The Myth of Islamic Tolerance

Addressing A Common Muslim Polemic

Sam Shamoun

Oftentimes, Muslims present specific Quranic citations in order to convince non-Muslims, especially Westerners, that Islam is a very tolerant religion that allows for or even promotes peaceful coexistence with other religious groups. The most famous citation, one that I am sure many Westerners have heard presented on the media, is surah 2:256:

There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Shaitan and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing. Shakir.

This passage has already been addressed and analyzed in light of its historical context elsewhere on this site (Interpreting Quran 2:256).

We will therefore not delve too much into this passage, except for providing the following Muslim exegesis of the text:


Some friends say that whoever does not enter Islam, that is his choice and he should not be forced to become Muslim, quoting as evidence the verses in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you (O Muhammad) then compel mankind, until they become believers”
[Yoonus 10:99]
“There is no compulsion in religion”
[al-Baqarah 2:256]
What is your opinion concerning that?.


Praise be to Allaah.

The scholars explained that these two verses, and other similar verses, have to do with those from whom the jizyah may be taken, such as Jews, Christians and Magians (Zoroastrians). They are not to be forced, rather they are to be given the choice between becoming Muslim or paying the jizyah.

Other scholars said that this applied in the beginning, BUT WAS SUBSEQUENTLY ABROGATED by Allaah’s command to fight and wage jihad. So whoever refuses to enter Islam should be fought WHEN THE MUSLIMS ARE ABLE TO FIGHT, until they either enter Islam or pay the jizyah if they are among the people who may pay jizyah. The kuffaar should be compelled to enter Islam if they are not people from whom the jizyah may be taken, because that will lead to their happiness and salvation in this world and in the Hereafter. Obliging a person to adhere to the truth in which is guidance and happiness is better for him than falsehood. Just as a person may be forced to do the duty that he owes to other people even if that is by means of imprisonment or beating, so forcing the kaafirs to believe in Allaah alone and enter into the religion of Islam is more important and more essential, because this will lead to their happiness in this world and in the Hereafter. This applies unless they are People of the Book, i.e., Jews and Christians, or Magians, because Islam says that these three groups may be given the choice: they may enter Islam or they may pay the jizyah and feel themselves subdued.

Some of the scholars are of the view that others may also be given the choice between Islam and jizyah, but the most correct view is that no others should be given this choice, rather these three groups are the only ones who may be given the choice, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) fought the kuffaar in the Arabian Peninsula and he only accepted their becoming Muslim. And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“But if they repent [by rejecting Shirk (polytheism) and accept Islamic Monotheism] and perform As-Salaah (Iqaamat-as-Salaah), and give Zakaah, then leave their way free. Verily, Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”

[al-Tawbah 9:5]

He did not say, “if they pay the jizyah”. The Jews, Christians and Magians are to be asked to enter Islam; if they refuse then they should be asked to pay the jizyah. If they refuse to pay the jizyah then the Muslims must fight them IF THEY ARE ABLE TO DO SO. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allaah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allaah and His Messenger (Muhammad), (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued”

[al-Tawbah 9:29]

And it was proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) accepted the jizyah from the Magians, but it was not proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or his companions (may Allaah be pleased with them) accepted the jizyah from anyone except the three groups mentioned above.

The basic principle concerning that is the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):

“And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism, i.e. worshipping others besides Allaah), and the religion (worship) will all be for Allaah Alone [in the whole of the world]”

[al-Anfaal 8:39]

“Then when the Sacred Months (the 1st, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikoon (see V.2:105) wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush. But if they repent [by rejecting Shirk (polytheism) and accept Islamic Monotheism] and perform As-Salaah (Iqaamat-as-Salaah), and give Zakaah, then leave their way free. Verily, Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”

[al-Tawbah 9:5]

This verse is known as Ayat al-Sayf (the verse of the sword).

These and similar verses ABROGATE the verses which say that there is no compulsion to become Muslim.

And Allaah is the Source of strength.

Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Maqaalaat li’l-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 6/219 ( )

(Source; bold, underline and capital emphasis ours)

With that behind us, we want to focus our energies discussing the following passage that has been used by many a Muslim apologist:

God forbids you not, as regards those who have not fought you in religion's cause, nor expelled you from your habitations, that you should be kindly to them, and act justly towards them; surely God loves the just. God only forbids you as to those who have fought you in religion's cause, and expelled you from your habitations, and have supported in your expulsion, that you should take them for friends. And whosoever takes them for friends, those -- they are the evildoers. S. 60:8-9

Apparently, this passage commands Muslims to live peaceably with other non-Muslim groups as long as the latter do not fight and/or harass the Muslims. But even that is not so clear.

The phrase, “Forbids not ... that you should be kind to them,” isn’t necessarily commanding Muslims to show kindness, since not forbidding is not the same as commanding. God ALLOWS Muslims to be kind to them if you want, but this includes: You do not have to. You could just as well fight them.

This is unlike Jesus’ “do good to those who hate you” (Cf. Matthew 5:44), which explicitly commands doing good to enemies, or individuals which one dislikes, and showing kindness to those who act hostile to them.

One Muslim writer and apologist who has used this citation to support that the Quran is tolerant of other religions is Dr. Jamal Badawi. Dr. Badawi writes in an email to Robert Spencer of

Textual Context: The Qur’an prohibits compulsion in religion [2:256]. It teaches the Oneness of God, acceptance and respect of all prophets [2:285], broad human brotherhood [49:13], acceptance of plurality [5:48; 11:118], universal justice and fair dealing [4:134, 5:8]. It demands just, kind and respectful treatment of those who co-exist peacefully with Muslims [60:8-9]. Peaceful and respectful dialogue with the People of the Book and the emphasis on the common grounds with them is a repeated theme in the Qur’an [e.g. 3:64; 29:46, 5:5]. Those who erroneously claimed that all such definitive [Muhkam] verses has all been “abrogated” by what they called “the verse of the sword” were mistaken and failed to give any definitive evidence of their claims. They were refuted by both famous classical scholars like Al-Suyuti and Ibn Al-Jawzi as well as contemporary scholars like Subhi Al-Saleh and Abdullah Al-Judai` and many others. The concept of Naskh has been often misunderstood by some including Muslims too. (Source)

In another forum, Dr. Badawi reiterates this position:

There is no single verse in the Qur'an properly interpreted in its context and historical circumstances that ever allowed the Muslim to fight non-Muslims simply because they are non-Muslims. The opposite is true; in Chapter 60, verse 8 and 9 in the Qur'an, it clearly says that non-Muslims who are not fighting against Muslims or oppressing them are entitled to kind and just treatment. Also, in the Qur'an, Chapter 2, verse 256, it says: let there be no compulsion in religion." It is in the light of these two verses and many others in the Qur'an that the Hadith referred to should be understood...

One of the sensible rules of interpretation is not to stretch the meaning of terms the way some people do. The context of permissibility to fight against aggression or oppression has nothing to do with the argument in this question. For example, the Qur'an, in Chapter 60, verse, 8 and 9, gives an explanation of that oppression; that they drive Muslims out of their homes. Furthermore, the best interpreter of the Qur'an is Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who fought against those who committed acts of murder against Muslims or were gathering to attack Muslims. (Source)

Dr. Badawi obviously feels that this passage, as well as the others he listed, supports his understanding, his interpretation, that the Quran permits the peaceful coexistence of other religions. He believes that these verses provide the basis in which to argue that Islam is tolerant by nature.

The problem with this exegesis is that it overlooks other passages which command Muslims to fight against other religious groups who have not necessarily fought against Islam:

O Believers! only they who join gods with God(almushrikoona) are unclean (najasun)! Let them not, therefore, after this their year, come near the sacred Temple. And if ye fear want, God, if He please, will enrich you of His abundance: for God is Knowing, Wise. Make war upon such of those to whom the Scriptures have been given as believe not in God, or in the last day, and who forbid not that which God and His Apostle have forbidden, and who profess not the profession of the truth, until they pay tribute out of hand, and they be humbled. The Jews say, "Ezra (Ozair) is a son of God"; and the Christians say, "The Messiah is a son of God." Such the sayings in their mouths! They resemble the saying of the Infidels(kafaroo) of old! God do battle with them! How are they misguided! They take their teachers, and their monks, and the Messiah, son of Mary, for Lords beside God, though bidden to worship one God only. There is no God but He! Far from His glory be what they associate with Him! Fain would they put out God's light with their mouths: but God only desireth to perfect His light, albeit the Infidels(alkafiroona) abhor it. He it is who hath sent His Apostle with the Guidance and a religion of the truth, that He may make it victorious over every other religion, albeit they who assign partners to God (almushrikoona) be averse from it. O Believers! of a truth, many of the teachers and monks do devour man's substance in vanity, and turn them from the Way of God. But to those who treasure up gold and silver and expend it not in the Way of God, announce tidings of a grievous torment. S. 9:28-34 Rodwell

This lengthy citation likens non-Muslim groups to something unclean, impure, and labels them as associators, of committing the sin of association or shirk, which in Islam is the unpardonable sin, the most heinous offense against Allah:

Verily, God will not forgive the union of other gods with Himself! But other than this will forgive to whom He pleaseth. And He who uniteth gods with God hath devised a great wickedness. S. 4:48 Rodwell

God truly will not forgive the joining other gods with Himself. Other sins He will forgive to whom He will: but he who joineth gods with God, hath erred with far-gone error. S. 4:116 Rodwell

Clearly, the surah 9 passage is condoning offensive military expeditions against non-aggressive groups such as Jews and Christians, individuals who have not taken arms against Muslims. The Islamic narrations provide examples of how Muhammad implemented the above injunction against the People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians, who hadn’t done anything against him. The following narration is one example:

Ibn Shihab reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) made an expedition to Tabuk and he (the Holy Prophet) had in his mind (the idea of threatening the) Christians of Arabia in Syria and those of Rome ...

Ka'b said: By Allah, since Allah directed me to Islam there has been no blessing more significant for me than this truth of mine which I spoke to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and if I were to tell a lie I would have been ruined as were ruined those who told lies, for in regard to those who told lies Allah used harshest words used for anyone as He descended revelation (and the words of Allah are): "They will swear by Allah to you when you return to them so that you may leave them alone. So leave them alone. Surely, they are unclean and their resort is Hell, recompense for what they earned. They will swear to you that you may be pleased with them but if you are pleased with them, yet surely Allah is not pleased with the transgressing people" (ix. 95-96). K'ab said that the matter of us three persons was deferred as compared with those who took an oath in the presence of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and he accepted their allegiance and sought forgiveness for them and Allah did not give any decision in regard to us. It was Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, Who gave decisions in our case, three who remained behind. (The words of the Qur'an) "the three who were left behind" do not mean that we remained back from Jihad but these imply that He kept our matter behind them who took oath and presented excuse before Him. This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Zuhri with the same chain of transmitters. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6670)

Here is how the official Sunni Muslim sources say that Jews and Christians are to be treated:

512. When a dhimmi writes and gives the greeting, he is answered

1101. Abu 'Uthman an-Nahdi said, "Abu Musa wrote to a Persian grandee and greeted him in his letter. He was asked, 'Do you greet him when he is an unbeliever?' He replied, 'He wrote to me and greeted me, so I have answered him.'"

1102. Abu Basra l-Ghifari reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "I will ride to the Jews tomorrow. Do not give them the greeting first. If they greet you, then say, 'and on you.'"

1103. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Do not give the People of the Book the greeting first. FORCE THEM TO THE NARROWEST PART OF THE ROAD."

519. The People of the Book are forced to the narrowest part of the road

1111. See 1103.

521. When someone greets a Christian whom he does not recognise

1115. 'Abdu'r-Rahman said, "Ibn 'Umar passed by a Christian who greeted him and Ibn 'Umar returned the greeting. He was told that the man was a Christian. When he learned that, he went back to him and said, 'Give me back my greeting.'" (Al-Adab al-Mufrad by Al-Bukhari, chapter XDIII. The People of the Book; online source; underline, capital and italic emphasis ours)

There are several ways of explaining these rather conflicting positions regarding how unbelievers are to be treated.

1) Contradiction

These passages blatantly contradict one another, which calls into question the divine origin of the Quran.

2) Abrogation

The earlier passages (Cf. 60:8-9) have been abrogated by the later citations which command Muslims to wage offensive war on unbelievers, especially Jews and Christians (Cf. surah 9:5,29 etc.).

The Quran, in several places, speaks of Allah abrogating specific injunctions which were supposedly given to Muslims:

And for whatever verse We abrogate or cast into oblivion, We bring a better or the like of it; knowest thou not that God is powerful over everything? S. 2:106 Arberry

And when We exchange a verse in the place of another verse and God knows very well what He is sending down -- they say, 'Thou art a mere forger!' Nay, but the most of them have no knowledge. S. 16:101 Arberry

Hence, it is very plausible that passages encouraging tolerance such as surah 60:8-9 were later abrogated. Interestingly, this has actually been the position of many renowned Muslim scholars. We provide a few examples of Muslim scholarly opinions on passages such as surah 9:1,5 and 29 which are taken from this online source.

Surah 9:1

Ibn Juzayy:

It is called Surat at-Tawba and is also called al-Fâdiha (the Disgracer) because it disclosed the secrets of the hypocrites. Written copies of the Qur'an and reciters omit the basmala at the beginning of this sura, but there is disagreement about the reason for that. 'Uthman ibn 'Affan said that its meanings are similar to those of Surat al-Anfal and they were called "the two consorts" in the time of the Messenger of Allah. That is why they are put together and included in the "Seven Long Ones". The Companions disagreed about whether they consisted of two suras or one sura. That is why the basmala between them is omitted. 'Ali ibn Abi Talib said that the basmala conveys security while this sura was sent down with the sword. That is why it does not begin with security.


The basmala is not written at the beginning because the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, commanded that according to the hadith related by al-Hakim. Its gist of that is that the basmala is security, and it was sent down when security was removed by the sword. Hudhayfa reports that they called it the Sura of Repentance, while it is, in fact, the Sura of Punishment. Al-Bukhari relates of al-Bara' that it was the last sura to be sent down.

[As-Sawi: says that this means it was one of the last. This sura was sent down as a whole. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The Qur'an was sent down ayat by ayat except for Surat Bara'a (this sura) and the sura 'Say: He is Allah, One' (112). They were sent down accompanied by seventy thousand angels." (Source; underline emphasis ours)

Surah 9:5

Ibn Juzayy:

(Then when the sacred months are over) i.e. the four months designated for them. Those who say that they are Shawwal, Dhu’l-Qa’da, Dhu’l-Hijja and al-Muharram, says that they are the well-known Sacred Months - with the addition of Shawwal and omission of Rajab. They are called "sacred" because the majority dominates in an Arabic phrase. Those who say that they last until Rab' ath-Thani calls them sacred because of their inviolability and because fighting in them was forbidden.

(kill the mushrikun wherever you find them) ABROGATING EVERY PEACE TREATY IN THE QUR’AN. It is said that it abrogates, "by setting them free or ransom." (47:4) It is also said that it is abrogated by it and so setting them free and ransom are permitted. (seize them) means to capture, and the one taken is the captive.

(If they make tawba) after disbelief. Then He connects belief to the prayer and zakat. That is an indication that one should fight anyone WHO ABANDONS THE PRAYER AND ZAKAT as Abu Bakr as-Siddiq did. The ayat encompassed the meaning of the Prophet’s words, "I am commanded to fight people until they say, 'There is no god but Allah and establish the prayer and pay the zakat." (let them go on their way) granting them security.


(when the sacred months are over) have gone and the term is complete. (kill the idolaters wherever you find them) In sacred or profane land. (and besiege them) in fortresses and forts until they are forced out, being killed or becoming Muslim.

[Ibn Kathir states that is not enough to merely find them, but they must be besieged in their strongholds and fortresses. You must wait for them on their pathways and roads so that what was previously ample becomes constricted for them and you force them to either be killed or become Muslim.]

(lie in wait for them on every road)

[As-Sawi: So that they do not disperse in the land.]

(if they make tawba and ... pay the zakat)

[Ibn Kathir notes that Abu Bakr as-Siddiq relied on this noble ayat when he fought those who refused to pay the zakat since the prohibition against fighting them WAS BASED ON ENTERING INTO ISLAM AND CARRYING OUT ITS OBLIGATIONS.]

(let them go on their way) do not attack them.

[As-Sawi: Do not attack their persons or property and do not take jizya, 'ushr or anything else from them.]

(Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful) to the one who turns in repentance.


This is an Ayat of the Sword WHICH ABROGATES PARDON, TRUCE AND OVERLOOKING. (seize them) is used as evidence for the permission to take captives. (and besiege them) is permission for besieging and raiding and attacking by night. Ibn Abi Hatim reported that Abu 'Imran al-Jawfi said that ribat in the way of Allah is found in the words, "lie in wait for them on every road." (if they make tawba and establish the prayer and pay the zakat, let them go on their way) Repentance from shirk is not enough to let them go their way until they establish the prayer and pay the zakat. Ash-Shafi'i took this as a proof FOR KILLING ANYONE WHO ABANDONS THE PRAYER and fighting ANYONE WHO REFUSES TO PAY ZAKAT. Some use it as a proof that they are kafirun. (Source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Surah 9:29

Ibn Juzayy:

(Fight those of the people who do not have iman in Allah and the Last Day) A command to fight the People of the Book and denying their belief in Allah because of the words of the Jews, "'Uzayr is the son of Allah" and the words of the Christians, "The Messiah is the son of Allah." Their belief in the Last Day is denied because their belief in it is incorrect. They do not accept the Next World or the Reckoning.

(who do not make haram what Allah and His Messenger have made haram) because they consider as lawful carrion, blood, pork, etc. (and do not take as their deen the deen of Truth) i.e. THEY DO NOT ENTER ISLAM.

(who were given the Book) Clarifying those they were commanded to fight. When this ayat was revealed, the Messenger of Allah set out on the expedition to Tabuk to fight the Christians.

(until they pay the jizya) Scholars agree about accepting jizya from the Jews and Christians. The Magians/Zoroasterians have been added to them going by the words of the Prophet, "Treat them as People of the Book." There is disagreement about accepting it from idolaters and Sabians. It is not collected from women, children or the insane. Malik says that it is 4 dinars for the people who use gold and 40 dirhams for the people who use silver. It is a head tax. (with their own hands) This has two interpretations. One is that the dhimmi pays it with his own hand and does not send anyone with it nor postpone it as is said, "from hand to hand." The second is submission and obedience as you say, "he gave his hand to so-and-so [an _expression meaning "he surrendered to so-and-so"]." (STATE OF ABASEMENT) i.e. they are humble.


(Fight those of the people who do not have iman in Allah and the Last Day) Otherwise, they would believe in the Prophet.

[As-Sawi: Fighting the people of the Torah and the Gospel is mentioned after the clarification regarding fighting the Arab idolaters. This ayat was revealed when the Messenger of Allah was commanded to fight the Byzantines. When it was sent down, the Messenger of Allah prepared for the expedition to Tabuk.]

(who do not make haram what Allah and His Messenger have made haram) like wine, etc. (and do not take as their deen the Deen of Truth) which is firm AND ABROGATES OTHER DEENS. It is the deen of Islam. (who were given the Book) meaning the Christians and the Jews. (they pay the jizya) which they have to pay every year.

[As-Sawi: It is called jizya because it spares them from being fought and accords them security. Jazâ means to compensate for something.]

(with their own hands) An adverbial _expression, i.e. in obedience and directly with their own hands without any deputy. (state of abasement) humble and obedient to the judgements of Islam.


(Fight those of the people who do not have iman in Allah and the Last Day) This is the basis for accepting jizya from the People of the Book, and it is a refutation of those who accept it from others. "With their own hands". It is related by Abu Hatim from Qatada to be BY FORCE, and by Abu Sufyan to be by ability. Its literal meaning is that it is not taken from someone in a state of hardship as Ibn al-Majishun stated. Ibn 'Uyayna said that "with their own hands" means that it is not sent with someone else. This is used as evidence by those who say that a Muslim cannot be delegated to do it, nor can he guarantee it for him nor transfer it from him to himself, but the dhimmi must pay it in person.

(state of abasement) Ibn 'Abbas said: they are pushed. Ibn Abi Hatim transmitted that. It is transmitted that al-Mughira told Rustam, "I call you to Islam or else you must pay the jizya while you are in a state of abasement." He said, "I know what jizya means, but what does 'a state of abasement' mean?" He replied, "You pay it while you are standing and I am sitting AND THE WHIP HANGING IS OVER YOUR HEAD." Abu'sh-Shaykh related that Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab said, "I prefer that the people of the dhimma become tired by paying the jizya since He says, 'until they pay the jizya with their own hands in a state of complete abasement.'" It is used as a proof by those who say THAT IT IS TAKEN IN A HUMILIATING WAY, and so the taker sits and the dhimmi stands with his head bowed and his back bent. The jizya is placed in the balance and the taker seizes his beard and hits his chin. This is rejected according to an-Nawawi who said, "This manner is invalid." This ayat is used as a proof by those who say that the people of the dhimma are left in the land of Islam because it is understood that one refrains from fighting them when they pay it. (Source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Noted Muslim commentator, Ibn Kathir, wrote regarding surah 9:5:

This is the Ayah of the Sword...

<But if they repent and perform the Salah, and give Zakah, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.>

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq used this and other honorable Ayat as proof for fighting those who refrained from paying the Zakah. These Ayat allowed fighting people unless, and until, they embrace Islam and implement its rulings and obligations... In the two Sahihs, it is recorded that Ibn ‘Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said,

<I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayer and pay Zakah.>

This honorable Ayah (9:5) was called the Ayah of the Sword, about which Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, "It abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolator, EVERY TREATY, AND EVERY TERM." Al-‘Awfi said that Ibn ‘Abbas commented: "No idolator had any more treaty or promise ever since Sura Bara’ah was revealed. The four months, in addition to, all peace treaties conducted before Bara’ah was revealed and announced had ended by the tenth of the month of Rabi’ Al-Akhir." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 4, Surat Al-A’raf to the end of Surah Yunus, abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First Edition: May 2000] pp. 375, 377; underline and capital emphasis ours)

And here is a rough translation of Ibn Kathir’s commentary regarding surah 9:29:

The Almighty said "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with submission, and feel themselves humiliated" that is when they disbelieved in Muhammad -Allah's prayer and peace be upon him- they no longer had any correct faith in any of the messengers nor of the message they (prophets) brought. However, they followed their own desires and wishes and old beliefs and not the law of Allah. For had they been following their scripture correctly, which is between their hands, it would have led them to the belief in Muhammad -Allah's prayer and peace be upon him. For all the prophets announced the coming of Muhammad and commanded all people to follow him. However, when he (Muhammad) came they disbelieved in him when he is actually the most noble of messengers and they did not hold on to the law of the ancient prophets who were from Allah. It is not enough for them to believe in the rest of the prophets and disbelieve in the master of prophets, the most preferred, the seal of prophets and the most complete of them. That is why He (Allah) said, "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book."

This beloved verse is the first command to fight the "People of the Book" (meaning Jews and Christians) AFTER the idolaters were subdued and the people entered into Allah's religion in droves and the matter of the Arabian Peninsula were rectified. It was only then that Allah commanded his messenger (Muhammad) to fight the People of the Book from the Jews and Christians and this was done in the 9th year (of Hijra). That is why the prophet -Allah's prayer and peace be upon him- prepared to fight the Romans and called all people to do so. He called to the people in the surrounding villages of Medina and commanded them so they followed him. Around 30,000 fighters came to join Muhammad, but some stayed behind from the people of Medina and the surrounding areas and some from the hypocrites as well as others. This was done in a year where there was a drought and very warm temperatures, so the messenger of Allah wanted to take Syria in order to fight the Romans. He reached the area of Tabuk and stayed there for approximately 20 days. Allah then commanded Muhammad to return, so the prophet returned because of poor preparation and the weakness of the people as it will be revealed. It was clearly understood from this verse that the jizya is not taken except from the People of the Book or people similar to them like the Zoroastrians, as the Hadith stated about them that the prophet took the jizya from the Zoroastrians of Hajir so this is the teaching of the Shafi'i school. Likewise, (Musnad) Ahmad in his famous hadith stated that Abu Hanifah, may Allah rest his soul, said, "Rather, the jizya is taken from all the foreigners whether they were from the People of the Book or from the idolaters but is not taken from the Arabs, except those of them that are from the People of the Book."

Imam Malik stated that it may be possible to take the jizya from all non-believers whether they were from the People of the Book or Zoroastrians or idolaters and the like and he stated his references to this that we will mention elsewhere and Allah knows best.

As for Allah's saying "Until they pay the Jizya" means that this is done if they don't convert to Islam. "With submission" means that they are forced to pay and should be downcast. "With humiliation" means they are REVILED, DISGRACED and DEBASED that is why it is unacceptable to honor the People of Treaty (Jews and Christians) and we can't raise their status above that of a Muslim. The People of the Book are DESPICABLE, LOWLY and REBELLIOUS, as it was stated in Sahih Muslim:

Abu Huraira said that the prophet said " Do not initiate the greeting to Jews and Christians and if you find any of them walking along the way, then force them to walk on the narrow section." That is why the Prince of Believers Umar ibn Khattab imposed on them the famous "Pact" to HUMILIATE, BELITTLE and DEGRADE them. This is also what the reciters heard from 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghanam [died 78/697] as follows:

When Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, accorded a peace to the Christians of Syria, they wrote to him as follows:

In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate.

This is a letter to the servant of God Umar [ibn al-Khattab], Commander of the Faithful, from the Christians of such-and-such a city. When you came against us, we asked you for safe-conduct (aman) for ourselves, our descendants, our property, and the people of our community, and we undertook the following obligations toward you:

We accept these conditions for ourselves and for the people of our community, and in return we receive safe-conduct. If we in any way violate these undertakings for which we ourselves stand surety, we forfeit our covenant [dhimma], and we become liable to the penalties for contumacy and sedition.

Umar ibn al-Khattab replied:

Sign what they ask, but add two clauses and impose them in addition to those which they have undertaken. They are: "They shall not buy anyone made prisoner by the Muslims," and "Whoever strikes a Muslim with deliberate intent shall forfeit the protection of this pact." (Arabic source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

According to one narration, the Jizyah was commanded to be the source of a Muslim's livelihood, one of the chief means of income for Muslims:

Narrated Juwairiya bin Qudama At-Tamimi:
We said to 'Umar bin Al-Khattab, "O Chief of the believers! Advise us." He said, "I advise you to fulfill Allah's Convention (made with the Dhimmis) as it is the convention of your Prophet and the source of the livelihood of your dependents (i.e. the taxes from the Dhimmis.)" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 388)

As one can very clearly see, the Quran is anything but tolerant to peoples of other faiths. In fact, Ibn Kathir’s comments establish our understanding that the Quran defines fighting against Muslims as individuals who may seek to challenge Islam’s truth claims on an intellectual level, not just a military one. Thus, the only way for any non-Muslim to live in safety is to keep his/her religious opinions to oneself, and never engage Muslims in active dialogue. More on this below.

What makes this more intriguing is that Badawi claimed that scholars such as as-Suyuti refuted the idea that the sword verse, i.e. surah 9:5, abrogated the passages referring to peace:

... They were refuted by both famous classical scholars like Al-Suyuti and Ibn Al-Jawzi as well as contemporary scholars like Subhi Al-Saleh and Abdullah Al-Judai` and many others ...

Yet, as the above citations show, Badawi is clearly wrong at least as far as as-Suyuti is concerned(*). As far as the views of Dr. Subhi Al-Saleh are concerned, here is what authors P. Newton & M. Rafiqul-Haqq say:

Not all scholars however agree that these verses were abrogated. They recognise that to abrogate His own commands is unworthy of the character of God. For example Dr. Sobhy as-Saleh, a contemporary academic, does not see in Q. 2:256 and Q. 9:73 a case of abrogation but a case of delaying or postponing the command to fight the infidels. To support his view he quoted Imam Suyuti the author of Itqan Fi 'Ulum al- Qur'an who wrote:

The command to fight the infidels was delayed until the Muslims become strong, but when they were weak they were commanded to endure and be patient.[6]

Dr. Sobhy, in a footnote, commends the opinion of a scholar named Zarkashi who said:

Allah the most high and wise revealed to Mohammad in his weak condition what suited the situation, because of his mercy to him and his followers. For if He gave them the command to fight while they were weak it would have been embarrassing and most difficult, but when the most high made Islam victorious He commanded him with what suited the situation, that is asking the people of the Book to become Muslims or to pay the levied tax, and the infidels to become Muslims or face death. These two options, to fight or to have peace return according to the strength or the weakness of the Muslims."[7]

We can see that whether Q. 2:256 was abrogated or Q. 9:73 was delayed the result is the same: the infidels should embrace Islam or face death at the hands of its followers. (Source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Thus, embracing Saleh’s view is even more problematic for Dr. Badawi! It clearly does not support his claim in the least.

We are even told in the above quotes that after 9:29 was given Muhammad decided to attack the Christians of Byzantine and Tabuk, groups that had never attacked or threatened the Muslims as was mentioned earlier. This makes it all the more evident that the Quran does sanction offensive jihad or war.

For more on the scholarly opinion regarding the abrogation of the earlier verses which call for peace and tolerance, we recommend the following articles:

Tolerance in Islam
Tolerance and the Qur’an

3) The passages are conciliatory. They do not contradict each other, nor does one citation abrogate the other.

Dr. Badawi evidently holds to this view and attempts to reconcile the verses by denying that the passages in surah 9 call for offensive jihad, or offensive war, against those who have not taken arms against the Muslims. As we saw above, this harmonization is not supported either by the overall context of the Quran itself or the so-called authentic traditions of Muhammad, as well as the understanding and practice of his first followers.

But there is another way in which these passages can be made to harmonize. It stems from seeking to properly understand the meaning of fighting in surah 60:8-9. Here, again, is the passage:

As for such [of the unbelievers] as DO NOT FIGHT AGAINST you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity: for, verily, God loves those who act equitably. God only forbids you to turn in friendship towards SUCH AS FIGHT AGAINST YOU because of [your] faith, and drive you forth from your homelands, or aid [others] in driving you forth: and as for those [from among you] who turn towards them in friendship; it is they, they who are truly wrongdoers! Muhammad Asad

The question before us is rather simple. What does the Quran classify as fighting against Muslims? Does this refer to physical fighting, where the unbelievers take up arms and engage Muslims in battle? Or can the term also encompass the idea of verbal fighting, a verbal exchange where non-Muslims engage Muslims in an intellectual battle regarding the truth claims of Islam? In other words, does the Quran classify the challenges posed against the veracity of Muhammad and against the claims for the divine origin of the Quran as falling under the category of fighting?

As one astute questioner by the name David stated to Dr. Badawi:

Hi Dr. Badawi. One of the famous quotation that Muslims use when talking about violence and peace is that Islam is a religion of peace and war in Islam is only for self-defense. However, you one day claimed: "Actual armed jihad is permissible under two conditions alone: one is for self-defense, and the other is for fighting against oppression." (cited in Diana Eck, A New Religious America, HarperSanFrancisco, 2001, p. 238).

Although, Dr. Badawi, you are quite accurate in describing the conditions of armed jihad in Islam, what you fail to say is that the definitions of "self-defense" and "fighting against oppression" are much broader than usually understood. Many Orthodox Muslims believe that if a nation's leaders do not acknowledge the rule of Islam, then those rulers are "oppressors" and thus a legitimate target for war (see John Kelsay, Islam and War, Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993, p. 35). Many Muslims argue that America is a cultural aggressor by exporting its Hollywood values all over the world, and thus any fight against Americans is done in self-defense (see the article by Mark Galli, "Now What? A Christian response to religious terrorism," Christianity Today, Oct 22, 2001). Therefore, there is no end to how a Muslim group can define "self-defense" and "oppression" and thus find an Islamic justification for violence. (Source)

Let us therefore see what the Quran has to say about this issue:

O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Whoso of you makes them his friends is one of them. God guides not the people of the evildoers... O believers, take not as your friends those of them, who were given the Book before you, and the unbelievers, who take your religion in mockery and as a sport — and fear God, if you are believers — S. 5:51, 57 Arberry

The word for friends in the above is auliya. These Quranic citations forbid Muslims from befriending Jews and Christians, especially those who mock, or critique, the Islamic religion. These passages make it obvious that Muslims are not to be tolerant towards Jews and Christians. Dr. Badawi tries to address these passages by stating that auliya actually means protectors, that Muslims should not seek aid and protection from Jews and Christians. These passages do not stop the Muslims from building friendships with Jews and Christians. He even has some harsh words for those who render the word auliya as friends:

“This is a distorted translation and distorted understanding. Friends in Arabic is astika, but the Quran did not use that term. It says, ‘O Believer, don’t take Jews and Christians as auliya.’ And the word auliya in the Arabic means protectors. Don’t depend for your security on others.” (Taken from Dr. Badawi’s lecture, Islam, World Peace and September 11, produced by MeccaCentric; source)

There are essentially three responses to this assertion. In the first place, Dr. Badawi’s explanation conflicts with the way Muslim translators have rendered the passages:


O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. Pickthall

O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friendsand protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily God guideth not a people unjust. Y. Ali

O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people. Shakir

O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends of each other. And whoso among you takes them for friends is indeed one of them. Verily ALLAH guides not the unjust people. Sher Ali

O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Nazarenes for friends, they are to each other and if any of you befriends them, verily then he is one of them. Surely Allah does not guide a transgressing people. Daryabadi

Believers, do not consider the Jews and Christians as your intimate friends for they are only friends with each other. Whoever does so will be considered as one of them. God does not guide the unjust people. Muhammad Sarwar

O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliyâ' (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but Auliyâ' to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as Auliyâ', then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allâh guides not those people who are the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrong­doers and unjust) Hilali-Khan

O believers, do not take the Jews and Christians as friends; some of them are friends of each other. Whoever of you takes them as friends is surely one of them. Majid Fakhry - An Interpretation of the Qur’an (Approved by Al-Ahzar University)

O you who believe, take not the Jews and Christians for friends. They are friends of each other. And whoever amongst you takes them. Surely Allah guides not the just. Maulana Muhammad Ali

O YOU who have attained to faith! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for your allies: they are but allies of one another-and whoever of you allies himself with them becomes, verily, one of them; behold, God does not guide such evildoers. Muhammad Asad

Asad notes:

72 According to most of the commentators (e.g., Tabari), this means that each of these two communities extends genuine friendship only to its own adherents - i.e., the Jews to the Jews, and the Christians to the Christians - and cannot, therefore, be expected to be really friendly towards the followers of the Qur'an. See also 8 : 73, and the corresponding note. (Source; italic emphasis ours)


O ye who believe! take not for friends and protectors those who take your religion for a mockery or sport, ... Y. Ali

O ye who believe! take not those for friends who make a jest and sport of your religion... Sher Ali

O you who believe! Do not take as friends those who make a mockery and fun of your Religion from among those who have been given the Book before you and other infidels... Daryabadi

O believers, do not take as friends those who take your religion as a mockery or a sport, be they from among those who received the Book before you, or the unbelievers... Fakhry

O you who believe, take not for friends those who take your religion as mockery and a sport... Muhammad Ali

O you who believe, do not befriend those among the recipients of previous scripture who mock and ridicule your religion, nor shall you befriend the disbelievers.... Khalifa

Thus, if Dr. Badawi is correct then all these Muslim translators are distorters of the Quran.

This leads to the second point. Dr. Badawi ignores the fact that auliya in a broader sense does mean friendships, that the Muslims should not take Jews and Christians as friends, not just as protectors. Here are Ibn Kathir’s comments which support this view:

The Prohibition of Taking the Jews, Christians and Enemies of Islam as FRIENDS

Allah forbids His believing servants from having Jews and Christians as FRIENDS, because they are the enemies of Islam and its people, may Allah curse them. Allah then states that they are FRIENDS of each other and He gives a warning threat to those who do this, ...

<And if any among you befriends them, then surely he is one of them.>

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that ‘Umar ordered Abu Musa Al-Ash‘ari to send him on one sheet of balance the count of balance what he took in and what he spent. Abu Musa then had a Christian scribe, and he was able to comply with ‘Umar’s demand. ‘Umar liked what he saw and exclaimed, “This scribe is proficient. Would you read in the Masjid a letter that came to us from Ash-Sham?” Abu Musa said, “He cannot.” Umar said, “Is he not pure?” Abu Musa said, “NO, BUT HE IS CHRISTIAN.” Abu Musa said, “So ‘Umar admonished me and poked my thigh (with his finger), saying, ‘DRIVE HIM OUT (FROM AL-MADINAH).’ HE THEN RECITED,...

<O you who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians as friends...> ”

Then he reported that ‘Abdullah bin ‘Utbah said, “Let one of you beware that he might be a Jew or Christians, while unaware.” The narrator of this statement said, “We thought that he was referring to the Ayah, ...

<O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as friends,> ” ...

The Prohibition of Being Loyal FRIENDS with Disbelievers

This Ayah [5:57] discourages and forbids taking the enemies of Islam and its people, such as the People of the Book and the polytheists, as friends. These disbelievers mock the most important acts that any person could ever perform, the honorable, pure acts of Islam which include all types of good for this life and the Hereafter. They mock such acts and make them the subject of jest and play, because this is what these acts represent in their misguided minds and cold hearts. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 3, Parts 6, 7 & 8 (Surat An-Nisa, Verse 148 to the end of Surat Al-An’am), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First Edition: January 2000], pp. 204-205, 210; capital emphasis and bracketed statements ours)

Now obviously, no one would suggest here that Umar was telling Abu Musa not to take his Christian scribe as his protector, and the warning to be aware lest one becomes a Jew or Christian makes it rather obvious that the word auliya here also means taking them as friends. It isn’t simply limited to the meaning of having them as protectors.

The Pooya/Ali commentary states in reference to surah 5:51:

The Jews and the Christians had much in common, and therefore readily formed an alliance against Islam. So anyone who makes them his friends must have some points of identity with them. A believer, in order to keep himself safe from the influence of falsehood, must avoid the company of disbelievers. The doctrines of tawalla (staying attached with the Ahl ul Bayt) and tabarra (avoiding the enemies of Allah, the Holy Prophet and his Ahl ul Bayt) are the articles of the faith of them followers of Muhammad and ali Muhammad.

The Holy Prophet said:

Do not adopt the style and mannerism of my enemies, lest you may be considered as one of them. He who appears like a certain type shall be identified as of that type. (Source; underline emphasis ours)

Another online Muslim source says regarding surah 5:57:

Context of Revelation: The following verse was revealed with reference to two men who embraced Islam but later on renounced it, nevertheless maintaining cordial relationship with Muslim friends who also positively reciprocated towards them. The verse warns them not to fraternize with people who treat their religion as if it were a jest, which tantamounts to casting aspersions upon the Eminence of Allah. (Source; bold, underline emphasis ours)

Regarding the meaning of S. 5:51, the following Salafi website quotes:

Shaykh al-Shanqeeti (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

In this verse Allaah tells us that whoever takes the Jews and Christians as friends is one of them because of his taking them as friends. Elsewhere Allaah states that taking them as friends incurs the wrath of Allaah and His eternal punishment, and that if the one who takes them as friends was a true believer he would not have taken them as friends. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"You see many of them taking the disbelievers as their Awliyaa' (protectors and helpers). Evil indeed is that which their ownselves have sent forward before them; for that (reason) Allaah's Wrath fell upon them, and in torment they will abide.

81. And had they believed in Allaah, and in the Prophet (Muhammad) and in what has been revealed to him, never would they have taken them (the disbelievers) as Awliyaa' (protectors and helpers); but many of them are the Faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allaah)"

[al-Maa'idah 5:80-81]

Elsewhere Allaah forbids taking them as friends and explains the reason for that, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):

"O you who believe! Take not as friends the people who incurred the Wrath of Allaah (i.e. the Jews). Surely, they have despaired of (receiving any good in) the Hereafter, just as the disbelievers have despaired of those (buried) in graves (that they will not be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection)"

[al-Mumtahanah 60:13]

In another verse Allaah explains that this is so long as they are not taken as friends because of fear or taqiyah (i.e., being friendly with them in order to avoid harm); if that is the case then the one who does that is excused. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Awliyaa' (supporters, helpers) instead of the believers, and whoever does that, will never be helped by Allaah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them"

[Aal 'Imraan 3:28]

This verse explains all the verses quoted above which forbid taking the kaafirs as friends in general terms. What that refers to is in cases where one has a choice, but in cases of fear and taqiyah it is permissible to make friends with them, as much as is essential to protect oneself against their evil. That is subject to the condition that one's faith should not be affected by that friendship and the one who is behaves in that manner out of necessity is not one who behaves in that manner out of choice.

It may be understood from the apparent meaning of these verses that the one who deliberately takes the kuffaar as friends by choice and because he likes them, is one of them. End quote.

Adwa' al-Bayaan, 2/98,99

One of the forms of making friends with the kaafirs which is forbidden is taking them as friends and companions, mixing with them and eating and playing with them.

In the answer to question no. 10342 we have quoted Shaykh Ibn Baaz as saying:

Eating with a kaafir is not haraam if it is necessary to do so, or if that serves some shar'i interest. But they should not be taken as friends, so you should not eat with them for no shar'i reason or for no shar'i purpose. You should not sit and chat with them and laugh with them. But if there is a reason to do so, such as eating with a guest, or to invite them to Islam or to guide them to the truth, or for some other shar'i reason, then it is OK.

The fact that the food of the People of the Book is halaal for us does not mean that we may take them as friends and companions. It does not mean that we may eat and drink with them for no reason and for no shar'i purpose.

Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-'Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about the ruling on mixing with the kuffaar and treating them kindly hoping that they will become Muslim. He replied:

Undoubtedly the Muslim is obliged to hate the enemies of Allaah and to disavow them, because this is the way of the Messengers and their followers...

Based on this, it is not permissible for a Muslim to feel any love in his heart towards the enemies of Allaah who are in fact his enemies too...

But if a Muslim treats them with kindness and gentleness in the hope that they will become Muslim and will believe, there is nothing wrong with that, because it comes under the heading of opening their hearts to Islam. But if he despairs of them becoming Muslim, then he should treat them accordingly. This is something that is discussed in detail by the scholars, especially in the book Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah by Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him)...

With regard to mixing with the kuffaar, the reason why mixing with the kuffaar is not allowed is not only the fear that one may fall into kufr, rather the main reason for this ruling is their enmity towards Allaah and His Messenger and the believers...

So how can it be appropriate for a Muslim to keep company with the enemy of Allaah and his enemy, and make friends with him?

How can he be certain that he will not start to think of their ways as good? Many Muslims have fallen into kufr and heresy and have apostatized from Islam because of keeping company with the kuffaar and living in their countries. Some of them have become Jews and some have become Christians, and some have embraced atheistic philosophies...

Islam Q&A (
(Question #59879: What is meant by taking the kuffaar as friends? Ruling on mixing with the kuffaar; bold and underline emphasis ours)

This same group gives a list of Muslim dos and don'ts in dealing with unbelievers, especially Jews and Christians. Some of the don'ts include:

10. Putting them in administrative positions where they are bosses of Muslims and can humiliate them, run their affairs and prevent them from practising their religion. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): "... and never will Allaah grant to the disbelievers a way (to triumph) over the believers." [al-Nisa' 4:141]. Imaam Ahmad reported that Abu Moosa al-Ash'ari (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: "I said to 'Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him). 'I have a Christian scribe.' He said, 'What is wrong with you, may Allaah strike you dead! Have you not heard the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning), "O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as awliya' (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but awliya' to one another." [al-Maa'idah 5:51]"? Why do you not employ a haneef [i.e., a Muslim]?' I said, 'O Ameer al-Mu'mineen, I benefit from his work and he keeps his religion to himself.' He said, 'I will never honour them when Allaah has HUMILIATED THEM, and I will never bring them close to me when Allaah has expelled them from His mercy.'"

Similarly, we should not employ them in Muslim homes where they can see our private matters and they bring our children up as kaafirs. This is what is happening nowadays when kaafirs are brought to Muslim countries as workers, drivers, servants and nannies in Muslim homes and families.

Neither should we send our children to kaafir schools, missionary institutions and evil colleges and universities, or make them live with kaafir families...

12. Staying in their countries when there is no need to do so. Allaah forbade the weak and oppressed Muslims to stay among the kaafirs if they are able to migrate. He says (interpretation of the meaning): "Verily! As for those whom the angels take (in death) while they are wronging themselves (as they stayed among the disbelievers even though emigration was obligatory for them), they (angels) say (to them): 'In what (condition) were you?' They reply, 'We were weak and oppressed on earth.' They (angels) say: 'Was not the earth of Allaah spacious enough for you to emigrate therein?' Such men will find their abode in Hell -what an evil destination! Except the weak ones among men, women and children, who cannot devise a plan, nor are the able to direct their way." [al-Nisa' 4:97-98].

Nobody will be excused for staying in a kaafir country except for those who are truly weak and oppressed and cannot migrate, or those who stay among them for a valid religious purpose such as da'wah and spreading Islam in their countries.

It is forbidden to live among them when there is no need to do so. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "I disown the one who stays among the mushrikeen." ...

14. Praising them and their civilization and culture, defending them, and admiring their behaviour and skills, without taking note of their false ideology and corrupt religion. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): "And strain not your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to various groups of them (disbelievers), the splendour of the life of this world that We may test them thereby. But the provision (good reward in the Hereafter) of your Lord is better and more lasting." [Ta-Ha 20:131]. It is also forbidden to honour them, give them titles of respect, initiate greetings to them, give them the best seats in gatherings, and give way to them in the street. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Do not be the first to greet a Jew or a Christian (do not initiate the greeting), and if you meet one of them in the street, then push him to the narrowest part of the way." (Question #2179: Clarification of the important rule: it is haraam to take kaafirs as close friends and protectors; bold, underline and capital emphasis ours)

For more on their views please read also their comments found here: *, *, *.

In fact, the Quran refers to believers as auliya of Allah!

Lo! verily the friends of Allah (auliyaa Allahi) are (those) on whom fear (cometh) not, nor do they grieve! S. 10:62 Pickthall

In another place it refers to the friends of Satan:

The believers fight in the way of God, and the unbelievers fight in the idols' way. Fight you therefore against the friends of Satan (auliyaa alshshaytani); surely the guile of Satan is ever feeble. S. 4:76

It is obvious that neither Allah nor Satan is in need of human protectors, which means that in these specific contexts auliya can only mean friends. But applying Dr. Badawi’s argument we must render these passages to mean that both Allah and Satan have and need protectors!

Third, this exposes more of Muhammad’s hypocrisy and inconsistency since he permitted the Muslims to seek refuge with and the protection of the Christian leader of Abyssinia, the Negus, when the Meccan pagans were persecuting them. How convenient that Muhammad didn’t forbid his followers from seeking protection in a Christian land, and forbidding them from living amongst Christians. It is obvious that when Muhammad was the underdog he didn’t find it objectionable to befriend either the Jews or Christians if it helped protect both his followers and himself.

Hence, either way, Dr. Badawi’s exegesis leaves him with problems.

Another verse says:

The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief(fasadan) in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement, S. 5:33 Shakir

The above passage threatens those who aim for mischief with execution, crucifixion, the cutting of their hands and feet, or exile. The question is what exactly does the word mischief imply or convey? For the answer we now turn to several Muslim sources:

Fasad, literally 'corruption', in Qur'anic terminology, means creating disorder and corruption earth BY FOLLOWING A PATH OTHER THAN GOD’S. Islam maintains that true peace and happiness emanate ONLY THROUGH THE OBSERVANCE OF GOD’S COMMANDS and through making a conscious effort to see that His laws alone are implemented in every sphere of life. Fasad occurs when man violates God's laws and disobeys Him. Fasad may therefore be partial as well as total; partial when one disregards God's law in one aspect of life while acknowledging His sovereignty in other spheres. If a society is based on the denial of God, that society is bound to be a corrupt and exploitative society - hence full of fasad. (Glossary of Islamic Terms; capital emphasis ours)

Ibn Kathir's tafsir on Quran 5:33 says:

The Punishment of those Who Cause Mischief in the Land
Allah said next, ...
<The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land.>

'Wage war' mentioned here means, OPPOSE AND CONTRADICT, and it includes DISBELIEF, blocking roads and spreading fear in the fairways. Mischief in the land refers to various types of evil. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 3, p. 161; online edition; capital emphasis ours)

In Ibn Kathir's tafsir on Sura 2:11-12 he writes:

Meaning of Mischief
In his Tafsir, As-Suddi said that Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Mas`ud commented, ...

<And when it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on the earth," they say: "We are only peacemakers.">

"They are the hypocrites. As for, ...
<"Do not make mischief on the earth">, that is DISBELIEF AND ACTS OF DISOBEDIENCE." Abu Ja`far said that Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said that Abu Al-`Aliyah said that Allah's statement, ...
<And when it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on the earth,">, means, "Do not commit acts of disobedience on the earth. Their mischief is DISOBEYING Allah, because whoever disobeys Allah on the earth, OR COMMANDS THAT ALLAH BE DISOBEYED, he has committed mischief on the earth. Peace on both the earth and in the heavens is ensured (and earned) through obedience (to Allah)." Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Qatadah said similarly. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 1, Parts 1 and 2 (Surat Al-Fatihah to Verse 252 of Surat Al-Baqarah), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First Edition: January 2000], pp. 131-132; online edition; capital emphasis ours)


Types of Mischief that the Hypocrites commit
Ibn Jarir said, "The hypocrites commit mischief on earth BY DISOBEYING THEIR LORD on it and continuing in the prohibited acts. They also ABANDON WHAT ALLAH MADE OBLIGATORY AND DOUBT HIS RELIGION, even though He does not accept a deed from anyone EXCEPT WITH FAITH IN HIS RELIGION and certainty of its truth. The hypocrites also lie to the believers by saying contrary to the doubt and hesitation their hearts harbor. They give as much aid as they can, against Allah's loyal friends, and support those who deny Allah, His Books and His Messengers. This is how the hypocrites commit mischief on earth, while thinking that they are doing righteous work on earth."
The statement by Ibn Jarir is true, taking the disbelievers as friends is one of the categories of mischief on the earth... (Ibid., p. 132; online edition; capital emphasis ours)

Clearly then, mischief or fasad entails disbelief and disobedience to Islam, that those who deny that Islam is true, or that Muhammad is a true prophet, and who may call into question Muhammad’s religion, are being mischievous. They are to come under the severe punishment and penalty for refusing to embrace Islam and/or for calling its veracity into question. Is it any wonder that Muhammad commanded Muslims to fight those who do not prohibit what Islam prohibits in surah 9:29? Here, again, is the passage:

Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allâh, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) NOR FORBID THAT WHICH HAS BEEN FORBIDDEN BY ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. ISLAM) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. Hilali-Khan

Thus, a careful reading of the Quran leads us to conclude that fighting against Muhammad isn’t restricted solely to physical, military expeditions. It also includes challenging the truth claims of Islam and Muhammad’s prophethood. In other words, people must not call into question Muhammad’s truth claims, but simply blindly follow what he has commanded or, as in the case of Jews and Christians who are permitted to live under Islamic rule, remain silent about their disbelief in him. Otherwise, they will be viewed as causing mischief in Muslim land, thereby fighting against Allah and his messenger, and coming under the judgment of the Quran. If the Jew or Christian agreed not to question Islam, or refrain from trying to convert any Muslim, then he/she could retain his/her personal belief as long as the jizya, or taxation, be paid.

The very immediate context of surah 60 itself substantiates this interpretation since we read there that:

If they come on you, they will be enemies to you, and stretch against you their hands AND THEIR TONGUES, to do you evil, and they wish that you may disbelieve. S. 60:2

The reference to "THEIR TONGUES" clearly alludes to the criticisms directed against Muhammad by the unbelievers, i.e. that the unbelievers challenged his prophetic claims as well insulted him for trying to foist this scam on them. Those who would dare challenge Muhammad and critique his religion are enemies that must be vanquished.

Further substantiation for this understanding can be seen from the way Muhammad treated those who exposed him as a false prophet, or as a fraud. Most, if not all, of them were brutally killed simply because they spoke out against Muhammad’s prophetic claims, or for satirizing him in poetry. Here is a link which provides detailed documentation regarding this very point.

In conclusion, we must say that surah 60:8-9 really doesn’t establish the position of certain Muslims that Islam tolerates the existence of other religions. The passage directly conflicts with other verses which command offensive aggression against non-Muslims, which means that the Quran is contradicting itself, or these passages must be explained in a way in which both statements are true. In this paper, we tried to present the different ways in which this can be done; and yet no matter which position a Muslim opts for, he/she is left with the inescapable conclusion that Islam does not treat the advocates of other religions fairly and equally.

For more regarding this issue, and related issues, we highly recommend the following articles:

Jihad Sites
Jihad in Islam: Is Islam Peaceful or Militant? and An Initial Christian Response
Is Islam a Peace-Loving Religion?
The Punishment of the Apostate According to Islamic Law
The Penalties for Apostacy in Islam

Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page