The detractors of Islam retain only the Koranic verses from the Qur’an, especially those dealing with war and peace. They conclude that the last revelation preaches violence. In fact, they demonstrate total ignorance of the Islamic religion but also bad faith. The purpose of this study is to answer this thesis, which accuses the Koranic texts of inciting violence.
To understand the themes developed by the Quran, it is necessary to put them in their context. It is not wise to analyse them without taking into account their temporality. The Qur’an would be unintelligible if we passed over the very large number of verses of an elevated humanity. But this is not the purpose of this article. The ignorant, the calculators, the detractors, the defenders of the faith, and the very many people of bad faith, strive to read the twenty-nine (29) verses that are supposedly violent but do not take into consideration the other six thousand two hundred and thirty-six (6236) verses that make up the whole Qur’an.
For this purpose, we will analyse some verses implicated. We will show that their content is legitimized by the conditions and circumstances of their time and that the states of our century, themselves, would take for themselves.
“Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.” (S.2, 190)
This is the first verse ordering to repel any aggression against Muslims. We note several remarks, the most important of which shows that in Islam the war is defensive. Indeed, it is not a war declared to all peoples and all nations, but it only targets those who fight you. It is a right to defend oneself against an enemy, in this case the Meccan polytheists. It imposes limits, however, such as prohibiting preventive wars. This imperative is included in this expression: God does not like transgressors. Is not this commitment in the war against the aggressor a right recognized today by all the powers of the earth?
“And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from wherever they drove you out, and [the] oppression (is) worse than [the] killing. And (do) not fight them near Al-Masjid Al-Haraam until they fight you in it. Then if they fight you, then kill them. Such (is the) reward (of) the infidels.” (S.2, 191)
Mohammad Chiadmi, author of a translation of the Qur’an, from which we borrow the quotations, provides this explanation of the verse: “God allows Muslims to defend themselves against the Qoraysh attacks that persecuted them and drove them out of their homes. Placed in this context, this verse calls on Muslims to fight back against all these aggressions and to fight to reclaim their lands.”
It must be remembered that Muslims were persecuted by polytheists in Mecca. Some of them were killed. These negative conditions forced them to exile to Medina, abandoning their homes and possessions, which were captured by their enemies in Qoraysh. The Qur’an only calls believers to take up arms in order to recover their property and to freely practice their religion. Is it not a legitimate right, recognized today by international law, to recover what has been taken from us by the enemy and to defend our right to practice the religion (or ideas) of our choice? This is precisely the reason for being, among others, the two world wars.
Although the verse plans to fight the enemy, however, it has a reservation: “Do not fight with the Holy Mosque.” Nevertheless, “if they attack you first, then do not hesitate to kill them.” This is yet another proof that the war in Islam is of defensive nature. However, what disturbs the Eric Zemmour, Alain Finkielkraut, Michel Onfray and company, it is certainly this kind of passage: “Do not hesitate to kill them”. It is as if during the wars, the men did not kill each other but fight by hugging each other or by throwing flowers at each other. But here is what is valid for some is in no way accepted for others.
There is a striking fact that non-Muslims must have in mind, is the clemency that Islam advocates on many occasions. Indeed, the Prophet (pbuh) granted forgiveness to all his enemies after his triumph and his victorious entry into Mecca. This decision of the Messenger of God (pp) represents a source of law. Did Westerners forgive their enemies in the aftermath of the two wars? The Jews continue, to this day, to chase the Nazis of the second war.
“And fight (against) them until not (there) is oppression, and becomes the religion for Allah Then if they cease then (let there be) no hostility except against the oppressors.” (S.2, 193)
Why generalize this verse and apply it to our time? It is very temporal since it is specifically about Mecca polytheists of the time of the Prophet (pp). They are the aggressors, and the Muslims are called to defend themselves and restore their religion which these associationists had permanently removed the exercise. Would France, today, not defend itself militarily if it were necessary, if a country tried, for example, to scuttle the catholic religion? It did it well for political and economic reasons during the two world big ones.
As for those “jihadists” who sow murderous hatred, they did not understand or did not want to understand the temporal meaning of the verse. It is clear that it lays down a declaration of war to specific polytheists and not to all non-Muslims to subject them to the religion of God. To do so is to contradict this fundamental verse which clearly states: “No compulsion in religion”.
We see that the Qur’an does not preach war at any time and at any time, since it advocates the cessation of hostilities if the enemy ceases to fight. He is pursued only against the unjust; this is what all the states in the world are doing right now. Why, then, do Islamophobic analysts not take into consideration this important and vital aspect of the question?
“Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (S.2, 216)
This verse states two values that are current throughout all ages and generations. It is, first, all people who hate war and violence in general. Then, this value refers to those questions to which we give our approval but which, nevertheless, turn out to be against our interests thereafter. Reference is also made to these issues, which we disapprove of at the moment but later prove to be in our interest.
Be that as it may, the verse states a general principle accepted by everyone, including in our time: the obligation to collectively engage in a defensive war in case of aggression, and the response to any defamatory attack to individual title, in time of peace, imposes itself on all the assaulted peoples and all the defamed persons. For some, it is a question of repelling the aggression of an enemy and, for others, of defending their honour and dignity.
“And [remember] when you, [O Muhammad], left your family in the morning to post the believers at their stations for the battle [of Uhud] – and Allah is Hearing and Knowing -” (S.3, 121)
This verse is very personal, since it is essentially appealed to the Prophet. It does not generalize the call either, since it fixes a given epoch. Indeed, in this verse there is mention of the preparation of the battle that will take place in [of Uhud]. It is a call for preparation to defend oneself in this locality against an aggressor, in this case the polytheists. This enemy wanted war and the Koran requires Muslims to defend themselves.
Which of the Europeans in general, and among the French in particular, would not defend themselves to stifle the ways of violence? Are not this what states in all continents are doing to fight those who want to sow terror and break the cord of peace and mercy? Muslims also fight them all the more as these false Muslims fight in the name of Islam, when in reality they undermine or betray the Koranic doctrine.
“And how many a prophet [fought and] with him fought many religious scholars. But they never lost assurance due to what afflicted them in the cause of Allah, nor did they weaken or submit. And Allah loves the steadfast.” (S.3, 146)
If France were attacked by a neighbouring state and if the French authorities asked, for example, Alain Finkielkraut or Michel Aufray to write a call to fight those who invade their country and oppress their fellow citizens, would they not express ideas that would highlight the fact of “not to be defeated by the tests”? Certainly, they would urge their compatriots “not to weaken or abandon the struggle”! What is wrong with this verse? Absolutely nothing, unless you are in bad faith and proclaim that what is good for them is necessarily bad for others.
It is useless for a man to be a philosopher if he lacks objectivity and if, instead of understanding his vis-à-vis and to discuss peacefully with people who do not share his ideas, he excels at to interpret them in his own way, and thus to overwhelm them with slanders, while at the same time persisting in examining their speeches according to philosophical inclinations or doubtful political doctrines.
“They wish so much to see you lose your faith as they have lost themselves so that you are all the same. Do not form bonds with them until they are resolutely engaged in the Way of the Lord. But if they opt for apostasy, grab them and kill them wherever you find them! Do not take friends or helpers with them.” (S.4, 88)
It is appropriate to place the verse in context. This is what Mohammed Chiadmi, author of a translation of the Qur’an, says about the verse: “It alludes to the conflict situation in which the community was in Medina. Some individuals, hypocrites, converted to Islam, interfered in the community of believers, collected information and eventually denied their religion by passing this information to the enemies of Islam. For these war traitors, condemnation is the death penalty as stipulated in this verse. Whoever leaves his religion out of conviction, without trying to betray Islam and Muslims, does not fall into this category.”
In all wars, spies, considered traitors, are condemned to death and shot. Why, when the Koran advocates the same treatment to be applied to spies of Islam and Muslims, Islamophobic plumitifs, like Michel Onfray, rebel against this decision? They talk about violence. Is the violence generated by the West in wartime softer than that spoken of by revelation? Should we understand that for this philosopher, spies should be condemned, “by humanism”, to low sentences, by a simple correctional court?
“The only reward for those who make war on the religion of God and His Prophet, and cause disorder on earth, is that they be killed, crucified or amputated with one hand and one foot by cross order, or being expelled from the country. It will be a degradation for them in this world, in addition to the terrible punishment that awaits them in the future life.” (S.4, 33)
The verse poses the case of those who stir up trouble in a society, propagate corruption on earth and criminals in general. The Koran provides for several sentences: death sentence, crucifixion, limb amputation and exile.
Certainly, it is indisputable that certain punishments, set forth by the Koran, are inadmissible in our time. However, they were in effect at that time among Muslims and other peoples. The legal structures were not perfected in those distant centuries, and what was the reason for those sentences at that time was that there was no prison facility. What to do then, for lack of prison, was it necessary to let the criminals loose?
Ninth and tenth verse:
“And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (S.9, 5)
“Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy the breasts of a believing people” (S.9, 14)
It is quite natural that in times of war the authorities give instructions on how to fight against the enemy. In these verses, the Koran only teaches the different ways of fighting an enemy. There is nothing surprising about this aspect of the war. It is apparent that it is not a conventional war. The French resistance fighters and the Algerian maquisards operated in the same way, the first against the Germans, and the second against the soldiers of the French army. Both of them “besieged”, “captured”, “ambushed” … If, in these verses, the objectives are not the same (for some, it is politics, and for others, it is religion), however, they assume the same liberating character.
Islam plans to bring together and unite men and women in a form of social organization involving human solidarity, respect for beliefs, cultures and all fundamental freedoms, insofar as they do not undermine the Oneness of God and His great precepts. If seemingly “violent” verses are contained in the Qur’an, it is only defensive, so to repel aggression, as it was for example the expulsion of people from their lands, at the time of the Prophet (pp) the impediment of the free circulation of religious ideas and the injustices imposed on the weakest.
It is the peculiarity of all ancient and contemporary societies, as is the case in France and other European countries, following deadly attacks, to prescribe rules which encourage their members to show themselves vigilant and willing to defend themselves. Why then do we deny to Islam what the so-called modern states apply to themselves, namely, the order their military command gives to soldiers to wage wars? The Qur’an does nothing but formulate, in the form of verses, the rules of conduct that must be followed in time of peace and war, when circumstances require it.