This On Faith piece asking “Do critics actually read the Koran” is an interesting quick read:
And if nothing else, long live the Golden Rule. Muslims read the Bible and the Torah and Islam proudly testifies that previous scriptures contain truth. (I personally own—and study—a copy of each). Let us do unto Muslims…
But unfortunately, all we hear from the critics is that the Koran is a “hate-filled holy book” and that “Muslims are dangerous” are verse excerpts like this: “And kill them wherever you meet them…” (2:192). While critics scoff at the “you’re taking it out of context” argument, any judge in any court in any country in any era will explain the uncompromising importance of context when interpreting laws. And that is one thing the Koran is—a book of laws.
The verse previous to 2:192 states: “And fight in the cause of God against those who fight against you, but do not transgress,”—specifying that fighting is defensive, not preemptive. The rest of 2:192 adds: “and drive them out from where they have driven you out; for persecution is worse than killing,”—explaining the right to reclaim rightful property. While the aforementioned verses permit Muslims to fight defensively, the subsequent verses (2:193-94) demand Muslims desist fighting immediately when their opponents desist, “But if they desist, then remember that no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors.”
This principle is re-iterated throughout the Koran. In fact, 22:40 establishes the rules of war, “Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged.” Then, 22:41 commands Muslims to protect all houses of worship—cloisters, churches, synagogues, and mosques—to secure universal religious freedom. Such intolerable hatred, no?
Read the rest here.
I have not actually read the Koran, primarily because the copies that I have are in Arabic. I’m also not much of a critic of the Koran. I have, however, talked with Rabbi Reuven Firestone, an Islamic scholar, about what the Koran says about Jews, and have discussed what Ali Eteraz had to say about the Koran’s description of Jews as “apes” and “swine.”