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Muslims are not at war with non-Muslims - War only for self-defense

Reader comment on item: Muslim Acts of Beheading in the West

Submitted by Sinem Tezyapar (Turkey), May 27, 2013 at 22:47

War and violence in the Holy Books - Admittedly, there are commandments about war in the Qur'an, and those verses pertain to self-defense. The Tanakh and the Gospel also contain provisions about war and violence, and there are verses full of killing, especially in the Torah. The passages about war in those are, just as with the Qur'an, in regard to self-defense. The Torah and the Gospel command peace and love, and contain commandments about love and affection too. A person of love will interpret that in one way, and a cruel person in another. One can interpret it truly if one looks at it sincerely. For instance the Gospel speaks of blood up to the manes of the horses; it speaks of nobody being saved apart from 144,000 Jews. These are actually metaphorical and must be elucidated within the general tone of the Gospel, which is one of love and affection prevailing. But if someone insists on interpreting it in terms of violence, if he adds additional things to it out of his own mind, then a climate of violence will of course ensue. But a real Jew or a real Christian would never murder innocent people simply because there exists verses regarding killings in their Holy Books. In the same way, people who will look at Islam and the Qur'an through the eyes of love will not come up with violent interpretations.

War (qital) and jihad are not the same - The basic claim of the accusations and reactions trying to portray Islam as violent -God forbid- is that there are verses about jihad in the Qur'an and that these speak of killing. First and foremost, jihad and war are entirely different concepts: Jihad is not synonymous with holy war, as some misguided people think. Jihad means rather exertion, which is to strive, to make effort toward some object identified to the will of God as revealed in the Qur'an. Some worthy objects of jihad include strife against one's egoistic passions, or to make an intellectual challenge against irreligion, radicalism or fanaticism. One convinces people with scientific and intellectual evidence. To expose the signs of God's existence, to convey His revelation, to explain the malice of atheistic ideologies etc… These are the legitimate objects of the "jihad" for a Muslim, not beating someone about the head, killing someone or forcing a person to embrace Islam as an act of coercion.

There is also war or combat (qital) in the Qur'an. Whereas jihad is an affirmative duty to confront falsehood with the truth of God, the verses that command war in the Qur'an apply to situations in which a Muslim is called to respond to aggression. In such situations God describes what Muslims may be allowed to do for their own self defense. For instance, if Muslims come under attack; if, their lives, possessions and honor are threatened, if they are being killed and if there is no alternative but to fight, then it becomes obligatory and lawful for Muslims to defend themselves and to come to the aid of the innocent.

Pagan rule and self defense - In order to understand the Qur'anic prescriptions to war, it is necessary to understand the historical context in which the commandments came. The revelation of the Qur'an to Prophet Mohammad was delivered over a period of 23 years. The first thirteen years of this period passed in Mecca, where Muslims lived as a minority and faced much oppression under a pagan rule. At that time, the Arabian peninsula was dominated by Bedouin Arab tribes who wandered about looting, robbing and murdering as a manner of life. They were hooligans that murdered, got drunk and enjoyed killing people. They made war against the Prophet Mohammad and against anyone who followed his teachings. When they were warned not to murder, they kept on murdering. Despite the fact that many Muslims were harassed, dispossessed of their homes, abused, tortured, and even murdered, Muslims strove to co-exist without resorting to any violence and always called pagans to peace. As a matter of fact, the Muslims dug trenches in the Khandaq war as a defensive strategy to avoid conflict as much as possible. They also emigrated (hejira), and ran away from them, but even then the aggressors pursued them.

In sum, nowhere in the Qur'an are Muslims commanded to wage wars of aggression, and certainly not as a means for to propagate Islam. If a community does not attack, and behaves normally, then naturally, there is no call to war. The obligation to war is and remains a limited, unwanted obligation, applicable only to repel attack.

War commandments - It is not an easy thing to decide to wage war, and Prophet Mohammad was undecided, worrying about whether he would be committing a sin. As the aggressors in question are human beings, he felt a responsibility of conscience and was unable to make a decision. Under these circumstances, God commanded the Prophet Mohammad to kill the polytheists wherever he finds them. However that is a commandment delivered within a context of an ongoing war, not as a method for the propagation of Islam. God commanded: "… Whenever they are made to revert to hostility, they fall headlong into it. Therefore, if they do not keep aloof from you, nor offer you peace nor restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them, wherever you find them. Against these We have given you clear authority." (Qur'an, 4:91)

In this same vein, the Qur'an commands blockade and taking prisoners as a peaceful means of neutralizing a potentially aggressive community (Quran, 9:5). But if a blockade or taking prisoners are not possible, then killing is permissible only as a last resort.

Verses special for a particular time - In addition, some of the verses that are in regard to the strategic wars are specific to that particular period. There is clearly no such situation at the moment. For instance God informs "if they do not accept conditions of agreement", that refers to a special circumstance. Regarding a battle, God says, "Behold! they came on you from above you and from below you," (Qur'an, 33:10) and describes a a particular situation. Additionally, there are verses that refer to Prophet Mohammad in particular, and verses specific to a particular event. However a Muslim reads with wisdom and takes lessons from whatever is described in the Qur'an, just like a Jew would read the battles in the Torah with meditation.

Commandments for specific situations and general situations are different. The general commands are orders that are valid until the Day of Reckoning. For instance, God informs us to say, "Your religion is to you, our religion is to us." (Qur'an, 109:6) This is a general verse. In another verse He says "There is no compulsion in religion," (Qur'an, 2:256); this is also a general verse. And there certainly is no meaning such as to kill disbelievers or people from other religions, God forbid. It is required that a clear and general command should exist in the Qur'an, but there is no such verse or no general command that is still binding to this day.


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Reader comments (94) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
2Murderous Islamic attacks in Sweden [76 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
AnonMay 28, 2013 01:17206399
5Don't forget the throat-slittings in Malatya, Turkey in 2007 [71 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Mary Susan MeyerMay 28, 2013 00:10206395
7Muslims are not at war with non-Muslims - War only for self-defense [1192 words]Sinem TezyaparMay 27, 2013 22:47206393
5muslim god reasoning ? [42 words]SamMay 30, 2013 19:33206393
6Victims of Arabian and Turkish imperialism [241 words]dhimmi no moreJun 14, 2013 20:03206393
4Repeat a lie 100 times and it will become true [64 words]PrashantJun 15, 2013 02:34206393
1Our dear Sinem tells us that Allah says that Muslims should kill al-kufar! [204 words]dhimmi no moreJun 19, 2013 06:41206393
16Murdering innocent people in the name of religion is unacceptable [3372 words]Ceylan OzbudakMay 26, 2013 22:28206356
1Kafkaesque [3 words]MozereMay 28, 2013 00:40206356
3Peace Activist [255 words]MozereMay 28, 2013 02:48206356
8Murder is required by sharia [187 words]ChasJun 2, 2013 12:15206356
4Another victim of Arabian and Turkish imperialism [75 words]dhimmi no moreJun 3, 2013 18:10206356
5biggest load of codswallop [52 words]herbert archboldJun 4, 2013 13:47206356
1Murder in USA is acceptable [52 words]fifiJun 11, 2013 18:32206356
14Fifi is deliberately ignoring a very essential aspect of the argument [155 words]PrashantJun 12, 2013 00:35206356
2Prashant is in denial [183 words]fifiJun 14, 2013 16:24206356
4Victims of Arabian imperialism [179 words]dhimmi no moreJun 14, 2013 20:21206356
4Fifi did not contradict even one of my five points. [60 words]PrashantJun 15, 2013 02:24206356
6The word al-Jihad means holy war! Exposing lies and ignorance [812 words]dhimmi no moreJun 15, 2013 12:30206356
1No point in contradicting prashants points [46 words]fifiJun 20, 2013 14:56206356
5Question for fifi. [220 words]PrashantJun 20, 2013 21:49206356
4Nauseating muslim atrocities [41 words]DAVID R.GROESBECKMay 26, 2013 15:41206352
5According to Qur'an war is allowed only for defensive purposes.. [129 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Huma BabunaMay 26, 2013 15:11206351
8Exactly, Huma! and therein lies the rub [48 words]saraMay 26, 2013 21:01206351
9Victims of Arabian and Turkish imperialism [1336 words]dhimmi no moreJun 3, 2013 17:40206351
3under pressure [20 words]herbert archboldJun 4, 2013 13:41206351
how did Muslims come to control an area from Indonesia to Morocco? [48 words]AAAJun 10, 2013 23:24206351
5How did Christians control so much land in America and Europe [154 words]PrashantJun 11, 2013 02:58206351
3Lost tablighees and islam is the religion of the Arabs only [133 words]dhimmi no moreJun 14, 2013 20:09206351
Hi Prashant [382 words]AAAJun 17, 2013 23:13206351
Answerable to which God? [404 words]Mike RamirezJun 20, 2013 08:28206351
Hi Mike [399 words]AAAJun 21, 2013 02:31206351
1Jihad until the end of days [368 words]Mike RamirezJun 22, 2013 08:16206351
5Teaching one tablighee at a time [2020 words]dhimmi no moreJun 22, 2013 08:31206351
2Q47:4 you will not find the word battle in the aya which means that even your translation is bogus and what is built on lies is a lie [363 words]dhimmi no moreJun 23, 2013 10:01206351
islamic accomplishments are few [235 words]ChasJun 16, 2014 21:50206351
You forgot the Waltham Murders [33 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
yuvalMay 26, 2013 07:13206338
Murders of Brendan Mess, Erik Weismann and Raphael Teken [28 words]Arthur G. SapperDec 24, 2015 08:31206338
4Danger in Britain [176 words]actnowMay 26, 2013 00:09206327
2This is a good "Halal" way of killing [54 words]SamMay 28, 2013 19:30206327
ACT NOW [224 words]cmtljnpkirptsvji1683Jun 21, 2013 11:47206327
2Islam Denounces Terrorism [96 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Hüma BabunaMay 25, 2013 15:20206324
5Sorry, Huma, it's A jewish Saying that Islam Quotes [260 words]Mike RamirezMay 26, 2013 00:40206324
1Islam requires a Reformation [76 words]David GoshenMay 26, 2013 06:58206324
1Full context of 5:32 must be repeated ad-infinitum [118 words]PrashantMay 26, 2013 08:12206324
3Islam is a religion of peace [59 words]Huma BabunaMay 26, 2013 15:07206324
7Trying To Convince The Wrong People [198 words]Mike RamirezMay 27, 2013 00:35206324
1Trying too hard, Huma! [241 words]PrashantMay 28, 2013 18:04206324
4Exposing lies and fabrications and ignorance [511 words]dhimmi no moreJun 3, 2013 18:05206324
1a person who reads the qur'an [26 words]herbert archboldJun 4, 2013 13:39206324
3Who cares? [160 words]AnonJun 9, 2013 01:30206324
4Q5:32 is no more than an example of al-Isra'eeliyat [216 words]dhimmi no moreJun 15, 2013 17:17206324
KITHMAN IN ACTION [88 words]cmtljnpkirptsvji1683Jul 27, 2013 23:42206324
Savage is Savage [14 words]NuritGMay 25, 2013 01:43206314
13Europe is our Litmus test [81 words]Michael Hanni MorcosMay 24, 2013 22:30206310
14How much longer we wait?? [37 words]Michael Hanni MorcosMay 24, 2013 21:56206309
3Islamic Cleric on "Sanctity of Life" [139 words]Mike RamirezJun 19, 2013 08:13206309
8Sanctity of Lives is the most paramount [103 words]Michael Hanni MorcosJun 20, 2013 12:24206309
7Toleration of Islam is Suicide [54 words]HildaMay 24, 2013 18:50206306
1London be-heading [73 words]peter knopflerMay 24, 2013 14:47206302
3The verdict on Islam is still out ... still out ... still out ... [110 words]RhetoricalGirlMay 24, 2013 14:08206301
Beheading [9 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Carl GoldbergMay 24, 2013 13:54206300
Chilling youtube documentary of white British Islamist [55 words]AnonMay 27, 2013 01:35206300
2Muslim Acts of Beheading in the West [190 words]JudithMay 24, 2013 11:09206296
5Islam and islamists [31 words]pacific_watersMay 24, 2013 09:05206292
1How come... [31 words]car313May 24, 2013 08:24206290
Crime and Punishment [106 words]jgetsMay 24, 2013 08:17206289
3Islam is Anti-Freedeom, Anti-Mind [293 words]Edward ClineMay 24, 2013 07:50206287
Not Muslims [13 words]Steve KleinMay 24, 2013 07:48206286
6How to punish Muslims who behead non Muslims [63 words]David GoshenMay 24, 2013 07:34206284
6Sharia all the way - means eye for an eye [119 words]ChasJun 17, 2013 16:57206284
solution [23 words]sashaJul 27, 2013 12:09206284
3US 'beheads' State Department Ethical Resister(s) [67 words]Tim HunterMay 24, 2013 03:34206277
1Our governments allow this behavior to mushroom [24 words]NuritGMay 24, 2013 03:13206276
Video link changed [8 words]NuritGMay 26, 2013 04:01206276
Islam 102 [1 words]RitaMay 24, 2013 03:00206275
2falling all over themselves to apologize to those responsible.... [85 words]jerome henenMay 24, 2013 02:16206272
2Travesty [33 words]VijayMay 24, 2013 02:05206271
1Add Brutal Assault and Rape to the list of crimes [58 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Mike RamirezMay 24, 2013 01:28206270
1Culture or Religion [29 words]fifiJun 11, 2013 18:54206270
2"Disgusting Crimes" Part of Islamic Religion [885 words]Mike RamirezJun 12, 2013 01:38206270
Muslem tactics are contagious [118 words]PeteJun 13, 2013 15:48206270
No Mike, open your eyes to the bible and torah [895 words]fifiJun 14, 2013 16:09206270
Mosaic Laws are not teachings of the New Testament [471 words]Mike RamirezJun 15, 2013 02:11206270
3The Qur'an says that Muslims can own slaves and rape them! Oh that God who is al-rahman! [307 words]dhimmi no moreJun 15, 2013 09:40206270
1Our dear fifi is quoting the Bible! I smell riots [191 words]dhimmi no moreJun 19, 2013 05:43206270
3What did Europe learn from Islam? Not very pretty [193 words]dhimmi no moreJun 21, 2013 07:15206270
Ideas on different religions [375 words]Kepha HorOct 15, 2014 19:59206270
2Triple murder in Boston in 2011 and Daniel Pearl [46 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Phil MondMay 24, 2013 01:13206268
10Muslim citizens in Western countries [122 words]Gunher SchiffMay 24, 2013 00:35206266
3Jumping the gun [109 words]VijayMay 26, 2013 09:54206266
13Your future entertainment [30 words]Robin RosenblattMay 24, 2013 00:22206265
10English Liberal Stupidity [131 words]Neville HarrisMay 24, 2013 05:23206265
8Beheading for Allah [15 words]Steven LMay 23, 2013 23:52206264

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