Muslims ask Rabbi to clarify remarks about Quran
A prominent national Islamic advocacy group today called on Rabbi Marvin Hier to clarify his accusation that the Quran, Islam's revealed text, holds "extremist" views. Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, made that claim during a discussion of the possibility of peaceful coexistence between Judaism, Christianity and Islam on CNN's Larry King Weekend last Saturday.
"Rabbi Hier's inaccurate and offensive claim that the Quran, the very bedrock of the Islamic faith, contains 'extremist' views is seemingly incompatible with his leading role in an institution that purports to promote tolerance and interfaith understanding. He should clarify these remarks to avoid tainting his museum's reputation with anti-Muslim bigotry," said Council on American-Relations (CAIR) Communications Director
Rabbi Hier told Larry King:
RABBI HIER: "There are direct references in the Quran to violence. I'll read one from the Quran: 'O you who believe, take not the Jews and Christians for friends. He among you who taketh them for friends is one of them.' And that's a quote from the Quran."
LARRY KING: "It doesn't say kill them."
RABBI HIER: "No, but it infers, of course, that there is a difference. And there are other quotes, as well. So if someone asks me straight: Are there any extremist views in the Quran? I would say yes."
A Muslim guest on the program, Dr. Maysam Al-Faruqi of Georgetown University, corrected Hier's mistranslation of the Quranic text. She said:
"The verse that the Rabbi actually quoted is not at all what he says. It is: 'Do not take Christians and Jews as auwliya,' which does mean friends, it means as overlords. In other words, people who will dictate to you your behavior. In fact, the verse that deals with friendship is that one that says: 'As for such as those who do not fight you on account of your faith and neither drive you forth from your homeland, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and equity, he only forbids you to turn in friendship to those who fight you because of your faith.'"
In its letter faxed to Rabbi Hier requesting the clarification and proposing a meeting with Muslim representatives, CAIR quoted the Quranic verse: "Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance." (16:125)
This controversy comes on the heels of a similar incident in which Christian evangelist Franklin Graham was widely criticized for claiming Islam is an "evil and wicked religion."