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

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

Here is another group of verses from the Quran, which show the limitations of war, and the call to peace and justice...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).Who Muslims are not allowed to fight...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.And who Muslims are allowed to fight...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.Don't start wars...002.190. Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.As a contrast, please reads the following passages of the Old Testament...Deuteronomy 2010 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby. Peace equals forced labor? That sound just, well what about the nations that ARE nearby?16 However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy [1] them-the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites-as the LORD your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God. ...I'll take the forced labor, thanks.

Location

Chicago

This is a very informative article on these verses of the Quran. They have been well defined in their intentions on war, peace and justice. For me as a non-Muslim this article has furthered my knowledge of the teachings in the Holy Quran

Location

Kentucky

Thank you for such a clear and concise overview on this topic!

Location

Toronto

Thank you for the excellent review on the verses of the Quran. The Words of God are the same for everyone just like in Deuteronomy, Chapter 7: verses 1 - 5 which say:"When the Lord your God shall bring you into the land where you are enteringto posses it, and shall clear away many nations before you, the Hittites andthe Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites andthe Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you.And when the Lord your God shall deliver them before you, and you shalldefeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make nocovenant with them and show no favour to them. Furthermore, you shall notinter-marry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, norshall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sonsaway from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord willbe kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. But thus you shalldo to them; you shall tear down their alters and smash their sacred pillarsand hew down their Asherim and burn their graven images with fire".

Location

Montreal

i'd like to see more quotes on peace and non-violence from the qur'an.

Location

florida

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