July 15, 2002, Vol.2, No.14.
Two new articles every two weeks.
Bible Question? E-mail
THIS ISSUE: "Does
Islam Teach Violence" (see below)
and "Does Christianity
To Our Muslim Friends:
Guest article by William J. Stewart
Does Islam Teach Violence?
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
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
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
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
"...do 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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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,
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.
- The Holy Koran, by Professor Hasan Qaribullah (Dean of Umm
Durman Islamic University)[www.Allah.com]
~ ~ ~
- A Short History of Islam, S.F. Mahmud, p. 23. Oxford University
Press, Karachi, Pakistan, 1988.
- Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction, Sheikh Ahmed Deedat [www.sharif.org.uk/cc.htm]
- The Quranic Concept of War, S.K. Malik, Wajidalis, Lahore,
- The Peace Encyclopedia: Islam, Islamic [www.yahoodi.com/peace/islam.html]
- Islam: A Concise Introduction, Dennis Roberts, p. 42.