What about verses in the Qur’an that encourage you to kill non-believers wherever you find them?

This is a question that often comes up in critiques of Islam, especially in light of recent political events. It is incumbent on Muslims to respond to and clear misconceptions stemming from Islam’s perceived stance on violence and interfaith relations.

The Importance of Context

The word ‘context’ has two dictionary meanings:

• The parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect.

• The set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.

Any discussion on Qur’anic verses that refer to violence would be meaningless, without a study of the surrounding context. Before we study the verses in question, therefore, let us examine this issue in a wider perspective:

The Sanctity of Life

The Glorious Qur’an says:

“…take not life, which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.”

[Al-Qur'an 6:151]

Islam considers all life forms as sacred. However, the sanctity of human life is accorded a special place. The first and the foremost basic right of a human being is the right to live. The Glorious Qur’an says:

“…if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”

[Al-Qur'an 5:32]

Such is the value of a single human life, that the Qur’an equates the taking of even one human life unjustly, with killing all of humanity .

The Verses of War

The words that often causes consternation among those unfamiliar with Islam, is:

“…and slay them wherever ye catch them…”

The truth is that this is only part of the verse 191 of Chapter 2 of the Qur’an. Let us read the verses 190 to 191 in order to get a complete picture:

“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.”

[Al-Qur'an 2:190-191]

It is a well-known fact of Islamic history, that fighting against aggressors was prohibited during the first thirteen years of the Prophet’s mission. After Muslims migrated to Madina , the verses above were revealed to enable the community to fight in self-defense. The verses that follow clearly indicate Islam’s prohibition on aggression and inclination towards peace:

“But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.”

[Al-Qur'an 2:192-193]

The verses above specifically refer to fighting against oppression and in defense of religious freedom as the Glorious Qur’an says:

“Let there be no compulsion in religion”

[Al-Qur'an 2:256]

Fair-dealing towards all

When read in context, the above verses do not even remotely suggest an exhortation for Muslims to be vicious or hateful towards people of other faiths. Far from this, the Qur’an actually requires that Muslims conduct themselves with fairness and dignity in all matters, and especially in regard to interfaith relations, as indicated by the following verse:

“Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just.

[Al-Qur'an 60:8]



  1. Duard Hamm says:

    I have read the Yusuf Ali translation of the Quran and have found that there is no context in the Quran, thus you cannot really take something out of context if was never in context in the first place. The “out of context” argument is always from a position of weakness.

    I have intently studied Islam since 2006, and would dearly love to engage a knowledgeable Muslim about Islam. Every time I have communicated with a Muslim, they have disengaged with me when they discover that I know more than the average non-Muslim. Do any of you have the guts to engage me?

    If you do here are some possible discussion topics?

    1. The lesser jihad

    2 The death penalty for apostasy

    3. The abrogation of verse in the Quran

    4. The hatred and intolerance displayed for Jews and Christians in the Quran and Ahadiths

    There are many more, but this is enough to get started.

  2. Hello,
    first of all I'm a nonmuslim, so please, if you understand some context better than me, just explain, and don't just tell me, that I have to regard the context, because I'd have no clue how to do that to result in what you were thinking of, thank you.

    Next I have to admit, that for me it poses a great loss in credibility of a muslim discussant, when, while expecting others to regard the context, you don't do this yourself


    "There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing."

    Muslims normally only quote the first sentence

    "There shall be no compulsion in the religion."

    Which is completely out of every context.
    The verse says, that being a muslim has to come from your hearts conent, you cannont be pressed to become a muslim, BUT
    those who don't become muslims don't have the right to chose whatever other religion they want, but instead they are going the wrong way and are rebelling against Islam


    and muslims should fight against those who disbelieve


    As for rest, I can agree with you, that muslims are only allowed to kill nonbelievers in times of war, but the whole point is to define which times are times of war.

    Concerning the previous said, muslims are already allowed to fight, when people disbelieve in Allah, as says verse 2:191


    "…fitnah is worse than killing…"

    I don't mention the whole verse here, not because I am ripping these few words out of context, but because there is no context altering the message as long as it does not specify any further what kind of fitna is ment.

    Let'S see, fitna may be translated as

    "a chaotic situation that tests one's faith"


    So I would not be allowed to ask you questions about difficult parts of the Quran because this could be a temptation (fitna) for you, and you should kill me in these cases ?

    That doesn't sound any righteous to me, the Christian god tells, that your fitna is something that god layed upon you to test you, and you cannot simply run away by slaying everybody who tempts you.

    As for 2:190-193

    First of all, let me ask, why was Muhammad able to go to Medina at all, why didn't the Meccans kill him when he was in Mecca?
    They drove him away instead, because he wanted them to follow his new religion and they didn't want to, and he didn't give up.

    When the muslims don't explain their view to the western people and exactly explain the difficult verses in the Quran, this situation will return (we don't care why you pray towards Mekka or what color your praying carpets or if there are wonders in the Quran and other useless stuff, what we care for is how to understand the violence and disrespect against nonmuslims, which we are part of, but muslims don't explain that).

    I understand the Meccans, they worshipp some gods, their gods, and some guy comes along and says, that's all bullshit, so they shrug their shoulders and go on worshipping their gods, but this guy doesn't give up but gets more aggressiv, then anyone would throw him out of town.

    But later on, after he recruited an army, he comes back and kills the Meccans as a compensation for being driven out,
    which is absolutely in no proportion to being simply exiled.

    He could only do so, because he claimed himself that some god told him that fitna is worse than killing.
    And that there is a verse in the Quran saying so implies that it is not self-evident that fitna is worse than killing, but you have to tell it explicitely.

    Going back to the text, I take your verse provided above

    “But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.”

    So first of all, the war cannot be ended by the muslims in a wise and kind act of longing for peace like Christians would try to do, showing even the enemy, that there is a path to peace.

    The fight can only be ended by the nonbelievers ceasing.

    Next it is unclear what "cease" means

    As I see it, this becomes clear looking at a similar case in

    4:89 where it says

    "They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah . But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper."

    Who is meant by "they" is aexplained in 4:76, that I mentioned before, the followers of Taghut.

    So following 4:89 comes


    "Except for those who take refuge with a people between yourselves and whom is a treaty or those who come to you, their hearts strained at [the prospect of] fighting you or fighting their own people. And if Allah had willed, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause [for fighting] against them."

    where "peace" is "I-salama"


    which comes from the word stem S-L-M


    like Islam as well, so many muslims excplain this way, that Islam is peace.

    That may be actually the case, but what they omit is, that peace is Islam as well in that context, where Islam means submission to Allah.
    And salam is the peace on the path of Allah, not just what westeners would understand as peace.

    So that "offer you peace" gets the meaning of "offer to make peace on the path of Allah", and therefore the nonbelievers have to come to the path of Allah first, in other words, convert to Islam.

    So "cease" might have a similar meaning, but in the end that is just a guess on my part, while some evidence is provided by 2:193 (I take your version)

    "And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah"

    So it says, that muslims should fight until there prevails faith in Allah; so in other words, if in the place where you live, like in any western country, Islam is not the only religion and everybody is a muslim, muslims have to fight until that changes and there prevails faith in Allah, so muslims should fight until in the whole world Islam is the only religion, since it is said

    "But those who have believed and emigrated and fought in the cause of Allah and those who gave shelter and aided – it is they who are the believers, truly. For them is forgiveness and noble provision."


    This is not confrom with your definition of 2:256, that everybody can chose the religion they desire, but it is absolutely conform with my definition, that it is said, that only Islam is the right religion and all others are followers of Taghut or Satan (4:76).

    The whole matter is also supported by Sahih al Bukhari #24

    " Narrated Ibn 'Umar: Allah's Apostle said: "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform a that, then they save their lives an property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah." "


    I'm looking forward to a short explaining statement of yours.

    Thank you for your time and trouble.

  3. Hope this link can help you brother.. = )

    fell free to ask anything… i try my best to explain in a simple way..
    peace = )


  4. This website is propaganda! Where is the truth about what islam tells muslims to kill nonbelievers? Quran (5:33) – "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement"

  5. Kawa Kurdi says:

    hello brother. u said that the verse says "There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing." yes this is true. but then u said that it means "that being a muslim has to come from your hearts conent, you cannont be pressed to become a muslim, BUT
    those who don't become muslims don't have the right to chose whatever other religion they want, but instead they are going the wrong way and are rebelling against Islam" i would firstly like to ask where does it say they dont have the right to chose their religion. it does not say that. it says there is no compulsion then moves on to another sentence.

    Secondly u said 4:76 says "Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah , and those who disbelieve fight in the cause of Taghut." this is out of context just move on to the previous verse it says what the cause of Allah is which is to protect the people. "And what is [the matter] with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and [for] the oppressed among men, women, and children who say, "Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper?""

    now brother i ask do u even know what Fitna means. if u do then we can maybe move on to the other comments u made. we can discuss them all agree or disagree?

  6. Kawa Kurdi Concerning 4:76

    Sahih International
    And what is [the matter] with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and [for] the oppressed among men, women, and children who say, "Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper?"

    Sahih International
    Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah , and those who disbelieve fight in the cause of Taghut. So fight against the allies of Satan. Indeed, the plot of Satan has ever been weak.

    I don't see what the previous verse changes about verse 4:76.

    It doesn't say "those who do not fight in the cause of Allah and for the oppressed among men women and children", it says Those who disbelieve…
    It is about believe and disbelieve, not about fighting for oppressed people, and the previous verse doesn't change anything about that.

  7. Kawa Kurdi says:

    Philip Schroeder well the word fitna means literally rebellion, especially against a rightful ruler.
    Now u said"I don't see what the previous verse changes about verse 4:76." well u made it sound as if though the cause of Allah is to kill innocent non muslims. when the previous verses talks about the cause of allah which is to protect the people from the transgressors. in other wors if u read them it means fight in the cause of Allah (cause of Allah is to protect as stated in the previous verse. now do u get it?

  8. Joe Amee says:

    the interpretation for me is contradictory. the same book says et there be no compulsion in religion, and at the same time the prophet also says, fight them until they all repent/convert to islam. which is which?

  9. If you read 2:256 thoroughly, you see, that it says, that there is no compulsion in religion, but that there is a right path and there is a wrong path.

    It doesn't say, that everything is right whatever you chose, which would be my understnding of freedom of religion.

    The verse doesn't say, that you don't have to take the consequences, if you don't chose Islam.

    It becomes clear when reading the next verse, I'd say

    "Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light. And those who disbelieve – their allies are Taghut. They take them out of the light into darknesses. Those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein."

    So if I don't chose Allah, I have to burn in hell for all eternity, this doesn'T sound like freedom of religion to me.
    But freedom can mean, that there is no punishment in this world if I don't chose Islam, but that is contradictory to other verses, like for instance 9:29 in my opinion.

    So I would say, it rather means, that you cannot be pressed to become Muslim, because you would be a hypocrite if you chose ISlam while you don't really believe in Allah.

    It doesn't mean, that you don't have to take the consequences, if you don't chose Islam, as said above.

  10. Usman Shiekh It remains unclear, what the cause of Allah is, if the cause of Allah includes killing innocent Nonmuslims, then it is fight in the cause of Allah.

    Besides, as 2:217 says, that disbelieve is worse than killing, it even is not sure, if Nonmuslims are regarded as innocent in the Islam at all.

    Why does 4:76 discriminate between Muslims and Nonmuslims at all?
    Why not say: "Fight against the oppressors", why is there a need to state at all, that one side is believing and the other is not, I don't see the relevancy in this context?

  11. Dave Orr says:

    Islam does not respect the rights and beliefs of anyone other than its own religion. To be anything other than a follower of Islam is considered an infidel worthy of beheading. That to me is disrespectful.

  12. Alec Higgins says:

    It's easy to see from these verses how religion can promote fanaticism. All theses are open to interpretation. For example "take not life…, except by way of justice or law." This could easily be interpreted as justification to kill those who you believe are unjust or unlawful. Considering sharia law… It could justify killing people who dont comply with oppressive religious laws.

  13. Religions do not promote fanaticism. Individual ignorance does. Do not relieve the responsibility that each person has to use their brain

  14. Joe: Read it again: It says clearly fight ONLY if they fight you first; but DO NOT go beyond what is JUST

  15. The Quran is not for idiots or for people who want a sound bite version of the religion; it's for people who have time and desire to learn

  16. Where would you learn from, if the Quran is not sound?

  17. Ibrahim Siddiqui Then I guess you can explain this with realtive ease, since it seems you read and understood the Quran as it should be


  18. Ibrahim Siddiqui That is what 2:190-192 says, which was not the matter here.

  19. Joe Amee says:

    How can Jesus be God? There is no where in the bible that he declared he is god. People made him an object of worship. Jesus is but a righteous messenger of the almighty God. I can see you've been brainwashed. Go get some education.

  20. Syazwan Siru says:

    Philip Schroeder, the speaker in the video clearly neglects the verses before and after those verses. A bit of history to this verse can clear this up: When people started to believe in Prophet Muhammad and started to preach, those people who preached were oppressed, tortured and even driven out of their homes so the Muslims had to secretly move to Madina. When the Muslims were ready and had followers of around 10000, they marched to Madina and did not hurt anyone. The leader of Mecca had to surrender because of their number and Prophet Muhammad sent a message to the people of Mecca that whoever oppressed, or supported the oppression of the Muslims, are given four months to decide either to convert and repent to God for their sins(Hence the name of the chapter is called the Repetance) or to move out from the city. If the oppressors continue to disbelieve and do not move out, then the muslims should kill them where they find them.

    Secondly about the Jews and the Christians that the speaker in the video spoke about: He neglects the verse(9:32) which is literally 2 verses after the verse he is referencing(9:30) saying: They(The Jews and Christians) want to extinguish God's Light through their mouths, but Allah will not allow except that His Light be perfected eventhough the Kafirun hate (it).

  21. Ibrahim Siddiqui So if your religion (let's assume for example, we are talking about some satanic cult or something) says, that you should sacrifice a virgin girl on the first of each month, then if you do that, then it is because you misinterpreted the religion, and the religion didn't promote your action?

    Seems quite illogical to me, please clarify.

  22. Syazwan Siru

    "When people started to believe in Prophet Muhammad and started to preach, those people who preached were oppressed, tortured and even driven out of their homes so the Muslims had to secretly move to Madina."

    Actually, according to Sirat Rasul Allah, the Meccans only turned against Muhammad, when he started to mock their gods

    "When the apostle openly displayed Islam as God ordered him his people did not withdraw or turn against him, so far as I have heard, until he spoke disparagingly of their gods." (page 118 bottom).


    And on the next page:

    "The apostle continued on his way, publishing God's religion and calling men thereto. In consequence his relations with Quraysh detoriated and men withdrew from him in emnity. They were always talking about him and enciting one another against him. Then they went to Abu Talib a second time and said, 'You have a high and lofty position among us, and we have asked you to put a stop to your nephew's activities but you have not done so. By God, we cannot endure that our fathers should be reviled, our customs mocked and our gods insulted.'"

    To me it seems, that Muhammad started to insult the people and then they opposed him, and their hatred towards him grew stronger, because he kept insulting them, and not that he was a poor misunderstood merciful guy, who all the bad people wanted to hurt for no reason.

    According to the Sirat later on they even try to talk to Muhammad himself and ask him to stop mocking them, but he refuses (if you wish I can search for the occurences, but since you can't search in the text because it is given as scanned in pictures, it would take me quite some time, so I ommit that here).

  23. Adam Hassan says:

    All of you guys are showing fantastic curiosity , before share my 2 cents, I would like to start of by saying, that for those who are asking question in sincere curiosity to seek answers rather than to provoke aggravation I recommend, you learn the story of Prophet Muhammed (SAW), read the Quran and go speak to some with knowledge (bear you don't need to fear approaching a practising Muslim with knowledge, despite what you hear and see on TV, you will be received with open hearts and kind behaviors):

    When Prophet Muhammed (SAW) conquered Mecca, one of his companions charged in and shouted, "this is the time for revenge". The Prophet (SAW) responded to his companions, "this is the time for mercy"-
    Imagine the emotions the Muslims must have felt coming back to their homeland where they endured torture, abuse, displacement and deaths, their emotions were heightened and most were ready to get revenge but our Prophet (SAW) words and actions are from the Quran, he showed mercy and reminded his companions, this action saved a lot of people. And it was an action that many Muslims must always remember when conquering an oppressor. The Quran tells us to defend ourself but not take it too far.

    Now fast forward in time to another great man, Salahuddin, When he conquered Jerusalem, can you imagine how the Muslims must have felt, the crusades killed thousands of Muslims, woman raped, there are stories of babies heads behind smashed against walls, their are witnesses of blood up to the ankle in temples were Muslims were being killed, Salahuddin army emotions were heighten when they entered Jerusalem, they were ready to avenge their brother and sister. – As they entered Jerusalem, one of the soldier shouted, "this is the time for revenge," Salahuddin heard this, he remembered what happened hundreds of years ago, when Prophet Muhammed (SAW) conquered Mecca. Salahuddin responded with "no, this is the time for mercy"

    His rule was peaceful and he ruled with Justice. This is Islam, peace and justice, the fact is if you knew the people who oppressed early Islam and how they transgressed, you would admire the patience of early Muslims. There is a time were we need to protect ourselves and there is a time were we need to hold back.

  24. Ibrahim Siddiqui Man please brighten up: don't compare individual actions based on individual believes with individual action based first of all on collective, political or, even more, religious believes: religions (all of them) are able to and actually have always given a moral cover and, worse, a codified set of rules useful for future reference; set of rules liable to be reused over and over again without again doubting and wondering about the same things like the first time.
    It doesn't matter or it's not good enough that a certain nasty interpretation is wrong (if you say so…) once too many use it or actually turn to it when possible handy or convenient. Something is wrong there already and the others rightfully worry about. As you should worry too if you speak truthfully (and don't use Muslim Taqqyya…). A truly holy book should NOT give way to misunderstandings by being vague or confusing or allowing bad applications, but rather the opposite should be able to prevent all of that and that's how we should be able to appreciate its holyness. And since it was written by God (maybe?) but to be understood back then and over there, it should allow and provide means for some necessary reinterpretation after 1500 years of history, since it can't be applied literally when cars and cellphones replaced camels and messengers on a horse. But Qur'an is interpreted totally rejecting such an occurrence, that actually already occured but not by peaceful agreements.
    The moral cover of individual actions can be just self appointed by them or most times backed up also by others. Ok let's admit that some actions are inspired by a religion but are stupid or come from mere individual stupidity, and let's agree that does not mean that that specific religion is stupid or untrue but it rather means that the person acting it out is stupid. I agree. However, even so, the mere fact that that happens so often is not a plus or a mark on behalf of religions, nor a reason to praise them: it shows right there that religions (as much as or more than political ideologies) provide equal cover and moral/social justification to smart as much as to stupid ideas or interpratations of it. It does not prevent stupidity or help people out of it, it leaves it as it is and, if anything, to make it worse it just reinforces it by providing that moral cover and dangerous set of misinterpreted rules.
    And then again, to make it even worse, most times we can't even tell for sure who's the stupid or unfair one at interpreting a religion, or we are anyway unable to prove it to whom we would want to prove it the most: that guy will come to you telling you (or yelling at us) that you or me are the stupid ones or not the "true believers".
    By the way, who holds the concept of the "true Islam" and practices it as close as it should be? Once pointed out that guy, is his religious set of rules and interpretations the most desired and desirable by most Muslims nowadays? And by the others?….

  25. Ibrahim Siddiqui So, just adding a last line, religions do have some good sides but, where they don't or when misinterpreted, they are able to turn a stupid who thinks he might be or might be a little man, into a stupid who think he's smart and even backed up by God. See the difference? That's a big difference

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.