Saturday, June 16, 2012

Religious Tolerance Forum Hosted by the King of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia initiated inter-religious meeting at the United Nations this week. King Abdullah called his initiative a "Culture of Peace Summit," to promote tolerance among the world's major religions. Participants who gathered in New York on Wednesday and Thursday called for promoting mutual understanding and tolerance, through dialogue. Among those who attended are leaders from Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, Britain, Spain and the Philippines, said Enrique Yeves, spokesman for U.N. General Assembly president Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann. President Bush joined the leaders this morning and gave a speech at the U.N General Assembly hall.
Other participants include U.N. Secretary General Ban Li-Moon and the head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the bloc of Muslim nations spearheading a campaign at the U.N. to outlaw the "defamation" of religion.
Critics note that while King Abdullah hosted leaders from different Muslim sects in Saudi Arabia, his other initiatives have taken place outside the kingdom. Any inter-religious meeting inside Saudi Arabia could draw opposition from conservative clerics unhappy with the presence of Christian and, especially, Jewish religious leaders.
The underlining results of this Summit are to make non-Muslims accept Islam and the shari'a law as well as the Islamic banking system without any recognition by Muslims to other faiths. The whole focus of the Summit is to endorse a U.N. Resolution of anti-blasphemy law against Islam around the world.
In 1999, Pakistan and the Organization of the Islamic Conference introduced a measure to the U.N. Human Rights Council to spread shari'a law to the Western world and to intimidate anyone who criticizes Islam.
The measure was amended to include religions other than Islam, and it has passed every year since. In 2005, Yemen successfully brought a similar resolution before the General Assembly. The 192-nation Assembly is set to vote on it again.
In 2007, a non-binding Resolution 62/145 says: "It notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of 11 September 2001." It also "stresses the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred, against Islam and Muslims in particular."
The resolution is really designed to permit countries with a dominant religion, such as Islam, to squelch any free-speech rights of religious minorities, according to Bill Saunders of the Family Research Council (FRC). "So for instance, in some Muslim countries, it's considered blasphemy to just say what a Christian believes - because that is consistent with what Islam teaches," Saunders explains. "Or, to try to switch from Islam to Christianity, that's considered apostasy, and in those situations you can be punished by death."

This also means that, it will be ILLEGAL to practice any other religion in an Islamic country other than Islam.
Critics say that Saudi Arabia's policies are marked with oppression towards non-Muslims, which is in direct conflict with their attempt to promote religious tolerance abroad. By endorsing King Abdullah's call for "religious tolerance" critics say, the U.N. General Assembly is "partaking" in religious oppression in Saudi Arabia.
Muslims of Egypt has been, for a long time, persecuting Christian Coptic minority, under the auspices of the strict Islamic rule of Hosni Mubarak. The Christian minority of Iraq are being persecuted by the Muslims, with immunity and Christian churches are bombed with explosives in Pakistan.
There is a widespread concern that the resolutions are being used to justify harsh blasphemy laws in countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan and Afghanistan.
In addition, every single constitution of the Middle East countries (except Lebanon and Turkey) has a provision stating that the laws of the land are based on the Islamic shari'a.
The U.S. government mission in Geneva, told the U.N. Human Rights Council that "defamation-related laws have been abused by governments and used to restrict human right" around the world, and sometimes Westerners have been caught in the web.
Felice Gaer, chairman of the U.S. Commission for International Religion Freedom (USCIRF) was travelling Monday and could not be reached for comments, wrote CNS News. But a spokeswoman pointed to recent remarks Gaer gave to Fox News: "We'd like to see a conference like this take place inside Saudi Arabia and the fact that it isn't speaks volumes," she said. "That's true of the Madrid conference [in July] and true of the one at the U.N."
Gaer voiced the view that "the conference was part of a Muslim campaign to promote a religious "defamation" resolution at the General Assembly," said CNS News on November 11, 2008.
The European Union said the text proposed by Islamic countries was "one-sided" because it primarily focused on Islam. E.U. diplomats had said they wanted to stop the growing worldwide trend of using religious anti-defamation laws to limit free speech.
The European Center for Law and Justice filed a brief with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in June 2008 warning that such anti-defamation resolutions "are in direct violation of international law concerning the rights to freedom of religion and expression.
"Saudi Arabia calling on international religious tolerance is a little bit like the wolf calling for a sheep convention," responded Carl Moeller of Open Doors USA to Saudi Arabia's hosting a forum to promote interfaith dialogue.
In fact the U.N. "blasphemy resolution" has emboldened Islamic authorities and threatened Westerners:
- On Oct. 3 in Great Britain, three men were charged for plotting to kill the publisher of the novel "The Jewel of Medina," which gives a factional account of the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride. reported U.S. publisher Random House Inc., was going to release the book but stopped it from hitting shelves after it claimed that "credible and unrelated sources" said the book could incite violence by a "small, radical segments."
- A British teacher was sentenced to 15 days in jail in Sudan for offending Islam by allowing students to name the class teddy bear Muhammad in November 2007.
- In February 2007 in Egypt an Internet blogger was sentenced to four years in prison fro writing a post that critiqued Islam.
- In 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered after the release of his documentary about the abuse of Muslim women.
- On November 6, the Parliament of Kyrgystan adopted unanimously a new religious law targeting Christians and other religious minorities. It bans "proselytizing" and prohibits the conversion of Kyrgyz citizens to a different faith.
The pressure to protect religions from defamation has been growing ever since a Danish magazine published caricatures of Muhammad, provoking riots across the Islamic world in 2006 in which dozens of people were killed.

George w. Bush and the dark side of religious fundamentalism

A mouth that prays, a hand that kills.
- Arabian proverb
"How do you find a lion that has swallowed you?" asked Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, commenting on the moral dilemma posed by the "shadow," his insightful term for the dark, hidden side of the human psyche.
The answer to Jung's questions is "you can't find or see that lion"--not as long as you are inside the beast. And therein resides the essential dilemma of a group's dark side or shadow: it is nearly impossible for those caught inside a group's belief system to see their own dark side with any clarity or objectivity. This hidden side grows over time, regressing, becoming more and more aggressive. It's the "long bag we drag behind us," says poet Robert Bly--where, as individuals, we dispose of all those things that are too uncomfortable to look at. "The long-repressed shadow of Dr. Jekyll rises up in the shape of Mr. Hyde, deformed, an ape-like figure glimpsed against the alley wall." Now imagine millions of Mr. Hydes and you have a sense of the group shadow of fundamentalist, right wing extremists dressed up as "compassionate conservatives," led by George W. Bush. It's like shifting from a hand gun to a nuclear bomb. And it began long ago in both the Moslem and Christian worlds.

The invasion of American Democratic institutions by fundamentalist, historically militant (as in crusades, witch hunts, inquisitions, and support of slavery) Christianity has significantly increased the stench coming from the already disturbing dark side of U.S. politics. It's like a nightmarish replay of the Christian crusades--politics with a militant, convert-the-heathens dark side. Potent, cult-like group dynamics combine with unacknowledged and unseen shadow qualities to easily overwhelm the individual's sense of right and wrong, often unleashing pure evil en masse.
As the political world and the media divided the U.S. into red and blue states, I found myself feeling uncomfortable even thinking about driving through one of those "red" states. I would imagine that every red-state person must be a card-carrying, right wing fundamentalist. From the other side of the mountain, those "blue" states are full of liberal, soft-on-terrorism, big government socialists. Both are examples of projecting our group's shadow onto the "enemy." And both views prevent us from "seeing" individual human beings. We see only that group, those people. With remarkable ease, we slide into a "programmed," either-or, group-think: we're the good guys, they're the bad guys. It's like seeing everything through red or blue-tinted glasses that color all we see and think--we've been "swallowed."
Group shadow dynamics can shift the focus of our beliefs with stunning speed to another "evil" enemy. Petty dictators are convenient "hooks" on which groups often hang their collective shadow, their dirty laundry; a perfect example being Saddam Hussein who, in 1990-1991 magically transitioned from being a relatively obscure U.S. ally (receiving military aid, weapons, satellite intelligence, and high tech equipment) into an incarnation of evil and a dire threat to humanity that we had to eliminate. Such is the hypnotic power of group paranoia combined with propaganda in stirring up a nationalistic, lynch mob mentality. In 1986, an article about Don Rumsfeld in the Chicago Tribune listed helping "re-open U.S. relations with Iraq" as one of his career achievements when he served as Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East. The State Department reported that while Rumsfeld was opening relations with Iraq, Saddam Hussein was murdering thousands of Kurds using chemical weapons.
Once a belief system gains control, those beliefs are much more likely to move us to action, propel us into roles and conduct we would never contemplate on our own. Voltaire warned, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Moreover, under the influence of any fundamentalist ideology, beliefs (often paranoid and delusional) tend to override facts--a very dangerous mental environment for making life and death decisions, or declaring war. Independent critical thinking and logic--qualities that are most threatening to any destructive group--expose absurdities. Consider this excerpt from a speech by the Nazi Party leader Rudolph Hess on June 30, 1934: "The National Socialism of all of us is anchored in uncritical loyalty..." (my italics). "What good fortune for those in power that people do not think," observed Hitler, who knew that thinking citizens were a real danger to his political ambitions.
Ignorance of the group shadow and its destructive consequences locks us into a mutually destructive embrace with our "enemies." In a perverse way each side needing the other--an ironic, group co-dependency on the others "evil" in order to perpetuate themselves. Thus the twisted rationale for a never-ending "War on Terror" that is the mirror image of the never-ending Islamic Jihad against the West. The president made this unending mission clear when he announced, "There's no telling how many wars it will take to secure freedom in the homeland." The notion of permanent war against a designated "evil" or "tyranny" is a classic dark side of Christian fundamentalism that mimics the Moslem worlds' fundamentalist doctrine that declares non-Moslem countries as "Dar-al-Harb," which means "The Home of War." It's no surprise to realize that George W's fundamentalist dark side also echoes Islamic fundamentalism's oft-stated goal of a global Moslem theocracy, which a prominent Iranian ayatollah made perfectly clear: "It will . . . be the duty of every able-bodied adult male to volunteer for this war of conquest, the final aim of which is to put Koranic law in power from one end of the earth to the other."
Sounding a lot like a description of our current world situation, Erasmus (d. 1536), a peaceful, educated, psychologically savvy, Catholic humanist observed: "There is no injury, however insignificant it may be which does not seem to them [Christians] sufficient pretext to start a war. They suppress and hide everything that might maintain peace; they exaggerate excessively everything that would lead to an outbreak of war." In his book, People of the Lie, author M. Scott Peck explains the slippery nature of good and evil. He points out that "evil people are often destructive because they are trying to destroy evil. Instead of destroying others they should be destroying the sickness within themselves." This paradox is similar to Jung's observation that "a so-called good to which we succumb loses its ethical character," meaning that we paradoxically facilitate evil when we become one-sided, when we believe our group is on the side of goodness and virtue. When one-sided, a so-called quest for peace inevitably produces a group shadow filled with aggression and violence.
This one-sided, assumed superiority or "elitism" is at the core of the Bush administration's dark side, especially their pretentious, religious and political elitism. George W's elite base includes the wealthy and the powerful. They are the hidden people he really represents, those economically "elite," special interest bosses he described so accurately in a speech at one of his private, campaign fund raising dinners: "You're my base: the haves and the have mores." They must have been some of the people he was referring to at a 2002 meeting with his economic squad about a second round of tax cuts: "Haven't we already given money to rich people?"
You know a group's shadow is active when "...our belief is in the republic and the republic is declared endangered," explains author and psychologist James Hillman. "Whatsoever the object of belief--the flag, the nation, the president, or the god--a martial energy mobilizes. Decisions are quick, dissent more difficult. Doubt which impedes action and questions certitude becomes traitorous, an enemy to be silenced." "The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today... is my own nation," observed Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who practiced nonviolent social and political change. Shakespeare (in Julius Caesar) eloquently described the bright facade of this fundamentalist, political shadow in his play about another "super power": And let us bathe our hands in . . . blood up to the elbows, and besmear our swords. Then we walk forth, even to the market place, and waving our red weapons o'er our heads, let's all cry "peace, freedom and liberty!"
"There will never be world peace until God's house and God's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world," proclaimed Christian fundamentalist Pat Robertson. The Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by John Adams, contained this statement: "The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation." We've been here before. The fundamentalist invasion into modern politics has resurrected a nightmarish apparition in the form of Wilsonian political monotheism. We could summarize Wilson's foreign policy as "the imperative of America's mission as the vanguard of history, transforming the global order and, in doing so, perpetuating its own dominance," guided by "the imperative of military supremacy, maintained in perpetuity and projected globally"--all thinly veiled religious elitism and hubris, missionary theology masquerading as "peace, freedom and liberty." Similarly, in a much applauded speech in 1899, Theodore Roosevelt (just before becoming President) proposed "righteous war" as the sole means of achieving "national greatness." And, speaking through his group's fundamentalist "mouth that prays," Bush made his paranoid mission quite clear: "We will rid the world of the evildoers."
Like it or not we are stuck in a psychological dilemma fueled by the collision of two toxic groups--groups with deadly shadows created by literalized Christian monotheism and literalized Islamic monotheism--both fundamentalist, both virulent strains of group-think, both after mental territory, economic and political power. One of the symptoms of fanaticism is the belief that one's mission has been "blessed or even commanded by God," says Dr. Norman Doidge, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. George W. Bush, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, told Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, "God told me to strike at Al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East." In every sense of the word, destructive, group-based beliefs are the real weapons of mass destruction that we all need to be very worried about.
"God wanted me to be President," said George W. Bush. Regarding Iraq, Lieutenant General Boykin recently declared that our "spiritual enemy will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus." "We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name," Bush declared when announcing his "strategy" for his evangelical, political crusade" Thus, warfare is applied theology. And from either side of the bloody plain, "every war is a just war, a battle between the forces of good and evil," a ghastly, incurable, repetition--the darkness of utter evil created by what appear to be the noblest of ideals. It creates a culture of immorality governed by hypocrisy, which further reinforces a collective blindness. Hypocrisy, as Hillman points out, "holds the nation together so that it can preach, and practice what it does not preach. It makes possible armories of mass destruction side by side with the proliferation of churches, cults, and charities"--the bright "good" side covering a very destructive dark side.
This fundamentalist, political shadow has become ever more insidious as their ideological assault erodes the constitutional separation of church and state--a separation that marked a stunning acceleration of individual human freedom, establishing a nation that respected the tension between two old enemies: Enlightenment rationalism and organized religion. Americans lived no longer under religious totalitarianism. Instead they lived in an age of religious freedom and an age of reason. America embodied the revolutionary notion that only a clean separation of church and state can guarantee freedom from religious tyranny and true religious freedom.
In 1962 Supreme Court Justice Black described the intent of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause: Justice Black observed that history had demonstrated time and again that "a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion." The American historian, Clinton Rossiter wrote: "The twin doctrines of separation of church and state and liberty of individual conscience are the marrow of our democracy, if not indeed America's most magnificent contribution to the freeing of Western man."
When someone shines a spotlight into a group's dark side it arouses, almost without fail, righteous indignation along with virulent, "kill-the-messenger" attacks. That is also why it is so utterly frustrating to have any meaningful, rational discussion or collaboration with a shadow-bound individual; you can never quite reach the real person. Instead you are stonewalled; you keep getting programmed, group-speak jargon designed to abort any real scrutiny of the group's always secretive dark side. Exposing torture and gross violations of the Geneva Convention means we are guilty of "not supporting our troops."
Mark Twain would have seen right through all this shadow-speak, language intended to "demonize" and kill any serious criticism. Twain once wrote: "Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutation of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."
"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders," said Hermann Goring, at his trial in Nuremberg. He added: "This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country." George W. Bush brings up Bin Laden and 9/11 over and over: "The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11." Constant repetition of certain ideas is a common method of indoctrination used in destructive cults. "It is the absolute right of the state to supervise the formation of public opinion," declared Josef Goebbles, the Nazi propaganda minister, who knew that tyrannical governments require brainwashed followers. And here's George W's not-quite-so-articulate, fundamentalist equivalent: "See, in my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda," quipped our self-titled "War President" in a 24 May 2005 speech.
So the Bush administration "fixes" intelligence reports, "fixes" scientific data on climate change and greenhouse gases, "fixes" reality on the ground in Iraq for the unthinking, uncritical, patriotic, loyal, citizens. These so-called "fixes" are really "lies"--the Bush group's program to "supervise the formation of public opinion," as Goebbles stated. Indeed, the purpose of all propaganda is to program individuals to act according to group beliefs and aims. Moreover, presidential scholar, Michael Genovese suggests that 9/11 helped to create a mass illusion: "The public needed to believe that [Bush] had grown," so "we chose to see him bigger, better and different than he was." You could say that we temporarily projected a "savior" image onto the president; psychologists call this the "halo effect," the same sort of illusion that can make quite ordinary people suddenly appear to be superhuman, until the truth rattles our projections and reality returns.
Bush precisely articulated his own treacherous dark side when he announced, "The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons." An incredible statement considering the current U.S. nuclear weapons program and the decades-long "cold war" between Russia and the United States, the latter having created nuclear weapons technology while the former copies it and both proceed to manufacture and infect the planet with over 60,000 nuclear bombs and warheads--enough destructive power to end all life on the planet many times over. Never mind the fact that the United States actually dropped two atomic bombs on innocent civilian populations in Japan during the Second World War.
Perhaps the most insidious face of the ever-darkening shadow of evangelical, fundamentalist politics and its bright, shining slogan, "compassionate conservatism," is their in-humane, COMPASSIONLESS disregard for the suffering of others. Of course war is not compassionate for either side. "Compassionate" conservatives care more about the welfare of corporate America than for human suffering. Hypocritical, shadow-laden "compassion" is not new. Hitler and Stalin were two of the most vigorous "pro-lifers" of all time, as were numerous other tyrants. They (Hitler and Stalin) also criminalized previously legal abortions immediately upon taking power. Dwight D. Eisenhower, as a soldier and then as the thirty-fourth President of the United States, knew firsthand the savage, inhumane consequences of warfare. "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
Looking closely at the whitewashed rhetoric of fundamentalism, we hear plenty of black magic--oft-repeated mantras like, "family values," the "right to life," and a "culture of life." But what about a trickle of compassion for the estimated 29,000 children under five who die on our planet each day from preventable neglect, starvation, disease, and abuse--a horrific "slaughter of innocents." What about their "right to life?" In Iraq (at this writing), well over 2,100 American soldiers have been killed and another 15, 000 wounded, many horribly crippled and disfigured for life. Incredibly brave young men and women--yet in reality victims of a fundamentalist/political cult's deadly shadow. The independent public database reports over 27,000 innocent civilian deaths in Iraq resulting directly from military action by the United States and its allies--definitely not good for our "image." But this barely-seen slaughter by a "compassionate," hide-the-coffins Republican cult must be kept in the shadows because, as our President recently explained: "Those people (Iraqi insurgents) kill innocent civilians... women and children."
Then we have the shadow travesty of religious fundamentalists' attempts to stop stem cell research. George W. Bush, replying to questions about proposed stem cell legislation, said "...the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life -- I'm against that." Here's the shadow: No life-saving stem cell research but immense, treasury draining, scientific research into anti-missile systems, nuclear bunker-busting weapons and a whole new arsenal of mini-nuclear weapons--sounds a lot like "using science which destroys life in order to save life!" I hear that lion roaring! Over time, fundamentalist leaders tend to become increasingly paranoid, unpredictable, and treacherously impulsive. This toxic mix of fundamentalism, politics, and explosive shadow dynamics has placed civilization in serious jeopardy at best--a doomsday scenario at worst. Robert J. Lifton, the author of Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, explains that fundamentalism exists "always on the edge of violence because it ever mobilizes for an absolute confrontation with a designated evil, thereby justifying any actions taken to eliminate that evil."
So what can you and I do about this group shadow dilemma? Shadow work requires brutally honest self-examination, the courage to admit one's errors and mistakes, and the moral integrity to change policies, ideas, and opinions that have proven to be fallacious or harmful to others. It's time for civilized, compassionate, courageous people everywhere to refuse to participate in sanctifying a morally bankrupt administration hiding behind patriotic doublespeak. James Madison warned, "If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." In his book, Faces of the Enemy, Sam keen explains the "first rule" for understanding our own shadow: "Listen to what the enemy says about you... Borrow the eyes of the alien, see yourself from afar. ...Look with suspicion on the rhetoric of your nation."
As for religious groups, the Dalai Lama has a straightforward strategy: "This is my simple religion," he says. "There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." At some point, so-called moderate, non-violent Christians and Moslems must take responsibility for the militant consequences of their beliefs systems. Like the German peoples' denial of Nazi death camps or the world's ongoing blindness toward genocide, every peace-loving Christian and every peace-loving Moslem who remains silent, has the blood of innocents on his or her hands, as does each and every politician who has cowardly fallen to their knees before the brutal gods of religious fundamentalism, fanaticism and war.
Unless we change, I see an increasingly dangerous slide into the past, into a sinister dark side that poets describe best: "And we are here as on a darkling plain...Where ignorant armies clash by night."

John Goldhammer, Ph.D., is a Seattle, Washington (USA) psychologist and author of three books including, Under the Influence: The Destructive Effects of Group Dynamics (New York: Prometheus Books). He created and taught these university classes: The Psychology of Hate and The Psychology of Groups.

Should religions taking responsibility for the wars of religion?

Religions are now again in the news. This time, religions are accused for the wars and conflicts in the world. Almost every day, there is some blast in some part of the world that is caused by so called Religious Fundamentalists and the victims are none other than their own brothers and sisters. As a result religions, particularly Islam, is accused to be the inspiration can cause of the terrorist attacks and violence that has gripped the world in last one decade as most people involved in the violence happens to be Muslims, the followers of Islam.
However, the truth is only partly revealed by terming one religion as violent while calling other religions as peaceful. It is only few decades ago that Christians were fighting against each other in the two World Wars that killed almost 65 millions of people, mostly Christian and resulted of the execution of more than 7 millions Jews including children just because they belonged to a particular religion. It is impossible to imagine how the followers of Christ, the God of love, can engage in such brutalities against each other. A German Philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer has said sarcastically in 18th century
"The fruits of Christianity were religious wars, butcheries, crusades, inquisitions, extermination of the natives of America and the introduction of African slaves in their place"
It is easy to blame religion for the conflict, more so if the people committing violence do not belong to your religion. However, one dare to look in their own religion, they are bound to find out that their own religion had often been used and can be used for creating conflict and wars. The Biblical concept of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot" appears in Bible (Exodus 21:22-27) had been used not only by Jews but also by the Christians. Gita, the Holiest book for Hindus, teaches the concept of eternity of Soul and the need for war in the following words of Lord Krishna
Considering your specific duty as a warrior, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on religious principles; and so there is no need for hesitation. O Partha, happy are the warrior to whom such fighting opportunities come unsought, opening for them the doors of the heavenly planets. (Gita 2:31-32)
The fact is that religions had always been used for wars.
Yet how correct it would be to blame a religion for the wars?
What's Wrong with Religion
Let us first understand what we mean by religion? Religions are based on the Scriptures which contains the "revealed knowledge" of the Prophets or saints. The knowledge of the scriptures contains certain truths that are believed by the followers of the religion. As per one definition
"A religion is a system of human thought which usually includes a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power, deity or deities, or ultimate truth".
However, most people of any religion have never read their scriptures and never known these "revealed truths". They consider themselves as part of the religion simply because they were born from the parents following their religion. Therefore, while they call themselves religious or "theist", they hardly understand anything of their religion. They are often guided by their Priests, Monks and Imams to know their religions. These people provide the people only "little knowledge' which suits their vested interest and as always "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" and that danger is often manifested in the form of wars.
Not only religion, but every single piece of knowledge had been used constructively and destructively by human beings. The knowledge of relativity and mass-energy-equivalence discovered by Albert Einstein was not only responsible for the birth of "Modern Physics" and the modern development in the field of electronics but also responsible for the development of the nuclear bomb that killed millions of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Can we call Einstein or the theory of relativity responsible for the nuclear weapon or the wars? Why should we not give Einstein the credit for the development of the modern science and technology and development of nuclear energy for the world?
Every single invention had been misused by the human race. "Dynamites" was not only used for breaking mountains to make roads but also used for making bombs that killed millions. Internet is not only being used for dissemination and communication of knowledge but also for pornography and a number of cyber crimes. The televisions and radios had been used not only for entertainments but also for propaganda.
Knowledge per-se is without any colour or attribute but people use the knowledge for pursuance of their own objective. The reveled knowledge of the scriptures is no exception.
Knowledge of God is as Immense as the Knowledge of Universe
The essence of all religion is spirituality i.e. a belief on a nonmaterial reality in this world that lies beyond the senses. This "Spirit" which permeates all creations of this universe is often called God. We know God as we too are part of God as God resides in all creations including each one of us. Thus the knowledge of God is "inherent" and as natural as the knowledge of the "self". It is for this reason that Hinduism does not distinguish between "Atman" (Soul) and Paramatman (God or Universal Soul) as there is no difference between a drop of ocean and ocean itself.
Thus the knowledge of God is extremely mysterious as one has to go "inside" the self to know God while all our sense organs only help us in seeing the outside world. Therefore, only with intuition and "Self-Enlightenment" one can know God.
There is no doubt that most of us are ignorant about God just like even the best scientists knows only a little about the universe. Even the father of science , Sir Isaac Newton admitted,
I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding of a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
The same is true with our knowledge of God or the nonmaterial reality of the universe. The scriptures provide immense knowledge about the spiritual world, yet there is lot to be known and discovered by personal effort.
Religion in Theory
Religions had been used by people to achieve their political goals. They ignore all aspects of the religions which are beneficent to the humanity and use only such "words" of the religion that suits them to sow the seeds of hatred in the world and cause conflict and wars. How else a Christian can ignore these sermons of Christ and remember only "eye for eye",
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. (Matthew 5:38-40)
The word "Islam" itself means "Submission to God." The Arabic word "Islam" means the submission or surrender of one's will to the will of the only true god worthy of worship, "Allah" (known as God "the Father" in Christianity). Anyone who does indeed submit to the will of Allah as required by Islam is termed a "Muslim," Islam teaches peace like any other religion as clearly stated in Quoran,
"And the servants of the Beneficent God are they who walk on the earth in humbleness, and when the ignorant address them, they say: Peace." (Quran 25.63 )
Religion in Practice
A truly religious person is one who follows the scripture or the words of God rather than "knows" the words of scripture by heart. A man becomes religious only if he follows the path shown in the scriptures. Thus to become Christian, it is needed to follow Christ and be become like Him. Yet people have found a way to defy everything that Christ said and yet claim that they are Christian.
In the same way, a true Muslim is one who follows the path shown by Prophet Mohammad. Still people call themselves Muslims despite of consuming alcohol and other intoxicants, accumulating wealth and following the path of violence forbidden in Islam.
Hinduism too pays lot of value on the practice and believes the principle of "Karma" which alone is considered virtuous in men. Yet many people engage in evil karma, corruption, adultery and yet call themselves Hindus.
Religion is the Knowledge of God
There seems to be nothing wrong with any religion nor does any religion preach violence and hatred. Religions are nothing but a practice and ritual to know and realize the non-material reality of the world which we call God. It is only by prayers, humbleness, service, love that we can realize God. Yet, the true knowledge of God requires deep introspection and search within to develop the intuitive eyes that alone can help a man know God. Without self-realization, the knowledge of God is not only incomplete but also wrong as God is beyond any description of words. There are many people who are clever to use such ignorant people to realize their political and material goals.

Life is a mystery which can not be explained either by science or by scriptures. Truth has a body and a soul which we call science and religion. Contrary to popular perception, they are not opposed to each other but complement each other like body and soul. In fact, they can not exist without each other.
I am the founding member of The Science of Soul Foundation in India which works for the synthesis of the diverse disciplines of knowledge like science, religion, philosophy and arts. The website of the foundation is 
I am working for the creation of a synthesis between science and religion through my articles. I believe that everyone can understand this Truth by the use of intuition and reason. You can contact me at aksinghirs [a] if you wish to know more about the mystery which we call life.

Blasphemy and the Qur'an: Why Compromise and Islam Don't Fit

During the enforced rest that followed the events now known as "9/11," while no planes flew across the Atlantic and all the big corporations that were my clients cancelled their international projects, I - like many across the world - decided to try to understand what had happened.
So I put my skills as a professional listener, reader and analyst to use. As a tsunami of shock and outrage washed us towards armed conflict in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, I listened very carefully to every interview I could with Taliban officials; I talked to Muslims in the UK and in Paris, where I was living; read widely; wrote letters urging everyone I could think of to exercise forbearance.
And for the first time, I read the Qur'an.
All of us who live in the West will soon be dealing with a changed Middle East - so it's timely to review what I learned a decade ago.
After 9/11 and before the Afghan conflict erupted in blood, the Afghani Foreign Minister gave an interview, I believe for the BBC. The interviewer asked the Minister if a compromise might be found, a way to avoid the conflict - perhaps, for the Afghanis to allow the Americans to pursue their objectives within his country.
This highly educated, articulate gentleman made one startling comment during the interview. "There is no tradition of compromise within Islam," he said, choosing his words carefully.
How should we understand this?
The interviewer did not ask - so we don't really know; and only Mohammad speaks for all Islamic people. Yet this comment could be key to understanding something very important - an issue that has not advanced in a decade.
Many ordinary people in the West fear the rise of Islam. We have learned to associate it with fanaticism and extremism, which we often think are the opposite of "compromise." But compromise is not reason. Compromise is a negotiating tactic, and not necessarily a very satisfying one. Compromise is rarely a meeting of equals; it often requires one or both parties to swallow something unpalatable.
What the Minister meant is of great importance to us, again, now, as we wait to see the outcome of the changes sweeping the region and beyond. The Islamic world is making a Renaissance. It's conceivable that the era of weak national governments across the Middle East may be coming to an end - structures that have never suited the peoples who live under them - and what will replace them has not yet formed. If the West is to deal satisfactorily with what emerges from these upheavals, understanding what Islam does have room for, if compromise is not an option, needs to be a priority.
Unlike the Bible, the Qur'an is a handbook for daily living as well as a history and a source of divine instruction. It's very clear about right and wrong; and the manner in which what's right is structured and absorbed by Believers means that each individual is obligated to stand up for what is right. Given this obligation, it is clearly NOT a useful thing to ask a Muslim to accept or do that which he believes to be wrong in order to further a negotiation.
Islam has seen great diversity since its founding; has stood for affluence, religious tolerance, scientific and cultural advance; has known many great leaders and extremely sophisticated systems of management and governance. These have required ingenuity, creativity, and huge will towards prosperity and peace. So, while there may be no place for compromise in Islam, there are traditions supporting change.
Just as we should have done after 9/11, we need to ask: as equals, what might we create together, beyond compromise, that might bring peace and prosperity to us all? And then - even over the apparently insoluble issues that relate to Israel - we need to use all our will and creativity together, as equals in the negotiating process... to change our world. 

About Islam - Prayers In The Quran

The Quran provides us with many specific prayers that we may use for ourselves. The Quran contains the Contact Prayers in Sura 1, as well as other various prayers of supplication and commemoration. A list of Quranic prayers is provided here. God advises us in Sura 2, Verse 186: When My servants ask you about Me, I am always near. I answer their prayers when they pray to Me...
In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

The very first prayer we encounter in the Quran is the Contact Prayers. These are the specific words used by Muslims five times a day for Salat. Sura 1 (The Key), Verses 1-7: "Praise be to GOD, Lord of the universe. Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgment. You alone we worship; You alone we ask for help. Guide us in the right path; the path of those whom You blessed; not of those who have deserved wrath, nor of the strayers."
Other Quranic prayers are;
[2:128] "Our Lord, make us submitters to You, and from our descendants let there be a community of submitters to You. Teach us the rites of our religion, and redeem us. You are the Redeemer, Most Merciful."
[2:201] "Our Lord, grant us righteousness in this world, and righteousness in the Hereafter, and spare us the retribution of Hell."
[2:250] "Our Lord, grant us steadfastness, strengthen our foothold, and support us against the disbelieving people."
[2:286] "Our Lord, do not condemn us if we forget or make mistakes. Our Lord, and protect us from blaspheming against You, like those before us have done. Our Lord, protect us from sinning until it becomes too late for us to repent. Pardon us and forgive us. You are our Lord and Master. Grant us victory over the disbelieving people."
[3:8] "Our Lord, let not our hearts waver, now that You have guided us. Shower us with Your mercy; You are the Grantor."
[3:16] "Our Lord, we have believed, so forgive us our sins, and spare us the agony of the hellfire."
[3:26-27] "Our god: possessor of all sovereignty. You grant sovereignty to whomever You choose, You remove sovereignty from whomever You choose. You grant dignity to whomever You choose, and commit to humiliation whomever You choose. In Your hand are all provisions. You are Omnipotent. You merge the night into the day, and merge the day into the night. You produce the living from the dead, and produce the dead from the living, and You provide for whomever You choose, without limits."
[3:147] "Our Lord, forgive us our sins, and our transgressions, strengthen our foothold, and grant us victory over the disbelievers."
[3:191-192] "Our Lord, You did not create all this in vain. Be You glorified. Save us from the retribution of Hell. Our Lord, whomever You commit to Hell are the ones You have forsaken. Such transgressors have no helpers."
[3:193-194] "Our Lord, we have heard a caller calling to faith and proclaiming: `You shall believe in your Lord,' and we have believed. Our Lord, forgive us our transgressions, remit our sins, and let us die as righteous believers. Our Lord, shower us with the blessings you promised us through Your messengers, and do not forsake us on the Day of Resurrection. You never break a promise."
[6:162-163] "My Contact Prayers (Salat), my worship practices, my life and my death, are all devoted absolutely to GOD alone, the Lord of the universe. He has no partner. This is what I am commanded to believe, and I am the first to submit."
[7:23] "Our Lord, we have wronged our souls, and unless You forgive us and have mercy on us, we will be losers."
[7:126] "Our Lord, grant us steadfastness, and let us die as submitters."
[7:155-156] "...You are our Lord and Master, so forgive us, shower us with Your mercy; You are the best Forgiver. And decree for us righteousness in this world, and in the Hereafter. We have repented to You."
[10:10] ...Their prayer therein (in the Gardens of Bliss) is: "Be You glorified, our god," their greeting therein is, "Peace," and their ultimate prayer is: "Praise be to GOD, Lord of the universe."
[10:85-86] "We trust in GOD. Our Lord, save us from the persecution of these oppressive people. Deliver us, with Your mercy, from the disbelieving people."
[11:47] "My Lord, I seek refuge in You, lest I implore You ...for something I do not know. Unless You forgive me, and have mercy on me, I will be with the losers."
[12:101] "My Lord, ...Initiator of the heavens and the earth; You are my Lord and Master in this life and in the Hereafter. Let me die as a submitter, and count me with the righteous."
[14:35] "My Lord, make this a peaceful land, and protect me and my children from worshiping idols."
[14:40-41] "My Lord, make me one who consistently observes the Contact Prayers (Salat), and also my children. Our Lord, please answer my prayers. My Lord, forgive me ...and the believers, on the day when the reckoning takes place."
[17:80] "My Lord, admit me an honorable admittance, and let me depart an honorable departure, and grant me from You a powerful support."
[17:111] "Praise be to GOD, who has never begotten a son, nor does He have a partner in His kingship, nor does He need any ally out of weakness."
[18:10] "Our Lord, shower us with Your mercy, and bless our affairs with Your guidance."
[18:14] "Our only Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. We will never worship any other god beside Him. Otherwise, we would be far astray."
[23:94] "My Lord, let me not be one of the transgressing people."
[23:97-98] "My Lord, I seek refuge in You from the whispers of the devils. And I seek refuge in You, my Lord, lest they come near me."
[23:109; 118] "Our Lord, we have believed, so forgive us and shower us with mercy. Of all the merciful ones, You are the Most Merciful."
[25:65-66] "Our Lord, spare us the agony of Hell; its retribution is horrendous. It is the worst abode; the worst destiny."
[25:74] "Our Lord, let our spouses and children be a source of joy for us, and keep us in the forefront of the righteous."
[26:83-87] "My Lord, grant me wisdom, and include me with the righteous. Let the example I set for the future generations be a good one. Make me one of the inheritors of the blissful Paradise... And do not forsake me on the Day of Resurrection."
[27:19] "My Lord, direct me to be appreciative of the blessings You have bestowed upon me and my parents, and to do the righteous works that please You. Admit me by Your mercy into the company of Your righteous servants."
[28:16] "My Lord, I have wronged my soul. Please forgive me."
[28:21] "My Lord, save me from the oppressive people."
[28:22] "May my Lord guide me in the right path."
[28:24] "My Lord, whatever provision you send to me, I am in dire need for it."
[37:100] "My Lord, grant me righteous children."
[43:13-14] As you rest on top of (what you ride on), you shall appreciate such a blessing from your Lord, and say, "Glory be to the One who subdued this for us. We could not have controlled them by ourselves. We ultimately return to our Lord."
[46:15] "My Lord, direct me to appreciate the blessings You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and to do the righteous works that please You. Let my children be righteous as well. I have repented to You; I am a submitter."
[59:10] "Our Lord, forgive us and our brethren who preceded us to the faith, and keep our hearts from harboring any hatred towards those who believed. Our Lord, You are Compassionate, Most Merciful."
[60:4-5] "Our Lord, we trust in You, and submit to You; to You is the final destiny. Our Lord, let us not be oppressed by those who disbelieved, and forgive us. You are the Almighty, Most Wise."
[66:8] "Our Lord, perfect our light for us, and forgive us; You are Omnipotent."
[71:28] "My Lord, forgive me and my parents, and anyone who enters my home as a believer, and all the believing men and women..."
[112:1-4] "He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him."
[113:1-5] "I seek refuge in the Lord of daybreak. From the evils among His creations. From the evils of darkness as it falls. From the evils of the troublemakers. From the evils of the envious when they envy."
[114:1-6] "I seek refuge in the Lord of the people. The King of the people. The god of the people. From the evils of sneaky whisperers. Who whisper into the chests of the people. Be they of the jinns, or the people."
[3:18; 47:19] GOD bears witness that there is no god except He, and so do the angels and those who possess knowledge ... "There is no other god beside GOD," and ask forgiveness of your sins and the sins of all believing men and women.

Angels in Islamic Concept As Portrayed by Quran

(In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, all praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger)
Angels are beings that, according to Muslim concept, are there to perform worship of the Almighty Allah. These angels are very important in reference to the faith completion for a Muslim.
The Holy Quran mentions that the angels are made up of light and that they have no cognitive ability. Their only purpose is to do what the Almighty asks them to do. Muslims all around the world have rigid belief in the composition and the existence of angels, so if anyone tries to follow the pagan concept or influence that upon Muslims, that would be a step that will be ineffective.
Allah almighty mentions Angels in the Holy Quran As the following:
"Behold thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said "Wilt thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? Whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said: "I know what ye know not."(Surah Al-Baqarah)
This verse defines that the angels do exists and that they can be communicated with, and that they perform the worship of Almighty Allah.
"They followed what the evil ones gave out (falsely) against the power of Solomon; the blasphemers were not Solomon but the evil ones, teaching men magic and such things as came down at Babylon to the angels Harut, and Marut. But neither of these taught anyone (such things) without saying: "We are only for trial; so do not blaspheme." They learned from them the means to sow discord between man and wife. But they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah's permission. And they learned what harmed them not what profited them. And they knew that the buyers of (magic) would have no share in the happiness of the Hereafter. And vile was the price for which they did sell their souls, if they but knew!" (Surah Al-Baqara) Quran Reading
The verse from the Holy Quran mentioned above highlighted the fact that magic and pagan ways of intervening supernatural areas is a reality and is completely practical, however, all of this is not possible if Allah does not wish it so. It happens to test the faith of the believers and that of mankind towards one true GOD, which is Allah Almighty alone.
The link between the angels and the magical existence almost goes synonymous. Other mythical creatures are an unreal extension of the concept. The concept of angels remains the same, if not tampered, in the Christian faith and the Jewish faith since these are the religions that signify one GOD too. One more verse here will define another misconception that pagans try to inject us with, is that angels can determine what is wrong and what is right and might defy the Almighty Allah.
"He is the Irresistible (watching) from above over his worshippers, and He sets guardians over you. At length, when death approaches one of you, Our angels take his soul, and they never fail in their duty." (Surah Al-Anaam)
As it says, Angels never fail to perform their duty, this is how they are and this is how they will be, no matter how inspirational they may be, but a misconception about angels can directly infuse a faulty conjunction in the faith of a Muslim. TheQuran Reading is the direct source of any information on the Internet that you must consult when required.

If you want to read more Articles regarding to Islam and Quran you can find all here: Quran Reading is an online Islamic School which offers Quran teaching services online. The school also teaches Quran Recitation and Quran Reading with Translation.

The endless war in command of Qur'an

After the tragedies of the 11th of September 2001 and the invasion of Iraq many people are arguing that the Qu'ran and Islam itself teaches that a state of endless war exists between Muslims and 'Infidels' (who are usually defined by these folk as being Christians and Jews.)
In support of their arguments they pull quotes from the Qu'ran which seem to support their position, but do they really?
In this article I want to show the deceitful way in which these folk argue, either out of ignorace on their part or from a desire to stir up hatred against folk.
This topic is huge and so I intend here to look at only ONE of the Qu'ranic verses these folk take out of context and it is my intention to place the verse back into context. And then to show, by commentary and quote from the Qu'ran itself, the poverty of the argument which declares that the Qu'ran does indeed teach endless war against unbelievers.
One of the Suras (chapters) of the Qu'ran which are often quoted is the following.
Sura 9:29-30 , "Make War on the Christians and the Jews...Do battle with them!" "Kill those who join other Gods with Allah wherever ye shall find them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert to Islam then let them go their way."
All of the chapters of the Qu'ran have a context which explains why they were revealed by Muhammad. Here is the context of Sura 9
This chapter of the Qu'ran deals with treaty obligations between the Muslims and the Arab idolaters and also talks about what the Muslims should do if attacked by the People of the Book. The Idolaters had repeatedly broken their treaties of peace with the Muslims and in this Sura they are told what the consequences will be to them for these acts. As well the Jews and Christians are warned of what will happen should they try to intervene in Muslim affairs (verses 29-30)
Now because it is verses 29-30 that are quoted, I add here a commentary by Maulana Muhammad Ali on those specific verses.
". . . 29a. The last word on the wars with the idolaters of Arabia having been said, this verse introduces the subject of fighting with the followers of the Book. . . . The Qu'ran neither required that the idolaters should be compelled to accept Islam, nor was it in any way its object to bring the Christians into subjection. On the other hand, the idolaters wanted to suppress Islam by the sword, and the Christians first moved themselves to bring Muslim Arabia under subjection. The fate of each was, therefore, according to what it intended for the Muslims. . . . It may also be added that the permission to fight, as given to the Muslims, is subject to the condition that the enemy should first take up the sword, Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you (2:190). . . The Holy Prophet never overstepped this limit, nor did his followers. He fought against the Arabs when they took up the sword to destroy the Muslims, and he led an expedition against the Christians when the Roman Empire first mobilised its forces with the object of subjugating the Muslims. And so scrupulous was he that, when he found that the enemy had not yet taken the initiative, he did not attack the Roman Empire, but returned without fighting. . . ."
So then let us look at this Sura with our new understanding of it's context . Note: (The [Shakir] is a reference to the person who translated this version into English.
[Shakir 9:1] (This is a declaration of) immunity by Allah and His Messenger towards those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement. [9:2] So go about in the land for four months and know that you cannot weaken Allah and that Allah will bring disgrace to the unbelievers. [9:3] And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah and His Messenger are free from liability to the idolaters; therefore if you repent, it will be better for you, and if you turn back, then know that you will not weaken Allah; and announce painful punishment to those who disbelieve. [9:4] Except those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement, then they have not failed you in anything and have not backed up any one against you, so fulfil their agreement to the end of their term; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty).
[9:5] So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. [9:6] And if one of the idolaters seek protection from you, grant him protection till he hears the word of Allah, then make him attain his place of safety; this is because they are a people who do not know.
[9:7] How can there be an agreement for the idolaters with Allah and with His Messenger; except those with whom you made an agreement at the Sacred Mosque? So as long as they are true to you, be true to them; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty).[9:8] How (can it be)! while if they prevail against you, they would not pay regard in your case to ties of relationship, nor those of covenant; they please you with their mouths while their hearts do not consent; and most of them are transgressors. [9:9] They have taken a small price for the communications of Allah, so they turn away from His way; surely evil is it that they do. [9:10] They do not pay regard to ties of relationship nor those of covenant in the case of a believer; and these are they who go beyond the limits. [9:11] But if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, they are your brethren in faith; and We make the communications clear for a people who know. [ 9:12] And if they break their oaths after their agreement and (openly) revile your religion, then fight the leaders of unbelief-- surely their oaths are nothing-- so that they may desist.
[9:13] What! will you not fight a people who broke their oaths and aimed at the expulsion of the Messenger, and they attacked you first; do you fear them? But Allah is most deserving that you should fear Him, if you are believers. [9:14] Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace, and assist you against them and heal the hearts of a believing people. [9:15] And remove the rage of their hearts; and Allah turns (mercifully) to whom He pleases, and Allah is Knowing, Wise. [9:16] What! do you think that you will be left alone while Allah has not yet known those of you who have struggled hard and have not taken any one as an adherent besides Allah and His Messenger and the believers; and Allah is aware of what you do.
[9:17] The idolaters have no right to visit the mosques of Allah while bearing witness to unbelief against themselves, these it is whose doings are null, and in the fire shall they abide. [9:18] Only he shall visit the mosques of Allah who believes in Allah and the latter day, and keeps up prayer and pays the poor-rate and fears none but Allah; so (as for) these, it may be that they are of the followers of the right course.
[9:19] What! do you make (one who undertakes) the giving of drink to the pilgrims and the guarding of the Sacred Mosque like him who believes in Allah and the latter day and strives hard in Allah's way? They are not equal with Allah; and Allah does not guide the unjust people. [9:20] Those who believed and fled (their homes), and strove hard in Allah's way with their property and their souls, are much higher in rank with Allah; and those are they who are the achievers (of their objects). [9:21] Their Lord gives them good news of mercy from Himself and (His) good pleasure and gardens, wherein lasting blessings shall be theirs; [ 9:22] Abiding therein for ever; surely Allah has a Mighty reward with Him.
[9:23] O you who believe! do not take your fathers and your brothers for guardians if they love unbelief more than belief; and whoever of you takes them for a guardian, these it is that are the unjust. [9:24] Say: If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your mates and your kinsfolk and property which you have acquired, and the slackness of trade which you fear and dwellings which you like, are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His way, then wait till Allah brings about His command: and Allah does not guide the transgressing people.
[9:25] Certainly Allah helped you in many battlefields and on the day of Hunain, when your great numbers made you vain, but they availed you nothing and the earth became strait to you notwithstanding its spaciousness, then you turned back retreating. [9:26] Then Allah sent down His tranquillity upon His Messenger and upon the believers, and sent down hosts which you did not see, and chastised those who disbelieved, and that is the reward of the unbelievers. [9:27] Then will Allah after this turn (mercifully) to whom He pleases, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful [9:28] O you who believe! the idolaters are nothing but unclean, so they shall not approach the Sacred Mosque after this year; and if you fear poverty then Allah will enrich you out of His grace if He please; surely Allah is Knowing Wise. [ 9:29] Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.
It is clear then that Sura 9 does not command unlimited war against Idolaters, Jews and Christians but rather allows for a limited, defensive war if & only if the Muslims are attacked.
Any verse in any Scripture can be taken out of context, can be used for the purposes of stirring up hatred and disdain against folk. As Christians we must be above that, we must deal with Muslims in the truth and we cannot do that if we are lifting verses from their sacred writings out of context in order to demonise them.
Paul in his letter to the Corinthians has this to say about the attitude we should have towards the Muslims (and indeed all others)
I Corinthians 13:1 - 8
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clashing cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I give away all my possessions to feed the poor, and though I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind; love does not envy; love does not boast, is not arrogant; 5 does not behave disgracefully, does not seek its own, is not provoked to anger, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails
I pray that we will show forth this attitude in dealing with others, especially those others who share with us a faith in God.

Ray McIntyre is a Priest and Theologian living in New Zealand