Islam Means ‘Peace’
Lesser educated Muslims sometimes claim that the root word
of Islam is “al-Salaam,” which is “peace” in Arabic.
An Arabic word only has one root. The root word for Islam is
“al-Silm,” which means “submission” or “surrender.”
There is no controversy about this
among Islamic scholars. al-Silm (submission) does not
mean the same thing as al-Salaam (peace), otherwise they
would be the same word.
Submission and peace can be very different concepts, even if a
form of peace is often brought about through forcing others into
As the modern-day Islamic scholar,
Ibrahim Sulaiman, puts it,
"Jihad is not inhumane, despite
its necessary violence and bloodshed, its ultimate desire is
peace which is protected and enhanced by the rule of law."
In truth, the Qur’an not only calls
Muslims to submit to Allah, it also commands them to
subdue people of other religions until they are in a full state
of submission to Islamic rule.
This has inspired the aggressive
history of Islam and its success in conquering other cultures.
Islam Respects Women as Equals
The Qur’an places men and women on equal foundation before
Allah. Each person is judged according to his or her own
deeds. Women have equal rights under Islamic law.
Merely stating that individuals will be judged as such by
Allah does not mean that they have equal rights and roles, or
that they are judged by the same standards.
There is no ambiguity in the Qur’an, the life of Muhammad, or
Islamic law as to the inferiority of women to men, despite the
efforts of modern-day apologists to salvage Western-style
feminism from scraps and fragments of verses that have
historically held no such progressive interpretation.
After military conquests, Muhammad would dole out captured women
as war prizes to his men. In at least one case, he advocated
that they be raped in front of their husbands. Captured women
were made into sex slaves by the very men who killed their
husbands and brothers. There are at least three Qur’anic verses
in which "Allah" makes clear that a Muslim master has full
sexual access to his female slaves, yet there is not one that
The Qur’an gives Muslim men permission to beat their wives for
disobedience. It plainly says that husbands are “a degree above”
wives. The Hadith says that women are intellectually inferior,
and that they comprise the majority of Hell’s occupants.
Under Islamic law, a man may divorce his wife at the drop of a
hat. If he does this twice, then wishes to remarry her, then she
must first have sex with another man. Men are exempt from such
Muslim women are not free to marry whomever they please, as are
Muslim men. Their husband may bring other wives into the
marriage bed. She must be sexually available to him at all times
(as a field ready to be “tilled,” according to the holy book of
Muslim women do not inherit property in equal portions to males.
Their testimony in court is considered to be worth only half
that of a man’s. Unlike a man, she must cover her head and often
If a woman wants to prove that she was raped, then there must be
four male witnesses to corroborate her account. Otherwise she
will be jailed or stoned to death for confessing to “adultery.”
Given all of this, it is quite a stretch to say that men and
women have “equality under Islam” based on obscure theological
analogies or comparisons. This is an entirely new stratagem that
is designed to appeal to modern tastes, but is in sharp
disagreement with the reality of Islamic law and history.
Further Reading from the Qur'an:
Jihad Means 'Inner Struggle'
Islam’s Western apologists sometimes claim that since the
Arabic word, Jihad, literally means “fight” or “struggle,” it
refers to an “inner struggle” rather than holy war.
This is extremely difficult to reconcile with the Qur’an,
which, for example, exempted the disabled and elderly from Jihad
(4:95). This would make no sense if the word is being used
merely within the context of spiritual struggle. It is also
unclear why Muhammad would use graphic language, such as smiting
fingers and heads from the hands and necks of unbelievers if he
were speaking merely of character development.
With this in mind, Muslims themselves usually admit that there
are two meanings to the word, but insist that “inner struggle”
is the “greater Jihad,” whereas “holy war” is the “lesser.”
fact, this misconception is based only on an a single hadith
that is extremely weak and unreliable.
By contrast, the most reliable of all
Hadith is that of Bukhari.
The word, Jihad, is mentioned over 200 times in reference to the
words of Muhammad and each one is a clear connotation to holy
war, with only a handful of possible exceptions (dealing with a
woman's supporting role during a time of holy war).
Islam is a Religion of Peace
Muhammad was a peaceful man who taught his followers to be
the same. Muslims lived peacefully for centuries, only fighting
in self-defense when it was necessary. True Muslims would never
Muhammad organized 65 military campaigns in the last ten
years of his life and personally led 27 of them. The more power
that he attained, the smaller the excuse needed to go to battle,
until finally he began attacking tribes merely because they were
not part of his growing empire.
After Muhammad’s death, his most faithful followers and even his
own family turned on each other almost immediately. There were
four Caliphs (leaders) in the first twenty-five years. Three of
the four were murdered. The third Caliph was murdered by the son
of the first. The fourth Caliph was murdered by the fifth, who
left a 100-year dynasty that was ended in a gruesome, widespread
bloodbath by descendents of Muhammad’s uncle.
Muhammad’s own daughter, Fatima, and his son-in-law, Ali, who
both survived the pagan hardship during the Meccan years safe
and sound, did not survive Islam after the death of Muhammad.
Fatima died of stress from persecution within three months, and
Ali was later assassinated. Their son (Muhammad’s grandson) was
killed in battle with the faction that became today’s Sunnis.
His people became Shias. The relatives and personal friends of
Muhammad were mixed into both warring groups, which then
fractured further into hostile sub-divisions as Islam expanded.
Muhammad left his men with instructions to take the battle
against the Christians, Persians, Jews and polytheists (which
came to include millions of unfortunate Hindus). For the next
four centuries, Muslim armies steamrolled over unsuspecting
neighbors, plundering them of loot and slaves, and forcing the
survivors to either convert or pay tribute at the point of a
Companions of Muhammad lived to see Islam declare war on every
major religion in the world in just the first few decades
following his death - pressing the Jihad against Hindus,
Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Buddhists.
By the time of the Crusades (when the Europeans began fighting
back), Muslims had conquered two-thirds of the Christian world
by sword, from Spain to Syria, and across North Africa.
Millions of Christians were enslaved by Muslims, and tens of
millions of Africans. The Arab slave-trading routes would stay
open for 1300 years, until pressure from Christian-based
countries forced Islamic nations to declare the practice illegal
(in theory). To this day, the Muslim world has never apologized
to the victims of Jihad and slavery.
There is not another religion in the world that
produces terrorism in the name of religion as does Islam. The
most dangerous Muslims are nearly always those who interpret the
Qur’an most transparently. They are the fundamentalists or
purists of the faith, and believe in Muhammad’s mandate to
spread Islamic rule by the sword, putting to death those who
will not submit.
The holy texts of Islam are saturated with verses of violence
and hatred toward those outside the faith. In sharp contrast to
the Bible, which generally moves from relatively violent
episodes to far more peaceful mandates, the Qur’an travels the
exact opposite path (violence is first forbidden, then
permitted, then mandatory).
The handful of earlier verses that
speak of tolerance are overwhelmed by an avalanche of later ones
that carry a much different message. While Old Testament verses
of blood and guts are generally bound by historical context
within the text itself, Qur'anic imperatives to violence usually
appear open-ended and subject to personal interpretation.
By any objective measure, the "Religion of Peace" has been the
harshest, bloodiest religion the world has ever known.
Islam is Tolerant of Other Religions
Religious minorities have flourished under Islam. Muslims
are commanded to protect Jew and Christians (the People of the
Book) and to do them no harm.
Religious minorities have not “flourished” under Islam. In
fact, they have dwindled to mere shadows after centuries of
persecution and discrimination. Some were converted from their
native religion by brute force, others under the agonizing
strain of dhimmitude.
What Muslims call “tolerance,” others correctly identify as
institutionalized discrimination. The consignment of Jews and
Christians to dhimmis under Islamic rule means that they are not
allowed the same religious rights and freedoms as Muslims. They
cannot share their faith, for example, or build houses of
worship without permission.
Historically, dhimmis have often had to wear distinguishing
clothing or cut their hair in a particular manner that indicates
their position of inferiority and humiliation. They do not share
the same legal rights as Muslims, and must even pay a poll tax
(the jizya). They are to be killed or have their children taken
from them if they cannot satisfy the tax collector’s
For hundreds of years, the Christian population in occupied
Europe had their sons taken away and forcibly converted into
Muslim warriors (known as Jannisaries) by the Ottoman Turks.
It is under this burden of discrimination and third-class status
that so many converted to Islam over the centuries. Those who
didn’t often faced economic and social hardships that persist to
this day and are appalling by Western standards of true
religious tolerance and pluralism.
For those who are not “the People of the Book,” such as Hindus
and atheists, there is very little tolerance to be found once
Islam establishes political superiority. The Qur’an tells
Muslims to "fight in the way of Allah" until “religion is only
for Allah.” The conquered populations face death if they do not
establish regular prayer and charity in the Islamic tradition (i.e.
the pillars of Islam).
Tamerlane and other Muslim warriors slaughtered hundreds of
thousands of Hindus and Buddhists, as well as displacing or
forcibly converting millions more over the last thousand years.
One of the great ironies of Islam is that non-Muslims are to be
treated according to the very standards by which Muslim would
claim the right to violent self-defense were the shoe on the
other foot. Islam is its own justification. Most Muslims
therefore feel no need to question the ingrained arrogance and
At best, the "religion of peace" has a dual personality toward
other religions. In some places they are explicitly cursed by
Allah, in others there appears to be a measure of tolerance
shown. There are about 500 verses in the Qur’an that speak of
Allah’s hatred for non-Muslims and the punishment that he has
prepared for their unbelief. There is also a tiny handful that
say otherwise, but these are mostly earlier verses that many
scholars consider to be abrogated by the later, more violent
If tolerance simply means discouraging the mass slaughter of
those of a different faith, then today's Islam generally meets
this standard more often than not.
But, if tolerance means allowing
people of other faiths the same religious liberties that Muslims
enjoy, then Islam is fundamentally the most intolerant religion
under the sun.
Islam and the “Golden Age” of
Muslims often claim that their religion fostered a rich
heritage of scientific discovery, “paving the way” for modern
advances in technology and medicine. On this topic, they usually
refer to the period between the 7th and 13th centuries, when
Europe was experiencing its “Dark Ages” and the Muslim world was
conquering new populations and culture.
Although there is no arguing that the Muslim world was more
advanced during this period than the “Christian” world, the
reasons for this have absolutely nothing to do with the Islamic
religion (other than its mandate for military expansion). In
fact, the religion actively discourages knowledge outside of
itself, which is why the most prolific Muslim scholars
throughout history tend to be students of religion rather than
There are four basic reasons why Islam has little true claim to
First, the Muslim world benefited greatly from the Greek
sciences, which were translated for them by Christians and Jews.
To their credit, Muslims did a better job of preserving Greek
text than did the Europeans of the time, and this became the
foundation for their own knowledge. (One large reason for this,
however, was that access by Christians to this part of their
world was cut off by Muslim slave ships and coastal raids that
dominated the Mediterranean during this period).
Secondly, many of the scientific advances credited to Islam were
actually “borrowed” from other cultures conquered by the
Muslims. The algebraic concept of “zero”, for example, is
erroneously attributed to Islam, but it was, in fact, a Hindu
discovery that was merely introduced to the West by Muslims.
In fact, conquered populations contributed greatly to the
history of “Muslim science” until gradually being decimated by
conversion to Islam (under the pressures of dhimmitude). The
Muslim concentration within a population is directly
proportional to the decline of scientific achievement. It is no
accident that the Muslim world has had little to show for itself
in the last 600 years or so, since running out of new
civilizations to cannibalize.
Third, even the great Muslim scientists and icons were often
considered heretics in their time, sometimes for good reason.
One of the greatest achievers to come out of the Muslim world
was the Persian scientist and philosopher, al-Razi. His
impressive works are often held up today as “proof” of Muslim
accomplishment. But what the apologists often leave out is that
al-Razi was denounced as a blasphemer, since he followed his own
religious beliefs – which were in obvious contradiction to
Fourth, even the contributions that are attributed to Islam
(often inaccurately) are not terribly dramatic. There is the
invention of certain words, such as alchemy and elixir, but not
much else that survives in modern technology that is of any
practical significance. Neither is there any reason to believe
that such discoveries would not have easily been made by the
West following the cultural awakening triggered by the
As an example of this, consider that Muslims claim credit for
coffee, since the beans were discovered in Africa (at the time,
an important venue for Islamic slave trading) and first
processed in the Middle East. While this is true, it is also
true that the red dye used in many food products, from cranberry
juice to candy, comes from the abdomen of a particular female
beetle found in South America. It is extremely unlikely that the
West would not have stumbled across coffee by now (although, to
be fair, coffee probably expedited subsequent discoveries).
In fact, the litany of “Muslim” achievement often takes the form
of rhapsody, in which the true origins of these discoveries are
omitted - along with their comparative significance to Western
achievement. However, scientific, medical and technological
accomplishments are not something over which Muslim apologists
want to get into a pissing contest with the Christian world.
Today’s Islamic innovators are primarily known for turning
Western technology, such as cell phones and airplanes, into
instruments of mass murder.
To sum up, although the Islamic religion is not entirely hostile
to science, neither should it be confused as a facilitator. The
great achievements that are said to have come out of the Islamic
world were made either by non-Muslims who happened to be under
Islamic rule, or by heretics who usually had little interest in
Scientific discovery tapers off
dramatically as Islam asserts dominance, until it eventually
peters out altogether.
Islam is Opposed to Slavery
Islam is intolerant of enslaving human beings. The religion
eradicated the institution of slavery thanks to the principles
set in motion by Muhammad, who was an abolitionist.
There is not the least bit of intolerance for slavery
anywhere in the Qur’an. In fact, the “holy” book of Islam
explicitly gives slave-owners the freedom to sexually exploit
their slaves – not just in one place, but in at least four
separate Suras. Islamic law is littered with rules concerning
the treatment of slaves, some of which are relatively humane,
but none that prohibit the actual practice by any stretch.
The very presence of these rules condones and legitimizes the
institution of slavery. Adding to this is the fact that Muhammad
was an avid slave trader.
After providing ample evidence of his
activities according to the most reliable Muslim biographers,
the Center of the Study of Political Islam summarizes their
Muhammad captured slaves, sold slaves, bought slaves as gifts of
pleasure, received slaves as gifts, and used slaves for work.
The Sira is exquisitely clear on the issue of slavery.
and the Unbelievers: a Political Life)
As such, this deeply dehumanizing horror has been a ubiquitous
tradition of Islam since the days of Muhammad to the current
plight of non-Muslims in the Sudan, Mali, Niger and Mauritania,
as well as other parts of the Muslim world.
There has never been an abolitionary movement within Islam (just
as the religion produces no organized resistance to present-day
enslavement). The abolition of slavery was imposed on the
Islamic world by European countries, along with other political
pressures that were entirely unrelated to Islamic law.
Although horrible abuses of slaves in the Muslim world were
recorded, there has been little inclination toward the
documentation and earnest contrition that one finds in the West.
The absence of a guilty conscience often leads to the mistaken
impression that slavery was not as bad under Islam... when it is
actually indicative of the tolerance that the religion has for
So narcissistic is the effect of Islam on the devoted, that to
this day many Muslims believe in their hearts that the women and
children carried off in battle, and their surviving men folk,
were actually done a favor by the Muslim warriors who plucked
them from their fields and homes and relegated them to lives of
Shame and apology, no matter how appropriate, are almost never
to be found in Dar al-Islam. Caliphs, the religious equivalent
of popes, maintained harems of hundreds, sometimes thousands of
young girls and women captured from lands as far away as Europe
and consigned to sexual slavery. Hungarians were hunted like
animals by the Turks, who carried 3 million into slavery over a
150 year period.
African slaves were often castrated by their Muslim masters.
survived to reproduce, which is why there are not many people of
African descent living in the Middle East, even though more
slaves were taken out of Africa in the 1300 years of Arab slave
trading than in the 300 years of European slavery. The 400,000
slaves brought to America, for example, have now become a
community of 30 million, with a much higher standard of living
than their African peers.
There is no William Wilberforce or
Bartoleme de las Casas in
Islamic history as there is in Christianity. When asked to
produce the name of a Muslim abolitionist, apologists sometimes
meekly suggest Muhammad himself.
But, if a slave owner and
trader, who commanded the capture and sexual exploitation of
slaves, and left a 13-century legacy of religiously-based
slavery, is the best that Islam can offer, then no amount of
sophistry will be enough to convince any but the most ignorant.
Islam is Completely Incompatible
Islam is completely incompatible with acts of terrorism. It
is against Islam to kill innocent people.
Even though many Muslims earnestly believe that their
religion prohibits the killing of innocent people by acts of
terrorism, the truth is certainly more complicated. This is why
the Jihadis and their detractors are both able to point fingers
at the other, while confidently insisting that they are the true
Muslims. It is also why organizations that commit horrible
atrocities in the name of Allah, such as
Hamas and Hezbollah,
receive moral and financial support from mainstream Muslims and
In fact, the definition of an “innocent person” is far more
ambiguous in Islam than Muslim apologists will lead others to
believe. So, also, is the definition of terrorism.
First, consider that anyone who rejects Muhammad is not
considered to be innocent under Islamic law. The most protected
and respected of all non-Muslims are the dhimma, the “people of
the book.” These would specifically be Jews and Christians who
agree to Islamic rule and pay the jizya (tribute to Muslims).
Yet, the word “dhimmi” comes from the Arabic root meaning
“guilt” or "blame."
"...the dhimmi parent and sister words mean
both 'to blame' as well as safeguards that can be extended to
protect the blameworthy"
Amitav Ghosh, In an Antique Land
So, if even the dhimma have a measure of guilt attached to their
status (by virtue of having rejected Allah’s full truth), then
how can non-Muslims who oppose Islamic rule or refuse to pay the
jizya be considered “innocent?”
Within the Islamic community itself there is a category of
Muslims who are also said to bear guilt – greater even than the
average non-believer. These are the hypocrites, or “Munafiqin,”
whom Muhammad referred to in the most derogatory terms. A
hypocrite is considered to be a Muslim in name only. They are
distinguished either by an unwillingness to wage holy war or by
an intention to corrupt the community of believers.
When Muslims kill Muslims in the name of
Allah (which occurs
quite frequently), they usually do so believing that their
victims are Munafiqin or kafir (unbelievers). This is actually a
part of Islamic Law known as takfir, in which Muslims are
declared apostates and then executed. (A true Muslim would go to
paradise anyway, in which case he or she could hardly be
expected to nurse a grudge amidst the orgy of sex and wine).
In addition to the murky definition of innocence, there is also
the problem of distinguishing terrorism from holy war. Islamic
terrorists never refer to themselves as terrorists, but always
as holy warriors (Mujahideen, Shahid, or Fedayeen). They
consider their acts to be a form of Jihad.
Holy war is something that Muhammad commanded in the Qur’an and
Hadith. In Sura 9:29, he establishes the principle that
unbelievers should be fought until they either convert to Islam
or accept a state of humiliation under Islamic subjugation. This
is confirmed in the Hadith by both Sahih Muslim and Bukhari.
In many places, the prophet of Islam says that Jihad is the
ideal path for a Muslim, and that believers should “fight in the
way of Allah.” There are dozens of open-ended passages in the
Qur’an that exhort killing and fighting – far more than ones of
peace and tolerance.
It is somewhat naïve to think that their
inclusion in this "eternal discourse between God and Man" was of
historical value only and not intended to be relevant to
present-day believers, particularly when there is little to
nothing within the text that distinguishes them in such fashion.
Combine the Qur’anic exhortation to holy war with the ambiguity
of innocence, and a monumental problem develops that cannot be
covered over by mere semantics. Not only is there a deep
tolerance for violence in Islam, but also a sharp disagreement
and lack of clarity over the conditions that justify this
violence... and just whom the targets may be.
Even many Muslims who claim to be against terrorism still
support the “insurgency” in Iraq, for example, and often
entertain the allegation that there is a broader “war against
Islam.” Although the Americans in Iraq are trying to protect
innocent life and help the country rebuild, Muslims around the
world and in the West believe that it is legitimate for Sunnis
to try and kill them.
Enjoying the sanction of holy war, the
Mujahid reasons that it
is permissible to attack fellow Iraqis – the ones helping the
Americans… even if they are part of a democratically-elected
Iraqi government. These non-combatants and combatants alike are
believed to be the “Munafiqin” or "Takfir" assisting the enemy
Although we use Iraq as an example here, this is the same
rationale that is ultimately behind all Islamic terror, from the
Philippines to Thailand. Wherever the religion of Islam is a
minority, there are always radicals who believe that violence is
justified in bringing it to dominance - just as Muhammad taught
by example in places like Mecca and the land of al-Harith.
And what of the so-called “innocents” who suffer from the
bombings and shootings? Even in Muhammad’s time they were
unavoidable. The much-touted hadith in which Muhammad forbade
the killing of women also indicates that there were such
casualties in his conflicts.
If there is any doubt that he believed that the forbidden is
sometimes necessary, it should be put to rest by an incident in
which Muhammad's men warned him that a planned night raid
against an enemy camp would mean that women and children would
be killed. He merely replied “they are of them,” meaning the
This is the slippery slope that is opened by the sanction of
holy war. What starts out as the perception of a noble cause of
self-defense against a supposed threat gradually devolves into a
"let Allah sort them out" campaign through a series of logical
steps that are ultimately justified by the sublime goal of
Islam is not intended to co-exist as an equal with other
religions. It is to be the dominant religion, with Sharia as the
supreme law. Islamic rule is to be extended to the ends of the
earth, and resistance is to be dealt with by any means
Apologists in the West often shrug off the Qur'an's many verses
of violence by saying that they are only relevant in a “time of
To this, Islamic terrorists would agree. They are at war.
Islam is a Democracy
Islam is compatible with democratic principles. The religion
itself is a democracy.
A democracy is a system in which all people are judged as
equals before the law, regardless of race, religion or gender.
The vote of every individual counts as much as the vote of any
other. The collective will of the people then determines the
rules of society.
Under Islamic law, only Muslim males enjoy full rights. The
standing of a woman is often half that of a man's - sometimes
even less. Non-Muslims have no standing with a Muslim.
The Islamic state is guided by Islamic law, derived from the
Qur'an and Sunnah. A body of clerics interprets the law and
applies it to all circumstances social, cultural and political.
The people are never to be placed above the Qur'an and Sunnah
any more than man should be above Allah.
It is somewhat debatable as to whether there are any states in
the Muslim world that qualify as actual democracies. There is no
denying, however, that the tiny handful that are often held up
as democratic nations are ones in which deep tension exists
between the government and religious leaders, as the later often
complain that it is an idolatrous system imposed on them.
Islam does not facilitate democracy.
The Qur'an is the Muslim
Counterpart to the Bible
The Qur'an is to Muslims what
the Bible is to Christians
(and the Torah
The Qur'an only contains what is presented as the literal
words of Allah - as relayed by Muhammad. It can be compared to a
manufactured text that includes only the words of Jesus (the
so-called "red-letter" verses) extracted from their New
Testament historical context and then randomly mixed together
(the chapters of the Qur'an are arranged by size and themes are
rarely consistent even within each chapter).
By contrast, the Bible contains history and biographical detail.
For example, there is nothing in the Qur'an that details
Muhammad's life, whereas the Bible contains four gospels that
present all that is known about the biography of Jesus. Another
distinction is that when the Bible commands violence (as it does
in a handful of Old Testament verses) the intended target is
explicitly defined within the passage, leaving little doubt that
it is a recounting of history and not an open-ended command for
anyone else to do the same.
Despite the rhapsody with which Muslims sing the Qur'an's
praises, there is an obvious reason why only a minority have
actually bothered to delve deeper than an occasional sporadic
perusal through its pages. The random arrangement of verses and
near absence of context makes it difficult to understand. For
this reason the Qur'an is rarely printed without the
incorporation of voluminous commentary (that usually expresses
the personal preferences of the translator).
In fact, the Muslim counterpart to the Bible is the Qur'an,
Hadith and Sira combined.
The Hadith is a collection of anecdotes and historical accounts
of Muhammad's life based on the relayed narrations of those who
lived with him. Unfortunately, authenticity varies. But the most
dependable compilers are agreed by Muslims scholars to be
Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, followed by
Abu Dawud. It is on the
Hadith that Islamic law (Sharia) is based.
Sira is the biography of Muhammad's life.
Again, there are
reliability issues which would appear somewhat bewildering to
Christians, given that the gospels were well in place within the
first few centuries following the crucifixion - which preceded
Muslim history by over 600 years. Still, the most reliable
biography of Muhammad was compiled by Ibn Ishaq, who wrote about
150 years after his death. His original work survives only in
what was "edited" by a later translator (Ibn Hisham, who
admitted that he filtered out several accounts that were of a
A failure to recognize that the Bible is only comparable to the
Qur'an, Hadith and Sira together often leads to faulty
accusation and misplaced analysis.