The Battle Cry of the Qur'an
October 20, 2001
Since the tragic and deadly September 11th hijacking of American planes by militant Muslim terrorists, much discussion has taken place about Islamic ideals, goals and objectives. Many Muslims have been quick to condemn these attacks, and for this we are thankful. We are relieved that not all Muslims share the view that Gods cause is advanced through means of terrorist attacks and intimidation. However, this denouncement by non-militant Muslims demonstrates the division that exists in the Islamic world, and that has existed among them for centuries.
Most religious groups are divided among themselves, in their philosophical approach to their particular religious standard. Some are liberal and others are conservative. This division also exists in politics, economics, social policy, and in other areas. In religion, the liberals interpretive approach is less restrictive than that of the conservative. He does not take the standard so literally, nor bind it so rigidly as the conservative. Conversely, the conservative views the standard as being unchangeable and inflexible. I believe these two dissimilar approaches can be seen in the modern religion of Islam.
You may be wondering, Of what concern is this to non-Muslims? From what is taught in the Qur'an regarding carnal tactics in the advancement of Islam, I am convinced that it should be of vital interest and concern to every non-Muslim!
It has been reported by many in the news media, and explained by a great many religious and political pundits, that these horrific September, 2001 attacks were carried out by radical extremists who are not loyal to Mohammedan faith principles as taught in the Qur'an. Though it may be true that the actions of the terrorists do not represent the feelings of most Muslims, it is not true that their actions are in violation of the teachings of the Qur'an. Even a cursory reading of the book indicates otherwise. Though it requires more space and reading, I have included full contextual quotes from the Qur'an, so that the reader may be able to easily see that I have not misrepresented Mohammeds true intentions for his followers with regard to mortal combat.
Distinguishing Between Literal and Figurative Language
Before I begin with my exegesis of pertinent Qur'anic passages, I want it to be clear to the reader that I do appreciate the difference between literal and symbolic language. The rules of language dictate that the immediate and remote contexts of a particular word or phrase are what determine its meaning. For example, the New Testament speaks of fighting in the Lords cause. Paul told Timothy to Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life (1Timothy 6:12). The immediate context tells us how to conduct this fight. It speaks of fleeing materialism, pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness, and confessing the good confession (1 Tim. 6:11,12,13). Thus, like Pauls own good fight (2 Tim. 4:7), Timothys fight was a spiritual one, not a carnal one. This distinction is well illustrated in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Ephesians 6:10-17. Paul said, The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds Just as our weapons are not carnal, neither are the strongholds that we oppose. The apostle went on to describe these strongholds as being false ideas and concepts. Our duty is to demolish the false arguments that men make, not their physical lives (2 Cor. 10:5). Our sword is the sword of the Spirit, not one of shaped and sharpened steel (Eph. 6:17).
On one occasion the inhabitants of a particular Samaritan village refused to accept Christ. We then read, And when the His disciples James and John saw this, that said, Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did? But He turned and rebuked them, and said, You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy mens lives but to save them (Luke 9:51-56).
Jesus rebuked His disciples for their idea because His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. This is why His servants do not fight, with carnal weapons and tactics, nor wage a carnal war against others (John 18:36). A spiritual kingdom cannot be advanced or defended by carnal, physical, militant means.
The Fight of Islam
As you will see, the Qur˘anic passages that I have quoted in this article do not speak of a spiritual fight of faith. They use terms and phrases that make clear reference to physical war, bloodshed and death. This should not seem strange to us considering the bloody beginnings of Islam. After proclaiming himself to be the last of the prophets, and his message, the Qur˘an, the last revealed book, Mohammed and his followers were persecuted and driven from the city of Mecca. He eventually moved to Medina where he was given supreme authority. He then waged a successful war against the Meccans. Being victorious, he then proceeded to either expel or slaughter his opposition inside Medina and by 630 AD he became the most powerful leader in the Arab world.
Those who exalt Mohammed as their spiritual leader and the last prophet, exalt one who advanced his religious agenda by violence and bloodshed. His religion, Islam, was founded upon the practice of intimidation, coercion, and terror. Dissenters were not just avoided, they were massacred. Furthermore, the Qur˘an demands the eventual expansion of Islam into all the earth. Surely the true religion with ALLAH is Islam, and whoso seeks a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he shall be among the losers (Qur˘an 3:20,86). Followers are ordered to fight [transgressors] until there is no persecution, and religion is professed only for Allah (Qur˘an 2:194).
Many have said that Muslims are taught to fight only in self-defense. They are quick to quote the following from the Qur˘an:
And fight in the way of ALLAH against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely, ALLAH loves not the transgressors. (2:191)
Though this particular verse does speak of defensive fighting, the remainder of the passage seems to extend beyond this. Notice the following:
And slay these transgressors wherever you meet them and drive them out from where they have driven you out; for persecution is worst than slaying. And fight them not in and near the Sacred Mosque until they fight you therein. But if they fight you, then fight them. Such is the requital for the disbelievers.
"But if they desist, then surely, ALLAH is Most Forgiving, Merciful.
"And fight them until there is no persecution, and religion is professed only for ALLAH. But if they desist, then remember that no hostility is allowed except against the wrongdoers (Qur˘an 2:192-194).
It is easy to see why Muslims are divided over the question of carnal militancy. This last verse tells followers to fight until there is no persecution and religion is professed only for Allah. This certainly appears to go well beyond mere self-defense.
The Qur'an Against Opposition Leaders
For the same reason that Mohammed originally established his own Islamic government in Medina, many Muslims of today do not recognize any non-Islamic government as legitimate. Why would they think this? Read for yourself:
O ye people of the Book! Believe in what WE have now sent down, fulfilling that which is with you, before WE destroy some of your leaders and turn them on their backs or curse them as WE cursed the people of the Sabbath. And the decree of ALLAH is bound to be fulfilled.
"Surely, ALLAH will not forgive that a partner be associated with HIM; but HE will forgive whatever is short of that to whomsoever HE pleases. And whoso associates partners with ALLAH has indeed devised a very great sin (Qur˘an 4:48-49)
Leaders were to be turned on their backs because they had associated partners with Allah. Again, let us remember the immediate circumstances of the writing of the Qur˘an. There was bitter fighting between Mohammedan forces and other Arabs and Jews. In the above, Mohammed penned a text that would vindicate him in destroying his opposition. This particular verse gives the reason for Allahs alleged anger against these leaders. They had associated partners with Allah.
Concerning Associated Partners and the Godhood
This is a prominent theme throughout the Qur˘an. Condemnation after condemnation is pronounced against those who associate partners with Allah. Mohammed was referring to those who believe in the triune nature of the Godhead (Trinity). Muslims emphatically reject the notion that there is more than one person of God. Of course, the Bible speaks of God in 3 persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (John 1:1-2; Acts 5:3-4; Matt. 28:19; 1 John 5:7; Rom. 15:16). Observe what the Qur˘an says about this belief:
O People of the Book ! exceed not the limits in your religion, and say not of ALLAH anything but the truth. Verily, the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was only a Messenger of ALLAH, and a fulfillment of HIS word which HE has sent down to Mary, and a mercy from HIM. So believe in ALLAH and HIS Messengers, and say not, `They are three.' Desist, it will be better for you. Verily, ALLAH is the only One God. Holy is HE, far above having a son. To HIM belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. And sufficient is ALLAH as a guardian (Qur˘an 4:172).
Indeed, they are disbelievers who say, `ALLAH, HE is the Messiah, son of Mary,' whereas the Messiah himself said, `O Children of Israel, worship ALLAH Who is my Lord and your Lord.' Surely, whoso associates partners with ALLAH, him has ALLAH forbidden Heaven, and the Fire will be his resort. And the wrongdoers shall have no helpers.
"They surely disbelieve who say, `ALLAH is the third of three;' there is no god but the One God. And if they do not desist from what they say, a grievous punishment shall surely befall those of them that disbelieve (Qur˘an 5:73-74).
And they say, `ALLAH has taken to Himself a son.' Holy is HE! Nay, everything in the Heavens and the earth belongs to HIM. To HIM are all obedient (Qur˘an 2:217).
Note carefully. Those who say there are three persons of God, and those who say Jesus is God or Gods Son, and those who say Allah is a third of three, await a grievous punishment! By reading all of the above texts (4:48-49, 172; 5:73-74) a true believer of the Qur˘an is forced to conclude that leaders who affirm that God exists in three persons must be put on their backs. This is exactly what Mohammed did to such leaders.
Nay, ALLAH is your Protector, and HE is the Best of helpers.
"And WE shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved because they associate partners with ALLAH, for which HE has sent down no authority. Their abode is the Fire; and evil is the habitation of the wrongdoers (Qur˘an 3:151-152).
According to the Qur˘an, those who express belief in the Godhood are unbelievers whose abode is fire. The Qur˘an encourages its adherents to cast terror into the hearts of these who disbelieve. As we learned from the devastating September 11th, 2001 attacks on the WTC and Pentagon, religiously motivated terrorists are certainly successful in casting terror into the hearts of their religious and ideological opponents.
Have I Misinterpreted These Teachings?
Many will say that I have misinterpreted these passages, and that the Qur˘an limits these punitive measures to Allah. I wish my conclusions were wrong, however, I am afraid they are not. Consider the following:
Let those then fight in the cause of ALLAH who would sell the present life for the Hereafter. And whoso fights in the cause of ALLAH, be he slain or be he victorious, WE shall soon give him a great reward.
And why should you not fight in the cause of ALLAH and for the rescue of the weak men, women and children - who say, `Our Lord, take us out of this town whose people are oppressors, and give us a friend from Thyself and give us from Thyself a helper.'
Those who believe fight in the cause of ALLAH, and those who disbelieve fight in the cause of the Evil One. Fight ye therefore, against the friends of Satan; surely Satan's strategy is weak.
Hast thou not seen those to whom it was said : `Restrain your hands, observe Prayer, and pay the Zakát.' And when fighting is prescribed for them, behold a section of them fear men as they should fear ALLAH, or with still greater fear; and they say `Our Lord, why hast thou prescribed fighting for us ? Wouldst Thou not grant us respite yet a while ?' Say, `The benefit of this world is little and the Hereafter will be better for him who fears ALLAH; and you shall not be wronged a whit.'
Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you, even if you be in strongly built towers. And if some good befalls them, they say, `This is from ALLAH;' and if evil befalls them, they say, `This is from thee.' Say, `All is from ALLAH.' What has happened to these people that they would not try to understand anything?
Fight, therefore, in the way of ALLAH - thou art not made responsible except for thyself - and urge on the believers to fight. It may be that ALLAH will restrain the might of those that disbelieve; And ALLAH is stronger in might and stronger in inflicting punishment.
O ye who believe! Fight such of the disbelievers as are near to you and let them find hardness in you; and know that ALLAH is with the righteous.
Verily, ALLAH loves those who fight in HIS cause arrayed in solid ranks, as though they were a strong structure cemented with molten lead (Qur˘an 4:75-79, 85; 9:123; 61:5).
Fighting is prescribed by Allah! But what kind of fighting? This is very important. It should be very obvious to every honest reader that the fighting of these verses is physical, carnal warfare. For example, he speaks of selling this life for the hereafter. He speaks of being eternally rewarded because of being slain in battles for Allah. He speaks of rescuing weak men, women, and children. He criticizes those who urge others to restrain their hands (from fighting) and focus only on spiritual acts like prayer and paying the Zakát. He condemns those who fear men as they should fear Allah. He goes on to identify their fear as the fear of death. He also identifies this death as physical death. He tells them that since they will die one way or another, that they should, therefore, fight in the way of Allah. He tells them that if they will fight, perhaps Allah will restrain the might of their disbelieving enemies. How can this refer to anything but carnal warfare?
One reason for Mohammeds views about the use of physical combat in the advancement of Islam comes from his misconception about the end of the Mosaic age. From the following you can see that he used the example of fighting in Moses day to defend the practice in his day, and for future generations. He wrote:
And fight in the cause of ALLAH and know that ALLAH is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
Who is it that will lend ALLAH a goodly loan that HE may multiply it for him manifold? And ALLAH receives and enlarges. And to HIM shall you be made to return.
Hast thou not heard of the chiefs of the Children of Israel after Moses, when they said to a Prophet of theirs, `Appoint for us a king that we may fight in the way of ALLAH ?' He said, `It is not likely that you will not fight, if fighting is prescribe for you ?' They said, `What reason have we that we should not fight in the way of ALLAH when we have been driven forth from our homes and our sons ?' But when fighting was ordained for them, they turned back except a small number of them. And ALLAH knows the transgressors well (Qur˘an 2:245-247).
Mohammeds conclusion was that since God prescribed and ordained fighting for the Jews [in the conquering of Palestine, and in the punishment of godless nations], then his followers must fight as well! This is a terrible misuse of Moses example, and a dangerous misapplication of divine orders. We are not under those Old Testament instructions to go in and take possession of the land flowing with milk and honey. Those instructions were given to the Jews of old, and they were fulfilled under the leadership of Joshua. They were not given to Mohammed, and they are not intended for us today.
Why Do Muslims Fight Jews and Christians?
The Qur˘an answers this question quite clearly. I might point out that the expression, People of the Book, is found throughout the Qur˘an, and it refers to Jews and Christians. Notice what Muslims are to do with regard to them:
Fight those from among the people of the Book, who believe not in ALLAH, nor in the Last Day, nor hold as unlawful what ALLAH and HIS Messenger have declared to be unlawful, nor follow the true religion, until they pay the tax considering it a favour and acknowledge their subjection.
"And the Jews say, `Ezra is the son of ALLAH,' and the Christians say, `the Messiah is the son of ALLAH;' that is what they say with their mouths. They only imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before them. ALLAH's curse be on them! How they are turned away.
"If you will not go forth to fight in the cause of ALLAH, HE will punish you with a painful punishment, and will chose in your stead a people other than you, and you shall do HIM no harm at all. And ALLAH has full power over all things (Qur˘an 9:29,30,39).
Islam opposes Christians because they recognize Christ as being equal to God (Jn. 5:18; 10:30; 14:9; 12:45). The Qur˘an says, The case of Jesus is like the case of Adam. [God] created him out of dust (Qur˘an 3:60). The Bible describes Jesus is self-existent and eternal (Jn. 1:1-2; Heb. 1:10-12; 13:8). Islam opposes Judaism because it professes Moses and the prophets, but denies Mohammed. The Qur˘an also accuses the Jews of lying for their claim of slaying Jesus, the son of Mary. Islam contends that Christ was not really crucified (Qur˘an 4:158). The book also condemns the Jews for taking interest on loaned money (Qur˘an 4:162).
Primarily, however, Islam and the Qur˘an, are most critical of Jews and Christians because of their rejection of Mohammed as the last of the prophets.
Allahs Reward for Militancy
The Qur˘an frequently promises Allahs favor and reward to those who are slain in battle. Notice the following excerpts:
And if you are slain in the cause of ALLAH or you die, surely, forgiveness from ALLAH and mercy are better than what they hoard.
And if you die or be slain, surely unto ALLAH shall you be gathered together (Qur˘an 3:158-159).
Think not of those, who have been slain in the cause of ALLAH, as dead. Nay, they are living, in the presence of their Lord, and are granted gifts from HIM;
Jubilant because that which ALLAH has given them of HIS bounty; and rejoicing for the sake of those who have not yet joined them from behind them, because on them shall come no fear nor shall they grieve.
They rejoice at the favour of ALLAH and HIS bounty, and at the fact that ALLAH suffers not the reward of the believers to be lost (Qur˘an 3:170-172).
So their Lord answered their prayers, saying, `I will suffer not the work of any worker from among you, whether male or female, to be lost. You are from one another. Those, therefore, who have emigrated, and have been driven out of their homes, and have been persecuted for MY cause, and have fought and been slain, I will surely remit from them their evil deeds and will cause them to enter gardens through which streams flow - a reward from ALLAH, and with ALLAH is the best of rewards (Qur˘an 3:196).
Notice from the above verses, that forgiveness, mercy, fellowship, gifts, remission of sins, and heavenly reward, are promised to all who fight and are slain in mortal combat in the way of Allah.
The Qur'anic Death Wish
The Qur˘an also speaks of great reward for those who willingly sacrifice themselves in battles for Allah. Consider the following:
Do you suppose that you will enter Heaven while ALLAH has not yet caused to be distinguished those of you that strive in the way of ALLAH and has not yet caused to be distinguished the steadfast.
And you used to wish for such a death before you met it; now you have seen it face to face, then why do some of you seek to avoid it.
And Muhammad is but a messenger. Verily all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he dies or is slain, will you turn back on your heels ? And he who turns back on his heels shall not harm ALLAH at all. And ALLAH will certainly reward the grateful.
And no soul can die except by ALLAH's leave, - a decree with a fixed term. And whoever desires the reward of the present world, WE will give him thereof; and whoever desires the reward of the Hereafter, WE will give him thereof; and WE will surely reward the grateful.
And many a Prophet there has been beside whom fought numerous companies of their followers. They slacken not for aught that befell them in the way of ALLAH nor did they weaken, nor did they humiliate themselves before the enemy. And ALLAH loves the steadfast.
And they uttered not a word except that they said, `Our Lord forgive us our sins and our excesses in our conduct, and make firm our steps and help us against the disbelieving people.
So ALLAH gave them the reward of this world, and also an excellent reward of the Hereafter; and ALLAH loves those who do good (Qur˘an 3:143-149).
The above passage demonstrates why Muslims are divided over the practice of suicide. Some passages seem to warn against suicide. However, under the circumstances described in this particular passage, a devoted follower of Mohammed may commit suicide while combating anti-Islamic sentiment, and receive an excellent reward in the hereafter. That is, he is rewarded for wishing for death in the cause of Islam. I believe we have just seen some of these death wishes executed right here in our own country on September 11th, 2001.
Islamic Military Tactics
In the Qur˘an, Mohammed dealt with far more than just spiritual rights and services. He was an experienced and effective military leader, and he taught his skills and logistical tactics to his followers. He recognized the importance of both physical and financial support. He repeatedly instructed followers to fight with their wealth and with their lives. Consider the following:
Go forth, light or heavy, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the cause of ALLAH. That is best for you, if only you knew (Qur˘an 9:41)
Those who believe in ALLAH and the Last Day will not ask leave of thee to be exempted from striving with their wealth and their persons. And ALLAH well knows those who keep their duty to HIM (Qur˘an 9:44).
Surely, ALLAH has purchased of the believers their persons and their property in return for the heavenly Garden they shall have; they fight in the cause of ALLAH, and they slay and are slain - an unfailing promise that HE has made binding on Himself in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Qur'an. And who is more faithful to his promise than ALLAH ? Rejoice, then, in your bargain which you have made with HIM; and that is the mighty triumph. (Qur˘an 9:111).
Those familiar with war and military tactics know what are the fundamental requirements for conducting a successful military campaign. They are personnel and provisions. Mohammed sought to rally support, not just in terms of fighters, but also in terms of financial backing. He understood the concept of logistical support.
Furthermore, he knew quite well, the value of military intelligence. Notice these words from the Qur˘an:
When you go forth to fight in the cause of ALLAH, make proper investigation and say not to anyone who greets you with the greeting of peace, Thou art not a believer.' You seek the goods of this life, but with ALLAH are good things in plenty. Such were you before this, but ALLAH conferred His special favour on you; so do make proper investigation. Surely, ALLAH is Aware of what you do (Qur˘an 4:95).
Mohammed told his fighters to make proper investigation. He emphasized that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish your friends from your enemies. The possession of material goods may not necessarily mean that the person is your enemy. This is quite interesting considering the turn of events that resulted in vast wealth being concentrated in Arab nations. The combustion engine created a high demand for oil, and several of the Arab countries have been well situated to take advantage of the high oil demand.
Another of Mohammeds strategies was to send out parties into various parts of the earth for search and reconnaissance. He wrote:
It is not possible for the believers to go forth all together. Why, then, does not a party from every section of them go forth that they may become well-versed in religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may guard against evil.
O ye who believe! Fight such of the disbelievers as are near to you and let them find hardness in you; and know that ALLAH is with the righteous (Qur˘an 9:122-123).
Remember, we have already observed from other passages that Mohammeds idea of fighting disbelievers involved far more than just a war of words. In his mind, religion and carnal warfare were wholly connected. Whereas, we might think of investigating other religious beliefs for the purpose of learning and teaching, Mohammed encouraged such in connection with fighting. I am hopeful that the reader will recall all of the recent discussion about terrorist "cell" groups in connection with the above.
As I indicated at the beginning of this study, not all Muslims believe that Islam encourages, or even approves the use of deadly force in the defense and/or spread of Islam. However, no one can successfully deny that Mohammed approved of such. His political and religious power was purchased with the blood of his allies and his adversaries. His book, the Qur˘an, unequivocally sanctions the use of carnal methods in fighting the opposition. Contrary to this approach, the Bible disapproves the use of force in either defending or advancing the Lords kingdom (Matt. 26:52; Jn. 18:36; 2 Cor. 10:3-5). The Bible says vengeance belongs to God and that we are to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:19-21). This is in stark contrast with what we have read in the Qur˘an. I urge the reader to build his faith on the Bible, not on the uninspired and contradictory teachings of a self-proclaimed prophet.