In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful.
I intend to respond to some of the issues raised on the issue of Jihad in the following website:
It is suggested on this polemical anti-Islamic site that there are three stages of Jihad, i.e. the term Jihad used in the sense of ‘fighting’, which is actually referred to as ‘qitaal‘ rather than Jihad in the Holy Qur’an.
The primary meaning of the word Jihad in Arabic is to strive, which may be towards God [22:78, 29:69] against Satan, or one’s inner weakness [29:6], overcoming disbelief with the truth in the Qur’an [25:52].
The words for ‘a holy war’ in Arabic are ‘harbun muqaddasun’, not Jihad. The usage of the term Jihad in the Qur’an is as follows:
[22:78] “And strive in Allah as it behoves you to strive for it. He has chosen you, and has laid no hardship upon you in religion; so follow the faith of your father Abraham; He named you Muslims both before and in this Book, so that the Messenger may be a witness over you, and that you may be witnesses over mankind. Therefore observe Prayer and pay the Zakat, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Master. An excellent Master and an excellent Helper!”
How does one strive in Allah according to this verse [22:78]? By means of prayer and charity, holding firmly to Allah. There is no mention of fighting in this verse about Jihad.
Another verse is: [29:69] “And as for those who strive in Us — We will surely guide them in Our ways. And verily Allah is with those who do good.” Once again, Jihad is described as striving in ‘Us’, i.e. towards God, and it has little or nothing to do with literal fighting or warfare.
Yet another verse on Jihad is: [29:6] “And whoso strives, strives only for his own soul; verily Allah is Independent of all creatures.” Yet again, Jihad is for the benefit of one’s soul (nafs), fighting against the devil, overcoming weaknesses and sins.
Here’s another verse: [25:52] “So obey not the disbelievers and strive against them by means of it (the Qur’an) a great striving.” This verse talks about overcoming disbelievers by means of (the truth contained within) the Qur’an.
As all fair-minded persons will be able to see, the usage of the term Jihad in the Qur’an is essentially a spiritual one.
The meaning of overcoming aggression/transgression by means of fighting back [2:190] in defence of one’s self, or the protection of other innocent persons who are being oppressed can be seen to be implied in [4:95] but not directly stated as such. All of these meanings are found in verses of the Qur’an, the ‘go-to Book’ (i.e. dependable Book) for Muslims for 2-3 centuries.
Jihad is not correctly defined as ‘holy war’, which appears to a term christians relate to when considering the concept of (the lesser) Jihad in the sense of physical warfare. At the same time, it is does not seem to me to be incorrect to say that an inner spiritual struggle, a struggle to uphold the truth by means of proofs, logic and reason, as well as a physical struggle to do away with criminal injustice and oppression, are all forms of ‘holy war’ in some sense. Surely, if done in the right way, without violating the stipulated rules and conditions, they should not be referred to as ‘unholy’.
For those who prefer to refer to ahadith instead of the Qur’an, here is a relevant one to consider from the mass reported ‘farewell sermon’:
Fadalah ibn Ubaid reported: The Messenger of Allah s.a. said during the final sermon, “Have I not informed you? The believer is the one who is trusted with the lives and wealth of people. The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand people are safe. The one striving in jihad in the way of Allah is the one who wages jihad against himself in obedience to Allah. The emigrant is one who emigrates away from sins and evil deeds.” [Musnad Aḥmad, 23438]
Another relevant hadith on Jihad:
Fadalah ibn Ubaid reported: The Messenger of Allah s.a. said, “The one who strives in jihad in the way of Allah is he who strives against his soul.” [Sunan at-Tirmidhī, 1621]
The Jihad which the Companions r.a. of the Prophet s.a. waged in Mecca for about a decade was to remain patient and restrain themselves from retaliation and physically fighting their cruel persecutors, for this is what the Prophet s.a. instructed, as we shall see below. However, my emphasis in this article, as with my other articles, will be on the Holy Qur’an. Stage 1: Pardoning & Pacifism?
The remarks made about Stage 1 make it appear to be based on wisdom, for it is rather foolish to rise up against authorities who are more powerful, as it is foolish for a surgeon to commence an operation which is likely to worsen the condition of the patient rather than resolve it. This is why Jesus a.s. rebuked Peter when he used his sword to cut off the ear of a temple guard [Matthew 26:52].
Jesus a.s. himself instructed his disciples to purchase (two) swords [Luke 22:36], and this may well have been in order to deter any ‘lone wolf/terrorist’ (such as Barabbas, one of the zealots) who might have been instigated to launch an attack on Jesus a.s. by the jewish temple authorities, who we are told were plotting to kill Jesus a.s. [John 11:31], as a result of which he fled Jerusalem for Ephraim to stay with his disciples. Jesus a.s. also taught “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.” [Luke 11:53] However, I would disagree with anyone (e.g. Dr. Reza Aslan) who alleges Jesus a.s. was a political and rebellious jew calling for an increase in disorder and unnecessary bloodshed by means of regime change to end Roman hegemony over Judea. Jesus a.s. promoted peace. However, the problem with interpreting the rebuking of Peter by Jesus a.s. to mean a complete prohibition of fighting even in self-defence, or even for the protection of other innocent persons, or even to fight against tyranny such as Nazism, is that it makes the teaching of Jesus a.s. appear deficient. We read that christians themselves formulated a concept of ‘just war’ themselves when they acquired a position of responsibility sometime in the 4th century of the christian era. The vast majority of nations in the world have some sort of security measures in place for the protection of their citizens, so if the statement of Jesus a.s. is interpreted as implying complete pacifism under all circumstances, then christians would be asked to explain the wisdom in it if they themselves don’t act on it.
Keep in mind that Muslims were taught to pardon rather than fight during the decade or so of Islam in Mecca, whereas we read that the command not to fight (against a ruling authority) was given by Jesus a.s. after about 3 years of his ministry in Jerusalem. He was never in charge of a state such that the responsibility of protecting innocent lives was a matter of concern for him, so it is open to speculation as regards what he might have taught in this regard.
In Mecca, Abdur Rahman bin Auf r.a. and a few other Companions r.a. are reported to have requested the Prophet Muhammad s.a. to permit them to fight back against the oppressive Qur’aish. The Holy Prophet s.a. said,
“I have been commanded to pardon. Fight not therefore” [Sunan un-Nasa’i Kitabul Jihad]. This is in accordance with the pacifist way adopted by the righteous son of Adam a.s., as related in the Qur’an:
[5:27-8] ‘‘… Allah accepts only from the righteous. If thou stretch out thy hand against me to kill me, I am not going to stretch out my hand against thee to kill thee. I do fear Allah, the Lord of the universe.”
He was subsequently murdered by his wicked brother. The verse is included in the Qur’an for a very good reason, as it lends support to adopting a pacifist stance as a righteous way in some circumstances, which do arise from time to time, as they arose in the past, have arisen in our time, and will probably arise in the future.
The Companions r.a. of the Noble Prophet s.a. dutifully obeyed him in Mecca and remained patient and pacifist as he had instructed them, enduring their persecution with patience and steadfastness. This situation lasted for about a decade, and in the midst of this persecution, some Muslims sought refuge in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) where there was known to be a just Christian King (rather than in the Byzantine Empire, about which historical, Jewish and Christian sources report that they were wrongdoers in some ways). There is also a hadith which advises Muslims to become pacifists like the righteous son of Adam a.s., viz:
“Abu Musa al-Ashari reported: The Messenger of Allah s.a. said, “Verily, right before the Hour there will be a tribulation like pieces of the dark night in which a man may be a believer in the morning and an unbeliever by evening, or he may be a believer in the evening and an unbeliever by morning. He who sits down during it will be better than he who rises up, and he who walks during it will be better than he who runs. So break your bows, cut your bowstrings, and strike your swords against the rock. If someone comes to kill you, then be like the better of the two sons of Adam.” (5:28) [Abu Dawud, 4259]
There is pacifism, non-retaliation and pardoning in other verses of the Qur’an as well: [3:134] ” …Those who control their tempers (when they are roused) and who overlook people’s faults. …”
[42:40,43] “The recompense of an injury is a penalty in proportion thereto; but whoso forgives and effects thereby a reform in the offender, will have his reward with Allah. Surely, He loves not the wrongdoers. … And the one who is patient and forgives, that surely is a matter of strong determination.”‘
[41:34] “And good and evil are not alike. Repel evil with that which is best. And lo, he between whom and thyself was enmity will become as though he were a warm friend.” Thus, teachings similar to ‘turning the other cheek’ are clearly present in the Noble Qur’an and not exclusive to the message of Jesus a.s., as is a teaching of ‘love your enemies’ in the case of family members who bear and/or show enmity:
[64.15] “O ye who believe! surely among your spouses and your children are some that are really your enemies, so beware of them. And if you overlook and forgive and pardon, then surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful.”
Please note that the righteous pacifism, non-retaliation and pardoning referred to in the verses mentioned above isn’t merely in the case when one is weak and unable to retaliate, leaving one with no other option but to forgive. The righteous son of Adam a.s. could have defended himself, and the husband might also take action against his family for their enmity, but in the interest of reform and reconciliation, of others and of one’s own progress in righteousness, patience and steadfastness are the options of choice.
Stage 2: Defensive Jihad?
Stage 2 is described on the anti-Islamic website under consideration as ‘Defensive Jihad’. Though David doesn’t state anything obviously false in his description, two points need to be made. Firstly, the chiefs of Mecca had plotted to murder the Holy Prophet Muhammad s.a. in Mecca, and he escaped and migrated to Medina with the help of Allah Almighty. Secondly, angered by his escape, the chiefs of Mecca declared war against the Muslims and all the people of Medina who had given refuge to the Prophet Muhammad s.a. Hence, they made clear their hostile intentions in a letter written to the chief of Medina, Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul (chief of the hypocrites) stating:
“You have given protection to an individual of ours (i.e., Muhammad sa), and we swear in the name of Allah that you shall either leave him and declare war against him, or in the least, exile him from your city. If not, we shall gather our entire army and attack you; and we shall kill your men and take your women in to our own possession, making them lawful unto ourselves.” [Abu Dawood Kitab al Kharaj, Vol II P. 495]
The idolatrous chiefs of Mecca also sent a letter to the Jewish tribes allied to the Holy Prophet (sa) stating:
“You are men of weapons and fortresses. You should fight our companion or we shall deal with you in a certain way. And nothing will come between us and the anklets of your women.” [Abu Dawud]
Both the above statements can be found here:
It is reported that when this letter reached Madinah, ‘Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul (Chief of the Hypocrites) and his companions, who already harboured deep enmity in their hearts against Islam, prepared to wage war against the Holy Prophet s.a. When the Holy Prophet s.a. was informed of this, he immediately met these people and explained to them that:
“If you wage war against me, in fact it is you who shall suffer. For your own brethren and kindred would be your opponents. In other words, the Muslims from among the Aus and Khazraj will side with me in all circumstances. Hence, waging war against me only means that you would be taking up the sword against your very own sons, brothers, and fathers. Now you decide for yourself.” [Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitabul-Kharaji Wal-Imrah, Babu Fi Khabarin-Naar, hadith No. 3004]
This state of affairs is referred to in the Qur’an: “O ye Muslims! And remember the time when you were few and weak in the land, and were in constant fear lest people should snatch you away (i.e., wage a sudden attack against you and destroy you). But God sheltered you and granted you support with His Succour and opened the doors of pure favours upon you. Therefore, you should now live as thankful servants.” [8:26]
The Holy Prophet s.a. had become responsible for the protection of all the citizens of Medina (Muslims, Jews and Polytheists), so it became absolutely necessary to start measures to protect all of the innocent people of Medina, and to prepare to engage in a war which was forced upon the innocent Muslims who were being deprived of their human right of freedom of faith and conscience by the idolators of Mecca, even after they had migrated elsewhere.
On a matter of principle, if someone becomes aware of another person’s intention to stab and kill him, it is considered justified and proper to take appropriate measures to defend oneself or fight back, or even make a pre-emptive attack. Yet non-Muslim critics of Islam ignore the clear declaration of hostile intent against Medina by the chiefs of Mecca, and start making unreasonable accusations of raiding caravans which were being used for the purpose of funding the Meccan war effort. Consider the following UN plan:
“The UN security council has unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at disrupting revenues that Islamic state receives from oil and antiquities sales, ransom payments and other criminal activities. Finance ministers agree it will be a challenging goal.”
Secondly, it needs to be stated that the Qur’an not only granted permission to Muslims to fight back against the aggressors for a noble cause as stated in [22:39,40], it also makes unlawful the initiation of hostilities in [2:190], viz: “And fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not initiate hostilities. Surely, Allah loves not the transgressors.” Stage 3: Sura [9:29] & Offensive Jihad?
Next, David Wood quotes Sura [9:29] to make the erroneous claim that it promotes ‘Offensive Jihad’, thereby abrogating verses such as [2:190] which clearly and categorically prohibit the initiation of hostilities or any form of aggression or transgression, and [2:256] which clearly and categorically prohibits any form of compulsion in religion. David Wood also alleged in a 2015 debate that Muslims are commanded in [9:29] to fight people for disbelief in Allah, and also for their eating pork which has been declared unlawful by Allah and His Messenger s.a.
However, David Wood is not the first person to propound this erroneous interpretation of the verse. Some muslim exegetes also suggested that the words refer to pork and wine. Though this gives the impression of interpreting the Qur’an by means of other verses of the Qur’an rather than an external source, this being the primary and standard method of interpretation, verses on diet and drink are not the relevant verses that are indicated by the verse [9:29]. The context of the verse being fighting, the relevant verse/s would be any prohibitions concerning fighting, such as [2:190]:
The prohibition on aggression/transgression clearly laid out in [2:190] is supported by [22:39,40], [60:8.9] and [9:13], the latter verse being in the same Sura as [9:29], along with the clear prohibition of any type of compulsion in religion [2:256]. Thus, [2:190] does not stand on it’s own in prohibiting aggression. These verses support the declaration by Ghulam Ahmad a.s. over a century ago that armed Jihad was haraam (i.e. prohibited) for the muslims of his time, as the stipulated reasons or conditions for it were not being met, e.g. there being religious freedom in India. Given the emphasis in the Qur’an on following the way of justice, and not swerving from the principles of justice even when dealing with enemies [5:8], it would annul the entire spirit of the message of the Qur’an to interpret [9:29] in such a way as to conflict with all such verses, whether directly relevant to the context of fighting or otherwise. And if someone does insist on verses containing prohibitions on diet, drink and usury as being relevant to the words ‘what Allah and His messenger have forbidden’, then one could propose that these are some of the underlying reasons which were instrumental in non-Muslims initiating hostilities against Muslims in the first place, which then gave Muslims the rightful justification to fight against them, but never transgressing the limits or violating the principles set by Allah, as then it would cease to be ‘in the way of Allah’. Thus, it may be possible to see those other verses which are not directly relevant to the context of fighting, as giving an insight into why they had initiated hostilities against innocent and peaceful Muslims, who only wish to share, without any form of compulsion whatsoever, what they believe is good for other fellow human beings, as it is good for their own selves.
The verse [9:29] translates into English as follows:
“Fight those from among the People of the Book who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor hold as unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have declared to be unlawful, nor follow the way of justice, until they pay the tax with their own hand and acknowledge their subjection.”
This isn’t the only verse in the Qur’an in which the expression of belief in Allah and/or the Last Day is mentioned. Other verses are:
[2:8-12] “And of the people there are some who say, ‘We believe in Allah and the Last Day;’ while they are not believers at all. They would deceive Allah and those who believe, and they deceive none but themselves; only they perceive it not. In their hearts was a disease, and Allah has increased their disease to them; and for them is a grievous punishment because they lied. And when it is said to them: ‘Create not disorder on the earth,’ they say: ‘We are only promoters of peace.’ Beware! it is surely they who create disorder, but they do not perceive it.”
[2:232] “And when you divorce women and they reach the end of their period, prevent them not from marrying their husbands, if they agree between themselves in a decent manner. This is an admonition for him among you who believes in Allah and the Last Day. It is more blessed for you and purer; and Allah knows but you do not know.”
[5:81] “And if they had believed in Allah and this Prophet, and in that which has been revealed to him, they would not have taken them as their friends, but many of them are disobedient.”
[8:41] “And know that whatever you take as spoils in war, a fifth thereof shall go to Allah and to the Messenger and to the kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if you believe in Allah and in what We sent down to Our servant on the Day of Distinction — the day when the two armies met — and Allah has the power to do all things.”
[65:3] “Then, when they are about to reach their prescribed term, keep them with kindness, or put them away with kindness, and call to witness two just persons from among you; and bear true witness for Allah. This is by which is admonished he who believes in Allah and the Last Day. And he who fears Allah — He will make for him a way out.”
Upon studying these verses, one can see that the usage of these words indicates an expectation that the persons concerned will act in accordance with their supposed beliefs, by doing good and/or refraining from an act of evil. Thus the implication is that even if people claim to believe in Allah and the Last Day when divine judgement is to take place, their not acting accordingly belies their claim of belief, and their violation of the principles of justice by initiating hostilities against those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and do act accordingly, not violating any divine commands, gives Muslims the justification to fight in self-defence and protection of innocent persons. As the Qur’an teaches complete freedom of religion, which includes both faith as well as the practices of religion, it simply cannot be understood that one is being permitted to fight a people due to their lack of belief in Allah and the Last Day. It is only when they act unjustly, violating the rights of other human beings, that one may fight against them.
The verse [9:29] also refers to ‘Deen al Haqq’, which is usually translated as ‘the Religion of Truth’. Even if one were to accept this translation as accurate, there is no permission in any other verse of the Qur’an to initiate fighting against anyone merely for their beliefs or lack of them. This would be an injustice which would violate the letter and spirit of the teachings of the Qur’an. Following the Religion of Truth would necessitate acting on it’s teachings, and acting otherwise by violating it’s rules and principles would falsify one’s claim to belief. Moreover, the Arabic word ‘Haqq’ also means that which is right and just. Thus the wording of the verse does not permit the misinterpretation that Muslims should themselves violate the Divine prohibition on initiating hostilities and thereby act wrongfully, because Muslims are to follow the way of justice and doing what is right, rather than injustice and a wrongful violation of other people’s rights.
Now, the wording is “… walā yadīnūna dīna l-ḥaqqi …“. With regards to it grammatical aspects, it should be noted that if daana is used to mean to believe or follow a religion, it should have the particle ba after it [Al Mu’jam al Wasit (Cairo 1972); al Razi, al-Tafsir al-kabir, Vol. 8, p. 29; Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Exploring the Qur’an: Context and Impact, 2017, p. 32].
Thus it would have been written as:
“… walā yadīnūna bi dīni l-ḥaqqi …“
The wording “… walā yadīnūna dīna l-ḥaqqi …” translates as “and they do not follow the way of justice”.
One should also keep in mind that if it is Christians who initiated hostilities against Muslims, they would be violating their own Christian interpretation of the command of Jesus a.s. to his disciple Peter, viz: “Put your sword back in it’s place, for those all who draw the sword, will die by the sword” [Matthew 26:52] Thus, they still remain the aggressors, and the verse gives insight into the state of their rebellious minds and hearts.
Hence, David Wood’s misinterpretation of the verse as inculcating ‘Offensive Jihad’ is not at all supported by a careful consideration of the verse itself according to it’s proper context (fighting rather than diet), as well as numerous other verses of the Holy Qur’an. Thus the verse [9:29] actually reinforces the prohibition on compulsion [2:256] as well as the prohibition on fighting given in [2:190], which is further elaborated in [22:39,40] and reiterated in [9:13], rather than abrogates them.
In addition, the historical context of the verse is the murder (beheading) of a Muslim envoy by the Ghassanid Christians which was seen as a declaration of war as understood in those times, an incident reported by Maronite Christian Historian Phillip K Hitti in his book ‘History of the Arabs’. They rebelled against the wise instruction of Jesus a.s. that ‘those who live by the sword, shall perish by the sword’, and initiated hostilities by beheading the envoy, and being unrepentant, kept fighting against Muslims until they lost a large part of their Empire to Muslims.
Some Christians accept that the incident of beheading is undeniable, for history tells us of the atrocities of the Byzantine Empire, but some other Christians question it’s truth. One can then ask those who question it’s truthfulness as to why the Muslims fabricated this excuse in that era if they thought that [9:29] commanded them to initiate hostilities for no reason other than disbelief in Allah and His Messengers and His Commandments. Other than finding mention in Muslim records about the atrocities of the Roman Empire against them, one can read the testimony of Christian Patriarch Mar Timothy [728/740-823 CE) concerning them. He states:
“And what Abraham, that friend and beloved of God, did in turning his face from idols and from his kinsmen, and looking only towards one God and becoming the preacher of one God to other peoples, this also Muhammad did. He turned his face from idols and their worshippers, whether those idols were those of his own kinsmen or of strangers, and he honoured and worshipped only one God. Because of this God honoured him exceedingly and brought low before his feet two powerful kingdoms which roared in the world like a lion and made the voice of their authority heard in all the earth that is below heaven like thunder, viz: the Kingdom of the Persians and that of the Romans.”
Mar Timothy states that both the Romans and the Persians ‘roared in the world like a lion‘, by which he apparently meant to refer to their savagery and beastliness, in a manner that seems similar to the phrase ‘causing mischief/disorder in the land’, which is used in the Qur’an a few times.
Nevertheless, it appears that the Romans/Byzantines were somewhat better than the Persians in this regard, or Sura 30 [ar-Rum] would not have shown a preference for the Romans in comparison with the Persians. It appears that they may have become worse after their hostility towards Islam, rejecting it’s message, and initiating conflict by beheading an envoy of the Holy Prophet s.a., and Allah knows best.
Another verse one may bring into the discussion is as follows:
[49:9] And if two parties of believers fight against each other, make peace between them; then if after that one of them transgresses against the other, fight the party that transgresses until it returns to the command of Allah. Then if it returns, make peace between them with equity, and act justly. Verily, Allah loves the just.
Just as there are complications of surgical procedures, there may well be times when believers may fall into conflict over differences and fight against each other. This verse instructs Muslims on how to deal with such situations. It appears to use the same sort of basic wisdom which parents would apply when their children fight each other, or school-teachers would use if fighting breaks out between two pupils in school, i.e. separate the fighting parties and make peace between them, and apply the standard principles of justice if fighting does break out between them, rather than supply them with weapons for wrongful financial gain.
Another issue one may deal with is the instruction given to Muslims prescribing fighting, viz:
[2:216] Fighting is ordained for you, though it is repugnant to you; but it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you like a thing while it is bad for you. Allah knows all things, and you know not.
One may wonder why fighting was repugnant to Muslims. There are various possibilities. The first one that comes to mind is that Muslims had been commanded by the Prophet s.a. to pardon their persecutors in Mecca, and not to retaliate against them by fighting, and this went on for 13 whole years, and so the Companions r.a. had inclined towards pacifism. Another consideration is that fighting involves the risk and likelihood of loss of personal life, hence the reluctance, for it is wise to preserve one’s life if possible. In general, surgery is resorted to when general medical treatments have failed, or are considered, on the basis of past experience, as likely to be ineffective.
Surgeons would be unwilling to perform surgical procedures if the risks are considered to outweigh any benefits, such as loss of life during an operation on an elderly patient, for the surgeon may himself be sued for medical negligence if he does not abide by the rules and principles of performing surgery. One may derive lessons from this and apply them to the conditions and circumstances under which fighting becomes the preferred option. In the light of the above analogy with surgical intervention, one can now explain why it is unwise to fight in situations when there is little or no likelihood of being able to overcome those who initiate and spread disorder and corruption in the land.
In any case, the matter which Allah knows full well and Muslims did not know, as stated in [2:216] appears to be elaborated in the following verse, viz: [2:217] … And they will not cease fighting you, until they turn you back from your faith, if they can.
Thus, when the verses of the Qur’an are read in context and understood in the light of other verses, one can clearly see that there is no inculcation of the so-called ‘offensive Jihad’ anywhere in the Qur’an, and if anyone tries to suggest so, and appeals to the notion of abrogation, it is because of a misunderstanding or deliberate perversion of the Qur’anic text. It is reported that the famous scholar Shah Waliullah Dehlvi (rh) reconciled the majority of verses considered by other scholars to be contradicting one another, reducing them from about 500 to 5 verses which he was himself unable to reconcile. One should be able to reconcile any apparently conflicting verses with careful study and reflection on those verses, InshaAllah. I intend to add some remarks on jizya, but suffice it to say for now that the requirement to pay jizya rather than be forced believe and pay the zakat which is expected from Muslims, or be killed, reinforces rather than in any way abrogates the rather emphatic command that there is to be absolutely no form of compulsion in religion whatsoever [2:256].
A christian friend put forward to me (on 24th January 2019) the argument that [9:33] is part of the context of [9:29], and alleged that the verse proves that Islam teaches Muslims to initiate fighting in order to dominate those adhering to other religions, and thereby impose Islam on the world. The verse may be translated as follows:
[9:33] He it is Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth (or justice, rights), that He may make it prevail over every (other) religion, even though the idolaters may dislike (it).
His interpretation might have been right if the wording was along the lines of: He it is Who sent His Messenger with weapons and the religion of injustice, that He may make it prevail over every (other) region, even though the peoples may fight against (it). It is quite evident to me, as it ought to be to objective readers who are not inclined towards hastily accepting flawed eisegesis due to biases and pre-conceived notions, that the prevailing of right guidance and truth/justice is related to ideological supremacy rather than to military domination. However, it should be pointed out that many muslim scholars have erred greatly in interpreting [9:29], as is evident from this article:
Sura [5:32-34] & the Issue of Abrogation:
David Wood mentioned the Army Major named Nidal Malik Hasan who opened fire at Fort Hood in Texas on November 5th, 2009, and criticised a CNN article for quoting a part of Sura [5:32-33] and portraying most Muslims as knowing a noble principle mentioned in it. He insisted that Muslims have nothing to do with the commandment mentioned in [5:32] for it was given to Israelites, whereas the commandment to Muslims is given in [5:33]. Firstly, it needs to be pointed out that Christian critics of Islam are quick to blame Islam for the criminal actions of any Muslim, whereas they keep quiet if a Christian commits such crimes, as for example the case of Alexandre Bissonnette, who was wisely described by Imam Hasan Guillet as a victim before he turned into a killer: “Before shooting bullets into the heads of his victims, somebody planted ideas, more dangerous than the bullets, in his head.”
Here is some sort of proof that he considered himself a Christian ‘Crusader’:
One can also ask David Wood as to whether Christianity is responsible for the crimes of Nazi Germany, which is reported to have been 94% christian six years into the Nazi era according to a census conducted in May 1939, and also whether it is valid to condemn Jesus a.s. and the Gospels for the horrible crimes (genocide, ethnic cleansing) perpetrated by the Serbian christians during the Bosnian conflict of 1992-1995? Now, it is true that the verse [5:32] declares that the noble principle was indeed given to the Israelites by God Almighty. So, where is it? Why is it not found anywhere in the entire Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh or the ‘Old Testament’? It would appear that this commandment may have been removed from the Torah by the Israelites and relegated to the Talmud, as they had changed the name Ishmael to Isaac in [Genesis 22:2], with Isaac never ever been the only son, whereas Ishmael was the ‘only son’ for about 14 years according to the Bible itself.
Why relegate it to the Talmud? Was this perhaps because the Israelites didn’t want it to be considered binding on them to act upon this noble teaching? As the verse [5:32] tells us, they subsequently committed excesses in the land, violating the principles they were taught. Now, there is an obvious connection between [5:32] and [5:33], which is that [5:33] talks about how to deal with those who violate the principles given in [5:32], and initiate warfare without justification, but also teaches Muslims to pardon those who repent of it [5:34]. This tallies with the righteous pacifist attitude of the murdered son of Adam a.s. not to retaliate if his sinful and wicked brother tried to murder him, the account of the two brothers commencing from [5:27].
This righteous pacifist way was also being adopted by the Muslim converts for about a decade in Mecca, who were reportedly told by Muhammad s.a.
‘I have been commanded to pardon. Fight not therefore.” [Sunanun-Nasa’i Kitabul Jihad].
They migrated to Abyssinia/Ethiopia and then to Yathrib/Madinah rather than retaliate and fight. There are still some circumstances in which this pacifist attitude is still valid and wise, and was/is adopted to a fair degree by Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan for example.
However, the connection between verses [5:27-35] is the permission to defend and protect oneself and others from aggressors who unjustly take human life without a right or justification to do so. Whilst the killed son was reluctant to retaliate and kill his brother in self-defence, in the verses which follow it, we are advised that the Israelites were also given permission to intervene to save innocent life, as they were also permitted equitable retaliation [5:45], and Muslims are likewise permitted not to always adhere to the pacifist stance of the righteous son of Adam a.s., and retaliate against wicked aggression, as for example when others wage war for no reason other than a difference of belief, but without exceeding the limits of justice, and inclining to mercy and forgiveness wherever possible [5:33].
It appears that the preservation of [5:32] in the Holy Qur’an is because it was removed from the Torah, for the Qur’an [2:106] tells us that whatever was ‘forgotten’ in the previous scriptures will be replaced with a similar teaching in the Qur’an, and this verse appears to be one such example. The Qur’an itself claims that it contains the teachings of the previous Books which were of a lasting nature [98:3], and also that it is a Book containing mutually similar verses [39:23], which can mean that the verses of the Qur’an have a similarity with other verses, as well as that some verses of the Qur’an have a similarity with some verses in previous scriptures.
If the objection is raised that the verses [2:106] uses the words ‘nunsiha’ meaning ’cause to be forgetten’, implying a divine act, and not that they themselves forgot or misplaced them, then it can be pointed out that [61:5] tells gives us the principle that Allah Himself caused their hearts to deviate after they themselves deviated. This same principle that divine action follows changes within human beings also applies to [5:14] which christians sometimes use to erroneously argue that Allah is responsible for any hatred and enmity among christians. Now, back to the main topic under consideration, Padre Jay Smith clearly admitted in a debate with Dr Shabir Ally that the violence in the Bible is much more ‘horrendous’ than that in the Qur’an. It may be that if the Israelites had preserved the noble principles mentioned in [5:32] within their Torah rather than transferring and relegating it to the Talmud (assuming they did so, and Allah knows best), one could have understood all the ‘horrendous violence’ in the ‘Hebrew Bible’ (as well as in Luke 19:27 and the Book of Revelations), in the light of that noble verse, just as Muslims can understand the fighting mentioned in the Qur’an as being defensive/protective in the light of the prohibitions mentioned in [2:190, 22:39,40, 9:13, 2:217]. However, as Jews and Christians can no longer do so, they struggle to explain the ‘horrendous violence’ in the Old Testament of the Bible, as was experienced by David Wood in a debate with Dr Shabir Ally, when he was desperately trying to suggest the use of hyperbole as a literary device for this purpose, which appeared to be a rather feeble explanation. Some Questions/Comments for David Wood (and other critics of Islam) to consider concerning the video ‘evidence’:
 Is it valid to interpret a clause in such a way as to violate other clauses? Read Qur’an [3:7] and Article 30 of the UN Charter on Human rights.
 Does describing a patient nullify all hitherto written rules and stated principles of surgical intervention?
 Does any other verse of the Qur’an support the contention that ‘min fadlihi‘ (from His Grace) in verse [9:28] can be applied to booty from an unlawful war?
 Why would Muslims reject an easy source of income, but have to risk losing their lives for booty from a far more powerful enemy?
 The ahadith about fighting until they believe are not relevant to this verse which requires jizya rather than belief anyway!
[6[ Ahadith about expelling Jews and Christians will be understood in the light of [5:33] which mentions expulsion due to warfare.
 The questionable hadith about apostates is interpreted by some Hanafi jurists to apply to combatants, whilst some others reject it as it contradicts numerous verses of the Noble Qur’an. (Please also read my article on the ‘Sources of Islam’ regarding the reality about the ‘false labelling’ of books of hadith’ as ‘sahih’ in the 5th century after Muhammad s.a., and two centuries after their compilation.)
 (5:51) can not be referring to all Jews and Christians, as (5:5) allows marriage, which is far more intimate than friendship! Moreover [5:82] tells us about friendship between (some) Muslims and (some) Christians; all verses from the same Sura! Another verse which helps to understand the apparent discord between these verses is [60:8].
 The Prophet s.a. never waged war against hypocrites, so to interpret Jahid (strive) in (9:73) as implying warfare is incorrect.
 The promise of paradise (9:111) is whether or not they have to fight – IF the conditions for fighting against injustice are met.
 The verses after (9:123) shows that it refers to hypocrites who have diseased hearts, so physical fighting is not meant here.
 The verses preceding (47:35) show that it applies when believers are unjustly hindered from pursuing the way of Allah (i.e. coercion)
 Al-Bukhari 6924 & Muslim 30 tell us that the war initiated by disbelievers ceases if they freely believe and cease hostilities. (Ahadith do not always give the proper context, but one may be able to correctly understand their proper explanation by reference to the Qur’an)  An-Nasa’i 3099 applies when conditions are met. Permission (22:39) was needed as the Prophet s.a. prohibited fighting in Mecca (reference above).
 Ibn Majah 2763 is considered weak, but IF accepted, it would only apply when the clearly stated Qur’anic conditions for fighting are met. [Luke 19:27] or [Nuke 19:27]?
I have no issues with [Luke 19:27], because I understand it is part of a parable, which I give a metaphorical interpretation which is not only according to the principles of Islam, but also consistent with the rest of the gospels. The problem is that the christians I have spoken to, as well as bible commentaries that I have read, give it the interpretation of literal mass slaughter of those who reject him as the Messiah when he returns. This interpretation is justified on the basis of him being God, and having the absolute authority to pass judgement in this world. Despite the realisation that it is an act of tyranny, and a violation of the human right of ‘freedom of religion’, it is claimed that God’s judgement, whatever it may be, is always righteous, and we have no choice but to accept it as such.
However, though I haven’t yet researched it, I don’t think that such an attitude would have been held by the first few generations of Christians. It is probably (I am yet to investigate the history) after acquiring responsibility, and formulating the concept of ‘just war’, and then violating the principles of just war that their predecessors had formulated, that recourse was had to such a highly objectionable literalistic interpretation by later deviant christians of what is undoubtedly a parable and should be understood metaphorically in it’s entirety.
So, how do I see it? I see it in such a way as to be consistent with the rest of the message of the gospels, in which the Messiah a.s. is teaching the righteous pacifism that is also taught in the Qur’an [5:27,28]. The Qur’an mentions a dream shown to Abraham a.s. which he had misinterpreted as a literal slaughter, for child sacrifice is said to have been practised by some the people of his time. However, God prevented him from carrying it out literally, indicating to him the fact that his God was not cruel and unjust, and to us that prophets are fallible. The dream has been understood to mean that the slaughter happened in practice when Abraham a.s. left Ishmael and his mother in the desert to fend for themselves. Another point of view is that Abraham a.s. had given precedence, in his heart, to what he mistakenly thought was God’s command, over his own deep-seated feelings of love for his only son at the time, and that is what was actually required. It was a great trial because though he loved God more, he still loved his beloved son dearly.
Either way, it was a highly emotionally charged incident. It is understood in Islamic literature that boycott is a form of killing, and when someone is made to leave a position of authority against their will, it can be a metaphorical form of killing. You could see the effect it had in the eyes of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, who reportedly felt betrayed, when she was leaving 10 Downing Street on 28th November 1990. I didn’t know enough at the time to opine whether her ‘slaying’ was right or wrong, but I could relate to her feelings due to my own circumstances at the time. But I expect those who Jesus a.s. was alluding to, will have been ‘big men’ who had abused their ‘position of authority’ in the spiritual realm, and having hence no longer deserved to remain in authority due to their violations of divine commands and misleading the multitudes before his return.
Thus, the correct Muslim interpretation of [Luke 19:27], in my view, is that it is about the restoration of peace and order in the spiritual realm, rather than to cause disorder in the worldly realm. It is about a responsible person rather than the tyrant King that people generally seem to think it is about, apparently so as to excuse their own criminal acts. A study of the history of muslim nations might also help determine the underlying reasons for muslims accepting and promoting extremist and criminal misinterpretations of the Qur’an. And Allah knows best.
Keep in mind that I have not yet seen the above peaceful interpretation given by a christian. David Wood himself indicates that it is about ‘the final judgement’ when Jesus a.s. returns literally:
“Of course, this parable obviously has something to do with Jesus. But that simply proves the point. Jesus is about to die and ascend to the Father. Jesus’ return will be the final judgement, and Jesus tells us elsewhere that the angels will carry out his commands to execute judgement (see Matthew 13:41-43). So Luke 19:27, in its immediate context, is part of a story that has nothing to do with Jesus’ disciples killing anyone. And even when it is interpreted as referring to the final judgement, the passage still has nothing to do with the disciples killing anyone, because “those standing by” are angels sent for judgement.”
So, he understands it as a literal return and a literal killing, albeit by angels, though the passage itself doesn’t make this clear. So, he tries to wriggle out of the widespread literalistic christian understanding of it in the sense of bloodshed. I would recommend my christians friends to discuss among themselves the harmless metaphorical interpretation I have suggested, as this may well help reduce the (potentially) dangerous interpretation of [Luke 19:27] that lurks within some christian minds, even if christians in general do not accept a metaphorical return of Jesus a.s. in the form of someone like him in the spiritual sense, as John the Baptist a.s. came in the spirit and power of the Prophet Elijah a.s.
In any case, one can derive a valuable lesson from such a slaying. Forcibly removing someone in authority, even when they have done something wrong, can increase disorder. Just as a doctor only refers the patient to a surgeon after other less invasive treatments have been tried, if appropriate, and the surgeon too has to evaluate whether it is sensible to proceed with surgical intervention given it’s inherent complications, though collective intervention to prevent disorder is an option for the sake of helpless people, gentle attempts at persuasion using words of wisdom, and discussing the issue, are the first course of action to consider. And if surgical intervention is agreed upon after consultation, the wounds made with good intention should be the minimum necessary required to fix the disorder. If the necessary procedures with their precautions are not followed, are not such surgeons struck off the medical register upon review?
This is because they become part of the problem, rather than being part of the solution. In any case, it is most unwise to go to either of the two extremes, of standing idly by when wrongdoing is ongoing, as if one has no human feelings for helpless people, or of replacing one butcher with two, leading to innumerable casualties and causing wanton destruction. Innocent civilians are left with countless physical and mental problems such as PTSD. Is this the good start to life that we wish new generations to live through? Asokha is said to have adopted what may be termed ‘righteous pacifism’ after witnessing the mass deaths resulting from his war of conquest in India in about 260 BC. A similar repentance is highly desirable from many in our time. Humans have the potential to change, so I hope and pray that people are shown what we have been doing as a species not only in our time, but in history, so that a large number might incline towards such pacifism instead of making non-cerebral reaction their habitual way, and co-operate with one another to use their collective might for the good of mankind.
Who will take care of all the orphans, the handicapped, the hungry and displaced citizens of Syria, with the cities in ruins? Who has achieved anything constructive in 8 years of bloodshed? Is it not about time to start asking who will now help rebuild and rehabilitate Syria and restore peace to it’s people? Will the warring parties and those aiding them want to now co-operate and spend some money on a positive cause rather than buying and selling weapons? Going forward, it is not high time to step back, analyse the causative factors of this catastrophe which has unfolded before the worlds eyes, in a time when we can’t honestly claim we didn’t know enough of what was happening to reach an appropriate decision, after sufficient consultation with the parties involved and concerned, on how to restore order soon after it began? What has gone wrong? What can and should be done to set it right?
The Promised Messiah a.s. on the reality of Jihad:
It would be appropriate to present some excerpts on the conditional permission to fight from the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, which was founded about 130 years ago in March 1889:
I have written this book so that by adducing proofs from established facts, conclusive historical evidence of proven value, and ancient documents of other nations, I might dispel the serious misconceptions which are current among Christians and most Muslim sects regarding the earlier and the later life of Jesus. The dangerous consequences of these misconceptions have not only hijacked and destroyed the concept of Tauhid—Divine Unity, but their insidious and poisonous influence has long been noticed in the moral condition of Muslims in this country. It is these baseless myths and tales that result in spiritual maladies, like immorality, malice, callousness, and cruelty, which are almost endemic among most Islamic sects. Virtues like human sympathy, compassion, affability, love of justice, meekness, modesty, and humility are disappearing by the day, as if they will soon bid a hasty farewell to them. This callousness and moral degradation makes many a Muslim appear only marginally different from wild beasts. A Jain or a Buddhist is afraid of killing even a mosquito or a flea and detests such an act, but alas! there are many among Muslims who would kill an innocent person with impunity and commit wanton murder without the least fear of God Almighty Who rates human life higher than all other animals. Why then this callousness, cruelty, and lack of sympathy? It is because from their very childhood, myths and false stories regarding a false concept of Jihad are drummed into their ears and instilled into their hearts. As a result, they gradually become morally dead and cease to realise the heinousness of such abominable deeds. On the other hand, a man who murders an unsuspecting person and brings ruin to his family, thinks that he has done a meritorious and rightful deed and made the most of an opportunity to win social acclaim. This is because no sermons or lectures are delivered in our country to discourage such evils, and if at all there are any such sermons, they have an aura of hypocrisy about them; and the man in the street continues to think approvingly of such misdeeds.
Hence, taking pity upon the plight of my people, I have already written books in Urdu, Persian and Arabic, in which I have proved that the popular concept of Jihad prevalent among Muslims, such as the expectation of a bloodthirsty Imam and cultivation of malice for others, are no more than false notions harboured by shortsighted clerics. Islam, on the contrary, does not allow the use of the sword in religion except in the case of defensive wars, wars which are waged to punish a tyrant, or those which are meant to uphold freedom. The need of a defensive war arises only when the aggression of an adversary threatens one’s life. Except for these three kinds of Jihad permitted by the Shariah – Islamic law, no other kind of war is allowed by Islam in support of religion. To highlight this concept of Jihad, I have distributed books in this country and in Arabia, Syria and Khurasan, etc., at great cost. But now, by the grace of God, I have adduced arguments powerful enough to dispel these unfounded beliefs from the people’s minds. I have found clear proofs and strong and conclusive circumstantial and historical evidence, the light of whose truth gives the tiding that, soon after their publication, there will come about a welcome change in the hearts of the Muslims. I am sure that after these truths have been comprehended, sweet and refreshing springs of modesty, humility and compassion will gush forth from the hearts of the righteous sons of Islam. There will be a spiritual transformation which will have a wholesome and benign impact on the nation at large. I am also sure that Christian scholars and all those who hunger and thirst after the truth, will benefit from this book. And, as I have just pointed out, the real object of this book is to correct the wrong beliefs which have found their way into the creeds of the Muslims and the Christians.” [Masih Hindustain Mein i.e. Jesus in India, Ruhani Khazain, vol.15, p.4-5]
No true Muslim has ever believed that Islam should be spread by the sword. Islam has always been propagated through its inherent qualities. Those who, calling themselves Muslim, seek to spread Islam by means of the sword are not aware of its inherent qualities and their conduct resembles the conduct of wild beasts.“ [Tiryaq-ul-Qulub, Ruhani Khazain, vol 15, p.167, footnote, 1902]
“The Holy Qur’an clearly forbids the use of the force for the spread of the faith and directs its propagation through its inherent qualities and the good example of the Muslims. Do not be misled by the notion that in the beginning the Muslim were commanded to take up the sword. That sword was not taken up for the spread of the faith, but in self-defence against the enemies of Islam and for the purpose of establishing peace and security. It was not part of the purpose of taking it up to have recourse to coercion in the matter of faith.“ [Sitarah Qaisariyyah, Ruhani Khazain, vol.15, p.120-121, 1899]
The Promised Messiah will not fight Disbelievers with the sword: The commonly held doctrine professed by some the divines that the Promised Messiah will descend from heaven and will fight the disbelievers and will not accept the poll tax and will offer only the choice of death or Islam, is utterly false. It is brimful of all types of error and mischief, and is utterly opposed to the Holy Quran and is only an invention of the impostors. [Nur-ul-Haq, Ruhani Khazain, vol.8, p.67, 1894]
Islam does not permit taking arms as rebels: It should also be remembered that Islam permits the taking up of the sword only in position to people who themselves take it up first, and it permit’s the slaughter only of those who embark upon slaughter first. It does not lay down that the Muslims while they are the subjects of a non-Muslim sovereign who deals with them with justice and equity should take up arms against him as rebels. According to the Holy Quran, this is the way of the wicked and not of the righteous. [Anjam-e-Atham, Ruhani Khazain, vol.11, p.37, 1897]
“The Promised Messiah came to put an End to War! The doctrine of Jihad as understood and propagated by the Muslim divines of this age who are called Maulvis is utterly incorrect. It can lead to nothing except that by their forceful preaching they would convert common people into wild beasts and would deprive them of all the good qualities of human beings; and so it has happened. I know for certain that the burden of the sins of those people who commit murders through ignorance on account of such preaching, and who are unaware of the reason why Islam had to fight battles in its early stages, lies on the necks of these Maulvais who go on propagating secretly these dangerous doctrines which result in such grievous loss of life….
It is written that when the Promised Messiah appears Jihad by the sword and all fighting for religion will come to an end as he will not take up the sword or any other earthly weapon. His only instrument will be his supplications, and his only weapon will be his firm determination; He will lay the foundation of peace and will gather the goat and the lion together. His age will be the age of peace and kindliness and human sympathy. Why do these people not reflect upon the fact that thirteen hundred years ago the Holy Prophet s.a. had said concerning the Promised Messiah: He will put an end to War.” [Government Angrezi Aur Jihad i.e. British Government and Jihad, Ruhani Khazain, vol.17, p.7, 1900]
[19:77] Allah increases in guidance those who follow the guidance.
[20:48] Peace be upon those who follow the guidance.