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The Enlightening Commentary on the War Related Quranic Verses- Part 2


By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

26 February 2018

In the first part, we mentioned two apparently conflicting statements to decide between two verses 2:190 and 22:39, as to which one of them was the first revealed to permit fighting. We knew earlier that the verse (2:190) is considered to be the first in the chronological order of revelation to permit fighting and that the same is the preponderant statement (qaul-e-rajih), while others differ from this statement and regard 22:39 as the first verse which permitted fighting. We also presented therein some possible reasons to reconcile [tatbiq] these two conflicting statements. Now in this second part, we will think over the verse 22:39 which is additionally known as another verse to permit fighting.

Allah the Most High says,

“Permission (to fight in defence) is granted to those against whom (aggressive) war is waged. (This permission is granted to them) because they were oppressed and Allah is doubtlessly All-Powerful to help them (the oppressed) (22:39). They are those who were unjustly expelled from their homes simply because they said: ‘Our Lord is Allah.’ And had Allah not been repelling one (aggressive) class of human society by the other (through defensive struggle), the cloisters (temples), synagogues, churches and mosques (i.e., religious centres and places of worship of all religions) would have been ruined where Allah’s Name is abundantly commemorated. And whoever helps (the Din [Religion] of) Allah, Allah surely helps him. Allah is indeed All-Powerful, Ever-Dominant.” (22:39-40)

This verse 22:39 indicates that it is categorically forbidden to beat or kill anyone without the permission of Allah Almighty. This was the reason that when Hadrat Moses (peace be upon him) hit the Qubti a blow in anger, which killed him, he himself said, “This is devilish work”. He said so because he was not permitted by Allah to fight the infidels. (Tafsir Ruhul Bayan 22:39). The verse 22:39 implies that the permission of fighting in defence was granted to those who were oppressed and had already been expelled from their homes “simply because they said: “Our Lord is Allah”. 

Commenting on the cause of revelation (shane nuzul) of this verse (22:39), Mufti Naeemuddin Muradabi writes,  

The infidels were persecuting the Noble Companions in the sacred city of Makkah. Every day the Noble Companions would come in the presence of the holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in a state where either someone’s head was broken, or hand was badly damaged, or someone’s fool was bandaged. They were trying to seek permission from the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) to retaliate but Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) would exhort them to exercise patience as Allah Almighty had not as yet granted permission for Jihad- to wage war against the infidels. After arrival in Madina, this verse was revealed, after which permission was granted to the Noble Companions for Jihad. (Tafsir-e-Khazainul Irfan on Kanzul Iman-22:39)

In this verse the permission of fighting in defence was granted to the noble companions of the prophet (peace be upon him), but were first commanded to have patience when facing the oppression of the Arab’s infidels. Interpreting this verse 22:39, Ibn Zayd said, “ten years after the command of forgiving polytheists and disbelievers [mushrikin and kuffar] had been issued, this verse 22:39 was revealed to permit fighting in defence (Jamiul Bayan 19100/Tibyan al-Quran vol. 7, p. 763)

Allama Peer Karam Shah Azhari writes commenting on the verse 22:39, 

For disseminating the Divine Message and inviting the pagan Arabs to affirm their belief in the Oneness of Allah, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) climbed the hillock Safa. In response, they flew into a rage and were violently opposed to him. Surprisingly enough, the same people who once held him in a high esteem and applauded him to be the most truthful and trustworthy person had then stooped to brand him as crazy poet and mischief-monger. Everything went topsy-turvy. Those who embraced the religion chosen for them by Allah were subjected to all sorts of indignities and persecutions. Hadrat Bilal was rolled on the glowing embers. Yasir and his wife Samiya were wounded with spears. Not to speak of the poor and the helpless, even the blue-blooded could not go unmolested. For instance, Osman’s uncle would tightly wrap him in a fresh animal skin, and throw him in the scorching sun. The searing sun, profuse sweat and foul smell of the skin would choke his breath and be unbearably excruciating and painful. Similarly, Abu Bakr was once subjected to such a cruel and painful torture that he lay unconscious for a long time.

Besides inflicting physical torture, they stooped to make them the butts of their playful jokes. They raised baseless objections to the verses revealed by Allah, derided the injunctions of Shariat. In brief, they left no stone unturned. Although the Muslims suffered heartless oppression, torture and abuse for thirteen years, yet they were not allowed to exact a measure of retaliation. They were commanded to persevere patiently. During the thirteenth year after the declaration of his Prophet-hood, Allah commanded the prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions to migrate. They carried out Allah’s command worshipfully and migrated to Yathrib –nearly 300 miles away from Makkah. Still the animosity of the inveterate enemies of Islam had not subsided. They inflicted fresh injuries on the Muslims; robbed them of the peace of mind and heart. A band of pagan Arabs would raid the pastures of the Muslims and take away their cattle. If they encounter a lonely Muslim, they would not hesitate in killing him mercilessly. 

For as long as 14 or 15 years, the Muslims suffered insults, outrages and injuries at the hands of their persecutors. They bore all these indignities with the utmost humility and patience. When the aggression and ruthlessness of the pagan Arabs grew more hotly than ever, Allah granted permission to the believers to take up arms in their own defence and make the mischief-loving pagan Arabs believe that the torch of Islam – that lights up darkness – would never be allowed to be blown out. Likewise the flag held aloft for the dissemination of the truth will never be let down, however hot they might grow. This torch will remain lit until the doomsday. And the flag of the truth will continue to flutter so long as the world exits. (Zia-ul-Quran, Vol: 3; p.218)

Having taken into account the cause of revelation [shan e nuzul] and context of the afore-mentioned Quranic verse 22:39, we need to go forward to tackle the most important issue. The modern terrorist organizations are applying the Quranic verses and ahadith to implement the anti-Shariat matters, that is, to implement the forbidden acts. There is no doubt that we find numerous Quranic verses and ahadith which deal with the war-related situations. However it should also be noted that if we gather all the Quranic verses and ahadith together and apply the right methodological approaches in order to understand the purpose of Islam, we will indeed find, with the blessing of Allah Almighty, that Islam aims merely at eliminating oppression, establishing peace, justice and tranquillity. However this does not mean that any country or organization should commit oppression in the name of eradicating oppression, or kills the innocent civilians in the name of protecting the citizens of any country. Islam categorically prohibits such an act.   

From the verse mentioned above (22:39), it has become clear that the permission of fighting was granted only to those who were oppressed and expelled from their homes simply because they said, “Our Lord is Allah” and accepted Islam. Later the fighting took place between Muslims and the Arab pagans. This fighting was the result of the kuffar’s oppressing the Muslims. When the oppression was eliminated and the Muslims got all-freedom to practice their religion [the Din of Allah] and when they had two options; either to live peacefully or to wage war, they preferred peace-treaty to war. After the conquest of Makkah, the extraordinary rights that were given to the non-Muslims are as under: freedom of religion, protection of life, wealth and respect. As long as there was a peace-treaty among Muslims and non-Muslims, they lived peacefully. In today’s context, we have full freedom to practice our Islam. Therefore it is immensely necessary that we practice our Islam in our homes, living peacefully with all other fellow citizens. No matter whether Muslims live in minority or majority, wherever they have peace-agreement or something like that in any form of the law, it is forbidden to violate that type of peace-agreement. It is clearly reported in numerous books of ahadith and fiqh that if any Muslim kills the peaceful citizens from among the non-Muslims, “he shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of travelling)”. This hadith implies that the violator of the peace-treaty shall be given punishment in the Hereafter. In the first part of the article, we quoted the Quranic verse which reads, “And fulfil the covenant [promise]. Verily the covenant will be questioned about” (17:34). The word ‘covenant’ also applies to the treaty of peace the violator of which will be questioned. 

This article as a whole teaches the terrorist organizations that they cannot derive from the above mentioned verse (22:39), any sort of justification for committing any act of terrorism, nor for killing Muslims or non-Muslims of any country in order to fulfil their ambitions. Without understanding the real purpose of Islam, if they continuously commit acts of terrorism and kill the innocent civilians, they shall be doing nothing but an act of inventing a lie against Islamic Shariat. Thus they shall become an example of those inventors of a lie who are referred to, in this speech of Allah Almighty, “And who is more unjust than one who invents a lie against Allah” (6:93)


A regular Columnist with, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator.

Part one of the article:

An Enlightening Commentary on the War Related Quranic Verses- Part-1 on 2:190


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