Last week, while going through my old notes on Muslim reaction to the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988, I came across this:
Referring to the Qur’an surah 5: ayah 33, an imam delivering a sermon at a mosque in Cape Town challenges his congregation: “Did you know Islam allows you to crucify people? Hmm? Did you know that? How many of you know that? Come on, tell me. Put up your hand. How many of you know that Islam says you can crucify a man?”
The relevant part of the ayah that the imam was referring to reads, “The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land,” (5:33).
So, an imam in a mosque told his congregation that Islam allows them to crucify a man and provides the exact spot in the Qur’an that allows this, homing in repeatedly on the word “crucified.”
Then came the Easter weekend and with it Muslim terrorist organisations outdoing one another with their horrific bombings. In the glare of all this, it may have escaped your notice that on Good Friday, ISIS crucified a priest. Did they “corrupt” the Qur’an? Where they “extreme” in their interpretation? Did they “hijack” the text? Is it possible that “crucify” doesn’t mean what we all, including ISIS, understand it to mean, but that, in fact, it’s something altogether gentler and nothing to do with nails hammered through living flesh? Perhaps, perhaps. But that same Qur’an also exhorts believers meting out punishments to “Let not compassion move you,” (24:2) and “Those with him [Muhammad] are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves,” (48:29).
Well, as we are constantly told that the Qur’an is not responsible for the terrorism perpetrated by Muslim groups, and, in fact, that such terrorists are not Muslim, then what Qur’an is it that speaks of crucifixion, if not the same Qur’an that all Muslims revere? Is the Qur’an not the perfect and unalterable word of Allah? And if ISIS, by crucifying the priest, is simply complying with the perfect and unalterable word of Allah, how is the word of Allah not implicated in the crucifixion? How is the Qur’an not responsible?