Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

Islamic preachers warn of deliberate distortion of Quran by extremists

Majlis Mohamed Bin Zayed explores how radical groups manipulate religious texts

Guests attend Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. Eissa Al Hammadi for the Ministry of Presidential Affairs
Guests attend Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. Eissa Al Hammadi for the Ministry of Presidential Affairs

Islamic preachers have highlighted how extremists deliberately manipulate religious texts in an effort to support their twisted ideologies.

Experts said calculated distortions of the Quran were often used by radical groups to take advantage of vulnerable youngsters seeking theological guidance.

Speaking at Majlis Mohamed Bin Zayed on Wednesday, lecturers explained how even the concepts of jihad and hijra had become distorted.

They argued interpretation of religious texts was key, and that the willful misrepresentation of the Quran was a danger to Islam.

“Extremist groups have attempted to distort Quranic concepts and prophecies by quoting Sharia texts out of their historical and scientific contexts,” argued Maria Al Hatali, chief preacher at the General Authority For Islamic Affairs and Endowments.

The Majlis Mohamed Bin Zayed is hosted by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince in the capital each Ramadan.

Guests hear from a range of speakers who deal with issues ranging from religion to education to innovation.

Addressing the audience, Ms Al Hatali claimed one verse of the Quran was still being manipulated to encourage Muslims to leave the countries of their birth and return to their ‘homeland’.

The text reads: “He who forsakes his home in the cause of Allah, finds in the earth many a refuge, wide and spacious: Should he die as a refugee from home for Allah and his Messenger, his reward becomes due and sure with Allah: And Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."

“Yet, the migration referred to [in the Quranic verse] was specific to the time of the Prophet, when people did not enjoy freedom of belief and religion and their lives and property were under constant threat from the Quraish tribe in Makkah,” said Ms Al Hatali. “That is when God ordered them to migrate to Madinah.

Guests attend Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. Hamad Al Mansouri for the Ministry of Presidential Affairs
Guests attend Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. Hamad Al Mansouri for the Ministry of Presidential Affairs

“One may wonder why such groups manipulate the concept of hijra” she continued. The intention was to persuade individuals to travel to conflict zones where they could then be recruited to fight, she suggested.

Some radical groups had similarly manipulated texts referencing jihad, said Abdulrahman Al Shamsi, director of the preaching department at the General Authority For Islamic Affairs and Endowments.

They distorted verses to suit their cause, he said, specifically that Muslims should be prepared to fight anyone following a differing religion.

“In fact, there is nothing to indicate that the Prophet fought Mekkah's polytheists because they disagreed with his belief,” said the director.

Guests attend Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. Hamad Al Mansouri for the Ministry of Presidential Affairs
Guests attend Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. Hamad Al Mansouri for the Ministry of Presidential Affairs

“Even when he led an army against them, it was to make sure that the battle was not fought on his land, with the understanding that hostilities would end the moment Mekkah's polytheists ceased their aggression.”

He cited the Quranic verse which reads: “And if they incline towards peace, you should also incline towards it.”

“Clearly, there is nothing to support the extremists’ claim that those whose beliefs disagree with yours should be attacked,” he said.

“The Prophet would have never fought those who disagree with him in belief for the Quran is full of verses that speak of forgiveness, religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence.”

Updated: May 16, 2019 04:31 PM

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