Let Me Rephrase That!
Verse of the Sword
The Verse of the Sword is without a doubt the most far-reaching revelation of the Koran. It abrogates more than half of the 240 or so rescinded revealed truths. The aptly named verse is undoubtedly familiar to every jihadist and is the overriding revelation for these holy warriors.
According to the imminent Egyptian theologian Abu al-Fadl ‘Abd ar-Rahman Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti (d. 1505), "Everything in the Qur'an about forgiveness and peace is abrogated by verse 9:5."
9:5 Then, when the Sacred Months (these are the four months during which war was prohibited in pre-Islamic times) are over, kill the idolaters wherever you find them, take them [as captives], besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every point of observation. If they repent afterwards, perform the prayer and pay the alms then release them. Allah is truly All-Forgiving, Merciful.
You will find the Verse of the Sword in the incendiary surah Repentance – Ultimatum in Muhsin Khan's translation of the Koran. According to Khaleel Mohammed, assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State, Khan's Saudi-approved and promoted translation is "the most widely disseminated Qur'an in Islamic bookstores and Sunni mosques throughout the English-speaking world."
Khan, born in 1927, is unequivocal about the reach of the chapter of the Koran where the Verse of the Sword is found and I quote: "God revealed Ultimatum in order to discard restraint and to command Muslims to fight against all the pagans as well as against the People of the Book if they do not embrace Islam or until they pay religious taxes."
Should your inclination be not to "kill the idolaters wherever you find them" as Allah first recommends, but to take them as captives, you must still kill the pagans i.e. infidels you have corralled unless they "repent afterwards, perform the prayer and pay the alms", that is become one who submits to the Will of Allah, the most widely accepted meaning of Muslim.
Christians and Jews, People of the Book are not to be killed or force to convert if they pay the right-to-live tax, the jizya, while acknowledging your superiority as a Muslim (next chapter Verse of the Tax).
Abrogation and Genocide
Based on Muslim chronicles of the period, and the demographic calculations done by historian K.S. Lal in his book Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India, the Verse of the Sword is, in all likelihood, responsible for the largest known slaughter of followers of a lesser god, or gods.
Dr. Lal estimates that between 1000 CE and 1500 CE the population of Hindus decreased by 80 million; meaning that for much of that period the death rate among Hindus exceeded their birthrate. If the eminent historian’s estimates are even remotely accurate, this period would have witnessed the largest cold-blooded killing of an indigenous people in all written history.
A Declaration of War
The Verse of the Sword was received near the end of the Prophet's life when the world was very much his for the taking with Muslim armies poised to overrun much of the Middle East and North Africa. God's Messenger had already issued his ultimatum to the various rulers of the kingdoms and provinces that bordered the Peninsula, that they must convert or be invaded and converted by force. The bloodthirsty Verse of the Sword made that threat even more credible.
A copy of the Prophet's ultimatum has been preserved in the old Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. It is addressed to the governor of Egypt, a fellow by the name of Muqawqis. The last sentence of the ultimatum has a particularly ominous tone (italics mine).
From Muhammad the servant and Prophet of Allah, to Muqawqis, the leader of the Coptic tribe. There is safety and security for those believers who follow the correct path. Therefore I invite you to accept Islam. If you accept it, you shall find security, save your throne, and gain twice as much reward for having introduced Islam to your followers. If you refuse this invitation, let the sin of calamity which awaits your followers be upon you. You too are People of the Book; therefore let us come to a word common between us that we worship none but Allah and shall equalise anything with him. Let us not abandon Allah and take others for lords other than him. If you do not consent to this invitation, bear witness that we are Muslims.
If you do not consent, we are Muslims; we do not make idle threats. Allah echoed His Messenger's warning to the People of the Book:
3:64 Say: ‘O People of the Book, come to an equitable word between you and us, that we worship none but Allah, do not associate anything with Him and do not set each other as lords besides Allah.” If they turn their backs, say: ‘Bear witness that we are Muslims.”
The Verse of the Sword has a companion verse, revelation 9:111, the Salvific Covenant (do this for me and I will do this for you, save you, give you Paradise).
9:111 Allah has bought from the believers their lives and their wealth in return for Paradise; they fight in the Way of Allah, kill and get killed. That is a true promise from Him in the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur’an; and who fulfills his promise better than Allah? Rejoice then at the bargain you have made with Him; for that is the great triumph.
The Verse of the Sword and the Salvific Covenant, taken together, is the Koran's equivalent of a Declaration of War on humanity, a universal jihad until all of humankind bows down before His Eminence.
The Verse of the Sword does more than nullify the scattering of verses that could be interpreted as recommending mercy and compassion for unbelievers, or believers who don't believe hard enough, but consolidates for the holy warrior many of the verses about killing Allah's real and imaginary enemies in one concise paragraph.