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There Is No Compulsion

12/31/10

  07:07:57 pm, by Nimble   , 380 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Religion

There Is No Compulsion

I've often seen "there is no compulsion in religion" taken from the Koran/Qur'an to demonstrate moderation and tolerance.

This is from Surah 2, verse 256. That surprised me a little, since the second Surah is known to be somewhat nasty about heretics and unbelievers.

Well, it turns out that it is only a demonstration of moderation and tolerance if taken alone. Here is the fuller context, with that verse and the following verse:

There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower.

Allah is the Protecting Guardian of those who believe. He bringeth them out of darkness into light. As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are false deities. They bring them out of light into darkness. Such are rightful owners of the Fire. They will abide therein.

Whatever the no-compulsion statement means, it seems as though "whatever you believe is fine" is not what is meant.

Perhaps Surah 18:29 would be better: "whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve."

Oh. Maybe not:

Say: (It is) the truth from the Lord of you (all). Then whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve. Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers Fire. Its tent encloseth them. If they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like to molten lead which burneth the faces. Calamitous the drink and ill the resting-place!

There is one final one that might actually pass muster: the entirety of Surah 109, which is fairly short given the way that the Koran is sorted from longest to shortest:

Say: O disbelievers!
Let each person believe (or disbelieve) whatever he or she wishes.
Is each person be free to believe as he or she wishes?
I worship not that which ye worship;
Nor worship ye that which I worship.
And I shall not worship that which ye worship.
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.

That's much better!

There are, unfortunately, more verses on the intolerant side, especially in Surahs 3, 4 and 9, but that can wait for another time.

Fortunately, everyone is more than the sum of verses.

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