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 It abrogates more than half of the 240 or so rescinded revealed truths.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.
Following are 112 of the purported 124 fleeting revealed truths annulled or modified by the Verse of the Sword; the list, in numerical order, is from WikiIslam. It is a bit of a hodgepodge. It would be highly presumptuous of me to even try to second-guess respected professional diviners of the Will of God from the Middle Ages who put the list together, so I won't. It is what it is!
2:83 When We made a covenant with the Children of Israel (saying): “You shall worship none other than Allah; show kindness to your parents, to the near of kin, to the orphans and to the poor; speak to people; perform the prayers; give the alms-tax.” But, with the exception of a few, you did not abide by the covenant and you turned away.
2:139 Say: “Do you dispute with us concerning Allah when He is our Lord and your Lord? We have our works (by which we shall be judged) and you have your works (by which you shall be judged). To Him alone we are devoted.
2:190 And fight for the Cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not be aggressive. Surely Allah does not like the aggressor.
Revelation 2:190, perhaps for emphasis, is also abrogated by the verse about the right religion, the right months and fighting as a group.
9:36 The number of months, with Allah, is twelve months by Allah’s Ordinance from the day He created the heavens and the earth. Four of these are Sacred. This is the right religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them; but fight the polytheists all together just as they fight you all together; and know that Allah is on the side of the righteous.
The Sacred Months are a holdover from the pagans, as are many of Islam's rituals, often with slight modifications; for example, no more circumambulating the Ka'ba naked. A less benign adaptation was Allah allowing killing your rivals during the sacred months, which was strictly forbidden by the pagans. He did this to justify the murder of the first unbeliever, a fellow by the name of Amr-ben-al Hadra’mi (Appendix The Murder of Amr-ben-al Hadra’mi) at the outset of the sacred time.
2:191 Kill them wherever you find them and drive them out wherever they drove you out (from Mecca). Sedition is worse than slaughter. Do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight you at it. If they fight you there kill them. Such is the reward for the unbelievers.
2:192 But if they desist, Allah is truly All-Forgiving, Merciful.
2:217 They ask you about the sacred month: “Is there fighting in it?” Say: “Fighting in it is a great sin; but to debar people from Allah’s Way and to deny Him and the Sacred Mosque, and to drive its people out of it is a greater sin in Allah’s Sight. Sedition is worse than murder.” Nor will they cease to fight you until they make you, if they can, renounce your religion. Those of you who renounce their religion and die, while they are unbelievers, are those whose works come to grief, [both] in this world and in the Hereafter. And they are the people of the Fire, abiding in it forever.
2:256 There is no compulsion in religion; true guidance has become distinct from error. Thus he who disbelieves in the Devil and believes in Allah grasps the firmest handle that will never break. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
3:20 So, if they dispute with you, say: “I have submitted myself to Allah and so have those who followed me”; and say also to those who have received the Book and to the unlearned (the Arab idolaters of Mecca): “Have you submitted?” If they have submitted, then they are rightly guided; but if they have turned their backs, then your duty is simply to deliver the Message. Allah perceives His servants well.
3:28 Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends, rather than the believers. Whoever does that has nothing to do with Allah, unless you guard against them fully! Allah warns you to beware of Him (warns you of His anger); and unto Him is the ultimate return!
Revelation 3:28 is also abrogated by revelation 8:57 in which Allah replaces a decree about not associating with unbelievers with one that demands you be brutal with them for reasons He makes obvious.
8:57 So, if you should come upon them in the war, scatter (punish them severely) them with those behind them, that perchance they may pay heed.
4:63 Allah knows what is in the hearts of those ones; so leave them alone, admonish them and say to them effective words about themselves.
4:80 Whoever obeys the Messenger actually obeys Allah. As for those who turn away, We have not sent you to be their helpers.
4:81 They say: “Obedience”; but when they leave you, a group of them secretly plan something other than what you say. Allah writes down what they have in mind. So shun them and put your trust in Allah; Allah is the All-Sufficient Guardian.
4:84 So, fight for the cause of Allah; you are charged only of yourself. Urge the believers on that Allah may perchance restrain the unbelievers’ might. Allah’s might is greater, and greater is His Retribution!
4:90 Except for those who seek refuge with a people with whom you are bound by a compact, or come to you because their hearts forbid them to fight you or fight their own people. Had Allah wished, He would have made them dominate you; and then they would have certainly fought you. If, however, they leave you alone and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah allows you no way against them.
4:91 You shall find others who wish to be secure from you and secure from their own people; yet whenever they are called back to sedition (polytheism) they plunge into it. If these do not keep away from you, nor offer you peace, nor hold their hands back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them. Those we have given you clear authority over them.
4:140 He has revealed to you in the Book that, should you hear the Revelations of Allah being denied or mocked, you should not sit with them until they engage in some other discussion. Otherwise, you are like them. Allah shall assemble all the hypocrites and the unbelievers in Hell;
5:2 O believers, do not violate the Rites of Allah, or the Sacred Month, or the sacrificial offerings, or the animals with garlands, or those who repair to the Sacred House seeking the bounty and pleasure of their Lord. When you are through with the rites of pilgrimage, you can go hunting. And let not the hatred of those who debar you from the Sacred Mosque prompt you to transgress. Help one another in righteousness and piety, but not in sin and aggression. Fear Allah; Allah is Severe in retribution.
5:13 And on account of them violating their covenant, We cursed them and caused their hearts to harden; they take the words (the words in the Torah) out of their context and forget part of what they were enjoined, and you do not cease to find them treacherous, except for a few of them. Yet, pardon them and forgive; Allah surely loves those who do good to others.
5:99 The duty of the Messenger is only to deliver the Message, and Allah knows what you reveal and you conceal.
6:66 And your people deny it (the Qur’an), whereas it is the truth. Say: “I am not your guardian.”
6:68 And when you see those who talk scornfully about Our Revelations, turn away from them, until they engage in another discourse. And should the devil cause you to forget, do not sit down with the evil-doing-people.
6:70 And leave those who take their religion for sport and who are deluded by the life of this world, and remind by it (the Qur’an), lest any soul should perish of what it has earned (on account of the person’s deeds). Apart from Allah, it has no protector or intercessor; and if it offers any ransom, it will not be accepted from it. Such are those who are turned over [to be punished] on account of what they have earned. They will have a drink of boiling water and a very painful punishment, because they disbelieved.
6:91 They do not show proper regard for Allah’s Greatness when they say: “Allah has not revealed anything to a mortal.” Say: “Who revealed the Book which was brought by Moses as a light and guidance to mankind? You put it in scrolls which you reveal, while you conceal much. And [now] you are taught (in the Koran) what neither you nor your fathers knew.” Say: “Allah [revealed it]. Then leave them to revel in their nonsense.”
6:104 Clear proofs have come to you from your Lord. Thus he who perceives, perceives for his own advantage, and he who is blind, that is to his lost; and I am not your Keeper.
6:106 Follow what has been revealed to you from your Lord; for there is no god but He; and turn away from the polytheists.
6:107 Had Allah pleased, they would not have associated [other gods]; and We have not made you their keeper, and you are not their guardian.
6:108 Do not curse (Muhammad) those [deities] whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they wrongfully curse Allah without knowledge. Thus We have made the deeds of every nation seem fair to them; then unto their Lord is their return, and He will tell them what they were doing.
6:112 Likewise, We have assigned to every Prophet an enemy, the devils of men and jinn, revealing one to the other tawdry speech in order to deceive; but had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. So leave them to what they invent;
6:137 And likewise, their associate-gods have insinuated to them the killing of their children, so as to destroy them and confound them in their religion. Had Allah pleased they would not have done it. So leave them (Muhammad) to their fabrications.
6:159 Surely, you are not in any way part of those who have differentiated between parts of their religion and split into sects. Their fate is in Allah’s Hands. He will inform them if what they have done.
7:183 And I will grant them respite. Surely My Scheme is very effective.
7:199 Hold to forgiveness, enjoin the good and turn away from the ignorant.
8:61 And if they incline to peace, incline to it too, and put your trust in a Allah. He is truly the Hearer, the Knower. * 9:29
8:72 Those who have believed and emigrated and struggled with their wealth and their lives in the part of Allah, and those who gave refuge and support – those are friends of one another; but those who have believed, yet did not emigrate, you will not be responsible for their protection until they emigrate. Should they seek your support for religion’s sake, you ought to support them, but not against a people with whom you have a compact. Allah is Fully Aware of what you do.
8:73 As to the unbelievers, they are friends of one another. If you do not do this (subdue the unbelievers), there will be great sedition and corruption in the land.
9:2 Travel, then, in the land freely for four months, and know that you will never able to thwart Allah, and that Allah shall disgrace the unbelievers.
9:7 How can the idolaters have a compact with Allah and His Messenger, except for those you made a compact (a formal treaty) with at the Sacred Mosque? So long as these honour their obligations to you, honour yours to them. Allah loves the righteous.
10:41 If they deny what you say, then say (O Muhammad): ”What I do is mine, and what you do is yours. You are quit of what I do, and I am quit of what you do.”
10:99 Had your Lord willed, everybody on earth would have believed. Will you then compel people to become believers?
10:108 Say: “O people, the truth has come to you from your Lord; whoever is well-guided is well-guided only to his own advantage, and whoever goes astray goes astray only to his disadvantage, and I am not a guardian over you.”
11:12 Perhaps you are passing over (not reciting) a part of what is revealed to you, and your heart is distressed lest they should say: “If only a treasure was sent down upon him or an angel accompanied him!” You are only a warner, and Allah is in charge of everything.
11:121 “And say to the unbelievers: “Continue with what you are doing, and We shall continue with ours.
11:122 And wait; we too are waiting.”
13:40 And whether We show you part of what We promised them or cause you to die, your duty is to deliver the Message and it is for Us to do the reckoning.
15:3 Leave them to eat, enjoy themselves and let [false] hopes beguile them; for they will soon know.
15:85 We have not created the heavens and the earth and what lies between them save in truth; and the Hour (Judgement Day) is surely coming. So forgive them (your detractors) magnanimously.
15:88 Do not strain your gaze towards what We gave certain groups of them to enjoy, and do not grieve for them, and lower your wing (be modest) to the believers.
15:89 And say: “I am truly the plain warner.”
15:94 So proclaim what you are commanded and turn away from the polytheists.
16:82 Then, if they turn away, your duty (Muhammad) is to deliver the clear Message.
16:125 Call to the Way of Your Lord with wisdom and mild exhortation, and argue with them in the best manner. Your Lord surely knows those who stray from His Path, and He knows well those who are rightly guided.
16:127 Be patient; yet your patience is only through Allah. Do not grieve for them (the unbelievers), and do not be distressed on account of what they devise.
17:54 Your Lord knows you best. If He pleases, He will have mercy on you, and if He pleases He will torture you. We have not sent you (Muhammad) to be their guardian.
19:39 And warn them of the Day of sorrow, when the issue is decided, while they are heedless and do not believe.
19:75 Say (O Muhammad): “Whoever is in error, let the Compassionate prolong his term; so that when they are threatened with, whether it be the punishment or the Hour, they will know who is worse in position and weaker in supporters.”
19:84 So do not hasten (O Muhammad) [their punishment] We are indeed counting for them the days.
20:130 So bear (Muhammad) patiently what they say, and celebrate the praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting; and glorify him during the hours of the night and at the two ends of the day, that you may be well-pleased.
20:135 Say: “Everybody is waiting, so wait; and then you will know who are the people of the Straight Path and who are the well-guided.”
22:68 And if they dispute with you, say: “Allah knows best what you are doing.”
23:54 So, leave them in their error for a while.
24:54 Say: “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger; but if you turn away, then upon him (the Prophet) rests what he was charged with, and upon you what you were charged with. However, if you obey him, you will be well-guided. It is only incumbent on the Messenger to deliver the manifest message.”
25:63 And the servants of the Compassionate who walk in the land gently and, if the ignorant address them, they say: “Peace.”
27:92 And to recite the Qur’an. He who is well-guided is only well-guided to his own advantage, and to him who goes astray, say: “I am only one of the warners.”
28:55 And when they hear idle talk, they turn away from it and say: “We have our works and you have your works. Peace be upon you; we do not desire the company of the ignorant.”
29:50 They said: “If only signs from his Lord were sent down on him (Muhammad).” Say: “Signs are only with Allah, and I am only a manifest warner.”
30:60 Be patient then, for Allah’s Promise is true; and do not be disheartened by those who lack the certitude of faith.
31:23 Whoever disbelieves, let not his disbelief sadden you. Unto us is their return and then We will tell them what they did. Allah knows well the secret of the breasts.
32:30 So turn away from them and wait; they too shall be waiting.
33:48 And do not obey the unbelievers and the hypocrites, overlook their injury, and trust in Allah. For Allah suffices as Guardian.
34:25 Say: “You will not be questioned about our misdeeds and we will not be questioned about what you do.”
35:23 You are only a warner.
36:76 Do not let their words cause you grief; We know what they reveal and what they conceal.
37:174 So, turn away (O Muhammad) from them for a while.
37:175 And look at them; they shall soon be able to see (their defeat and your victory with their own eyes, Moududi).
37:178 And turn away from them a while.
37:179 And look, for they shall be able to see.
38:70 “It is only revealed to me that I am a manifest warner.”
38:88 “And you will learn its message after a while.”
39:3 Sincere religion belongs to Allah. Those who took other protectors, apart from Him, say: “We only worship them so as to bring us closer to Allah in rank”. Allah surely judges between them with respect with what they differ upon. Allah surely does not guide him who is a thankless liar.
39:14 Say (O Muhammad): “Allah alone I worship professing to Him my religion sincerely.
39:15 “Worship, then, what you wish, apart from Him.” Say: “Indeed, those who have lost themselves and their families on the Day of Resurrection are the real losers. That is truly the manifest lost.”
39:36 Does not Allah suffice His servant? Yet they frightened you with those apart from Him (that is, idols). Whomever Allah leads astray will have no other guide.
39:39 Say: “My people, act according to your ability. I am acting; then you will know.
39:40 “Whoever is visited by punishment will be degraded by it and a lasting punishment will befall him.”
39:41 We have sent the Book upon you for all mankind in truth. He who is well-guided is guided to his own gain, and he who goes astray, will go astray to his loss. You are not their overseer.
39:46 Say: “O Allah, Creator of the heavens and the earth, Knower of the Unseen and the Seen, you shall judge between your servants regarding that whereon they used to differ.”
40:12 That is because if Allah is called upon alone, you disbelieve; but if others are associated with Him, you believe. Judgement is Allah’s the All-High, the All-Great.
40:55 So stand fast; Allah’s Promise is true. Seek the forgiveness of your sin and proclaim the praise of your Lord evenings and mornings.
40:77 So, bear up patiently; Allah’s Promise is true. We will either show you (Muhammad), what We are promising them, or We will call you unto Us. Then unto us they will be brought back.
41:34 The fair and evil deeds are not equal. Respond with that which is fairer, so that he against whom you have a grudge shall be like an intimate friend.
42:6 Those who have taken other protectors, apart from Him, Allah oversees them and you are not their guardian.
42:15 Therefore, summon and be upright as you were commanded, and do not follow their fancies, but say: “I believe in whatever Book Allah has sent down. I have been commanded to judge justly between you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord; we have our deeds and you have your deeds. There is no dispute between us and you; Allah will gather us together and unto Him is our ultimate return.”
42:48 Should they turn away, We have not sent you as guardian to watch over them; incumbent on you is delivering the Message only. Indeed, when We make man taste a mercy from Us, he rejoices in it, but when they are afflicted with a misfortune, on account of what their hands had previously perpetrated, then man is truly thankless.
43:83 So leave them to romp and frolic till they encounter their Day (Judgement Day) which they have been promised. 43:89 So turn away from them, and say: “Peace.” For they will certainly come to know.
44:59 So wait and watch; they are waiting and watching.
45:14 Tell the believers to forgive those who do not hope for Allah’s Days (evil days from Allah, Moududi, calamities mostly, Fakhry), that He may reward a people for what they used to earn.
46:35 So bear patiently, as the Constant Messengers (Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus) bore up, and do not seek to hasten it (the punishment) for them. On that Day they shall see what they were promised, as if they had not lingered except for a single hour of the day. This is a proclamation. Shall any but the sinful people be destroyed?
47:4 So when you meet the unbelievers, strike their necks till you have bloodied them then fasten the shackles. Thereupon, release them freely or for a ransom till the war is over. So be it. Yet had Allah wished, He would have taken vengeance upon them, but he wanted to test you by one another. Those who die in the Cause of Allah, He will not render their works perverse.
50:39 Bear up with what they say and proclaim the Praise of your Lord before sunrise and before sunset.
50:45 We know better what they say and you are not a tyrant terrorizing them. So, remind, by the Qur’an, him who fears My Warning.
52:31 Say: “Await, I am indeed with you awaiting.”
52:45 Leave them, then, till they encounter the Day on which they will be thunderstruck;
52:48 Bear with your Lord’s Judgement, for you are in Our Thoughts; and proclaim the Praise of Your Lord when you arise;
53:29 So turn away from him who has given up Our Reminder (the Qur’an) and only desire the present life.
54:6 Turn away from them. On the Day the caller shall call out an abominable thing;
60:11 If any of your wives desert you to the unbelievers, and you decide to penalize them, then give those [husbands] whose wives have gone away the like of what they have spent (the dowry), and fear Allah in whom you believe.
68:44 So, leave Me alone with those who disbelieve this discourse. We shall draw them out whence they do not know.
68:48 Bear up with your Lord’s Judgement, then, and do not be like the Man in the Whale (Jonah), when he called out fully distressed.
70:5 Bear up patiently then (Muhammad).
70:42 So leave them to romp and play till they meet their Day, which they have been promised.
73:10 And bear up with what they say, and forsake them graciously.
73:11 And let Me deal with those who deny and live in luxury; and give them a little respite.
74:11 Leave Me with him (al-Walid Ibn al-Mughirah) whom I created alone,
76:8 And they give food, despite their love of it, to the destitute, the orphans and the captive.
76:24 So bear up with your Lord’s Judgement and do not obey (Muhammad) any sinful or thankless one of them.
76:29 This indeed is a reminder; so he who wishes will follow, unto His Lord, a path.
86:17 So (Muhammad), give the unbelievers some respite. Respite them slowly.
88:21 So, exhort, you (Muhammad) are a mere exhorter;
88:22 You are not supposed to dominate (compel, Moududi) them;
88:23 Except for him who turns away and disbelieves;
95:8 Is not Allah the Best of Judges?
109:6 “You have your religion and I have mine.”