Dialogues – Does Quran Teach Pacifism (with Mohamed Shiekh)

Some Quranists take the story of the two children of *adam* in Chapter 5 Vs 27-32 to indicate that Quran teaches pacifism. In other words, we are not under any circumstances in any form of fighting. One of these is Mr Mohamed Shiekh whose videos on
jihad (striving)
qital (physical fighting)
qatal an-nafs(psychological killing)
harab (war)

While I can totally understand this sentiment – the Jihadists have totally perverted the concept of fighting in Quran and turned it into a ‘holy war’ making this a sensitive subject – the evidence given for such a stance does not seem to be able to stand up to scrutiny. Let us analyse the passage and interrogate it:

1. 5/27 tells us that the two children of adam attempted to get closer to Allah through a sacrifice. One’s sacrifice was accepted but not the other. The one whose sacrifice was not accepted wanted to kill the one whose was. At this point we must ask the question – how do we know these sacrifices were accepted or not? This story is not narrated elsewhere so it is difficult to tell. Another question we must ask is why does the non-acceptance of sacrifice necessitate killing? The word ‘hasad’ (jealousy) is not found in this passage.

2. 5/28 gives voices to the child of adam whose sacrifice was accepted. He says that although the other stretches his hand to kill him, he would not do the same. Here we need to ask, why is this phrase ‘stretched hand’ (bastasta yaadaka) used? Does it show that this is about making the first move? He may be saying that he would not be making the first move.

3. 5/29 continues with him saying that he wishes for the other to obtain his sin (in doing the killing). This contradicts another passage of Quran where it categorically shows that each bearer shall bear his own burdens (35/18). In any case, the child of adam whose sacrifice was accepted cannot be used as an example in this case.

4. 5/30 jumps straight to the child whose sacrifice was not accepted without a change in character. Why is this the case? The ‘he’ (huwa) pronoun referred to the other child immediately above. Could this indicate that this is a conflict within the self? After all, the soul is mentioned in this verse and the killing of the soul is mentioned in 2/54.

5. 5/31 mentions the killer seeing a ‘crow’ (which was ‘resurrected’ and not ‘sect’ – faba’atsa_ scratch the earth to show him how to ‘hide the badness of his brother’ (kaifa yuwari saw’at akhih). This does not sound literal at all. Why is the ‘badness’ mentioned here? Wasn’t the first brother’s sacrifice accepted above?

6. 5/32 tells us that on the account of this, a law was written upon bani israil. This in itself shows that bani adam is in fact bani adam. Moreover, it shows that this story cannot be literal since Allah does not burden a person with the burdens of another.

This story must therefore be metaphorical, like the story of adam itself. It shows the dual aspect of our soul perhaps and how there is an internal conflict to reach the divine. It does not show that pacificism is a norm prescribed by Allah. However, it should be noted that ‘fight’ according to our understanding of Quran is about self-preservation and emancipation of innocents. It is the opposite of the Jihadist’s call which is a call for terror and domination. Quran’s call for fighting looks more like that of the Home Guard in World War 2. It is a noble war of defence.

About Farouk A. Peru

I am a human being in the world, blogging my existence. My thought systems may be found in my website: www.farouk.name
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