The Quran on war, peace and justice

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War and terrorism are human failings. Some Muslims are twisting some portions of the Quran to justify their actions. At the same time there are many non-Muslims are misunderstanding certain verses about the Islamic conduct of war when it is forced upon them. Below is a clear explanation that can help clarify misconceptions.

When it comes to the Islamic conduct of war, some of the verses of the Quran that have often been quoted by non-Muslims to "prove" Islam promotes violence and bloodshed are found in Surah 2 verses 190-194:
 
2.190. Fight against those who fight against you in the way of God, but do not transgress, for God does not love transgressors.

2.191. Kill them whenever you confront them and drive them out from where they drove you out. (For though killing is sinful) wrongful persecution is even worse than killing. Do not fight against them near the Holy Mosque unless they fight against you; but if they fight against you kill them, for that is the reward of such unbelievers.

2.192. Then if they desist, know well that God is Ever-Forgiving, Most Compassionate.

2.193. Keep on fighting against them until mischief ends and the way prescribed by God prevails. But if they desist, then know that hostility is only against the wrong-doers.

2.194. The sacred month for the sacred month; sanctities should be respected alike ( by all concerned). Thus, if someone has attacked you, attack him just as he attacked you, and fear God and remain conscious that God is with those who guard against violating the bounds set by Him.

(Based on the translation in "Towards Understanding the Quran"

The Historic Context and the Nature of the Holy Quran

The Holy Quran comprises of revelations from God to Prophet Muhammad over a period of twenty three years (610 C.E. – 632 C.E.). The first 13 years of the prophethood of Muhammad were at his hometown of Makkah (Mecca), where he and his fellow Muslims were severely persecuted by the pagans of Makkah. During that time, Muslims were not ordered to fight back, but bear the persecutions. Finally, God ordered the Prophet and his fellow Muslims (known as Sahabah) to emigrate to the city of Madinah, about 400 kilometers away.

This emigration, known as the Hijrah, marked the beginning of an Islamic society in Madinah, in which the Prophet became the head of the state. It was not long before the polytheists of Makkah marched towards Madinah to wage war against Muslims and destroy the Islamic state of Madinah. This battle is known as the Battle of Badr. The verses 2.190-2.194, above were perhaps the first injunctions from God to Muslims to prepare themselves for fighting. It was obviously a war in the defense of their homeland and their Faith.

In verse 2.190, God instructs Muslims to fight back, but not to transgress and remain just even during the battle. "They are told that material interests should not be the motivation for their fighting, that they should not take up arms against those were not in opposition to the true faith, that they should not resort to unscrupulous methods or to the indiscriminate killing and pillage which characterized the other wars. The excesses alluded to in this verse are acts such as taking up arms against women and children, the old and the injured, mutilation of the dead bodies of the enemy, uncalled for devastation through the destruction of fields and livestock, and other similar acts of injustice and brutality.

The Prophet prohibited all these acts. The real intent of the verse is to stress that force should be used only when its use is unavoidable, and only to the extent that is absolutely necessary.

Commentary on verse 2.192

God, in whom the believers have faith, is forgiving and ready to pardon even the worst criminals and sinners after they have renounced their arrogant defiance towards Him. It is suggested that this attribute of God should be reflected in the behavior of the believers as well. Hence, whenever the believers have to resort to armed conflict, they should do so not for the sake of quenching their thirst for vengeance but in the just cause of their defense. Their conflict with any group should last only as long as that group is fighting them. As soon as it gives up this fight the hostility should cease.

It should be emphasized that so many revelations in the Holy Quran came down to provide guidance to Prophet Muhammad and the Muslims based on what they were confronting at that time. Therefore, it is important to understand and know the historic context of the revelations for a proper understanding of these verses.

The Prophet Mohamed, peace and blessings be upon him, was the peace maker of his time. He endured torture, hunger and the killing of his loved ones by his enemies, but he remained a merciful person. In his most startling entry of Makkah only four people died. In his 23 years of struggle for peace and justice, the total number of people who lost their lives from all sides was less than 2,000 in wars that were imposed on him and the Muslim community.

Taken from www.islam101.com with permission.

Comments

I am a new muslim and i am seeking futher knowledge about the reason for the violence among muslims. I love begin a muslim ; but i need to understand more. The explaination you gave about the fighting Muhammed did in Al-midina ; helps me understand that concept ; of why he had to ; but those terrorist are making very bad for us . and i relalized that it is very important to understand what was happening at the time those verses were revealed in the Quran. Because ; there is so many misunderstandings about islam and the useless killings among muslims ; makes it very difficult to serve Allah ; without distractions. And everywhere you turn ; someone looks at us as though we are terroists and that is very uncomfortable to some sister who love Allah. All i want to do is to serve Him without being felt terrorized . Because my only interest ; is loving and serving Allah sincerely. How could all of us who are sincere muslims ; convinced people that we are not what they are thinking? please explain.Thank you for that insight.

Location

Albany

Why not tell the story of Mohammed and his reign of terror, rape and murder from the beginning?

Location

phoenix

well explained, I hope it is widely read

Location

Lahore

MASHALLAH brother u have done a nice work .and this article was very impressive.and being a muslims i will say ALLHUMDULLILAH islam is the religion of peace.

Location

the article is very good, however it would be nice to see more quotes regarding peace form the Quran, however i really liked this and well done...i hope to see more =) Saira (age 17)

Location

England- Uk

I, too, would like to see parts of the Quran that illustrates, as we hear so often, that Islam is a religion of peace. That is, Islam means peace. What I get from Mike's comments is Muslims are either frustrated and angry with us because we have invaded a Muslim country. Or is it? Wasn't Iraq secular, when my country went in looking for nonexistent WMDs?In any event, I think the decision to attack with bombs as the "insurgents" are doing can be found in the reading of parts of the Quran. But also, we can find that Islam would indeed by angry, but not sure the killing that is going on by Muslims would be well thought of by God.Muslims killing Muslims? Muslims killing innocent children, beheading women and killing others? To say nothing of the slaughter of innocent men.I am not a Muslim. I think my question would be. Would Allah approve of all that I have listed above?It's all so very confusing to those of us trying to understand Islam and what it teaches. Can anyone address this? Thank you.When I click on "great," I hope I am meaning the site and not my rather badly written question.

Location

USA

Wonderful, powerful and informative article.

Location

WASHINGTON, D.C

assalamu alaikum! i realize i'm coming to this discussion very late, if not years later. however, by the Grace of Allah, i found this article just at the right moment. with the ongoing media campaign against Islam and those who follow the Deen al Haqq, there is much bigotry being spread about not only Muslims but the Qur'an too. it is unfortunate, but we still understand the nature of wartime propaganda.i just want to thank you all and Mash'Allah, i found this article and this will enable me to provide light in the thickness of dark...

Location

california

In response to Karla,The Quran promotes peace and justice, but God knows that war and violence are an unfortunate part of the human condition, and therefore gives guidelines on how to deal with it. With that said, here is a sampling of verses from the Quran which define and limit when and how war is used.002.251. So they routed them by Allah's leave and David slew Goliath; and Allah gave him the kingdom and wisdom, and taught him of that which He willeth. And if Allah had not repelled some men by others the earth would have been corrupted. But Allah is a Lord of Kindness to (His) creatures.003.108. These are revelations of Allah. We recite them unto thee in truth. Allah willeth no injustice to (His) creatures.002.190. Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.007.033. Say: My Lord forbiddeth only indecencies, such of them as are apparent and such as are within, and sin and wrongful oppression, and that ye associate with Allah that for which no warrant hath been revealed, and that ye tell concerning Allah that which ye know not.028.083. As for that Abode of the Hereafter We assign it unto those who seek not oppression in the earth, nor yet corruption. The sequel is for those who ward off (evil).060.008. Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers.060.009. Allah forbiddeth you only those who warred against you on account of religion and have driven you out from your homes and helped to drive you out, that ye make friends of them. Whosoever maketh friends of them - (All) such are wrong- doers.002.193. 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 practise oppression.

Location

Chicago

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