Islam: Violent Or Peaceful?

Editorial by Sumit Paul & Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | May 28, 2017 | The Speaking Tree

In the wake of the latest terrorist attack in Manchester, UK, in which a suicide bomber blew himself up as thousands of fans were exiting Ariana Grande’s pop concert, killing 22 people and injuring 59, the question arises: Is Islam violent?



‘Inherently violent’


Is Islam inherently violent or are fringe elements besmirching its image? As a student of Islamic theology and a complete non-believer, I’ve always felt that Islam is inherently and intrinsically violent. Islam is the youngest of the three Semitic faiths, namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

History Of Halaal

Despite Judaism and Islam being at loggerheads with each other right from Islam’s inception, some 1400 years ago,there’re so many ritualistic legacies of Judaism borrowed by Islam. The kosher of Judaism became halaal in Islam. Not eating pork and circumcision are common in both the faiths.There’re 21 other major and minor rituals in both faiths that are common and Islam borrowed them from Judaism, the oldest existing organised faith in the world. Religio-ethnically, Islam is a tribal religion, with its origin is the desert of Arabia.There were many warring tribes here,fighting and killing among themselves.Professor Hamilton Gibb, renowned western authority on Islam, wrote that the pre-Islamic shambolic scenario percolated down to the fabric of Islam and therefore Islam could never part with its violent, pagan past. The ‘tribal troglodytism’, a phrase coined by Samuel Huntington in his seminal essay ‘The clash of civilizations’ (1963), explains the intrinsic violent streak of Islam. As an efficient leader of those tribal people,Muhammad integrated the constantly embattled tribes into a cohesive unit and Islam came into being. That he had visions and verses descending upon him for 23 years are purely theological issues.The then socio- ethnic issues formed the axis of the neophyte Islam which had before it, two already great and established faiths, Judaism and Christianity. Islam needed to establish itself as a religious group competing with Judaism and Christianity, and so its advocates took a ruthless stance.

Professor Bernard Louis of Princeton University, says,“The violent measures that the founder/s of Islam resorted to for establishing its supremacy over two existing religions (Judaism and Christianity) became integral to the consciousness of Islam and it could never give up violence.” He further stated that ‘violence is Islam’s structural essence’. It’s Islam’s leit motif. It’s not always the greatness of Islam’s holy book Quran and its seemingly simple teachings that inspired heathens, pagans and idol-worshippers to embrace Islam, but often the violent measures which compelled them to do so. Most of today’s subcontinental Muslims rooting for Islam had unwilling ancestors, who had to accept it because they had no other option. French scholar Francois Gautier has stated this fact time and again in his books on the spread of Islam in the subcontinent.The history of Islam is fraught with violent conversions. Algeria-born French existentialist Albert Camus got so disgusted with radical Islam that when he grew up, he left all manmade faiths and he wrote to his daughter and to fellow existentialist Jean Paul Sartre, “I should be ‘thankful’ to Islam that I could see its naked reality and the extended nakedness of all useless religions.” During my post-doctoral research at Oxford, I came across unambiguously violent verses in the Quran.Many sane and sensible minds have begun to question the very need of any religion and its by-product,god.It’s high time, that we discard not just Islam but all man-made religions that have outgrown their utility and become a veritable nuisance to humankind.

¦ Sumit Paul extensively researched Islam at Cairo, Oxford and at Columbia University Post your comments at

Counter View

‘Religion of peace’


The suicide attack carried out in Manchester on 22 May, 2017 was ostensibly done in the name of Islam, but in reality it was a satanic act. The methodology of Islam is based entirely on peace, not on violence. A student of Islam must know that the study of Islam is not like the study of a branch of science.For example, chemistry is a discipline which has to be studied in the light of a single framework based on the laws of nature. That is why chemistry students, when carrying out an experiment, will always reach the same result. In chemistry, it is not possible for one researcher to conclude that chemistry is a peaceful subject, while another concludes it is a violent subject. Islam is different in this regard. A student of Islam is always faced with two different models — Islam and the Muslim community. A student has to study Islam in the light of these two models.Without following the principle of differentiation between these two,one cannot properly understand Islam. Islam, as a principle, is the name of an ideology.The source of this ideology is a revealed book, that is, the Quran. It is this revealed book that will decide what Islam is and what Islam is not.Another aspect before a student of Islam is the followers of Islam.

Although Muslims have accepted the religion of Islam,they are at the same time, part of a society that shapes their thinking. But,Muslim society is a relative part, not a real part of Islam.That is, the social aspects of the Muslim community will be judged on Quranic principles. If they adhere to these principles,then their actions will be in accordance with Islam, otherwise not. There are many phenomena which have come to characterise the Muslim community due to the ‘age factor’, although they are not ideologically justified in Islam. One of these phenomena is violence. In the social sense, Muslims were part of a tribal society and were naturally influenced by it. For example,when a tribal group attacked them, they had to defend themselves. But this fighting was a result of prevailing times and not part of Islamic teaching. A student must differentiate between the ideology of Islam on the one hand and the history of Islam on the other.The ideology is the real part of Islam, while the socio-cultural history of Muslims is not entirely a part of Islam.For instance, in the early period of Islam, battles in which Muslims engaged in with the Byzantine and Sassanid empires are part of the history of Islam and not part of the ideology of Islam. A student of Islam must differentiate between these two aspects, otherwise he may not be able to have a correct picture of Islam. There are certain verses in the Quran which give the command for war. This injunction is not meant to be taken as a general principle, but appears in the Quran as a justification for engaging in self-defence. These verses are applicable only when there is an external threat. In the absence of such threat,these verses would be inapplicable. ¦