More Questions About Islam [Full Article]
Is there no part of the Qur’an which modifies these violent texts in the way that we would say our New Testament modifies the Old Testament?
In fact the reverse is true. Suppose in our Bible the New Testament came first and the Old Testament came later, that would be the position in the Qur’an. All the peaceful passages that are enjoined on Muslims occur in the chapters written at Mecca. They are tolerant toward Jews and Christians. But when Muhammad gets to Medina and sets up his city/religious state, the tone towards other groups changes rapidly. The statements about slaying the pagans and killing the Jews and others occur there.
Now in Islamic interpretation, all passages that are revealed later take precedence over those revealed earlier. This is known as the ‘law of abrogation’. It means therefore that those passages that enjoin violence are actually the ones which are now acceptable.
What caused this change?
One needs to realise that at Mecca Muhammad is a despised prophet, he needs the help of all communities. But when he gets to Medina, he is now in the position of being a ruler, a legislator, a general. He has to further the Islamic community. For those who did not accept the new community – such as the Jews and Christians – it became highly dangerous, to the point of death.
Is it true that in Muslim countries Muslims who have converted to Christianity are not able to worship openly?
In Muslim countries where converts occur we need to remember the law of apostasy. In Saria, all four schools of Sunni law and Shi’i law teach that any adult male Muslim who rejects Islam, or becomes a Christian, commits the crime of high treason and that carries the death penalty. Some countries practise it – Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Sudan – but where countries do not practise it it is often practised by the communities and families.
In most countries if the death penalty is not applied endemic discrimination and persecution and marginalisation occurs. There is no freedom within Islam. It does not confer all the civic liberties either on converts, or on historic Christian communities in their midst.