An easy way to debunk a common myth (‘kill the infidel’) of Islam

Muslim Americans are often harassed and forced to defend themselves against controversial verses in their holy text – the Qur’an.  One of these verses is Surah 9:5 (the ‘kill the infidel’ verse).  I am not a Muslim, but I still have concerns over how ‘experts’ say Muslims kill because the Qur’an tells them to (Representative Allen West is one such person).  Several questions arise out of my concern: If Muslims are told to ‘kill the infidel’, as so many ‘experts’ claim, why do not Muslims deliberately exterminate non-Muslims?  And if the Qur’an is telling Muslims to kill non-Muslim ‘infidels’, how does one explain a figure such as Emperor Akbar of the Mughal Empire, whose

use of Islamic symbols was not exclusionary, and he welcomed to his new court at Fatehpur Sikri for discussion Brahmans, yogis, Jains, Jesuit priests who travelled up from Portugese trading enclaves on the south-west coasts, Zoroastrians, and Muslim scholars of every orientation… Like many intellectuals and holy men in the open climate of this period, Akbar sought shared esoteric or philosophic truths across traditions, as well as disciplinary practices in the pursuit of those truths.  He patronized translations into Persian of the Sanskrit Ramayana (the story of Lord Ram) and Mahabharata, as well as miniature painting representing episodes of the two epics.  He abolished the jizya taxes levied on non-Muslims. (In A Concise History of India by Metcalf and Metcalf, p. 18)

Another useful point is to highlight Muslim-ruled Spain as a place where Muslims, Christians and Jews lived side by side without any significant friction.  Spanish Jews under Muslim rule, according to Middle Eastern historian Bernard Lewis in The Jews of Islam (1984),

were allowed to practice their religion and live according to the laws and scriptures of their community. Furthermore, the restrictions to which they were subject were social and symbolic rather than tangible and practical in character. That is to say, these regulations served to define the relationship between the two communities, and not to oppress the Jewish population.

However, when the Muslims in Spain are by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who together signed the Edict of Expulsion in 1492, the Jews are given the inhumane choice of either being converted to Christianity or deported.  Ironically, an estimated 50,000 Jews fled to Muslim Turkey and received protection under the Ottoman Empire.  My point here is that Islamic history, like Christianity’s history, has had its fair share of dark episodes, but it has also had bright ones.  We would be wise not to forget them.

One thought on “An easy way to debunk a common myth (‘kill the infidel’) of Islam

  1. The problem isn’t the “myth” —the real underlying problem is the prejudice that allows the “myth”. If one recognizes the prejudice—then common sense will prevail. A good way to make prejudice visible is to substitute any minority such as blacks or Jews…etc instead of Islam/Muslim and see if the statement shows prejudice. If the excuse “Islam is different” is used as justification—it is a sure sign of prejudice.

    So—ask this—Jews are told to kill the infidel in their Torah. Does this sound reasonable or prejudicial?


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