Islam is "Perpetual war" or "no compulsion in religion"
Mr. Robert Spencer is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) a book that is praised by a who's who of self-appointed for- profit crusaders against Islam. Spencer claims to know what "Islam" "is" and self appoints himself an authority on Islam. Spencer is on an unholy crusade looking for material he can use, in context and out of context, to advance his agenda of demonizing Muslims. He presents the religion as an evil ideology intent on dominating the world and subjecting it to Shariah law. The wording and titles of his chapters show his ideological bias. One chapter's title reads "Islamic law: lie, steal and kill." He is an activist who is involved with efforts to block and disturb efforts to builds Islamic centers in the US.
The Quran tolerant verses: "Canceled"
Spencer invokes the doctrine of abrogation (naskh) to claim that almost 200 verses in the Quran advocating peaceful co-existence, among other noble values, have been canceled by the "Sword verse" a verse that was referred to by an assistant US attorney in the trial of the Yemeni Imam Al Moayyed as the "terrorist verse." Spencer presents as an undisputed fact/consensus matter that "the violent verses of the ninth sura, including the "Verse of the Sword" (9:5), abrogate the peaceful verses, because they are revealed later in Muhammad's prophetic career. He adds "[D]ifferent understanding of abrogation met with little interest and support among Muslims worldwide- not least because they fly in the face of interpretations that have been mainstream for centuries."
"Moderate Islam" does not exist?
Spencer picks and chooses from the grand Islamic tradition to advance his agenda. It is true that some Muslims, a tiny percentage of worldwide Muslims, adopt the argument that he develops and misrepresents as mainstream Islam. As to the general Muslim public, he writes "…[those] who want nothing to do with today's global Jihad, while their theological foundation is weak."
Aggression vs. Non- belief
The theological foundation of those who argue against the wide ranging abrogation claim is not weak. It is voiced by, among others, the famous Muslim scholar of Aljazeera satellite TV station fame Al Qaradawi, a leading Muslim scholar who is watched on Al Jazeera by hundreds of millions of Muslims. On Al Qaradawi's website there is an Arabic- language entry based on a TV interview he gave headed "Aya al Sayf/The sword verse is a subject of disagreement and some say it was abrogated." [http://www.qaradawi.net/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=7197&version=1&template_id=197&parent_id=196]
Dr. Al Qaradawi's raises the argument that the "sword verse" itself is arguably abrogated. Qaradawi emphasized in the interview that "aggression on Muslims and not disbelief is the basis for Muslim warfare…There is disagreement on the so-called Sayf aya (the verse of the sword). Some claimed that it abrogated 200 verses of the Quran among which are the forgiveness and tolerance. But there are those who say that the Sword verse itself is abrogated." He stressed the importance of understanding and explaining these verses in the light of the context they were revealed and the reasons for the revelation.
Spencer presents the abrogation argument as a settled matter. Qaradawi presents a different picture. Qaradawi states: "There are those who claim that Islam has to conquer the world by force. They rely on debatable vague grounds. They claim that the verse of the sword abrogated all the verses calling for peaceful coexistence. On principle, abrogation should be narrowly applied. There are scholars who argue that there is no abrogation in the Quran and call for reinterpreting the verses that have been thought be abrogated. The issue of abrogation is not a settled matter. There is not even one verse in the Quran that is claimed to be abrogated where you don't find scholars claiming that it was not. There is not even one verse that there is consensus among the scholars that it is abrogated."
The four "sword verses" in Sura Repentance
Qaradawi added, 'there are four verses, almost all in the Sura al Tawba/Repentance, that are understood as the sword verses. For example, verse 9:5 "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war. But if they repent and establish regular prayers and pay Zakat then open the way for them." When you examine this verse you find that it deals with the idolaters of Qureysh and the idolaters of Arabia. They violated treaties and exceeded limits and hurt the Muslims and fought them for years. Tawba/Repentance Sura addressed them "a declaration of immunity from Allah and his Messenger to those of the Pagans with whom you have contracted mutual alliances." This verse addresses those who fight Islam. The proof for this understanding is the subsequent verse 9:4 "but the treaties are not dissolved with those Pagans with whom you have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfill your engagements with them to the end of their term: for Allah loveth the righteous." Verse 9: 6 if one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant to him, so that he may hear the Word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure…"
Ibn Taymieh's Treatise on Warfare
Al Qaradawi adds 'the bizarre thing is that the radicals say that these verses were abrogated by Qur'an 47:4 "Therefore, when you meet the unbelievers in fight, smite at their necks; at lengths when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond formed on them: thereafter is the time for either generosity or ransom, until the war lags down its burdens." ..Another verse that is considered the Sword verse is " Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of truth, (even if they are) of the people of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." Quran 9:29. This revelation came in the context of the post Tabook battle when the Muslims fought the Byzantines after they had killed the Muslim messengers sent to them. The Byzantines were getting ready to invade Medina and the Muslims had to confront them. Among others, Shaykh al Islam Ibn Taymieh- his book Treatise on Warfare against the Unbelievers, in it he says that the prophet did not fight except those that did fight him and those who offered truces or peace treaties were accepted. '
Turning the world against us if no one refutes
Al Qaradawi identifies the problem succinctly when he states that those who make the argument that the "sword verse" abrogated the two-hundred verses calling for peace and tolerance pose a danger to the Islamic umma- a "danger of turning the world against Islam." Qaradawi adds, "If these ideas spread and no one refuted them then the world would see us as warmongering intending to control the world by force. We want to win people over by amity and not by the sword." Al Anfal 8:61 reads "But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou also incline towards peace and trust in Allah" and 60:7 "It may be that Allah will establish friendship between you and those whom you now hold as enemies." Al Qaradawi concluded "there is no permanent enmity, no permanent amity, hearts change and Islam always wants to open doors for amity with people because it is mercy to all mankind."
The New York Times reported that as "a high-profile battle rages over a mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, heated confrontations have also broken out in communities across the country where mosques are proposed for far less hallowed locations." At the heart of these campaigns and the attacks by former politicians such as Newt Gingrich is an understanding of Islam as a violent political ideology, an argument relentlessly promoted by Spencer and many others. Islam is what Qaradawi is, not what Spencer and his fellow travelers believe. Even if one does not agree with all of Qaradawi's fatwas/opinions.