The Paris Attacks: Understanding Islam

The Paris Attacks: Understanding Islam

Somewhere around the world, right now, there is a family sitting and enjoying a meal together. Unbeknownst to them, there is an invisible clock ticking above their heads, counting down the last days of their happy life, which will be tragically and brutally torn asunder by Islamic extremists.  The parents of this family aren’t anti-Muslim bigots, nor do they harbour any ill will for any particular group of people.  They are a friendly, happy and loving family.  If only we could find them and warn them, or better still, if only we could neutralise the threat that will inevitably end their loving lives, perhaps we could spare them the horrendous tragedy experienced by those whose lives were destroyed in the recent attacks in Paris.

Why does this keep happening?  Is it simply the result of geo-political circumstances, or is there something else at the root of this ongoing extremist violence?  Whilst we cannot ignore certain geo-political factors that have impacted upon the rise of various extremists groups, we must acknowledge the presence of a well-spring of religious inspiration that has provided the ink for, and meticulously penned, the manifestos of groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and other Islamist groups.  If we can locate the religious inspirational sources for such atrocities, perhaps with a little courage and intellectual honesty, we can finally entertain an honest and frank discourse on the dangers inherent within some of the core doctrines of the religion of Islam.

I’ll now highlight three of the primary factors that contribute to the seemingly endless atrocities inspired by not only the medieval doctrines of Islam, but as a result of the pearl-encrusted pathways cleared for Islamists by both Islamic apologists and members of the group that Maajid Nawaz calls the ‘Regressive Left’.  As is my frequent penchant, I would like to preface this piece with a qualification that is all too frequently lost on bigots and other poor thinkers who employ heuristic modes of thought to paint all Muslims with the same brush. Most Muslims, like most Christians, have a very limited understanding of the religion that has been forced upon them since childhood. Most haven’t read the Sunnah (biography) of Muhammad, the hadiths, the exegetic traditions of the Qur’an, nor even the Qur’an.  So, just as it is our responsibility to speak honestly with regards to the inherent dangers of the religion of Islam, so too is it our responsibility to recognize that reality is far more complicated than bigots and idiots like Glen Beck and Ann Coulter would have us believe.

  1. Muhammad – The Perfect Muslim

There is scarcely a religious tyrant in history who managed to reach such depths of depravity, save Saint Francis Xavier and other sycophantic Christians of days long gone, than the “Prophet” Muhammad.

If you have the stomach, I’d encourage you to read through his biography.  In it you’ll come across innumerable instances of barbarity and brutal insanity.  On one occasion he had his men butcher a 17-year-old girl’s fiancé along with her entire family, and if this wasn’t horrendous enough, on that very night he raped her. [1] On another occasion Muhammad’s mercenaries asked him whether it was lawful for a Muslim conqueror to ejaculate inside of a non-Muslim, female captive, to which Muhammad advised, it is better not to ejaculate outside of your rape victim, because the birth of the child of the rapist and the rape victim might be predestined by Allah. [2]

Muhammad’s biography also tells of a Jewish critic who had said some less-than flattering things about Muhammad, and subsequently, it is reported, Muhammad had him beheaded for blasphemy. [3]  This middle-aged founder of the Islamic faith also murdered men for treasure, [4] fondled and fornicated with a 9-year-old girl, [5] who grew up as his wife, charged with the responsibility of washing the semen stains from his pants each day before he visited the mosque, [6] and who, on one occasion, he beat in accordance with the Qur’an. [7]

Despite this depraved lunatic’s conduct, the Qur’an holds him up as the perfect Muslim to be emulated in every facet of life.

‘Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern [of conduct] for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.’   Qur’an 33:21


  1. Peaceful Qur’an vs Violent Qur’an

‘There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion’. Qur’an 2:256


‘When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.’  Qur’an 8:12

When attempting to defend the Qur’an, Muslim apologists and members of the Regressive Left cite the peaceful and benevolent verses that grace this medieval copy of the Bible.  These verses are noble, they are worth reading and adhering to, but they are, sadly, no longer applicable.  What most people do not know is that the Qur’an is divided into Meccan and Medinan verses, because it is alleged that Allah first revealed teachings to Muhammad in Mecca, during a time of peace, then later, Allah, at least as the supernatural story goes, revealed verses to Muhammad whilst he was at war in Medina.

 ‘None of Our revelations do We [Allah] abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?’               Qur’an 2:106

‘When We substitute one revelation for another, – and Allah knows best what He reveals [in stages] – they say, “Thou art but a forger”: but most of them understand not.’ Qur’an 16:101

So, wherever peaceful Meccan verses conflict with violent Medinan verses, which ones apply?  To resolve this problem one needs to learn about an exegetic doctrine known in Arabic as na’skh.  It’s not too complicated, so I’ll take you through it with an example of how violent verses abrogate earlier peaceful ones.  Take the following two examples:

Meccan Verses Example:

Say: O disbelievers!
I worship not that which ye worship;
Nor worship ye that which I worship.
And I shall not worship that which ye worship.
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.
  Qur’an 109:1-6

Medinan Verses Example:

“And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing…

but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful.   And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone.  But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)”   Qur’an 2:191-193

This collection of Medinan verses relates to a historical conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims, and I’ll address the historical context argument in just a moment, but it is plain to see that these verses contradict the earlier ‘to you yours and to me mine’ passage.  These later verses are taken to be the most up-to-date revelations, and consequently they abrogate the earlier peaceful verses.  Another example is Surah (Chapter) 9:5, the ‘verse of the sword’ as it is known to scholars, which advocates murdering non-Muslims.  Regarding the ‘verse of the sword’, Islamic scholars at Cambridge University say:

‘An interesting instance of such categorisation is the verse to which Ibn al-Jawz refers, ‘the verse of the sword’. This is the name given to Q 9:5, a verse that begins, ‘And when the sacred months have passed, kill the idolators wherever you find them . . .’ According to one of the standard treatises on this topic, Q 9:5 abrogates at least 124 other [peaceful] verses, the last of which is Q 109:6 [To you be your Way, and to me mine.].’ [8]

So, here we have a big problem. Of course, the majority of truly peaceful Muslims ignore, or are ignorant of, such exegetic doctrines, but those who zealously and extremely adhere to the fundamental doctrines of Islam, the extremists and the fundamentalists, are, generally speaking, familiar with such scholarship, and they subsequently draw their legitimacy from a legitimate interpretation of the more violent teachings of Islam.


  1. Anticipated Apology – Historical Context Fiction


One of the most popular apologies for the more violent verses and teachings in the Qur’an is that they are restricted to a specific historical context, and no longer apply, which, as we have seen, isn’t in accordance with the doctrine of na’skh.  To argue that teachings that encourage Muslims to wage violent Jihad, or that tell Muslims to extort jizya (protection money) from non-Muslims living in Muslim lands is irrelevant today, is to argue that portions of the Qur’an are redundant, which, given the doctrine of abrogation, does fit with the inefficient manner of the Qur’an, but it is, in all honesty, an absurd apology.

The Qur’an is the central pillar of the Islamic religion, not Edward Gibbon’s ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’. Arguing that the more uncivilized teachings are restricted to specific historical contexts strips the Qur’an of its perceived religious authority and renders it a partially-irrelevant piece of historical literature, which, as I’m sure most Muslims would agree, is a highly blasphemous assertion indeed.  To put it in other words, Muslims believe that the Qur’an is a book of laws that has not, and cannot, be overturned, unless specified within the Qur’an itself.  I guess you could say that arguing that such uncivilized edicts are irrelevant today is like arguing that Roe v Wade (1973) is irrelevant to issues concerning women’s legal rights in the 21st century.

Until we begin to rationally appreciate the urgent necessity for an open, honest and informed dialogue on some of the more problematic doctrines of Islam, that innocent family sitting with a ticking clock over their heads will inevitably suffer the insane wrath of an insidious form of wilful ignorance, an ignorance propagated by the Regressive Left and exploited by Islamic extremists.  I’d encourage everyone to become familiar with not only the Qur’an but also the commentaries that interpret its contents and, most importantly, the biography of the man who is held up as the perfect Muslim, the “Prophet” Muhammad.  If we continue to ignore the obvious dangers posed to us by this medieval religion, we might expect to see the events of Paris repeated ad infinitum.





  1. Sahih al-Bukhari 1:367, 5:522.
  2. Sahih al-Bukhari 5:59:459, Sahih al-Muslim 8:3371.
  3. Ishaq:675.
  4. al-Tabari Vol. 8, p. 123.
  5. Sahih al-Bukhari 7:62:64, Sahih al-Muslim 8:3310.
  6. Sahih al-Bukhari 1:4:231, 1:4:232, 1:4:233.
  7. Sahih al-Muslim 4:2127, Qur’an 4:34.
  8. Jane Dammen McAuliffe. The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 187-188.

13 thoughts on “The Paris Attacks: Understanding Islam

  1. Fascinating read, thank you!

    I’m curious about this:
    ‘None of Our revelations do We [Allah] abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?’ Qur’an 2:106

    Why does Allah follow in square brackets after “We”? Is this a particular translational norm, or is it similar to a royal ‘we’?

  2. Good day, my friend.

    Interesting perspective, and I’m not going to reply to everything, for the sake of time. I’d like to help you out with a few points:
    1. Before you quote a Hadith, claiming it says this and that, make sure you look it up on and read it over. Some people may quote a Hadith as saying XYZ, but when you actually look it up, it says something much different.

    2. I thought the Battle of Khaybar was a horrifying attack at first, until I learned more about the history behind it.

    From wikipedia:
    According to Montgomery Watt, their intriguing and use of their wealth to incite tribes against Muhammad left him no choice but to attack.[20] Vaglieri concurs that one reason for attack was that the Jews of Khaybar were responsible for the Confederates that attacked Muslims during the Battle of the Trench.[5] Shibli Numani also sees Khaybar’s actions during the Battle of the Trench, and draws particular attention to Banu Nadir’s leader Huyayy ibn Akhtab, who had gone to the Banu Qurayza during the battle to instigate them to attack Muhammad.[15]

    So he attacked them (the people of Nadir, or Banu Nadir) because they attacked him many, many times first. Most would say that people have a right to defend themselves. The people of Nadir would have done far worse to the Muslims if they conquered them.

    Indeed, the people of Nadir used to live in Medina. They were expelled after breaking their peace treaty and attempting to murder Muhammad. You can read their story here:

    3. Times were much different back then. A woman needed a man to take care of her. Widows were pretty much screwed. So Muhammad married her, fed her and clothed her, because she was of a high social status. That is all the Hadith says–nothing about rape. Also, Dihya wanted to marry one of their women. Sounds pretty fair to me, especially considering what the people of Nadir would have done to the Muslim widows if they were successful.

    I try to take an unbiased approach to things. Bear in mind that no matter how hard anybody tries, you will never convert the entire world to your religious beliefs, be it atheism, agnosticism, Buddhism, Islam, etc. It’s a greater idea to focus on interfaith dialogue, compassion and tolerance.

    Have a great weekend!

    1. 1. All hadith and Sunnah cited are accurate.

      2. You appear to be reading straight from a book of apologetics, and citing Wiki to support your argument is not the best way to defend an indefensible position. Again, if the hadith and Quran were regarded as simple history, with no other function, then your argument re’ Battle of Khaybar would stand. There is also a lot more to this story.

      3. Your argument re’ Safiya bint Huyai (17-year-old girl), whose family and fiance Muhammad’s men murdered on his orders, and who he raped on the same night, is a horrible argument indeed. He is the one who made her a widow, then, on that same very night, he raped her. Yet again, you appear to be reading from a second-rate book of Islamic apologetics.

      Finally, atheism isn’t a religion.

      Thanks for your comments.


      1. Michael,

        The marriages were mutual and some were agreed upon to be temporary. It’s called a nikah mut’ah. The women had the option to turn down the marriage. The sex was also mutual.

        The reason they were told to ejaculate inside the women was because if it was a temporary marriage and she did get pregnant, they would then have to be permanently married.

        Islam takes time to learn. You generally need to know a few well-versed Muslims who can answer the loads of questions that will come up in order to gain a deeper understanding, esp. when dealing with the ever complex hadith. There’s loads of hadith out there that have a lot more to say in the Arabic than in any other language translation, and this is why you need someone who can read Arabic and is well learned to explain them. Some of the hadith blatantly say “this is a strange hadith” in the Arabic that is not in the translations.

        It is very easy to take things out of context, because the entire history has such a rich background.

        Enjoy the holiday break 😉

  3. Suggested edit:

    Somewhere around the world, right now, there is a family sitting and enjoying a meal together. Unbeknownst to them, there is an invisible clock ticking above their heads, counting down the last days of their happy life, which will be tragically and brutally torn asunder by a drone operated by American Exceptionalists. The parents of this family aren’t anti-American bigots, nor do they harbour any ill will for any particular group of people. They are a friendly, happy and loving family. If only we could find them and warn them, or better still, if only we could neutralise the threat that will inevitably end their loving lives. Perhaps we could spare them the horrendous tragedy experienced by those whose lives were destroyed in the recent attacks in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Pakistan.

  4. Cole. Never try to excuse one wrong, by quoting another wrong!
    Michael. This is an excellent article, that will hopefully, trickle a decent thought, into many a closed mind.
    Thank you.

  5. Do Muslims not know the content of the Koran? They can recite the verses in Arabic. Those that speak Arabic (which is a significant number) must surely have some understanding.

    You define the problem, but offer no solution. We need an Islamic Joseph Smith. The problem is that Mohamed is supposed to be the last prophet. But that can be overcome by a call to na’skh – the new revelations will supersede the inconvenient old ones.

    1. There are several later branch offs of Islam, including Sikhism and Bahai to name two major ones. The real issue with terrorism is generally not rooted in the Qur’an, but in worldly and especially political issues. There’s a few YouTube videos about this.

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