Perhaps the most extremist translation ever made of the Qur?an is now available in every hotel room in Saudi Arabia and in most of the mosques of America. This piece of propaganda, known as the Khan Qur’an, fully justifies what Richard John Neuhaus calls Osama bin Laden’s “monistic fanaticism.”
The official Saudi translators are embarrassed by Surah al Ma’ida 5:69, which they correctly translate as “Surely, those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and His Messenger Muhammad and all that was revealed to him from Allah), and those who are Jews and Christians - whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and works righteousness, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” They eliminate this troublesome passage by invoking the spurious doctrine of “abrogation,” whereby God supposedly changes His mind and overrules prior passages or decides that they are simply no longer appropriate.
According to the official Saudi Qur’an, this Surah al Ma’ida 5:69 is abrogated by Surah ali Imran 3:85, “Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers.” They interpret this by asserting that Islam means submission to the official Saudi view rather than submission to God, Who in Surah al Ma?ida 5:69 explicitly spells out the only three requirements for submission to Allah, namely, belief in God, belief in divine justice, and the practice of good works.
Once such “difficult passages” are overcome, the official Saudi extremists lay the groundwork for Osama bin Laden by translating Surah Ali Imran 3:110 to read, “You [true believers in Islamic monotheism and the real followers of Prophet Muhammad and the Sunnah] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind.” This, according to the official Saudi annotation, means “the best for the people, as you bring them with chains on their necks till they embrace Islam (and thereby save them from the eternal punishment in the Hell-fire and make them enter Paradise in the Hereafter.” Unfortunately, freedom of speech does not permit the confiscation of this inflammatory incitement from the hundreds of mosques all over America. Or does it? If not, the responsibility lies on the “silent majority” of Muslims to “bite the bullet” themselves, because this English version of the Qur?an and the annotations are truly bullets aimed at the American people and at all civilization.
The Saudi mullahs and their political henchmen who dare to approve such a Qur’an are plumbing the depths of darkness. Their reigning pseudo-religion in Saudi Arabia today is a mockery of everything Islamic. In no century of Muslim history and in no Muslim culture have self-proclaimed Muslims preached and proselytized such a bizarre distortion of divine revelation. They have given birth to the mother of all black sheep among religions. And the rabid ram, Osama bin Laden, is its true son.
Unfortunately, John Garvey plays into the hands of the extremists by taking translations from the simplistic Dawood translation (Penguin, 1968) that agree with the extremists’ own distortions. He quotes Surah al Bayyinah 98:6 to read, “The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the pagans shall burn forever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of creatures.” The implication of this translation is that all Jews and Christians are going to hell.
Leaders of the bizarre Muslim sect, the Hisb al Tahrir, who want to impose a Muslim world government on America, try to make the point clearer by deliberately eliminating the word “among.” This word makes the distinction, as the Qur’an does throughout, between what is usually termed the Jews and Christians “with a disease in their hearts” and the others, i.e. those who are sincere in their own divinely ordained religions.
Furthermore, the word “unbelievers” in Arabic is kuffar (singular, kafir), which comes from the word kafara, meaning deliberately to hide the truth. The passage refers to those among the People of the Book who deliberately reject what they know is the truth. In the December, 1993, issue of Al Raya, published by the Islamic Da’wa Center of Woodside, New York, the editor exclaims, “Allah explicitly states that Christians are kuffar. He says “The disbelievers, the People of the Book” Thus, by the clear statement of the Qur’an, the Jews and the Christians are kuffar.”
This deliberate deletion from the Qur’an of the key word “among” makes the leader of the Hisb al Tahrir the true kafir. Any rational Christian or Jew, or Muslim, who would accept the “truth” from such as the Hisb al Tahrir would have to be mentally unbalanced, like John Walker, or just plain evil. See the discussion in the chapter, “Political Action: Keeping it Principled,” of my book, Shaping the Future: Challenge and Response, 1997, which is out of print but is available in copy from The Center for Policy Research.
John Garvey further promotes Muslim extremism by agreeing with the Bin Laden types who assert that Surah al Mujadalah 58:14 means what the Dawood translation says, namely, “Do you see that those who have befriended a people with whom Allah is angry. Allah has prepared for them a grievous scourge.” The key word here is tawallu, which comes from the word waliyy. This is the 56th of the 99 names of Allah (plus some) in the Qur’an. It does not mean friend, though it could be translated as “protecting friend.” The best translation would be “guardian.” The term waliyy as an attribute of Allah refers to entrusting one’s spiritual well-being to God. One would certainly not want to entrust oneself to those among the non-Muslims who have a disease in their hearts.
There are more than enough Muslims to justify every one of the stereotypes spread about them. This is why most Muslims were perhaps even more horrified than non-Muslims by the sudden appearance of a real-life Darth Vader who diabolically incinerated and crushed thousands of innocent Americans in the name of Islam.
All Muslims in America, with no doubt the exception of a few demented individuals, condemned the attack, but unfortunately they restricted their condemnation largely to the message, “Don’t blame us!” Now they have the task of doing precisely that. They must condemn the growing extremism among Muslims in the world, including in America, and blame themselves for letting it fester in their mosques. They must wage a jihad against their own extremism.
There are three kinds of jihad. The ahadith or traditions mention only two, which are the greatest jihad, the jihad al akbar, to control one’s unruly self and the lesser jihad, the jihad al saghrir, to forcefully defend human rights for oneself and for others within the limits of the just-war doctrine. The third jihad is now critical. This is the great or intellectual jihad, which is exhorted in the Qur’an, Surah al Furqan 25:52, wa jihidhum bihi jihadan kabiran, “struggle with it [divine Revelation] in a great struggle.”
If Muslims are serious about combating terrorism in the era of asymmetric warfare, the leading scholars of all six of the Islamic schools of law should join to issue a fatwa in the nature of a Papal encyclical, spelling out in monograph form of about 50 to 100 pages what the enlightened Muslim scholars have thought all along but been afraid to say for fear of condemnation by their own mullahs. Where is the leadership of these enlightened Muslims? Why must America impose order on the world, when the primary responsibility for maintaining peace through justice is now theirs.
If non-Muslims want to help Muslims combat the extremism that inevitably leads to modern terrorism, the best strategy would be to support the Muslim scholars, including a growing majority even in Saudi Arabia, who are trying to revive the enlightened and ecumenical Islam of the classical period. This constructive phase of Islamic culture has been essentially dead for six hundred years. The task of re-construction is so enormous that the Muslims need whatever help they can get.