A recent Associated Press story stated that about two dozen Oklahoma lawmakers plan to return copies of the Qur'an to a state panel on diversity created by Gov. Brad Henry after a lawmaker claimed the Muslim holy book condones the killing of innocent women and children.
The lawmaker, Rep. Rex Duncan, is obviously ignorant. Hey, there is no shame in being ignorant. We all are ignorant about many things. But it is a disaster when one is in denial of his/her ignorance and even makes judgments and bigoted decisions based on that ignorance. There is absolutely not a single verse in the Qur'an that condones the killing of any innocent people, including women and children. If anything, Islamic teachings clearly and strongly stresses the value and sanctity of every human life. Even in times of defensive just wars, Muslims are unequivocally forbidden from harming women, children, the old, non-combatants, the wounded, animals, and even the environment.
Rep. Duncan went on spewing more lies and hate, saying: "we never hear those...Muslims opposing the practice of violence on innocent people".
Mr. Duncan, do yourself a favor and read the following site to learn about some of the efforts Muslims undertook in face of terrorism.
Well, this lawmaker's shameful ignorance did not stop here (some politicians just don't know when to stop talking). When asked if there was any double standard since lawmakers received a Centennial copy of the Bible earlier in the year from The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, Rep. Duncan was quoted saying:
"Mine is proudly on my desk on the Capitol and I don't think I ever read a part of it that condones the killing of women and children in furtherance of God's word."
Here is another proof that Duncan does not read much, if any. To say that Christian teachings (like that of Islam and Judaism) forbid the harming of innocent people, including women and children, will be accurate. But to say that he never read a part of the Bible that condones such killing is definitely inaccurate. Either Duncan never really opened the Bible gift given to him (what kind of a claimed Christian must he be? Probably a politician who panders to the Christian Right!), or he is reading a different Bible than the one I studied in my Christian schools.
Like all scriptures (and probably more than others), the Bible carries many verses dealing with violence. Such verses tend to be manipulated by extremists to justify their radical and violent views and actions. The Holocaust, slavery, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, and even the murdering of abortion doctors are all a result of such twisted interpretations. Rep. Duncan, don't feel singled out, such radicals exist in every religion. But to claim that such text does not exist is really dumb. Sorry, I had to use that word.
I strongly suggest reading: Beware sensational translations of holy verse, torn out of context
Here is a sample of such verses in the Bible:
In the New Testament, Jesus was quoted saying:
I come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled (Luke 12:49)
But those my enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me (Luke 19:27)
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all thing that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be they wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matt 13: 41-42)
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I come not to send peace, but a sword (Matt 10: 33-34)
The Old Testament includes:
Ezekiel 9:4-6. And the Lord said unto him... Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women; ...and begin at my sanctuary.
I Samuel 15:2,3. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ...Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
Isaiah 13:15-16. Everyone that is found shall be thrust through; ...Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.
Hosea 13:16. Their infants shall be dashed in pieces and their women with child shall be ripped up.
Numbers 31:17-18. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that has known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves (as concubines).
Psalm 137:9. Happy shall he be, that takes and dashes their little ones against the stones. [the Babylonians' children.]
Exodus 35:2 states the anyone working on the Sabbath should be put to death.
Leviticus 20:13 "If a man lies with a male, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."
Deuteronomy 13:6-8, 8-9 'If your brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife tries to secretly entice you, telling you to go and worship other gods, gods of people living near you, or far from you, or anywhere on earth, do not listen to him.' 'You must kill them. Show them no pity. And your hand must strike the first blow.'
Again, such verses do not define the Christian teachings of peace and forgiveness. But the truth is that those verses are part of the Bible. As a Muslim, I am taught to learn about others based on their interpretation of their religious beliefs, not based on the actions of the fringe followers. (I wish Rep. Duncan follows that rule too)
The ignorance expressed by Rep. Duncan is certainly not bliss this time. It is pure bigotry and shame. There was a time when lawmakers were true leaders; leaders who were expected to be intelligent, informed, wise, uniting, and with common sense. Gone are the good old days.
Today, some of those false "leaders" lead by their ignorance and by the fear of the "other" that they instill in their constituencies.
Fortunately, most Christians that I know and closely associate with (including family members and friends), do not follow Rep. Duncan's deformed brand of Christianity which preaches hatred toward others.
At the end of the AP story, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations was quoted saying:
"It just points to the amount of education about Islam and the American Muslim community that is needed in all levels in our society, including elected officials."
I could not have said it any better. He just is much more diplomatic than me.
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html