Critics of Islam have a penchant for ignoring completeness in quoting from the Quran. To me, it also appears the critics are also rather fond of re-framing verses in a man-made (read – agenda supporting) artificial context and. herein lies the rub. It serves no deep and lasting purpose to intentionally slant or spin something in order to support an argument or put a contrived “best face” on a matter. Those with even a modicum of desire to discover the truth of an issue will inevitably confront the ruse head on and know it for the blatant falsehood it is.
The only context that applies: The Quran is presented as the words of All Mighty God as told to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) by God's messenger of choice, the Angel Gabriel. That's the complete context, accept is or reject it, the choice is yours, but do not alter it in order to meet your needs.
I provide readers with two, simple, direct examples of how the critics typically operate and leave you to draw your own conclusions. If someone decides to conduct further research into the matter I suggest they first invest some time studying the Quran as it is properly the sole authoritative document.
Adding Context that Distorts:
Say: O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship, nor will ye worship that which I worship. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship, nor will ye worship that which I worship. To you be your Way, and to me mine. (109:1-6)
If you read the Sura above it is readily apparent that those that follow Islam want no truck with those who believe in other faiths. In clear language is the open declaration that no exchange is desired, no dialogue being solicited, and no wish to intermingle expressed. That is the whole of it, a straight forward declaration of you do your thing and I'll do mine.
However, I have encountered several instances in which non-Islamic sources have spun this straight forward assertion into something insidious and evil. The tactic typically employed is that of re-framing by way of adding context and it unfolds in this fashion:
The Sura refers exclusively to a volatile dispute between the Prophet (PBUH) and the Pagan leadership of Mecca. In accordance with tradition, the Pagans attempted to craft a peace agreement in which the followers of the Prophet (PBUH) would accept the Pagan's gods as legitimate and the Pagans would then accept the God of Islam. Therefore, the Sura is not a declaration of tolerance but is only a rejection of Islam intermingling with Paganism.
Two defects that undermine the critics:
The Quran is accepted by the followers of Islam to be the direct word of All Mighty God. It is a complete rendering of God's Law as applied to earthly living. Re-framing assumes that God didn't quite get it right and there is additional human commentary needed in order to clarify what God meant to say. This completely negates the concept of an Omnipotent Being (God) and reduces the document to a secular work in progress set of laws.
Critics who use this tactic are contemporary writers far removed for the event that was the Prophet's (PBUH) life and most typically not followers of Islam but of another, some might say competing, religion. Regardless of a person's thoughts on the question of the Divine nature of the writings (Quran) it is inherently dishonest to take a Faith's authoritative text, put it in a speculation derived context, and then claim to have provided a necessary errata. Man playing God is an abomination to all Faiths.
Selectivity in Verse Presentation:
This is far and away the most common ploy utilized by critics of Islam and I'll use the most frequent example of this fallacy … the Sword Sura.
And slay them wherever ye catch them.... (2:191)
I most often encounter this selective argument used by fundamentalists of various persuasions who have, amazingly enough, managed to memorize all of one part of a verse and recite it endlessly as being representative of the entirety of Islamic thought and beliefs. The complete verse is as follows:
Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith. But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (2:190-192)
Even those un-initiated in the beast that is war can readily see that the complete verse refers to defense of self in battle. For those that are Veterans the verse is easily recognized as what we today term “Rules of Engagement” and I recall of my Drill Sergeant's constant reminder to us when in Basic Training: “Your sole purpose is to kill the enemies of America.” The nature of war is killing the enemy and the Sword Sura clearly states that when confronted by the enemy in battl kill them before they kill you.
Hopefully, I leave you with far more questions than answers as self-directed inquiry is the only way I am aware of to discover the personal truth of any given matter. What I would like to stress is that criticism is valid if and only if it is derived from honest and rigorous examination of an issue. Otherwise, criticism is nothing more than agenda mongering and who can honestly argue that such a thing is worthwhile and useful?