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Interfaith Dialogue (09 Apr 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Perceived ‘Violent’ Verses in Holy Scriptures: A Qur’anic Perspective

By Ashfaque Syed, New Age Islam

09 April 2019


Many religious scriptures contain a few perceived ‘violent’ verses that, if read out of context and in isolation, can not only be misleading but also very dangerous if put into practice without comprehension. Proper comprehension of any religious text is highly dependent on interpretation by putting into perspective the context of the revelation (Asbab Al Nuzul).

This article deals with the interpretational issue surrounding the perceived ‘violent’ verses from the four major religions of the world; the three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and Hinduism, with a primary focus on the Qur’an. While there are other scriptures that also contain similar verses; they are outside the scope of this article.

The Qur’an And Its Perceived ‘Violent’ Verses:

The two commonly quoted verses of the Qur’an notably (9:5; 9:29) are referenced and parallel is drawn with the texts of Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism. Muslim militants interpret these verses to justify killing of innocent lives, whereas the non-Muslim Islam-Bashers use such verses to label Islam as a religion of hate, violence and terror; their primary goal is to malign Islam, its Holy Book and the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Bless him and grant him peace).

The Qur’an, In Surah (Chapter) Al-Tawbah (Repentance) States:

“But when the forbidden months are past, slay (faqtulu) the pagans/polytheists (Mushrikin) wherever you find them, and capture them, surround them, and lie in ambush for them in every conceivable place…..”(9:5)

“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 (local tax) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (9:29)

Quoting verses out of context and in isolation from any religious scripture can be a grievous mistake. The Torah, Bible and Hindu Scriptures for example contain similar verses that if read in isolation and out of context can justify killing innocent lives (young or old men, women, and infants) suggesting that Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism are violent religions. Some verses are quoted below:

“But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me”. Luke 19:27

“… but that whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman”. 2 Chronicles 15:12-13; also Deuteronomy 17:2-5

“With military weapons let us win the Earth, with them the battle, with cannon let us win the ease-loving army of our foes. War-like weapons destroy the ambitions of the foeman. Armed with the bow may we subdue all regions.” (Yajur Veda, Chapter 29 Verse 39, Tr. Devi Chand)

One would begin to wonder if these perceived’ violent’ verses motivate certain types of people to become militants and cause terror on earth; killing innocent lives. Nonetheless, the media and Islam Bashers are astonishingly silent about the existence of the above ‘violent’ verses; cherry-pick similar verses only from the Qur’an to promote hate and bigotry against Islam.

2 Qur’an Misunderstood And Misinformed

The Qur’an is set out as an oratorical discourse. God addresses the Prophet, the People of the Book (Christians and Jews), the disbelievers (who do not believe in the Oneness of God), and humankind (nas) in general. The tone and the contents of its stipulations, as in any oratorical speech, are conditioned by the immediate circumstances of the Prophet. Accordingly, many of its verses, especially those relating to armed struggle were specific to the context/reason for the revelation (azbab al-Nuzul).

Cherry-Picking Qur’anic verses to Promote Hate:

The Islamophobes who are bent on promoting hate against Islam, cherry-pick the perceived ‘violent’ verses from the Qur’an; ignoring what was stated in the preceding and proceeding verses. In the case of verse 9:5, they deliberately ignore verses 1 to 4 and 6 to7 of the same Sura 9 to promote their evil intentions. Surprisingly enough, they intentionally ignore biblical verses such as Luke 22:36, when Jesus encourages his disciples to sell their garments so that they can purchase swords, and Mathew verse 10:40 that says: “Do not think I come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”.

Historical Context Of The Revelation Of The Perceived ‘Violent’ Qur’anic Verses

The verse (9:5, 9:29) was revealed towards the closing years of the revelation (630-632). By this time a peace treaty was already signed with the pagan Arabs (628) that promised the Muslims peace after almost two decades of oppression and persecution. However, shortly after, the pagans broke the peace treaty (9:12) and attacked the Muslims (9:13).

The newly consolidated Muslim community needed clear strategic guidance as the Peace Treaty had failed to ensure their security and the survival of Islam was at stake. The clear guidance was revealed through verses 9:1 to 9:4 that instructed the oppressed and persecuted 3 Imagine the horrific Holocaust’ when Jews were persecuted and millions were killed! If Hitler and his comrades were not dealt with there would be no peace; persecution, injustice and oppression would have flourish. The Qur’an, thus, unequivocally declares:

“For if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques—in which God’s name is abundantly extolled—would surely have been destroyed” (22:40).

Hence the command: “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” (2:191).

Some holistic message of the Qur’an relevant to this article:

The Qur’an acknowledges that some among the People of the Book are righteous and virtuous, and believe in One God and the Last Day (3:113-114, 3:199). It exhorts the Muslims not to debate with them except with wisdom and pleasant counselling (16:125, 29:46) and commands the Prophet to tell them that their God and our God is the same One God (29:46).

There is an entire Sura (Chapter 109) in the Qur’an addressed to disbelievers (Kuffar) that instructs Muslims to tell them:

“You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion”. It declares: “Let there be no compulsion in religion…” (2:256).

The Qur’an further attests to the universal brotherhood of humanity

“O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you into nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Behold! The noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct… (49:13).

In light of above and many other relevant verses not listed here, it would be untenable to think that the same Qur’an would give permission to fight and kill the disbelievers simply because of their beliefs; and that too indiscriminately.


Message for the Muslims:

Now the question is, whether, on the basis of Qur’anic injunctions of the noted verses, the Muslim communities, who may feel oppressed and persecuted in any society or country, should take up arms against their perceived tormentors? The authors are in no position to answer this question in a direct way. However, they must remind such oppressed Muslims that the broader message of the Qur’an preaches patience in the face of adversity and persecution (2:155-157, 2:177), and respect for people of other faiths including the polytheists (4:94). The authors would also stress the Qur’an enjoins forgiveness (7:199, 45:14), and is replete with verses on mercy, compassion, good deeds, and intense striving (Jihadan Kabira) in the Qur’an’s way (25:52), which is not supportive of militancy as a means of countering tyranny. Possibly the oppressed Muslim communities could redeem their conditions and merit divine support for their causes by heeding the scores of verses bearing the philanthropic message of the Qur’an, rather than invoking its noted verses out of context and with blatant disregard to other facets of Qur’anic message. Needless to say that individuals and splinter groups must not take laws into their own hands.

The broader message of the Qur’an, therefore, permits use of force as a defensive measure, but in a controlled way, and that too, only after all peaceful gestures fail to avert hostility; at an individual level one is not expected to take laws in their own hands.

Message to the ‘Islam Bashers’ and the ‘Islamophobes’:

The ‘Islam Bashers’, and the Islamophobes are requested to not quote such verses out of context and in isolation to satisfy their evil desire to vilify the Islam’s Holy Book, its Prophet and Islam as a whole.

They are further reminded the Bible, Torah, and other Scriptures contain numerous perceived  4 ‘violent’ verses, if taken out of context, could justify the killing of innocent men, women and children, and their religions to be perceived as religions of torture, rape and carnage.

Final Note

The Qur’an being a Divine Book uses a straight and truthful diction. Relating to certain verses, its candidness may sound harsh and cruel to the present day reader who is accustomed to an artificially softened diction.

It must be noted the Qur’an and all of its statements and ordinances are mutually complementary and cannot, therefore, be correctly understood unless they are considered as parts of one integral whole. The perceived ‘violent’ verses must therefore be read and comprehended in the context of the revelation. In other words, the command to fight is relevant only in the event of aggression committed against the Muslim community or state, or in the presence of an unmistakable threat to its security.

The Qur’an and other Scriptures instruct people to reason with one another – contemplate over the following statements and see how similar they are, for after all, all revelations comes from the One and Only God:

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 1:18) – Bible “Come together, talk together, Let our minds be in harmony…” (Rig Veda 10 - 191:2)

“Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious…. (Qur’an 16:125)

Closing remark:

“A fair assessment of historical evidence reveals that Christianity is a faith of Justice that cannot reasonably be considered blameworthy in and of itself for the Crusades, the Holocaust…, even though Christians committed those horrendous acts and many others. Similarly, a fair assessment of Islam reveals that it is equally a faith of Justice that cannot fairly be seen blameworthy in and of itself for … or

the ISIS atrocities…, even though Muslims committed those disgraceful deeds.” (Joel Hayward) Here are three quotes from the Abrahamic faiths that promote justice, love, and peace:

“It has been told thee, humankind, what is good, and what the Eternal asks of you: only to do justly, to love mercifully and to walk with integrity in the Presence of your Lord” (Micah 6:8).

“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18, Mathew 19:19).

The returning of evil done to them by others with something good to win over perceived enemies

“The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.”

(Quran 41:34).

One renowned Sufi; Rumi’s thoughts as quoted by (Sheikh Jamal Rahman):

“Any interpretation of the Qur’an depends on ones level of consciousness and intention. ‘A bee and wasp drink from the same flower, one produces nectar and the other, a sting.’ When one is troubled by the way the above verses could be interpreted, remember that the way of Islam is to produce nectar”.

 This can be achieved through unbiased and true understanding of religious text and reasoning with one another; as the Qur’an dictates –

 “Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious…. (Quran -16:125)

Related Articles:

Quoting Qur’an’s Fighting Verses In Isolation To Promote Violence Or Defame Islam Amounts To Treacherous Misrepresentation Of Its Message Of Peace And Reconciliation

Did War-related Madani Verses Abrogate Makki Verses in the Sense of Not Allowing Peaceful Coexistence between Muslims and Non-Muslims?

The Correct Understanding of the So Called ‘Sword’ Verses of Surah Taubah

The Principles of War from the Quran

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  • Those words are descriptive but subject to politically motivated distortion.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 4/21/2019 12:00:22 PM

  • Another question is, Is there any possibility of coexistence between 'Doubt' and 'Belief'?
    The Quran says "There is no doubt in this exalted Book". If one has faith in the Quran, how can he doubt the Quran?
    Question and doubt both are different from each other.
    Question is of various types; the famous one is the question which is done in pursuit of knowledge. 
    In case we are unable to get true understanding of the Divine message, it is our failure. 

    By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي - 4/21/2019 10:59:56 AM

  • Can anyone explain if the words like 'violent', 'terrorist' or 'radical' are abusive or an attribute?

    By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي - 4/21/2019 3:09:12 AM

  • I will stand with Gulam Mohyuddin, he should not be called Apostant if he dbout certain parts of Quran, true believing of God start from Qurstioning Frozen relgious book and people in power want to kept it Frozen.

    Nasser Ahmed you cannot force him to belive that all part of Quran is truth.

    Quran was complied by humans it has bad histroy while compiling as well ((The history of Sura Tuba came in to picture at the end and is classic fraud how suddenly old man come into picture))  the truth was lost and truth of Mohmmad paigamber was also lost, this book Quran was used and compile for political Achivment and rule.

    It mixture some truth and some lie, which had happen to every other book, humans courroupt it.

    Muslims cannot keep on  claiming silly all time no single word of Quran is change, yes it is true but it not change after first complication but first Complilation itself was fraud and full of policital and power motivated, which cause death of humans still.

    By Aayina - 4/18/2019 7:10:19 PM

  • Only a slavish literalist  would call someone an apostate for rejecting words that insult Allah. If Muslims do not take on the responsibility of keeping their holy book blemish-free, who would do it? But all that Naseer sb. wants is to silence me and he has concluded that the only way to do it is to keep calling me an apostate. He has no other arguments left. He is a replica of Pakistani blasphemophobe mullahs!

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 4/17/2019 12:36:39 PM

  • Are you asking questions or taking up a position ? You are rejecting the verses which makes you an apostate. You have every right to be an apostate but then behave like one. Don't pretend to be a Muslim. You are the hypocrite who does not have the courage to openly apostatize but continue to attack the Quran pretending to be a Muslim when by the Quran itself, anyone who rejects any Ayat of the Quran is a Kafir. 
    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/16/2019 11:32:57 PM

  • Naseer sb. is now trying to use the Quran as a weapon of war against me! He is the hypocrite who pretends to defend the Quran when he is actually defending objectionable verses that portray God as someone who would ask people to kill other people or who would permit husbands to beat their wives "under certain circumstances". He has every right to believe that Allah wrote the war verses but he does not have any right to prohibit any questions being asked about those verses. He is like those Pakistani mullahs who would accuse one of blasphemy in order to hide their own ignorance.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 4/16/2019 1:12:13 PM

  •  Am I the only Muslim on this website defending the Quran against concerted attacks GM sb? Will Ms Kaniz Fatma respond? What does she think of GM sb's views that Allah never revealed any verse about war and all these verses are human interpolations?
    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/16/2019 1:42:38 AM

  • Naseer sb. has returned to his gutter and is resorting to personal insults because he has no logical arguments left. He will defend to death his vile hypothesis that God, the most gracious and the most merciful, would ask people to kill other people!

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 4/15/2019 1:02:37 PM

  • The Medinian period of wars is approximately ten years over which these verse were revealed and recited as part of the Quran and GM sb would have us believe that Allah allowed the Prophet to pass these off as His revelations and did nothing about it, while Allah was prompt to correct the Prophet of the slightest mistake he made and reproach him through a revelation! Or that we should believe that the Prophet fought wars while Allah was against all wars but was helpless to stop his belligerent Prophet who would not listen?

    The apostate exceeds all bounds in his shameless attacks on the Book, the Prophet and Allah. 

    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/15/2019 4:06:39 AM

  • Naseer sb. asks, "why does not God send a prophet to correct the fraud?"
    First of all it was not a fraud but  honest mistakes in compiling, mistaking one's thoughts for wahi etc. Secondly it is preordained that Muhammed was the last Prophet, so the idea of sending another prophet to corrrect overinclusion in the Quran is silly. But God does have solutions for all problems. He gave men enough intelligence to know right from wrong. It is sad that instead of using that intelligence you add to your depravity by questioning the faith of those who raise legitimate questions. You should be ashamed of your despicable behavior.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 4/13/2019 12:23:52 PM

  • GM sb,

    Assuming that what you say is right, why does not God send a prophet to correct the fraud? Why do you worship such a powerless God to whom people can ascribe their own words in His last Book and get away with it? If I may answer for you, you are not a believer in Allah, the Day of Judgment, His prophets and His Books but will not admit it because you are a hypocrite.

    You make your comments very lightly. You are in effect accusing the Prophet of impersonating Allah and falsely attributing to Allah his own thoughts to achieve his personal military objectives!

    If I were you and thought as you do, I would disown Islam on the grounds that Allah has failed to guard His words of revelation even in His last Book revealed to the last of His prophets.  However, you are not a person of such integrity and will neither own nor disown which is what makes you a hypocrite.

    When Allah says there is no compulsion in religion and you doubt complete sections of the Book, what makes you cling to Islam? By the very Book and its verses, you are a Kafir but that is OK since there is no compulsion for you to be a believer.

    (2:85) Then is it only a part of the Book that ye believe in, and do ye reject the rest? but what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life?- and on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty. For Allah is not unmindful of what ye do.

    Very obviously, you reject the above cited verse also. So, what are you except an apostate and a hypocrite pretending to be a Muslim? And what makes you visit an Islamic website except to try and turn others into apostates like yourself?

    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/13/2019 7:21:10 AM

  • Naseer sb.,
    As they say, a fool can ask more questions than a wise man can answer! For you, who can accept unbecoming words as Allah's words, there is no problem. For others they are interpolations that could have happened because the compilers of the Quran were overzealous in their work and included the words of the Prophet, who may have said them in his capacity as a commander before a battle. There may be several other similar explanations possible. But for you to make this a point to try to discomfit me shows your disinterest in  respecting God's grandeur and majesty . I suppose all slavish literalists are like that.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 4/12/2019 12:43:04 PM

  • The cowardly hypocrite will not say who he is accusing of interpolation. 
    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/12/2019 3:44:24 AM

  • Since Naseer sb. has no intelligent arguments to defend his positions, he again resorts to telling lies about me. Such a liar and smearer is not worthy to engage in a discussion. He uses the Quran not to preach peace and brotherhood but to assert superiority. He upholds the war verses in spite of the fact that the words are not befitting the Almighty. Such slavish literalism is not what we want in our exegetists.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 4/11/2019 4:51:08 PM

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