Misquoted “Violent Verses”
It is amazing to see how many non-muslims would blindly post the verses from Quran, without even reading from ‘appropriate’ and well-know translations. Needless to say they hardly ever know the context. In this article we will be examining commonly quoted verses on the topic of violence and refuting them. This article is divided in 2 parts:
1) Refuting commonly quoted verses on the topic of violence
2) Providing accurate picture of Islam
1)Refuting commonly quoted verses on the topic of violence
Islam-critics only post 9:5:
“Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 9:5)
Let’s read the verse in context 9:1-9:5:
Freedom from obligation (is proclaimed) from Allah and His messenger toward those of the idolaters with whom ye made a treaty. Travel freely in the land four months, and know that ye cannot escape Allah and that Allah will confound the disbelievers (in His Guidance). And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters, and (so is) His messenger. So, if ye repent, it will be better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve, Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfil their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him). Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 9:1-5)
This verses is always quoted out of context, they never post 9:6 or from 9:1 to 9:6. If we read from start it states that there was a treaty, which the Pagans of Arab broke. Thus Allah gave them 4 months as 9:2 states in order to amend the treaty. Verse 9:4 states that the punishment prescribed in 9:5 is ONLY to those who broke the treaty and NOT to those who abided by the treaty. Therefore the context of 9:5 is of war with the pagan Arabs who broke the treaty yet refused to amend it in 4 months.
Naturally, in war violence is expected. If a war is declared between Country A and Country B, because country B broke the treaty and refused to amend, then if president of country A states “wherever you find soldiers of Country B, you kill them and besiege them”, no one would truly find much wrong in that statement.
Killing in war is nothing peculiar, and there is yet to be a war where soldiers hugged and kissed each other. In additions, Dr. Zakir Naik writes in his book “Replies to the most common questions asked by non-muslims“:
“4. Verse 9:5 quoted to boost morale of Muslims during battle
Similarly in Surah Taubah chapter 9 verse 5 the Qur’an says, “Kill the Mushriqs [pagans] where ever you find them”, during a battle to boost the morale of the Muslim soldiers. What the Qur’an is telling Muslim soldiers is, don’t be afraid during battle; wherever you find the enemies kill them.”
Islam-critics remain shy of posting the next verse, 9:6, as it contains the answer to their deception:
“And if anyone of the idolaters seeketh thy protection (O Muhammad), then protect him so that he may hear the Word of Allah, and afterward convey him to his place of safety. That is because they are a folk who know not. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 9:6)
Quran does not only say that you release those who seek protection but it goes even further and states to protect them! In the present international scenario, even a kind, peace-loving army General, during a battle, may let the enemy soldiers go free, if they want peace. But which army General will ever tell his soldiers, that if the enemy soldiers want peace during a battle, don’t just let them go free, but also escort them to a place of security?
Hence even in war Quran promotes peace.
Islam-critics usually apply “cut and choose” approach with regards to this verse. They only quote: “And slay them wherever ye catch them…” (2:191). However, let us be brave enough to read the whole passage in context from 2:190-195:
Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loves not transgressors. And kill them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for persecution 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, kill them. Such is the reward of those who reject faith. But if they cease, God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression. The prohibited month, for the prohibited month, and so for all things prohibited, there is the law of equality. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him. But fear (the punishment of) God, and know that God is with those who restrain themselves. And spend of your substance in the cause of Allah, and make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction; but do good; for Allah loveth those who do good. (YUSUF ALI, Quran 2:190-195)
The verse clearly states to fight those who fight you, yet do not transgress limits. In so sense therefore does it promote killing of innocent but allows self-defence. It further goes on to state “And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice” and “if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression”. Hence, once again when the whole context is examined the verses does not promote killing of innocent in anyway.
Abdul Majid Daryabadi (Finlay, Greece Under the Romans, pp. 367-368) writes on verse 2:190:
“…Violating the truce they themselves had signed. The Muslims, after having borne untold persecution with almost superhuman fortitude for years and years at the hands of the pagans of Makkah, are now for the first time enjoined to take to reprisals. ‘For a full thirteen years the Muslims were subjected to relentless persecution in Mecca. The Prophet and his followers fled for life to Medina, but the enemy would not leave them alone in their refuge. They came to attack them within a year, and the first three battles were fought in the very locality which will whether the Prophet was an assailant or defendant’ (Headley, The Original Church of Jesus Christ and Islam, p. 155). The Makkans had signed a truce and were the first to break it…”
Once again when the whole context is examined the verses does not promote killing of innocents, whether muslims or non-muslims in anyway, but only self-defence.
But if they turn away, catch them and slaughter them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.” (4:89)
Once again the context is ignored, they don’t quote previous and next verses.
They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks;- Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If Allah had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then Allah Hath opened no way for you (to war against them). Others you will find that wish to gain your confidence as well as that of their people: Every time they are sent back to temptation, they succumb thereto: if they withdraw not from you nor give you (guarantees) of peace besides restraining their hands, seize them and slay them wherever ye get them: In their case We have provided you with a clear argument against them. (YUSUF ALI Translation, Quran 4:89-91)
When we read it in context, verse 4:89 is NOT to those “who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people.” This verse is only referring to those “withdraw not from you nor give you (guarantees) of peace besides restraining their hands”.
Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi says with regards to this verse:
“Now tell me honestly, do these verses give a free permission to kill any one anywhere? These verses were revealed by God to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), at the time when Muslims were attacked by the non-Muslims of Makkah on a regular basis. They were frightening the Muslim community of Madinah. One may say using the contemporary jargon that there were constant terrorist attacks on Madinah and in this situation Muslims were given permission to fight back the “terrorist”. These verses are not a permission for “terrorism” but they are a warning against the “terrorists.” But even in these warnings you can see how much restraint and care is emphasized.”
Therefore, it is clear that the verse only allows self-defence against those who “withdraw not from you nor give you (guarantees) of peace besides restraining their hands”. Naturally, it would be necessary for the enemies to withdraw and make peace in order to achieve peace. Verse is not referring to “those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people”.
In “…withdraw not from you nor give you (guarantees) of peace besides restraining their hands”, it is obviously necessary to give guarantees of peace or form a treaty in addition to stop fighting. Otherwise, anyone can pretend to be “restraining their hands” when they are weak, and when they are strong again they come back and attack again. Thus to make it official Quran says to give you (guarantees) of peace, and not act as two-faced.
We have already discussed 4:89, now lets look at 4:95. Common translation amongst the critics of this verse (poorly translated) is:
Qur’an 4:95 Not equal are those believers who sit at home and receive no injurious hurt, and those who strive hard, fighting Jihad in God’s Cause with their wealth and lives. God has granted a rank higher to those who strive hard, fighting Jihad with their wealth and bodies to those who sit (at home). Unto each has God promised good, but He prefers Jihadists who strive hard and fight above those who sit home. He has distinguished his fighters with a huge reward.
Now let’s examine this verse in the light of another common translation:
O ye who believe! When ye go forth (to fight) in the way of Allah, be careful to discriminate, and say not unto one who offereth you peace: “Thou art not a believer,” seeking the chance profits of this life (so that ye may despoil him). With Allah are plenteous spoils. Even thus (as he now is) were ye before; but Allah hath since then been gracious unto you. Therefore take care to discriminate. Allah is ever Informed of what ye do. Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who have a (disabling) hurt, are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives. Allah hath conferred on those who strive with their wealth and lives a rank above the sedentary. Unto each Allah hath promised good, but He hath bestowed on those who strive a great reward above the sedentary; (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 4:94-95)
The verse is stating those who strive in the path of God with lives and wealth are not equal to those who do not, which is logical. Accurate translations make no mention of “Jihadists” and killing as poor translations indicate. Once again, critics take advantage of inaccurate translations. Also 4:94 prevents killing of innocents as it says “…be careful to discriminate, and say not unto one who offereth you peace: “Thou art not a believer,” seeking the chance profits of this life…”
If read with good translation and historical context in mind, no significant complaint can be found about 47:4. However, some non-muslims insist on using a very poor translation of Quran with additions. One such translation reads:
Qur’an 47:4 So, when you clash with the unbelieving Infidels in battle, smite their necks until you overpower them, killing and wounding many of them. At length, when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind them firmly, making (them) captives. Thereafter either generosity or ransom until the war lays down its burdens. Thus are you commanded by God to continue carrying out Jihad against the unbelieving infidels until they submit to Islam .
However, almost all of the major translations are contrary to the above translation. Yusuf Ali’s translation reads:
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. (Yusuf Ali Translation, Quran 47:4)
Further translations can be checked out here. Nowhere does the accurate translations make any mention of 1)”killing and wounding” 2) “Thus are you commanded by God to continue carrying out Jihad against the unbelieving infidels until they submit to Islam”, those are additions of the translator’s and are not to be found in Quran.
According to Professor Shahul Hameed (http://www.islamonline.net/askaboutislam/display.asp?hquestionID=8922), historical context of this verse is Battle of Badr. He writes:
“The context of this verse was when the Muslims were to fight their enemies for their very existence. After thirteen years of endurance and patience, the prophet and his companions had to leave their home town of Makkah and to emigrate to Madinah. When the people of Madinah had welcomed him there and he was accepted as a leader there, the Makkans became unhappy. They wanted to eliminate Muhammad and his religion; and so they sent their army to root out Islam. And the crucial battle took place in Badr.”
Once again, the context is of war here and therefore killing of innocent people is not prescribed. Naturally, in war people would be expected to fight and kill, therefore “smite at their necks” is only natural.
Another poor translation of this verse commonly seen reads:
Qur’an 33:23 Among the Believers are men who have been true to their covenant with God and have gone out for Jihad (holy fighting ). Some have completed their vow to extreme and have been martyred fighting and dying in His Cause, and some are waiting, prepared for death in battle.
More accurate and common translation reads:
Among the Believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah: of them some have completed their vow (to the extreme), and some (still) wait: but they have never changed (their determination) in the least: (YUSUF ALI Translation, Quran 33.23)
Critics have included “fighting and dying”, “prepared for death in battle” and their own interpretation to the verse. Ibn Kathir writes:
“When Allah mentions how the hypocrites broke their promise to Him that they would not turn their backs, He describes the believers as firmly adhering to their covenant and their promise:
([they] have been true to their covenant with Allah; of them some have fulfilled their Nahbah;) Some of [the Qur’anic commentators] said: “Met their appointed time (i.e., death).” Al-Bukhari said, “Their covenant, and refers back to the beginning of the Ayah.
(and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed in the least.) means, they have never changed or broken their covenant with Allah. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)”
It is clear, when read in proper translation, that the verse does not promote killing of innocents at all.
They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: “Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members.” Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you Turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein. Those who believed and those who suffered exile and fought (and strove and struggled) in the path of Allah,- they have the hope of the Mercy of Allah: And Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (YUSUF ALI Translation, Quran 2:217-218)
The context of these verses refers to an expedition of a group of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), under the lead of Abdullah bin Jahsh Asadi. The companions recognized a caravan from the Quraysh. Since the Quraysh had openly declared war on the Muslims and had persecuted them to the extent that they drove them out of their homes, and stole their property, the companions present, felt that they could retaliate. They killed one man of from the caravan, and took two as prisoners. When they returned to Madinah, the Prophet Muhammad disapproved of their attack during the Holy Month. But God revealed this verse as a reminder to the Muslims that while killing in the Holy Month was bad, persecution and expelling people from their homes because of their faith is far worse. So the verses make it very clear that in the face of the terrorist attacks of the polytheists, the Muslims should be brave and steadfast and turn to God for help rather than giving in and leaving the truth.
Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri (Al-Mubarakpuri, Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum; Riyadh-Saudi Arabia, Dar-us-Salam Publications, 1996; pp. 205-206)writes on verse 2:217:
The Words of Allah were quite clear and said that the tumult created by the polytheists was groundless. The sacred inviolable sanctities repeatedly violated in the long process of fighting Islam and persecuting its adherents. The wealth of the Muslims as well as their homes had already been violated and their Prophet s.a.w.s. had been the target of repeated attempts on his life…Shortly afterwards, the two captives were released and blood money (compensation) was given to the killed man’s father. (fn. For details see Zad Al-Ma’ad, 2/83-85; Ibn Hisham, 1/605; Rahmat-ul-lil’alameen, 1/115. 2/468.) (Al-Mubarakpuri, Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum; Riyadh-Saudi Arabia, Dar-us-Salam Publications, 1996; pp. 205-206, emphasis added)
2:244 Fight in God’s Cause, and know that God hears and knows all. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 2:244)
Verse 2:244 is informing us not to transgress limits and Allah “hears and knows all”, also fight in God’s cause which could be in reference to several things including liberation of the oppressed, meaning the helpless men and women who are yearning and praying for freedom as well as striving for all that which is good as well as doing Dawah in an appropriate manner. This does NOT refer to fighting and killing innocents. As Quran says:
Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 2:190)
Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil. Lo! the devil’s strategy is ever weak. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 4:76)
Now, let’s read the verse in textual context:
Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward. How should ye not fight for the cause of Allah and (for the cause) of the feeble among men and of the women and the children who are crying: Our Lord! Bring us forth from out this town of which the people are oppressors! Oh, give us from thy presence some protecting friend! Oh, give us from Thy presence some defender! Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil. Lo! the devil’s strategy is ever weak. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 4:74-76)
Verse 4:76 is specific to those who have been oppressed. In order to help those who cannot help themselves is indeed a great deed and to shun away tyranny and help those who are weak and oppressed. Islam-critics seek to present a view of violence and hate on behalf of Quran, however, when the verse is examined carefully in a correct context, their deceit is clearly exposed.
Dr. Maher Hathout (Hathout, Jihad vs. Terrorism; US Multimedia Vera International, 2002, p.50) comments on verse 4:76 by saying:
This verse is related to the two preceding verses (see 4:74-75) where it was stated that those who fight for God’s cause would be rewarded whether they are victorious or slain. Fighting for God’s cause includes the liberation of the oppressed, meaning the helpless men and women who are yearning and praying for freedom. The believers fight for God’s cause, and the disbelievers fight for the sake of their idols. An idol may be taken conceptually. For example, evil or greed may figuratively be construed as idols. The believers should put all their trust in God the Almighty and Powerful and fear not the disbelievers and their evil plans. Evil plans are always inferior to goodness. (Hathout, Jihad vs. Terrorism; US Multimedia Vera International, 2002, p.50)
The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter (YUSUF ALI Translation, Quran 5:33)
The verses before and after 5:33 are not usually quoted, as 5:32 prohibits murder and 5:34 encourages forgiveness.
On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that 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. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land. The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter; Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case, know that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (YUSUF ALI Translation, Quran 5:32-34)
The verse mentions “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land ” is either execution, OR crucifixion, OR the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, OR exile from the land. This is the punishment for waging war against the Prophet of God and spreading corruption. Four kinds of punishment are mentioned based upon the gravity of the crime. As Muhammad F. Malik writes in his translation of this verse:
The punishment for those who wage war against Allah and His Rasool and strive to create mischief in the land is death or crucifixion or the cutting off their hands and feet from opposite sides or exile from the land (based on the gravity of their offence)… (Malik, Al-Qur’an: Guidance for Mankind)
Therefore stealing may not result in execution but cutting of hand. Similarly, killing an innocent person may not result in exile from the land but execution. Verses 5:32 and 5:34 must also be taken in consideration, which condemns killing of innocent and takes into account repentance.
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. (YUSUF ALI Translation, Quran 9:29)
This verse is referring to the Islamic Concept called “Jizya”, which Shaikh Sayed Sabiq in the Fiqh Alsunna (a commonly used source of fiqh[rulings (Fatwa) of Muslim Islamic jurists]), describes as “the underlying root of the word jizya is jaza, and defines it as “A sum of money to be put on anyone who enters the themah (protection and the treaty of the Muslims) from the people of the book“.
It is usually portrayed by certain critics that jizya is a mechanism for discriminating non-muslims in an Islamic-society. This is a common misconception; jizya is a political method dealing with finance.
One of the main pillars of Islam is called Zakat (Muslims whose wealth is above a certain limit must pay a percentage of it (in most cases 2.5%) to the poor and needy). Islam does not “force” upon non-muslims to follow one of it’s main pillar. This certainly quietens some critics who would otherwise be accusing Islam of imposing itself on them. Just like in a non-muslim society muslims pay tax, likewise non-muslims are obliged to pay certain percentage of their money to the Islamic State. It is quite hypocritical of non-muslims to criticize Jizya, whilst, in non-muslims countries muslims have to pay tax. If tax is justified then so should jizya be.
Regarding the amount of jizya Shaykh Abu’l-Hasan Al-Mawardi (d. 1058CE) writes in his book Al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah, Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. 1996, pp. 209-210:
“The fuqaha (Jurists) differ as to the amount of the Jizya. Abu Hanifa considers that those subject to this tax are of three kinds: the rich from whom forty-eight dirhams are taken; those of average means from whom twenty four are taken, and the poor from whom twelve dirhams are taken: he thus stipulated the minimum and maximum amounts and prohibits any further judgement on behalf of those responsible for its collection. Malik, however, does not fix its minimum and maximum amount and considers that those responsible should make their own judgement as to the minimum and maximum. Ash-Shafi’i considers that the minimum is a dinar, and that it is not permitted to go below this while he does not stipulate the maximum, the latter being dependant on the ijtihad (judgement) of those responsible: the Imam, however, should try to harmonise between the different amounts, or to exact an amount in accordance with people’s means.”
In conclusion, this verse refers to a non-muslim who doesn’t pay poll-tax in Islamic State and thus does not contribute to the financial needs of the territory. It is generally agreed by the four major Jurists that jizya money is based upon one’s income. We ought also not forget that muslims are also obliged to pay Zakat.
Some critics try to pose the conception that the verse ought to be translated as “Kill those who believe…” instead of “Fight those who believe…” They claim since the verse uses the arabic word Qateloo, which comes from the root word Qaatil. However, there is derivitive field in arabic, when prefix and suffix are added, it determines the defination of verse in context. If it meant to say kill, verse would have said uqtulo or Uqtul.
According to the Ectaco English-Arabic Online Dictionary, in arabic words for “Fight” are:
N مقاومة, شجار, مباراة في المِكمة, صراع, وغى, عراك, مناوشة, كفاح, نضال, مِكمة,
V حارب, قاتل, تقاتل, تبارز, كافح, ناضل, ِكم, خاض معركة, قاوم [Source ]
Note: As the dictionary testifies one of the word for Fight is Qaatil (in a verb). Furthermore, in english, word Qaatil is translated thus:
A DEADLY, LETHAL, VITAL, MURDERED, MURDEROUS,
N KILLER, MANSLAYER, MURDERER, ASSASSIN,
V BATTLE, COMBAT, ENGAGE, FIGHT, WAR [ Source ]
So Fight indeed is a correct translation, in a context of a VERB. Also the jizya is only upon livings, dead people cannot pay money. Therefore “kill until they pay jizya” would also have logical contradictions, as killing would cause jizya to be abolished.
Quran 8:12-13 and 8:17
Anti-Islam websites quote this verse as:
“I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips off them. This because they contend against God and his apostle…”
Let’s read verses from 8:12-16:
When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying): I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger. That is because they opposed Allah and His messenger. Whoso opposeth Allah and His messenger, (for him) lo! Allah is severe in punishment. That (is the award), so taste it, and (know) that for disbelievers is the torment of the Fire. O ye who believe! When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless manoeuvring for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey’s end. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 8:12-16)
Hence when read in its textual context the verse is referring to smiting in the time of BATTLE. Now let’s read 8:17 which is presented in absence of 8:14-16:
Ye (Muslims) slew them not, but Allah slew them. And thou (Muhammad) threwest not when thou didst throw, but Allah threw, that He might test the believers by a fair test from Him. Lo! Allah is Hearer, Knower. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 8:12-16)
Verses 8:12-17 are in the context of Battle Of Badr. Ansar Al-’Adl ( Source ) comments on 8:12-13:
“The historical context is that this verse was revealed at the Battle of Badr, a battle in which the pagans of Makkah traveled over 200 miles to destroy the Muslims of Madinah. The Pagans of Makkah had an army of about 1000 while the Muslims were only 300 followers. The Prophet Muhammad ((peace be upon him)) and his followers had suffered severe persecutions and torture for 13 years in the city of Makkah. Having fled from Makkah to the safety of Madinah, they found that they were once again threatened.”
Al-Mubarakpuri, Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum; Riyadh-Saudi Arabia, Dar-us-Salam Publications, 1996; pp. 219-220, says:
“When the fierce engagement grew too hot he (Prophet Muhammed) again began to supplicate his Lord saying: “O Allâh! Should this group (of Muslims) be defeated today, You will no longer be worshipped.”…. Immediate was the response from Allâh, Who sent down angels from the heavens for the help and assistance of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his companions. The Noble Qur’ân observes:
And recall 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.” [8:12]”
Furthermore, 8:19 says:
(O Qureysh!) If ye sought a judgment, now hath the judgment come unto you. And if ye cease (from persecuting the believers) it will be better for you, but if ye return (to the attack) We also shall return. And your host will avail you naught, however numerous it be, and (know) that Allah is with the believers (in His Guidance). (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 8:19)
It is obvious from historical and textual context therefore that the verse in no sense promote killing of innocents. Verse 8:19 reaches out a hand of peace towards the Qureysh despite their aggression.
Translation of PICKTHAL is usually quoted:
O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. (PICKTHAL Translation Quran 5:51)
The arabic word Awliya used in 5:51 is mistranslated by PICKTHAL and other major translators. More accurate translation of the word Awliya would be “Protector” , “allies” or “intimate friends”. Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi says [ Source ]
“In the verse you quoted, the word “Awliya” is used. It is a plural and its singular is “wali”. The correct translation of the word “”wali”” is not “friend” but it is someone who is very close and intimate. It is also used to mean “guardian, protector, patron, lord and master.”
In addition, according to Ectaco Online Dictionary, root word of Awliya (Al-wali الولي) means:
Whilst according to the same dictionary words for friends in arabic are:
N صديق, رفيق, زميل, نصير, الصاحبي عضو من جماعة المهتزين, الرفيق,
V صادق, آزر
[ Source ]
Al-Wali and awliya are NOT mentioned in the above list of friends.
However, according to the same dictionary, an Arabic word for protector is الولي (the wali):
N الحامي, المدافع, الولي, النصير, الواقية أداة للوقاية من اّذى, الوصي على العرش
[ Source ]
Allah says that Allah alone is the Auliya (in a sense of a protector):
The likeness of those who take Auliyâ’ (protectors and helpers) other than Allâh is as the likeness of a spider, who builds (for itself) a house, but verily, the frailest (weakest) of houses is the spider’s house; if they but knew. (Al-’Ankabut 29:41)
Or have they taken (for worship) Auliyâ’ (guardians, supporters, helpers, protectors, etc.) besides Him? But Allâh, He Alone is the Walî (Protector, etc.). And it is He Who gives life to the dead, and He is Able to do all things. (Ash-Shura 42:9)
The word Auliya is also used as a substitiotion for God/Lord:
Say (O Muhammad SAW): “Who is the Lord of the heavens and the earth?” Say: “(It is) Allâh.” Say: “Have you then taken (for worship) Auliyâ’ (protectors, etc.) other than Him, such as have no power either for benefit or for harm to themselves?” Say: “Is the blind equal to the one who sees? Or darkness equal to light? Or do they assign to Allâh partners who created the like of His creation, so that the creation (which they made and His creation) seemed alike to them.” Say: “Allâh is the Creator of all things, He is the One, the Irresistible.” (Ra’d 13:16)
Do then those who disbelieve think that they can take My slaves [i.e., the angels, Allâh’s Messengers, ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), etc.] as Auliyâ’ (lords, gods, protectors, etc.) besides Me? Verily, We have prepared Hell as an entertainment for the disbelievers (in the Oneness of Allâh Islâmic Monotheism). (Al-Kahf 18:102)
Verily, they can avail you nothing against Allâh (if He wants to punish you). Verily, the Zâlimûn (polytheists, wrong-doers, etc.) are Auliyâ’ (protectors, helpers, etc.) to one another, but Allâh is the Walî (Helper, Protector, etc.) of the Muttaqûn (pious – see V.2:2). (Al-Jathiyah 45:19)
Or have they taken (for worship) Auliyâ’ (guardians, supporters, helpers, protectors, etc.) besides Him? But Allâh, He Alone is the Walî (Protector, etc.). And it is He Who gives life to the dead, and He is Able to do all things. (Ash-Shura 42:9)
Surely, the religion (i.e. the worship and the obedience) is for Allâh only. And those who take Auliyâ’ (protectors and helpers) besides Him (say): “We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allâh.” Verily, Allâh will judge between them concerning that wherein they differ. Truly, Allâh guides not him who is a liar, and a disbeliever. (Az-Zumar 39:3)
Verses 9:111-112 states:
Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Qur’an: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme. Those that turn (to Allah) in repentance; that serve Him, and praise Him; that wander in devotion to the cause of Allah,: that bow down and prostrate themselves in prayer; that enjoin good and forbid evil; and observe the limit set by Allah;- (These do rejoice). So proclaim the glad tidings to the Believers. (YUSUF ALI Translation, Quran 9:111-112)
As we read in Quran limits set by Allah are: “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.” (Yusuf Ali Translation, Quran 2:190).
Thus in the light of 2:190 it can be easily understood that the verse teaches self-defence in a form of a physical jihad (striving in the path of Allah). Let us also remember the rest of context of Chapter 9, which we have discussed before in 9:5 and 9:29.
Part 2: Providing accurate picture of Islam
Quran preaches peace
Unsurprisingly, Islam-critic shy away from posting verses of the Quran, which preaches peace. By bombarding verses out of their context or using dubious translations they seek to give the impression that a book such as Quran leaves no place for peace.
Can muslim and non-muslim co-exist?
One of the common misconception is that Quran teaches that either non-muslim must be forced to become muslim or they must be put to death. They justify themselves by misquoting verses, most of which we have discussed in this article. Now, let’s examine what Quran really says, does Quran allow non-muslim to keep their religion? One whole chapter is dedicated in Quran to this topic called Surah Kafiroon (Chapter THE DISBELIEVERS):
Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 109:1-6)
The chapter gives crystal-clear evidence of “let and let live”. Quran states “Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion”. Thus no enforcement of religion by sword or otherwise is suggested in Islam. Furthermore, Quran says that there is no compulsion in religion; non-muslims do not have to become muslims against their wishes:
There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 2:256)
Does Quran not say kill (innocent) non-believers?
Murder is a grave sin in Islam, Quran says in 5:32:
For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 5:32)
As Quran points out killing an innocent being is like killing an entire humanity, which naturally leaves no place for killing innocents. It must be pointed out that Quran states “…whosoever killeth a human being…”, thus referring to a human being and not simply restricted to muslims.
Quran also says:
And slay not the life which Allah hath forbidden save with right. Whoso is slain wrongfully, We have given power unto his heir, but let him not commit excess in slaying. Lo! he will be helped. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 17:33)
Quran emphasises not to slay unjustly!
Does Quran not states to hate non-muslims and treat them unjustly?
This is another common misconception, Quran itself describes how ought a muslim to a treat non-muslims:
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. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 60:8)
Quran states to deal KINDLY and JUSTLY with those who don’t fight us. It does not only order muslims “not to live and let live” but to even go a step further in living peacefully and deal with them kindly and justly.
Another verse says:
O ye who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Informed of what ye do. Allah hath promised those who believe and do good works: Theirs will be forgiveness and immense reward. (PICKTHAL Translation, Quran 5:8-9)
Allah emphasises not to let hatred of people prevent them from upholding justice.
Does Quran not say to wage war with non-muslims for any reason possible?
To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid;- (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,- (for no cause) except that they say, “our Lord is Allah”. Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause);- for verily Allah is full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will). (YUSUF ALI Translation, Quran 22:39-40)
There are reasons for which permission of war is given is mentioned in the verse as those have been wronged and “expelled from their homes in defiance of right” because they are muslim. Quran also calls upon it’s followers not to transgress limits:
Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. (YUSUF ALI Translation, Quran 2:190)
We Conclude with the following verse of the Quran:
How should ye not fight for the cause of Allah and (for the cause) of the feeble among men and of the women and the children who are crying: Our Lord! Bring us forth from out this town of which the people are oppressors! Oh, give us from thy presence some protecting friend! Oh, give us from Thy presence some defender! [4:75]