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Notre Dame Professor Gabriel Said Reynolds falsely claims that Qur’an teaches only Allah should take revenge

The fact that Gabriel Said Reynolds, who demonstrates here that he is either abjectly ignorant or willfully dishonest about Islam, is a professor of theology at Notre Dame shows how much our nation’s universities (and the Catholic Church) are dominated by fantasy and wishful thinking rather than being willing to deal with unpleasant realities. Reynolds is an academic laden with honors, employed at Notre Dame and published in the New York Daily News, not because he speaks the truth, with which he is either unacquainted or unwilling to disclose, but because he tells people what they want to hear: that Islam, if only it were properly understood, is actually a religion of peace. How it came to be that so many Muslims misunderstand the religion they follow so devoutly, he does not bother to explain.

Meanwhile, would the New York Daily News ever publish a comparably lengthy theological defense of Christianity? Not on your life.

Anyway, to make his case that in Islam, vengeance belongs to Allah alone, Reynolds quotes a number of Qur’an verses, but he doesn’t even mention or attempt to explain away others that disprove his case. There is actually a great support, passed over in silence by Reynolds here, in the Qur’an and Sunnah for the death penalty for blasphemy. It can arguably be found in this verse: “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.” (5:33)

But if you don’t think that verse justifies killing those who insult Islam, there is this: “Those who annoy Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this World and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating Punishment” (33:57)

Yes, he has cursed them both in this world and the hereafter. What does a curse in this world look like? Muslims are told to fight such people: “If they violate their oaths after pledging to keep their covenants, and attack your religion, you may fight the leaders of paganism – you are no longer bound by your covenant with them – that they may refrain” (9:12).

Not only that, but the Qur’an explicitly says that Allah will punish people by the hands of the believers: “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy the breasts of a believing people, and remove the fury in the believers’ hearts.” (9:14-15)

There is more in the hadith. In one, Muhammad asked: “Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?” One of the Muslims, Muhammad bin Maslama, answered, “O Allah’s Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?” When Muhammad said that he would, Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab).” Muhammad responded: “You may say it.” Muhammad bin Maslama duly lied to Ka’b, luring him into his trap, and murdered him. (Bukhari 5.59.369)

“A Jewess used to abuse the Prophet and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah declared that no recompense was payable for her blood.” (Sunan Abu-Dawud 38.4349)

Why doesn’t Gabriel Said Reynolds mention any of those passages?

“What radical Muslims get wrong about the Koran: Vengeance is reserved for God alone,” by Gabriel Said Reynolds, New York Daily News, March 1, 2020:

In the name of Allah, militant Muslims continue taking up arms against people they consider threats to their faith and way of life. But does it make theological sense for humans to pick up swords and guns to exact retribution in this life?

The Koran, the book those same Muslims purport to revere, says no….

The irony of blasphemy laws, and the tragedy of these attacks carried out in supposed defense of Islam, is that the Koran time and again insists that it is God’s right, and God’s right alone, to exact vengeance.

Allah does not need Muslims to step in and punish those who insult Him. In fact, Allah does not want Muslims to do so. The God of the Koran is clear: He is the only avenger of Islam.

The case of blasphemy laws in Islam is particularly peculiar in light of the example of Muhammad himself. The Koran describes how the unbelievers in his native city of Mecca disputed his claims of prophethood and insulted him.

Koran 68:51 describes how they accused him of insanity: “Indeed, the faithless almost devour you with their eyes when they hear this Reminder, and they say, ‘He is indeed crazy.’”

The Koran does not respond by demanding that the blasphemers be killed for their insolence. It simply affirms the claims of Muhammad.

Elsewhere in the Koran, the voice of God counsels Muhammad to be patient when faced with opposition. Koran 16:126 alludes to some persecution or affliction which Muhammad has suffered from the unbelievers.

The next verse, in response, suggests that Muhammad could strike back in moderation, but should simply endure the persecution patiently: “If you retaliate, retaliate with the like of what you have been made to suffer, but if you are patient, that is surely better for the steadfast.”

This does not mean that the idea of vengeance is foreign to the Koran. The question the Koran poses is not whether offenses against Islam and Muslims should be avenged, but who should do the avenging.

And the answer is consistent: “God.”

Remarkably, and if only Boko Haram and other Salafi-Jihadis would listen, the Koran even teaches this lesson specifically about Christians. In Sura 5, God asks some questions of Jesus about those who followed him, but Jesus does not demand that the wrongdoers be punished.

He leaves their fate in God’s hands: “If Thou chastisest them, they are Thy servants; if Thou forgivest them, Thou art the All-mighty, the All-wise.”

The same lesson is taught about Muslims who are unfaithful to the laws of Islam. In chapter 5, verse 95, the Koran describes the laws of the pilgrimage to Mecca (known as the Hajj). But as for he who breaks the rules, the Koran gives no worldly punishment: “God will take vengeance on him, God is all-mighty, Vengeful.”

So what does divine vengeance look like in the Koran? Allah punishes those who offend Him in hell. The Koran not only describes paradise in vivid colors (as a place with food, drink, and women), it also describes hell in gruesome detail.

Angels of punishment will strike the damned from the front and the back. The damned will be condemned to drink boiling water and eat from a tree named Zaqqum whose fruit is like the heads of demons.

The Koran clearly considers this punishment enough for an unbeliever. Whereas the standard schools of Islam teach that someone who leaves the religion, an apostate, is to be killed, the only punishment for apostasy spoken of in the Koran is hell: “’Did you disbelieve after you had believed? Then taste the chastisement for that you disbelieved!’” (Quran 3:106).

The Koran also teaches that God need not wait for the afterlife to punish unbelievers. He is the lord of the universe and can intervene when He chooses.

A number of chapters in the Koran tell a series of tales, dubbed “punishment stories” by scholars, in which unbelieving peoples are punished for rejecting the prophet who is sent to them. Among these prophets are Biblical figures including Noah, Lot, and Moses, and others who seem to come from Arabian lore with names like Hud, Salih, and Shuʿayb.

In each story it is not the Prophet but God who intervenes….

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.