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Salon: Misreading the Quran to threaten the “South Park” guys


This CNN report on the veiled threat made by an obscure, fringe American Muslim website against the creators of the “South Park” cartoon shows an extremist saying something completely untrue:

Yunus Muhammad” says in the interview that the Quran instructs Muslims to “terrorize the disbelievers.” It does no such thing. The Quran instructs Muslims to live at peace with non-Muslims who are at peace with them.

The verse to which this individual referred was in the chapter of the Spoils (al-Anfal), 8:60:

Wa a`iddu lahum ma istata`tum min quwwatin wamin ribati ‘lkhayli turhibuna bihi `aduwwa Allahi wa`aduwwakum

Which means, “Prepare against them all the power, and all the war horses that you can, whereby to strike fear into the enemies of God and your enemies.”

The context of this verse is the Battle of Badr on March 17, 624 of the Common Era. In the 610s, the pagan Meccans had persecuted the new religion of Islam and ultimately chased Muhammad and the Muslims out of Mecca for preaching the one God. They took refuge in the nearby city of Yathrib, which became known as Medina (i.e., the City [of the Prophet]). The wealthy Meccan polytheists hoped to wipe Islam and the Muslims out, and fought skirmishes with them. The early Muslims riposted by raiding Meccan trading caravans, in hopes of weakening their foe economically. That March in 624, the Meccans sent out their best fighters to protect a caravan. A Muslim force more or less stumbled onto this expedition. Badr, named after a well south of Medina, was the first major battle between the two sides, and the Muslims won it, thus saving themselves from genocide.

So what the Quran is saying in 8:60 is that the Muslims should keep a stable of fighting steeds at the ready and let the Meccans know about it, to strike fear into the hearts of an enemy trying to wipe out them and their religion.

The verse does not command any act of “terrorism.” It commands that Muslims attempt to forestall irrational violence against a Muslim state through deterrence. It is defensive in intent.

The verse does not say anything about mere ‘disbelievers’ or non-Muslims. It is warning of the designs of “enemies of God,” i.e., militant and violent anti-Muslims. Moreover, there is no implication that Muslims should act as individuals or vigilantes. Medina was a city-state that the Prophet Muhammad ruled, and he gave the orders. Muslims could not just run off and attack whomever they pleased whenever they pleased. A duly constituted Muslim state was in charge of defense of the community.

So unless Yunus Muhammad can find a group of armed individuals who aim at violently attacking Muslims en masse and trying to wipe out them and their religion, he should stuff a sock in it and go home.

In fact, trying to import terrorism into the Quran is an infinitely greater blasphemy than that of any Western cartoonist, and one would hope Muslim groups would get more upset about Yunus Muhammad and “Revolution Muslim” than about an irreverent American TV program.

Unfortunately, along with people with genuinely hurt feelings, there will be some cynical political forces that manipulate Muslim fundamentalists and will try to advance their agendas by taking advantage of this “South Park” controversy. (The show depicted the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit to avoid showing him — which is about as close as “South Park” gets to deference to religious feelings.)

Source: Salon

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Muslim American born in Brooklyn, NY with Guyanese parents currently living in Virginia working full-time as a web developer.



  1. Jawaad Ahmad Khan

    April 25, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    Alhamdulillah, at least the truth was stated about the verse of the Qur’an.

    I fear for the Ummah for these so-thought “religious peoples” who are the guys with large beards, wearing kufis and thobes, and people (even young Muslims) see them as “religious” when really, what makes them true Muslims is their correct understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah. It reminds me of a short reminder to students of knowledge I’d heard where there was a story of a young man trying to disprove an Imam by using a verse from the Qur’an (using the Yusuf Ali translation). Come on!

  2. Uncle Tom

    April 25, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    they shouldn’t be watching South park in the first place

  3. Pingback: South Park Episode & Censorship of Mohammed’s (S) Depiction: The Script Played to Perfection |

  4. Ukht

    April 26, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    Sure, it does not say anything about “mere disbelievers” but im sure it would for those killing our brothers in Afghanistan, filasteen, Iraq and Somalia. You know? The same people you hardly dare write about and support?

    Also sheikh, have you considered *asking* our brother Younas about the above? He clearly did say that many of the things he’d said were taken out of context. Did you bother asking brother Younas if he meant this in reference to “mere disbelivers” or otherwise?

    “Oh you who believe, when a fasiq comes to you with news verify it”.

    And here, we not only have a fasiq come witht he news, but a KAFIR, yet no verification?

    Subhanaka ya Allah

  5. Pingback: Response to “Salon”: “O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it” | Naseehah2muslimmatters's Blog

  6. unknown

    April 26, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    Obama and Bush are the world’s biggest terrorist..

  7. Molly Moore

    May 9, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    Southpark is quite funny but some of the scenes maybe a bit too morbid even for adults.”.”

  8. Inflatable Bed ·

    November 9, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    when you want sarcasm, then Southpark is perfect for you ~

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