Written for Free-Minds.Org (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
“And kill them wherever you find them…” (Quran 2:191)
The above part of a verse has been duplicated in countless sites and many publications to be used as a testimony for the ‘violence’ and cruelty that is encouraged by the words of the Quran…
In this article, we will dispel the myths surrounding warfare in the Quran and show exactly ‘what’ the GOD of Submission (Islam) teaches.
1. Fighting is only allowed against Aggression or Persecution.
“You may fight in the cause of GOD those who fight you, but do not aggress. GOD does not love the aggressors. (2:190)
“They question you with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of GOD, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel His people thence, is a greater with GOD; for persecution is worse than killing. And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can. And he who becomes renegade and dies in his disbelief: such are they whose works have fallen both in the world and the Hereafter. Such are rightful owners of the Fire: they will abide therein.” (2:217)
Contrary to the wishes of many who would rather picture Islam as a warmongering system, the Quran does not allow warfare except in ‘self-defense’.
“And kill them where you find them, and evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque, unless they fight you therein. If they fight you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those who disbelieve. (2:191)
Look again at that fearful verse used at the beginning of this article…
Well, it happens to be a direct continuation from 2:190 where people are told to fight is self defense. We are allowed to fight and kill those who fight and kill us, and to evict them from where they evicted us…Sanctuary is given at the Holy Shrine, however, this is not-valid if they continue to fight at this sacred location.
2. Deterrence is the key.
“You shall prepare for them all the power you can muster, and all the equipment you can mobilize, that you may frighten the enemies of GOD, your enemies, as well as others who are not known to you; GOD knows them. Whatever you spend in the cause of GOD will be repaid to you generously, without the least injustice. (8:60)
The Quran is a book of life, and a book of wisdom. The above verse encourages a strategy of displaying forces and making sure everyone is aware of them. This is usually the best deterrent to avoid warfare and makes those with ill intentions think twice about beginning a war or attacking out of feeling superior.
3. Military Service is Encouraged.
“Warfare has been ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that you hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. GOD knows, but you do not know.” 2:216
“O you prophet, you shall exhort the believers to fight. If there are twenty of you who are steadfast, they can defeat two hundred, and a hundred of you can defeat a thousand of those who disbelieved. That is because they are people who do not understand. (8:65)
To make it clear from the beginning, Islam as a system invites people to stand ready to fight at all times…The Quran does not adapt a ‘walk-away’ attitude, but puts aggressors down from the beginning and demands its followers to be aware of such responsibilities.
4. Fighting is allowed to defend other believers.
“…As for those who believe, but do not emigrate with you, you do not owe them any support, until they do emigrate. However, if they seek your help, as brethren in faith, you shall help them, except against people with whom you have signed a peace treaty. GOD is Seer of everything you do. (8:72)
“And why should you not fight in the cause of God and the weak and oppressed among men, women, and children who say, “Our Lord rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors. And give us from You, a protector. And give us from You, a helper” (4:75).
Believers who are attacked may seek help and military action may be used in these cases. The exception is clearly if a treaty exists with the country/people who are housing them and the conditions of such treaty has not been broken (see 9:1-15 for dealing with broken treaties).
5. The concept of ‘Jihad’.
“And strive (Jahidu) in the cause of GOD as it deserves striving (Jihad)” (22:78)
Jihad is thought of in the West and even in some Islamic circles as ‘Holy War’. In-fact, the word as per its usage in GOD’s holy book means ‘To Strive’:
“But the messenger and those with him strove/jahadu with thier money and their lives..” (9″88)
“GOD has preferred those who strive/mujahideen with thier money and thier lives over those who sat…” (4:95)
Even your parents can ‘strive’ against you:
“And if they strive/jahadaak that you set-up partners with Me that which you hav no knoledge of, do not obey them..” (29:8, 31:15)
Obviously your parents are not doing a ‘holy war’ against you.
6. Equivalence in warfare is the rule.
“…if you are attacked, then you shall attack by the same equivalence. And reverence GOD and know that GOD is with the righteous” (2:194)
“And if you punish, you shall inflict an equivalent punishment. But if you resort to patience (instead of revenge), it would be better for the patient ones. (16:26)
This is the law for equivalence. If 100 of your soldiers are killed, then a maximum 100 of the enemies soldiers may be killed…You cannot kill more than has been killed with you, and if you hold-off and are not quick to seek revenge, then it is always better.
7. Desertion is not advisable.
“O you who believe, if you encounter the disbelievers who have mobilized against you, do not turn back and flee. Anyone who turns back on that day, except to carry out a battle plan, or to join his group, has incurred wrath from GOD, and his abode is Hell; what a miserable destiny! (8:15-16)
Although there is no law against desertion from the battle field, those who believe in GOD would not be very smart to do so as the consequences are related to the after-life.
8. Prisoners of War.
“… Some of them you killed, and some you took captive. (33:26)
“O you prophet, tell the prisoners of war in your hands, “If GOD knew of anything good in your hearts, He would have given you better than anything you have lost, and would have forgiven you. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.” (8:70)
In the laws of GOD, prisoners can be taken during warfare and held until such time as there release is possible. Prisoners are neither to be killed nor tortured…these are not practices which have any legitimacy.
9. Spoils of War.
“They consult you about the spoils of war. Say, “The spoils of war belong to GOD and the messenger.” You shall observe GOD, exhort one another to be righteous, and obey GOD and His messenger, if you are believers. (8:1)
“He made you inherit their land, their homes, their money, and lands you had never stepped on. GOD is in full control of all things. (33:27)
Spoils of war belong to the state to be distributed as per the Quranic requirements (orphans, needy. etc..). The land and goods of enemies is confiscated in these battles.
10. Warfare is stopped if the other party ceases.
“If they refrain, then GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.” (2:192)
“If they seek peace, so shall you, and put your trust in GOD. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient. (8:61)
This is the GOD of Submission…A GOD who only allows violence when it is carried out against a person, and is quick to call for peace once the violence is ended.
There can be no justification for war and killing to continue simply because it was started by means of aggression…
11. Payment of Compensation (Jizya).
“You shall fight back against those who do not believe in GOD, nor in the Last Day, nor do they prohibit what GOD and His messenger have prohibited, nor do they abide by the system of truth-among those who received the scripture-until they pay the penalty, willingly or unwillingly.” (9:29)
Sura 9 deals with the breaking of treaties and warfare. The penalty for those who have have broken the law and have fought against the believers is to pay ‘compensation’ for their action.
Reconciliation of Believers.
“If two groups of believers fought with each other, you shall reconcile them. If one group aggresses against the other, you shall fight the aggressing group until they submit to GOD’s command. Once they submit, you shall reconcile the two groups equitably. You shall maintain justice; GOD loves those who are just.” (49:9)
Although this does not deal with warfare directly, it lays the ground for what to do when two groups of believers fight.
“…anyone who kills any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he killed all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people…” (5:32)