IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Some informed comments

Some of you may know about Juan Cole’s blog “Informed Comment” .  Many people swear by it as a source of information about the Middle East and the Muslim world in general, and I suppose quite a few people might swear at it, since Dr. Cole does not mince his words and has some strong opinions  (you might have seen him on CNN or heard him on NPR).  Regular readers of my blog know I try to stay away from material that is too controversial or partisan, but:   (1) Juan is an old friend (Hi Juan, if you ever read this 🙂 ), and (2) there is a wonderful page of links to posts he has written about “Peace and Love in the Quran” .  Having read (a translation of) the Quran some time ago, I was vaguely aware that much that is written these days about the bellicose nature of Islam and about Islam and Christianity, or Islam and Judaism, was rather far from the actual text of the Book itself, and Dr. Cole makes some very good points in these various posts.

I’ll just quote a few to whet your appetite–I guarantee that if you have not purused the Quran yourself, you are in for some surprises.

“Chapter 25 of the Quran, “The Criterion” (al-Furqan), came to the Prophet Muhammad when he was still a preacher in Mecca (circa 610-622 AD), before the Meccans became so hostile and bloodthirsty that the Muslims had to leave for the nearby city of Yathrib, which became known as the City of the Prophet (Madinat an-Nabi) or Medina.

The Criterion lays out toward the end of its 77 verses a vision of the pious believer. That has to do first of all with wishing others peace.


“The worshippers of the All-Merciful are they who tread gently upon the earth, and when the ignorant address them, they reply, “Peace!””


“Dangerous falsehoods are being promulgated to the American public. The Quran does not preach violence against Christians.

Quran 5:69 says (Arberry): “Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabeaans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness–their wage waits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.”

In other words, the Quran promises Christians and Jews along with Muslims that if they have faith and works, they need have no fear in the afterlife. It is not saying that non-Muslims go to hell– quite the opposite”


“The Quran reminds the Muslims that they benefit from peace with the peaceful. If they had to fight all the tribes in Arabia, they might well be conquered. Returning peaceful intentions in kind is a sort of “social intelligence” that allowed Muslims to focus on the real threat, the profound hatred for them of the Meccans, while living at peace with the neutral Arabs.

The default in the Quran is therefore not aggressive warfare, something the book repeatedly condemns. Warfare is permitted in self-defense. But the default is to be at peace with those who are at peace with you.”

You should probably also have a look at the comments on each post to see how people have reacted to what are, after all, only Dr. Cole’s (well informed and erudite) interpretations.  Finally, Juan does not deny that there are many Muslims who have taken a bellicose view of their religion; his point is that this is not necessarily well founded in their Holy Book itself.


IGbarb says:  Food for thought (and peace be with you)!


October 15, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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