Jihad: What Does the Qur’an Really Say?

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Zacharia al Khatib was studying at the University of Alberta while Tom Oosterhuis was the Christian Reformed chaplain there. After university studies, Zacharia pursued formal Islamic studies at a seminary in the Middle East, memorizing the Qur’an in Arabic as well as studying its interpretation with renowned scholars.

Zacharia spoke to members of West End Christian Reformed Church in Edmonton, Alberta, as part of an education series focusing on outreach and agreed to participate in this interview for The Banner.

Since there is considerable confusion about the meaning of jihad, and it plays a fairly large role in discussions about Islam, especially in the media, Tom decided to put the question directly to Zacharia. Their conversation follows.

Zacharia, thank you for agreeing to be part of this discussion. I want to start with a question about jihad.In the minds of many Christians, and others, this word has, for a long time, had a rather negative meaning. It has become associated with an aggressive approach of Muslims to non-Muslims and often with terrorism. What do you understand by that word jihad?

Well, first I want to clarify that, in Muslim belief, there isn’t much room for personal opinion in matters of Scripture. God says in the Qur’an, “Do not put [your opinion] forward in the presence of Allah and His Messenger” (49:1)—meaning we’re not to give our opinions voice where there is clear scriptural guidance.

So the role of scholars and students like myself is basically to clarify the intent of Scripture in cases where it is open to multiple interpretations, and to clarify the best means of implementing it in our current state. What I mean by this is that what I say here isn’t my opinion, but rather what our Scriptures say on these matters.

Now, regarding the word jihad: linguistically the word means “to struggle” or “to exert one’s efforts”; from the same root we get the word ijtihad, which means a scholar’s endeavor to derive a ruling by exerting the utmost intellectual effort.

Idiomatically the word means “to engage in battle against enemy forces.” However, it is important to understand that it does not always mean a physical struggle, the same way we use the term “war” when describing a “war on drugs” in English.

Our Prophet, peace be upon him and upon all of the prophets, said, “Do not hope to meet your enemies [in battle], but if you meet them be firm,” meaning that Muslims are not supposed to desire fighting. At the personal level, jihad is undertaken in self-defense. At the state level, jihad is a last resort when negotiations fail—meaning the state is not allowed to declare war without first attempting a settlement.

That being said, Islam is a complete way of life; there is guidance for every situation, including battle. The compendium of rulings relating to battle are called “ahkam al jihad,” or “rules of jihad.” They include things like the prophetic guidance not to kill women, children, elderly, monks; not to commit vandalism; rules of surrender, retreat, and peace settlements; and things like how to pray in battle.

How does jihad relate to the practice of Islam?

Islam means submission to Allah (God), so we’re called to obey his commands in all circumstances. Historically, while there was an Islamic state, Islamic law governed individual and state actions. There were rules governing individual soldiers’ behavior as well as state conduct in war. Upholding these rulings is the very essence of submission to God.

How does jihad describe your relation to Allah or your obligation and duty toward Allah?

Islamically, it is a duty to defend oneself and the oppressed; God says, “Were it not that Allah defended some people through others the Earth would be corrupted” (2:251), meaning that a Muslim state has an obligation to uphold justice and prevent tyranny on Earth. Again, battle is a last resort upon the breakdown of negotiations and the refusal of invitation to right conduct.

Is the association of aggression or forceful witness to non-Muslims totally out of line, or is there something in the history of the termjihadthat lends itself to that understanding?

God says in the Qur’an, “There is no compulsion in faith” (2:256), which is clear in its meaning: faith is a matter of the heart—and no one controls hearts but God. No one can force belief.

However, all residents of a Muslim state (regardless of their religion) were expected to follow the laws of the land, which would include things like modest dress and a prohibition on immoral items like pornography or drugs. Those laws were in the best interests of society, just as we have laws against reckless driving and child pornography in Canada.

In any religion, politically motivated people, or people with specific agendas, can find texts to support their cause and will justify a particular interpretation as God’s will or command when most adherents would hold a more moderate view. Is there anything in the definition or understanding of jihad that allows politically motivated extremists to use this word from their own faith to justify something most Muslims would find wrong?

People calling to violence usually appeal to emotion more than intellect. Some definitely quote Scripture, but the real question is whether that quotation is properly contextualized and interpreted, which is often not the case. Islam does not allow vigilante acts. In attempting to solve this problem, we have to understand the political and socio-economic reasons underlying calls to violence.

Though we do not like it, we need to recognize that Western powers have committed numerous injustices against developing nations in the past and in our own time.

“Vengeful rage”—one of the deadly sins—played a strong role in the Bush administration’s call to war after September 11. The same emotion is often evoked by those who call for vigilante violence against the U.S. and her allies. Ultimately, everyone needs to take a proactive stance in resolving these problems, which means looking at what we can do on an individual and societal level to put an end to some of the root causes of this violence. 

Do we hear enough from Muslims who oppose terrorist acts and calls to violence?

The suggestion that Muslims have been too silent about vigilante violence is simply untruth, though it is often claimed by pundits. A recent article published by Imam Zaid Shakir, a contemporary Muslim leader, lists more than 100 of the foremost Muslims alive who have publicly denounced violence, such as the September 11 attacks.

The imam titled the article, “A Tree has Fallen in the Forest,” alluding to the famous saying and implying that the problem is not that no one has spoken out, but that not enough attention has been given to their voices.

Ultimately, the world will continue to have problems until the root causes of violence and revenge are addressed.

Thank you, Zacharia, for your willingness to answer our questions. I know that you share my desire for a frank and open conversation that will help us understand one another and ourselves better.

A Pastor Reflects

Muslims claim a very high view of the Qur’an as Scripture.  My initial reaction to Zacharia’s first response, concerning personal opinion, the authority of the Qur’an, and interpretation was that this is similar to the view of the Bible with which I grew up.

However, I think that Christians are more likely to recognize that the Scriptures are heard with different ears in different cultures and different centuries, without taking away their “God-breathed” character. Interpretation is unavoidable, and therefore, dialogue and wrestling are necessary to discover how the Scriptures continue to speak to us. My personal opinion and interpretation count, even though they are always weighed in the context of the conversation that is going on in the whole church. In Islam, the Qur’an assumes a position almost equivalent to the place of Christ.

Second, Zacharia’s comments about the Bush administration might come across as inflammatory to some.  At first he was inclined to equate the Bush administration’s actions with those of the September 11 terrorists. Both Muslims and Christians do need to examine our own “house” first and ask ourselves why others see us in this way.

Finally, Zacharia’s way of defining moral law (Sharia) basically requires that everyone in a Muslim country live according to Muslim laws. In the U.S. and Canada, Christian laws (blue laws) used to prevail in our culture, but as we have become more pluralistic, the influence of a particular Christian morality has modified to make room for differing opinions among Christians as well as different customs among the various religions, including liberalism.

—Tom Oosterhuis

About the Author

Rev. Tom Oosterhuis is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. He served as a CRC campus minister for 32 years at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

See comments (28)


"At the state level, jihad is a last resort when negotiations fail—meaning the state is not allowed to declare war without first attempting a settlement."

What is the objective of the state? Is it not to bring all humanity under submission to Allah as revealed in the Qur'an? And if the other people/state do not wish to submit and will not agree to submit without war, is he not acknowledging that jihad - understood as open war - is the proper Islamic response?

"God says in the Qur’an, “There is no compulsion in faith” (2:256), which is clear in its meaning: faith is a matter of the heart—and no one controls hearts but God. No one can force belief."

God - the Muslim God rather than the true God - also says in the Qur'an, "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." (9:29)

And again, "Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah, - He will never let their deeds be lost." (47:4)

There might be differences of opinion as to the most effective tactics and strategies, but it sure seems to me that the Qur'an is not being mis-read by those who use it to justify blowing themselves up in markets or flying planes into towers. Note also that these passages come after the famous 2:256 verse and that a principle of Islam is that later texts interpret (guide the understanding of) earlier ones.

I understand the frustration when people float the accusation that Muslims don't speak out enough against terrorism and I don't know this Imam. But it's also true that, until he's able to persuade the jihadists who *are* terrorists, his words mean little.

It is interesting to see in print a reference to "liberalism" as a "religion." Tom Oosterhuis would appear to be confusing ideological or political orientation with religious orientation.

That is not too surprising, considering the tendency to confuse them in many discussions of contemporary public policy issues.

This tendency may help explain why many evangelicals, fundamentalists, and Reformed Christians have no problem subscribing to the political and economic philosophy of Ayne Rand ("Atlas Shrugged")in spite of the fact that Rand and her disciples' atheistic, elitist and cultist views -- which provide the underlying assumptions for their economic theories -- are antithetical to basic Christian beliefs.

"Liberal" and "conservative" may be facile, convenient labels and categories when applied to religion, but they lack the ability to be accurate and useful descriptors. Ultimately, I believe that this linguistic practice does more disservice than service. Convenience is not necessarily a virtue in attempts to engage in productive dialogue.

In personal interaction with Muslims, in real-life settings, I have found considerable diversity in APPLICATION of Islamic teachings to specific situations. Just like Christians.

Do you feel that Mr. Oosterhuis is referring to political "liberalism"? Or rather enlightenment thinkers, Deists, Christian Liberalism, Darwinists, (liberalism), upon whom some do look at as "from a various religion"; and the influence of these groups on our Christian laws seems apparent to me.

The interview failed to ask the right questions, hence the answers did not explain why Muslim extremists interpret Islam differently. I get the feeling the interviewer was reluctant to ask pointed queries such as what exactly are young Muslims taught about Christianity. The interview was weak, period. It would have been more enlightening had a former Muslim in the CRC, conducted the interview.

It's pretty ironic that our scripture really isn't open to personal interpretation either, yet that doesn’t stop people from labeling the people who follow the scriptural Reformed doctrine and speak out against their error as divisive. Some so-called Reformed seminaries (Biola/Talbot), pastors and churches embrace free will doctrine Christians as harmless and some try to repackage old enemies of the Reformed faith like Molinism. I know of a church in Laguna Hills that is trying to get into the RCA that boasts it was started because the pastor was inspired by Billy Graham at a convention. The pastor claims to be a Reformed Professor at Biola and every other pastor from that church attended a non-Reformed seminary. Strange mix there! That’s how leaven gets in.

I personally haven’t met any Muslims here in Southern California that care for any westerners period, let alone care to give the correct interpretation of “jihad”. There may be a few out but they certainly aren’t in the majority here or in the Middle East, so I am a bit concerned by the attempt of Zacharia to paint what is going on as something that is made up by the media and politicians.

What really is the purpose the article here? I haven’t heard anything that hasn’t been said before. Many Christians have been reporting on what the Quran says for some time including the basic Muslim’s incorrect interpretation of it in certain places. What Zacharia left out were the damning parts of the Quran that clearly point to a book and religion that are far from peaceful. Dr. James White and many others have written on this subject. Even if the majority of the Muslims do get the Quran wrong, what matters is what they practice. Lofty discussions about certain parts of their holy book many Muslims get wrong that purposely overlook seriously non-peaceful exhortations to kill innocent people are not productive for Christians to read on a Christian media outlet.

Since it is God that saves and changes the heart, what do we do with people that the Bible says will always be at war with their neighbors? Do we embrace them and let them live amongst us so they can bring war from within? War does take many forms. Certainly the introduction of a culture that does the opposite of what Sharia law says they should at every turn is not healthy for society at large or America. We have a very large Middle Eastern population here in Southern California. Doing business with them, in general, is more difficult than doing business with a used car salesman. Or, is it just another way of “jihad” in their interpretation of their scripture?

So you have 100 big names of the Muslim world, supposedly, that have spoken out against the violence and the Muslim people have collectively closed their ears to these so-called big names. It appears these people don’t have any influence within their own culture so mentioning what they said gives a skewed view of the overall attitude of Muslims doesn’t it?.
This article seems to be asking us to invite the leaven in!

Wow - where to start.... Let me offer brief remarks on two key issues here.

1) A glance at the numerous and violently disparate factions of modern Islam belies Mr. al-Khatib's contention that Muslims don't have much room for interpretation of the Quran. But, let's assume his sincerety when he quotes verses to indicate that Islam neither condones the killing of women and children in jihad, nor forces belief on people. That means little to the radical Islamists who exalt in slitting the throats of Jewish toddlers, or rape and kill children by the scores in a Russian school. His words offer little comfort to our Christian brothers and sisters in majority Muslim nations, where faith means at least dhimmitude and, all too often, martyrdom. And when Mr. al-Khatib opines that he offers not his opinions, but what the Quran actually teaches, we should take him about as seriously as we would a Dispensationalist Christian who claims that his really is the only biblical interpretation of the book of Revelation.

2) It's been nearly 40 years since the Munich Olympics and nearly a decade since 9/11. So, against a myriad of vidoes showing Muslims dancing in the streets and handing out sweets to celebrate such atrocities - against a deafening silence from the Muslim world each time some new heinous act is committed - I am supposed to be impressed that 100 Muslim scholars have (ever so tentatively and generally with qualification) publicly denounced violence?

Are you kidding?

I didn't get the sense that the interviewer was reluctant to ask what young Muslims thought of Christianity. But since Joe brought it up, what exactly do our young Christians think of Islam? It's unfortunate that most of us Christians would be hard pressed to cite, let alone have a real understanding of our own Bible, while we profess to know exactly what the Qur'an would have Muslims believe. Dialogs such as this interview must continue if we are to understand one another.

About the interview with Zacharia al Khatib. Suppose that we were to interview one of our own Bible scholars, theologians, etc.--maybe at Calvin Seminary--asking questions like these.
1. What does the Bible say about herem?
2. What happened to the Amalekites--i.e., what happened to the men, the women, the children, the babies, the livestock?
3. According to the Bible, what did God have to do with that?
Maybe putting an interview like that beside the Zacharia interview would generate some useful further conversations.

Instead of practicing warcraft I wish that monies could be spent to send western-based Islamic scholars to violent Muslim countries to announce what the Qu'ran really says. The World Council of Reformed Churches could fund this. Mission would be done!

Instead of practicing warcraft I wish that monies could be spent to send western-based Islamic scholars to violent Muslim countries to announce what the Qu'ran really says. The World Council of Reformed Churches could fund this. Mission would be done!

Instead of practicing warcraft I wish that monies could be spent to send western-based Islamic scholars to violent Muslim countries to announce what the Qu'ran really says. The World Council of Reformed Churches could fund this. Mission would be done!

Love is important in any ministry..Jesus showed us this in many ways..some of which were confronting...and MOST important is prayer..knowledge of what one is praying about and knowing that when one prays against Allah you are praying against a high ranking demon..Jesus died for salvation for Muslums and He will save them if they ask Him to be their Savior and He will protect us with his blood! PTL!

Jihad – What does the Qur’an Really say?

The Qur’an says many things about jihad. Contradictory things, in fact, which Islamists use to their advantage telling their listeners what they want to believe!

For over 30 years my path has taken me in and out of the Islamic world. I’ve lived and worked in Islamic countries, had Muslim associates, shared meals and fellowshipped with in them their homes and mine, and have several close friends who are Muslim background believers in Jesus.

I appreciate the Banner’s willingness to help us look at current issues by sharing an interview with a scholar of Islam. When reading it, Banner Readers need to know, however, that we read and understand it with a Western mind (a mind which has its roots in Judeo-Christian thought). That is quite different from the mind of a person of Middle Eastern culture that has its roots elsewhere. Westerners and in particular, western Christians tend to take statements at face value which can be very dangerous when dealing with Islamists.

First, we need to know that Islam teaches that deception is justified in many situations, one of which is when Muslims are involved in jihad. As infidels (unbelievers in Islam) we should, therefore, expect to hear deceptive talk from Islamists. They will tell us that Islam is a peaceful religion. This is because Muslims are a minority in the US and Canada. By contrast look at those countries where they are gaining strength or are in the majority.

Second, we need to know that the peaceful verses in the Qur’an which were quoted by Zacharia Al Khatib were “received” by Mohammed in the early part of his life when he and his followers lived in Mecca and were in the minority and seeking acceptance from their neighbors. Years later when Mohammed and his followers had moved to Medina and had achieved a position of power he “received” verses that spurred them to use force and violence in dealing with infidels. The early and the later verses contradict each other. Islamic scholars resolve the conflict by saying the later verses abrogate the early ones. Consequently, contrary to what Islamists would have westerners believe, the Qur’an does teach “jihad” to mean a physical struggle.

Finally, you should note that after proclaiming Islam to be a peaceful religion Zacharia Al Khatib justifies the use of violence against the west because of the numerous injustices committed by the west against developing nations.

In my response, I have directed my comments against to Islamists and not to Muslims. Islam is a political/religious system. Muslims are men, women and children just like you and me and our families. They need the Savior, Jesus, just as we do. They have been kept in the dark by Satan’s lies for centuries but praise God thousands are coming to know the truth. Love them and pray for them.

Richard Smits' comments are right on. Ask yourself when you have heard Muslims (whether scholars or "the street"), publicly denounce any specific terrorist act. A few who have dared and are still alive live in hiding. The Muslim world greets each succeeding act of terror with either celebration or silence. It is one thing to abstractly claim the Quran does not call for jihad against women and children. It would be another thing altogether for Muslims to openly and publicly condemn the terrorists who intentionally target women and children. I hear a lot of the one thing - none of the other. But there is a pretty easy way to see if I am right....

Consider just two attacks by Islamic terrorists aimed directly at children: a) the recent throat-slitting of Jewish toddlers and young children on a settlement in the West Bank; b) the wholesale rape and slaughter of young students at a school in Beslan, Russia in 2004. Will Mr. al-Khatib specifically and publicly in The Banner condemn these two attacks and the Islamists who carried them out? I hope to read his response in The Banner.

GAV8mArticles in The Banner on controversial subjects should be balanced. "What the Qur'an Really Says about Jihad" represents what Muslims in the West claim, that Jihad is primarily an effort exerted by Muslims to live faithfully in the "Path of Allah."

However, the Qur'an does not simply say "Let there be no compulsion in religion" [2:256] but equally asserts that "Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam, And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him" [3:85].

For an unbiased and scholarly understanding of Jihad, please read Dr. Ernest Hahn's article on Jihad:


I have a little article of my own. It's quite short, and it's called "Holy War: What Does the New Testament Really Say?"

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."

Matthew 10:34

End of article.

I just compared the above article with one by a Christian well versed in Arabic and in jihad. Listen to a few of his words to see how easy it is to whitewash Islam. Mark Durie, who spoke at Calvin Seminary--a best kept secret...look up his videos in their on-line archive, states:
"When Sura 9:29 is translated as 'Fight the People of the Book', without any qualification, this misleads English speaking readers. Clearer might be 'Engage in a deadly fight with the People of the Book'. And when Sura 9:123 says 'O you who believe, fight the disbelievers who are close to you', this could be better translated as 'Fight a deadly war against the disbelievers'."
As your astute readers know, these verses refer to both Jews and Christians. Is it not high time that the Banner publishes excepts of material of Durie's caliber to present a more balanced picture? Calls, as well, to suspend quick judgments, otherwise could have the look and feel of trying to soften me up as a---might I use a coldwar term?---useful idiot? I hope not.

After studying the Muslim religion using various Christian authors, it appears that a large piece missing in this discussion is the Hadith, or "compendium" to the Quran. When pressed, Muslims will say they accept the teachings in the Hadith at the same level as the Quran. If one digs into those writings, it is obvious that we do not serve the same God, and the Prophet was not all that peace loving toward infidels.

Responding to Salaam Corniche: Mark Drurie is an associate of Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, two woefully under-educated fabulists who have managed to turn their ignorance into gold.

They are the chief promoters of the notion that "the Koran has never been properly translated," a notion that got a thoroughgoing debunking from Reuel Marc Gerecht, an editor at the extreme right-wing WEEKLY STANDARD and a former CIA intelligence analyst who is hardly a friend of radical Islam.

When you're off to the right of the WEEKLY STANDARD, you're nearly off the scale.

See Jeffrey Goldberg's column in the Atlantic of Oct 13 2010.

Mr. George Mavrodes overelooked the fact that the events that took place during the occupation of Canaan have never been regarded by Christians as normative for the NT age. On the other hand, the Qur'anic chapters regarding "Jihad in the Pathway of Allah," (622-632 AD)have not been abrogated, and thus remain normative in Islam.

The contrast between the spread of Christianity and Islam illustrates the radical difference between the two faiths. Christianty spread by proclamation and witnessing; Islam spread through "Futuhat" (conquests)which were final, except in Spain and the Balkans.
To learn more about this topic, please consult:

In reference to several comments below, how is it that, if the root of the problem is the Koran, there is such an inverse relation between knowing it deeply and a propensity to religious violence?

As former CIA analyst and Middle East expert Reuel Marc Gerecht has written, "few terrorists have had any proper clerical training. A rigorous Islamic education may make you a killjoy, but it doesn’t make you a terrorist. If the empirical record tells us anything, it’s that a skimpy Islamic education combined with a mediocre—even a decent—Western education seems much more likely to produce an explosive mix."

Gerecht, an editor at the conservative WEEKLY STANDARD, goes on: "The blanket demonization of the Holy Law can lead one to view Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the most revered Shiite thinker in the world, and one who tried desperately and selflessly to keep his country from descending into internecine savagery, as a bigot and a terrorist engine. The same would be true for the late Grand Ayatollah Ali Montazeri, the spiritual father of Iran’s Green Movement and the nemesis of Ali Khamenei, Iran’s ruler, himself a very mediocre student of the Sharia."

With all due respect Pastor Oosterhuis, I think your guest is glossing things over a little.

I would invite you to copy & paste the following 4 part free on-demand video of a former Muslim who converted to Christianity. He was able to recite the Qur’an at age 9. His story is incredibly insightful as well as heartwarming. Below is a brief description of the video and further down is the link.
Daniel Shayesteh was many things: radical Muslim, active militant, Iranian fundamentalist, death row inmate . . . but today, Daniel is a born-again Christian! He travels throughout the world revealing the hate-based teachings of the Qur'an—Islam’s holy book—and shines light on the truth of the Bible. Watch this informative, illustrated testimony as he shares his miraculous escape from darkness.


I found the article to be a singular, sanitized slice of what is generally held by Muslims in the West: that Jihad is mainly about the personal struggle and effort put forth by Muslims to live out their faith. Many of the Koran's verses show an invitation to the infidel
to submit to Islamic domination – under the shadow of war. Of course, this is intended to make acceptance of the invitation compulsory. Word and sword are both a part of Jihad, each yoked equally. Radical Islam is a totalitarian ideology; a way of life designed to completely dominate mosque and state – sacred and secular. Far too often, the resulting violence, bloodshed and death are the regrettable consequences. Hardly a day goes by without brutal and violent acts of radical Islamic terror – done in the name of Allah and called jihad. Although, many Muslims are not radical Islamists, the practices of radical Islamists are dangerous and vile. They degrade and murder and maim seeking to impose a world-wide dictatorial theocracy . Let's not be shy about letting the light shine on evil when it needs to be called evil and when all things possible must be done to ensure its defeat. Please do not confine the discussion of Islamic Jihad only to the mild personal exertions put forth by individual Muslim believers. Our allegiance to truth requires that we also acknowledge the harsh and growing severity of radical jihad as practised by extreme islamists, around the world today.

Having followed considerable news on jihad related matters on Robert Spencer and company's www.jihadwatch.com, I sometimes fall almost into despair if there is anything a normal citizen can do. It was kind of a breath of fresh air to find a website called Citizen Warrior which has as its heading "There are many ways to wage jihad. All of them must be stopped — without racism or hatred." It seems that site is more pro-active, maybe not as Christian as I would like but it seems to have a good balance of tough-mindedness and tender-heartedness. Has anyone else seen it? www.citizenwarrior.com

Thank you Dan Flikweert, Bassam Madany, Arnold, and others for your insightful comments.
We have had the sanitized version of Islam appear regularly in the Religion section and op-ed pages of our local newspaper as in "Read the Koran Don't Burn It."
The problem one has with that simple-minded statement is that from my understanding the 9/11 bombers and the British terrorists were generally well educated even by western standards. Also, the Masras (spelling?) in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere require memorization of the Koran so Koran illiteracy does not seem to be the Islamic problem.
From what I gather, they read and re-read the Koran and gleaned from it their acts of violence.

Within a block of my home is a local mosque--always peaceful but I do not extrapolate from that to all of Islam.

I just read the speech by Geert Wilders at a church in Tennessee, and then saw the video of a presentation by Bill Warner of Political Islam at the same venue. Warner has produced a very insightful book called Can We Talk? It is an example of very clear and factual thinking based not on the spin doctors, but on what the Sunnah---example of M'd, the Hadiths and the Qur'an say. I think Warner would agree with other contributors that the sanitized view of "Official Islam" on jihad is just that. Hope the Banner has the courage to print stuff like Warner and Wilders are putting out there.
Thanks Verney.

Tom, while Qur'an 2:256 says "there is no compulsion in religion." There are, however, innumerable means of coercion used by Muslims once they take charge and intended to make life so inconvenient, unpleasant, intolerable, and dangerous to 'non-believers'. That strategy is enshrined in Qur'an 9:29, which only offers non-Muslims conversion, subjugation, or war. You don't have to convert, you just have to become a dhimmi and pay 'Jizja'. The 25, 35, or 50% tax on all your assets every year. Don't want to do that? Well then; its war and you brought it on yourself.

This a religion that values 'taqiyya', the right to lie to non-muslims to advance Islam. They intend to destroy you and your beliefs the moment they think they can get away with it. The Muslim and the Christian God are no more alike than Hindus and the Mayans.