In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
In my last post, I showed how verse 9:5 was one of self-defense. The pagans to which the verse refers are those who are engaged in active hostilities against the Muslims. This is further bolstered by the verses subsequent to the “Verse of the Sword”:
“And if any of those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God (i.e., the pagans) seeks thy protection, grant him protection, so that he might [be able to] hear the word of God [from thee]; and thereupon convey him to a place where he can feel secure: this, because they [may be] people who [sin only because they] do not know [the truth].” (9:6)
The commentator Razi believes the phrase “place where he can feel secure” denotes his homeland. As Muhammad Asad explains, this implies that he is free to accept or not accept the message of the Qur’an. If verse 9:5 is a open exhortation for the murder of all non-Muslims, they why would the Qur’an immediately tell the Muslims to grant a pagan protection to hear the word of God and then let him go to a place of safety?
Reading on the ninth chapter, one understands more fully that 9:5 is telling the Muslims to fight only against those who fight against them:
“How [else could it be]? Since, if they [who are hostile to you] were to overcome you, they would not respect any tie [with you,] nor any obligation to protect (you). They seek to please you with their mouths, the while their hearts remain averse [to you]; and most of them are iniquitous…But if they break their solemn pledges after having concluded a covenant and revile your religion, then fight against these achetypes of faithlessness who, behold, have no (regard for their own) pledges, so that they might desist [from aggression]. Would you, perchance, fail to fight against people who have broken their solemn pledges and have done all that they could to drive the Apostle away and have been the first to attack you? Do you hold them in awe? Nay, it is God alone of whom you ought to stand in awe if you are [truly] believers!” (9:8-13).
This is why verse 9:5 tells the Muslims to “slay the pagans!” These pagans attacked the Muslims first, and they showed relentless hostility towards the Muslims, as verses 9:8-13 further explain. Again, this is in keeping with the principle that fighting in Islam is for self-defense only. The same goes true for all the other verses in the Qur’an that tell the believers to “fight the unbelievers.” Those unbelievers against whom the Qur’an commands to fight are those who are attacking the Muslims first. The Qur’an is quite clear: if non-Muslims do not show hostility towards the Muslims, then they are not to be harmed. Nay, they are to be treated with kindness and respect:
“As for such [of the unbelievers] as do not fight against you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them full equity, for verily, God loves those who act equitably.” (60:8)
According to Zamakhshari, the expression “God does not forbid you” implies a positive exhortation. Moreover, remember the first verse revealed about fighting? I did not tell you why God has ordained armed conflict as a last resort in Islam…until now:
“Permission [to fight] is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged and, verily, God has indeed the power to succour them: those who have been driven from their homelands against all right for no other reason than their saying, ‘Our Sustainer is God!’ For, if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, [all] monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques – in [all of] which God’s name is abundantly extolled – would surely have been destroyed [before now].” (22:39-40, emphasis added).
If non-Muslims are “worse than trash” in Islam, if Muslims are supposed to “kill all the infidels,” then how could it be that the protection of churches and synagogues (along with mosques) are cited as the reason to fight? This can be when one realizes that the contention that Muslims are supposed to “kill all the infidels” is a farcical falsehood, which it is. Non-Muslims are not “worse than trash” in Islam, the Qur’an itself says so:
“Verily, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians (author note: possibly the Mandaeans, the followers of John the Baptist) – All who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds – shall have their reward with their Sustainer, and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve.” (2:62)
Are there Muslims, however, who believe that non-Muslims are “worse than trash”? Are there Muslims who cite verse 9:5 and others similar to it as justification of their acts of murder and terror? Are there Muslims who think killing innocent Westerners is “self-defense” and therefore sanctioned by Islam? Yes, yes, and yes. Does that mean that what they do is Islamic? NO! NO! NO! NO!
These Muslims defame Islam, defy both the letter and spirit of its law, and are an ugly aberration of the true way of the faith. Their sins – and horrific sins they are – can never be confused for the doctrines of Islam. Islam does not call for the murder of “infidels.” Islam does not call for the murder of “infidels.” Islam does not call for the murder of “infidels.” It just can not be any clearer than that.