Friday, March 24, 2006

Stages of the Koran

From Ruth Gledhill's blog, here's a way to explain the degrees of varying aggressiveness in countries with Moslem populace.

The Qur'an is not written in chronological order. It is possible however to link the different parts of the Qur'an to different periods of Mohammed's life, each characterized by a slightly different philosophy. During the early part of his ministry in Mecca, his followers were few in number, and the peaceful passages all come from this period. During the Medinan period, his followers had grown in numbers, were stronger and much more influential and this is reflected in much more adversarial attitude. The third period, marked by the return to and conquest of Mecca gives us an altogether different picture of Islam and an intolerance of other religions. Surah 2.256 was thus abrogated by a later verse, composed after Mohammed had conquered Mecca and was preparing his new Muslim empire for Jihad against the non-Muslim world: "Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush" (Surah 9.5). This "verse of the sword" not only abrogates 2.256, but also abrogates well over a hundred earlier verses that formerly taught peace and tolerance toward non-believers.'

[Scottish academic Graham] Spence continues: 'When you look at Mohammed's life in conjunction with the Qur'an and the Hadiths you can see a pattern that is reflected in the Islamic world today. In Islamic societies which are complete i.e. have some form of Shariah law and are therefore closest to Mohammed's third period, you see these aggressive attitudes to other religions writ large. In those who are closest to the second period, such as the Mogul rule of India, there is more tolerance, and in those where Muslims are a minority, such as the UK and France the philosophy of the first period applies.

In places like northern Nigeria we are seeing a transition from stage two to stage three. Some argue that in the UK, France and Holland we are seeing a transition from stage one to stage two.'
Hit tip Melanie Phillips

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