Out of Context (Part 2) – The Medina Charter of Coexistence
In Part 2 of the interview with Dallas-based Pastor Mike Baughman, Imam Omar Suleiman tears down some of the most popular misconceptions about Islam, the Quran and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Is the Quran inherently violent? Does the Quran contradict itself? Does Islam advocate Holy Wars through jihad? Is Islam anti-Semitic? Suleiman says that statistically, the Quran is no more violent as a scripture than the Old and New Testaments, noting that any scripture taken out of context can be made to appear violent. He explains that if you study the Quran chronologically, you will learn the real meaning of jihad, refuting that there is such a thing as Holy War in Islam. In the early period of revelation, when the Muslims were a persecuted minority in Mecca, the believers were urged to "respond to that which is evil with that which is better“, laying emphasis on the concept of jihad as a personal spiritual struggle against the lower self. Muslims were never commanded to take up arms except later on to struggle against oppression and to defend themselves. When the Muslims were in a position of power in Medina, Prophet Muhammad acted as both a messenger and a statesman, drafting what became known as the Medina Charter, possibly the earliest example of a state constitution in history. This nuanced, accepting and tolerant charter emphasized the Quranic concept of “there is no compulsion in religion”, which is a seminal verse that was revealed in Medina when the Muslims had absolute authority but coexisted peacefully with an often hostile Jewish minority, establishing their rights and reinforcing alliances with many of their tribes. This proves that Islam is by no means historically anti-Semitic, especially since the Prophet himself had financial dealings with Jews. Historically-speaking, under Ottoman rule the Jews thrived and even allied with Muslims against the Crusades.