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Notre Dame Prof Falsely Claims that Qur’an Teaches Only Allah Should Take Revenge

Image via Shutterstock, the skyline of Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C.

Whitewashing Islam and fostering complacency about jihad violence is a thriving industry in the U.S. and nowhere more so than in the hallowed halls of academia. Thus it was no surprise when the New York Daily News on Sunday published an article by Notre Dame professor Gabriel Said Reynolds that claimed that “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.” How wonderful! Once again we learn that the true Islam teaches peace! The only catch here is that what Reynolds says isn’t true.

The fact that Gabriel Said Reynolds, who demonstrates in his article 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 which he is 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? He took notice on Twitter of my earlier criticism of his views, but when I invited him to defend his position with actual evidence, he clammed up. What a surprise. What’s in it for him, and for so many of his fellow academics who publish the same soothing nonsense, to mislead people in this way?

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.