New book takes on 'Fitna' verses
Erwida Maulia , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Mon, 05/05/2008
11:24 AM | National
Noted Koranic scientist Quraish Shihab has written a book to counter the "false accusations against Islam" contained in the controversial movie Fitna, released recently by Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
Ayat-Ayat Fitna, Sekelumit Keadaban Islam di Tengah Purbasangka (Fitna Verses, a Tiny Bit of Islamic Civility in the Middle of Prejudice), launched in Jakarta on Sunday, refutes Wilders' misleading interpretations of the five Koranic verses quoted in the film.
In the 90-page book, Quraish clarifies each of the verses, reflecting the interpretations to which Muslims worldwide generally adhere.
Wilders' short film features footage of the September 11 attacks and the Madrid train bombing, preceded by a recitation of Verse 60 of the Koran's Sura Al-Anfal (8).
The verse is translated in Fitna as: "Prepare for them whatever force and cavalry ye are able of gathering, to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah and your enemies."
The implication is the Koran instructs Muslims to commit acts of terrorism.
Quraish said Wilders had distorted the meaning of the verse by excluding the five preceding verses (Sura 8:55 to 8:59), which put the excerpt in context.
The verse actually refers to attitudes when facing battle, not daily life, said the former rector of Jakarta's Syarif Hidayatullah State Institute of Islamic Studies, now the State Islamic University.
"Strike terror", he said, was intended to prevent enemies in a battle from attacking, which could therefore prevent the battle itself, as battle was not always inevitable when defending oneself or one's territory, religion or nation.
Such self-defense in battle, Quraish said, is different from terrorism.
He said the word "enemies" referred to those who violated treaties, hence provoking war.
A state of war and the betrayal of a pact also form the context of Verse 4 in the Sura Muhammad (47), which Wilders "abruptly cut" and "wrongly translated", Quraish said.
To clarify the meaning of Verse 39 in Al-Anfal, the final sura quoted in the film, the prominent Koranic exegete said warfare was the very last option Muslims could take, "should they find no other way to avoid oppression or ensure security".
Even if Muslims must become involved in a war, he added, they must obey rules such as not attacking women or children, not cutting down trees and not destroying the environment.
Quraish also gave elucidations of the other two verses quoted, 56 and
89 in Sura An-Nisaa (4), which Wilders used as examples of the Koran's anti-Semitism and instructions to kill non-Muslims.
Quraish said any interpretation of the verses could not separate them from those that preceded and followed them if their true context and meaning were to be understood.
He said Fitna (an Arabic term for "false accusation") was an appropriate title for the movie, as it "describes the real intention of its maker, that is, slandering Islam and its holy book".
In the last chapter of his book, Quraish calls on Muslims to deal with Fitna firmly and patiently by refraining from "anything detrimental to Islam or to Muslims themselves".
He said it was normal for Muslims to protest against the movie and "break off relations or partnerships with those who support the harassment".
He advised Muslims not to make general assumptions about innocent people or groups and to keep treating everyone fairly.
Quraish distributed free copies of his book in several mosques across Jakarta.
It is also available for download at
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