Jihad in the Koran

Killing Unbelievers Halal


61 As-Saff

In the Name of Allah,

the Compassionate, the Merciful

Jihad in the Koran61:1 Everything in the heavens and on the earth glorifies Allah. He is the Al-Mighty, the Wise.

61:2 O believers, why do you profess what you do not practice?

61:3 It is very hateful in Allah’s Sight that you profess what you do not practice.

61:4 Allah loves those who fight in His Cause arrayed in battle, as though they were a compact structure.


22:38 Allah will defend the believers; Allah surely does not like any thankless traitor.

22:39 Permission is given to those who fight because they are wronged. Surely Allah is Capable of giving them victory.

David Cook’s definition of jihad is “’Warfare with spiritual significance’ [and] is the primary and root meaning of the term as it has been defined by classical Muslim jurists and legal scholars… ”

The Encyclopedia of Islam agrees: “In law, according to general doctrine and in historical tradition, the jihad consists of military action with the object of the expansion of Islam and, if need be, of its defence”

According to the author of Understanding Jihad, modern-day Islamic jurists have interpreted what is commonly referred to as the “Verse of the Sword”, verse 9:5 which is said to supersede all other verses on the subject of war and peace, and verse 9:111 the “Salvific Covenant” (do this for me and I will do this for you, save you, give you Paradise) as announcing a universal war, a jihad against all unbelievers.

As David Cook explains: “while its immediate subject (verse 9:5) is the Pagan Arabs—a narrow application sustained by early commentators—later Muslim jurists would use the verse to proclaim a universal jihad against all non-Muslims.”

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.

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.

Allah's demand for an all-out war for the purpose of making believers out of unbelievers and infidels has been re-phrased in more acceptable terms. Today, jihad is presented, not as a fight to rid the world of people who will not submit to the Will of Allah, but as a fight to rid the world of oppressors (and who does not hate oppressors) or to protect a community from those who would oppress it.

Following are the modern conditions under which Muslims may be asked to engage in jihad:

1. To defend a community or nation from aggressors.

2. To liberate people living under oppressive regimes.

3. To remove any government that will not allow the free practice of Islam within its borders.

A respected cleric or a community leader must make the determination that at least one of the above conditions has been met before the bloodletting can begin.

Does Allah agree with the purported majority view, especially the intimidating “To remove any government that will not allow the free practice of Islam within its borders.”

Allah’s clearest, though still ambiguous instructions as to what the believers can do to the unbelievers (if you are a believer that does not subscribe to the more radical interpretation of verse 9:5) are contained in the second surah, The Cow.

Allah is a pragmatic, patient God. It was this same pragmatic, patient approach that allowed the Ottoman Turks to conquer the Balkans and almost all of Europe. They freed a grateful peasantry from the onerous yoke of feudalism and were willing to wait for the next generation to adopt Islam, which many did. In Islamic terms, it was a somewhat bloodless conquest.

Allah’s sensible, patient nature is evident in a verse where He counsels His followers to pardon “the people of the Book” and continue doing what they do until He figures out what to do with them; “makes known His Will” in revelation 2:109.

2:109 Many of the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) wish, out of envy, to turn you back into unbelievers after the Truth has become manifest to them. But pardon and overlook, until Allah makes known His Will. Surely Allah has the power over all things.

2:110 Perform the prayers and give the alms-tax. Whatever good you do for your own sake, you will find it with Allah (you will be rewarded for it), surely Allah is cognizant of what you do.

In revelation 2:190 Allah appears to be willing to wait for the unbelievers to die from natural causes before getting “the fuel for his fire”, and there is no need for the faithful to expedite the delivery of the combustible unless … unless the combustible is aggressive.

2:190 And fight for the Cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not be aggressive. Surely Allah does not like the aggressors.

Then it gets a little more complicated. Verse 2:191, the Salvific Covenant, expresses many of the same sentiments found in the Verse of the Sword. The main differences appear to have to do with killing within the precinct of a mosque and mass killings, my understanding of “slaughter” to quell an insurrection i.e. "sedition".

2:191 Kill them wherever you find them and drive them out from 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 of the unbelievers.

Perhaps a line by line reading of verse 2:191, followed by a presentation of the short verses 2:192 and 2:193 which have a direct impact on instructions contained in 2:191 would provide a richer insight into the mind of the Koranic God when he sent down this revelation.

Kill them wherever you find them and drive them out from wherever they drove you out.

Majid Fakhry, in a footnote, explains that this line refers to the Meccans who wanted nothing to do with the Prophet Muhammad’s brand of religion which denied the gods of their ancestors, and drove him out of Mecca.

This sentence could also easily be interpreted as Allah’s command, that once Islam has establish a beachhead anywhere, to try to remove it or limit its expansion is to invite death and destruction. Death and destruction at the hands of the believers who would have no choice in the matter. Allah’s instructions are unambiguous: “Kill them wherever you find them and drive them out from wherever they drove you out.”

Sedition is worse than slaughter.

The web definition of sedition is “an illegal action inciting resistance to lawful authority and tending to cause the disruption or overthrow of the government.” My interpretation of this sentence is that Allah expects those who would plot or participate in actions to overthrow an Islamic government to be slaughtered. Allah is, in effect, telling the believers that He would rather see the inhabitants of a region, city or community seeking to secede put to death rather than have them abandon Islam.

Do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight you at it.

Allah is referring to the Mosque in Mecca, but I suspect it could be any mosque.

If they fight you there kill them!

If they fight you at the Mosque show them no mercy. This additional command I consider superfluous or simply Allah’s way of reminding the believers that he means business when it comes to killing the unbelievers, having already commanded them to “Kill them wherever you find them …” in the first line of this verse.

Such is the reward for the unbelievers.

This is just Allah being Allah when it comes to unbelievers. Death is the usual reward unbelievers can expect for resisting Islam unless … unless they desist.

2:192 But if they desist, Allah is truly All-Forgiving, Merciful.

If they accept Islam as their religion you may spare there lives but not the lives of the “evildoers.”

2:193 Fight them until there is no sedition and the religion becomes that of Allah. But if they desist, there will be no aggression except against the evildoers.

You will find other verses where Allah forbids aggression, such as the following:

16:90 Allah enjoins justice, charity and the giving to kindred; He forbids indecency, evil and aggression. He admonishes you that you may take heed.

Remember, when you encounter such revelations, that it is non-aggression against believers only. In Allah’s Book, unbelievers and evildoers are generally synonymous, and against evildoers aggression is not only permitted, but encouraged.

If you are a Wahabi Muslim like Bin-Laden, verse 2:193 and verse 9:5, the Verse of the Sword, mean that the war against the unbelievers is a never-ending war until Islam is triumphant everywhere “Fight them until there is no sedition and the religion becomes that of Allah.

For these believers there is only the Land of Islam and the Land of War. Forget about the line “if they desist there will be no aggression except against the evildoers” being a sign that Allah puts a limit on killing unbelievers. For Allah, evildoers and unbelievers are synonymous.

3:151 We will cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers on account of their associating with Allah that for which He sent down no authority. Their abode is the Fire and wretched is the dwelling-place of the evildoers.

To paraphrase George W. Bush who said “I am not a nuance type of guy”, Allah is not a nuance type of God. You’re either with Him or against Him. If you are against Him you have allied yourself with the Devil and are fighting on the Devil’s behalf. Fighting with the Devil against Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful; could an unbeliever be more evil?

4:76 Those who believe fight for the Cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight on behalf of the Devil. Fight then the followers of the Devil. Surely the guile of the Devil is weak.

In the surah The Spoils, which is, in many ways even more menacing then Repentance (commonly referred to as the War Surah), Allah decrees that unbelievers be beheaded (still today the favourite form of execution in countries dominated by the Koran e.g. Saudi Arabia).

8:12 And when your Lord revealed to the angels: “I am with you; so support those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve; so strike upon the necks and strike every fingertip of theirs.”

At the battle of Uhud, Allah revealed that He sent down angels to help the believers (see chapter Battle of Uhud for revelations pertaining to the angels participation). However, Moududi writes that “we presume that the angels did not take part in the actual fighting. What we may suggest is that the angels helped the Muslims and as a result their blows became more accurate and effective” in removing heads and fingers.

Shakir’s translation leaves no doubt as to what Allah meant, whether it was instructions for His angels or the believers:

8:12 When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

8:13 That is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger; and he who opposes Allah and His Messenger [will find] Allah’s Punishment very severe.

8:14 This is how it will be; so taste it; the torture of the Fire is awaiting the unbelievers.

In The Spoils, Allah lets slip that He considers humanity nothing more than beasts; the worst of which are the unbelievers who can't hear and can't speak. Yes, Allah could have made them hear, for He is All-Powerful; but, the Compassionate did not do this because He knew beforehand that it would not have made a difference, although what Jesus did, for which Allah claimed credit, would tend to prove the opposite; that healing the handicapped does make a difference.

8:22 The worst beasts in Allah’s Sight are the deaf and dumb who do not understand.

8:23 If Allah knew any good in them, He would have made them hear; and had He made them hear, they would still have turned away defiantly.

How beasts which can't speak express their disbelief is unclear; nonetheless, you should treat them harshly as an example to other deaf and dumb animals.

8:55 The worst beasts in the Sight of Allah are those who disbelieve, because they will never believe.

8:56 Those, who each time you make a covenant with them, break it, and do not fear God.

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.

8:58 (see chapter Medina)

Other translations of verse 8:57 are even more to the point. In a war with the believers, unbelievers may prefer death to surrendering to the tender mercies of those who prostrate themselves before the Compassionate.

Muhammad Assad:

8:57 If thou find them at war [with you], make of them a fearsome example for those who follow them, so that they might take it to heart.

M.M. Pickthall:

8:57 If thou comest (sic) on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember.

Can unbelievers expect any mercy e.g. be allowed to escape a battle with the believers? Allah’ response is unequivocal!

8:59 Let not the unbelievers think that they can escape [Us]. They will never be able to escape.

He followed these instructions about showing unbelievers no mercy by some advice on seventh century terror tactics and how you will be repaid in full for spending your money on war materials.

8:60 And make ready for them whatever you can of fighting men and horses, to terrify thereby the enemies of Allah and your enemy, as well as others besides them whom you do not know, but Allah knows well. Everything you spend in the Path of Allah will be repaid in full, and you will never be wronged.

He just won’t let up with killing the unbelievers, encouraging first the believers, then their leader, His Messenger, to kill them in the most cruel manner (my understanding of the meaning of “harsh”, which is born out in verse 5:33 and other pitiless verses already quoted and verses to come).

9:123 O you who believe, fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them see how harsh you can be. Know that Allah is with the righteous.

66:9 O Prophet, struggle with the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and deal harshly with them. Their refuge shall be Hell, and what an evil resort!


5:33 Indeed, the punishment of those who fight Allah and His Messenger and go around corrupting the land is to be killed, crucified, have their hands and feet cut off on opposite sides, or to be banished from the land. That is a disgrace for them in this life, and in the life to come theirs will be a terrible punishment.

And then a ray of hope, unbelievers may be spared if they convert just before you are about to put them to death.

5:34 Except for those who repent before you overpower them. Know, then, that Allah is All Forgiving, Merciful.

Skip a verse (5:35 O believers fear Allah and seek the means to win His Favour. Fight in His Way so that you may prosper) and Allah reverts to form.

5:36 As to the unbelievers, even if they had all there is on earth and the like of it too, to redeem themselves from the punishment of the Day of Resurrection therewith, it will not be accepted from them, and a very painful punishment shall be in store for them.

5:37 They will then wish to come out of the Fire, but they will never come out, and theirs is an everlasting punishment!