Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Dilemma of Jihad Doctrine:

The Myth of Quranic Warnings vs. Violence Commands

Mutee'a Al Fadi

Ever since the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York, it has been publicly announced by many Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, a religion that promotes harmony with others, especially those who are non-Muslims. In addition to that, there have been many recent attempts to redefine the word “Jihad” to only mean spiritual struggle by excluding physical fighting against infidels from its context. Furthermore, the expression Holy War is systematically and intentionally being removed from the Islamic terminology as a sign of the many desperate attempts by Muslim scholars to disassociate it with the core teaching of Islam.

One question commonly asked is “why is this religion so violent?”  However, in order for anyone to explore the real meaning of Islamic Jihad and to understand the many religious imperatives behind it, one must turn his/her attention to the main Islamic sources that guide the normal average Muslim on how to live his religion; and these sources prominently include the practice of a Holy Jihad, especially one that is physical in nature. These sources include: the Quran, the Hadith,[1] and the life of the prophet of Islam; known as Sunnah.[2]

The Doctrine of Jihad in the Quran

A survey of the chronological order of the Quran will at first glance reveal to the reader that the doctrine of physical Jihad (or Fighting) appears to has evolved through a number of stages during the ministry life of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, starting with the weak stage of the Islamic state in Mecca and going all the way to its final stage prior to the death of Muhammad in Medina.

It is crucial to note that the call to violence or physical Jihad by the Quran developed as Muhammad’s support and available resources increased. What this means is that when Muhammad started his ministry in Mecca in A.D. 610, he and his followers were a small minority which prevented them to immediately put into practice his desire to expand Islam by way of launching physical attacks and battles. However, upon immigrating to Medina in A.D. 622, and upon gaining an increased monetary and human support, Muhammad’s role changed from being a mere prophet and a spiritual guide to an established political and military leader over the new Islamic community in Medina.[3] Soon after his arrival to Medina, Muhammad began to systematically reveal Quranic passages directing his followers to fight in the cause of Allah against their enemies; including both the Arab polytheists and the People of the Book (Jews and Christian). In the following section we will provide a sample of the many passages in the Quran which supports these various stages of development.

The Warning Stage[4]

This stage is represented by the many Meccan passages which directed Muhammad and his followers to warn their opposition against any attacks they may plot against the newly born Islamic community. Such passages are represented by the following verses: 

Q. 73:10-11 Only God can adequately deal with his enemies

"And have patience with what they say, and leave them with noble (dignity). And leave me (alone to deal with) those in possession of the good things of life, who (yet) deny the truth, and bear with them for a little while."

Q. 52:45-48 The man of God strives to only proclaim the message of God

"So leave them alone until they encounter that day of theirs, wherein they shall (perforce) swoon (with terror) ... And verily, for those who do wrong, there is another punishment besides this... Now await in patience the command of thy Lord, for verily thou art in Our eyes."

Q. 43:88-89 Muhammad is to turn away from those who reject him and say “Peace” to them

"(God has knowledge) of the (Prophet's) cry, ‘O my Lord! Truly these are a people who will not believe!’ But turn away from them, and say, ‘Peace!’ But soon shall they know!"

Q. 67:26 Muhammad’s mission is to be a warner

            "Say ‘... I am (sent) only to warn plainly in public.’"

Q. 29:46 Muslims ought not to argue with the people of the book (Jews and Christians), but emphasis the oneness of God

"And dispute ye not with the People of the Book [a term used for Jews and Christians], except with means better (than mere disputation) ... But say, 'We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you. Our God and your God is One, and it is to Him we bow (in Islam).'"

What is so striking about the preceding Quranic passages is that none of them actually states that Muslims should not attack their opposition. These passages in reality attempt to present Muslims as a benign community whose sole role is to warn against an upcoming wrath. Their opposition had committed no crimes other than their disbelief, and rejection of Muhammad’s ideas.  

In fact, a close examination of some of these passages (e.g. Q. 43:88-89) reveals a hidden threat embedded within the language of the passage “But soon shall they know.” Al-Tabari in his commentary[5] of this verse stated the following:

The readers of the Quran from Kufa and some from Mecca read it as “But soon shall they know” in the form of a future promise or announcement, as a declaration of punishment from Allah against the idolaters.[6] He goes on to say that Allah later abrogated this verse and ordered his prophet to fight them.

Al-Qurtubi as well seconds this opinion.[7] He believes that the abrogation of this verse was accomplished by the “sword verse” found in Q. 9:5 of the Quran which reads:

Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” Q. 9:5

It is worthy to note that some of the commentators state that this phrase “But soon shall they know” is read by some in the 2nd person “But soon shall YOU know”. The importance of that lies in the fact that Muhammad in this case is the one who is speaking directly to the idolaters, and hence, he is the one who is threatening them. Such a statement can clearly show the real motive and intent behind this verse and others like it which is designed to provide Muhammad and his followers with an excuse to attack his enemies in the future. Furthermore, the fact that this sura (Q. 43) was revealed in Mecca also reveals a future intent by Muhammad to attack his enemies at the opportune time. Such time became prevalent when the people of Quraish (Muhammad’s own tribe) began to prevent the new Muslim community from worshiping freely at the Ka’bah in Mecca.[8]

As a result, and in preparation for future assault against the idolaters, Muhammad advised his followers to leave Mecca for Medina after receiving an invitation from the Arabs in the area, following the death of his Uncle Abu Talib, who according to Islamic sources was his sole protector against the Quraish people.[9]

Upon arrival to Medina,[10] Muhammad was given an immediate political leadership position along with his already established religious one. As a result, Muhammad and his followers began to loot and rob the passing Meccan caravans as they were making their way north or south.[11] This practice in turn caused the Meccan’s to retaliate by attacking the Muslims.[12]  It was at that time when Muhammad began to claim that his god was revealing passages to him allowing him to “fight back.” What is so interesting about this claim by Muhammad is that he ordered some of his people in the 2nd year of Hijra[13] to go towards Mecca and ambush the Quraish people. At which this group (of eight) ended up in capturing a caravan and killing one of its leaders during one of the sacred months of the Arabs. As a result, and to save face, Muhammad rushed into revealing Q. 2:217-218 in which he claimed that even though fighting is prohibited during the sacred months, it was more grievous to Allah that his Muslim people were forced to leave Mecca, and hence, it was permissible to fight and kill during this month.

“They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel His people thence, is a greater with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing. And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can. And whoso becometh a renegade and dieth in his disbelief: such are they whose works have fallen both in the world and the Hereafter. Such are rightful owners of the Fire: they will abide therein. (217) Lo! those who believe, and those who emigrate (to escape the persecution) and strive in the way of Allah, these have hope of Allah's mercy. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” Q. 2:217-218

In this passage (Q. 2:217-218) Muhammad provided a very clear justification to his people that their well-being and comfort is more important to their god than to respect a sacred Month or any prohibition.[14] Such statement without a doubt would have provided the Muslim community with a sense of immunity and justification for fighting.

The Defensive Fighting Stage

The following group of passages represents a transitional stage from a warning phase to a defensive fighting one by the Muslims. The enemies of Islam at this stage were mainly the pagan Arabs, who were represented by the idol worshipers of Quraish.

Q. 22:39-41 Permission is given by God for the Muslims to defend themselves[15]

"To those against whom war[16] is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged, and verily, God is most powerful for their aid. (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right, (for no cause) except that they say, ‘Our Lord is God.’"

Al-Tabari in his commentary of this passage noted that the passage was revealed after Muhammad had immigrated to Medina. He stated that it was the first imperative given by the Allah to his followers to fight the pagans. He added that this verse abrogated all previous verses in the Quran which had commanded no retaliation.[17]Another interesting observation concerning this verse is that some of the readers of the Quran in Kufa and Basra used to read the verse this way “To those who are waging war (fighting), permission is given . . .” In other word, the permission is given to the Muslims who are already waging war and fighting others. This reading is crucial since it provides a glimpse of the fact that Muslims were already waging wars against the infidels even from before receiving a divine permission.

Q. 22:58 Rewards await those who die in Jihad

"Those who leave their homes in the cause of God, and are then slain or die, on them will God bestow verily a goodly provision. Truly God is He who bestows the best provision."

Fighting was not only divinely permitted, but later it was commanded as we read in the following passages:

Q. 2:216-217 Fighting against the Meccan Arabs is now commanded

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But God knoweth, and ye know not."

Q. 8:1 Spoils of war against Arabs belong to God and his prophet

"They ask thee concerning (things taken as) spoils of war. Say: ‘(Such) spoils are at the disposal of God and the Apostle …"

Q. 8:38-39 Muslims are to keep fighting the unbelievers until Islam is established

"Say to the unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from unbelief), their past would be forgiven them, but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a matter of warning for them). And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God altogether and everywhere."

Al-Qurtubi commented on this verse by stating that the command in this verse is to keep on fighting the unbelievers until there is no unbelief on earth.[18] Such verse clearly shows that the Muslim community had no justification for any kind of defensive fighting since its main objective is to spread Islam universally until all unbelief in Islam has vanished. It is a clear indication that the new Islamic community had no intention of living in peace with others. In light of this, one can argue that the idea that passages as these were intended for defensive fighting are mere fabrications designed to manipulate facts about the true nature of Islam and its ideology of global supremacy and domination.

Q. 47:4-6 Muslims are to cut the necks of the unbelievers and to subdue them

"Therefore, when ye meet the unbelievers (in fight), smite them at their necks. At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them)."

Q. 3:195 Those Muslims who fight in the cause of God will have their sins forgiven and will go directly to paradise

"Those who have left their homes, or been driven out there from, or suffered harm in my cause, of fought or been slain, verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into gardens with rivers flowing beneath - a reward from the presence of God, and from His presence is the best of rewards." [19]

Q. 4:95-96 Muslims who fight in the cause of God are at a higher grade and reward than those Muslims who do not

"Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of God with their goods and their persons. God hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in faith) hath God promised good, but those who strive and fight hath he distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward - ranks specially bestowed by Him and forgiveness and mercy. For God is oft forgiving, most merciful."

The Offensive War Stage

By A.D. 630 Muhammad and his followers became a strong force and were multiplied in number. Therefore, at this phase of his ministry, his message began to reveal the true intentions of his Jihad commands by virtue of new commands to launch an aggressive and offensive Jihad against the unbelievers, including the Jews and the Christians as well as the pagans. Such commands are represented by the following passages:

Q. 9:5 Kill those who do not receive Islam

“… fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war). But if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them”

Ibn Katheer in his commentary of this verse noted that this verse is known as the “Sword Verse” which abrogated all other verses that dealt with any kind of covenants and treaties between Muslims and unbelievers.[20]

Q. 9:19-22 Jihad is the highest form of worship that is pleasing to God

"Do ye make the giving of drink to pilgrims, or the maintenance of the Sacred Mosque, equal to (the pious service of) those who believe in God and the last day, and strive [jihad] with might and main in the cause of God? They are not comparable in the sight of God, and God guides not those who do wrong. Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive with might and main in God's cause with their goods and their persons have the highest rank in the sight of God. They are the people who will achieve (salvation). Their Lord doth give them glad tidings of a mercy from Himself, of His good pleasure, and of gardens for them, wherein are delights that endure. They will dwell therein forever. Verily in God's presence is a reward, the greatest (of all)."

Q. 9:28 Unbelievers are not allowed to enter the sacred mosque in Mecca anymore since they are considered as unclean people

"O ye who believe! Truly the pagans are unclean, so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque."

Q. 9:29-30 Fighting now includes the Jews and Christians and they are cursed by God

"Fight those who believe not in God nor the last day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of truth, (even if they are) of the people of the Book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. The Jews call Uzair a son of God, and the Christians call Christ the Son of God ... God's curse be on them; how they are deluded away from the truth! They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of God, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary. Yet they are commanded to worship but One God ..."

The above Jihad passages are very significant in terms of their chronological order of revelation. The ones quoted from Sura 9 of the Quran historically are considered to be the final revelations delivered by Muhammad to his followers. Such implication means that Muslims everywhere are now commanded to fight the unbelievers, including the Jews and Christians, everywhere and at all times until Islam is supreme and the only dominant religion on earth. This command is empowered by one of the most dangerous doctrines taught in the Quran, the Doctrine of Abrogation.

According to the Quran, God can sometimes replace or substitute any of his commands or verses with other verses that are equal or better:

"None of our revelations (verses) do we abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but we substitute something better or similar. Knowest thou not that God hath power over all things?" Q. 2:106

According to this doctrine, many Islamic commentators believe that the “Sword Verse” found in Q. 9:5 has single-handedly abrogated or superseded[21] most of the previous peaceful verses regarding covenants and treaties with non-Muslims, including those verses that speak of commands of no retaliation by the Muslims against infidels. However, despite all of these facts and passages, many Muslims today deliberately quote passages from the early stages in an attempt to validate their claim that Islam is a religion of peace. Such liberal Muslims are ignoring the latest offensive commands for Jihad, given in Medina, which are followed by the orthodox or fundamentalist Muslims.

The Jihad Model of Muhammad in the Hadith

In the Quran Muhammad is presented as the example to be followed by Muslims. This can be found in the following verse:

You have had a good example in God's Messenger for whosoever hopes for God and the Last Day, and remembers God oft.” Q. 33:21

Based on this verse, Muslims are required to follow the footstep of the prophet of Islam in order to have hope in their salvation. The following collection of hadith traditions serve as a proof text concerning Muhammad’s own emphasis on the importance of physical Jihad for the Muslims.

Sahih Buhkari[22]

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 41:

Narrated Abdullah bin Masud:

I asked Allah's Apostle, "O Allah's Apostle! What is the best deed?" He replied, "To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times." I asked, "What is next in goodness?" He replied, "To be good and dutiful to your parents." I further asked, what is next in goodness?" He replied, "To participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause." I did not ask Allah's Apostle anymore and if I had asked him more, he would have told me more.

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 46:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "The example of a Mujahid in Allah's Cause-- and Allah knows better who really strives in His Cause----is like a person who fasts and prays continuously. Allah guarantees that He will admit the Mujahid in His Cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 50:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

The Prophet said, "A single endeavor (of fighting) in Allah's Cause in the forenoon or in the afternoon is better than the world and whatever is in it."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 53:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

The Prophet said, "Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the Hereafter) would wish to come back to this world even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again (in Allah's Cause)."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 65:

Narrated Abu Musa:

A man came to the Prophet and asked, "A man fights for war booty; another fights for fame and a third fights for showing off; which of them fights in Allah's Cause?" The Prophet said, "He who fights that Allah's Word (i.e. Islam) should be superior, fights in Allah's Cause."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 66:

Narrated Abu Abs:

… Allah's Apostle said, "Anyone whose both feet get covered with dust in Allah's Cause will not be touched by the (Hell) fire."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 73:

Narrated 'Abdullah bin Abi Aufa:

Allah's Apostle said, "Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 268:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle called: "War is deceit".

If the preceding teachings by Muhammad can’t serve as a warning concerning the importance of Jihad to a Muslim follower, the following hadith should establish such concern. In an effort to emphasize the importance of Jihad and its heavenly rewards to his followers, Muhammad in the following hadith taught that even a new convert to Islam will earn abundant heavenly rewards if they would to fight and die for the cause of God immediately following their conversion to Islam.

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 63:

Narrated Al-Bara:

A man whose face was covered with an iron mask (i.e. clad in armor) came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Shall I fight or embrace Islam first? "The Prophet said, "Embrace Islam first and then fight." So he embraced Islam, and was martyred. Allah's Apostle said, A Little work, but a great reward. "(He did very little (after embracing Islam), but he will be rewarded in abundance)."

Despite all of the hype about heavenly rewards, which Muhammad utilized to arouse his followers to fight and die for the cause of his god, when it came to Muhammad’s own participation in battle with his troops, it seems that he actually favored staying behind while risking the lives of his followers. The following hadith paint a picture of such position.

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 54:

Narrated Abu Huraira (bold emphasis ours):

The Prophet said, "By Him in Whose Hands my life is! Were it not for some men amongst the believers who dislike to be left behind me and whom I cannot provide with means of conveyance, I would certainly never remain behind any Sariya' (army-unit) setting out in Allah's Cause. By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I would love to be martyred in Al1ah's Cause and then get resurrected and then get martyred, and then get resurrected again and then get martyred and then get resurrected again and then get martyred.

Furthermore, Muhammad used the Jews as another ploy to encourage his followers to fight his enemies by prophesying to his men that end times will not commence until Muslims fight the Jews as we read in the following hadith.

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."

This declaration by the prophet of Islam should present a better understanding to Western countries as to why Muslims are filled with hatred towards the Jews and why they long to fight them and destroy them.

Enslavement of people and the raping of women in the name of Jihad

The Quran allows Muslim men to take their women captives as slave concubines even if they happen to be married, which is an act of rape by any definition. The following verse from the Quran serves as a proof text for such action:

“Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess:[23] Thus hath Allah ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property,- desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.” Q.4.24

The following hadith tradition clearly states that Muhammad and his followers implemented this ruling:

Abu Sirma said to Abu Sa'id al Khadri (Allah he pleased with him): O Abu Sa'id, did you hear Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) mentioning al-'azl? He said: Yes, and added: We went out with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi'l-Mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing 'azl (Withdrawing the male sexual organ before emission of semen to avoid conception). But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah's Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born.[24]

Final Thoughts – How do radical Islamic clerics view Jihad

It is important to note that despite all of the clear and compelling evidences shared above, some Muslims will still attempt to derail the discussion on Jihad by utilizing passages from the Quran which denotes peace and freedom of religious choices. Unfortunately, oftentimes, those Muslims will not reveal that such passages have been abrogated and are no longer applicable.

When the late Islamic Grand Mufti[25] of Saudi Arabia, Shaykh Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baaz, one of the most influential Islamic clerics of all time, was asked about some of these passages he pointed out that such passages were abrogated by the “Sword Verse” in Sura 9 of the Quran.

The following quote is taken directly from the collection of religious decisions by Ibn Baaz in response to questions asked by Muslims.


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 Allah 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 Allah.

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 Allah’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[27] 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 Allah 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 Allah be upon him) fought the kuffaar in the Arabian Peninsula and he only accepted their becoming Muslim. And Allah 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. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah 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 Allah be upon him) accepted the jizyah from the Magians, but it was not proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) accepted the jizyah from anyone except the three groups mentioned above. 

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

“And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism, i.e. worshipping others besides Allah), and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah 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, Allah 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 Allah is the Source of strength. 


In light of the facts presented above it is fair to state that even though not all Muslims are alike when it comes to their view on violent teachings in Islam, it is abundantly clear that Islam as a religion is intrinsically violent and supportive of violence. Hence, if jihad is a concern for any society both Muslim and non-Muslim, it is imperative that one must examine Islam’s source materials and the understanding of the early Islamic commentators on the subject of Jihad.

Our survey showed that the majority of the Quranic texts themselves clearly identify jihad as a physical warfare in Islam and as Allah’s way for establishing Islam on earth. Such passages hardly require any metaphorical interpretation. Likewise, from the Hadith and the traditions of Muhammad it is just as evident that the early Muslim community understood these Quranic texts to be taken literally.

Therefore, it is evidently clear that from the time of Muhammad onwards, jihad as physical warfare in support of the message of Islam has been a reality for the Muslim community, even if some rejected it or were unable to perform it. Hence it comes as no surprise when the so called terrorists – better known as fundamentalists – appeal to these source materials and their teachings to justify their violent actions against others, as in the case of the 9/11 attack.

What about the Muslim claim that Islam is a religion of peace that it is in harmony with other religions, and that it rejects violence? No doubt, for Muslims Islam may mean peace in its traditional Muslim sense.[28] However, Islam as a religion has never meant peace for idolaters unless the idolaters abandon idolatry and embrace Islam. Nor, has Islam meant peace for the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), unless the People of the Book submit to Islamic political rule and conditions which the Islamic Shariah Law imposes upon them.

Therefore, it is the duty of the Islamic community to clarify the nature of Islam’s peace and how Islam promotes religious harmony with other religions. Likewise, if jihad does not mean holy war, let Muslims explain then what it means in light of the preceding survey of Quranic and Hadith texts.

Recommended reading:


[1] Hadith is the collection of the prophet’s sayings and teachings. Some Muslim scholars consider them to be divinely inspired and at par with the Quran.  

[2] Sunnah (سنة, plural سنن sunan, Arabic; "habit", "custom" or "usual practice") refers in Muslim usage to the example of the sayings and living habits of Muhammad, the last prophet of Islam and his companions as recorded in a hadith. The sunnah of Muhammad includes his specific words, habits, practices, and silent approvals: it is significant because it addresses ways of life dealing with friends, family and government. Recording sunnah was an Arabian tradition and, once people converted to Islam, they brought this custom to their religion. The sunnah is consulted after referring to the Qur'an, if the issue is not addressed there. The term "Sunni" denotes those who claim to practice these usages. In Shi'a Islam the term includes the deeds and sayings of the twelve Imams who Shi'a Muslims believe were chosen to lead the Muslim community (Ummah).  The Quran commands Muslims to follow the prophet’s example and promised additional reward and good deeds for those who do so. See

[3] Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah (London: Oxford University Press, 1955).

[4] Rev. Richard Bailey, The Teaching Of Islam from Its Primary Sources – the Quran and Hadith. Cited 27 September 2010. On-line:

[5] Jaame’a Al Bayaan fi Tafseer Al Qur’an – source:

[6] According to Q. 9:29-30, both Christians and Jews are included in this category as we read “Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low. (29) And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they! They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One God. There is no god save Him. Be He glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!

[7] Source:

[8] One must feel puzzled as to why a monotheistic community, who claimed that the very purpose of their existence was to denounce the worship of idols, would feel oppressed when denied to worship in a place filled with idols. It would have made more sense to consider oppression against the new Muslim community if Quraish would have prevented Muhammad from leaving that area to worship his god away from the presence of idols (as Moses did).

[9] Once again, if Quraish truly wanted to inflict any harm against Muhammad, they would have done so easily since Abu Talib was not of a high status in Mecca compared to some of the other uncles of Muhammad. Therefore, the departure from Mecca can be perceived as a military tactic by Muhammad to allow his troops the time to raise funding and support in preparation of future campaigns.

[10] Medina is the name of the town where Muhammad is buried and where the 2nd Holy Mosque of Islam exists. It is located 200 miles north of Mecca. It used to be called “Yathrib” but later the name was changed to the “City of the Prophet” or “The City of Light” from which the name “Medina” came about which is Arabic for “City”.

[11] Once again we ask, how can a prophet of God allow for such pagan practices to be conducted by his followers?

[12] Muhammad’s attacks against these caravans would have been calculated to force the people of Quraish to rush to the rescue of these caravans, since most of their investments were riding on these caravans. Losing these caravans to Muhammad would have been financially devastating to them.

[13] Hijra: the Islamic calendar is based on the event of the Hijra as the turning point, being foundational to the development of the community and power of Islam.

[14] For more on the background of this passage see Al-Tabari commentary:

[15] The self-defense was actually the result of Muslims attacking the pagans in the first place under the precept of striving for the cause of God, and in turn, the pagans attacking them back. Yet the language of the Quran gives the false impression that the Muslims were the victims. For more on this see:; ;  

[16] It is important to note that “war” in this passage has a spiritual meaning as well as a physical one. In other word, the Muslims in this passage are claimed to have been persecuted spiritually by the virtue of their denial of worship at the Ka’bah in Mecca, hence they are justified to fight.

[17] Source:

[18] Source:

[19] This verse is one of many Quranic references which serve as a proof text to the doctrine of forgiveness of sin via Jihad (cf. Q 3:152; Q 3:157; Q 3:169-171; Q 22:58; Q 47:6-15).

[20] Source:

[21] Abrogation - The concept or doctrine of “abrogation” in the Quran is that Allah chose to reveal ayat (singular ayah – means a sign or miracle, commonly known as verse in the Quran) that supersede earlier ayat in the same Quran. The central ayah that deals with abrogation is Surah 2:106: “None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things”. For more on this, see

[22] Unless otherwise noted, all hadith traditions referenced in this article are based on the Collection of Hadith according to Sahih Bukhari – source:

[23] Bold emphasis ours

[24] Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3371

[25] Grand Mufti is the title of the highest Islamic authority, comparable to the High Priest of the OT.  

[26] Source:

[27] Kuffaar is the Arabic plural term for infidels

[28] Muslims in general try to promote, and often out of ignorance, that the meaning of the word “Islam” is “Peace” even though Islam means “Submission”. This is done simply because the word “Peace” [Salam (in Arabic)] shares the same root with the word “Islam” although completely different in meaning. This false propagation is caused by the fact that not many know the Arabic language or its nuances, hence, allowing Muslim scholars to promote such falsehood.