In this post, I shall finalize explaining the Qur’anic verses ordering Muslims to fight. I know that it has been a long journey for those reading this series of posts, but that’s quiet it, the verses I shall tackle in this post are the only remaining Qur’anic verses speaking about combative Jihad. But beware, if you haven’t read some of the previous posts tackling this issue, you won’t be able to understand this one. Hence, whenever a previous post is mentioned, kindly open and read it first before you continue. If you have already read the post mentioned, then skim read it again for a quick refresh.
I shall continue with chapter 9 of the Qur’an. Allah says:
“Fight those from among the People of the Book who believe neither in Allah, nor in the judgment Day, nor declare as unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have declared to be unlawful, and those who do not follow the true faith until they pay the Jizyah with their own hands in submission without protesting.” [The Qur’an (9:29)].
The verse is referring to a certain sect from among the people of the book. Unlike what Muslim extremists, and many non-Muslims propagate, this verse is not speaking about all Jews and Christians, they are clearly targeting a certain sect; this is made manifest as Allah says “…from among the People of the Book…” The verses are not indefinite, and this is why Allah identifies the sect intended by numerating their attributes. Some people fail to understand how come that Allah describes this sect from among the Jews and Christians as not to believe in Him, and why should they declare unlawful what Prophet Muhammad declared unlawful if they don’t believe in his prophethood! That’s a justified question, its answer is in my previous post Verse 5:51 Unfurled.
Mujahed Ibn-Jabr said about this particular verse in his recorded explanations, “It was revealed referring to the incident when the prophet was preparing an army to ward off the Romans’ invasion at Tabuk.” Mujahed (21-104 A.H.) was one of the earliest authorities in transferring the companions’ understanding of the Qur’an. He learned at the hands of the most knowledgeable companions. His main teacher was the prophet’s cousin ‘Abdullah Ibn-‘Abbās (nick named: The Qur’an’s exegete). Throughout most of his life, he lived and taught until his departure in Makkah.
When Prophet Muhammad was asked about the Magians and people of other religions, he ordered that they should be treated like their fellow citizens from the people of the book. As explained earlier in Roots of “JIHAD” Part V, Roots of “JIHAD” Part VI & Roots of “JIHAD” Part VII (The first half), both Romans and Persians were preparing to invade Arabia and destroy the rising civilization in its cradle. They felt threatened when some of their deputies on important cities and countries embraced Islam. Jizyah was demanded only from those who were physically and financially able to contribute in fighting for their countries, but refused to fight alongside their Muslim fellow-citizens. If those people refuse to pay the little amounts prescribed in Roots of “JIHAD” Part VI, and turned their backs on their fellow citizens at hazardous times, then by all means they are traitors and should be fought against until they pay the Jizyah and submit humbly to the public welfare of the community. As for those who would ride out with Muslims and contribute in defending the country, Jizyah was not demanded from them, nor were they blamed in any way. Hence, this fighting was not on account of faith.
Then the verses continue to say:
And the Jews said: ‘Ezra is the son of Allah,’ and the Christians said: ‘The Messiah is the son of Allah.’ These are but their baseless utterances. They imitate the assertions made in earlier times by those who denied the truth, may Allah fight them (i.e. cause their teachings to fail) How far astray they have been led! They have taken their learned men and their monks for their lords besides Allah. So have they taken the Messiah, son of Mary, although they were commanded to worship only One God, there is no deity but He. He is far exalted above whatever they set up as His partners! They want to extinguish Allah’s light with their mouths, but Allah shall perfect His light, no matter how those who deny the truth may abhor it. It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of Truth, so that He may make it prevail over every other religion, no matter how much the polytheists may hate this. O Believers, many rabbis and monks wrongfully appropriate people’s possessions and turn people away from Allah’s path! Tell those who hoard gold and silver instead of spending it for Allah’s cause that they will have a painful punishment.” [The Qur’an (9:30-34)]
These verses describe and dispraise the subjection of “MEN OF GOD.” Those so-called scholars who used to subjugate people to their understandings and whoever deviated from their way, found the famous list of accusations waiting: heresy, apostasy, innovation, infidelity, etc… Thereafter, it was either the cross, the stake, or in some cases an axe, after a long disgusting procedure of torment. Those people are not only Jews or Christians, but there are even some Muslim scholars who followed that same path. In my previous post “Power & Religion Symbiosis” I tackled this issue and stated that: a true scholar is the one who teaches his listeners the importance of intellect and how to use their reason, not the one who wants to create from them duplicated copies of himself. Unfortunately, through centuries of subjection, laymen among people of the book inherited twisted forms of their pure religions, their preachers started teaching alien dogmas and doctrines that were never preached by any of the prophets. In short, they surrendered their reason and common sense to false monks and rabbis. This is exactly what Muslim extremists also do: they submit their reasoning to false sheikhs. There are hundreds of examples on this, but most people close their eyes and refuse to see it. I have always admired Khalil Gibran’s writings, he was a faithful Christian, but he had always written against this kind of subjection.
As explained in “Roots of “JIHAD” Part V”, throughout centuries, many of those fancy religious figures have divided and separated the nations into groups and sects, and filled them with hatred against each other. The emanating attitude resulting from their teachings, the unnecessary wars, and millions of killed people, stand as evidence on how far astray they have gone. Our religious differences should be dealt with in an academic highly respectable manner. Those who have knowledge are not warders over people, their duty is to convey their point of view and submit their evidences, then it’s up to every person to decide what’s more truthful and worthy of his/her acceptance. Those who use their high stature to subjugate others are fighting against the purpose for which we were created. Read “Roots of “JIHAD” Part III” to fully understand this issue.
The above verses of chapter 9 hold the following injunction:
- Fight against those among your non-Muslim citizens who refuse to contribute in the defense of their countries and they refuse to pay the Jizyah until they pay it and submit humbly to the public welfare.
Later on in the same chapter Allah says:
“O Believers, Fight against those deniers of the truth who are next to you. Deal firmly with them. Know that Allah is with those who fear Him.” [The Qur’an (9:123)]
This verse is speaking about the neighboring non-Muslims countries or forces that threaten the safety of the Muslim lands. The prophet rode out to fight against the forces that were preparing to attack Muslims in Hejaz. This was the case of the Romans who were preparing to invade Hejaz, and so was it the case of the Persians who were lurking to subjugate ‘Oman, Yemen and Bahrain again. If Muslims didn’t ride out to meet their huge armies at the borders, there wouldn’t have been a place called Arabia today. This was the occasion of revelation as given by companion ‘Abdullah Ibn-‘Omar, and Imam Al-Hassan Al-Basry of the 2nd generation. On the other hand, companion ‘Abdullah Ibn-‘Abbās said that this verse was referring to the treacherous Jewish and Pagan Arab tribes living inside Arabia. Logically, both opinions complete each other. All nations, including Muslims, must secure their homelands and its borders at all times and fight against those who lurk to attack them therein. Securing the borders of any country is mandatory for the safety of the community.
The above verse of chapter 9 holds the following injunction:
- Secure your homelands and its borders, and fight against those who lurk to attack you therein.
After Muslims succeeded in stopping the Romans from invading Arabia, the Romans were enraged. When they knew that their agent on the City of Ma’an in Southern Sham embraced Islam, they had him crucified. This was a threat to anyone who would dare embrace Islam from among the people of Sham, and this was the kind of subjection referred to earlier and criticized by the Qur’anic verses. When the news reached the prophet, he organized a military expedition under the command of companion ‘Usamah Ibn-Zayd. He ordered ‘Usamah to reach the neighboring cities of Southern Sham. His aim was to tell the Romans that Muslims won’t tolerate any more tyranny or subjection from their side. The second purpose of this expedition was to root the sense of confidence in the Muslims’ hearts and make them realize that Allah’s victory is surely granted to those who are righteous. The third purpose was to tell the natives living in Sham under the Roman occupation that their freedom is close by.
Two months before the above incident, the archangel delivered to the prophet a very small chapter consisting of 3 short verses in which Allah tells him: “When Allah’s help and victory has come, and you see the people entering Allah’s religion in multitudes, then glorify your Lord with His praise and seek His forgiveness. He is always ready to accept repentance.” [The Qur’an (110)].
When Prophet Muhammad received these verses, he knew that it was time to return to his Creator. He performed pilgrimage in Makkah and delivered a short sermon. Among what he said: “O people! Listen to what I say. I do not know whether I will ever meet you at this place once again after this year. It is unlawful for you to shed the blood of one another or take unlawfully the fortunes of one another. They are as unlawful as shedding blood on such a sacred day as today and in such a sacred month as this month and in such a sacred city as this city.”
Preparing the expedition of ‘Usamah was the last thing the prophet did before his departure. The prophet died a few days later in the 3rd month of the 11th year A.H. After his departure, his companions carried forward his message. They liberated Sham from the Roman occupation, and Iraq from the Persian occupation. This led to a very long arduous struggle between Muslims and the two empires. Although in most battles Muslims were outnumbered and less prepared, Allah granted them victory like He has promised His messenger.
Among the famous fierce battles that took place, are the following ones:
(Battle of Yarmouk: 30,000 Muslims against 120,000 Byzantines),
(Battle of Al-Qādisiyyah: 25,000 Muslims against 80,000 Persians),
(Battle of Walaja: 15,000 Muslims against 30,000 Persians),
(Battle of ‘Ullais: Less than 15,000 Muslims against 40,000 Persians),
(Battle of Nahawand: 30,000 Muslims against 150,000 Persians),
(Battle of Firaz: About 13,000 Muslims against over 60,000 combined forces of the Byzantine Roman Empire, Sassanid Persian Empire, and Christian Arabs),
(Battle of Ajnadayn: 20,000 Muslims against 80,000 Byzantines).
Many of the prophet’s famous companions died in these battles. What could have possibly made them lead battles like these one after another? They were never tentative. They never said for instance, ‘We were lucky in the previous battle but we might not be lucky in the next one.’ Actually they never hesitated to enter any battle no matter what, for they believed that one way or the other they shall be victorious. The Qur’an teaches the concept of vicegerency, it teaches that Man is Allah’s vicegerent on earth, it is his task to establish justice, rectify what’s wrong and protect those who are weak and persecuted. Sincere faith in these teachings is what pushed the early generations towards fighting against all sorts of subjection, tyranny, occupation and injustice. Again, this is the meaning of striving for the cause of Allah or Jihad. About those who die for such cause, Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Allah has bought from the believers their lives and their wealth in return for heaven’s paradise. They fight for the cause of Allah and they kill and are killed. It is a promise binding on Him in the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur’an, and who is truer to his promise than Allah? Rejoice then in the bargain you have made. That is the supreme achievement.” [The Qur’an (9:111)]
“Think not of those who are killed while striving for the cause of Allah as dead. Nay, they live, finding their provision in the presence of their Lord, They rejoice in what Allah bestowed upon them of His bounty, and await those who have not yet joined them and left behind: on them, there is no fear, nor would they grieve. They rejoice in the Grace and bounty of Allah, and with the fact that Allah would not let the reward of believers be lost. Those who answered the call of Allah and the prophet, after being afflicted, for those of them who do right and refrain from wrong is a great reward. Those unto whom the people said: ‘Verily, A great army is gathered against you, so fear them’: But this [only] increased their Faith and they said: ‘For us Allah suffices, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs.’ So they returned with Grace and bounty from Allah. No harm touched them, for they followed the good pleasure of Allah, and Allah is the Lord of bounties unbounded. It is only satan that instigates you to fear his votaries. Fear them not, but fear Me, if you are true believers.” [The Qur’an (22:16-17)].
For complete unbiased understanding, kindly read my previous posts:
Roots of “JIHAD” Part I Roots of “JIHAD” Part II Roots of “JIHAD” Part III
Roots of “JIHAD” Part IV Roots of “JIHAD” Part V Roots of “JIHAD” Part VI
Roots of “JIHAD” Part VII Roots of “JIHAD” Part VIII
Written By: Ehab Shawky