The Ultimate Message of the Qur'an

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This article is an essay/op-ed by Khalil Fariel. Pen-icon2.png
Essays/op-eds do not necessarily reflect the views of WikiIslam. See the disclaimer for details.

The purpose of this article is to reveal whether Prophet Muhammad intended Islam to be a vehicle of peace or a force of violence.

Surah Nine[edit]

Chapter 9 of the Qur'an- Al Taubah (Repentance) is considered to be the closing remarks of Allah. The only Surah (chapter‎) said to have been revealed after this is Al Nasr (Victory), which consists of only a few verses. Considering the apparent militant disposition of Islam; it should not come as a big surprise to learn that this final chapter is not at all about making peace among the people, but about dividing it into the domain of believers (Dar al-Islam) and unbelievers (dar al-kufr) with the aim of preserving endless enmity between the two. Provided it is read in context, this chapter is essential for non-Muslims who would like to know what Allah commands of Muslims in their affairs. Sahih Muslim testifies to this being the last chapter revealed by the 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- )

Analysis[edit]

This chapter defines how Muslims should treat unbelievers; the code of conduct Muslims ought to observe when dealing with someone outside of the sphere of their own belief system. It sums up the underlying message of Qur'an since it is considered to be the concluding remarks of its author. There is little wonder such a large percentage of Muslim's support terror and persecution of others, After all, this chapter is filled with the marching orders of Allah, inciting offensive onslaughts on unbelievers, and if the closing remarks of Allah is all about fighting endlessly to subjugate and humiliate others, no rationale can thwart the conclusion reached; the entire message of the Qur'an as reflected in this chapter is not for peace, but for war against others. The historical context of this Surah is described by the famous Qur'anic commentator Abul A’ala Madudi in his “Tafhim al Qur'an”:

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.

Tafsirs[edit]

Maududi[edit]

Maududi in his tafsir affirms that prior to the revelation of this chapter; a powerful and well organized Islamic state had already been established in one-third of Arabia. This fact alone dismisses the usual Muslim apologetics of fighting in self defense or fighting against oppressors. As an Islamic state had already been established at this point, you would expect revelations describing ways in which to rule such a state smoothly for the betterment of its citizens and eventually for the world in general, however, what we find in the chapter revealed right after this great victory and liberation of Islam is hate speeches, Incitements to kill unbelievers and provocations to subjugate others. God; provoking his pious believers even after they had achieved their objective is definitely indicative of the belligerent nature of the religion of Islam.

Also, this segment of the Qur'an is unlike the other suras, as it does not begin with the usual “Bismillahi alRahmani Al Rahim” (In the name of Allah, beneficent, merciful). What can be the reason for avoiding it? Scholars say its due to this chapter accentuating God’s vengeance and punishment more so than any other chapter. But, why would a peaceful and just god reveal such a chapter once his faithful had supposedly met their objectives and were 'no longer' being persecuted?

Al Kashaf[edit]

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

'Ibn Abbas[edit]

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

So, this particular Sura hasn’t left any of the unbelievers untouched. The Sahih (authentic) 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."

If a chapter covers the entire body of unbelievers, and that chapter is known as the chapter of the sword in Islamic tenets, then there is something here which deserves serious investigation from among the unbelievers. Arguably, the most violent of Qur'anic verses are found within this particular chapter. From its very beginning, we see a god who continually incites violence against unbelievers. Nevertheless, my goal is not to unearth and deliver a commentary on each and every verse, but to dig out those most relevant and in context to prove Muslims are indeed 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 will present to you is purely from Islamic sources, of which their authenticity has been well established throughout the 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 truth, I will begin by quoting a verse from another chapter of the Qur'an and we will see later how this fits in with the chapter on trial here.

Surah 47, Ayah 4[edit]

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 were revealed right after the first battle Muhammad and his folks fought against the Meccans and won. The above verse is spurring believers to fight wars and most interestingly, an all merciful god is pinpointing the exact spot where a Muslim must strike his opponent’s body. Then it talks of taking captives of war to either confine or ransom them till the war lays its burdens. Here the command is to “fight until the war lays its burdens”. It is somewhat of an idiom. What does it mean 'war lays its burdens'? Imam Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir Interprets this:

Tafsir 'Ibn Kathir[edit]

(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.

The interpretation of Ibn Kathir, the most prominent Mufassir of the Qur'an reveals the ever popular 'context' argument which is used to defend Islam, to be fraudulent. Here in context, a war has just ended and one of the companions of Muhammad is relaxed, since he no longer need to fight. NO, says Muhammad correcting him as if to put focus on the importance of his words to the person who was about to retire, unfortunately its universal appeal can easily be seen today.

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" (i.e. Islam) "so, my community of believers will fight them" Muhammad speaks of this as a incessant process which should inevitably carry through to the end of times with a blessing of war booties to the holy fighters. If there still remains a claim to context for verse 47:4 of the Qur'an (which spews pure violence and hatred against disbelievers to the point where Allah deems it necessary to pinpoint the body part of an unbeliever which believers should attack); claimants should admit that they are going against their own cherished sources and their own cherished scholars, not modern apologetical pseudo-scholars, but true scholar who lived close to Muhammad’s period and have been (and still are) hailed as the most reliable among Qur'an interpreters, or admit the fact that the Qur'an does prescribe perpetual violence against those who don’t believe in Allah and Muhammad.

Summary[edit]

From verse 47:4, two conclusions can be made:

  1. Muslims cannot cease fighting even after they win a war. Rather, they should look for other ways in which to shed more blood.
  2. This fight should continue until the day of resurrection, as Mujahid stated believers cannot stop fighting until the end of times. (The very reason Allah stipulates the limit as “until war sheds its burden”). This will be looked into further, with additional material from authentic Islamic sources.

Surah 9, Ayah 29[edit]

Going back to Sura Tauba which we found earlier to be the chapter of the sword; Being the finally revealed Sura, it contains all codes of conduct which Muslims should observe when in contact with infidels. See the following verse:

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 against those who fight Muslims or oppress them. Many Muslims attempt to conciliate these kinds of Qur'anic verses with the excuse “Islam only permits fighting in self defense.” Sadly for them, here the reasons for fighting is clearly not due to the other side waging war against Muslims, nor due to any kind of oppression, but the only reason god ignites his pious followers against the other side is due to their disbelief in Allah and the last day and also for not refraining from what is forbidden by Allah and his messenger Muhammad. To sum up; the simple rejection of Islam is sufficient cause for Muhammad’s god to issue marching orders to the pious to engage in war until the infidels are subjugated. If unbelievers are not willing to submit themselves and covert to Islam, the only chance of survival rests in paying Jizyah to Muslims, which according to the Qur'an itself, is a blotch (of humiliation) So, the explication is, Jizya is the only means of survival for non-Muslims in a Muslim land.

Jizyah[edit]

Muhammad had taken Jizyah 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.

Analysis[edit]

What we learn from this hadith is when the second Caliph of Islam, Umar, hesitated to take Jizyah from Magian infidels (Magians, a sect of Zoroastrians) one of Muhammad’s companions testifies that Muhammad had taken Jizyah from the same people. A clear indication that Jizyah was imposed upon all who were subjugated during the time of Muhammad. There is one more hadith from the same source which shows Muhammad had taken Jizyah from the people of Bahrain too. There is no good reason to conclude the people of Bahrain at that time were entirely Jewish or Christian. There were pagans among them too. However, taking Jizyah from the people of Bahrain confirms this tool of oppression was applied to the entire set of unbelievers at that time. Now, it is necessary to take a look into the traditional Muslim beliefs in Jesus Christ (Isa), whom they consider a prophet who was 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.

This hadith confirms what was discussed earlier. True Muslims cannot cease fighting until the day of resurrection. Moreover these wars are not mere defensive struggles, but will be offensive onslaughts, until Muslims win over unbelievers and establish Islamic rule, something which is occurring all over the world as we speak, especially in many Eastern and African countries like Somalia. Establishing Islamic governance necessarily means imposing Jizya upon infidels. Muhammad believed or at least his command was to fight until Jesus, the son of Mary descends from heaven. Moreover, he envisioned Muslim domains all over and Jizya imposed upon all infidels. According to Muhammad’s vision, it would be Jesus and Jesus only who would be eradicating Jizya from the earth. Abolition of Jizya entails the whole world becoming Islamic right after Jesus sets foot 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.

Summary[edit]

The three main points raised here in this hadith are:

  1. Muhammad affirms Jesus will break the cross. It is metaphorical of the demise of Christianity. Obviously, Muhammad believed Christianity will prevail until the day of resurrection and it would take Jesus himself to end it altogether.
  2. Killing pig can be another allegory. It may be pointing to Jews, because according to the Qur'an; Jews were once turned into apes and pigs (Qur'an 5:60). Many Muslims today consider Jews as descendents of apes and pigs. Moreover, Muhammad’s utter hatred for Jews would have forced him to label Jews as pigs and he satisfies himself in saying “Jesus will descend prior to resurrection day to kill all Jews” More remarkable here is Muhammad's ignorance of other religions that would endure until the resurrection day. His mind's eye limited to Judaism and Christianity only. For him, pagans were all defeated in the Arabian land, but he doesn’t seem to be aware of the polytheistic religions that were still in practice all over the world apart from the Arabian Peninsula.
  3. Muhammad swearing on Jesus abolishing the Jizya, gives us further evidence his orders to fight infidels are not time bounded but protracts to the end of times. His call for Jihad was not limited in time nor were they forced by circumstances. It was to carry through the offensive fight to subjugate nation after nation under the bloody sword of Islam. Practical though he was; (as he could not even imagine a world without unbelievers like Jews and Christians) Muslims are duty bound to stretch beyond the borders of nations and to continue the 'good' fight until the resurrection day.

Conclusion[edit]

The last revealed chapter of the Qur'an has little to offer the world, other than antagonism. Prophet Muhammad ordered expeditions even from his death-bed. The activities of his followers including the four rightly-guided caliphs were constricted chiefly into invading nation after nation and establishing Islamic states all over the invaded lands. Thus Islam can fairly be called coercive, expansionist and imperialistic - ironically, some common smears hurled at the West by many modern Muslims (who are thereby guilty of hypocrisy - yet another choice complaint). Words followed by the actions of Muhammad's followers speak much louder here. Muhammad clearly did not envision a non-violent world where members of all faiths would live a peaceful co-existence. His words “There will always be a group in his community of believers that are dominant over infidels” highlights this. An ideology stuck in a certain backdrop of history where killing and subjugating others in the name of religion had been made legal by divine dictations can never bring peace to the world.

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See Also[edit]