Americans looking to Islam to take a stand against terror will be pleased that the Islamic Society of North America has issued a press release condemning the Times Square Bombing attempt. I applaud that, and hope that all Muslim leadership organizations follow suit.
However, there is a problem: The ISNA offered a verse from the Koran, Sura 5:32 as the reason for their strong stand against violence, but those of us who have studied the Koran find little comfort in this. The verse says: "We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind".
It seems you can kill for vengeance or to stop corrupt people -- a broad and subjective category that might include family members of all of us. And note, this instruction was given to the Jews. The verse that immediately follows says the enemies of Islam should be killed, crucified, or mutilated.
Most of us would find it a stretch to call this verse peaceful, and taken in context there are strong potential loopholes allowing violence for a variety of reasons. Yet Sura 5:32 is frequently quoted by Islamic groups as anti-terrorist.
Those of us who seek peace, especially when we have Muslim friends, are easily convinced that Islam means peace. But next time, Muslim leadership should provide us with a verse strong enough to convince those who read it in context -- including terrorists -- that theirs is a religion of peace.
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