If Islam is not a religion of the sword, then I wonder why the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, arguably the most rigidly orthodox Islamic country on the planet, features a sword on its national flag, immediately beneath the shahada, the Islamic motto in Arabic, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.”
The problem I have with Ian Martin’s letters is their frequent lack of specificity. While he demonstrates considerable knowledge of Islam, it often seems incomplete and lacking in specifics. He says that “forced conversion ... is by no means unique to Islam”. Where else has it occurred, and in what quantities? I’d be willing to bet that there have been more forced conversions in the history of Islam than in the history of any other religion. He also claims that “the modern rise of extremism is something welcomed and applauded by some in the West as part of a political agenda”. Applauded by whom, pray, and what is their agenda?
Ian starts off by claiming, “Generally Islam has been a tolerant religion.” Like other apologists for Islam, he quotes the tired old Koranic verse, “There shall be no compulsion in religion” (Sura 2, verse 256) as proof of Islam’s wonderfully open-minded tolerance.
But there are other Koranic verses (all quoted from the NJ Dawood translation published by Penguin Classics) that sing a different tune, like these:
“When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them.
“God’s curse be on the infidels.” (2:89)
“You see many ... making friends with the unbelievers. ... They have incurred the wrath of God and shall endure eternal torment.” (5:83)
“He that chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted of him, and in the world to come he will surely be among the losers.” (3:85)
“Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them.” (9:73)
“Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you.” (9: 123)
Really tolerant, eh? Peaceful, too.
Not a Fan of Islam