Religion Extremists take Quran passages out of context, Belnet founder says By Pat Gee Sept. 6, 2014 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! STAR-ADVERTISER<b>Saleem Ahmed: </b>The former East-West Center botanist founded the All Believers Network in 2003 to encourage harmony and peace among the world’s religions Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Saleem Ahmed, a Muslim who founded the All Believers Network (Belnet), says the Quran inspired him to start the interfaith group in 2003 to promote harmony and peace among the world’s diverse religions. "In the Quran, God says: ‘I have sent prophets to all nations of the world.’ Muhammad said there were over 124,000 messengers sent. That’s where I found the message to be very much the same, the Hindu text, Buddhist, text, et cetera," Ahmed said. This prompted his belief that "all spiritually based religions revere the same being," a conviction underscored by members of other faiths at Belnet’s workshop held Monday at the University of Hawaii, Ahmed said. An author and a former East-West Center botanist, Ahmed finds himself in the difficult position of defending Islam as a religion of peace to a public horrified by perpetual violence in the Middle East. The news has been saturated with coverage of fighting between Palestinian extremists led by Hamas radicals and the Jewish nation of Israel; and the terrorism of the Islamic State. Ahmed’s most recent book, published in 2008, is titled "Islam: A Religion of Peace?" In an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Ahmed said radicals who use certain passages (hadith) in the Quran to justify killing anyone who disagrees with their fundamentalist dogma believe that "If I kill infidels, I go to paradise; if I die for killing infidels, I will still go to paradise. "So to change their mentality that they will not go to paradise but to hell for killing innocent people will happen only after they realize that those verses were abrogated or superseded. "There are very violent passages … but they’re no longer relevant. That is no longer Islam," he added. The instructions from God on how to treat innocents, including enemies, were among the last passages written by the prophet Muhammad in verses 5.3 and 5.5. God said to Muhammad: "This day I have completed your religion. This day your religion is called ‘Islam,’" (Islam is defined as "submission," derived from a root word that means "peace.") "Unfortunately, the Quran is not chronologically arranged. … Muslims must recognize the context and chronology of his revelations," Ahmed said. He cited "The Life of Muhammad," written by Ibn Ishaq in the century after the prophet’s death, which provides evidence of when Muhammad wrote his last instructions to Muslims. (Visit www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/muhammadi-sira.asp.) Ahmed said Muslims should read books outside the Quran to better understand the chronology of the Muhammad’s writings and follow the Quran intellectually, not only emotionally. Conservative Muslim leadership "needs to be taken over by liberals" for peace to become a reality, he added. Previous Story West Oahu group forms new Unitarian branch Next Story Join others for 'journeys'