzee, Outlines of Muhammadan Law, 4th ed. (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1974), at 19-20.|
|5.||Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Reliance of the Traveller (Revised Edition,1991, amana publications, Beltsville, Maryland), vii.