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Suratul Baqarah: Verse 190-194

(١٩٠) وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ

(١٩١) وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَخْرِجُوهُم مِّنْ حَيْثُ أَخْرَجُوكُمْ ۚ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَشَدُّ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ ۚ وَلَا تُقَاتِلُوهُمْ عِندَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ حَتَّىٰ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِيهِ ۖ فَإِن قَاتَلُوكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوهُمْ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ جَزَاءُ الْكَافِرِينَ

(١٩٢) فَإِنِ انتَهَوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

(١٩٣) وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّىٰ لَا تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ لِلَّهِ ۖ فَإِنِ انتَهَوْا فَلَا عُدْوَانَ إِلَّا عَلَى الظَّالِمِينَ

(١٩٤) الشَّهْرُ الْحَرَامُ بِالشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ وَالْحُرُمَاتُ قِصَاصٌ ۚ فَمَنِ اعْتَدَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ فَاعْتَدُوا عَلَيْهِ بِمِثْلِ مَا اعْتَدَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ

And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you and do not exceed the limits. Verily, Allah loves not those who exceed the limit. (190)

And kill them wherever you find them and drive them out from whence they drove you out; and mischief (disbelief) is more grievous than slaughter; and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you therein; but if they do fight you than slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers. (191)

But if they desist, then verily Allah is forgiving, Merciful. (192)

And fight with them until there is no (more) mischief (disbelief), and religion be only for Allah; but if they desist then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors. (193)

The sacred month for the sacred month and reprisal (is lawful) in all sacred things; whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict the like aggression on him as he has inflicted on you,. and fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil). (194)

And spend in the way of Allah and cast not yourselves into perdition with your own hands; and do good; verily Allah loves those who do good. (195)

General Comment

The context of the verses shows that they were revealed together. The whole talk has only one aim; permission, for the first time, of fighting with the polytheists of Mecca.

These verses refer to driving them out from whence they drove the believers out, to disbelief and to reprisal; they prohibit fighting with them at the Sacred Mosque unless they fight the believers in it.

All these matters were connected with the polytheists of Mecca. Also, the sentence: fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, deserves more attention. It is not a condition, i.e., it does not mean, ‘‘fight with them if they fight with you’’.

Nor is it a restrictive clause (as some people think) meaning, ‘‘fight with the men, and not with their women and children who are not in a position to fight with you’’, because nobody ‘‘fights’’ with those who are unable to fight back.

Had it been the aim of the sentence, it would have been proper to say ‘‘do not kill them’’. Therefore, the words those who fight with you only refer to a fact — fight those who are presently engaged in fighting against you. And it points to the polytheists of Mecca.

The verses have the same significance as the following verses:

Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made, for they have been oppressed, and most surely Allah is able to help them; those who have been expelled from their homes without a just cause except that they say, Our Lord is Allah (22:39—40).

These verses also contain the initial (but unconditional) permission to fight with the fighting polytheists.

These five verses together promulgate a single law covering all its limits and details.

And fight in the way of Allah is the basic law; and do not exceed the limit puts disciplinary restriction on it; And kill them. wherever you find them defines the limits of pressure; and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you therein puts a restriction according to the place; and fight with them until there is no more mischief (dis-belief) shows its duration; The sacred month for the sacred month, and reprisal (is lawful) in all sacred things explains that this legislation is based on the principle of retaliation in fighting and killing, it is paying them in their own coin; And spend in the way of Allah makes the believers responsible for the financial preparations for war: they must spend for their own preparation and for that of others.

Therefore, it seems that all the five verses were sent down together about one subject. It is wrong to say (as some have done) that some of these verses abrogate the others; or that they were revealed separately on different occasions. In fact, the aim of all these verses is one: permission to fight against the polytheists of Mecca who were fighting the believers.

Commentary

Qur’an: And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you:

qital (القـتال) means attempting to kill someone who is attempting to kill you. This fight was in the way of Allah because its aim was to establish the religion and to raise the belief of monotheism.

It was an act of worship done to gain the favour of Allah, and not to usurp the property of people or to damage their dignity. War in Islam is basically defensive; it protects the right of humanity sanctioned by nature, as will be explained later.

Defence is by nature a limited venture; that is why Allah said soon after this permission, and do not exceed the limit.

Qur’an: and do not exceed the limit. Verily, Allah loves not those who exceed the limit:

i‘tida’ (الاعتداء) means going beyond the boundary. The Arabs say ‘ada (عدا) and i‘tada (اعتدی) when someone goes beyond the boundary.

This prohibitory order is general and covers all the situations where one may be said to exceed the limit, like fighting someone before calling him to follow the path of truth, or starting a war, or killing women and children, or not desisting from war when ordered; its other examples are explained in the traditions of the Prophet.

Qur’an: And kill them wherever … than slaughter thiqafah (ثقافة) means ‘‘to find’’.

This sentence is similar to the verse:

then slay the polytheists wherever you find them (9:6).

Fitnah (الفـتنة) is the means of testing a thing. It is also used for the test itself as well as its related things like difficulty and hardship. It is also used for punishment, and the crimes and sins which bring that punishment in their wake, like polytheism, disbelief and going astray. The Qur’an has used this word in various places in all these meanings.

In this verse the word means ascribing a partner to Allah and disbelieving in His Messenger and persecuting and oppressing the Messenger of Allah and the believers as was done by the polytheists of Mecca before and after the Hijrah.

The verse says: Put the utmost pressure on the polytheists by killing them wherever they are found until they are compelled to go out of their town and emigrate from their land, as they did to you.

And whatever they did to you was more grievous, because it was simply a mischief and an act of infidelity; and mischief and infidelity are more grievous than killing.

Killing only terminates the life of this world while infidelity terminates this life as well as the next one and destroys both worlds.

Qur’an: and do not fight with them … recompense of the disbelievers.

It prohibits fighting with them at the Sacred Mosque (Masjidu ’l -Haram), to protect its sanctity, as long as they respect that sanctity. Therein refers to the Sacred Mosque.

Qur’an: Then if they desist, then verily Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Intiha’ (الانتهاء) means to desist from, to abstain from. If they desist means ‘‘if they desist from fighting near the Sacred Mosque’’, because the sentence is mentioned immediately after that topic.

It does not mean desisting from fighting altogether by accepting Islam and obeying its commands. However this topic comes soon after it and then Allah will refer to it in these words, but if they desist then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors.

Thus the two sentences refer to two completely different matters, and there is no repetition.

Then verily Allah is forgiving, Merciful. This sentence puts the cause in the place of the effect. The full meaning is: ‘‘But if they desist from fighting at the Sacred Mosque, then you must desist from it, because Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.’’

Qur’an: And fight with them until there is no more mischief (disbelief) and the religion be only for Allah.

This defines the time-limit of the fighting. Fitnah (الفـتنة) (translated here as‘ disbelief ’ and ‘mischief ’) means here ‘ascribing a partner to Allah and worshipping idols’, as was the custom of the polytheists of Mecca, who compelled others to do likewise.

This meaning is inferred from the next sentence, and religion be only for Allah. This verse is similar to the verse:

And fight with them until there is no mischief (disbelief), and the religion be only for Allah; but if they desist, then verily Allah sees what they do. And if they turn back, then know that Allah is your Master; The Most Excellent Master and the Most Excellent Helper (8:39-40).

This verse shows that it is obligatory to call them to the right path before the war. If they accept the call, there will be no fighting; but if they reject it then there is no Master except Allah, and He is the most excellent Master and the most excellent Helper; He helps his believing servants.

It is known that fighting is prescribed so that the religion be only for Allah. Such a fighting cannot be started until the adversaries are first invited to come onto the right path, i.e. the religion based upon monotheism.

Some people wrote that this verse was abrogated by the verse:

Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, from among those who were given the Book, until they pay the jizyah (tributory tax) with their hand while they are in a state of subjection (9:29).

But there is no question of either verse abrogating the other, because they deal with different subjects. The verse under discussion is, as explained earlier, about the Meccan polytheists and does not cover the People of the Book who are referred to inverse 9:29.

And the religion be only for Allah means that idol-worship be abolished and the oneness of Allah be accepted. The people of the Book do believe in One Creator.

We know their belief is in reality disbelief as Allah says that they:

do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth.

But Islam is content with their mere profession of monotheism. Fighting with them was ordained not to make them believe in monotheism, but simply so that they might pay tribute to the Muslims, thus raising the true creed above their creed and making Islam victorious over all religions.

Qur’an: but if they desist then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors.

If they desist from disbelief in what you believe in, then cease fighting with them, because there is no hostility except against the oppressors.

In this verse also, the cause has been mentioned in place of the effect. Instead of saying ‘‘then cease fighting with them’’ it points out the cause that there should be no hostility except against the oppressors. It is like the verse:

But if they repent and establish the prayer and pay the zakat, then they are your brethren in faith (9:11).

Qur’an: The sacred month for the sacred month and reprisal (is lawful) in all sacred things.

Hurumat (sacred things, الحرمات) refers to the sanctity of the sacred month, the sanctity of the ‘‘boundary’’ (haram) of Mecca, and the sanctity of the Sacred Mosque.

If the Meccan polytheists disregard the sanctity of the sacred month by fighting in it — and they did violate its sanctity when they prevented the Prophet and his companions from pilgrimage (‘umrah) in the years of Hudaybiyah (6 A.H.), and attacked them with arrows and stones — then the believers are allowed to fight them in that month and it would not be deemed disrespectful towards it.

The believers are fighting in the way of Allah and are obeying His Command to raise up His word. Like-wise, if the infidels violate the sanctity of the boundary of Mecca or the Sacred Mosque by fighting in it or in that area then the believers may hit back at them in that place and that area.

The sacred month for the sacred month describes a particular example, followed by a general observation, and reprisal (is lawful) in all sacred things.

This in its turn is followed by even more general principle, whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict the like aggression on him as he has inflicted on you.

The meaning, thus, will be: Allah has sanctioned reprisal in the sacred month because He has sanctioned it for all sacred things. And He has sanctioned reprisal for all sacred things because He has made it lawful for His servants to inflict aggression equal to the aggression inflicted upon them.

Then He exhorts them to remain steadfastly cautious when inflicting aggression in reprisal, lest they trespass the limit. After all, punishing an oppressor seems sweet, and all animal instincts are roused when one is engaged in taking revenge.

There are more chances of deviation from justice, by the use of excessive force, and by disregard of the limits put by the religion. But the fact has already been mentioned that Allah loves not those who exceed the limit.

And the believers are most in need of the love of Allah, His patronage and His help. Therefore, they are told to fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).

The question arises: Why Allah sanctioned acting aggressively when He does not love those who act aggressively (or, as translated above, exceed the limit)?

Of course, acting aggressively is to be condemned, but only when it is not in response to an aggression. But if it is in reprisal of an aggression, then it is not ‘‘exceeding the limit’’ or ‘‘acting aggressively’’.

It is defending one-self from degradation, and liberating oneself from the fetters of slavery, oppression and injustice. It is like showing pride before a proud man, or the open utterance of evil in speech by the one who has been wronged.

Qur’an: And spend in the way of Allah and cast not yourselves into perdition with your own hands.

It is the command to spend wealth for waging war in the way of Allah. The clause, in the way of Allah attached to ‘‘spending’’ has the same significance as when attached to ‘‘fighting’’ in 2:190.

‘‘With your hands’’ (biaydikum, بایدیکم); with (b…, ب) here is extra, added for emphasis. The meaning is ‘‘and cast not your hands in perdition’’.

The hand is a symbol of power, ability and strength; and the verse says: do not nullify or waste your strength by not spending money in preparation for war.

Another interpretation: ‘‘with’’ (b… ب) signifies the cause or means; and the object of the verb is yourselves (anfusakum, انفسکم) which is deleted but understood. Accordingly, the meaning will be as translated above: and cast not yourselves into perdition with your own hands.

Tahlukah (التّهلکة) and hilak (الهلاک) are synonymous; both mean to perish, to fall in perdition. When man becomes in such a condition that he does not know where he is, this word is used.

Tahlukah (التّهلکة) is with the paradigm of taf‘ulah (تفعله). There is no other infinitive verb in Arabic with this paradigm.

The order is, anyhow, general; and it prohibits any commission or omission which may cause perdition, whether it is on the side of excess or deficiency.

For example, miserliness and avarice when preparing for war would weaken the fighters and make the army of Islam the target of the enemy, and many would be killed.

On the other hand, extravagance in expenditure would bring poverty and misery to such a spender, degrade him in society and make life unbearable. Both these actions are prohibited by this verse.

Allah finished this talk on ‘‘doing good’’, and said:

and do good; verily Allah loves the doers of good.

Doing good does not mean desisting from fighting, or clemency in killing the enemies of the religion, etc. It means doing a wok in its proper way: Fight when fighting is required; restrain yourselves when restraint is preferred; be strict where strictness is demanded by reason, and forgive where forgiveness will not embolden the enemy.

In short, repulsing the oppressor by the most reasonable means is to do good for humanity, because this repulsion guarantees humanity its due right, and defends the religion which would improve man’s condition in both worlds.

Further, desisting from exceeding the limits while obtaining the due right is another good action. And love of Allah is the final good of the religion; and it is essential for every follower of religion to be worthy of the love of Allah by obeying His command and following His Apostle. Allah says in the Qur’an:

Say ‘‘if you love Allah then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive your sins’’ (3:30).

These five verses — and they are about fighting — began with the prohibition of exceeding the limit and that:

Verily Allah loves not those who exceed the limit,

and ended with the command to do good and that:

Verily Allah loves those who do good.

Its delicacy and subtlety need no explanation.

The War, As Ordained By The Qur’an

The Qur’an ordered the Muslims to desist from fighting and patiently bear all persecutions in the way of Allah. See, for example, the following verses:

Say: ‘‘O unbelievers! I do not worship that which you worship, nor do you worship Him whom I worship; nor am I going to worship that which you worship; nor are you going to worship Him whom I worship. Unto you be your religion, and unto me my religion.’’ (Ch. 109)

And bear patiently what they say. (73:10)

Have you not seen those to whom it was said: Withhold your hands and establish prayer and pay the poor-rate (zakat), but when fighting was prescribed for them … (4:77)

This last verse refers to the following:

Many of the people of the Book wish that they could turn you back into unbelievers after you had believed, out of envy on their part, (even) after the truth has become manifest unto them. But pardon and forgive (them) so that Allah should bring about His command. Verily, Allah is Powerful over all things. And establish prayer and give the poor-rate … (2:109—110)

Then came the verses of fighting. Among them are the verses sanctioning fighting with the polytheists of Mecca and their allies:

Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made, for they have been oppressed, and surely Allah is able to help them; those who have been expelled from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah (22:39-40).

This verse might have been revealed to allow the Muslims to defend themselves at Badr, etc.

And fight with them until there is no mischief (disbelief), and the religion be only for Allah; but if they desist, then verily Allah sees what they do. And if they turn back, then know that Allah is your Master; the Most Excellent Master and the Most Excellent Helper (8:39—40).

And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limit. Verily, Allah loves not those who exceed the limit (2:190).

And among them are the verses permitting fighting with the people of the Book:

Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, from among those who were given the Book, until they pay the jizyah (tributory tax) with their hand while they are in a state of subjection (9:29).

Also among them are the verses for fighting against the poly-theists in general, and here, this word covers all unbelievers except the people of the Book:

Then slay the polytheists wherever you find them (9:6).

And fight the polytheists all together as they fight you altogether (9:36).

And finally there are the verses allowing the fight against the unbelievers in general:

Fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardiness (9:123).

In short, the Qur’an says that Islam — the religion of monotheism, is based on the foundation of true nature, and is responsible for the well-being of humanity in this life. Allah says:

Then set your face uprightly for the (right) religion — the nature made by Allah in which He has made men; there is no alteration (by anyone else) in the creation of Allah; that is the established (or the custodian) religion, but most people do not know (30:30).

Therefore, establishing and maintaining this religion is the most important right for humanity which has been laid down. Allah says:

He has prescribed for you of the religion what He enjoined upon Nūh and that which We have revealed unto you and that which we enjoined upon Ibrahim and Mūsa and ‘Isa, then establish the religion and be not divided therein (42:13).

And to defend this prescribed natural right is another natural right. Allah says:

And had there not been Allah’s repelling some people by others, certainly would have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques in which Allah’s name is much remembered. And surely Allah will help him who helps Him (i.e. His cause), most verily Allah is Strong, Mighty (22:40).

It is, thus, made clear that the religion of monotheism can stand on its feet and remain alive only if there is proper arrangement for its defence against enemies, as Allah says:

And were it not for Allah’s repelling some men with others, the earth certainly would be in a state of disorder (2:251).

Also, He says in the chapter of al-Anfal in the middle of the topic of fighting:

That He may establish the truth of what was true and bring to naught what was false, though the guilty ones disliked (8:8).

After some verses, He says:

O you who believe! Answer (the call of) Allah and His Apostle when he calls you to that which gives you life (8:24).

Here the war and fighting, to which the believers are called, has been termed as something giving them life. It means that fighting — whether waged for the defence of the Muslims, or that of the Islamic territory or even that which is initiated — is in reality in defence of the right of humanity in this life.

Polytheism is the death of humanity and, a corruption of nature, and it is the defence of its right that resurrects it and gives it a new lease of life.

An intelligent observer will realize at this juncture that Islam should have had a parallel defensive system to cleanse the earth from polytheism of every shade and to purify the faith of all those who believe in one Creator.

After all, the fighting mentioned in the above verses has only two aims: Removing noticeable polytheism, that is idol-worship, and raising the word of truth above the creeds of the people of the Book by compelling them to pay jizyah.

But it does not remove less noticeable polytheism; even the people of the Book are not true believers in One God. The same verse (9:29), which allows them to pay jizyah, declares that they do not believe in Allah or His Apostle and do not follow the religion of truth.

Therefore, they are in reality polytheists even though they profess to believe in one God; their polytheism is hidden behind their declared monotheism.

And if the Muslims were to defend the natural right of humanity, they should bring them into the fold of Islam — the true religion.

The Qur’an does not give such an order in clear words, but it promises them the final victory over their enemies; and the promised victory is of such a nature that it cannot be achieved with out waging this kind of war, a war to establish pure monotheistic belief. Allah says:

He it is Who sent His Apostle with the guidance and the religion of truth so that He may make it triumph over all the religions, though the polytheists may be averse (61:9).

And clearer than this is the verse,

And certainly, We did write in the Zabūr after the Reminder that the earth, shall inherit it my righteous servants (21:105).

Even far more clear is the verse,

Allah has promised unto those of you who believe and do good deeds that He will certainly make them Successors in the earth as He made Successors those before them, and that He will certainly establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them, and that He will certainly, after their fear, give them security in exchange; they shall worship Me, not associating aught with Me (24:55).

The words, they shall worship Me means sincere worship with the real faith, as may be inferred by the following clause, not associating aught with Me.

We should remember that, in the eyes of Allah, even some professed faith is in reality polytheism, as He says,

And most of them do not believe in Allah without associating others (with Him) (12:106).

So, it is the promise of Allah that He will cleanse the earth from every type of polytheism, and reserve it for the true believers, and then none shall be worshipped but Allah.

Perhaps someone may say:

That promise is of divine help; Allah shall fulfil it through a divine reformer without using manifest means like war, etc.

But this objection cannot be upheld in view of the words, He will certainly make them Successors. Successors clearly means that someone is removed from his place and another one is put therein. This implies war.

Also there is the following verse:

O you who believe! Whoever of you turns away from his religion, then soon Allah will bring a people that He will love them and they will love Him, humble before the believers and mighty against the unbelievers, they shall strive hard (shall fight) in the way of Allah and will not fear censure of any censurer (5:57).

This verse implies a call to the Truth and a religious movement which will happen by divine command; and it supports the view that this promise shall be fulfilled after the call of fighting in the way of Allah.

From the above, we may know the reply to a very common criticism of Islam. The Christian missionaries call it the religion of the sword and blood; some say that it is the religion of force and compulsion.

All this is said, because Islam has sanctioned jihad (war in the way of Allah). They say that it is totally against the character of the religious movements of the previous prophets. The previous religions relied not on the sword but on persuasion and guidance.

The above is the gist of that criticism. But the Qur’an has explained that Islam is based on the judgement of true human nature. Humanity can only achieve its perfection if it accepts that judgement.

And that nature has decreed that all individual and collective affairs should be governed by the laws which are based on the belief in one Allah. To defend this basic principle is a prescribed right of humanity.

It can only be defended by spreading it among people and protecting it from disorder and destruction. And this right must be safeguarded by all possible means.

Even then, moderation is the key-word in this entire venture. It begins with the Call, and patiently enduring the persecution by enemies. Then comes the defence of the lives of the Muslims and Islamic territory.

Lastly comes the war started by order of the divine representative to defend the above mentioned human right and protect the Creed of the Oneness of God.

Whatever the type of fighting, it must be preceded by calling them to come to the right path, and that Call should be based on reason and understanding, as the Prophet used to do. Allah says:

Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and kindly exhortation; and have disputation (discussion) with them in the manner which is the best (16:125).

This verse is unconditional. Also, Allah says:

That he who would perish might perish after a clear proof, and he who would live might live after a clear proof (8:42).

There is no need to feel alarmed if jihad has in it an element of compulsion. When explanations, discussions and exhortations fail to bring a group of people onto the right path, and humanity is in disorder and turmoil because of that group’s disregard for the basic right mentioned above, then there is no way but to compel them to come onto the right path of truth.

This is the strategy adopted by all societies and states throughout the world. The outlaws who flout the laws of the state are first called to accept the authority of the state and obey its laws.

Then, if they do not listen, they are compelled by all possible means to do so, even if it leads to killing and fighting.

A point to ponder: The compulsion will remain for one generation only. Coming generations will be so taught and trained that they will gladly accept the Religion of nature and the creed of the Oneness of God.

It is not objectionable if one generation is compelled to see reason, if by that action all coming generations will gladly follow the right path till the end of the world.

The claim, that all the previous prophets adopted verbal persuasion as their only instrument of guidance, shows an ignorance of the facts. Most of the prophets had neither the opportunity nor the power to wage war.

Read, for example, the lives of Nūh, Hūd and Salih (peace be on them all); they were under pressure from their enemies on all sides. The same was the case with ‘Isa (a.s.) when he was among his people, trying to spread his call. His call did not spread until it was too late; it spread when the period of its validity was coming to its end, near the advent of Islam.

On the other hand, the Old Testament contains the lives of many prophets who waged war in the way of Allah. The Qur’an also mentions some of them. Allah says:

And how many a prophet fought with whom were myriads of Godly men; so they did not lose heart at what befell them in the way of Allah nor did they weaken nor did they abase themselves. And Allah loves the steadfast ones. And their saying was nothing but that they prayed, ‘‘Our Lord! forgive us our sins, and our excesses in our affairs and make our feet firm and help us against the unbeliever people (3:146-147).

And He says, inter alia, describing what happened when Mūsa called the Israilites to fight against the Palestinians:

And (remember) when Mūsa said unto his people: … ‘‘O my people! Enter you the holy land which Allah has assigned for you; and turn not on your backs, for then you will return (as) losers’’ … They said, ‘‘O Mūsa! Verily we shall never enter it at all, while they remain therein. Go you and your Lord and fight you two, surely, we shall stay here sitting (5:22-27).

There is another story about the fighting of Saul and Goliath which begins with the words:

Have you not seen the chiefs of the children of Isra’il, after Mūsa, when they spoke to a prophet unto them (saying), ‘‘raise up for us a king, so that we may fight in the way of Allah … (2:246—251).

Then there is the story of the prophet Sulayman and the queen of Sheba, in which Sulayman writes to her:

That exalt not yourselves against me and come unto me in submission.

After receiving her ambassador, he threatened him,

return unto them; for we will certainly come to them with hosts which they shall have no power to resist, and we will certainly expell them out therefrom with abasement while they shall be in a state of ignominy (27:20-44).

See how Sulayman (a.s.) called them unto right path; and when the result was not as he had expected, he threatened them to initiate a war.

From The Sociological Point Of View

There is no doubt that every society — human beings as well as some animals — are based on the natural urge to save itself from extinction. Nature gave each species a right to make use of every thing which may help in keeping it alive.

Man takes advantage of inorganic substances, plants, animals and even other human beings in every possible manner, even if it clashes with the rights of those animals or prevents organic and inorganic substances from reaching the point of their perfection.

Likewise, animals make use of plants and other animals and their instinct tells them that they have a right to do so.

In the same way, nature gave them a right to defend the above right, because the right of use would not be complete without the right of defence.

After all, it is an over-crowded place where every thing is in continuous struggle for its survival. Every species which is endowed with sense and movement feels that it has a natural right to protect its rights, and is sure this defence is as lawful as the basic right itself.

For proof, see how the animals defend themselves, when in conflict with others, with their armaments: horns, teeth, claws, hooves, stings, beaks, etc. Those who are not gifted with such weapons protect themselves by fleeing or hiding or pretending to be dead. Others, like monkeys and foxes save themselves by being cunning and through deception.

Man has been given the power of thinking, by which he can employ other things for this defence. His nature issues commands and pronounces judgements.

And one of those judgements is that man has a basic right of use and also a right to defend that basic right. It is this second right which prompts him to fight and quarrel on all occasions when he feels that his right is in danger.

The basic right of taking advantage of other things is bridled by the realization that it is not only he who wants to make use of others but others also want to exercise the same right over all others.

These conflicting demands counterbalance each other and man is forced to come to terms with society and to realize that he also has to serve others as he wants others to serve him. This exchange of services has to be done on the scale fixed by the society.

It is clear from the above that the conflict and struggle to defend his rights is not based on the right to use other things, because this right of use was moderated and balanced by man himself as soon as he entered society; he had to agree that he would take advantage of others only according to the service which he himself was prepared to offer to others.

As a result of this mutual understanding there was no place for fighting. Fighting is based on the second right, that is the right to defend his interests. Man believes that he has a right in some thing: when he sees that that presumed right is endangered, he stands up to defend and protect it.

Thus all wars are in reality defensive. Even kings and emperors assume that they have a certain right, let us say the right to rule; they believe that they deserve to reign.

Others feel that the solution to increasing population or the economic difficulties of their country depends on the annexation of additional territories; and they believe that they have a right to do this.

However absurd these pretexts may seem to others, the man who advances them really believes in them.

Once he, in his mind, gives that right to himself, he is ready to defend it, even if it means attacking others, shedding blood, creating disorder in the country and destroying land and people.

Thus the defence of the human rights is a right laid down in nature which a man is entitled to exercise. But the preceding paragraphs have made it clear that it is only a secondary right. The primary and basic right is the one of taking advantage of others.

If we have to decide whether a certain defensive action was proper, we should, first of all, see how important or proper the defended right was. We must be satisfied that the damage to society by our defensive action would not cancel or maybe even exceed the benefit of the defended right.

The Qur’an has established that the most important human right is the belief in the oneness of God and the laws based on the divine revelation. Also, society unanimously believes that the most important was the right to live under such laws which protect the well-being of individuals.

As these two rights are the most important ones, their defence takes precedence over all other considerations.

Traditions

Ibn ‘Abbas said about the verse, And fight in the way of Allah : ‘‘This verse was revealed about the treaty of Hudaybiyah. And it was like this:

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and his companions came out in the year when they wanted to perform ‘umrah. They were one thousand and four hundred persons.

They proceeded till they reached Hudaybiyah. There the polytheists prevented them from reaching the Sacred House. Therefore, they slaughtered their sacrificial animals at Hudaybiyah.

The polytheists made an agreement with them that they were to go back that year, they would return for ‘umrah next year when they would be allowed to enter and remain in Mecca for three days to perform tawaf and whatever religious rites they wished.

‘‘The (Messenger of Allah) thereon returned to Medina. Next year the Prophet and his companions made preparations for the ‘umrah which had become qadha the previous year.

At the same time, they were afraid that the Qurayshites would not honour the agreement and would again prevent them from reaching the Sacred House and would fight.

The Messenger of Allah did not like the idea of fighting with them in the Sacred month within the sacred boundary of Mecca. Then Allah sent down this verse.’’ [Majma‘u ’l-bayan ]

The author says: Similar traditions have been written in ad-Durru ’l-manthūr with various chains from Ibn ‘Abbas and others.

Another tradition from ar-Rabi‘ ibn Anas and ‘Abdu ’r-Rahman ibn Zayd ibn Aslam said: This is the first verse revealed about fighting.

When it was revealed, the Messenger of Allah used to fight with those who fought with him and desisted from fighting those who refrained from fighting, until was revealed the verses, Kill the polytheists wherever you find them. Thus the above verse was abrogated. [Majma‘u ’l-bayan]

The author says: It is their own opinion. You know that the verse:

Kill the polytheists wherever you find them does not abrogate the verse And fight in the way of AllahRather it generalizes an order which was specific.

About the verse, and kill them wherever you find them: This verse was revealed because one of the companions killed an infidel in the sacred month.

The believers condemned him for it. Then Allah made it clear that mischief in religion, i.e. polytheism, is more grievous than killing polytheists in the sacred month, even though it was not allowed. [Majma‘u ’l-bayan]

The author says: You know that the singleness of the context and inter-relationship of all the five verses obviously proves that they were revealed all together, not piecemeal.

There is a tradition from various chains, from Qatadah. He said: ‘‘And fight with them until there is no more mischief, i.e. polytheism, and the religion be only for Allah.’

He said: ‘‘till it is said, ‘there is none to be worshipped except Allah.’ It is this cause which the Messenger of Allah fought for, and called the people to.

And we are told that the Prophet used to say, ‘Verily Allah ordered me to fight the people till they say, ‘‘there is none to be worshipped except Allah’’, then, if they desisted (from polytheism), there should be no hostility except against the oppressors.’’

He said: ‘‘And verily the oppressor, who refuses to say ‘there is none to be worshipped except Allah’ shall be fought with till he says ‘there is none to be worshipped except Allah’.’’[ad-Durru ’l-manthūr]

The author says: The sentence ‘‘And verily the oppressor …’’ is the saying of Qatadah; he has inferred it from the saying of the Prophet and it is a fine inference.

A similar interpretation has been reported from ‘Ikrimah.

al-Bukhari, Abu sh-Shaykh and Ibn Mardawayh have narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that two persons came to him during the fitnah (mischief) of Ibn az-Zubayr and told him:

‘‘Verily, people have done (what they have done) and you are the son of ‘Umar and a companion of the Prophet; then why do you not come out?’’ He (Ibn ‘Umar) said:

‘‘It prevents me (from coming out) that Allah has forbidden (shedding) the blood of my (Muslim) brother.’’ They said: ‘‘Has not Allah said, fight with them until there is no (more) mischief'?’’

He said: ‘‘We fought until there was no more mischief and the religion became only of Allah; but you want to fight until there he mischief and the religion be for other than Allah.’’ [ad-Durru ’l -manthūr]

The author says: He was mistaken in the meaning of fitnah (الفـتنة) and also the two questioners were mistaken. The meaning of fitnah (الفـتنة) has already been explained.

The event of Ibn az-Zubayr was not ‘‘polytheism or disbelief ’’, it was an example of disorder on earth, or fighting with one another without any just cause; and believers were not allowed to remain silent about it.

There is in Majma‘u ’l-bayan, under the verse, and fight with them until there is no (more) mischief: ‘‘That is polytheism’’, and the author of Majma‘u ’l-bayan said: ‘‘And it is narrated from Abū ‘Abdillah (a.s.).’’

There is a hadith in the Tafsir of al-‘Ayyashi about the words of Allah: The sacred month for the sacred month; al-‘Ula’ ibn al-Fudhayl said: ‘‘I asked him (the Imam) whether it was allowed to the Muslims to start fighting with the polytheists in the sacred month.

He said: ‘If the polytheists start the fight with them by (practically) making it lawful (to fight in the month), then the Muslims will see how they can overcome the polytheists (and do it).

And it is the word of Allah, The sacred month for the sacred month and reprisal (is lawful) in all sacred things.’ ’’

Ahmad and Ibn Jarir, and an-Nahhas in his Nasikh, have narrated from Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah that he said:

‘‘The Messenger of Allah did not fight in the sacred month until he was fought with, and if ever he was in a fight and the sacred month began, he would desist (from fighting) until it came to an end.’’ [ad-Durru ’l-manthūr]

Mu‘awiyah ibn ‘Ammar said: ‘‘I asked Abū ‘Abdillah (a.s.) about a man who killed another man, outside the sacred territory and then entered the sacred territory.

The Imam (a.s.) said: ‘He will not be killed (therein), but he will not be given anything to eat or drink, and will not be sold anything until he comes out of the sacred territory; then he will be given the punishment of his crime’.’’

The narrator said that he then asked the Imam (a.s.) ‘‘Then what do you say about a man who killed someone in the sacred territory or stole therein. He (the Imam) said:

‘He will be punished inside the sacred territory because he himself did not maintain respect of it. And Allah has said, whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict the like aggression on him.

(The Imam said) ‘This is the law about the sacred territory; and Allah said, there should be no hostility except against the aggressors’.’’ [al-Kafi]

as-Sadiq (a.s.) said about the words of Allah, and cast not yourselves into perdition: ‘‘If a man spent in the way of Allah all that he had, he would not have done good and God would not lead him to success.

Does Allah not say:

and cast not yourselves into perdition with your own hands; and do good; Verily Allah loves those who do good,

i.e., who are economical.’’ [ibid.]

as-Sadūq has narrated from Thabit ibn Anas that he said: ‘‘The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Obedience to the ruler is obligatory; and one who has left the obedience to the ruler has not obeyed Allah and has entered into His prohibition, as He says:

and cast not yourselves into perdition with your own hands’.’’

It is narrated in ad-Durru ’l -manthūr with numerous chains, from Aslam Abi ‘Imran that he said: ‘‘We were (fighting) at Constantinople; ‘Aqbah ibn ‘Amir commanded the Egyptians, and Fudhalah ibn ‘Ubayd led the Syrians.

There came out a big row of the Romans, and we stood in row against them. Then a man from our side attacked the Roman row until he entered in its midst.

The people (Muslims) cried out, ‘Glory be to Allah! He is casting himself in perdition with his own hands!’ Then Abū Ayyūb, the companion of the Messenger of Allah, stood up and said:

‘O people! You are interpreting this verse in this way, while (the fact is that) it was sent down about us, the group of the Helpers. Verily, when Allah made His religion powerful, and its helpers increased in number, some of us told others, keeping it secret from the Messenger of Allah,

‘‘Verily, our properties are ruined, and (now) Allah had made Islam powerful and its helpers have increased. Therefore, (it would be better) if we stayed in our properties and mended what had been damaged therein.’’

Then Allah revealed to his prophet, refuting what we had said, And spend in the way of Allah and cast not yourselves into perdition with your own hands. So, perdition meant our staying in our properties and repairing them by leaving fighting (in the way of Allah)’.’’

The author says: The difference of the traditions in interpreting the meaning of this verse supports what we have said that this verse is general and covers both extremes (extravagance and miserliness) in spending, and that it is not confined to spending only, but covers other aspects also where ‘‘casting oneself into perdition’’ can be applied.