The Most Misinterpreted Verses

The Most Misinterpreted Verses

Written by Theresa Corbin

I often wonder if Islamophobes and Islamic extremists realize that they are just different sides of the same coin.

They both promote fear and hatred of large groups of diverse peoples. Both groups wish to sweep as many people up in their seriously dangerous causes. They both want war, and use any manner and means to get it, including promoting a distorted view of Islam. They take verses out of context and employ weak or questionable hadith (sayings, actions, or approvals of the Prophet) to reach their own political ends.

If I have one hope for society, it would be that these groups can go off and deal with each other and leave the rest of us, the majority of us, to live in peace and cooperation, free from their detrimental rabble-rousing. I hear that Antarctica is nice this time of year. Maybe they can snuggle up together for warmth and find some common ground in the fact that we are all human beings.

What follows is a sampling of Quranic verses reductionists and hate mongers love to take out of context. Now put back into context.

quran misintepretation graphic

1. Qur’an 5:51—O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; 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.

In this verse, the words “Awliya”- plural- or “wali” – singular- has been (badly) translated as “friends” or “friend”; however, the more appropriate translation would be a “guardian, protector, or advocate”. Muslims are to be advocates and protectors for each other. And friends with everyone.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was kind to the pagans of Mecca and fought them only when they fought him. He made treaties with the Jews of Madinah and honored the treaties until they broke them. He received the Christians of Najran with kindness in Madinah. They argued with him about Islam, but he treated them with honor and respect. 1

Some translate this verse to mean that Muslim should not take the Jews and the Christians for friends who are exclusively friends of each other at the exclusion and detriment of the Muslims, as is seen in Zionism and the Islamophobic lobby. 

2.  Qur’an 8:12— Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”

This verse was revealed about the Battle of Badr. The pagans of Mecca travelled more than 200 miles to Madinah with an army of about 1000 to kill the Muslims who numbered around 300. The Prophet Muhammad and fellow Muslims had suffered severe persecution, torture and even murder of their brethren for 13 years in the city of Mecca at the hands of these very same pagans.

And once the Muslims had fled Mecca and found a sanctuary in the city of Madinah, they were followed by the pagans of Mecca. By this verse God gave the order to Muslims to fight to defend their lives and faith, as they had previously been forbidden from defending themselves. 2

Another verse in the same chapter (8:61) that is often overlooked states:

But if the enemy incline towards peace, you (also) incline towards peace, and trust in God: for He is One that hears and knows (all things).

Another oft-ignored verse is Qur’an 2:190:

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah does love not transgressors. 

 

quran.karim by lechistani
quran.karim by lechistani

3. Qur’an 9:29—Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah (tax) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

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4. Qur’an 9:73O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.

These verses are also historical in context. They are about the Battles of Mu’tah and Tabûk.

These verse were in reference to The Byzantine Empire instigating war against the Muslims. They murdered an ambassador of the Prophet (pbuh), who was carrying a message to the ruler of Busra. The Chosroe of Persia even ordered his commander in Yemen to kill the Prophet, and they mobilized their forces to fight the Prophet. The Muslims confronted them. 3 & 4

There are many people who throw hissy fits about the Jizyah (a tax on non-Muslims living under the protection of a Muslim authority), mentioned in 9:29, saying that it is discriminatory. But the truth is that Muslims are not exempt from taxes, they just go by a different term.

The tax collected from non-Muslims is only imposed on adult males. It exempts them from military service; affords them protection under the law; and freedom to practice their religion. And Muslim taxes go to welfare programs.

Also, in the same chapter (9) Verse 6 God tells the Muslims:

And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.

 

5. Qur’an 9:111—Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah’s way, so they slay and are slain.

But they omit the rest of the verse:

[It is] a true promise [binding] upon Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? So rejoice in your transaction which you have contracted. And it is that which is the great attainment.

Why would they leave off the part about this promise being found in the Torah and the Bible?

This verse again, is applicable to the Muslims during the time of the Prophet – historical Muslims – who were terrified of fighting in the battles to defend themselves because they were out numbered. 4.2

God bolstered their bravery by assuring them that they would be rewarded.

 

outnumbered and out- sworded
outnumbered and out-sworded

6. Qur’an 9:123—O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).

This verse is speaking about the hypocrites who were among the Muslims in the time of the Prophet (pbuh). The “unbelievers who are near you” were, in actuality, non-Muslims posing as Muslims who sought to corrupt the believing Muslims from within. The instruction was to fight them (here, “fight” means to resist the hypocrites’ skepticism, as we will see in the next verse) without preferential treatment for the social or economic standing. 5

The next verse (9:124) calls them what they really are:

And whenever a new chapter is revealed some of the hypocrites ask the believers (in jest): “Whose faith has increased because of this?” As for those who believe, it will certainly increase their faith, and they are joyful over that.

 

7. Qur’an 48:29—Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves.

Once again the “disbelievers” in the verse refers to those who persecuted and attacked the Muslims. This is not a verse directing Muslim to just go out and just be awful to non-Muslims. 6

In fact there is a lot in the Quran and hadith collections that command Muslims to be compassionate and kind to all of God’s creation. One such hadith states: Whoever is deprived of gentleness is deprived of all good. (Muslim, Abu Dawood)

It is also reported by Abu Dawood (a hadith collection) that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Beware!  Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgement.”

Be nice

8. Qur’an 98:6—Verily, those who disbelieve from among the people of the Scripture and Al-Mushrikun will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures.

One of the basic teachings of Islam is that God does not have a favorable opinion of those who knowingly deny His right to be worshiped alone (as He alone is responsible for our creation, our sustenance, and our judgement) and reject any of His messengers.

This is not to say that there will be conveyor belts for each religion, and we just jump on and go to either Heaven or Hell according to what we call ourselves. Each person will be judged based on their understanding of God’s message, as well as his or her capability and intentions to follow the path to God as best he or she could.

Muslims are not allowed to say that someone will go to hell just because they call themselves a Christian, Jew, or Polytheist. Muslims are not allowed to speak without knowledge. And each person’s destination in the Hereafter is known only to God.

It is interesting to note that some people of different faiths insist on telling everyone who does not go to their specific place of worship that they will certainly be going to Hell (knowledge they do not have). But when they see this verse, they are upset by it.

 

9. Qur’an 5:101-102—O ye who believe! Ask not questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if ye ask about things when the Qur’an is being revealed, they will be made plain to you, Allah will forgive those: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing. Some people before you did ask such questions, and on that account lost their faith.

This is in reference to those who asked useless questions about revelation. If all their questions were answered, it would have made the duties of faith more specific and, therefore, more difficult to perform. There is mercy in leaving questions alone and specifics unspecified. 7

In Chapter 2 of the Qur’an, when the Children of Israel were told to slaughter a cow, they began to ask useless questions about what type of cow. All the questions were answered to the point that it became very difficult for them to find such a cow. If they had not asked, any cow would have been acceptable.

Useless, petty questions are just a stalling tactic; ask any mother or teacher. But asking honest, sincere questions to clarify matters of faith is, in fact, encouraged.

dumb questions

Every prophet faced people wanting to kill him and his followers. The Prophet Muhammad was no different in facing enemies. However, the Muslims were not only establishing a faith, they were establishing a nation. And because of this, the Muslims, after years of persecution in Mecca, were permitted to defend their lives, their faith, and their nation from attack. Just like any other person or nation has the right to do.

However, even in war, Islam demands that morals be upheld. Muslims are forbidden form killing children, women, the old, the infirm or any one who is not fighting against them. Even combatants have rights. (“I”SIS must have skipped this class) Rules of engagement here: http://www.islam101.com/rights…

There is a certain methodology to interpreting the Quran that God speaks about in the Quran itself (that Islamophobes and Extremists dismiss). The Quran, in several places, warns its reader about distorting its meaning, concealing parts of it, or using it for ones own personal/worldly/political gains. In these verses, God is warning Islamophobes and Extremist alike. Because, as we well know, distorting religious texts has disastrous effects.

Indeed, they who conceal what Allah has sent down of the Book and exchange it for a small price – those consume not into their bellies except the Fire. And Allah will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them. And they will have a painful punishment. 2:174

 

How to Understand the Quran
How to Understand the Quran

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20 thoughts on “The Most Misinterpreted Verses

  1. BEST…POST…EVER!!!

    Mashallah! Context is so important, yet so many people (both non-Muslims and Muslims) dismiss it or don’t know about it.

    This is one reason I love Nouman Ali Khan and his Quran: Cover to Cover series. You get to know the context well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So Muslims are always victims and non-Muslims are the aggressors. Yet, how many churches, synagogues, temples are in Saudi Arabia? Can I have a Bible in Saudi Arabia? Hmmm, so much for tolerance.

    Like

    1. I don’t recall claiming that Muslim are always victims or vice versa. Oh, that is because I didn’t. Never have.
      I don’t know how many times I am going to have to say this, but Saudi does not equal Islam. They are not the keepers of Islam, They are part of the problem. Muslims don’t always act Islamically. I am not here to defend the Muslims: I am here to defend my religion-Islam. People have a hard time understaning the difference.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You defend your perception, the rest of us live in the reality. If the followers of Islam don’t control the proponents of their religion then they tacitly give them control over it. Until that changes your words will fall of deaf ears.

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      2. So, do you have control over the KKK? The Army of God? The bloods and the crips? What have you done about the U.S.’s drone strikes on innocent civilians over seas? I guess you tacticly support them since you can’t control them …

        Liked by 2 people

  3. There are many people who throw hissy fits about the Jizyah.

    Exactly! These hissy sissies really boggle my mind. Muslims too pay tax called the zakah beside having to commit to the compulsory military recruitment which non Muslims are exempted. Jizyah is used for building their temples and churches among other things. Why don’t they throw a hissy over their tax money being deployed to blow up Palestinian kids?!

    Thank you Theresa for this post. Continue fighting in the cause of Allah (bound to be blown out of context by sissies but whateva) and hopefully eyes will no longer be shut.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And you brought up a good point. The same people who freak out about jizya don’t give two turds that their taxes in the U.S. go to drones that kill innocent people. They wanna be upset about hypothetical and apathetic about the actual. It’s insane.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Sister,

    Greetings from Karbala – Iraq. I wish to thank you for a wonderfully researched and written article. I am an avid follower/reader of your blog which I believe contains very interesting topics and point of views.

    What you highlighted in this article is the truth itself, mainly that Islamophobes and the ‘un-Islamic’ state (terrorists) are two faces of the same coin! The overwhelming ingredient in their cause is ignorance. We, Iraqis (Sunni/Shia etc) have so far paid the heaviest price for the atrocities committed in the name of Islam. All those crimes have been based on sheer evil mixed with absence of respect to human lives as such.

    I have been following the traces of such inhumane acts such as beheadings and the evil desire to kill or destroy anyone whose ideas and/or thoughts are different from those murderers. I am not surprised of how those criminals are re-enacting the same atrocities committed against Imam Hussein (grandson of The Prophet pbuh) fourteen centuries ago!

    No wonder everyday we hear of some awkward group imposing its own twisted and alien interpretation of the pure religion of all prophets, Islam. It saddens me to see some newly reverted individuals get carried along with those murderers.

    I strongly believe that it is pivotal for anyone to study Islam, over and over again and not be a “must fit in” member! I once read the book of Professor Jeffrey Lang (Even Angels Ask) and must say he is correct on this aspect. A Muslim must always question and learn, not just be a blind follower of any group without knowing where he/she is heading.

    Finally I must say I’m happy you have kept your identity and name, unlike those who are persuaded to change everything when Islam clearly does not require that. I feel very happy to see that you being an American Muslim living your life and contributing to enlighten many more to understand the core message of Islam.

    I wish you all the best and may Almighty Allah keep you & all your family safe and sound.

    From the city of Imam Hussein, Karbala, Iraq, please accept my kind regards and salams. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for adding to this discussion! You, more than anyone, as someone who has suffered from both sides, have a right to speak on the topic. As an American I am ashamed of what my country has done to yours. I am sorry, deeply. It is-as you rightly say- ignorance, evil, and lack of respect for human lives. Thank you for supporting me and encouraging my journey to uncover and enlighten-myself first before anyone else. As you said, Allah in the Quran Implores us to never follow blindly and never stop learning, thinking and bettering ourselves and our world. Thank you for doing just that. Jazakum Allah Khair.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sister Corbin, there’s absolutely no reason for you to apologize as what a certain countrys’ foreign policy does to others is not your fault, so keep your head up and be just you. I have nothing against Americans or any other race in fact. I live by the saying of Imam Ali who has eloquently said: “People are of two sorts, either your brother(sister) in religion or your equal in humanity!”
        I just wish people would be willing to open their minds a little bit, absorbing knowledge rather than widening the gap of ignorance. After all we are all humans, created by Allah to get to know each other and not to obliterate one another.

        I ask Allah to safeguard all of you and look forward to seeing more interesting topics at your blog.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Cobin, I am following your blog and answering Muslims written by David wood. I don’t know who to believe and not to believe.

    I have a simple question – i hope to have simple answer. If these are true translations and every one agrees , why not publish Quran with those translations? and all Muslim scholars testify that that.

    ( I am not a Muslim or Christian so i am predisposed )

    Like

      1. Thank you for answering —

        I checked two sources 1) the online please check your self : http://quran.com/5

        5.51 –

        O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.

        2) The printed Quran which I borrowed from a friend

        I see differently from what you are saying. Is yours moderate version?

        Looks like 90% of people believe differently in what you are saying?

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      2. Dear Corbin,

        I would strongly recommend that you post Mr.Wood’s comments on your blog for wider perspective, I can understand your hesitance, his arguments are very persuasive not to mention airtight, which is why so many Muslims in the past have suppressed his arguments or hurled abusive insults to him in a very personal way. Mrs. Corbin, all we ask is that you play fair as a moderator and also because you have an obligation.

        I might be writing this in vain, since I doubt you’ll posted it.

        Regards,
        Joseph

        Like

      3. I have no obligation to advertize Woods’ opinion on my blog. I am not having a debate with him. I am putting verses from my religious text into context. That is all. I did not mention him, nor and I interested in sinking to his level and slandering him, as he did to me. And make no mistake, it is not becasue -as you foolishly believe- that his arguements are “airtight”. It is because debating in this way is petty and only leads to hard feelings between people who should be finding common ground and striving for the betterment of the world. Please tell Woods to move on. I am not interested in his destructive game.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Looks like 90% of people believe differently in what you are saying?

    How on earth did you come up with the 90% mathematical conjecture? Was it written in the Quran? Now, my question is, did you bother to read the earlier verses in that chapter (Al Maidah)? Verse 5:5 informs us that Muslim men are permitted to marry virtuous Christian and Jew women. As far as I am concerned, marriage entails friendship, love, respect and loyalty. Why would God forbid us to be friends with those he permitted marriage with? It doesn’t make any sense!! UNLESS, UNLESS…the verse was revealed in connection with those who were hostile towards Islam and made war against Muslims. So, how do you propose we take allies from those who are vehemently bellicose towards us?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. To Sri,
      Hello.

      I have been following your comments and wish to draw your attention to this conclusion. I am from Iraq and have closely seen the devastating effects of ‘misinterpretation’ that suits the evil cause of any group committing atrocities against innocent people. What you have written does not differentiate in a whole from how the ‘un-islamic’ state sits down to do some ‘copy & paste’ work along with distorting facts to come up with a ‘final solid’ justification for their heinous deeds.
      It made me puzzled how you could by “looking” at an online source and “borrowing” a copy could wholly determine that:
      1. 90% of the Muslims disagree
      2. It seems to you that you now can with certainty know the meaning of ‘awlyiah’ which derives from the Arabic form ‘wali’.

      Being an Arabic speaking native myself, it baffles me how you could grasp the true meaning of ‘Wali’ in such a haste? I’m not sure if you bothered to study this one description in its original form relying on a website such as (baheth.info). I will make it easy for you by typing the Arabic form here and ask you politely to look at the lengthy explanation given to just ‘wali’. I assume you understand Arabic perfectly to study the text otherwise I’m speechless of how you can with certainty proclaim to know the meaning of Quranic verses and its words?

      The word is ولي

      Copy & paste it onto that online dictionary I mentioned above and share with us your findings please.

      Conclusion is my fellow human being, it is very easy for anyone to twist any text or verse to suit his agenda not taking into consideration the true meaning of a certain command or word. It is a dangerous game that many throughout history have played to impose their twisted doctrines and commit crimes against people. No need to staple numerous examples of atrocities from the history as I’m sure you can find detailed accounts in the books by visiting the nearest library to your place.

      All I wanted with my reply is to draw your attention to how easily anyone can play with texts, adding to ignorance and spreading terror. We the people of Iraq have witnessed this more than any other country in the region. Now it would make us even more sad that someone like you does the same, not knowing what a meaning of a powerful word.

      Ignorance is the biggest enemy of us all.

      Peace with you.

      Haidar Al-Najafi, Karbala, Iraq.

      Liked by 2 people

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