Since this was a dialogue, and not a debate, and they were under time restraints, and given the emotional tension/fear/prejudice on each side of our communities, I think Dr. White did a good job of establishing a peaceful beginning relationship with Muslims and Dr. Qadhi, a beginning conversation and showing that Muslims and Christians can and should have a talk together and not hate one another and strive for peace, and not compromise on our own convictions and theology.
There was not enough time for this at this dialogue, but, in my humble opinion, I hope that maybe Dr. White can have another opportunity to ask Dr. Qadhi more on Surah 9:5 and Surah 9:29 (and Surah 8:39 and similar Hadith). I would ask questions about the fact that some Hadith and Islamic scholars believe Surah 9 was the last Surah revealed . Surah 9 has two names, one is “al-Bara’ah” براءه (The Immunity) and the other name for it is “Al Touba” التوبه (Repentance). Other Hadith say Surah 110 is the last, and Islamic scholars say that at least parts of Surah 5 was the last one revealed. I would ask about whether some Muslim scholars believe that Surah 9 abrogates the earlier peaceful Surahs. Also, I would ask about the Hadith that Omar Ibn Al Khattab (the 2nd Sunni Caliph, 634-644 AD) said he heard the prophet Muhammad say that “no two religions will be allowed in Arabia” and “I will expel the Christians and Jews from the Arabian peninsula” See 6 Hadith narrations here. The Arabic phrase I am seeing is “the Arabian peninsula” or “Arabian island” ( جزیره العرب ) in those Hadith – an area much larger than only the city of Mecca. Sometimes I have seen that translated as the Hijaz, which is usually understood as covering the areas of Mecca and Median and in between, or most of what is known today as Saudi Arabia, but not including Yemen and Oman and areas on the coast.
Yasir Qadhi said, in regard to pagans coming close to the Kaaba and the city of Mecca, that Surah 9:5 only applied to the city of Mecca, and seems to say it was only for that time; so that is a different issue than the Christians and Jews being expelled. But Muhammad and Abu Bakr unified Arabia and had done away with all paganism and polytheism by the end of Muhammad’s life (632 AD) and after Abu Bakr’s “Wars of Apostasy” (634 AD). The pagans were either killed or they converted to Islam. And I would have asked about the attacks and conquering of the Persian and Byzantine Empires and the Jiziye Submission Tax (Surah 9:29) and the Dhimmi System. (by Omar Ibn Al Khattab, 634-644 AD, the 2nd Caliph, and many subsequent Caliphs continued their wars and Jihads.) I would want to ask if any pagans were allowed to live in the Byzantine and Persian Empires. (It seems that only Christians and Jews, and much later, some Zoroastrians were allowed to live.)
Dr. Qadhi made a good point about the Yazidis and that they were allowed to live in the Muslim world. When did they begin? Were they there before Islam came? They are ethnic Kurds and in the Mountains, so, maybe they survived for a long time, because they were isolated and hard to even get to; and it seems that they have some development in their religion. Dr. Qadhi said they are “Gnostic”.
When the Muslims conquered the Byzantine empire, Christians were allowed to keep their churches and keep their religion private, but they were not allowed to do evangelism or convert Muslims, or criticize Islam, or build new churches; and they had other restrictions on them that was developed as “The Pact of Omar” from the time of Omar Ibn Al Khattab (634 AD-644 AD) to Omar Ibn Azziz (717-720 AD), a later Caliph. I would ask about the details of the Pact of Omar and how it applies to today. I would have asked about Abu Bakr’s (the first Sunni Caliph after Muhammad died) Wars of Apostasy (632 – 634 AD), that were against all the Muslims who left Islam and refused to pay the Zakat (Islamic required giving of 2.5 % of income.) If I had time, I would try to ask about:
- the Hadith that says, “War is deceit” (this is one of them, which also says that Khosroe, the Emperor of Persia will be defeated; and “Caesar”, meaning Heraclius, the Emperor of Byzantine will be defeated.
2. the Hadiths that quote the Qur’an from Surah 3:64 (“come to a common agreement together”) but were warnings to other peoples, empires – “Accept Islam and you will be safe” (famous letters sent to the Byzantine and Persian Emperors) This section is toward the end of this very large Hadith. I repeat the relevant section:
Abu Sufyan added, “Caesar then asked for the letter of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and it was read. Its contents were: “In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful (This letter is) from Muhammad, the slave of Allah, and His Apostle, to Heraculius, the Ruler of the Byzantine. Peace be upon the followers of guidance. Now then, I invite you to Islam (i.e. surrender to Allah), embrace Islam and you will be safe; embrace Islam and Allah will bestow on you a double reward. But if you reject this invitation of Islam, you shall be responsible for misguiding the peasants (i.e. your nation). O people of the Scriptures! Come to a word common to you and us and you, that we worship. None but Allah, and that we associate nothing in worship with Him; and that none of us shall take others as Lords besides Allah. Then if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are (they who have surrendered (unto Him)..(Surah 3.64)
This is an interesting Hadith, as it gives the “Asbab ol Nozul” (“Reasons for the revelation”; or historical background, to Surah 3:64, whereas many Muslims are using this verse to establish friendly relations with Christians. (The whole “Common Word” movement of Muslims, and the “Yale Christian Response” are some examples of this.) Yet the context is not too friendly! This Hadith seems to imply that if they don’t embrace Islam, that the Muslims will attack in War and Jihad. Indeed, history shows they did indeed attack both the Persian and Byzantine Empires. Muslims say that they attacked the Byzantine Empire because the Muslim who carried the letter was killed when he was sent to give the same letter to the Ghassanid Emporer, who was a client state of Byzantine. (that was earlier at the battle of Mu’ta, in 629 AD, earlier than the expedition to Tabuk (630 AD), which is usually given as the historical background of Surah 9:29). Why did Omar Ibn Al Khattab (634-644 AD) seem to take those 2 battles of Muhammad as examples to keep on doing after Muhammad died?
For more on this, see here, “The concept of Dhimmi in Islam”.
I sincerely hope that Muslims like Dr. Qadhi would be willing to answer honest and open questions in these areas and explain why the early Caliphs seemed to have taken Surah 9:5 and 9:29 as ongoing and applicable for them to carry out after Muhammad died, and beyond the areas of the Arabian Peninsula. How are we to understand all these facts about Islamic history and how to understand them in relation to the modern Jihad movements and Islamic terrorism, is important.
Addendum 2 – Jan. 28
How are we to understand the Islamic principle of abrogation, based on Surah 2:106 and 16:101 ?
Is there consensus on that principle and if not, how can anyone know how the Muslims sources and texts and authorities are to figure it all out?