Islam and human sacrifice

As the mainstream media continues to bend over backwards to avoid the mention of the words "radical Islamic terrorism" in the wake of the San Bernardino, California attack, other more thoughtful individuals are beginning to ponder: what is the nature of a religion that motivates someone to take the lives of fellow human beings in a bloody, violent, and sometimes primeval manner?

When questions like this are examined, it is often best to start at the beginning.  To do this we must look at the Koran and its companion book, the Hadith.  Muslims believe that the Koran consists of the word of God, revealed in Arabic by God to the Prophet Muhammad over a twenty-two-year period that began in a dark cave.  Islamic scholars agree that the Hadith is not considered to be the word of God but rather is a collection of the sayings of Muhammad.

It should be noted that Muhammad never wrote a word of either text; he was illiterate.  In point of fact, no one wrote down what he said until more than a generation after he died.  So the compiling of the Koran was left to others, who drew upon their memories of what Muhammad recited.

The Koran is not compiled like the Bible or the Torah.  The Bible and the Torah are written in a chronological order, with both texts beginning with creation.  The Koran is arranged more like a book of poetry.  In the world of oral traditions, stories that were handed down from one generation to the next, like the Iliad and the Odyssey, were in poetic form to make the reciting easier.  The verses of the Koran were first part of an oral tradition, so the verses are ordered by length, with the longer verses, or surates, at the beginning and the shorter verses toward the end.

It must also be noted that the word "Koran" means "recite" and that the word "Islam" means "submit."  The whole religion is based upon the idea that a true believer must submit to the will of God.  Here is where it becomes more clear as to the reasoning for mass shootings or beheadings perpetrated by followers of the Islamic faith. 

Although the Koran is ordered by the length of the verse, according to the Hadith, the weight that each verse has is subordinate to the verses that were revealed subsequent to it.  This means that the last verses revealed to Muhammad outweigh the first verses revealed.

There are 6,236 verses in the Koran.  Verse 9.5 states the following according to the translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali:

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem [of war.]

Often this is all that is taught to jihadist martyrs.  However, the verse finishes with these words (ibid):

[B]ut if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

The location of the verse is not as important as the supposed chronological revelation of the verse.  It is often said that this was the last verse revealed to Muhammad and therefore has supremacy over all the other verses in the Koran.  In fairness, it should be noted that jihad and martyrdom are not included in the five pillars of Islam.  But nowhere in the Koran or the Hadith is jihad or martyrdom prohibited.

I think that is clear enough to draw the conclusion that Islam is a religion that, at the very least, tolerates human sacrifice as a way to please its deity.

As the mainstream media continues to bend over backwards to avoid the mention of the words "radical Islamic terrorism" in the wake of the San Bernardino, California attack, other more thoughtful individuals are beginning to ponder: what is the nature of a religion that motivates someone to take the lives of fellow human beings in a bloody, violent, and sometimes primeval manner?

When questions like this are examined, it is often best to start at the beginning.  To do this we must look at the Koran and its companion book, the Hadith.  Muslims believe that the Koran consists of the word of God, revealed in Arabic by God to the Prophet Muhammad over a twenty-two-year period that began in a dark cave.  Islamic scholars agree that the Hadith is not considered to be the word of God but rather is a collection of the sayings of Muhammad.

It should be noted that Muhammad never wrote a word of either text; he was illiterate.  In point of fact, no one wrote down what he said until more than a generation after he died.  So the compiling of the Koran was left to others, who drew upon their memories of what Muhammad recited.

The Koran is not compiled like the Bible or the Torah.  The Bible and the Torah are written in a chronological order, with both texts beginning with creation.  The Koran is arranged more like a book of poetry.  In the world of oral traditions, stories that were handed down from one generation to the next, like the Iliad and the Odyssey, were in poetic form to make the reciting easier.  The verses of the Koran were first part of an oral tradition, so the verses are ordered by length, with the longer verses, or surates, at the beginning and the shorter verses toward the end.

It must also be noted that the word "Koran" means "recite" and that the word "Islam" means "submit."  The whole religion is based upon the idea that a true believer must submit to the will of God.  Here is where it becomes more clear as to the reasoning for mass shootings or beheadings perpetrated by followers of the Islamic faith. 

Although the Koran is ordered by the length of the verse, according to the Hadith, the weight that each verse has is subordinate to the verses that were revealed subsequent to it.  This means that the last verses revealed to Muhammad outweigh the first verses revealed.

There are 6,236 verses in the Koran.  Verse 9.5 states the following according to the translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali:

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem [of war.]

Often this is all that is taught to jihadist martyrs.  However, the verse finishes with these words (ibid):

[B]ut if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

The location of the verse is not as important as the supposed chronological revelation of the verse.  It is often said that this was the last verse revealed to Muhammad and therefore has supremacy over all the other verses in the Koran.  In fairness, it should be noted that jihad and martyrdom are not included in the five pillars of Islam.  But nowhere in the Koran or the Hadith is jihad or martyrdom prohibited.

I think that is clear enough to draw the conclusion that Islam is a religion that, at the very least, tolerates human sacrifice as a way to please its deity.