Islam: A religion of peace?
A question asked by UBC professor, which provoked the anger of many Muslims there.
When the Koran is cited by Muslims in response to questions about violence, it is often discussed in such a way as to shut down a meaningful exploration of the text. One or two mild passages are usually offered, as if these fully represented the contents of a scripture containing 6,000-plus verses. But the Koran -- literally "recitation" -- is a collection of diverse materials that include polemic, praise, eschatology, law, narrative, battle calls, and details of the domestic life of the Prophet.In particular, the sourcebooks contain a great deal of material relating to violence. This article reviews that small part of the material that is directly relevant to any debate about the link between Islam and terror: the commands to fight and kill.The Koran contains five commands to kill and 12 commands to fight (literally, "try to kill"). Most are found in the second (verses 190, 191, 193, 244), fourth (vv. 76, 84, 89, 91) and ninth (vv. 5, 12, 14, 29, 36, 123) suras.The commands address a number of different situations, from "fighting those who fight you" to "fighting totally." The objects of the fighting and killing include the unbelievers, the "associators" (mushrikin, or polytheists) and "the friends of Satan."In classical Muslim discussions of these verses, two verses attracted more attention than any others. They came to be known as "the sword verse" (9.5) and "the verse of tribute" (9.29).FIGHT IN THE WAY OF ALLAH THOSE WHO FIGHT YOU'What follows are selected Koranic references to fighting and killing infidels.- Baqara (2):190 - "And fight (qaatiloo) in the way of Allah those who fight you."- Baqara (2):193 - "Fight them (qaatiloohum), till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah's"- Baqara (2):244 - "So fight (qaatiloo) in the way of Allah, and know that Allah is all-hearing, all-knowing."- Nisaa' (4):76 - "Those who are believers fight (yuqaatiloona) in the way of Allah, and the unbelievers fight in the idols' way. So fight (qaatiloo) the friends of Satan; surely the guile of Satan is ever feeble."- al-Anfaal (8):39 - "Fight them (qaatiloohum), till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah's entirely."- al-Taubah (9):12 - "But if they break their oaths after their covenant and thrust at your religion, then fight (qaatiloo) the leaders of unbelief."- al-Taubah (9):29 - "Fight (qaatiloo) those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and his messenger have forbidden -- such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book -- until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled."- al-Taubah (9):123 - "O believers, fight (qaatiloo) the unbelievers (kuffaar) who are near to you, and let them find in you a harshness (ghilza)."- Baqara (2):191 - "And slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you come upon them"- Baqara (2):191 - "But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then if they fight you, slay them (aqtuloohum) -- such is the recompense of unbelievers."
- Nisaa' (4):89 - "then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you find them"- Nisaa' (4):91 - "If they withdraw not from you, and offer you peace, and restrain their hands, take them, and slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you come on them; against them we have given you a clear authority."- al-Taubah (9):5 - "Then when the sacred months are drawn away, slay (aqtuloo) the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush."- Nisaa' (4):74 - "So let them fight (yuqaatil) in the way of Allah who sell the present life for the world to come; and whosoever fights (yuqaatil) in the way of Allah and is slain, or conquers, we shall bring him a mighty wage."- Muhammad (47):4 - "When you meet the unbelievers, smite (darba) their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads."