What's the deal?
There are some peaceful, tolerant verses in the Qur'an. But the violent, intolerant ones have nullified them. The Qur'an itself explains what to do with conflicting verses. If two passages conflict, it says, the one written later is better than the one written earlier. This is called the principle of abrogation.
The bad news for non-Muslims is that almost all the peaceful passages were written earlier, and the violent ones were written later.
The entire Qur'an was written by one man over a period of 23 years, and his revelations changed over that time. They became less tolerant and more vengeful. So that explains part of the confusion: Peaceful and tolerant verses are accurately quoted, and so are the intolerant and jihad-oriented verses. But there's more to clarify here.
Jihad warriors are sanctioned by Islam to practice deceit against non-Muslims. So some of the peaceful verses you hear quoted are being quoted by violent killers who know full well the verses they are quoting have been nullified. But they're using deceit as a weapon of war against the non-Muslims.
Another group who quotes peaceful passages from the Qur'an are those who wish to reform and modernize Islam. They have decided the intolerant and violent verses are invalid.
And finally, both the Islamic reformers and the jihadists assert quite emphatically and completely sincerely that Islam is a religion of peace. The reformers mean what we think they mean. The jihadists mean: Once all governments are run by Shari'a law, the world will be at peace; therefore Islam is a religion of peace.
Please share this email with everybody you know who doesn't know the above. It is short and to the point and can help clear up our collective confusion. No good policy decisions can be made in a state of confusion.