Ali Sina's open letter to Prof. Michael Sells
University of North Carolina decided to familiarize its freshmen
students with Islam. That is a noble thought. They chose a book called
"Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations,". But this
apparently commendable act became highly controversial. It became
controversial because that book does not represent the whole truth.
The early revelation was written when Muhammad was weak and it does
not include any of he violent and bloody verses of the Quran. Those
verses are in the later revelations, when Muhammad escaped to Medina
and started to gain power through raiding caravans and killing the
Jews and looting their belongings. The following is Ali Sina's open
letter to Professor Michael Sells the author of the book
"Approaching the Quran".
Dear Prof. Sells;
I read your write up entitled “Understanding,
Not Indoctrination” in Washingtonpost.com Thursday, August 8,
I have to say that as an ex-Muslim I was not very much impressed.
I believe your comparison of Islam with Christianity and Judaism was
unfair. I have to emphasize that I am not a religious person at all.
Yet in all fairness I see no similarities between Islam and other
You spoke of the book of Joshua. Of course that book and the books
prior to that present Jehovah as a ruthless tyrant. It is amazing that
people can still believe in a such bloodthirsty deity. Yet as Biblical
scholars such as Richard Elliott Friedman have demonstrated those
stories may not be even true. As a matter of fact the very existence
of Mosses is questionable. However, Even if we accept those tales as
historical the mandates given to Moses and Joshua were exclusively
given to them and they are not binding on or required from the
believers. In nowhere in the Old or New Testaments we find injunctions
given to the believers of all times to kill and loot the infidels.
Therefore if Christians in any moment of history have used the
scriptures to persecute and kill, they have done it by misinterpreting
and abusing the teachings of their books. If you disagree with me
please show me your evidence.
Nevertheless the Quran is filled with injunctions that call the
believers to be harsh with the unbelievers and kill them wherever they
wrote, “But most Muslims interpret these in the
context of early war between Muhammad's followers and their opponents.
They no more expect to apply them to their contemporary non-Muslim
friends and neighbors than most Christians and Jews consider
themselves commanded by God, like the Biblical Joshua, to exterminate
It is true that “most Muslims” do not apply the violent verses
of the Quran to their contemporary non-Muslim friends. But your book
is not about Muslims and whether they practice what the Quran teaches
or not. Your book is about the Quran and you were not truthful in
representing that book. These are two different issues. The reason
most Muslims today do not strap bombs to their waists and blow up
innocent people or do not contemplate killing their non-Muslim
neighbors is because they are wishy-washy Muslims and do not really
practice what Quran requires from them. Even the Prophet had problem
with this. Arabs were a violent folk, but still they were reluctant to
fight for religion. Actually prior to Islam there were no religious
hostilities among the Arabs that comprised idolaters, Jews and
Christians. Most of the early believers disliked fighting. The Prophet
had to coax them with the following verse:
“Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it
is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you”? (Q.2:216).
Is really fighting good for people? But when this did not work he
coerced them with the following:
“Unless ye go forth, He (Allah) will punish you with a
grievous penalty, and put others in your place”?
Actually a great part of the Quran is about inciting the believers
to kill the infidels. But as you know perfectly part of the Quran was
written in Mecca and the other part in Medina. The part that was
written in Mecca contains all the “nice” verses. The violent and
harsh verses are all to be found in the second part or the “later
Moreover you certainly must know that the later revelation abrogates
most of the more pleasant teachings of the early revelation.
Perhaps the best person to clarify this question is Dr. Muhsin.
Khan the translator of Sahih Bukhari and the Quran into English who
"Allah revealed in Sura Bara'at (Repentance, IX) [the order to
discard (all) obligations (covenants, etc), and commanded the Muslims
to fight against all the Pagans as well as against the people of the
Scriptures (Jews and Christians) if they do not embrace Islam, till
they pay the Jizia (a tax levied on the Jews and Christians) with
willing submission and feel themselves subdued (as it is revealed in
9:29). So the Muslims were not permitted to abandon "the
fighting" against them (Pagans, Jews and Christians) and to
reconcile with them and to suspend hostilities against them for an
unlimited period while they are STRONG and have the ability to fight
against them. So at first "the
fighting" was forbidden, then it was permitted, and after that it
was made obligatory "[Introduction to English
translation of Sahih Bukhari, p.xxiv.]
As a matter of fact Islamic scholars developed a “science” to
determine which verses are abrogated and which ones are the abrogators.
This science is called nasekh va mansookh.
I have clarified this controversy in this
I am sure a person of your caliber is familiar with this Islamic
science and knows perfectly that the later revelations annulled the
early revelations. This is known to all the Muslim scholars as well as
to the terrorists who put those teachings into practice. They know
perfectly which part of the Quran overrides which part. The
Meccan part however, although mostly abrogated is often used by
Islamic apologists to softsell their harsh religion and fool the
gullible westerner by showing them the nice part of the Quran that is
What surprised me is that in compiling your book “Approaching the
Quran” you deliberately chose the Meccan Suras. In an introduction
to your book you wrote:
“A general introduction to the Qur'an and its role in Islamic
culture; new translations of the early Meccan Suras with facing
commentaries; …The goal is to make the early Meccan period of
the Qur'an, in its literary and oral qualities, approachable and
accessible to those not conversant in Arabic.” http://www.haverford.edu/relg/sells/home.html
My question to you Sir is WHY? Why you deliberately tried to hide
the bitter fact that Quran is a textbook for terrorism? You knew that
the Meccan Suras are softer and those of the “later revelation”
are violent, brutal, cruel, and inhumane. Why did you make a
deliberate choice to softsell the Quran by publishing a book that
shows only the tolerant part of it? Is this intellectual honesty? Why
did you want to hide the fact that Quran contains also many hundreds
of stern verses like exhorting the believers to fight the Christians
and the Jews until they pay Jizya submissively and feeling subdued?
you did not mention that Quran also teaches:
“ Fight the
unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you.
“Take not the
Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but
friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to
them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people”
the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find
them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them
each ambush. (Q.9:5).
Pagans are unclean” (Q.9:28,.
“Take not for
protectors your fathers and your brothers if they love infidelity
above Faith: if any of you do so, they do wrong.” (Q.9:23),
them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.” (Q.2:193).
“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.” (Q.47:4).
instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above
their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them." (Q.8:12).
These horrendous verses and hundreds more like these are not part
of the early revelation.
Mr. Sells, I am a member of a rapidly growing movement of
ex-Muslims who are determined to unveil the truth and present the real
face of Islam to the world. We are not an “organization”. We do
not have leaders or directors. But we work together, exchange ideas
and try to make sure that truth is not sacrificed at the altar of
Political Correctness or slaughtered by unscrupulous individuals who
would sell even their souls for money. Our movement is very new. But
we are already a few hundred strong and counting. We meet in cyber
space and often fear for our own safety. This is our website. www.faithfreedom.org
Please pay us a visit in our forum.
Believe it or not there have been individuals with titles such as
“doctors” who have written the most ludicrous dissertations trying
to convince their uneducated readers that Quran is scientific. Those
“doctors” made a total fool of themselves in the scientific
circles but they were rewarded handsomely by Saudi ruling families and
that is what counts (for many).
Of course that is not applicable in your case. I do not doubt your
integrity and would never suggest that you were bribed to softsell the
violent Islam by hiding deliberately its harsh verses. That is why I
am writing to you and request you to clarify this matter for me and
for hundreds of other members of our movement who come from Islamic
background, who have read the Quran and who do not think that you were
Would you be kind enough to tell us why Mr. Sells? For many of us
this is an important issue. Many of us have lost loved ones to Islam.
Our countries have been ruined by this cult. Our people have sunk into
misery. Death, poverty, wars, fratricide, illiteracy have engulfed us.
And we see Islam as the culprit. Now we are coming together and want
to liberate our people from the bondage of this evil cult and remove
the shackles of lies and deceits from their minds. Yet we are
astounded to see that there are respectable intellectuals in the West
who go out of their way to masquerade a lie, sugarcoat it and sell it
to trusting young kids who strive for knowledge and they are taught
ignorance. If this is a joke it is a cruel joke. We want an
explanation Mr. Sells. Please tell us why!
You wrote, “But well before Sept. 11, I had
called for the overthrow of the criminal Taliban regime and warned of
the danger posed by the extremist Wahhabi version of Islam being
promoted in Saudi Arabia.”
I am quite surprised that you cannot see that
Wahhabism and Talibanism are Islam. Please tell us what they do that
is contrary to the teachings of the Quran? Khomeini did the same
things that Muhammad did. These “extremists” are the real and true
Muslims. It is a fallacy to believe that there is an Islam somewhere
that is peaceful, tolerant, moderate or compromising. If such thing
exists it is not Islam. Of course there are Muslims who are peaceful,
tolerant and moderate, but this has nothing to do with Islam. These
people are tolerant and peaceful to the same extent that they are not
Muslims and do not live by the teachings of the Quran.
You quoted Pat Robertson's question “How can we
trust our Muslim neighbor or colleague, knowing that behind a gesture
of friendship may lie an intention to kill?”. The answer is:
Ask him how much he believes in Islam! If you see him reading
the Quran, observing his prayers, going to the mosque, wearing beard
and Islamic outfits, fear him. He could actually be contemplating to
kill you. And this is the plain truth, whether you like to hear it or
not. If you do not believe me go to a mosque and listen to what they
preach there. And yes Islam is your enemy as it has been our enemy for
the last 1400 years. Islam is the enemy of mankind.
If most Muslims overlook the violent verses of
the Quran the credit should go to them and not to Islam. We are not
talking about the Muslims. The majority of Muslims are peace loving,
friendly and warm people who would not hurt anyone. It is thanks to
this innate goodness of this majority that life still continues in
Islamic countries. If you see your Muslim neighbor is amicable, loyal,
helpful and loving it is because he is a good person. Islam calls for
killing, looting, enslaving and raping the unbelievers. Be grateful
that he is not a good Muslim. We fight against Islam not the Muslims.
Nobody is accusing Muslims, who are as good as anybody else. What you
have done Sir, is misrepresenting the truth. You hid the facts and did
not tell the whole truth. The real Islam is what became of it
after the later revelations were written down. But you hid that fact
and preferred to dwell on the early revelations. Your work is as
honest as someone trying to find a soother for an old and ugly woman
by showing a picture of her youthful years. My question to you is WHY?
August 28, 2002
The above letter was sent to Prof. Sells on Aug 28 but up to this
date he has not responded. Please write to him and tell him that you
are interested to read his response.
Sells: [email protected]
of UNC: [email protected]
Ernst: [email protected]
Carl Ernst is
professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina and
author of The Shambhala Guide to Sufism. He wrote:
Sells is to be congratulated for making a major contribution to
religious literature with Approaching The Qur'An, the best version of
Muslim scriptures available in English. This is an important and
illuminating work, one that will be welcomed by scholars, students,
believers, and all who seek to better understand Islam and its sacred
Other letters to Mr. Sells
Dear Professor Sells:
I have read your write up entitled “Understanding, Not
Indoctrination” in Washingtonpost.com Thursday, August 8, 2002
and have also read an open letter to you dated August 28,
2002 from Ali Sina of www.faithfreedom.org
I am very interested to see your response and hope to
read it soon.
Professor Sells, you may find it of interest to know that I
only came across Mr. Ali Sina's open letter to you today,
prior to that I had no knowledge that his website even existed.
I can assure you however, that what he has to say needs
to be heard.
Mr. Sina is correct that the truth needs to be told and not
sacrificed at the altar of political correctness. It is my
hope and prayer that The Washington Post as well has the courage
to present all views on this matter and not only yours.
Professor Sells, I am an American citizen who works and resides in
a Muslim country. I am also an now an ex-muslim.
If caught I can be executed for apostasy and yes I am in
fear of my life. So much for there being no compulsion in
For several years I studied Islam in one of the local universities
here by taking evening courses. Like John Walker Lindh I constantly
studied and searched for the real Islam, the purist form. I
strove to follow the Quran to the letter. I converted
to Islam so that I could marry my wife which happens to be the law
here. During my free time, I taught English in a local
Madrassah. It was during this time back in 1999 when I
began to seriously question Islam. On a few occasions
I was threatened simply for asking questions concerning my new
religion. I was then reminded that the penalty for blasphemy
I began to question whether Islam was truly a religion or was it
in fact a theocratic form of government. Muslims themselves
will tell you that Islam is not just a religion but rather "a
way of life". Islam is a way a life, it is a way of
life that will destroy the America and Democracy if
Dear Mr. Ali Sina
I only came across your website today and am pleased to find
it. I admire you for having the courage to do what so many others
have not. Please let me know how I can help. Sincerely,
You have already done
your help. That is the kind of help I need. We need people to take
active role in our cause. We need manpower and brainpower to fight
the ignorance that is permeating not just the Islamic world but
also the politically correct western world.
Please write articles,
send them to media and counter Islamic falsehood in every way you
can. Also spread the name of faithfreedom.org in where ever is
Write a testimonial and
Why some western writers defend Islam and try to portray it
as a religion of peace? A member of the our forum believes:
"Some of these are academics who receive grants from petro
$ wealthy Islamic sources"
What is your opinion?