In order to understand, kindly continue reading from the previous post:
Roots of “JIHAD” Part I
When Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. received the previous verses of The Qur’an (22:38-41), he was 54 years old. Before this, he was never known to be such a warrior who was described by his companions to be the bravest among them all. Till he was 54 years old, he had led the most peaceful life, even when he was beaten and choked nearly to death by the Makkan pagans, he never lifted one finger to defend himself. His companions as well, were mostly simple shepherds, farmers, caravan travelers, and former slaves. None of them was ever known to have any military experience whatsoever. Their utmost experience was in the usage of bows and arrows when hunting animals for food. Before their immigration to Madinah, none of them ever participated in any battle, or experienced what it meant to have swords clattering above his head. It was their great faith in Allah’s victory that helped them remain steadfast in the faces of their enemies, and mighty aggressors.
Having war forced upon them meant that Muslims needed to assemble an army. Every soldier must at least be equipped with a sword and a light shield. A small battalion of experienced archers must be assembled, and equipped with bows and arrows as well. Muslims were extremely poor at that time, they couldn’t afford to buy horses or enough camels. Consequently, they took turns in riding the available camels, and slaughtered some of it for food. The immigrants left all of their possessions behind when they were escaping from Makkah. All of these possessions were confiscated by Makkans. The Muslim merchants who were caught trying to immigrate, were forced to leave behind all of their money. After consulting with his companions, Prophet Muhammad decided to send scouts to the road which the Makkan commercial caravans took when they were returning from their trading trips. The scouts brought back news of a returning big caravan led by the Makkan leader Abu-Sufyan Ibn-Harb. The prophet decided that this was a suitable opportunity to retrieve some of the Muslims’ possessions which were taken unlawfully by the Makkan pagans. Consequently, Muslims rode out to seize the caravan and confiscate it. When the pagans learned about the Muslims’ plan, they dispatched a quick rider to deliver the news to Abu-Sufyan, and advise him to change his way. Meanwhile, they assembled a big army to meet the Muslims who rode out of Madinah. This led to the “Battle of Badr.”
Our next stop is chapter 8 of the Qur’an. It was revealed in the 2nd year A.H. It includes the second group of verses that was revealed and speaks about fighting, or Combative Jihad. This chapter was revealed after the battle of Badr, it’s a commemoration of the incident. It also holds very important injunctions concerning fighting in the following verses:
“Believers, when you meet in battle those who deny the truth, never turn your backs on them: whoever turns his back on such an occasion, unless it be as a stratagem of war, or in an endeavor to join another group [of the believers] will indeed draw down upon himself the wrath of Allah, and Hell shall be his abode and the worst indeed is that destination.” [The Qur’an (8:15-16)]
Deserting the army in the battle field is a major sin in Islam. Merely turning your back to the enemy, except for a stratagem or giving aid to a weak battalion, is highly forbidden. Those who do this are given grave warnings of the bad consequences of this action. This is not something that Islam came up with, it has always been the rule of any army that deserters are treated like traitors. Islam only confirmed that it’s an abominable deed in the sight of our creator, and gave grave warnings to its doer that his abode shall be in the hellfire.
A few verses later, Allah says:
“Yet why should Allah not punish them when they debar people from the Sacred Mosque, although they are not its guardians? Its rightful guardians are those who fear Allah, though most of the [deniers] do not realize it. Their prayer (i.e. the pagans) at the Sacred House is nothing but whistling and clapping of hands. ‘So taste the punishment because of your denial’. Those who are bent on denying the truth are spending their wealth in debarring others from the path of Allah. They will continue to spend it in this way till, in the end, this spending will become a source of intense regret for them, and then they will be overcome. And those who denied the truth will be gathered together in Hell. So that Allah may separate the bad from the good, He will heap the wicked one upon another and then cast them into Hell. These will surely be the losers. Tell those who deny the truth that if they desist, their past shall be forgiven, but if they persist in [fighting against you], then let them take an example from the fate of those who did the same before. Fight them until there is no more [religious] persecution and religion belongs wholly to Allah. If they desist, then surely Allah is watchful of what they do, but if they return [to persecuting you], then know that Allah is your Protector, the Best of Protectors and the Best of Helpers!” [The Qur’an (8:34-40)]
In these verses Allah is speaking about Makkah, the city that was established by Ishmael’s offspring around the sacred mosque which was built by Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael P.B.U.T. This holy city was built originally for worshiping Allah alone without associating any partners with Him, and its dwellers were considered by all Arabs the custodians of the mosque. Later on, after many centuries, paganism started to appear in it at the hands of the merchants returning from Assyria. Paganism pervaded Makkah, until all of its citizens forsook the pure creed of Abraham, and profaned the sacred mosque with their handmade idols. Their brethren from the other Arab tribes followed the custodians of the sacred mosque. They started putting their own idols near the sacred mosque as well. In the season of pilgrimage, every tribe prayed to its idol. More than 360 idols were placed around the mosque, and an image of Abraham and Ishmael bowing down to an idol, was drawn on one of the inside walls of the sacred mosque. Within few centuries all of Hejaz turned to polytheism, and forsook monotheism.
When Prophet Muhammad started receiving the Qur’an and preaching the pure creed of Abraham amidst the Arabs, they rejected it and persecuted those who embraced Islam. After the battle of Badr, Muslims were ordered to fight back the polytheists until they free Makkah from their occupation, and until all worship inside the holy city is directed solely to Allah again. Makkah was originally established in the sacred valley amidst the mountains of Pharan, and dedicated for those who worship Allah in the proper manner as taught by the prophets P.B.U.T.
In the above verses, glad tidings were given to Muslims that although the pagans were much stronger and wealthier, their strength is nothing in front of Allah’s Might. Let them spend their money and use their resources in mustering all the powers they can, eventually they shall lose, and Allah’s light shall shine forth from Makkah to reach the farthest places on earth.
A few verses later, Allah says:
“Let not the deniers [of Islam] think that they can evade destiny. They cannot frustrate [Allah’s purpose]. They have not the power to do so. Prepare the strength you can muster against them, and any cavalry with which you can overawe Allah’s enemy and your own enemy as well, and others besides them whom you do not know but are known to Allah. Anything you spend in the way of Allah will be repaid to you in full. You will not be wronged. Then if they inclined to make peace, make peace with them, and put your trust in Allah. Surely, it is He who is All-Hearing and All-Knowing. Should they seek to deceive you, Allah is enough for you: it was He who strengthened you with His help, and rallied the faithful around you, and bound their hearts together. Even if you had spent all that is on the earth, you could not have bound their hearts together, but Allah has bound them together. Surely, He is Mighty and Wise.” [The Qur’an (8:59-63)]
These verses have already been tackled in this Previous Post. They were revealed at a time when there were less than 6,000 Muslims on earth, including women and children, and they were confined only in Madinah. Today, Arab Muslims comprise less than 20% of the total number of Muslims all over the world. More than 1.6 Billion Muslims live today on earth. Indonesia alone has 256 Million Muslims, which equals 4-6 times the total number of original native Arab Muslims.
The above verses of chapter 8 hold the following injunctions:
- Never desert the army or turn your back to the enemy unless for a stratagem or giving aid to weaker comrades.
- Fight against aggressors until there is no more compulsion in religion.
- Fight against the pagans until you retrieve Makkah from their hands.
- Muster as much power as you can in order to dishearten your enemies from attacking you.
- If your enemies incline to peace, accept it from them and put your trust in Allah, He shall help and protect you against their schemes and treason.
This chapter includes one of the most misunderstood verses in the Qur’an. It is usually used in the western media to defame the Qur’an, and its teachings. In the next few lines, I shall mention how the some people in the west translate it wrongly twisting the meaning intended, and defaming Islam in the process. Thereafter, I shall respond to their claims.
“I will terrorize the disbelievers. Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint [and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes]” [The Qur’an (8:12)]
Islam haters always use the previous wrong distorted translation to prove that Islam teaches terrorism and violence. They say it’s a sick religion that orders its adherents to kill those who don’t accept it in the most terrible ways.
Now let’s read the previous verse in its complete context and proper translation, in order to understand what it is actually saying. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“[Remember] When you begged your Lord for help, He answered you, ‘I will reinforce you with a thousand angels in succession.’ God made this a message of hope to reassure your hearts. Help comes only from God, He is mighty and wise. Remember when He covered you with slumber as a reassurance from Him, and sent down water from the sky to purify you, to remove Satan’s insinuations from your [hearts], to make your hearts strong and your feet firm. Your Lord revealed to the angels: ‘I am with you: give the believers firmness, I shall cast fright into the hearts of the disbelievers, strike above their necks and strike their fingertips.’ That was because they defied Allah and His Messenger, and if anyone defies Allah and His Messenger, Allah punishes him severely, ‘That is what you get! Taste that!’ and the torment of the hellfire awaits the disbelievers.” [The Qur’an (8:9-14)]
As stated above, the battle of Badr was the first battle Muslims ever led against the pagans. They were outnumbered by 3 to 1. Their army comprised nothing but 313 shepherds and former slaves who never fought before. They only had “two horsemen” and the rest of them were foot-soldiers armed with swords and light shields. The pagans’ army on the other hand comprised more than 1000 soldiers, most of whom were strong husky combatants, known of having fierce fighting skills, they had more than 100 horsemen and 600 strong shields. Any quick analysis of the situation will tell you that the Muslims didn’t stand a chance to even face the pagans’ army for more than 15 minutes.
On the battle’s eve, Muslims were unable to sleep out-of fear and worry. The news brought back by their scouts weren’t auspicious. On the battle’s day, they woke up astonished that they all fell asleep and they even enjoyed a sound sleep to the extent that some of them had wet dreams. This could cynically make you laugh, but actually it’s an indication to how deeply and securely they slept without any traces of worry or fear on their minds. Those who had wet dreams during their sleep, woke up afraid that they might get killed in the battle without praying for they were impure and needed to wash their bodies, so it started raining and they all washed their bodies, performed ablution and prayed. They prepared themselves in ranks for the battle and it was then when the prophet gave them glad tidings of victory and that Allah has sent His angles to fight alongside the Muslims.
Amazingly Muslims won this battle in a miraculous way. The above verses were revealed after this battle as a commemoration of the incident, so that Muslims throughout the ages would remember that victory is not given for the stronger army, but it is given to those who have stronger faith. Allah grants His victory only to those who are pious and righteous.
Although the context is clear and the reason of revelation is written in all exegesis, some people twist the meaning of the verses to satisfy their own inclination and prejudice. If you compare the two preceding translations, you will instantly notice that the words placed between square brackets in the first translation given by Islam bashers is an addition not found in the Original Arabic wording of the Qur’an. Moreover, the incident itself was one of self defense against a much stronger and mightier army. It occured 100 Km away from Madinah, and 300 Km away from Makkah. Hence, Muslims were defending their new homeland against those who drove them out from their original one after having tortured and persecuted them for 13 years. The question here is: “What exactly is the way which “Islam haters” deem appropriate to deal with those unscrupulous invaders, lie on the ground and play dead?!”
The worst forgery of all, is when Islam haters trim out the words from amidst the verse and tamper with its translation to portray Muslims as a bunch of blood thirsty cannibals sitting above the bodies of their decapitated victims, and cutting off their fingers and toes. This is the instant image that anyone gets when reading the wrong forged translation, and the incomplete verse; while the complete context is actually ordering the fighters to either strike the enemies above the neck and kill them instantly, or strike at their fingertips in order to restrain them from attacking the Muslims. This is also why Prophet Muhammad said: “If you kill, make it a quick death.” And this is also how the prophet P.B.U.H. never killed anyone in all of his battles except one man, and it was in self defense during the battle of ‘Uhud, when the pagans attacked Madinah one year later. This was a sword fight for crying out loud, so what exactly is it that Muslims could have done, throw down their swords and deliver thunderous slaps on their enemies’ faces?! Even the context of the order itself was not directed to Muslims, but it is a narration of Allah’s orders to the angles whom He sent to support the Muslims’ army, and the verses were revealed to Muslims after the battle was over, this is why Allah is continuously saying “Remember.”
Written By: Ehab Shawky