By Khalil Fariel (Originally Published on Aug 18, 2008) [Faith Freedom International]
The tag of “religion of peace” still remains with Islam despite the abundance of evidences against the very notion. Interesting here is the god of Islam never meant his religion to be a peaceful one. This article will look unto the matter whether Muhammad, with the help of his altered ego- Allah, devised this cult as something of peace or violence.
Chapter 9 of Quran is considered to be the closing remarks of Muhammad’s god. (The only chapter said to have revealed after this is Chapter Al Nasr which consisted quite a few verses) Considering the militant disposition of Islam the so-called religion of peace, it should not be surprising, this finally revealed chapter from an all merciful god is not at all about making peace among the people, but is a double edged sword of rifting the humanity into two as believers and unbelievers with the aim of preserving endless enmity amongst people. For non-Muslims to know of what Islam’s god commands Muslims in their affairs, this chapter can be a touchstone, provided it is read in context. Sahih Muslim testifies this is the last chapter revealed by god of Muhammad.
Abu Ishaq said that he heard al-Bara’ b ‘Azib (Allah be pleased with him) say: The last complete sura revealed (in the Holy Qur’an) is Sura tauba (i e. al-Bara’at, ix.), and the last verse revealed is that pertaining to Kalala*.
(*They ask you for a legal verdict. Say: “Allah directs (thus) about Al-Kalalah- Quran 4:176)
Chapter defines how Muslims should treat an unbeliever; the code of conducts Muslims ought to observe when they are dealing someone outside the sphere of their belief system. This chapter sums up the message of Quran since it is considered to be the concluding remarks of Islam’s god. No wonder it is frilled the marching orders of Allah, inciting offensive onslaughts on unbelievers. After all, if closing remarks of god is all about fighting endlessly to subjugate and humiliate unbelievers, no rationale can thwart the conclusion, the entire message of Quran as reflected in this chapter is not for peace at all.
Historical context of this Surah is described by the famous Quran commentator Abul A’ala Madudi in his “ Tafhimul Quran ”:
Consider the historical background of the Sura. The series of events that have been discussed in this Sura took place after the Peace Treaty of Hudaibiyah. By that time one-third of Arabia had come under the sway of Islam which had established itself as a powerful well organized and civilized Islamic State. This Treaty afforded further opportunities to Islam to spread its influence in the comparatively peaceful atmosphere created by it. After this Treaty two events took place which led to very important results.
Maududi affirms the fact, prior to the revelation of this chapter; a powerful and well organized Islamic state had been established in one/third of Arabia. This fact alone dismisses the usual Muslim apologetics of fighting in self defense or fighting against oppressors. An Islamic state is already established in here, hence instead of describing the ways of ruling such a state smoothly for the betterment of its citizens and eventually for the world in general, what we find in a chapter revealed right after this victory of Islam is full of hate speeches, Incitements to kill and provocations to subjugate others! God; provoking his pious believers even after they have achieved their objective is definitely indicative of the belligerent nature of the religion called Islam.
Odd about this segment of Quran is unlike the other suras of Quran, this chapter doesn’t begin with the usual “ Bismillahi alRahmani Al Rahim “. (In the name of Allah, beneficent, merciful) What can be the reason in avoiding it?
Scholars give the reason as this chapter accentuates on god’s vengeance and punishment more than any other chapters. (Why should god reveal such a chapter when especially his faithful are met their objectives?) Hudaifat Al Yaman said to his companions: “You people call this chapter Sura Tauba which means chapter of repentance, but in fact this is the chapter punishment. This chapter hasn’t left a single hypocrite unmentioned.” (Tafsir Al Kashaf 2:241) Again, according to Ibn Abbas: “When it was asked to Ali, (one of the rightly guided caliphs of Islam) about the lack of Bismi in this chapter, Ali replied: “Bismi’s implication is trustworthiness. But this Chapter was revealed with a sword” ( Tafsir Qurtubi. 8)
(Is it because swords of Muslims are never in par with trustworthiness..?)
So, this particular Surah hasn’t left anyone of the unbelievers untouched. The sahih hadith below from Bukhari clarifies it further:
Narrated Said bin Jubair: I asked Ibn Abbas about Surat Al-tauba, and he said, “Surat Al-tauba? It is exposure (of all the evils of the infidels and the hypocrites). And it continued revealing (that the oft-repeated expression): ‘…and of them …and of them.’till they started thinking that none would be left unmentioned therein.” (Sahih Bukhari.Book 60, Hadith 404)
If a chapter mentions the whole of unbelievers in general, and that chapter is known as chapter of sword in Islamic tenets, there is something to sort out here for unbelievers. Perhaps the most violent of Quranic verses are found in this particular set of verses. From the very beginning of it, we see god inciting violence against unbelievers consistently. Muslims (essentially apologists) have tried to compromise these violent verses with the so-called context argument knowingly or unknowingly that context argument is very much against the simple logic Quran is meant for the entire humankind to the end of times. Nevertheless, my attempt is not to go and unearth the whole host of verses of the chapter, but is to dig out those relevant parts necessarily in context to prove Muslims are commanded to fight unbelievers until resurrection day. And in doing so, I will not be relying on wild assumptions or any irrelevant sources to Islam. What I bring is purely Islamic sources of which’s authenticity is well established throughout centuries.
Muslims are obliged to fight Kufr and Kuffar (Infidels) until the day of resurrection by all available means. For the purpose of illuminating this, I will first quote a verse from another chapter of Quran and see it later how they corroborate to the chapter in trial here.
Qur’an 47:4 Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain.
These verses are revealed right after the first battle Muhammad and his folks fought against Meccans and won. The core of the above verses is they spur believers to fight war and most interestingly, an all merciful god pinpoints the exact spot where a Muslim has to strike on his opponent’s steel. Odd it is… the god of this universe had to instruct those fellows on how to fight a war and worst of all specify them where and how to smite an opponent..! Then it talks about taking captives of war to either confine or ransom them till the war lays its burdens. Here the indication is to “fight until the war lays its burdens” Emphasize on it, because It is somewhat like an idiom. What does it mean war lays it burdens? Imam Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir Interprets this:
(Until the war lays down its burden.) Mujahid said: “Until `Isa bin Maryam (peace be upon him) descends.” It seems as if he derived this opinion from the Prophet’s saying, There will always be a group of my Ummah victorious upon the truth, until the last of them fight against Ad-Dajjal.) Imam Ahmad recorded from Jubayr bin Nufayr who reported from Salamah bin Nufayl that he went to the Messenger of Allah and said, “I have let my horse go, and thrown down my weapon, for the war has ended. There is no more fighting.” Then the Prophet said to him, Now the time of fighting has come. There will always be a group of my Ummah dominant over others. Allah will turn the hearts of some people away (from the truth), so they (that group) will fight against them, and Allah will bestow on them (war spoils) from them (the enemies) — until Allah’s command comes to pass while they are in that state. Verily, the center of the believers’ abode is Ash-Sham. And goodness is tied around the horses’ foreheads till the Day of Resurrection.) An-Nasa’i also recorded this narration. Allah then says, Thus, and had Allah so willed, He could have taken vengeance against them;) which means that had He so willed, He could have taken immediate vengeance against the disbelievers with a chastisement or exemplary punishment directly from Him but (He lets you struggle) so as to test with one another.) meaning, He has ordered Jihad and fighting against the enemies in order to try you and test your affairs. ( Tafsir Ibn Kathir )
The interpretation of Ibn Kathir, the most authentic Mufassir of Quran reveals context argument is fraudulent. Here in this context, a war has just ended and one of the companions of Muhammad is relaxed for, since the war is ended he doesn’t need to fight any more. NO, says Muhammad correcting him and if to focus on Muhammad’s answer to the person who was about to retire, its universal appeal can easily be noted. “There will always be a group in my community (Muslims) dominant over others (Muhammad’s Islam is supposed to be dominant over all other faiths and their adherents. This notion is flowing out here as Muhammad uses the word “dominant”) Allah will turn some people away from truth (Islam) so, my community of believers will fight them” Muhammad speaks of this as a incessant process which should inevitably carry through the end of times with a blessing of war booties to the holy fighters. If there still remains a claim of context of the verse 47:4 of Quran (which spurs pure violence against disbelievers to the point Allah doesn’t hesitate to spot the body part of an unbeliever for believers to attack); claimants should spell out whether they are going to refute their own sources, their own scholars, (not any modern scholar, but scholar who lived close to Muhammad’s period and has been hailed as the most reliable among Quran interpreters) or admit the fact Quran does incite violence endlessly against those who don’t believe in Allah and Muhammad.
From verse 47:4: Conclusion can be made; Muslims can’t stop fighting even after they win a war, rather they should look for other ways of shedding more blood. This fight should continue until the day of resurrection, because as Mujahid stated believers can’t stop fighting until the end of times. (The very reason god stipulates the limit as “until war sheds its burden”). This will be more pronounced with additional back ups from the Islamic sources.
Going back to Sura Tauba: which we found earlier as the chapter of sword: Being the finally revealed Sura, it contains all codes of conducts Muslims should observe when they are in contact with infidels. See the verses:
Quran: 9:29 Fight those who believe not in Allah or the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
Here in the above verses the command of Muhammad’s god to fight is; not to those who fight Muslims or oppress Muslims. (Many Muslims try to conciliate to these kinds of Quranic verses with the excuse “Quran only inspires to fight in self defense.” Sadly for them, here the reasons for fighting is not the other side is waging war against Muslims, nor due to any oppression, but the only reason god ignites his pious against the other side is because the opposition doesn’t believe in Allah and last day plus observe what is forbidden by Allah and his messenger Muhammad. To sum up; only because the other side rejects Islam, Muhammad’s God inflames the pious to go to war until they subjugate infidels on the other side. If unbelievers are not willing to submit themselves and covert to Islam, the only chance of survival rests on paying Jizya to Muslims which is in Quran’s own language a blotch (of humiliation)Arguments for Jizya are often made as it is a tax similar to the obligatory Zakat (charity) o f Muslims. They fervently argue, since Muslims in an Islamic land have to pay obligatory charity, there is nothing discriminative in the case of Jizya. We will look upon this argument in detail but later; preferably in another article that will be solely dedicated to the subject of Jizya. Now, the explication is, Jizya is the only way of survival of non-Muslims in a Muslim land.
Muhammad had taken Jizya from all unbelievers’ regardless of their diverse faiths, though doubts in the case of polytheists remain. This hadith from Sahih Bukhari testifies Muhammad had taken Jizya from unbelievers:
Narrated ‘Umar bin Dinar: I was sitting with Jabir bin Zaid and ‘Amr bin Aus, and Bjalla was narrating to them in 70 AH the year when Musab bin Az-Zubair was the leader of the pilgrims of Basra. We were sitting at the steps of Zam-zam well and Bajala said, “I was the clerk of Juz bin Muawiya, Al-Ahnaf’s paternal uncle. A letter came from ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab one year before his death; and it was read:– “Cancel every marriage contracted among the Magians between relatives of close kinship (marriages that are regarded illegal in Islam: a relative of this sort being called Dhu-Mahram.)” ‘Umar did not take the Jizya from the Magian infidels till ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Auf testified that Allah’s Apostle had taken the Jizya from the Magians of Hajar. ( Sahih Bukhari. Book 53, Hadith 384 )
What unfolds from this hadith is when the second Caliph of Islam Omar hesitated to take Jizya from Magian infidels (Magians, a sect of Zoroastrians) one of Muhammad’s companions testifies; Muhammad had taken Jizya from the same people. A clear indicative, Jizya was imposed upon all those subjugated people during the time of Muhammad. There is one more hadith from the same source; Muhammad had taken Jizya from the people of Bahrain too. Good reasons aren’t there to conclude the people of Bahrain at that time were entirely Jews or Christians. There were pagans too among them. However, taking Jizya from the people of Bahrain confirms this tool of oppression was applied to the entire set of unbelievers of that time.
Now, it is necessary to have a look upon the traditional Muslim belief on Jesus Christ, whom they consider a prophet who got raised to god and will be descending to earth among people prior to the day of resurrection. This is confirmed through many sahih hadiths.
Jabir b. ‘Abdullah reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: A section of my people will not cease fighting for the Truth and will prevail till the Day of resurrection. He said: Jesus son of mary would then descend and their (Muslims’) commander would invite him to come and lead them in prayer, but he would say: No, some amongst you are commanders over some (amongst you). This is the honour from Allah for this Ummah. ( Sahih Muslim. Book 001, Hadith 293 )
This hadith confirms what is said earlier. True Muslims can not stop fighting until the day of resurrection. Moreover these fighting are not mere defensive struggles, but will be offensive onslaughts, until Muslims win over unbelievers and establish Islamic rule. Establishing Islamic governance necessarily contains imposing Jizya upon infidels. Muhammad believed or his command was to fight until Jesus, the son of Mary descends from heaven. Moreover, he envisioned Muslim domains all over and Jizya is imposed upon infidels. According to Muhammad’s version, it would be Jesus and Jesus only who will be eradicating Jizya from the earth. Abolition of Jizya means the whole world becomes Islamic right after Jesus foots on earth for a second term. See how Muhammad envisioned this phenomenon.
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, son of mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the Cross and kill the pig and abolish the Jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims, who are in the protection, of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and no-body will accept charitable gifts. (Sahih Bukhari. Book 34, Hadith 425)
Three main points here in this hadith are: Muhammad affirms Jesus will break the cross. It is metaphorical of the demise of Christianity. Obvious, Muhammad believed Christianity will prevail until the day of resurrection and it will take Jesus to end it altogether. Secondly, killing pig can be another allegory. It might be pointing to Jews, because according to Quran; Jews once turned into apes and pigs. Many Muslims consider Jews as descendents of apes and pigs. Moreover, Muhammad’s detest of Jews would have forced him to label Jews as pigs and he satisfies himself in uttering “Jesus will descend prior to resurrection day to kill all Jews” More remarkable here is Muhammad wasn’t aware of any other religions that would endure until the resurrection day. His mind’s eye limited in Judaism and Christianity only. For him pagans were all defeated in the Arabian land, but the poor chap doesn’t seem to be aware of the polytheistic religions that were still in practice all over the world apart from Arabian Peninsula. However, third point we can obtain from this hadith is Muhammad’s swearing on Jesus abolishing Jizya which gives us the insight, his order to fight infidels is not time bounded but protracts to the end of times. His call for Jihad was not time-limited nor was force of circumstances, but it was to carry through the offensive fight to subjugate nations after nations under the sword of Islam. Practical though he was; as he didn’t think of a world without unbelievers like Jews and Christians; however Muslims are duty bounded to stretch beyond the borders of nations and to continue the fight until the resurrection day.
Finally, what does the last revealed chapter of Islam’s holy book have to offer the world? Answer is virtually NOTHING but ANTAGONISM. Muhammad ordered expeditions even from his death-bed. The activities of his followers including four rightly guided caliphs were constricted chiefly into invading nations after nations and establishing Islamic states all over the invaded lands. Words followed with actions speak much loudly here. Muhammad; the founder of Islam could never envision a nonviolent, just world where all faiths will have a peaceful co-existence. Rather he was driven with a virulent lust of domination. His words “There will always be a group in his community of believers that is dominant over infidels” reveal how far it is possible for Muslims to stick on peace. An ideology stuck in a certain backdrop of history where killing and subjugating others in the name of religion has been made legal by divine dictations can never bring peace to the world. If it was for peace, god shouldn’t have revealed his last words with pretty blood on top of them. After all, Islam and its deity are the artifacts of barbarians of a dark era of history. It is a shame on the face of humanity this dangerous cult still remains under the banner of decent religion.