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Clarification

In the Jan. 24 issue, the article "Can Musharraf reform jihadi culture?" (page 8) quotes Pakistani journalist Arif Jamala, who explains that there are two deep-rooted sources of Islamic violence - religious scriptures, and grinding poverty. "The Koran says clearly that Christians and Jews should be killed. You can't ban the words of the prophet, and you can't ban the Koran."

While some mullahs in Pakistan may be teaching this, Muslim scholars don't all agree on this interpretation of the Koran.

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"He is probably referring to verse 29 of Surat al-Tauba (also identified as Koran 9:29.)," says John Kelsay, head of the religion department at Florida State University and author of the book "Islam and War."

"The verse commands the Muslims to fight against 'those who have received Scripture' (which would include Jews, Christians, and others according to the Koranic pattern) 'until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low,' " says Professor Kelsay. "However, the statement in your story is a terrible misrepresentation of the verse."

In full, the text reads: "Fight against those who have received Scripture, yet do not acknowledge God or the last Day, and do not forbid that which is forbidden by God and his messenger, and do not follow the religion of truth."

The entire chapter, says Dr. Kelsay, is concerned with the problem of people who have treaty arrangements with the Muslims and then break them.

"While the verses are not uncontroversial," he says, "the simplest way to read them is as a command to fight those who by their behavior show themselves treacherous, and thus dangerous, to the security of the Muslim community."


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