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]

 

3 Comments

  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

    http://quran.com/2/256

    "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

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taghut

    and muslims should fight against those who disbelieve

    http://quran.com/4/76

    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

    http://quran.com/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"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitna_(word)

    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

    http://quran.com/4/90

    "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"

    http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=4&verse=90

    which comes from the word stem S-L-M

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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."

    http://quran.com/8/74

    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." "

    http://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=2&translator=1&start=0&number=24

    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 = )

    http://www.islamforpeace.org/quran.html

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