I'm quoting straight from the Qur'an: "Therefore let those fight in the way of Allah, who sell this world's life for the hereafter; and whoever fights in the way of Allah, then be he slain or be he victorious, We shall grant him a mighty reward." (Surah IV. 74)
I certainly do not claim to have a well-developed knowledge of the Qur'an and if a scholar were to demonstrate the context of these words as meaning something besides what they would appear to be out of their context, I would be open to listening. However, a simple concordance search of the Qur'an for a few key terms such as "fighting" or "war" or "jihad" produces several verses that address the topics such as this one, and such research is pretty easy for anyone to do.
The Pope Speaking Truth
In reference to the Pope's remarks which occurred nearly a week ago now, an article today in the NY Times seems to reflect a popular position on the Pope's remarks. Ian Fisher writes an article titled Many Muslims Say Pope's Apology Is Inadequate. Curiously, the premise of the article seems to be that the Pope should not have stated the things he said last Tuesday since the Pope offended people by his statement. Did the Pope speak accurately or did he make false accusations?
The main statement that the Pope made was a quotation of Manuel II Paleologus from the 14th Century which apparently reads, "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
The reaction in the Muslim world has been an uproar of protests and violent acts, interestingly, that are supposed to disagree with (and discredit?) the Pope's reference. Furthermore, as the article goes on to explain, the Pope has issued some sort of apology for the remark as others associated with the Vatican have been working to control the damage. From the vantage point of Fisher's article, the Pope needs to make sure that he has not offended the world of Islam - if "many Muslims" still feel offended by what the Pope said, then he needs to further apologize.
Mad, Mad World
Has the entire world gone mad? What Qur'an believing Muslim even believes the Pope has a right to live? Isn't the Pope an infidel like the rest of the non-Muslim world? Furthermore, if he had quoted from the Qur'an a passage similar to the one quoted above rather than a historical figure, would the rage about his statements be greater or lesser?
Recently Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's deputy leader, issued a new warning to the West essentially calling for conversion to Islam. Reaction of the West? Yawwwwnnnnn.
It's not that the West, or the U.S. specifically, does not take seriously the threat posed by al-Qaeda - in fact, the threat is very real and most people realize that there will be future attacks - it's the rhetoric of war that the world has been hearing from Islam ever since the Qur'an came into being.
Now, the view of al-Qaeda is not the view of every Muslim in the world, although I would argue that it seems to be that al-Qaeda's view is the most consistent in keeping with the actual words of the Qur'an. But the view today among Muslims that embraces jihad certainly has a very large following worldwide. Isn't part of the reaction to the Pope's words an ironic confirmation of the truth? If I tell another man that he is violent and he proceeds to beat me up for saying it (whether he denies it or not,) which of us is proven correct?