Islam: The Omitted Verses
I have a son in the seventh grade in the William S. Hart Union High School District in Santa Clarita, California. I hope that I don’t have to spend my golden years deprogramming my son from false information being conveyed by the schools. I am trying to avoid this by keeping informed about what the schools are teaching.
My son told me that he is being taught about Islam in his history class. He said that he was taught that a verse in the Quran numbered 2:256 states: “Let there be no compulsion in religion, for the truth stands out clearly from falsehood.” My son told me that he was not taught about any other verses of the Quran which contradict verse 2:256.
I sent an email to my son’s history teacher stating that my son is not being taught about the contradictory verses, several of which I quoted. Verse 8:38 states: “Tell the disbelievers that if they desist, their past will be forgiven. But if they persist, then they have an example in those destroyed before them.” Verse 9:29 states: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day, nor comply with what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth from among those who were given the Scripture, until they pay the tax, willingly submitting, fully humbled.” Verse 9:33 states: “He is the One Who has sent His Messenger with true guidance and the religion of truth, making it prevail over all others, even to the dismay of the polytheists.”
I explained in my email that there is debate among scholars about whether the more totalitarian and violent verses of the Quran abrogate the more tolerant verses of the Quran. The Quran itself sets forth the doctrine of abrogation, whereby the chronologically later verses of the Quran abrogate earlier verses which are contradictory. The earlier and more tolerant verses were written when Muhammad was in Mecca and without a powerful army. The later and more totalitarian and violent verses were written when Muhammad was in Medina and had gathered a powerful army.
I further stated that although it appears that the more totalitarian and violent verses take precedence, we do not need to wait until that debate is resolved to properly teach our children about Islam. The very fact that the more totalitarian and violent verses exist is sufficient reason to teach them to our children. It is even more important to teach the more totalitarian and violent verses with the more tolerant verses given that the more totalitarian and violent verses may take precedence over the more tolerant verses,
I assured my son’s history teacher that I am not blaming him because I assume that he did not design the curriculum. I also stated:
The children should be taught the truth. The truth is that the verse you are teaching is contradicted by other verses in the Quran. You are not teaching the contradictory verses. To be taught the truth, the children need to be taught about the contradictory verses. They also need to be taught about the rule of abrogation in Quranic interpretation, and at the very least, taught that there is a scholarly debate about how it applies. In the most favorable light Islam is a contradictory mess that has justification for totalitarian violence and for peaceful coexistence. In the most unfavorable light, it is a doctrine of totalitarian violence with Islam reigning supreme. If the children are to be taught about Islam, they need to learn all of the facts. Anything less is indoctrination in a false version of Islam.
In his reply, my son’s history teacher stated:
Thank you for the insight on this. Since our current history textbooks are pretty outdated and do not provide many supplemental materials, I got this assignment from the University [sic] California Irvine History Project. The UCI History Project provides lessons aligned with the California state standards for K-12 students in California. Our district is currently in the process of selecting a new 7th grade history textbook and if approved by the school board, we will start using it next school year.
The UCI History Project includes a section entitled 7th Grade Curriculum Resources that has a subsection entitled Spread of Islam, Primary Source Set: “How did Islam spread to multiple cultures?” that is in a downloadable Microsoft Word document. In this subsection on page 3 it quotes the “no compulsion in religion” language from Quran 2:256. There is no quotation from the contradictory verses.
The Qur’an specifies, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256). This verse states that no person can ever be forced to accept religion against their will. It tells Muslims never to force people to convert to Islam. Anyone who accepts Islam under pressure might not be sincere, and conversion in name only is useless to them, and harmful to members of the faith community.
Prophet Muhammad set a precedent as the leader of Madinah. Under his leadership, the Muslims practiced tolerance towards those of other religions. They were parties to the Constitution of Madinah and to treaties with the Muslims, discussing religious ideas with the Jews, Christians and polytheists (believers in many gods). The Qur’an records some of the questions that they put to Muhammad about Islam. Later Muslim leaders were required to be tolerant, based on the authority of both the Qur’an (in this and many other verses), and the Sunnah, or example of Muhammad. With few exceptions, Muslim leaders have adhered to it over time.
The Islam Project does not provide any of the Quran verses which are contradictory to verse 2:256.
I expect that I will be working as many hours during my son’s school years preventing him from needing deprogramming,. I can’t replace the time I am losing and will continue to lose. But I will lose the time, because I will never lose my son.
Allan J. Favish is an attorney in Los Angeles. His website is allanfavish.com. James Fernald and Mr. Favish have co-authored a book about what might happen if the government ran Disneyland, titled Fireworks! If the Government Ran the Fairest Kingdom of Them All (A Very Unauthorized Fantasy).
Image: Cezary Piwowarski