Warfare and Peace
Preface and Comparison with the Bible
Of the twenty-two topics covered in this book, this is one of great interest because of the 9-11 attacks on the United States of America. The following is a broad collection of ninety verses from throughout the Qur'an on the subject of both peace and warfare. Each passage has been paraphrased in modern English.
If there seems to be an evolution in the Qur'an verses on warfare and peace, it might be due to something that was covered in chapter one on the history of the Qur'an. It is worth repeating here that for ten years Mohammed recited verses in Mecca that did not include passages on warfare. Then Mohammed and his followers migrated to Medina where “Jihad” or “holy war” verses were introduced. Jihad increased in importance as time went on, so the verses on warfare became more and more harsh and generalized in the later passages in the Qur'an. It is true that Mohammed applied Jihad in a literal way but the question for Muslims today is, ”When is a Jihad appropriate?” Mohammed ordered raids on Meccan caravans, attacks on those who opposed Islam and was himself so involved in the battles that his head was severely wounded in the battle of Uhud in AD 625.
Mohammed is criticized by many westerners who compare his emphasis on war with the non-violence of their Lord Jesus Christ. They cite the surrender of the Jewish tribe in Medina, the Banu Quryzah, whose 600 to 900 men were all executed while their women and children were taken as slaves. The harshness of this massacre was so severe that even the warlike tribes of Mohammed’s day were shocked. On the other hand, when Mohammed’s forces captured Mecca, the idol worshipers were amazed that a general amnesty was graciously given to the vast majority of those who had violently opposed Islam.
Muslim forces experienced many victories in Mohammed’s lifetime and during the early Islamic expansion. The tactics of the Islamic armies terrorized non-Muslims. Some countries, such as Ethiopia and Lebanon, withstood their conquest. Others, like Spain, expelled their Muslim conquerors. On the other hand, some countries accepted Islam without armed conflict as Muslim merchants spread their beliefs.
Some Muslims suggest that the Bible condones violence as well. It is true. Before the birth of Jesus, the people of God were a nation with civil laws, armies and territories. In those days Yahweh would use one nation to punish another through warfare. Sometimes the nation of Israel was used to punish specific perverted cultures, which were full of all kinds of wickedness. This was the case as God gave the Holy Land to the Children of Israel. Other times Israel was defeated and taken into captivity, for a prescribed period of time, because of its sins. One major difference between the Jewish Scriptures and the Qur'an is that Yahweh never gave the nation of Israel an unlimited license to wage war until Judaism prevailed over all faiths.
The Jewish people, who reject Christianity, continue to be loved by God because of the faith of their ancestors (Romans 11:28-29), yet Christians believe there was a dramatic change after the coming of the long awaited Messiah. Jesus Christ announced that the Kingdom of God would no longer be limited to a place but would exist in the hearts of his chosen people, the global church. Christians believe that he was and continues to be the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:15-20) which exists without territorial boundaries. God’s redeemed are to go the extra mile, turn the other cheek and love their enemies. This love is the hallmark of the church around the world today.
Does this love prohibit criminal punishment or military action? In the Christian faith, the authority of secular governments to use violence to punish criminals and evildoers is respected and those who serve in law enforcement and the military are called “ministers of God” who keep order in society (Romans 13:1-7). As for the church, there is no literal “call to arms” for the cause of Christ in the New Testament. Actually, the overwhelming emphasis in the Bible calls for love and mercy between one’s brothers and even for one’s enemies. This amazing love is a gift from God that works through the believer in Jesus. When Christians are unmerciful, they are not following the commands of God that are found in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 12:14-21).
Many Muslims point to the Crusades as an illustration of violent church action. It is true that many unethical acts were done during the military campaigns of the Crusades. It was a time in history that scholars have labeled the “Dark Ages.” Muslim forces had been attacking Christian countries for centuries. Their conquests included the “Holy Land” of Israel. The motivation for the Crusades found its root in reports that Muslims were desecrating Christian holy sites and persecuting Christians on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The first knights took their vows in AD 1095 when Pope Urban II organized the troops to “liberate the Holy Land from the Muhammadans.” Many of the Crusaders went beyond their mission and forgot their Christian ideals as they sought earthly revenge and treasure. Their atrocities, however, were not motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Many Muslims would claim the same thing about the numerous atrocities done, throughout world history, in the name of Islam. They say that the Qur'an teaches a religion of peace. For evidence, they cite the many Islamic nations who were immediate allies in the “war on terrorism” which followed the 9-11 attacks. Does the Qur'an condone terrorist acts or is Jihad limited only to self-defense? The following topical study will help you decide for yourself.
The Qur'an Says ...
Introduction of JihadThe faithful wish for a chapter to be revealed, but when one is given that mentions warfare, the weak look to Mohammed as if they would faint because of their fear of death (47:20).
Allah Loves WarriorsAllah loves individuals who fight for Islam in ranks as strong as a mighty building (61:4).
Protection of ChurchesTo keep many monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques from being destroyed, Allah uses one kind of people to fight another kind of people. In each of these buildings Allah is worshiped on a daily basis (22:40).
Slaughter of OpponentsMuslims must fight the unbelievers who oppose them. Muslims are to obey the Islamic rules of war. They must kill the unbelievers wherever they find them. They are to drive them out of the lands they took from the Muslims. Enduring trouble and oppression from the unbelievers is worse than the Muslim’s act of the all out slaughter of the unbelievers (2:190-191). Muslims are excused from fighting during holidays since their carnage of the idol worshipers is justified by the persecution suffered by the Muslims (2:217).
Fight for IslamWhether Muslims are unarmed or well equipped, they are to march on and fight for the cause of Allah (9:41). It is a bargain for Muslims to give of themselves and their wealth to fight for the cause of Islam since they will be rewarded with Paradise. There are benefits in the present as well. There will be help from above to win quick victories. Spread this good news to the faithful. Believers, be Allah’s helpers! Jesus’ disciples were such and they received help against the other Israelites who did not believe. They triumphed over their enemies (61:10-14).
Post War HonorThose who gave financial support and took part in the fighting before the victory was won will have a greater rank than those that fought and contributed after the victory had been determined (57:10).
Battlefield InstructionsWhen the unbelievers are encountered, aim your blows at their necks. When you have won the battle, tie up the prisoners of war firmly. Then you may either decide to be generous to the prisoners or ask for a ransom for their freedom (47:4).
Only Assurance of ParadiseSoldiers, who die in battle fighting for Islam, are promised admission to the Eternal Gardens or Paradise (47:4-6, 3:169-171).
Spoils of WarWhat is taken from villages, as spoils of war, must not be divided among the rich only. They will be given to Mohammed and the poor. Mohammed will distribute the possessions as he sees fit and no one should complain (59:7, 8:1). When the Muslims go forth, to take the possessions of others, some who are unworthy will say that they want to fight, but Muhammad will tell them that they are excluded (48:15,16). Allah knows of other booty, which the Muslims have not yet taken (48:18-21). Enjoy the spoils of war (8:69).
War among MuslimsIf fighting breaks out among Muslims, everyone should fight against the party in the wrong until they submit and then be fair with them (49:9).
Promise of VictoryAllah promised rich booty and speedy victory for the Muslim warriors. In addition, they will have protection from their enemies. Their victory will be a sign for Muslims. If unbelievers come against the Muslims they will retreat with no one to help them or protect them (48:20-22, 8:7-10). Those who only have Allah, Mohammed and faithful Muslims as friends are sure to triumph (5:56). Victory only comes from Allah (3:126).
Muslims Are RuthlessThose who follow Mohammed are ruthless to the unbelievers but compassionate to one another (48:29).
FearThe Jews who supported the fight against the Muslims were miraculously brought out of their strongholds and frightened. This is why the Muslims were able to kill them or take them captive. The Muslims became masters of the Jews’ lands, homes and property (33:26,27). Gather a large number of men and cavalry so that you may strike fear into the hearts of your enemy (8:60).
Behead and MaimThe hearts of the infidels will be terrorized so Muslims should attack with courage and behead them and cut off all their fingers. Maiming your victims will show that opposing Allah and Mohammed results in severe punishment. They are going to hell (8:12-14).
Treatment of EnemiesThose who make war on Allah and Mohammed should be killed, crucified, have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides or be exiled. They must be degraded in this world and doomed in the afterlife (5:33). They are not to be forced to become Muslims (2:256).
Damnation for Muslim CowardsWhen Muslims meet infidels in battle, they must not retreat except for strategic reasons. Anyone who turns to run from fear, he will be punished and certainly hell will be his home (8:16).
Make War on the UnbelieversMuslims are to continue fighting unbelievers until the religion of Islam is dominant everywhere (8:39). Make war on the unbelievers and treat them harshly. Hell is their unhappy journey’s end (9:73, 66:9).
Break TreatiesMuslims may break their treaties with unbelievers if they feel that the infidels are being treacherous. Unbelievers will never get the better of Muslims. They should be attacked with such a mighty force that it frightens them, but if they want to surrender, then make peace (8:57-61).
Muslims Will Always Be VictoriousIf there are one hundred good Muslims, they will vanquish two hundred unbelievers. If there are one thousand, they will cause two thousand unbelievers to flee because they have no understanding (8:66-67, 3:126).
PrisonersMohammed should not possess prisoners of war until final victory over their land has been accomplished. Muslims want the spoils of war too early because they seek worldly rewards rather than heavenly rewards. Muslims should enjoy the good and lawful things they have gained from warfare and not seek illegal gain (8:67-69).
ConcubinesIt is prohibited for Muslims to marry women who are already married, unless they are their slaves which they have possessed by force of battle (4:24). Muslims are those who abstain from sexual relations beyond their wives and slave girls they have captured in battle. Such relationships with prisoners are blameless (23:5-6). Slaves do not share equally the riches Allah gives their owners. Their owners do not fear their slaves as they do their fellow Muslims (30:28).
Kill the IdolatersOnce a holiday from war is ended, Muslims are to kill the idol worshipers wherever they find them. They are to capture them, besiege them and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they convert, pray and give alms then they will be allowed to live (9:5).
Make War Year RoundAllah created twelve months with four being sacred, but since the unbelievers fight in all twelve months, it is allowed for Muslims to make war against the idol worshipers in all twelve months (9:36).
Fight against EveryoneMuslims, fight everyone who reject Islam, even against Christians and Jews who have rejected Islam, until they pay regular financial tribute with willing submission and feel themselves completely subjected to their Islamic conquerors (9:29).
Defeat All ReligionsAllah sent Mohammed with the true religion so that it may prevail over all other religions (9:33).
Kill and Be KilledIn return for their lives and contributions, Muslims are given a Garden Paradise. This is promised to those who fight, kill and are killed for the cause. This same message is in the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur'an (9:111).
Fight NeighborsMuslims, make war against the infidels who live around them and they are to demonstrate harshness to them (9:123).
Example of Jews of NadhirThe defeat of the People of the Bible (or Book) in the first attack was Allah’s work. Many Muslims did not think they (probably the Jews of Nadhir) would leave their homes but they left terrified. Allah gave their possessions to Mohammed who distributed them as Mohammed willed. Some hypocritical Arabs have promised the People of the Bible that they will help them if the Muslims attack and drive them out, but they are lying. They will go to hell with Satan (59:1-17).
Change or Be KilledIf the hypocrites and troublemakers in the city do not change, Allah will move the Muslims to seize and kill them without mercy wherever they find them (33:60,61).
Battle the Friends of SatanTrue Muslims fight for the cause of Allah but the infidels do battle for the cause of idols. Fight the friends of Satan (4:76).
Do Not Kill for BootyFor the sake of gaining booty, the Muslims would kill even those who asked for peace. They are to stop doing this and show discernment. Allah has forgiven the Muslims for doing this in the past but Allah is aware of their future actions (4:94).