Trying to understand the Taliban by studying a few passages from their holy book

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.


Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.

What does the Quran really teach — per the English translations? Most non-Muslim people have likely not read the Koran. Depending on who did the translation, the name of their holy book is spelled either way and sometimes also with an apostrophe after the Qur, as in Qur’an. Each one of my three copies uses a different spelling of that word, but I will only be offering passages from two of them.
What does the word Quran mean? In English, the meaning of the term ‘Quran’ is derived from ‘al-Qar’ meaning ‘to collect,’ or from ‘Qara’ (to recite). Thus, it is called ‘the Quran’ for it is a Book to be recited and read, because the revelation began with the word ‘Read!’ in Surah 96:1.
Universally accepted by Muslims to be the infallible Word of God as revealed to Mohammad by the Angel Gabriel nearly fourteen hundred years ago, the Koran still provides the rules of conduct fundamental to the Arab way of life.
Just as it would be impossible to know the Bible from a sample reading (and which translation would one read?), so too would it be impossible to know the Qur’an from a sample reading, especially in an English translation, which is why all believers of the book are required to read it in Arabic. Still, a sampling will give one a feel for the way of the book.
Following are passages from the two translations that I have copied exactly as the translations have them,  punctuation and all.
From the translation by Abdullah Yusef Ali: Surah 2: The Heifer 120. Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with you unless you follow their form of religion. Say: The Guidance of Allah, — that is the (only) Guidance.” If you were to follow their desires after the knowledge which has reached you, then you would find neither Protector nor helper against Allah.
190. Fight in the cause of Allah, those who fight you but do not transgress; for Allah does not love transgressors.
191. And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.
Surah 4: The Women 74. Let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. To him who fights in the cause of Allah, — whether he is slain or gets victory — soon shall We give him a reward of great (value).
75. And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? – men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect; and raise for us from You one who will help!”
76. Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject faith fight in the cause of Evil: so you fight against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan.
84. Then fight in Allah’s cause — you are held responsible only for yourself — and rouse the Believers. It may be that Allah will restrain the fury of the Unbelievers; for Allah is the strongest in might and punishment.
88. Why should you be divided into two parties about the Hypocrites? Allah has upset them for their (evil) deeds. Would you guide those whom Allah has thrown out of the way? For those whom Allah has thrown out of the way, you will never find the way.
From the translation by N. J. Dawood
Surah 4: Women
91. Others you will find who seek security from you as well as from their own people. Whenever they are called back to sedition they plunge into it headlong. If these do not keep their distance from you, if they neither offer you peace nor cease their hostilities against you, lay hold of them and kill them wherever you may find them. Over such men We give you absolute authority.
93. He that kills a believer by design shall burn in Hell for ever. He shall incur the wrath of God, who will lay His curse on him and prepare for him a mighty scourge.
95. The believers who stay at home — apart from those that suffer from a grave disability — are not the equals of those who fight for the cause of God with their goods and their persons. God has exalted the men who fight with their goods and their persons above those who stay at home. God has promised all a good reward; but far richer is the
recompense of those who fight for Him: ranks of His own bestowal, forgiveness, and mercy. Surely God is forgiving and merciful.
Surah 5: The Table 15 – 18. People of the Book! Our apostle has come to reveal to you much of what you have hidden of the Scriptures, and to forgive you much. A light has come to you from God and a glorious Book, with which God will guide to the paths of peace those that seek to please Him; He will lead them by His will from darkness to the light; He will guide them to a straight path.
Unbelievers are those who declare: ‘God is the Messiah, the son of Mary.’ Say: ‘Who could prevent God, if He so willed, from destroying the Messiah, the son of Mary, his mother, and all the people of the earth? God has sovereignty over the heavens and the earth and all that lies between them. He creates what He will; and God has power over all things.
The Jews and the Christians say: ‘We are the children of God and His loved ones.’ Say: ‘Why then does He punish you for your sins? Surely you are mortals of His own creation. He forgives whom He will and punishes whom He pleases. God has sovereignty over the heavens and the earth and all that lies between them. All shall return to Him.
38. As to the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in Power.
51. Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number. God does not guide the wrongdoers.
Surah 8: The Spoils 12-17 God revealed His will to the angels, saying: ‘I shall be with you. Give courage to the believers. I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers!’
Believers, when you encounter the infidels on the march, do not turn your backs to them in flight. If anyone on that day turns his back to them, except for tactical reasons, or to join another band, he shall incur the wrath of God and Hell shall be his home: an evil fate.
It was not you, but God, who slew them. It was not you who smote them; God smote them so that He might richly reward the faithful: God hears all and knows all.
And so it goes. Perhaps the Taliban are not all believers. Perhaps they just like the killing and torturing. But knowing that killing and torturing is in their book, we’d better never take their beliefs too lightly.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at

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