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A Beginner’s Review of the Qur’an, Part 1: Context Matters

By Shanon Brooks

A friend gave me the book What Every American Needs to Know About the Qur’an: A History of Islam and the United States by William J. Federer.

I think my friend is concerned that I just don’t understand the fullness of the evil of Islam. So I am using this book as the starting point for this topic.

There are 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide and about 2.1 billion Christians.

In this country, although the public perception is rather high regarding what percentage of the 240,000,000 U.S. Christians are actively involved in their religion (regular church attendance and regular tithing), significant studies show the average guess to be off by more than half, with only 20 to 30 percent of U.S. Christians actively engaged in religious practices.

Unsurprisingly, the ratio is about the same for the estimated 3,000,000 Muslims citizens and immigrants who reside here.

Are we about to be overrun with Muslim zealots in a near future Jihad? Is Christianity about to be eclipsed by Islam? Are all Muslims taught to hate the infidel and seek to convert or kill Christians?

The first step in answering these questions is to learn more about Islam and the Qu’ran so that we are not shooting in the dark at phantoms.

In his book, Federer sites no specific Qu’ran translation, but claims that all Muslims want to rid the earth of all non-believers.

He cites many disconcerting verses within its chapters, called suras. I compared his quoted suras to the first online version of the Qu’ran (Sahih International) I could find.

This review only addresses the Qu’ran itself and does not comment on the rest of Federer’s book.

I discovered that many of the suras quoted by Federer were done so out of context, meaning that to understand what was really being said, you had to read a couple of suras before and even after the quoted one; you know, in context.

Federer’s suras are quoted first, followed by the quote in context.

Federer: Infidels are those who declare: ““God is the Christ, the son of Mary.”” (Sura 5:17)

Sura in Context: Sahih International, 5:17

“They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary. Say, ‘Then who could prevent Allah at all if He had intended to destroy Christ, the son of Mary, or his mother or everyone on the earth?’

“And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them. He creates what He wills, and Allah is over all things competent.”

Federer: Make war on the infidels who dwell around you. (Sura 9:123)

Sura in Context: Sahih International, 9:120

“It was not [proper] for the people of Madinah and those surrounding them of the bedouins that they remain behind after [the departure of] the Messenger of Allah or that they prefer themselves over his self.

“That is because they are not afflicted by thirst or fatigue or hunger in the cause of Allah, nor do they tread on any ground that enrages the disbelievers, nor do they inflict upon an enemy any infliction but that is registered for them as a righteous deed. Indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of the doers of good.”


“Nor do they spend an expenditure, small or large, or cross a valley but that it is registered for them that Allah may reward them for the best of what they were doing.”


“And it is not for the believers to go forth [to battle] all at once. For there should separate from every division of them a group [remaining] to obtain understanding in the religion and warn their people when they return to them that they might be cautious.”


“O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness. And know that Allah is with the righteous.”

Another sura that suggests only self-defense:

4:90, Sahih International

“Except for those who take refuge with a people between yourselves and whom is a treaty or those who come to you, their hearts strained at [the prospect of] fighting you or fighting their own people.

“And if Allah had willed, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause [for fighting] against them.”

Federer: The infidels are your sworn enemies. (Sura 4:101)

Sura in Context: Sahih International, 4:101

“And when you travel throughout the land, there is no blame upon you for shortening the prayer, [especially] if you fear that those who disbelieve may disrupt [or attack] you. Indeed, the disbelievers are ever to you a clear enemy.”


“And when you are among them and lead them in prayer, let a group of them stand [in prayer] with you and let them carry their arms.

“And when they have prostrated, let them be [in position] behind you and have the other group come forward which has not [yet] prayed and let them pray with you, taking precaution and carrying their arms.

“Those who disbelieve wish that you would neglect your weapons and your baggage so they could come down upon you in one [single] attack.

“But there is no blame upon you, if you are troubled by rain or are ill, for putting down your arms, but take precaution. Indeed, Allah has prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating punishment.”


“And when you have completed the prayer, remember Allah standing, sitting, or [lying] on your sides. But when you become secure, re-establish [regular] prayer. Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.”


“And do not weaken in pursuit of the enemy. If you should be suffering – so are they suffering as you are suffering, but you expect from Allah that which they expect not. And Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.”

Federer quotes this sura twice but with different translations:

When you meet the infidel in the battlefield, strike off their heads. (Sura 47:4)

“Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom. (Sura 47:4)”

Sahih International, 47:1

“Those who disbelieve and avert [people] from the way of Allah – He will waste their deeds.”


“And those who believe and do righteous deeds and believe in what has been sent down upon Muhammad – and it is the truth from their Lord – He will remove from them their misdeeds and amend their condition.”


“That is because those who disbelieve follow falsehood, and those who believe follow the truth from their Lord. Thus does Allah present to the people their comparisons.”


“So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command].

“And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah – never will He waste their deeds.

“Mohammed is Allah’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the infidels.” (Sura 48:29)

Federer: Kill the disbelievers wherever we find them. (Sura 2:191)

Sahih International, 2:190

“Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.”


“And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah* is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al-Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.”


“And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”


“Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.”


“[Fighting in] the sacred month is for [aggression committed in] the sacred month, and for [all] violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.”

Federer: The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger… will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. (Sura 5:33)

Sahih International, 5:27

“And recite to them the story of Adam’s two sons, in truth, when they both offered a sacrifice [to Allah], and it was accepted from one of them but was not accepted from the other. Said [the latter], “I will surely kill you.” Said [the former], “Indeed, Allah only accepts from the righteous [who fear Him].”


“If you should raise your hand against me to kill me – I shall not raise my hand against you to kill you. Indeed, I fear Allah, Lord of the worlds.”


“Indeed I want you to obtain [thereby] my sin and your sin so you will be among the companions of the Fire. And that is the recompense of wrongdoers.”


“And his soul permitted to him the murder of his brother, so he killed him and became among the losers.”


“Then Allah sent a crow searching in the ground to show him how to hide the disgrace of his brother. He said, “O woe to me! Have I failed to be like this crow and hide the body of my brother?” And he became of the regretful.”


“Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely.

“And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.”


“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,


“Except for those who return [repenting] before you apprehend them. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

To be continued…


Shanon Brooks is the President of Monticello College, the Director of Education and Training for Humanitarian Visions International, S.A., and a founding partner of the Center for Social Leadership. He co-authored Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens.

Shanon and his wife Julia are raising their six children in Monticello, Utah.

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  1. Until you understand the full meaning, application and scope of Taqiyya, you will never quite “get it” and will forever remain behind the curve. Here’s a modest primer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkC6G7LYfQc&feature=related

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