By Samuel Green


Many people feel there is a war going on against Muslims and Islam. Certainly Muslim people are among those suffering from war in parts of the world as world powers and different groups seek control. There is also the war of words as people speak for or against Islam, and there are even Muslims fighting Muslims. This is a complex situation. This article first looks at how the Qur'an and Sunnah contribute to the war against Muslims then it considers what the prophets can teach us about this situation.

The Qur'an

O you who believe! Observe your duty to Allah, and give up what remains (due to you) from usury (interest), if you are (in truth) believers. And if you do not, then be warned of war (against you) from Allah and His messenger. And if you repent, then you have your principal (without interest). Wrong not, and you shall not be wronged. (Qur'an 2:278-279, Pickthall)

The context of the above verses is that some Muslims wanted to get the interest that was still owed to them before they became Muslims. They are warned that if they seek this interest then Allah and Muhammad will make war on them. We see a similar command in 9:73.

O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey's end. (Qur'an 9:73, Pitckthall)

The context here is that Muhammad is calling the Muslims to Jihad. Some of the Muslim tribes do not want to fight, therefore, they are called hypocrites and Muhammad is to fight against them until they join the Jihad.

In sura 33 Muslims are again called hypocrites and threatened with war if they continue to question Muhammad's moral and military judgement.

If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and the alarmists in the city do not cease, We verily shall urge you on against them, then they will be your neighbours in it but a little while. Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter. (Qur'an 33:60-61, Pitckthall)

In sura 49 Muhammad is commanded to fight Muslims until they "return unto the ordinance of Allah".

And if two parties of believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them. And if one party of them doeth wrong to the other, fight ye that which doeth wrong till it return unto the ordinance of Allah; then, if it return, make peace between them justly, and act equitably. Lo! Allah loveth the equitable. (Qur'an 49:9, Pickthall)

In sura 66 those Muslims who questioned what Muhammad was doing are called hypocrites and were to be treated harshly.

O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be stern with them. Hell will be their home, a hapless journey's end. (Qur'an 66:9, Pickthall)

The Sunnah

Muhammad commanded the true Muslims to make war on those Muslims who did not stop using alcohol.

Narrated Daylam al-Himyari: I asked the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and said: Apostle of Allah! we live in a cold land in which we do heavy work and we make a liquor from wheat to get strength from it for our work and to stand the cold of our country. He asked: Is it intoxicating? I replied: Yes. He said: You must avoid it. I said: The people will not abandon it. He said: If they do not abandon it, fight with them. (Abu Dawood: bk 26, no. 3675, Hasan)

Muhammad commanded the true Muslims to destroy the mosque of the hypocritical Muslims mentioned in sura 9:107.

The owners of the mosque of opposition had come to the apostle as he was preparing for (to attack) Tabuk, saying, "We have built a mosque for the sick and needy and for nights of bad weather, and we should like you to come to us and pray for us there." He said that he was on the point of travelling, and was preoccupied ... and that when he came back if God willed he would come to them and pray for them in it. When he stopped in Dhu Awan news of the mosque came to him, and he summoned Malik b. al-Dukhshum ... and Ma'n b. `Adiy ... and told them to go to the mosque of those evil men and destroy and burn it. ... and then the two of them ran into the mosque where its people were and burned and destroyed it and the people ran away from it. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 609; Also Al-Tabari, vol. IX, pp. 60-61)

Some Muslim scholars use this example of Muhammad burning down this mosque as justification for their own destruction of "hypocritical mosques".

We also derive from this story the permissibility of burning places of sin and disobedience, as the Prophet burnt Masjid Ad-Dirar (the Mosque of Harm); and it is incumbent upon the Imam to destroy it, either by demolishing it or burning it, or by altering its shape and changing its function. And if that was the case regarding Masjid Ad- Dirar, then the shrines where Shirk is practised should with all the more reason be destroyed and likewise the houses of the wine merchants and those who do evil deeds; Umar burnt down a whole village in which wine was sold. And he burnt down the palace of Sa'd when he secluded himself in it from the people and the prophet intended to burn down the houses of those who did not attend the Friday prayer or the congregational prayers; and the only thing which prevented him was the presence therein of persons whom it was not obligatory (i.e. women and small children). (Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah, Provisions for the Hereafter (Mukhtasar Zad Al-Ma'ad), p. 429)

After Muhammad died, Abu Bakr also made war on the Muslims who stopped paying the zakat (tax).

Narrated Abu Huraira: When Allah's Apostle died and Abu Bakr was elected as a Caliph after him, some of the Arabs reverted to disbelief. Umar said to Abu Bakr, "How dare you fight the people when Allah's Apostle said: I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and whoever says: None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, saves his wealth and his life from me unless he deserves a legal punishment justy, and his account will be with Allah!" Abu Bakr said, "By Allah, I will fight him who discriminates between Zakat and prayers, for Zakat is the compulsory right to be taken from the wealth by Allah, if they refuse to give me even a tying rope which they use to give to Allah's Apostle, I would fight them for withholding it." Umar said, "By Allah, it was nothing, except I saw that Allah had opened the chest of Abu Bakr to the fight, and I came to know for certain that was the truth." (Sahih al-Bukhari: vol 9, bk. 92, no. 388, Khan)

Muhammad's war on Muslims

These references show that the Qur'an and Sunnah command faithful Muslims to make war on those Muslims who do not obey all of Islam's teaching. This is a very important aspect of Jihad and the basis of taqfir.

(A) clear line of demarcation has been drawn between the hypocritical “Muslims” and the true Muslims, and instructions have been given regarding the treatment that should be meted out to the hypocrites. (S. Abdul A`La Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 2, p. 229)

Jihad is not just against non-Muslims; it is also against Muslims. This is why the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other groups attack Muslims. They believe that they themselves are the true Muslims and that other Muslims are hypocrites and guilty of taqfir. They believe it is their duty to fight them until they accept every aspect of Islamic law (shariah).

This Islamic war against Muslims has existed since the time of Muhammad and is not a new occurrence. Muslims have been killing and assassinating each other from the beginning of Islam. Non-Muslim countries did not start this war, and they cannot stop it. When non-Muslim countries support Muslim leaders who do not implement every aspect of Islamic law they have taken a side in this war whether they realise it or not.

Living with this Command

The Qur'an and Sunnah commands the "rightly guided" Muslims to make war on those Muslims who do not obey all of the Islamic law. This command comes from a very noble and right desire, that is, to see God exalted in every area of life and to have all things ordered by his word. The problem is that no one can be trusted to have this type of power.

When Muslims believe they are the "rightly guided" ones and they impose their will on other Muslims, it leads to tyranny, corruption and not genuine worship of God. Many Muslims in the world are suffering from those Muslims who believe they are "rightly guided". (Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).

In many Muslim countries there are Islamic groups who are trying to overthrow the government because these governments are not Islamic enough. There is also the unending and uncontrollable war between the different groups of "rightly guided" Muslims who disagree with each other; they are fighting each other to establish an Islamic purity they will never achieve.

This command for the "rightly guided" Muslims to fight other Muslims is a complete disaster for Islam and the world. This command does not solve the problem of people not worshipping God. Instead it only creates more problems and leads to God's name being mocked in the world.

Why does this command fail to work?

What God has said about his government.

Through the prophets God demonstrated and explained, long before the time of Muhammad, that humans cannot be trusted with such power. The nation of Israel was meant to live according to God's laws and so exalt God's name among the nations, but they failed to do this. Even their great kings like Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah, who made the Israelites return to the laws of God, were not able to do this successfully. But we should not just blame Israel.

One of the problems we have as people is that we think we are better than we truly are. We think we are better than others and can stand in judgement over them. Jesus warned us against this.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:1-4, NIV)

Therefore we should not blame the Jews for their failure to live for God and think that we are better. We are the same. The history of Christianity and Islam shows that whenever Christians or Muslims have tried to force others to keep God's law it has failed and ended in tyranny and God's name being blasphemed.

Humans cannot bring God's rule to this earth because we are all affected by evil and fail.

There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:22-23, NIV)

Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin"? (Proverbs 20:9, NIV)

And the Quran and Hadith, also agree that everyone, even Muhammad himself, is sinful.

If Allah were to take mankind to task for their wrong-doing, he would not leave hereon a living creature ... (Qur'an 16:61, 12:53 Pickthall)

So know (O Muhammad) that there is no Allah save Allah, and ask forgiveness for your sin and for believing men and believing women. (Qur'an 47:19, Pickthall)

(Muhammad prayed) Oh my Lord! Forgive my sins and my ignorance and my exceeding the limits (boundaries) of righteousness in all my deeds and what you know better than I. O Allah! Forgive my mistakes, those I do intentionally or out of my ignorance or (without) or with seriousness, and I confess that all such mistakes are done by me. O Allah! Forgive my sins of the past and of the future which I did openly or secretly. (Bukhari: vol. 8, bk. 75, no. 407, Khan)

The Promise of the Messiah

The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. (Isaiah 59:15-16, NIV)

Since there is no one who can truly bring God's government to the world, God has promised to send the Messiah.

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD – and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. (Isaiah 11:2-5, NIV)

There are so many beautiful things that God has said regarding his Messiah. I want to encourage you to read all the prophets and the gospel and learn about the Messiah. In the future I plan to gather together all of the scriptures about him, but for now we must understand that the Messiah is our only hope. We should not be deceived into thinking that we can force others to keep God's laws. God does not want this.

Yet, in spite of God's clear teaching about our failure, and his glorious promise of the Messiah, Muhammad recited that the "rightly guided" Muslims are to make war on other Muslims. This is the opposite of what the prophets and the gospel say. Muhammad's war on Muslims has brought suffering to millions. It is not how God wants his people to establish his rule on earth; it just repeats the failure of those who have attempted to do this in the past.


It is right and proper for us to want to see all of life lived for God and everything ordered by his word, but we must do it God's way and not our way. God's way is to send the Messiah and he calls upon us to follow the Messiah now. Do not follow anyone else. You can follow the Messiah now. Pray a prayer like this.

Almight God, you are the true and living God.
I confess that I have not lived your way and that I need your help.
Thank you for sending the Messiah.
Please help me now to follow the Messiah and learn from him.

Now start learning from the Messiah by reading a gospel and then all the prophets.


Sulaiman Abu Dawud, Sunan Abu-Dawud (trans: Prof. Ahmad Hasan).

Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari (trans: Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan).

Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, translated as, The Life of Muhammad, (trans: A. Guillaume), Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998.

The Holy Bible - New International Version (NIV), London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1997.

Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an, Delhi: Crescent Publishing House, 1985.

Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah, Provisions for the Hereafter (Mukhtasar Zad Al-Ma'ad), Riyadh: Darussalam, 2003.

S. Abdul A`La Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, Lahore: Islamic Publication, 6th ed., 2007.

Al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari, vol. IX, "The Last Years of the Prophet" (trans: Ismail K. Poonawala), Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1990.

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Copyright © 2010 Samuel Green.
Last updated 17 July 2012.

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