I think the main issue with “moderate” or “liberal” Muslims is that most of them are not well acquainted with the actual scriptures, but because they were born Muslim and it was passed down to them, they practice Islam more or less on a cultural and social level. As I continue to read the religious texts, I keep drawing the same conclusion: There really is no room for moderation or liberalism within Islam, should you actually follow the rules in the Qur’an and Hadith.
The Qur’an clearly states that you must believe in the entire scripture, otherwise you will go to hell.
“Do you then believe in a part of the Book and disbelieve in the other? What then is the reward of such among you as do this but disgrace in the life of this world, and on the day of Resurrection they shall be sent back to the most grievous chastisement. And Allah is not heedless of what you do.” Qur’an, Al-Baqra – 2:85
This statement in itself discredits the very argument that many moderate Muslims make: that you can “cherry pick” the aspects of the Qur’an that suit you and deny the parts that are violent, misogynistic and controversial. Firstly, the Qur’an does not grant you the right to selectively adhere to some of Allah’s guidelines while rejecting others; as a Muslim you are required to accept it in its entirety as the ultimate Truth. Secondly, if a moderate Muslim argues that it is perfectly viable to selectively apply some Qur’anic verses to their lives, while omitting others, how can we possibly condemn the fundamentalists, extremists and terrorists who do the very same thing? They selectively choose to put the controversial and violent verses into action – the concepts of misogyny, slavery, jihad, martyrdom, killing infidels and apostates are all promoted in the Qur’an and Hadith. So if the liberals can justify “cherry picking”, surely there should be no issue with the fundamentalists and extremists using the very same tactic of selectivity.
Therefore, according to this verse, a devout Muslim must accept that women are mentally deficient and inferior, can be beaten by their husbands, that gay people should be stoned, that one who insults Islam or chooses to leave the religion is an “apostate” subject to execution and the list goes on– and if you do not believe in all of that, then you are destined to hell, just like the infidels. Does that not suggest then, that moderation is the same as infidelity? I argue that this is an interpretation which fundamentalists use to kill other Muslims, because they are not devout enough, therefore they are one and the same with the kafirs (infidels). There simply is no such thing as moderate or liberal Islam.
I argue that a true, devout Muslim who is well versed in the Qur’an and Hadith, cannot be a liberal because Islam does not stand up for Liberal principles. Please see the examples below, which are also concrete examples of Qur’anic verses and verses from the Hadith, that are used to justify ‘fundamentalism’ and ‘extremism’. While the vast majority of Muslims believe that fundamentalism and extremism are un-Islamic, a closer look at the Qur’an itself, and the Hadith quickly proves otherwise; fundamentalism and extremism are at the core of Islam. In fact, the very idea that you must follow the book in it’s entirely in order to avoid hellfire, and you cannot leave the religion due to punishment by execution is harsh and extreme. It is no wonder, that those devoted Muslims, who adhere to this rule, carry out the Will of Allah by oppressing women, enslaving children, killing infidels and those who choose to question Islam; they are the true followers of Allah’s words, or at least some of them.
Free Speech or Freedom to Practice any religion or NO religion without discrimination or the threat of violence
Islam is the only Abrahamic religion, where insulting the Prophet, God, or leaving Islam is considered Apostasy and is punishable by death.
Qur’an (4:89) – “They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.”
Qur’an (9:11-12) – “But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then are they your brethren in religion. We detail Our revelations for a people who have knowledge. And if they break their pledges after their treaty (hath been made with you) and assail your religion, then fight the heads of disbelief – Lo! they have no binding oaths – in order that they may desist.”
Bukhari (83:37) – “Allah’s Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, was killed (in Qisas,) (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle and deserted Islam and became an apostate.”
Bukhari (84:57) – [In the words of] “Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'”
Bukhari (89:271) – A man who embraces Islam, then reverts to Judaism is to be killed according to “the verdict of Allah and his apostle.”
Bukhari (2794) The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “Whoever changes his religion, execute him”.
Abu Dawood (4361) narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that a blind man had a freed concubine (umm walad) who used to insult the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and say bad things about him. He told her not to do that but she did not stop, and he rebuked her but she did not heed him. One night, when she started to say bad things about the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and insult him, he took a short sword or dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it and killed her. The following morning that was mentioned to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). He called the people together and said, “I adjure by Allah the man who has done this action and I adjure him by my right over him that he should stand up.” The blind man stood up and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, I am the one who did it; she used to insult you and say bad things about you. I forbade her, but she did not stop, and I rebuked her, but she did not give up her habit. I have two sons like pearls from her, and she was kind to me. Last night she began to insult you and say bad things about you. So I took a dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it till I killed her.” Thereupon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Bear witness, there is no blood money due for her.” (Saheeh Abi Dawood, 3655)
Separation of Church and State
Islamic rule is supposed to be forced, according to both the Qur’an and Hadith. Moreover, those who are not Muslim must pay a Jizya tax, which translates to penalty tax for not being Muslim and are required to follow Islamic rule. This was done during the Ottoman Empire.
(Qur’an 9:29) “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 (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief] is worse than killing…
Quran (2:216) – “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.”
Quran (4:89) – “They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.”
(Bukhari 53:386) Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute); and our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says: — “Whoever amongst us is killed (i.e. martyred), shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever amongst us remain alive, shall become your master.” (This is being recounted during the reign of Umar, Muhammad’s companion and the second caliph who sent conquering armies into non-Muslim Persian and Christian lands (after Muhammad’s death).
Muslim (19:4294) If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them.
Ishaq 956 & 962 – “He who withholds the Jizya is an enemy of Allah and His apostle.”
Respect for minorities, including homosexuals
(Qur’an 7:80-84) … For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds…. And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone)” – An account that is borrowed from the Biblical story of Sodom. Muslim scholars through the centuries have interpreted the “rain of stones” on the town as meaning that homosexuals should be stoned, since no other reason is given for the people’s destruction. (The story is also repeated in suras 27 and 29).
Abu Dawud (4462) The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.”. (Abu Dawud 4462)
Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 495 Narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As
The Messenger of Allah (saws) said:’Command your children to pray when they become seven years old, and enforce (beat) them for it (if they refuse to pray) when they become ten years old.’
Equal Rights for Women
This one is tough because sadly, I could go on for days. Of course you know the obvious ones – men can marry four, women can marry one. Women have a different way of divorcing than man, which includes returning her dowry or something of equal amount – which essentially back then could leave a woman in a very compromising position.
Qur’an (2:282) And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans without interest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her.
Qur’an (4:34) If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great.
Quran: (4:34) Men are in charge of women by [right of] what [qualities] Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [in support] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard.
Qur’an (65:1 and 4) O Prophet, when you [and the believers] divorce women, divorce them for their prescribed waiting—period and count the waiting—period accurately . . . (4) And if you are in doubt about those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, (you should know that) their waiting period is three months, and the same applies to those who have not menstruated as yet. As for pregnant women, their period ends when they have delivered their burden.
Qur’an (4:11) Allah enjoins you about [the share of inheritance of] your children: A male’s share shall equal that of two females — in case there are only daughters, more than two shall have two-thirds of what has been left behind. And if there be only one daughter, her share shall be half — and if the deceased has children, the parents shall inherit a sixth each, and if he has no children and the parents are his heirs then his mother shall receive a third, and if he has brothers and sisters then the mother’s share is the same one-sixth. [These shares shall be distributed] after carrying out any will made by the deceased or payment of any debt owed by him (the deceased). You know not who among your children and your parents are nearest to you in benefit. This is the law of Allah. Indeed Allah is wise, all knowing.
Qur’an: (2:228) …And due to them [i.e., the wives] is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And Allah is exalted in Might and Wise.
Bukhari (1:9:490) Narrated ‘Aisha: The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, “Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people).” I said, “You have made us (i.e. women) dogs. I saw the Prophet praying while I used to lie in my bed between him and the Qibla. Whenever I was in need of something, I would slip away, for I disliked to face him.”
(Bukhari (304) “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went out to the musalla (prayer place) on the day of Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Fitr. He passed by the women and said, ‘O women! Give charity, for I have seen that you form the majority of the people of Hell.’ They asked, ‘Why is that, O Messenger of Allah?’ He replied, ‘You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religious commitment than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.’ The women asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is deficient in our intelligence and religious commitment?’ He said, ‘Is not the testimony of two women equal to the testimony of one man?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Is it not true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?’ The women said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her religious commitment.”
I think you would also find it interesting that the Qur’an promotes slavery as the will of God, and encourages sex with slaves numerous times.
Qur’an (33:50) – “O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those (slaves) whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee”
Qur’an (23:5-6) – “..who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess…”
Qur’an (4:24) – “And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.” Even sex with married slaves is permissible.
Qur’an (8:69) – “But (now) enjoy what ye took in war, lawful and good”
Qur’an (24:32) – “And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves…”
Qur’an (2:178) – “O ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female.”
Qur’an (16:75) – “Allah sets forth the Parable (of two men: one) a slave under the dominion of another; He has no power of any sort; and (the other) a man on whom We have bestowed goodly favours from Ourselves, and he spends thereof (freely), privately and publicly: are the two equal? (By no means;) praise be to Allah.”
Bukhari (3:765) Narrated Kuraib: the freed slave of Ibn ‘Abbas, that Maimuna bint Al-Harith told him that she manumitted (set free) a slave-girl without taking the permission of the Prophet. On the day when it was her turn to be with the Prophet, she said, “Do you know, O Allah’s Apostle, that I have manumitted (set free) my slave-girl?” He said, “Have you really?” She replied in the affirmative. He said, “You would have got more reward if you had given her (i.e. the slave-girl) to one of your maternal uncles.
To think that 1.5 billion people in the world are indoctrinated to think that these are the words of a God that is loving and merciful, baffles my mind. Although those numbers may not be entirely accurate, since the vast majority of Muslims who flee from the religion in Islamic countries remain in the “closet” in order to avoid the death penalty. Even in the West, Muslims who leave their faith have to fear being disowned, threatened or having their lives endangered.
The more I read Islamic scripture, the more I realize that it seems to have very little to do with faith, compassion or spirituality, but is otherwise rooted in controlling and oppressing its followers in the name of religion. A celestial dictator who promotes slavery, condones sex with prepubescent women, the beating of women, the stoning of homosexuals and the execution of people with different beliefs, seems neither spiritual nor merciful. It is unfortunate that the vast majority of “moderate” and “liberal” Muslims have not taken the time to read the Qur’an and Hadith, and blindly continue to identify themselves as Muslims, not knowing that the very religion they associate themselves with violates even the most basic of human rights. While almost all Muslims are taught to memorize and recite segments of the Qur’an at a very young age, I wonder how many of them actually understand the meaning of what they are saying? …Apparently not enough! I urge all Muslims, particularly those with moderate and progressive views to read both the Qur’an and Hadith in order to draw their own conclusions regarding Islam. If you opt to simply listen to your parents, or the Imam at your Masjid, they will likely fail to mention the countless amounts of offensive and atrocious verses within the texts, either due to their own ignorance or in order to avoid controversy. Contrary to what many Muslims will attest to, The Qur’an and Hadith are easy to read, simple to understand and contain very little complexity — I promise you don’t need an Imam to hold your hand along the way…so start reading and make up your own mind! Ignorance is not bliss, liberation is, and the only way you can truly liberate yourself is by actively seeking the truth, not having it dictated to you.
A common argument from those liberal Muslims, who neither want to accept nor research the information I have presented to you, is “Then why are 1.5 billion Muslims following Islam?” The argument that the size of an organization is evidence of its legitimacy is weak and should be dismissed because we could also use this argument to justify the legitimacy of organized crime and cults. Simply because a set of people choose to adhere to a certain ideology or lifestyle, does not mean that the lifestyle or ideology to which they follow is good, it can also be very bad. Similarly, the fact that most Germans (nearly 67 million) were either silent or supported Hitler in carrying out the Holocaust cannot be used to justify the legitimacy of the Holocaust; it is disturbing and horrific no matter which way you look at it.
Furthermore, if numbers are a reflection of legitimacy, one could also ask why there was only one Freud, one Einstein, one Voltaire and one Stephen Hawkins? Throughout history, the most intelligent and ground-breaking individuals in both Science and Philosophy have denounced the concept of an Omnipotent, All-Knowing, Celestial Dictator – is that a coincidence? Is it also a coincidence that the vast majority of the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world will neither read the Qur’an nor the Hadith (in a language they understand) in their lifetime? Surveys suggest that 80-90% of Muslims do not speak Arabic and must be willing to read a translation, however the vast majority consider it enough to read the Qur’an in Arabic for its “due reward”. This suggests that the vast majority of Muslims are living in ignorance – a lack of knowledge and information to support their Islamic belief. I would then argue that while there is undoubtedly a large number of Muslims around the world, it is not a reflection of Islam being true; it is merely a reflection of ignorance, blind faith and other socio-economic factors, which have resulted in Islam growing in overwhelming numbers. Poverty, illiteracy, high birth rate, lack of birth control and execution for Apostasy are all serious factors in Muslim countries, which contribute to the growing number of Muslims as well. And what about converts? I get this argument all the time too. Ask yourself how many conversions you’ve witnessed that weren’t merely because a Muslim and a non-Muslim wanted to get married and in order to do so, the non-Muslim had to embrace Islam? I’ve seen it a dozen times, and in each case, the convert had an ulterior motive and was not well read in Islam. Recent polls suggest that 75% of converts to Islam in the United States leave the religion within their first three years after conversion and according to the Quilliam Foundation, over 50% percent of converts in Britain leave Islam within the first two years, post-conversion.