Say: "O people of the Book!

come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not from among ourselves Lords and patrons other than Allah." [Ch 3 verse 64] Invite (mankind, O Muhammad pbuh) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Revelation and the Quran) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided. [Ch 16 verse 125] If one amongst the pagans (disbelievers) ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure that is because they are men without knowledge. [Ch 9 verse 6]

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Q. Doesn’t Islam promote violence, bloodshed and brutality since the Quran says that Muslims should kill the kuffar wherever they find them?

A: A few selected verses from the Quran are often misquoted to perpetuate the myth that Islam promotes violence, and exhorts its followers to kill those outside the pale of Islam.

1. Verse from Surah Taubah

The following verse from Surah Taubah is very often quoted by critics of Islam, to show that Islam promotes violence, bloodshed and brutality: “Kill the mushriqeen (pagans, polytheists, kuffar) where ever you find them.” [Al-Quran 9:5]

“And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give Zakah, let them (go) on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Surah At-Tawbah 9:5]

2. Context of verse is during battlefield

Critics of Islam actually quote this verse out of context. In order to understand the context, we need to read from verse 1 of this surah. It says that there was a peace treaty between the Muslims and the Mushriks (pagans) of Mecca. This treaty was violated by the Mushriks of Makkah. A

period of four months was given to the Mushriks of Makkah to make amends. Otherwise war would be declared against them.

Verse 5 of Surah Taubah says: “But when the forbidden months are past, then 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: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Al-Quran 9:5] This verse is quoted during a battle.

3. Example of war between America and Vietnam

We know that America was once at war with Vietnam. Suppose the President of America or the General of the American Army told the American soldiers during the war: “Wherever you find the Vietnamese, kill them”. Today if I say that the American President said, “Wherever you find the Vietnamese, kill them” without giving the context, I will make him sound like a butcher. But if I quote him in context, that he said it during a war, it will sound very logical, as he was trying to boost the morale of the American soldiers during the war.

4. Verse 9:5 quoted to boost morale of Muslims during battle Similarly in Surah Taubah chapter 9 verse 5 the Quran says, “Kill the Mushriks wherever you find them”, during a battle to boost the morale of the Muslim soldiers. What the Quran is telling Muslim soldiers is, don’t be afraid during battle; wherever you find the enemies kill them.

This verse is even used by Arun Shourie, one of the staunchest critics of Islam. Even he quotes this famous verse in his book “The world of Fatawas”. In his book, Arun Shourie has inserted the word ‘Hindu’ next to the word ‘Kafir’ in the translation of this verse. Please note that the meaning of the Arabic word ‘Kafir’ is ‘one who rejects faith, a disbeliever. Arun Shourie gives the translation of this verse as follows” “Whenever you find a Kafir (Hindu), you kill him and wait for him in every stratagem of war”. In this manner, Arun Shourie is trying to show the world that this book of the Muslims, this word of Almighty God, the Glorious Quran, asks the Muslims to kill the non-Muslims (and in brackets the word ‘Hindus’) whenever and wherever you find them. Furthermore after quoting verse No. 5 in this book of his, he jumps to verse No. 7 of the same Surah (chapter) of the Quran. If anyone quotes any text out of context, you may not understand the meaning of that text. However, if you read the context you will understand the meaning of that text. The first few verses of Surah Tawbah Ch. No. 9 speak about the peace treaty between the Muslims and the Mushriks of Mecca . This peace treaty was unilaterally broken by the Mushriks of Mecca. So it is in this context that Almighty Allah states in verse no. 5 that whenever you find the enemy in the battlefield – kill him. Allah is telling the Muslims, don’t get scared in the battle field, whenever the enemy comes to attack, fight them, and kill them if required; wait for them in every stratagem of war. This verse of the Quran is in the context of a battlefield. When the enemies who have broken the peace treaty, when they attack you, don’t get scared in the battlefield, fight them, if required even kill them. Now any army general, any President of any country, or any Prime Minister, to boost the morale of his soldiers he will use these words. For example, a few decades earlier, there was a war between America and Vietnam. If the American President or Army General tells the American soldiers in the battlefield that they should not get scared and wherever they find a Vietnamese, they should kill him, now if we were to quote the American President and say that he said that wherever you find a Vietnamese kill him, we will make him sound like a cruel man. Such a statement is appropriate in the battle field, to boost up the morale, when two opposing forces are arrayed against each other. In a similar manner, the

Quranic verse refers to the situation in the battlefield, when the enemies had broken a peace treaty. Arun Shourie, after quoting verse no. 5, jumps to verse no. 7. Any logical person will understand that there is something in verse no. 6 which he has not quoted. Verse 6 of Surah Taubah states: “And if anyone of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah (i.e. the Quran). Then deliver him to his place of safety.” [Surah At-Tawbah 9:6]

I ask you, which army general in the world today, even if he may be the best human in the world, which army general will make such a statement as that made in this verse 6 – “deliver him to his place of safety”? The maximum he will say, if he is a good human, is that let the enemy go. No army general today will instruct his soldiers or his forces to escort the enemy to a place of security. But then this is what the Quran says – that if any of your enemies seek peace, do not fight them, but instead escort them to a place of security. Such a gesture is one of magnanimity, of forgiveness and of reciprocation of peace. And this is the verse that is deliberately skipped by Arun Shourie in his book. When the enemies of Islam and the Islam-baiters attack Islam, it is the duty of the Muslims to clarify doubts and remove the misconceptions. Fighting for a just cause has been prescribed by all major religions. All the major religions of the world have prescribed fighting, at sometime or the other, especially in self-defense or for fighting against oppression and injustice. (The Lord said) “Go ye after him through the city, and kill: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: [Book of Ezekiel 9:5]

“(Moses said): Thus said the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion,

and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” [Book of Exodus 32:27-28]

Jesus Christ (Pbuh) told the Apostles, his followers, to take up the sword and fight, and one of the Apostles, chopped off a person’s ears. Then said he (Jesus) unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. [Gospel of Luke 22:36] And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. [Gospel of Matthew 26:51]

So if the Christians read their scriptures, what does the scripture say? That you have to fight!

The Mahabharata, an epic and religious scripture of the Hindus, talks about the fight between two families of relatives, between the cousins, the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The Bhagavad Gita is the essence of the Mahabharata. If you read the Bhagavad Gita, it contains eighteen chapters that talk about fighting.

In the battlefield, Arjun prefers not to fight and be killed rather than having his conscience burdened with the killing of his relatives. At this moment, Krishna advises Arjun in the battlefield and this advice is contained in the Bhagavad Gita. There are several verses in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna advises Arjun to fight and kill the enemies even though they are his relatives.

The Bhagavad Gita is advice given by Lord Krishna to Arjuna when Arjuna is depressed in the battlefield and says, “how can I kill, how can I fight my relatives and my cousins?”

O Krishna, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession that those who destroy family traditions dwell always in hell” “Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing ourselves to commit great sinful acts, driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness.” I would consider better for the sons of Dhritarashtra to kill me unarmed and unresisting rather than fight with them. “Arjuna, having thus spoken, cast aside his bow and arrow, and sat down on the chariot, his mind, overwhelmed with grief”. [Bhagavad Gita 1:43-46] So Lord Krishna gives advice to Arjuna that he should fight for the truth even if it be against your father, against your relative – do not hesitate, fight them, kill them says that Lord Krishna. “My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the progressive values of life. They lead not to higher planets but to infamy. “O son of Partha, do not yield to this degrading impotence. It does not become you. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy!” [Bhagavad Gita 2:2-3] Krishna further says: “Considering your specific duty as a Kshatriya, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on religious principles, so there is no need for hesitation.” “O Partha, happy are the Kshatriya to whom such fighting opportunities come unsought, opening for them the door of the heavenly planets”.

“If however, you do not fight this religious war, then you will certainly incur sin, for neglecting your duties, and thus lose your reputation as a fighter”. [Bhagavad Gita 2:31-33]

It will be devilish on my part if I were to pick up some selective verses of the Bhagavad Gita and tell the Hindus that their most popular religious book tells you to kill your relatives.

All verses of religious scriptures are to be understood in their respective contexts. The context is that even if it is your own relatives that are against the truth, you have to first follow the commandment of Almighty God. For the truth you can and should fight anyone who obstructs truth and justice or anyone who perpetuates wrong doing, falsehood and injustice, irrespective of whether it is your father, or any of your other relatives.

The same message is even given in the Quran. Allah (swt) says in the Quran in Surah Nisa Ch. No. 4, V. No. 135:

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both.” [Surah AnNisa 4:135]

You have to fight for justice even if it is against your own interests. You have to stand out for witnessing Allah (swt) and for witnessing the truth of Almighty God even if it is against yourself, against your parents and against your relatives.

“If one amongst the pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure that is because they are men without knowledge.” [Al-Quran 9:6]

The Quran not only says that a Mushrik seeking asylum during the battle should be granted refuge, but also that he should be escorted to a secure place. In the present international scenario, even a kind, peace-loving army General, during a battle, may let the enemy soldiers go free, if they want peace. But which army General will ever tell his soldiers, that if the enemy soldiers want peace during a battle, don’t just let them goes free, but also escort them to a place of security?

This is exactly what Allah (swt) says in the Glorious Quran to promote peace in the world.