What Does Koran
©2003 Paul J. Tetreault Jr., Esq.
Note: this is part one of a four part briefing that presents major themes in the Koran as expressed in several parallel translations of that book. This briefing was prepared by Attorney Paul J. Tetreault, Jr. for Professor Walter E. Williams of George Mason University shortly after 9/11.
Thanks very much for wanting to learn what the Koran actually teaches. You can't judge a religion by what its adherents do or say, you must look at its books. An older Christian man from W. VA told me that as late as the 50s people in that state would walk out of the Sunday service and go to the KKK meeting. This did not mean, of course, the KKK was a Christian group - it explicitly violated the Judeo-Christian teaching that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Lev.19:18; Matt.22:39).
The translation of the Koran that you read does make a slight difference. Here is a link to a searchable English translation of the Koran:
http://www.islam.tc/quran/ [Note: this server was taken down in the weeks following the 9/11 attack. Wonder why?] Here is a link to three translations of Koran (Pickthall, Yusufali, and Shakir) that is still active: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran Here is a link to Hadith, the sayings and deeds of Muhammad: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/ To use this page, I recommend finding the heading that says "Large Collections" then clicking on the link that says "A collection of the ahadith in Sahih Bukhari."
This translation is by a Brit named Pickthall, and the language is moderated - not as openly violent - as you will see in the verses below. A friend of mine has this translation and says it was published in 1909.
I have two translations:
1. A 1997 edition translated by an Iraqi named N.J. Dawood. Dawood's translation was published in 1956 and is billed as the first translation into "contemporary" English, and
2. A 1996 edition by A.J. Arberry, Head of the Department of Classics at Cairo University. Arberry's translation was first published in 1955.
There's a note worth mentioning here. The original Koran is in Arabic and Muslims say it cannot be accurately translated. The folks appearing on TV to claim that Islam is peaceful argue either:
1. The verses being quoted are not accurately translated, and
2. The verses are taken out of context.
But here is a link to an interview with Labib Mikhail, an Egyptian who can recite Koran from memory in Arabic. Mr. Mikhail is an Egyptian and was a Christian pastor in Egypt for 34 years. He has published an evangelical magazine aimed at Muslims since 1952. In his most recent book, "Islam, Mohammed, and the Koran: A Documentary Analysis" Mikhail does not interpret Koran himself, but gives the interpretation of the most popular commentators on Koran. He says you don't need a special interpreter to understand verses like "Don't take Christians and Jews as your friends."
Here's the link:
http://www.wava.com/don/don_archives.shtml [Editor's note - this link may no longer contain the referenced interview]
On this page, click Wednesday, October 10, Hour 1 to hear the interview in RealAudio. This interview is really worthwhile. I have also ordered 3 copies of his book and will give you one.
Last before the verses, here are two links with more info:
1. http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/chavez1.asp - Linda Chavez's most recent column "A need to define the real enemy" that says Islam is not peaceful, and
2. http://www.islamreview.com/ - Islam Review, a site run by former Muslims and middle-east Christians to help people learn what Islam actually teaches. I have worked with Abdullah Al-Araby, the man who runs the site, for four years.
Now for the verses. Since this mail is already long, I will give you some of the most strident today. In future mails, I'll go in order through the Suras and give you a little more background as well. It is important to understand why you can make an argument Islam is a religion of peace - but only for Muslims.
Suras commanding war against unbelievers appear throughout the Koran, but the one that is short and clear is 9:73:
"Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate." (Dawood)
"O Prophet, struggle with the unbelievers and hypocrites, and be thou harsh with them; their refuge is Gehenna - an evil homecoming" (Arberry - the word translated "struggle" is the Arabic word "Jihad" - holy war).
" O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey's end." (Pickthall).
Muslims are also promised heaven if they fight for the "cause of Allah" in many places. Suras 9:86-90 are clear:
" Whenever a Chapter (Sura) was revealed, saying: 'Believe in God and fight alongside His apostle," the rich among them excused themselves to you, saying 'Leave us with those who are to stay behind.' They were content to be with those who stayed behind: a seal was set upon their hearts, leaving them bereft of understanding. But the Apostle and the men who shared his faith fought with their goods and with their persons. These shall be rewarded with good things. These shall surely prosper. God has prepared for them gardens watered by running streams (the Koran's metaphor for heaven), in which they shall abide for ever. That is the supreme triumph. Some Arabs of the desert turned up with excuses, begging leave to stay behind; while those who denied God and His apostle remained idle at home. A woeful scourge shall fall on those of them that disbelieved." (Dawood).
"And when a sura is sent down, daying, 'Believe in God, and struggle with His Messenger,' the affluent among them ask leave of thee, saying, 'Let us be with the tarriers.' They are well-pleased to be with those behind, and a seal has been set upon their hearts, so they understand not. But the Messenger, and the believers with him, have struggled with their possessions and their selves, and those - for them await the good things; those - they are the prosperers. God has prepared for them gardens underneath which rivers flow, therein to dwell forever; that is the mighty triumph. And the Bedouins came with their excuses, asking for leave; those who lied to God and His Messenger tarried; there shall befall the unbelievers of them a painful chastisement." (Arberry).
"009.086 And when a surah is revealed (which saith): Believe in Allah and strive along with His messenger, the men of wealth among them still ask leave of thee and say: Suffer us to be with those who sit (at home). 009.087 They are content that they should be with the useless and their hearts are sealed, so that they apprehend not. 009.088 But the messenger and those who believe with him strive with their wealth and their lives. Such are they for whom are the good things. Such are they who are the successful. 009.089 Allah hath made ready for them Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide. That is the supreme triumph. 009.090 And those among the wandering Arabs who had an excuse came in order that permission might be granted them. And those who lied to Allah and His messenger sat at home. A painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve." (Pickthall)
TERROR is a pervasive theme in Koran - inflicted both by Allah and by Muslims on those who don't believe. Here are several suras.
Sura 3:151 - aimed at Christians who believe in the Trinity:
"We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. They serve other deities besides God for whom He has revealed no sanction. The fire shall be their home; evil indeed is the dwelling of the evil doers." (Dawood).
"We will cast into the hearts of the unbelievers terror, for that they have associated with God that for which He send down never authority; their lodging shall be the Fire; evil is the lodging of the evildoers." (Arberry)
" We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve because they ascribe unto Allah partners, for which no warrant hath been revealed. Their habitation is the Fire, and hapless the abode of the wrong-doers." (Pickthall)
This is Allah talking here. My 1967 Encyclopedia Americana says "On many issues the Koran is unclear or incomplete, and on others...it is sharply contradictory." The biggest contradiction in Koran is that while it claims God had no son (no partners with Allah) it mentions the Holy Spirit and is written in the first person plural - "We".
Sura 7:4, again Allah casting terror:
"How many cities have We destroyed! In the night Our scourge fell upon them, or at midday, when they were drowsing." (Dawood)
"How many a city We have destroyed! Our might came upon it at night, or while they took their ease in the noontide...." (Arberry)
" How many a township have We destroyed! As a raid by night, or while they slept at noon, Our terror came unto them." (Pickthall)
Sura 59:2 - here Allah and Muslims cause terror:
"It was He that drove the unbelievers among the People of the Book (Koran's phrase for Jews & Christians) out of their dwellings into the first exile. You did not think that they would go; and they, for their part, fancied that their strongholds would protect them from God. but god's scourge fell upon them whence they did not expect it, casting such terror into their hearts that their dwellings were destroyed by their own hands as well as by the faithful (Muslims). Learn from their example, you that have eyes." (Dawood)
"It is He who expelled from their habitations the unbelievers among the People of the Book at the first mustering. You did not think that they would go forth, and they thought that their fortresses would defend them against god; then God came upon them from whence they had not reckoned, and He cast terror into their hearts as they destroyed their houses with their own hands, and the hands of the believers; therefore take heed, you who have eyes." (Arberry).
"He it is Who hath caused those of the People of the Scripture who disbelieved to go forth from their homes unto the first exile. Ye deemed not that they would go forth, while they deemed that their strongholds would protect them from Allah. But Allah reached them from a place whereof they recked not, and cast terror in their hearts so that they ruined their houses with their own hands and the hands of the believers. So learn a lesson, O ye who have eyes!" (Pickthall).
SLAYING UNBELIEVERS is specifically commanded, though they can also be made slaves and their property can be confiscated. Non-muslims have no legal rights in Muslim societies. If unbelievers are not killed, they can be made to pay "Jizya," a tax to buy back rights like owning property, working, or going to school.
"Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is more grievous than bloodshed. But do not fight them within the precincts of the Holy Mosque unless they attack you there; if they attack you put them to the sword. thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded: but if they mend their ways (become Muslims), know that God is forgiving and merciful." (Dawood)
"And slay them wherever you come upon them, and expel them from where they expelled you; persecution is more grievous than slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then, if they fight you, slay them - such is the recompense of unbelievers - but if they give over, surely God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate." (Arberry)
"And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers." (Pickthall).
WORLD DOMINATION IS THE GOAL OF ISLAM. The Koran is perverse, but it is logical. The Koran teaches that unbelievers are sinners, and every day they live they pile up more sins. Because Muslims believe that Allah will judge people by weighing their good deeds against their bad deeds, they believe that by forcing non-Muslims to become Muslims at the point of a sword they are actually doing non-Muslims a favor - "saving their souls" as it were. But because unbelief is a sin - idolatry - it must be wiped out wherever it is. This effectively means that the Muslims goal is to spread Islam to everyone who will accept it and kill everyone who won't.
"Fight against them (non-Muslims) until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme. But if they desist, fight none except the evil-doers." (Dawood)
"Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is God's; then if they give over, there shall be no enmity save for evildoers." (Arberry)
"And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers." (Pickthall)
"Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not." (Dawood)
"Prescribed for you is fighting, though it be hateful to you. Yet it may happen that you will hate a thing which is better for you; and it may happen that you will love a thing which is worse for you; God knows, and you know not." (Arberry)
"Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not." (Pickthall)
Sura 2:217-218 - we can well expect attacks during Ramadam.
"They ask you about the sacred month. Say: 'To fight in this month is a grave offence; but to debar others from the path of God, to deny Him, and to expel His worshippers from the Holy Mosque, is far more grave in His sight. Idolatry is more grievous than bloodshed.' They will not cease to fight against you until they force you to renounce your faith - if they are able. But whoever of you recants and dies an unbeliever, his works shall come to nothing in this world and in the world to come. Such men shall be the tenants of Fire, wherein they shall abide for ever. Those that have embraced the Faith, and those that have fled their land and fought for the cause of God, may hope for God's mercy. God is forgiving and merciful." (Dawood)
"They will question thee concerning the holy month, and fighting in it. Say: 'Fighting in it is a heinous thing, but to bar from God's way, and disbelief in Him, and the Holy Mosque, and to expel its people from it - that is more heinous in God's sight; and persecution is more heinous than slaying.' They will not cease to fight with you, till they turn you from your religion, if they are able; and whosoever of you turns from his religion, and dies disbelieving - their works have failed in this world and the next; those are the inhabitants of the Fire; therein they shall dwell forever. But the believers, and those who emigrate and struggle in God's way - they have hope of God's compassion; and God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate." (Arberry)
"They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel His people thence, is a greater with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing. And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can. And whoso becometh a renegade and dieth in his disbelief: such are they whose works have fallen both in the world and the Hereafter. Such are rightful owners of the Fire: they will abide therein." (Pickthall)
You'll notice that most of the verses I've sent you have come from the first 3 suras of Koran. There are many more in following suras and I will send them to you in order.
Bin Laden said the world is divided into two camps. The book "Kingdom of the Cults" - a Christian book that looks at how various religions depart from the Bible - identifies these as divisions as "Dar al Islam" - the world of Islam - and "Dar al Harb" - the world of war - war, that is, against unbelievers.
further info on Islam, visit the former Muslims at
or order your own copy of Koran
Read the rest of this series: Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4
Paul J. Tetreault, Jr., Esq. is a U.S. Naval Academy grad and a 25 year Navy veteran who has served as a law clerk to judges on the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. He holds a Finance MBA and J.D. and is currently an Economics Ph.D. student. he is also the International Director of Citizen Soldier.