Essay Title: 

Contrast the Quran passages of a peaceful nature with those of a violent or warlike nature.

br THE NATURE OF ISLAM : PEACEFUL OR WARLIKE

br Is the Quran , the holy book of Islam , a text promoting a violent and warlike nature or is it a text advocating a peaceful life

This question has a special relevance in the present context because Osama bin Laden , doubtlessly the world ’92s most widely known terrorist , claims that the Quran justifies his actions . 1 1 Reza Aslen , ’93The War For Islam ’94 The Boston Globe . Sep . 10 2006 , accessed Jan . 1 , 2007 . Available at . Internet . While bin Laden clearly does not [banner_entry_middle]

br represent all Muslims , and may indeed represent very few , one aspect of Islam gives bin Laden an appearance of authority : Islam is a religion without a formal hierarchy . As was pointed out in a recent Boston Globe column

[U]nlike Christianity , Islam has never had anything like a ’93Muslim pope ’94 or a ’93Muslim Vatican ’94 Religious authority in Islam is not centralized within a single individual or institution rather , it is scattered among a host of exceedingly powerful clerical institutions and schools of law

This authority , it must be understood , is self-conferred , not divinely ordained . Like a Jewish rabbi , a Muslim cleric is a scholar , not a priest . His judgment on a particular issue is respected and followed not because it carries the authority of God , but because the cleric ‘s scholarship is supposed to grant him deeper insight into what God desires of humanity .2 2Ibid

Osama bin Laden has conferred on himself the claim that he is the authoritative voice of Islam , and Islam , unfortunately , has no official or effective way to refute his claim .3 3Ibid

But does an examination of the Quran bear out bin Laden ’92s claims , or does it show Islam to be a religion of peace ? This question requires an examination of the Quran . The Quran consists of 114 surahs , and amounts to approximately 78 ,000 words . The surahs are arranged by The Nature of Islam : Peaceful or Warlike ? Page length , the longest appearing first , so that there is little thematic organization to the work .4 4Desmond Stewart , Early Islam (New York , New York : Time-Life Books , 1967 , 33-36

The precise meaning of a given verse or surah in the Quran is often unclear . The book was first written some 1400 years ago , so that many references are lost or distorted in time . Further , the Quran was compile some thirty years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad reportedly he told his disciples as the revealed word of God .5 5Ibid 33-35 Will Durant , The Age of Faith (New York , New York : Simon and Schuster , 1950 , 175-86 . It was largely a product of a culture of semi-nomadic tribesmen , proud clansmen who spent much of their time in tribal warfare .6 6Durant , 158 John Glubb , The Life and Times of Muhammad (Lanham , Maryland : Madison Books , 1998 , 25 . It is only by extrapolation and interpretation that many verses have significance in the modern context . Further , in the current , emotionally loaded setting , ’93objectivity ’94… [banner_entry_footer]

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