Controversial TopicJihad can be a painfully controversial topic but I will attempt to steer clear of them and base myself as completely as possible by sharing the understanding of Jihad in the way Mohammad understood it. This, hopefully will help us avoid all controversies and keep us to the subject, after all the Quran declares very many times and very clearly too that Mohammad was not just a perfect Muslim but a perfect model for Muslims to follow:
Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in the Meeting with Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much. [Quran 33:21]
You (Muhammad) are not, by the Grace of your Lord, a madman. And verily, for you will be an endless reward. And verily, you are on an exalted standard of character. [Quran 68:2-4]
Islam is PeaceWho has not heard prominent Muslims and world leads say that Islam means peace? But is this true? I do not suggest that Islam means war but that actually Islam means is “submission”. Submission to the will and mercy of Allah as mentioned in the Quran:
The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will): Nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of Allah, Allah is swift in calling to account. [Quran 3:19]
Hence a Muslim is slave of Allah [Quran 19:93] and submits to the will of Allah & his Prophet and would be failing in his duty if they do not ensure that all kafir/ infidel/ non-Muslim also submit to Allah and his prophet as it says:
Remember when your Lord inspired the angels, Verily, I am with you, so keep firm those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved, so strike them over the necks, and smite over all their fingers and toes. this is because they defied and disobeyed Allah and his messenger. And whoever defies and disobeys Allah and His Messenger, then verily, Allah is Severe in punishment. [Quran 8:12-13]But in contrast, we also have the Quran stating very clearly, powerfully and potently:
To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil
The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel the evil with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, will become as though he was a close friend. [Quran 41:34]
No compulsion in religion
There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut (false deities, Satan, etc.) and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower. [Quran 2:256]
To you your religion and to me mine
Say O Muhammad: “O disbelievers in Allah! I worship not that which you worship, nor will you worship that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which you are worshiping. Nor will you worship that which I worship. To you be your religion, and to me my religion (Islam).” [Quran 109]
Islamic Scholars on JihadThe Al-Azhar University, founded in early 10th century, as a center of Islamic learning is the longest continuously operating universities in the world and is today the chief center of Islamic learning in the world. Despite all evidence to Islam being peaceful and without compulsion, Dr. M. Sa’id Ramadan Al-Buti writes:
“The Holy war as it is known in Islam is basically an offensive war, and it is the duty of all Muslims of every age, when the needed military power is available, because our prophet Muhammad said that he is ordered by Allah to fight all people until they say ‘No God but Allah,’ and he is his messenger.”Excerpted from “Jurisprudence of Muhammad’s Biography”, Pg. 134, seventh Arabic edition, published by Al-Azhar University of Egypt.
So let us assume for a moment that the best of Islamic scholars are all wrong then perhaps Muslims can explain why their Holy Quran is peppered with so many commands to kill anyone who does not believe in Allah, the prophet or in the last day? The next portion of this discussion leads us directly there.
Taqiyya or Truth?There are some who say some Muslims deceive (i.e. do taqiyya – an Islamic law/ sharia that permits Muslims to deceive people, break the law or even commit blasphemy) to non-Muslims and quote the following verse:
Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith – but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty. [Quran 16:106]According to them, while it is true that the Allah did reveal:
~ ayah 41:34 (To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil)
~ ayah 2:256 (No compulsion in religion)
~ sura 109 (To you your religion and to me mine)
But these were all revealed when Mohammad was in Mecca and Islam was weak. After Mohammad went to Medina and gained political and military strength, Allah abrogated [Quran 2:106, 13:39] those earlier verses with something better.
That something better is none other than the Sura 9 (At-Tawbah also known as the Sword-Verses) some of which reads as follows:
This is a declaration of disassociation, from Allah and His Messenger, to those with whom you had made a treaty among the polytheists. So travel freely, O disbelievers, throughout the land during four months but know that you cannot cause failure to Allah and that Allah will disgrace the disbelievers. And it is an announcement from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that allah is disassociated from the disbelievers, and so is his messenger. So if you repent, that is best for you; but if you turn away – then know that you will not cause failure to Allah . And give tidings to those who disbelieve of a painful punishment. Excepted are those with whom you made a treaty among the polytheists and then they have not been deficient toward you in anything or supported anyone against you; so complete for them their treaty until their term has ended. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous who fear Him. And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them go on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. [Quran 9:1-5]
It is he who has sent his messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, to make it superior over all religions, though the mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) hate it. [Quran 9:33, 61:9 and 48:28]Incidentally Chapter 9 is considered to be the last of the words of Allah revealed to Mohammad and has since not been revoked/ abrogated. This leads us to know what does Quran say about Jihad?
Allah encourages JihadNormally people do not have to be encouraged to fight to save their own life in defense so it is obvious left to themselves they would be unwilling to fight an offensive war. Allah had to repeatedly Muslims to wage offensive wars:
Those who believe say: “Why is not a Surah sent down for us? But when a decisive Surah explaining and ordering things is sent down, and fighting (jihad) is mentioned (i.e. ordained) therein, you will see those in whose hearts is a disease of hypocrisy looking at you with a look of one fainting to death. But it was better for hypocrites, to listen to Allah and to obey Him. Obedience to Allah and good words were better for them. And when the matter preparation for Jihad is resolved on, then if they had been true to Allah, it would have been better for them. [Quran 47:20-21]
Among the believers are men true to what they promised Allah. Among them is he who has fulfilled his vow to the death, and among them is he who awaits his chance. And they did not alter the terms of their commitment by any alteration – That Allah may reward the truthful for their truth and punish the hypocrites if He wills or accept their repentance. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful. [Quran 33:23-24]
Jihad is not for ransom but slaughter
It is not for a prophet that he should have prisoners of war and free them with ransom until he had made a great slaughter among his enemies in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allah desires for you the Hereafter. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise. [Quran 8:67]
Call on Peaceful Muslims to fight
Then fight in the Cause of Allah, you are not held responsible except for yourself, and incite the believers to fight along with you, it may be that Allah will restrain the evil might of the disbelievers. And Allah is Stronger in Might and Stronger in punishing. [Quran 4:84]
Do you think that you shall be left alone while Allah has not yet tested those among you who have striven hard and fought and have not taken helpers (advisors and consultants from disbelievers, pagans, etc.) giving openly to them their secrets besides Allah and His Messenger, and the believers. Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do. [Quran 9:16]
Do you consider the providing of drinking water to the pilgrims and the maintenance of Al-Masjid-Al-Haram (at Makkah) as equal to the worth of those who believe in Allah and the last day, and strive hard and fight in the cause of Allah? they are not equal before Allah. And Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers). [Quran 9:19]
So their Lord accepted of them their supplication and answered them, “Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female. You are members one of another, so those who emigrated and were driven out from their homes, and suffered harm in my cause, and who fought, and were killed in my cause (jihad), verily, I will remit from them their evil deeds and admit them into gardens under which rivers flow in paradise; a reward from Allah, and with Allah is the best of rewards.” [Quran 3:195]
Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for the price that theirs shall be the paradise. they fight in Allah’s cause, so they kill others and are killed. It is a promise in truth which is binding on Him in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel) and the Quran. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded. That is the supreme success. [Quran 9:111]
Jihad is compulsory
And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers. [Quran 3:85]The above does not appear to make Islam optional for any kufur/ non-Muslim and when we combine such verses with those like the following then it appears frightful to kufur folk:
So, when you fight Jihad in Allah’s Cause those who disbelieve, smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (i.e. take them as captives). Thereafter is the time either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islam), until the war lays down its burden. Thus you are ordered by Allah to continue in carrying out jihad against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam (i.e. are saved from the punishment in the Hell-fire) or at least come under your protection, but if it had been Allah’s Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them without you. But He lets you fight, in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost, [Quran 47:4]
Jihad is a spiritual struggleNow, many peace loving Muslims have however tried to explain Jihad in ways other than the traditional way it has been understood often associating Jihad as a personal or spiritual struggle. However if jihad indeed were a spiritual struggle, as many pacifist Muslims claim it to be, then why did Mohammad receive special grant of exemption to the permanently or temporarily physically disabled (blind/ lame/ etc.):
Not equal are those of the believers who sit at home, except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame, etc.), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit at home. Unto each, Allah has promised good (Paradise), but Allah has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit at home by a huge reward; Degrees of higher grades from Him, and Forgiveness and Mercy. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Quran 4:95-96]
ConclusionNo doubt there are verses of peace and forgiveness in the Quran but there also appears an overwhelmingly presence of verses that speak of vengeance, hate and war against the kufur, i.e. one who is not a Muslim . If one listens to those who blow up bombs in the streets, trains and shopping malls or those who kill the innocent in the name of god, one can hear them quote these and other such Quranic texts.
Is quoting Quran Hate Speech?For those who think that this article is no better than hate-filled speech then they should know that neither the Quran has been misquoted (check the note) nor does this article contain the author’s personal opinion/ explanation. What is quoted are the words from Allah which Muslims sincerely believe is given verbatim in the Quran.
Hence in all seriousness, if people really think that quoting Quran equals hate speech then should they not first ask Muslims why they believe in it, follow it and act according to its dictates?
Either Muslims agree that Quran contains hate speech or they do not. If its the former then why believe it as the holy word of god and if it is not then the least one should do is point out the error so that it can be corrected with humility, grace and grateful acknowledgement.
If in their opinion telling the truth is hate speech then truly I have a poor understanding of what constitutes hate speech.
Is Quran Quoted without Context?For those Muslims who think that this article quotes Quran out of context then I ask them three things:
- Muslims often protest that Quranic quotes are not in context. They should remember that Allah was neither telling bed-time stories nor giving history lessons to Mohammad. Allah was commanding his prophet to do or not do something or by way of guidance to the followers. We all know that commands do not require context but action.
- Islam makes it clear that Quran is the uncorrupted word of Allah. It is the only scripture in any religion that is known to make this claim. Reading Allah’s word makes it clear that his words were written in the Quran without context (i.e. it contains no historical context for the revelation) thus making Allah’s word timeless. If it were not so, Muslims would not be reading, quoting or following that which was relevant 1400 years ago.
- Let us for a moment accept that actually there is some context to the word of Allah; then where can the context be found? Islam experts say it is found in the Hadiths. Islamic historians say the first Quran was compiled within 60 years of Mohammad’s death but the earliest known Hadith was written some 200 years after Mohammad died. So how does anyone believe, the stories written two centuries after Allah revealed his eternal words, have relevant context in the first place?
In conclusion: personally, I have yet to come to any conclusion even if its glaringly obvious.