Jihad in the Koran

The Vanquished Enemies of Old

They may be long gone, but the Koran remembers them well.

Allah is not a god who forgives or forgets. His Book serves as a useful platform to vent, for the ages, His vitriolic anger at the contemporaries of His last and greatest spokesman who refused to accept that the middle-aged illiterate tribesman they knew so well had suddenly been visited by an angel with God's final instructions for mankind.

The Meccans Who Should Have Emigrated

2:218 Those who believed and those who emigrated and strove for the Cause of Allah are those who may surely hope for Allah’s Mercy. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

The Meccans who, during the war between Mecca and Medina were tempted to convert to Islam but didn’t because they did not want to leave Mecca were as despicable as those who fought his Messenger, and deserving of the same fate.

4:97 Those whom the angels cause to die while they are unjust to themselves (the reference is to those Meccans who could have accepted the faith and emigrated, but did not) will be asked [by the angels]: “What were you doing?” They will say: “We were oppressed in the land.” They (the angels) will add saying: “Was not Allah’s Land spacious enough for you to emigrate to some other part?” Those people – their refuge is Hell, and what a wretched destiny!

Allah was not as pitiless towards all who would not actively join the fight for Islam by emigrating.

4:98 Except the oppressed men, women and children who have no recourse and cannot find a way out (the reference here is to those Meccans who were weak and could not emigrate).

4:99 Those, Allah may pardon them; Allah is All Pardoning, All Forgiving.

An invitation to emigrate to the land of the unbelievers so as to further Allah’s Cause that is as valid today as it was then.

4:100 He who emigrates for the Cause of Allah will find on earth many a place of refuge and abundance; and he who leaves his home as an emigrant to Allah and His Messenger and is then overtaken by death, has already earned his reward from Allah. Allah is All-Forgiving, Merciful.

The stay-put Meccan believers' refuge may be Hell, revelation 4;97, but they still served as a useful rallying cry.

4:75 And why don’t you fight for the Cause of God and for the down-trodden, men, women and children, who say: “Lord, bring us out of the city (Mecca) whose inhabitants are unjust and grant us, from you, a protector, and grant us, from You, a supporter.”

The Meccans and their Allies Who Fought the Messenger

Before His movement attracted a critical mass of followers which enabled the believers to considerably improve their living conditions, mainly through pillaging caravans, the Prophet faced difficult questions. One was about why the Meccans and their allies were rich, and the believers, who had the God of the Universe on their side, were poor and were persecuted.

They may be winners in the here-and-now, explained Allah, but in the Hereafter they will be the losers.

11:15 Whoever desires the life of this world and its finery, We will reward them [during it] for their [good] works, and they will not be given less than their due.

11:16 [Yet] those [are the people] who shall have nothing in the Hereafter except the Fire, and what they did [here] will go there to waste, and their works will be in vain.

11:17 Are those then [like these] who have a clear proof (the Qur’an) from their Lord recited by a witness from Him, and preceded by the book of Moses as a guide and mercy? Those believe in it; but those who disbelieve in it from among the parties (the Meccans and neighbouring tribes who opposed the Prophet) – their appointed place is the Fire. So do not be in doubt about it. It is indeed the truth from your Lord; but most people do not believe.

11:18 And who is more perverse than he who invents lies about Allah? Those shall be brought before their Lord and the witnesses (the angels) shall say: “These are the ones who lied about their Lord. May Allah’s curse be upon the wrongdoers!”

11:19 Those who bar people from the Path of Allah, and wish it to be crooked; they truly disbelieve in the Hereafter.

11:20 Those will not escape on earth and they have, apart from Allah, no protectors. Their punishment will be doubled; they were unable to hear, nor did they perceive.

11:21 Those are the ones who lost their souls and that which they invented (the associates they assign to Allah) strayed away from them.

11:22 Without doubt, they will be, in the Hereafter, the greatest losers.

11:23 As to those who believe and do the good deeds and turn humbly to their Lord, they shall be the people of Paradise, dwelling therein forever.

They may also be losers in the here-and-now if Allah decides to do to them what He has done to previous generations who were even better off.

19:73 And when Our Revelations are clearly recited to them, the unbelievers will say to the believers: “Which of the two parties is better in position and fairer in company?”

19:74 How many generations before them We have destroyed, who had better furnishings and appearance?

19:75 Say: “Whoever is in error, let the Compassionate prolong his term; so that when they see what they are threatened with, whether it be the punishment or the Hour, they will know who is worse in position and weaker in supporters.”

19:76 Allah increases in guidance those who are righty guided; and the good works which last will receive a better reward from Allah and better returns.

If the unbelievers have more than you, consider it a favour from Allah.

42:25 It is He Who accepts the repentance of His servants, pardons the evil deeds and knows what you do.

42:26 And He answers those who believe and do the righteous deeds and increases them of His Bounty; but the unbelievers will suffer a terrible punishment.

42:27 Had Allah expanded provision for His servants, they would have exceeded the bounds of injustice in the land; but He sends down in measure whatever He wishes. He is truly Well-Informed about His servants, All-Seeing. 

The Arab Hypocrites and Apostates

Revelations about hypocrites have mostly to do with the Meccans to whom Allah revealed most of His Koran. Allah's Meccan hypocrites come in many varieties and include, often depending on the circumstances, the following:

1. those who mocked Allah's Messenger and/or His Revelations;

2. those who believed then disbelieved i.e. the apostates;

3. those who changed sides during the battle;

4. those who spread lies about Allah and His Messenger e.g. doubters and cynics;

5. the lukewarm believers who grudgingly said the prayers, did not spend enough in the Cause of Allah and were always coming up with excuses not to join the fight against the unbelievers.

Allah repeatedly makes no distinction between hypocrites and apostates, revelation 63:3, whose lasting disbelief is His doing.


63 Al-Munâfiqûn

In the Name of Allah,

the Compassionate, the Merciful

63:1 When the hypocrites come to you, they say: “We bear witness that you are indeed Allah’s Messenger.” Allah knows that you are indeed His Messenger and Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are liars.

63:2 They take their oaths as a shield and so they bar other people from the Path of Allah. Evil is what they used to do.

63:3 That is because they believed, then disbelieved; and so a seal was set upon their hearts. Therefore, they do not understand at all.

Apostates or hypocrites, it does not matter, kill them!

33:60 If the hypocrites, those in whose hearts is a sickness and those who spread lies in the city, do not desist, We will certainly urge you against them and then they will not dwell with you therein as neighbours but for a short time.

33:61 Accursed, wherever they are encountered they will be seized and slaughtered.

33:62 That is Allah’s way of dealing with those who have gone before, and you will never find any alteration of Allah’s Way.

Kill them, but perhaps not before informing them of the painful punishment Allah looks forward to inflicting on them.

4:137 Those who believe, then disbelieve, then again believe, then disbelieve, then grow in disbelief, Allah shall not forgive them nor guide them to the Right Path.

4:138 Announce to the hypocrites that a very painful punishment is reserved for them.

Don’t bother asking forgiveness for the hypocrites, you will just be wasting your time.

63:6 It is the same for them whether you seek forgiveness for them or you do not seek forgiveness. Allah will not forgive them. Surely, Allah will not guide the sinful people.

A certain amount of what the uniformed may characterize as paranoia may be evident in some revelations about hypocrites.

9:64 The hypocrites fear that a Surah will be revealed informing them of what is in their hearts. Say: “Go on mocking, Allah will surely bring into the open what you fear.”

9:65 And should you ask them, they would surely say: “We were only talking idly and playing.” Say: “Were you then mocking Allah, His Revelations and His Messenger?”

9:66 Make no excuses; you have disbelieved after believing. If We pardon a group of you, We shall punish another group, because they were wicked sinners.

9:67 The hypocrites, males and females, are all alike. They enjoin evil and forbid what is good and close their fist (they do no spend in Allah’s way). They have forgotten Allah (they have been disobedient), and so He has forgotten them (He has deprived them of His Mercy). The hypocrites are the wicked sinners.

9:68 Allah has promised the hypocrites, males and females, and the unbelievers, the Fire of Hell, abiding in it forever. It is sufficient unto them. He has also cursed them, and a lasting punishment awaits them.

9:69 Like those who came before you (the hypocrites); they were mightier than you and had more wealth and children. So they enjoyed their share (of earthly life); then you enjoyed your share as did those before you, and you engaged in idle talk as they did. Those, their works in this world and in the Hereafter are vain; they are the losers.

Hypocrites are also arrogant, good looking, speak well and perhaps paranoid; depending on your interpretation of “they think every cry is aimed at them.”

63:4 If you see them, their bodies please you; and if they speak, you listen to their words, as though they were propped-up wooden logs. They think every cry is aimed at them; they are the enemy, so beware of them. May Allah discomfit them, how they are perverted!

63:5 If it is said to them: “Come, that the Messenger of Allah may seek forgiveness for you”; they bend their heads and you see them walking away, waxing proud.

Hypocrites take credit for the accomplishments of others, including Allah’s.

4:141 Those who wait for [misfortune to befall] you. And if a victory is accorded to you from Allah, they will say: “Were we not on your side?”; and if the unbelievers have a share [in victory], they will say: “Did we not subdue you, and thus protect you from the believers?” Allah shall judge between you on the Day of Resurrection; and Allah will not give the unbelievers the upper hand over the believers.

Hypocrites are lazy show-offs.

4:142 Surely, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but Allah causes their deceit to backfire. And if they rise to perform the prayer, they rise lazily, trying to show off in public and they remember Allah but little.

Hypocrites keep an open mind, perhaps because Allah wants it that way.

4:143 Vacillating between the two (belief and disbelief), inclining neither to these nor to those (neither to the believers nor to the unbelievers); and whomever Allah leads astray, you will not find him a way out.

Hypocrites are not charitable towards newcomers. When the Meccan believers (the Emigrants) sought refuge in Medina, the so-called hypocrites encouraged people not to give them money so that they would go somewhere else.

63:7 It is they who say: “Do not spend any money on those (the Meccan Emigrants) who side with Allah’s Messenger until they disperse.” To Allah belong the treasuries of the heavens and the earth, but the hypocrites do not understand. Hypocrites think they decide who goes and who stays because of their might.

63:8 They say: “If we return to the city (Medina), the mightiest will drive out the lowliest therefrom.” Might belongs to Allah, His Messenger and the believers, but the hypocrites do not know.

Some Muslims had difficulty accepting that believers who stayed behind in Mecca or lived unmolested in the land of the unbelievers were also hypocrites which Allah had deliberately caused to revert back to disbelief; the reason He gave for their remaining in the land of the unbelievers.

4:88 How is it that you are divided into two parties regarding the hypocrites, when Allah turned them back (to disbelief) on account of what they earned (on account of their sins and disbelief)? Do you wish to guide those whom Allah leads astray? He whom Allah leads astray, you will not find a way out for him.


They had outwardly embraced Islam in Makka and in other parts of Arabia, but instead of migrating to the Domain of Islam they continued to live among their own people who were unbelievers, taking part in all their hostile machinations against Islam and the Muslims. It was not easy for the Muslims to decide how to deal with such people. Some were of the opinion that since they professed Islam, performed Prayers, fasted and recited the Qur'an they could not be treated as unbelievers. Here God pronounces His judgement on this issue (revelation 4:88).

The Jews of the Hijaz

The Hijaz is the so-called Holy Land of Islam. The area comprises most of the western part of modern-day Saudi Arabia and is centered on Mecca and Medina.

In Medina lived three Jewish Tribes. When Muhammad sought refuge in the oasis city he was welcomed by the Jews, in part, because of his preaching that the god of the Old Testament was the one and only god. When the Prophet came to Medina, Muslims were required to prostrate themselves in the direction of Jerusalem during their daily prayers, but that would change as mistrust and animosity developed between the two Semite people. The disagreement first led to the trading of insults.

Narrated Aisha:

Once the Jews came to the Prophet and said, "Death be upon you." So I cursed them.

The Prophet said, "What is the matter?"

I said, "Have you not heard what they said?"

The Prophet said, "Have you not heard what I replied (to them)? (I said), ('The same is upon you.')"

Bukhari 42.186

The reason for this growing hostility of God’s Messenger towards the people who, in effect, ensure the survival of the Muslims when they were most vulnerable was the Jews' refusal to accept Muhammad as a legitimate spokesperson of the Almighty.

The Jews of Medina tried to impress on the Prophet, to no avail, that according to their system of beliefs, God only communicated His instructions for mankind via the Jewish people.

2:89 And when a book (the Qur’an) came to them from Allah confirming that which they had (the Torah), and though they used hitherto to pray for assistance against those who disbelieved; yet when there came to them what they already knew (that Muhammad would be sent as the Messenger of Allah), they disbelieved in it. So may Allah’s curse be on the unbelievers.

2:90 Evil is that for which they sold their souls when they disbelieved in what Allah sent down, out of envy that He should send down from His Bounty (reveal to them) on whomsoever of His servants He pleases. Thus they incurred wrath upon wrath. And there is a demeaning punishment for the unbelievers.

Until this unfortunate misunderstanding, all was well between Muslims and Jews. In fact, in the following revelations you may detect a note of sadness about the way things turned out.

3:69 A party of the people of the Book (the Jews) wish that they would lead you astray; they only lead themselves astray without perceiving it.

3:70 O people of the Book, why do you disbelieve in Allah’s Revelations while you yourselves know that they are true?

3:71 People of the Book, why do you confound truth with error and knowingly conceal the truth.

3:72 Some of the people of the Book say: "Believe in what has been revealed to the believers at the beginning of the day, and disbelieve in it at its end; perchance they (the believers) will turn back!”

3:73 “And do not believe except in him who follows your religion.” Say: “True guidance is Allah’s Guidance. [Do not believe] that anyone would be given what you have been given, or they will dispute with you before Your Lord.” Say: “Bounty is in Allah’s Hands; He gives to whom He pleases, and Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.

3:74 He favours with His Mercy whomever He pleases. Allah’s Bounty is unlimited!

The Jews' questioning of the Prophet, who was not always comfortable with people asking him pointed questions about what God had revealed, became most insistent. Adding insult to injury, they often phrased their enquiry in a way meant to upset God's Messenger.

It may have been more upsetting for the Prophet's Mentor judging from His Response.

4:44 Have you not considered those who have received a portion of the Book, procuring error and wanting you to go astray?

4:45 Allah knows best your enemies; Allah suffices as Protector, Allah suffices as Supporter!

4:46 Some of the Jews take words out of their context and say: “We have heard, but disobey; and hear as though you hear not.” And [they] say “ra’ina” (a word of abuse), twisting their tongues and slandering religion. Had they said: “We have heard and we obey; hear and look at us”, it would have been better for them and more upright; but Allah has cursed them on account of their disbelief, so they – except for a few – do not believe.

4:47 O People of the Book, believe in what We have revealed confirming what you already possess, before We obliterate faces, turning them on their backs, or curse them as we have cursed the Sabbath-breakers, and Allah’s command was accomplished!

The breakup would prove acrimonious in the extreme with the Jews earning the appellation, which until then God had reserved for the Prophet's Meccan kin and neighbours, of hypocrite.

5:61 When they (the Jewish hypocrites) come to you, they say: “We believe”, although they come in as unbelievers and leave as unbelievers. Allah knows best what they conceal.

5:62 And you will see many of them hastening to perpetrate sin and aggression and the devouring of unlawful gain. Evil is what they have been doing!

5:63 Why do not the rabbis and masters forbid them from uttering sinful things and devouring unlawful gain? Evil indeed is what they used to do!

5:64 The Jews say: “Allah’s Hand is tied” (Allah is not generous in bestowing His Bounties on them); may their own hands be tied and may they be damned for what they say. His Hands are rather outstretched; He grants freely as He pleases. And what has been sent down to you from your Lord will certainly increase many of them in arrogance and unbelief. And We have cast in their midst animosity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection. Whenever they kindle a fire for war, Allah extinguishes it; and they go about spreading mischief, but Allah does not like the mischief makers.

A people whom Allah's Messenger respected when they first met became a people only deserving of punishment; punishment in the Hereafter and a necessary if unusual punishment in the here-and-now which Allah foresaw in imposing the Sabbath on the Jews.

16:124 The Sabbath was ordained only for those who differed with respect to it (the Jews). Your Lord shall decide between them on the Day of Resurrection, regarding that wherein they differed.


Obviously, there was no need to state that the restrictions about the Sabbath applied only to the Jews and had nothing to do with the law of Prophet Abraham, because they themselves knew it. The restrictions were imposed upon the Jews because of their mischief and violations of the law.

This breakup would prove disastrous for the Jews of the Hijaz in the war between Mecca and its allies the Confederates and Medina, the stronghold of the Muslims and their allies the Bedouins (more about the aftermath in Medina - The Massacre of the Banu Qurayzah and the Battle of Khaybar). Thousands of Jews who called the Hijaz home where slaughtered, with the remaining forced out of the area by Caliph Umar, the second successor to the Prophet as leader of the believers.

The Antagonizers

58:5 Those who antagonize Allah and His Messenger shall be abased by Allah, as He abased those who preceded them. We have, indeed, sent down very clear Signs; and the unbelievers shall have a demeaning punishment.

58:6 On the Day when Allah shall raise them all from the dead, then inform them of what they did. Allah has kept count of it, but they have forgotten it. Allah is a witness of everything.

The antagonizers are people who talked behind the Prophet’s back; who held secret talks of which God’s Messenger was not aware.

You would think that Allah would tell His Messenger what had been said that he needed to know, at about the time He heard it, instead of waiting until Judgement Day. After all, He was party to the secret discussions.

58:7 Have you not considered that Allah knows what is in the heavens and on the earth. No three conspire in secret, but He is the fourth of them; nor five but he is the six of them; nor even less than that or more but He is with them wherever they are. Then He shall inform them of what they did on the Day of Resurrection. Allah, indeed, has knowledge of everything.

The Prophet had obviously forbidden the believers to hold secret meetings to make it more difficult for his enemies, and the enemies of Allah to plot against them. A sensible precaution!

58:8 Have you not considered those who were forbidden to converse secretly, then they return to what they were forbidden from and converse secretly in sin and aggression and the disobedience of the Messenger? Then, when they come to you, they greet you with a greeting that Allah never greeted you with. They say within themselves: “If only Allah were to punish us for what we say!” May Hell suffice them; and what a wretched fate!

In a matter of a few short years, Islam would be triumphant everywhere on the Peninsula and the Prophet’s position unassailable and his person secure.

God's Messenger, who was in his fifties, would die from natural causes a short time after returning from an expedition to convert the kingdoms that bordered Arabia. Why would Allah include a warning in His timeless Koran about people talking behind His Messenger's back when the Prophet's days in the here-and-now were numbered?

58:9 O believers, if you converse secretly among yourselves, do not converse in sin, aggression and disobedience of the Messenger; but converse in righteousness and piety, and fear Allah unto Whom you shall be mustered.

58:10 Conversing in secret is an act of Satan, so as to sadden the believers, but that will not harm them in the least, except with Allah’s Leave. Let the believers put their trust in Allah.

What those who befriend people who have incurred Allah’s displeasure, such as the antagonizers, can expect!

58:14 Have you not considered those who befriended a people who incurred Allah’s Wrath? They are not of you nor of them; and they swear in falsehood knowingly.

58:15 Allah has prepared for them a terrible punishment. Evil indeed is what they used to do.

58:16 They took they oaths as a smoke-screen, and so they debarred access to Allah’s Path. Theirs, then, is a demeaning punishment.

58:17 Neither their possessions not their children shall avail them anything against Allah. Those are the Companions of the Fire, dwelling therein forever.

58:18 On the Day Allah shall resurrect all and they will swear to Him as they swear to you, thinking that they have something to gain. Indeed, they are the liars.

58:19 Satan has taken a hold of them, and so caused them to forget the mention of Allah. Those are the party of Satan; indeed the party of Satan are the losers.

A final reminder that the antagonizers are weak and Allah is strong.

58:20 Those who antagonize Allah and His Messenger are surely among the lowliest.

58:21 Allah has written: “I shall certainly vanquish, I and My Messengers.” Surely Allah is Strong, All-Mighty.

And for God’s sake, don’t take them as friends even if they are part of your family, close relatives or clan members, if you don’t want Allah to accuse you of being an unbeliever, with all the pain that entails.

58:22 You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day befriending those who antagonize Allah and His Messenger, even if they are their fathers, their sons, their brothers or their clansmen. Those, Allah has inscribed faith upon their hearts and strengthened them with a spirit from Himself, and He will admit them into Gardens, beneath which rivers flow, dwelling therein forever. Allah is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with him. Those are Allah’s Party; surely Allah’s Party shall be the prosperous.

Unbelievers of Yore

Then there are the “unbelievers of yore.”

What does Allah propose to do to the unbelievers of yore, the people who believed in the benevolent, tolerant gods and goddesses of pre-Islamic times, what Muslims refer to as “the time of ignorance”, before Allah and His Messenger came along.

44:34 Truly, these people (the Quraysh and their ilk who questioned Muhammad’s prophetic call) will say:

44:35 “It is only our first death and we will not be raised from the dead.

44:36 “Bring then back our fathers if you are truthful.”

44:37 Are they any better than the people of Tubba’ (Tubba’ refers originally to the kings of southern Arabia, in pre-Islamic times) and those who preceded them? We destroyed them all; for they were criminals.

44:38 We did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between them in jest.

44:39 We only created them in truth, but most of them do not know.

44:40 The Day of Decision is truly their appointed time all together.

44:41 The Day when no master shall profit a client a whit, and they will not be supported;

44:42 Except for him upon whom Allah has Mercy. He is indeed the All-Mighty, the Merciful.