Tri-County church of Christ, Watertown, NY, North Country

July 15, 2002, Vol.2, No.14.
Two new articles every two weeks. Bible Question? E-mail us.
THIS ISSUE: "Does Islam Teach Violence" (see below)
and "
Does Christianity Teach Violence?"

To Our Muslim Friends:
Does Islam Teach Violence?

Guest article by William J. Stewart

Does Islam Teach Violence?I am delighted that you are reading the material herein, and commend your interest in spiritual things. As we consider the question, 'Does Islam teach violence?', please understand that we are not inferring that all who call themselves Muslim are violent people. Indeed, there are many people who call Islam their religion, and have no manner of violence in their conduct. Our objective is not to consider any individual Muslim, nor even a segment of the Muslim population, but rather to examine the religion of Islam, and consider whether or not it obligates true followers to be violent.

What Does Islam Teach About Peace?

Before turning our attention to a discussion of violence, it seems prudent to first consider what Islam teaches about peace. The Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, commands Muslims to be at peace with one another, and declares peace upon all Allah's worshippers (Surah 6:54; Surah 27:59). The follower of Islam is to call to remembrance "...the Favor of Allah bestowed upon you when you were enemies, and how He united your hearts, so that by His Favor you became brothers." (Surah 3:103). However, the true gauge of peace is not found in one's conduct toward those of like faith, but rather in the behavior shown to others.

Some texts in the Qur'an lead one to believe that Muslims and non-Muslims are able to co-exist peacefully. To express the tolerant nature of Islam, it is written, "There is no compulsion in religion..." (Surah 2:256) Furthermore, followers of Islam are commanded to return peace for peace to those who are unbelievers. (Surah 4:90; Surah 8:61).

Though peace is charged, it is easily displaced by intolerance, hatred and warring. The Qur'an instructs,

"Fight those who neither believe in Allah nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, and do not embrace the religion of the truth, being among those who have been given the Book (Bible and the Torah), until they pay tribute out of hand and have been humiliated." (Surah 9:29)

In the very texts which incite peace, the Muslim is commanded to "...restrain their hands, take them and kill them wherever you find them." (Surah 4:91) And again,

"...O Prophet, urge the believers to fight. If there are twenty patient men among you, you shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred, they shall overcome a thousand, for they are a nation who do not understand." (Surah 8:65)

It is confusing, even distressing to see such extreme disagreement. Peace and war are commanded in the same text, upon the same people. However, the Qur'an permits itself the right of abrogation.

"If We supersede any verse or cause it to be forgotten, We bring a better one or one similar. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things!" (Surah 2:106)

A command which is given (i.e., to be peaceful to 'unbelievers'), may be supplanted by a subsequent direction (i.e., to kill 'unbelievers'). And indeed, the frequency of commands to deal peacefully and with forbearance fails in comparison to those which provoke fighting, killing and destruction upon unbelievers.

The Obligation of Jihad

Much attention has been given to the word "Jihad" by Islamic scholars, Christian teachers, and many other interested parties. "Jihad" can most certainly be an inner struggle for purity. We read,

"Those who struggle [jihad, wjs] in Our cause, We will surely guide them to Our ways; and Allah is with those who do good." (Surah 29:69)

Jihad can also refer to an intellectual struggle. The Koran instructs,

" not obey the unbelievers, but struggle [jihad, wjs] mightily with it (the Qur'an)." (Surah 25:52)

However, the most prominent use of "Jihad" is in reference to physical warfare. Allah insists:

"It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the Religion of Truth, so that He raises it above all religions, much as the unbelievers dislike it. Believers! Shall I direct you to a commerce that will save you from a painful punishment? You shall believe in Allah and His Messenger and struggle [jihad, wjs] for His way with your possessions and yourselves. That is better for you, if you but knew." (Surah 61:9-11)

Regarding "Jihad", S.F. Mahmud writes:

"A Muslim must always be ready to fight for his faith and for Allah. Jihad (holy war) is enjoined upon him, but the cause must be genuine and must truly serve Islam. If he realizes that his services are really needed, then he cannot refuse to serve. Thus Islam requires no conscription or forced fighting. To fight for his ideals is a duty with a Muslim."

It must be determined then what a "genuine" cause for Jihad is.

The Koran declares:

"Fight in the way of Allah those who fight against you, but do not aggress. Allah does not love the aggressors... Fight against them until there is no dissension, and the religion is for Allah. But if they desist, there shall be no aggression except against the harmdoers." (Surah 2:190, 193)

The Muslim is not to be an aggressor, but is justified and commanded to respond with force to the aggressor. However, to appreciate what this means, and under what conditions this course of action is warranted, we must understand what is regarded as aggression against a Muslim.

In his book CRUCIFIXION OR CRUCI-FICTION, Ahmed Deedat pens:

"In the battle for the hearts and minds of mankind, 'cruci-FICTION' is the only card the Christian holds. Free him from his infatuation and you will have freed the Muslim world from missionary aggression and harassment."

The mere teaching of Christian doctrine is considered to be an attack on the Muslim world, and demands a response "...until there is no dissension, and the religion is for Allah."

Till Religion is for Allah Alone

It is commendable when one, believing to have the truth, makes a considerable effort to share it with others. However, Islam not only binds upon the Muslim the need to take the religion of Allah forth, but to overcome those who oppose by force. Followers of Islam have a mandate to fight until Islam is the only religion. This theme saturates the pages of the Koran.

"Tell the unbelievers that if they abandon their ways He will forgive them what is past, but, if they return, that was indeed the way of their forefathers who have passed away. Fight them until persecution is no more and the Religion of Allah reigns supreme." (Surah 8:39-40, compare Surah 2:132; Surah 3:19, 85; Surah 48:16, 28-29; Surah 61:9; Surah 110).

In his book, Islam: A Concise Introduction, Dennis Roberts states:

"Jihad literally means an effort or striving. It includes a religious war against unbelievers with the object of converting them to Islam or subduing all opposition (See Koran 9:5; 4:76; 2:214; 8:39). It is the sacred duty of the Muslim nation to ensure that Islam triumphs over all religions. It is considered a general duty of the nation as a whole, not of individuals."

This stands, not simply as a Westerner's view of Islam, but confirms the words of now deceased Islamic leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini:

"The governments of the world should know that Islam cannot be defeated. Islam will be victorious in all countries of the world and Islam and the teachings of the Qur'an will prevail all over the world."

How far is the Muslim to go, that religion will be all for Allah?

"The recompense of those who make war against Allah and His Messenger and spread corruption in the land is that they are to be killed or crucified, or have their hand and a foot cut off on opposite sides, or be expelled from the land. For them is shame in this world and a great punishment in the Everlasting Life." (Surah 5:33)

Time and again, the Qur'an commands "...fight in the way of Allah."

The Example of Muhammad

The Qur'an entreats Muslims to worship Allah, and Him alone. Muhammad has become to the people of Islam an example to follow after in the service of Allah. "Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Those who are with him are harsh against the unbelievers but merciful to one another." (Surah 48:29) Muhammad declared of himself:

"I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity..." (Hadiths Vol.1, 2:24)

And so it is, that a study of Muhammad's life reveals a man of war. He was a man of the sword, and incited those who would follow him to be likewise. Today, those who truly desire to live as Muslims will themselves be as Muhammad was. They will declare religion to be of Allah, and fight all who stand in opposition.


May the reader consider carefully the nature of Islam. Though it speaks of peace, tolerance and equality, the Qur'an's self proclaimed right of abrogation reduces these claims to empty words. The overall picture of the Qur'an is one of violence to non-Muslims. The comments of Islamic leaders motivate followers to war against non-Muslims. Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah, was himself a violent man, killing those who opposed his religion. Though not all Muslims may conduct themselves in like manner, without doubt, Islam teaches its followers to be violent.


Works Cited

- The Holy Koran, by Professor Hasan Qaribullah (Dean of Umm Durman Islamic University)[]
- A Short History of Islam, S.F. Mahmud, p. 23. Oxford University Press, Karachi, Pakistan, 1988.
- Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction, Sheikh Ahmed Deedat []
- The Quranic Concept of War, S.K. Malik, Wajidalis, Lahore, Pakistan, 1979.
- The Peace Encyclopedia: Islam, Islamic []
- Islam: A Concise Introduction, Dennis Roberts, p. 42.
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