A Movement Towards Reinterpreting the Koran?
The Choice of Humankind

In his lecture “The Choice of Humankind” Master Ryuho Okawa, founder and CEO of Happy Science, spoke about the terrorism and conflict pervading part of the Islamic world.

“Is there any Islamic country leader now who knows exactly where Mohammad’s thoughts lie, 1400 years after his birth? There are none who know. That is why they look to scriptures from the past to make political and economic policies that are to their advantage.”

In other words, neither Islam nor religion is to blame for terrorism: the problem is that the people who read the Quran are only able to ‘guess’ at what is the mind of God.


The Quran Advises Against Compulsion in Acceptance of Religion

Perhaps the popular impression of the Quran is that it is full of advise on war, but in truth the Quran is overflowing with teachings of tolerance and peace.

Below are passages from the Quran:

“Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury.” (2:263)
“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” (21:107)
“Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.” (31:18)
“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion.” (2:256)
“And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety.” (9:6)


To Kill or To Forgive: Disputable Passages

If the Quran is filled with these words of tolerance, why then do terrorists emerge from the Islamic religion? It is because there are certain passages in the Quran that give the reader a choice of interpretation: whether to choose tolerance, or to choose war.

While there are passages that say, “if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind”, other passages tell followers to “kill them where ye find them”.

The Quran says, “Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.” It is up to the reader to determine at which point the ‘way of Allah’ turns into a ‘transgression’.


Terrorists Interpret the Quran to Suit Themselves

The popular conclusion about how each person interprets the Quran is that violent people who harbour hatred interpret it as a justification for violence, and peaceful people understand it as teaching tolerance and peace.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo incident, Omar Shahin, who is an Islamic law practitioner, Imam and President of the North American Imams Federation, told the Liberty Magazine about his views on Muslim terrorism.

“The terrorists have sinned. Islam forbids the killing of civilians. They should respect the laws of their country, and if they have something to say, they should sue news companies. They are interpreting jihad and Muslim teaching to suit themselves.” (From the March 2015 issue)
It is true that ISIS emerged out of the ashes of Western colonial exploitation and the persecution of the Shia, so their resultant desire for revenge is perhaps naturally human.

However, through their warped interpretation of the Quran, the radicals are trying to justify the killing of Christians, and women and children from their own camps, in an attempt to protect their community.


A Movement Towards Reinterpreting the Koran

1400 years ago there was no war between Muslims and Christians, or between Sunnis and Shias. The Quran was not brought into this world with these future conflicts in mind, which adds a layer of difficulty when Muslims look to it for guidance in the current situation.

A surprising number of Muslims advocate the need for a reinterpretation of scriptures like the Old Testament and the Quran.

There is even a group of Islam scholars who seek the harmonisation of Islamic laws with the current era: a way to reconcile Islam with Eastern and Western culture.

Mr. Shahin says that, “the Islamic Law must be adjusted according to the era and the region. At least this much flexibility must be allowed.”

Many people are doing their best to discern Allah’s true desires through the Quran. The answer? Finding that is the next global task.

A Movement Towards Reinterpreting the Koran?
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