Qur'an Contradiction:

Should Muslims Accept Peace or Not?

Islam and Warfare

Sam Shamoun

Muhammad is reported to have said that war is deceit:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "Khosrau will be ruined, and there will be no Khosrau after him, and Caesar will surely be ruined and there will be no Caesar after him, and you will spend their treasures in Allah's Cause." He called, "War is deceit". (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 267)

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
The Prophet said, "War is deceit." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 269)

This basically means that Muslims can use lies and deception when they feel that they are in war against the unbelievers. There is no greater proof for this than what we find in the Quran.

For example, the Quran permits Muslims to accept a peace treaty from the unbelievers whom they are fighting:

But if they incline to peace, you also incline to it, and (put your) trust in God. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. S. 8:61 Hilali-Khan

One commentary attributed to Ibn Abbas says:

(And if they incline to peace) if the Banu Qurayzah incline to and desire peace, (incline you also to it) and desire it, (and trust in Allah) in relation to their breaking or honouring of treaties. (Lo! He is the Hearer) of what they say, (the Knower) of their breaking and honouring of treaties. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn ‘Abbs; online source)

Ibn Kathir, considered to be one of Islam’s premier exegetes, wrote:

The Command to Facilitate Peace when the Enemy seeks a Peaceful Resolution

Allah says, if you fear betrayal from a clan of people, then sever the peace treaty with them, so that both of you are on equal terms. If they continue being hostile and opposing you, then fight them, …

<But if they incline>, and seek,

<to peace>, if they resort to reconciliation, and seek a treaty of non hostility, …

<you also incline to it>, and accept offers of peace from them. This is why when the pagans inclined to peace in the year of Hudaybiyah and sought cessation of hostilities for nine years, between them and the Messenger of Allah he accepted this from them, as well as, accepting other terms of peace they brought forth. ‘Abdullah bin Al-Imam Ahmad recorded that ‘Ali bin Abi Talib said that the Messenger of Allah said, …

((There will be disputes after me, so if you have a way to end them in peace, then do so.))

Allah said next, …

<and trust in Allah.> Allah says, conduct a peace treaty with those who incline to peace, and trust in Allah. Verily, Allah will suffice for you and aid you even if they resort to peace as a trick, so that they gather and reorganize their forces… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) (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], Volume 4, pp. 348-349)

This is expressly contradicted by the following text:

So be not weak and ask not for peace (from the enemies of Islm), while you are having the upper hand. God is with you, and will never decrease the reward of your good deeds. S. 47:35 Hilali-Khan

Muslims are commanded not to seek peace with the unbelievers, provided that they are the more dominant party! As the tafsir of Ibn Abbas states:

(So do not falter) do not weaken, O believer, upon fighting the disbelievers (and cry out for peace) and it is said this means: for Islam before fighting (when you (will be) the uppermost) when you are the victorious and the ultimate consequence will be in your favour, (and Allah is with you) He helps you to defeat your enemy, (and He will not grudge (the reward of) your actions) and He will not diminish the works in which you engage during Jihad. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn ‘Abbs; online source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The two renowned Sunni commentators al-Jalalayn agree:

So do not falter, [do not] be weak, and [do not] call for peace (read salm or silm), that is to say, a truce with the disbelievers should you encounter them, when you have the upper hand (al-a'lawna: the third letter of the triliteral root, waw, has been omitted), [when you are] the victors, the vanquishers, and God is with you, helping and assisting, and He will not stint you, diminish you, in [the reward for] your works, that is to say, of the reward for them. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; online source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

This is a blatant contradiction with Sura 8:61!

In order to reconcile the obvious contradiction between these two conflicting injunctions some Muslims have resorted to the doctrine of abrogation, i.e. that Sura 8:61 has been abrogated:

And if they incline to peace (read silm or salm, meaning, 'settlement'), then incline to it, and conclude a pact with them: Ibn 'Abbas said, 'This has been abrogated by the "sword verse” [Q. 2:191]'; Mujahid said, 'This [stipulation] applies exclusively in the context of the People of the Scripture, for it was revealed regarding the Banu Qurayza; and rely on God, put your trust in Him; truly He is the Hearer, of words, the Knower, of actions. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; online source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Abrogation is nothing more than an implicit admission that the Quran is contradicting itself, just as one Muslim candidly admitted:

The principle on which the theory of abrogation is based is unacceptable, being contrary to the clear teachings of the Qur'an. A verse is considered to be abrogated when the two cannot be reconciled with each other; in other words, when they appear to contradict each other. But the Qur’an destroys ths foundation when it declares that no part of it is at variance with another: "Will they not then meditate on the Qur’an? And if it were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancy" (4 : 82). It was due to lack of meditation that one verse was thought to be at variance with another; and hence it is that in almost all cases where abrogation has been upheld by one person, there has been another who, being able to reconcile the two, has repudiated the alleged abrogation. (Ali, The Religion of Islam [The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) U.S.A., Eighth Edition 2005], p. 32; bold and italic emphasis ours)

The late Muhammad Asad was of the same opinion:

… The principle laid down in this passage - relating to the supersession of the Biblical dispensation by that of the Qur’an - has given rise to an erroneous interpretation by many Muslim theologians. The word ayah ('message') occurring in this context is also used to denote a ‘verse’ of the Qur’an (because every one of these verses contains a message). Taking this restricted meaning of the term ayah, some scholars conclude from the above passage that certain verses of the Qur’an have been ‘abrogated’ by God’s command before the revelation of the Qur’an was completed. Apart from the fancifulness of this assertion - WHICH CALLS TO MIND THE IMAGE OF A HUMAN AUTHOR CORRECTING, ON SECOND THOUGHT, THE PROOFS OF HIS MANUSCRIPT, deleting one passage and replacing it with another - there does not exist a single reliable Tradition to the effect that the Prophet ever declared a verse of the Qur’an t have been ‘abrogated’. At the root of the so-called ‘doctrine of abrogation’ MAY LIE THE INABILITY OF SOME EARLY COMMENTATORS TO RECONCILE ONE QUR'ANIC PASSAGE WITH ANOTHER; a difficulty which was overcome by declaring that one of the verses in question had been ‘abrogated’. This arbitrary procedure explains also why there is no unanimity whatsoever among the upholders of the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ as to which, and how many, Qur’an-verses have been affected by it; and furthermore, as to whether this alleged abrogation implies a total elimination of the verse from the context of the Qur’an, or only a cancellation of the specific ordinance or statement contained in it. In short, the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ has no basis in historical fact, and must be rejected … (Asad, The Message of the Qur’an [Dar Al-Andalus Limited 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar rpt. 1993], pp. 22-23, n. 87; online version; bold and capital emphasis ours)

More importantly, Sura 47:35 not only commands against making peace but also provides the model for Muslims to follow today. The text expressly says that Muslims are not to seek for peace if they have the upper hand, which implies that if they are not in a position of dominance then the injunction of Sura 8:61 should be implemented. In the words of Ibn Kathir:

<So do not lose heart>, meaning, do not be weak concerning the enemies…

<and beg for peace>, meaning, compromise, peace, and ending the fighting between you and the disbelievers while you are in a position of power, both in great numbers and preparation

<So do not lose heart and beg for peace while you are superior.>

meaning, in the condition of your superiority over your enemy. If, on the other hand, the disbelievers are considered more powerful and numerous than the Muslims, then the Imam (general commander) may decide to hold a treaty if he judges that it entails a benefit for the Muslims. This is like what Allah’s Messenger did when the disbelievers obstructed him from entering Makkah and offered him treaty in which all fighting would stop between them for ten years… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) (Surat Al-Jathiyah to the end of Surat Al-Munafiqun) [First Edition: September 2000], Volume 9, p. 118; bold and underline emphasis ours)

This exegesis implies that these texts are not contradictory and that one command isn’t abrogating the other. Rather, the verses are referring to different conditions and situations which make one passage applicable as opposed to the other. In other words, if the disbelievers outnumber the Muslims then the latter should accept and seek for peace per Sura 8:61. On the other hand, if the Muslims are greater in number and power then they must not pursue peace but seek to subjugate the unbelievers per Sura 47:35!

What this essentially means is that Muslims living in the West can pursue a course of peace with their unbelieving neighbors since the latter clearly outnumber the former. Yet when the Muslims muster enough power and wealth to overcome the "infidels" they will be forced to abandon peace and seek to conquer the disbelievers instead.

In particular, this Islamic teaching destroys any basis for trust in peace treaties made by Muslims. They are never thought to be lasting but only until such time as the Muslims feel strong enough that it is to their advantage to break the peace and attack the unbelievers again. For this reason Islam does not know genuine peace treaties with non-Muslims, i.e. peace treaties that end war once and for all, but only temporary truces that can be dissolved at any time. Is it any wonder that Muhammad is quoted as saying that war is deceit!

There are hadiths that explicitly state that lying is allowed in Jihad to expand the rule of Allah over the infidels, by all means, military and non-military. The late Christian scholar of Islam and biographer of Muhammad, Sir William Muir wrote:

The common Moslem belief is that it is allowable to tell a falsehood on four occasions: 1st, to save one's life; 2nd, to effect a peace or reconciliation; 3rd, to persuade a woman; 4th, on the occasion of a journey or expedition.

The first is borne out by Mahomets express sanction. Ammar ibn Yasir was sorely persecuted by the pagans of Mecca, and denied the faith for his deliverance. The Prophet approved of his conduct:- "If they do this again, then repeat the same recantation to them again." Katib al Wackidi; p. 227 .. Another tradition preserved in the family of Yasir, is as follows:- "The idolators seized Ammar, and they let him not go until he had abused Mahomet and spoken well of their gods. He then repaired to the Prophet, who asked of him what had happened." - "Evil, oh Prophet of the Lord! I was not let go until I had abused thee, and spoken well of their gods." - "But how," replied Mahomet, "dost thou find thine own heart?" - "Secure and steadfast in the faith." - "Then," said Mahomet, "if they repeat the same, do thou' too repeat the same." Ibid. Mahomet also said that Ammar's lie was better than Abu Jahls truth.

The second is directly sanctioned by the following tradition:- "That person is not a liar who makes peace between two people, and speaks good words to do away their quarrel, although they should be lies. Mishcat, vol ii. p.427.

As to the third, we have a melancholy instance that Mahomet did not think it wrong to make false promises to his wives, in the matter of Mary his Egyptian maid. And regarding the fourth, it was his constant habit in projecting expeditions (excepting only that to Tabuk) to conceal his intentions, and to give out that he was about to proceed in another direction from the true one. Hishami, p.392; Katib al Wackidi, p.133 .. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet: With Introductory Chapters On The Original Sources For The Biography Of Mahomet, And On The Pre-Islamite History Of Arabia, Volume 1, fn. 88; source)

However, a military war is not the only way that Muslims seek to enforce their laws on a society. War can have many faces. Similar to the above, the Muslim community in a non-Muslim country may pretend to be law-abiding and loyal to constitution (i.e. talk peace) while they are small and weak, but simply ignore, or even attack and destroy, the laws of their host country when they become stronger. The article The Islamization of Europe's Cities is a disturbing report.

Moreover, the problem is not even so much the statement that "war is deceit". In war, all armies seek to gain an advantage by surprising the enemy. Whether morally justified or not, tricks and deception are expected in war. The real problem is that based on the above facts one can hardly avoid the conclusion that in Islam "peace is deceit", i.e. the "peace talk" of Muslims is deceit, because the Muslims do not seek genuine and lasting peace that includes freedom and security for the non-Muslims, particularly the freedom of religion, but only seek to buy time and the opportunity to regroup and gain strength until they are strong enough to subjugate the infidels and force them under the rule of Islam. That certainly cannot be called "seeking peace".

Basically, these texts justify lying to the non-Muslims all the time.

The renowned Muslim philosopher Abu Hammid Ghazali says:

"Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible." (Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, The Reliance of the Traveller, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller [Amana Publications, 1997], section r8.2, page 745; bold emphasis ours)

What makes it hard to understand is that many Muslims who have fled the desperate and insecure situations in their home countries and came to the west to have a better life are now destroying the institutions of these countries and create the same anarchy here, the same kind of environment that they originally left in order to live in a better place.

Whatever the case may be this remains certain: no matter what method one employs in trying to understand the implementation of these conflicting texts, the Quran and the religion of Islam clearly spell trouble for non-Muslims.

May the risen and immortal Lord Jesus, the Almighty Son of God, protect us from all of this. Amen.

Further Reading

Can They Disbelieve in the Last Day and be Safe?

Contradictions in the Qur'an
Answering Islam Home Page