Schwerin either has not seriously studied the Quran or he is defending Islam in the time-honored way, prevarication.
He complained that Sarrazin "does not discuss the ambiguity of the text nor its poetic dimension."
There is indeed a great deal of ambiguity and poetry in the Quran, but there's an interesting backstory to that.
The Quran is not arranged chronologically like the Bible. It is arranged by size of chapter, largest to smallest, making it difficult to determine the sequence of Muhammad's writings without thorough study, which is why devout Muslims study it closely.
Muslims believe that his later writings supersede his earlier ones in a process called abrogation. This explains why Islamic State, al-Qaeda, al-Shabab, and other Islamist groups honestly believe they are practicing correct Islam.
Almost all of the violent writings appear in the end of the Quran, chronologically-speaking, when Muhammad was safely in Medina. It's anyone's guess as to whether he was always violent and tempered his writings to avoid being prosecuted or he became much darker as he aged. Some of those violent passages are:
- "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.." (Quran 9:29). Note that suras 9 and 5 are the last major chapters that Muhammad narrated so they abrogate earlier suras, including the oft-quoted verse 2:256, "Let there be no compulsion in religion." Also note that "People of the Book" refers to Jews and Christians, with the book being the Bible.
- "Let his guardian dictate faithfully, and get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her." (Quran 2:282). It's rather misogynist to state that the testimony of a woman is only worth half that of a man.
- "When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear the Unbelievers May attack you: For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies." (Quran 4:101). For devout Muslims, disbelief of Islam by itself makes one an open enemy.
- "Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): 'I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.'" (Quran 8:12). This is one of the passages that Muslims remember when planning to behead a non-believer.
- "It is not fitting for an apostle that he should have prisoners of war until he hath thoroughly subdued the land." (Quran 8:67). It makes one want to channel one's inner Peter O'Toole and scream, "No prisoners!"
- "Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah.s Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost." (Quran 47:4). The part about binding a bond means to enslave, not to mention another reference to beheading.
And there are many more passages regarding women, the spoils of war (booty), violence, and other subjects, but very little regarding actual peace.
Very much unlike the Bible, which has a violent Old Testament followed by a New Testament featuring a pacifist Jesus, the Quran ends with the most violent parts, when both are considered chronologically.
Schwerin continued his attack on Sarrazin by opining that "his claim to be able to determine the core statements of Islam by reading the Quran without any knowledge of Arabic or theological background is an absurd presumption."
The Bible and associated documents were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, but one does not need to speak those languages to study them, as there are multiple translations and even online Bibles offering different versions at the click of a mouse. There are different translations of the Quran, as well as online ones.
But Schwerin really went off the rails with his comment that "the political ideology of Islamism is a product of modernity and that its interpretation is rejected by a great majority of Muslims. He does not say a word about the moderate versions of mystical Islam prevailing in most Muslim countries."
As I wrote before, Pew Research polled Muslims (read here and here) in a number of Islamic countries. They are not remotely moderate, as the percentage of Muslims who believe that suicide bombings are justified to defend Islam is 40% in Palestinian territories, 29% in Egypt, 39% in Afghanistan, 15% in Jordan, 15% in Turkey, 7% in Iraq, and 11% in Kosovo.
In Deutsche Welle's op-ed, Schwerin was described as a "freelance correspondent for various media in Istanbul," meaning that he hangs out with people who do not take Islam very seriously. They are the Islamic equivalent of lapsed Catholics who drink alcohol, take illegal drugs, sleep around, and generally disregard the Bible. Istanbul is a fun place, but Schwerin needs to get out of town more often.