Defensive War in the Holy Quran in 600 Words

coexist II

By Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

When the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, claimed Monotheism in the polytheistic society of Mecca they turned against him and he and his followers had to face persecution for 13 long years. He migrated to Medina but the Meccans did not leave him alone there and attacked Medina, it was in these circumstances that the following verses were revealed:

Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged — and Allah indeed has power to help them — Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ — And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques. (Al Quran 22:40-41)

By mentioning Churches and Synagogues before Mosques, the revelation was laying the foundation of genuine religious freedom for the whole of humanity. These verses were revealed around 624 CE and these teachings through the practices of Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, in Arabia laid foundation of freedoms that were put into action by Umar Farooq, may Allah be pleased with him, in Jerusalem in 638 CE, when he took control of Jerusalem, after a relatively bloodless siege by the Muslim army.

The Quranic teachings about dealing with defensive war are black and white, if you are not wearing colored glasses.  In the second chapter the Quran is describing a state of defensive war, for the Muslims, as it highlights need to take every opportunity for peace, note the emphasis, on the word ‘desist,’ mentioned twice in the verses below:

And fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely, Allah loves not the transgressors.
And kill them wherever you meet them and drive them out from where they have driven you out; for persecution is worse than killing. 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 freely professed for Allah. But if they desist, then remember that no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors.
The violation of a Sacred Month should be retaliated in the Sacred Month; and for all sacred things there is the law of retaliation. So, whoso transgresses against you, punish him for his transgression to the extent to which he has transgressed against you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.  (Al Quran 2:191-195)

In the above verses Allah has also laid down the principle of proportionate punishment for any offence, from petty crime to terrorism to a world war.

Now let me describe the essence of the message of the Holy Quran towards people of other faiths. Allah wants us to be kind and nice to them, except those who are belligerent and want to make us homeless:

Allah forbids you not, respecting those who have not fought against you on account of your religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes, that you be kind to them and act equitably towards them; surely Allah loves those who are equitable.
Allah only forbids you, respecting those who have fought against you on account of your religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and have helped others in driving you out, that you make friends of them, and whosoever makes friends of them — it is these that are the transgressors. (Al Quran 60:9-10)

49 replies

  1. War is something that is declared by a state. If an individual takes law into his or her own hand, for whatever reason that is called murder, pure and simple.

    In Defense of Defensive War Permitted in the Holy Quran

    Here are some additional verses to support the thesis that there is only defensive war in Islam:

    And if they break their oaths after their covenant, and attack your religion, then fight these leaders of disbelief — surely, they have no regard for their oaths — that they may desist.

    Will you not fight a people who have broken their oaths, and who plotted to turn out the Messenger, and they were the first to commence hostilities against you? Do you fear them? Nay, Allah is most worthy that you should fear Him, if you are believers. (Al Quran 9:12-13)

    Except those who are connected with a people between whom and you there is a pact, or those who come to you, while their hearts shrink from fighting you or fighting their own people. And if Allah had so pleased, He would have given them power over you, then they would have surely fought you. So, if they keep aloof from you and fight you not, and make you an offer of peace, then remember that Allah has allowed you no way of aggression against them. (Al Quran 4:90/91)

    And make ready for them whatever you can of armed force and of mounted pickets at the frontier, whereby you may frighten the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you know not, but Allah knows them. And whatever you spend in the way of Allah, it shall be repaid to you in full and you shall not be wronged.

    And if they incline towards peace, incline thou also towards it, and put thy trust in Allah. Surely, it is He Who is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.

    And if they intend to deceive thee, then surely Allah is sufficient for thee. He it is Who has strengthened thee with His help and with the believers. (Al Quran 8:60-62/61-63)

    Suggested Reading

    You don’t need to look much further than the Quran for proof that Islam is a peaceful religion

    Also see the section Treaties and Treaty Peoples, in the Study Quran, by Syed Hossein Nasr pages 1809-1816.

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  3. Here are the concluding two paragraphs by Caner K Dagli, PhD. from Princeton University in Near Eastern studies, who is now assistant professor in Religious Studies at the college of the Holy Cross, Conquest and Conversion, War and Peace in the Quran, from his essay, which is included in the recent commentary by Seyyed Hossein Nasr:

    In regulating war, Islamic Law does not espouse belligerence, any more than regulating sexuality encourages licentiousness. Yet Islam’s ideal of peace does not make it pacifist, and thus a proper understanding depends on avoiding the extremes of viewing Islam as an inherently warlike religion or of trying to portray it as a quietist one. Rather, its ideal is the establishment of harmony based on justice to the extent possible. The Islamic rules of war and peace have been followed throughout Islamic history with varying degrees of success, and in a minority of cases were openly violated, but anecdotal evidence of such cases should not distract from the Quranic sources and principles codified later in the legal tradition and followed in most instances in Islamic history.

    Many Muslim jurists have conceived the fundamental objectives of Islamic Law to be the maintenance and protection of life, religion, mind, lineage or dignity, and property, and they view these five as indispensable rights that individuals need in order to live within a just society. As part of Islamic Law, the rules governing the use of force are directed toward those very same principles and are constrained by them. These principles prohibit Muslims from becoming brutal aggressors, without leaving them defenseless in the face of danger or attack, thus preserving and protecting these fundamental rights, and are predicated upon the striving for justice, the protection of innocents, and the acceptance of other religions. This is the least, and the most, that can be expected from any law when it comes to war.

  4. ==Defensive War in the Holy Quran in 600 Words==

    The State of Afghanistan declare war to Uni Soviet and then to USA.

    Do you think that Taliban has been defanding Islam to fight infidel USA?

    As well ISIS ( Islamic State of .. ) has been defanding Islam ?
    What do you respond Zia?

    With love❤️


    Islam become a dilemma, one side Islam is a religion of peace and Mercy, on other hand, Islam is a religion of violence and then become terrorist as we see on the ground. This fact cannot be denied it.

    Both group of Islam have the same books as guidance.
    Both sides are claiming we are the true followers of Allah and the sunnah, and ready to defand Islam with blood and life.

    Islamic State of Iraq and Taliban have been destroying and soon will be defeated withAllah Will.
    But the NEW Extremist groups as second generation are growing up in Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other Islamic countries.
    One day they will become terrorist organization like Isis, Taliban with different name or label.

    These extremist spread hatred and histility toward Ahmadiyya, Christisn ( USA) and Jews ( Zionist) etc. Like ISIS and Taliban.
    They use the same violent verses from Al Quran and Hadith. They say; we are defanding Islam from enemy of Islam ( Jews, Christian, Ahmadiyya, Shiah atheist etc)


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