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Islamic Ideology (19 Oct 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

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

By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam

19 October 2017

(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)

The verse 8:60 exhorts the Prophet’s followers “to prepare against them with whatever strength and war mounts you can muster by which you may deter the enemy of God and your enemy “But the very succeeding verse of the Qur’an declares:

“And if they incline to peace, then you (O Muhammad) too incline to it and rely on God. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing” (8:61)

Read together 8:60-61 make it abundantly clear that the exhortation of 8:60 was in relation to defending against an army. The instruction was to make all possible preparations to engage with it, but if it offered peace, to settle for peace.

The verse 9:5 authorizes the Prophet’s followers to “kill the pagans wherever you find them, and capture them, surround them, and watch for them in every lookout” but the very succeeding verse declares;

“If anyone of the pagans seeks your protection* (O Muhammad), grant him protection, so that he may hear the words of God; and then deliver him to a place, safe for him. That is because they are a people without knowledge” (9:6). *[Lit., ‘seeks to become your neighbour.’]

Yet another verse from the ninth Surah (al-Tawbah) declares:

“Would you not fight a people who broke their oaths and plotted to expel the Messenger (from his hometown), and were the first to attack you (9:13)

Together 9:5/6/13 clarify that these verses relate to an ongoing state of hostility between the Prophet (and his followers) and the pagans, and that the instruction in 9:5 was in relation to those pagan Arabs who had expelled the Prophet from Mecca and were determined to expel him from Medina and repeatedly broke their oaths (9:13) and was not meant for those who sought peace (9:6). The people who sought peace were to be given protection, and were not to be coerced to embrace Islam.

Now if a Muslim person of this era quotes 8:60 or 9:5 or 9:13 in isolation disregarding consecutive reconciliatory verses (8:61, 9:6) and their context specificity (9:13) to instigate a group of his followers to commit any form of violence he is likening himself and his followers with the Prophet of Islam and his followers who were the direct recipients of the instructions of these verses. But such selective appropriation of Qur’an’s message to promote violence amounts to treacherous distortion of Qur’anic message.

The Prophet of Islam was commissioned on a mission “to deliver humanity from the burden that lay over it from before” (7:157) and to take humanity out of darkness into light (2:257, 5:16, 14:1, 57:9, 65:11) He had to achieve this single-handedly as the Messenger of God by introducing a series of revolutionary changes in the social order of Pre-Islamic Arabia as dictated by the revelation. His immediate audience consisted of highly fractured Arab tribes that had no political identity, no geographical boundary, no scripture or book of guidance, who roamed the barren desert highlands since time immemorial - save for a few scattered settlements near sources of water. The tribal system with all its traditions - blood vendetta, female infanticide; institutionalized slavery, usury (money lending), adultery; commercial exploitation; arbitrary punishment, and raiding the caravans of rival tribes was deeply entrenched as the normative way of the ancients (Sunnat al Awwalin) and there had never been any movement or awareness for a change. Accordingly, as the Prophet began preaching (610 AD), he was initially dismissed as an oddity, and with time encountered strong resistance from fellow Arabs that only increased as years went by with the Prophet not letting up on his mission. This resulted first in his self-exile from Mecca to Medina (622) as a lone fugitive with (only one un-named companion) (9:40),and later, when he was preaching in Medina and gaining converts, three full scale attack on him and his followers (624, 625 and 627) that we will review separately. In each case, the attackers were numerically and militarily far superior to the Prophet’s company. The Qur’an counselled and consoled during his preaching in Mecca (610-622) and guided him in Medina with military commands to defend against the attacking army. The Prophet also faced political resistance and conspiracies from the native Jewish tribes and a faction of the Muslims (hypocrites), and lived under constant threat of annihilation for almost twenty out of twenty-three years of his mission until Mecca was integrated (630). However, by the time of his death – some 2 years later, his mission was completed and Islam was established as an historical reality and almost the whole of Arabia was unified as an Umma that was ready to change the course of history. What happened in the ensuing decades is captured allegorically as follows by Thomas Carlyle, one of the iconic figures of Enlightenment:

“as if a spark had fallen, one spark, on a world of what seemed black unnoticeable sand; but lo, the sand proves explosive powder, blazes heaven-high from Delhi to Grenada! I said, the Great Man was always as lightning out of Heaven; the rest of men waited for him like fuel, and then they too would flame.” [1]

In one word, the Prophet accomplished a historically impossible and unparalleled task of establishing a new faith and a new nation that expanded into a global religion barely a few decades after his death and heralded the greatest civilization of the era – the Golden Age of Islam (8th to 13th century AD) out of a hoard of nomadic tribes who were living in their ancient ways since time immemorial, and were non-entities in historical terms and relativism.

So no human being can replay his role until eternity as this planet does not offer such civilisational vacuum as the Prophet’s era – that is regarded as the dark ages. Thus any Muslim attempting to play the role of the Prophet by misappropriating its fighting verses to promote violence in the name of the Prophet or Islam commits treason against the faith of Islam. Likewise, any non-Muslim quoting these verses in isolation to defame Islam does great injustice to humanity by projecting Islam – a religion of peace and reconciliation [2] as a violent religion and supporting the agenda of the Muslim terrorists of this era. Hence, God witnessing, there is a pressing need for an international fatwa (such as from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and United Nations ruling criminalizing selective quotation of the fighting verses of the Qur’an to promote terrorism or defame Islam.

This Reflection which is in sequel to my referenced technical article [2] is inspired by the following bold and categorical declaration by Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam in his September 26 2017 UNHRC debate [3].

“War-time verses of the Prophet’s time maybe important as a historical account of the near insurmountable difficulties the Prophet had to face to establish Islam but do not apply to us today in the 21st century.”


1.       [http://www.scribd.com/doc/12685866/Hero-as-a-Prophet-by-Thomas-Carlyle]

2.       Islam Is A Religion Of Peace And Pluralism


3.       'Make Revolutionary Changes in the Islamic Theology of Consensus to Fight Jihadism': Sultan Shahin Asks Muslim Nations at UNHRC in Geneva


Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/muhammad-yunus,-new-age-islam/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/d/112945

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  • Dear Ghulam Mohiyuddin Sahab,

    The answer to your suggestion lies in the following statement appearing in the concluding part of the article:

    God witnessing, there is a pressing need for an international fatwa (such as from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and United Nations ruling criminalizing selective quotation of the fighting verses of the Qur’an to promote terrorism or defame Islam.
    By muhammd yunus - 10/21/2017 11:01:58 PM

  • Should we stop calling Islam a religion of peace and start calling it a religion of war? Or should we relegate the war verses to the status of "Not applicable now", and redirect our attention and efforts to why Islam is a religion of peace and a mercy to mankind.

    Are either the bitter attacks of Islamophobes on Islam or the false interpretations of Islam by ISIS and other extremists the cause why we have been diverted into explaining and justifying the fighting verses as if thy are the most crucial part of the Quran? If so, they have succeeded in luring us on to a futile path.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 10/21/2017 12:07:43 PM

  • Exceptionalism is also fundamental to Judaism, but the vast majority of today's Jews do not swear by it, and there is no reason to think that Muslims too will shed it. In fact  Quran itself has enough in it to discourage exceptionalism if people will read it correctly.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 10/20/2017 11:27:34 PM

  • The article is based on the "Qur’an’s Fighting Verses".  The comment is therefore necessarily on the principles of war.

    The Principles of war that are derived by considering all the verses on fighting are clear and free from ambiguity. None of the verses make an exception based on the times and circumstances of the Prophetic mission of Muhammad (pbuh). The principles are therefore eternal and based as these are on Divine guidance and inspiration, are common to all the scriptures and may be taken as guidance by all the people whether they follow the religion of Islam or not. The clear, unambiguous principles are:

    1. There is no compulsion in religion. Any form of coercion in religion or prevention from following one’s religion peacefully, constitutes persecution.

    2. War is mandated to end any kind of oppression against any people. The oppression may be religious persecution or any other form of oppression. The faith of the oppressor and the oppressed is immaterial.

    3. Only a ruler with a territory and people under his political authority can wage war. Civil war is not permissible. And only people in the territory ruled by such a ruler can participate in the war effort. People residing in territory under the control of the oppressor, must migrate from that territory first, if they wish to join the war effort against the oppressor.

    4. The only justifiable cause for making war is to fight against the oppressors to end oppression. There is no other justifiable cause.  

    Once the principles are understood, and it is seen that every verse on fighting confirms the same, and no verse contradicts these principles, then there is no longer any need to resort to rhetoric and defense based on the spurious argument of exceptionalism or historic relativism. The unending arguments are because the Quran is not understood based on the underlying principles.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 10/20/2017 11:00:20 PM

  • Dear hats off!

    Have you read the article at all? I have a strong feeling, you haven't and if so by extending the argument of Naseer Sb and ignoring my piece you are not being just to me - though I have done you no harm and I am working for your posterity regardless of whether they remain Muslim or give up Islam.

    By muhammd yunus - 10/20/2017 8:23:40 PM

  • my comment is in response to the comment by mr. naseer ahmed who claims that the article is based on the principle of exceptionalism and that the article is also immoral and weak.

    i just pointed out to him that exceptionalism is the very soul of islam and its manifestation throughout its troubled and violent histroy.

    conquest has been its characteristic and kuffar bashing has been its raison de etre.

    so it is simply a smooth faced lie to claim that exceptionalism is not part of islam when in actual fact it is its most enduring defect.

    By hats off! - 10/20/2017 5:57:54 PM

  • I agree with Naseer sab. when he says, "There cannot be a universal religion based on the expediencies of its times and circumstances or that of its Prophet. Islam is fortunately not such a religion and is based on eternal principles."

    But then he devotes most of his post on fighting and war. Is that what Islam is about? Are we going to spend the rest of our lives defending the fighting verses?

    Ziauddin Sardar said, "We can only interpret the Qur'an according to our own contemporary understanding so we also bring our own social and cultural context into play. The contextual analysis of the Qur'an, Sardar suggests, shows that not everything in the Sacred Text is universal – many verses have significance for the time they were revealed. The universal message of the Qur'an can only be derived by examining its concepts and basic themes."

    So when can we start saying such and such verses are not applicable to our times? When talking of eternal principles, will we ever remember that Islam is about peace, reconciliation, forgiveness and tolerance, and not about killing, kufr and cursing?

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 10/20/2017 12:56:53 PM

  • Hats Off says, "supremacism, exceptionalism and hatred of the kuffar are essential components of islam."

    All those who are carrying on a hate war against Islam, like Hats Off, claim that Islam will remain as it was in the 7th century. This goes stark against what Progressive Muslims believe and what Progressive Muslims have been doing. No wonder  Progressive Muslims are the main target of the hate-crazed  enemies of Islam such as Hats Off.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 10/20/2017 12:34:14 PM

  • Dear hats off!

    Why not read the article and post a comment on it, rather than turning the debate to another direction.

    What Islam was is not important and cannot be changed. The beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. To some it was beautiful. To some t was ugly. That is fully acceptable. The problem at hand is totally different and spelled out in this article. Unless  you post comments just for fun and remain fixated in your Islam-bashing mode, and want to leave a world in which your posterity (if you are married and are going to leave behind) will live under the stigma of belonging to a cult of terror (if the retain your religious identity), you should make an objective remark - if you are a fraction as intelligent as your writing reflects.

    Don't you see a game-changer in this piece from this humble writer whom in your heart you may be dismissing as a Mullah.

    By muhammd yunus - 10/20/2017 3:58:59 AM

  • what was allowed for the prophet was not allowed to others.

    no one was allowed to marry the widows of the prophet.

    no one was allowed to marry indiscriminately as many women as the prophet was allowed to. for others an upper limit of four was prescribed.

    exceptionalism, intolerance to idol worship and polytheism, and contempt for jews and christians was explicitly recommended for the believers.

    also all other religions were delegitimized and islam enforced on the hapless arabians at the point of the sword.

    in other words, exceptioanalism is at the heart of islam.

    when local laws contradict shariah, shariah always trumps the local laws.

    the kuffar cannot enter mecca. non muslim men cannot marry muslim women - while muslim men can marry jewish and christian women without converting the.

    supremacism, exceptionalism and hatred of the kuffar are essential components of islam.

    By hats off! - 10/20/2017 2:02:37 AM

  • Yunus sahib,

    I do not know whether explanations of the fighting verses have the effect of  Islam being seen as a less violent religion or they only serve to refresh people's memories about the fighting verses. Would not our flooding the field with the message of peace, justice and righteousness drown out those with an evil agenda?

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 10/19/2017 11:52:07 PM

  • The article is based on the principle of exceptionalism - what was allowed to the Prophet and why but is not allowed to his followers and also on the implicit rationale of “the end justifies the means” - what was Arabia before and what it became after. These arguments are not only weak but intrinsically immoral. There cannot be a universal religion based on the expediencies of its times and circumstances or that of its Prophet. Islam is fortunately not such a religion and is based on eternal principles. What are the eternal principles of war?

     The permission to fight

    All the verses relating to fighting are for fighting in the cause of Allah. What is the meaning of fighting in the cause of Allah? This is clearly defined in the verses 22:39, 40, 2:191 to 193, 2:217, 2:246, 4:75, 8:36-39 as fighting to end religious persecution and oppression consisting of turning people out of their homes or places of worship for no other reason except their faith or hindering them from practicing their faith or torturing them for their faith. It also means to fight to defend any oppressed people (4:74 and 4:75).


    Specifically, there is no permission to fight against the disbelief of the disbelievers in any of these verses. The fighting is until the Law of Allah or the Deen of Allah is established. The law of Allah includes the freedom of conscience or right to practice any religion.


     Who are the people against whom fighting is ordained?

    Fighting is not ordained against the Muslims, Christians, Jews, polytheists, idolaters, atheists or person(s) of any faith, but only against those who oppress other people for their faith or for any other reason no matter what the faith professed by the oppressors may be. The Momin are those who fight for justice and the opressors are the Kafir.


    Surah Taubah and the so called ‘sword’ verses

    The first 29 verses of this Surah are among the last verses of the Surah to be revealed after the battles of Hunain and Tabuk and exactly a year before the Prophet (pbuh) performed his last hajj. It was approximately 18 months after Mecca fell to the Muslims in a bloodless take-over with the Prophet’s army marching in unopposed.

     (1) A (declaration) of immunity from Allah and His Messenger, to those of the Mushrikin with whom you have contracted mutual alliances:-

     (2) Go you, then, for four months, backwards and forwards, (as you will), throughout the land, but know you that ye cannot frustrate Allah (by your falsehood) but that Allah will cover with shame the Kafirin.

     (3) And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger, to the people (assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage,- that Allah and His Messenger dissolve (treaty) obligations with the Mushrikin. If then, you repent, it were best for you; but if ye turn away, know you that you cannot frustrate Allah. And proclaim to the Kafaru, a grievous penalty.

     (4) (But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Mushrikin with whom you have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for Allah loves the righteous.

     (5) But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Mushrikin wherever you find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

     (6) If one amongst the Mushrikin ask you for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge.

    Please note when a verse uses Mushrikin and when it uses Kafirin or Kafaru and the manner in which it distinguishes between the two. It is only the Kafirin who will be covered with shame (9:2) and to whom is proclaimed a grievous penalty (9:3). Who are these kafaru and what is their kufr?

     (12) But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and taunt you for your Faith,- fight ye the chiefs of Unfaith (a-immata l-kuf'ri): for their oaths are nothing to them: that thus they may be restrained.


    (13) Will ye not fight people who violated their oaths, plotted to expel the Messenger, and took the aggressive by being the first (to assault) you? Do you fear them? Nay, it is Allah Whom you should more justly fear, if you believe!


    The Kufr of the Kafirin was: Violating their oaths and treaties, those who had plotted to expel the Prophet from Mecca and those who were fighting battles against the Prophet. In brief, it was religious persecution. The punishment in 9:5 is only for the religious persecutors and they are the kafaru mentioned in 9:2,3.

    Those who never broke their treaties nor helped the enemies of the Muslims, nor fought them (9:4) and those who seek asylum are not considered Kafir but only people without knowledge (la yalamun 9:6) and exempt from the punishment in 9:5. These are however, disbelievers (la-yuminun) and are barred from entering the Sacred Mosque from the next hajj (9:28) and are required to pay Jizya (9:29)

     (28) O ye who believe! Truly the Mushrikun are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque.

    (29) Fight those who believe not in Allah (la yuminun) 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.

    Why does 9:5 say kill the Mushrikin except those exempted under 9:4 and 9:6 if it is only the Kafirin who are intended? If 9:5 had said kill all the Kafirin except those exempted in 9:4 and 9:6, it is applying exemptions to the Kafirin which makes all of them Kafir. The way it is worded, the exemptions in 9:4 and 9:6 are for those Mushrikin who are not Kafir. The remaining Mushrikin are Kafir to whom the punishment in 9:5 applies.

    While 9:5 appears to be harsh, it had the desired effect, and at the end of the four month amnesty period, not a single Kafir remained to be meted out the death punishment. They either accepted Islam or migrated.

    Those who were merely disbelievers but not Kafir, were among the general mass of people who follow their leaders. Once the (a-immata l-kuf'ri) or the leaders in kufr accepted Islam, the rest also accepted Islam, and there were no Jiziya paying Mushrikin.  This historical fact is misinterpreted and the opinion of the scholars is that the Mushrikin had no choice, but to accept Islam, migrate or be killed.  In effect, they say that 9:29 did not apply to the Mushrikin but only to the People of the Book. This is false. The only people the Quran accuses of not believing in Allah and the last day are the “Mushrikin” or the polytheists. There are numerous verses that speak of the Jews and the Christians but not even one verse accuses them of not believing in Allah or the last day. There are also numerous verses that speak of the “Mushrikin” which accuse them of not believing in the last day and associating partners with Allah or disbelieving both in Allah and the Last Day (44:35, 50:3, 56:47). The Jews and the Christians are accused of not holding that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and his messenger (4:161, 5:42, 5:62,63) and not acknowledging the religion of Truth. The subject of the latter part of the verse is therefore the Jews and the Christians. The verse therefore covers the Polytheists, the Jews and the Christians and all of them are given a choice to willingly pay Jiziya or face war.

    Fundamental Principles of Islam

    Freedom of Conscience

    Let there be no compulsion in Religion (2:256)

    To the (peaceful) rejecter of the faith be his way and to me mine (109:6)

    The discussion on the verses of Surah Taubah clearly establish that the above two principles, were never violated by the Prophet in his battles against the enemy, and are fundamental principles of Islam. The peaceful Mushrikin had the choice of retaining their religion and paying Jizya.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 10/19/2017 11:29:54 PM

  • Dear Ghulam Mohiyuddin Sahab,
    In fact the Qur'an asks the Muslims to seek the best meaning in it and to focus on its clear and definitive commandments.

    The problem lies in orthodox Islam’s division of the world between darul Islam and darul harab, with Muslims perpetually at war with non-Muslims until they conquer the whole world. So they had to use the fighting verses to support their agenda, and put the reconciliatory and peace and compassion invoking verses in the back burner.

    Come this era, the fighting verses serve the agenda of those who want to project Islam as a violent religion – anti-Islamic non- Muslims and radical liberal Muslims alike and of course the advocates of Islamic Caliphate and the militant jihadists, and their tacit supporters in the mainstream Islam who watch the videos of heinous crimes against innocent people perpetrated under the banner of Shahada and never make any loud and thunderous protest – the shameless Ulama of Islam, God witnessing as expounded in my following article.

    15.  The Shamelessness of Ulema of Islam in Bearing with the Penultimate Blasphemy by ISIS Brutes without a Thunderous Global Protest Is Despicable


    By muhammd yunus - 10/19/2017 8:20:15 PM

  • Good article!
    However if the time and effort that our ulema have spent over the past century explaining the fighting verses had been spent extolling the Meccan verses, I think we would have been better off.
    Jews, Christians and Hindus have put the controversial parts of their holy books on the back burners and promoted the parts that are uplifting.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 10/19/2017 12:01:34 PM

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