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Islam and Non-Muslims: A New Perspective
Dr. Shehzad Saleem


Readers are advised to first carefully go through the components of the article that appear in the contents section of the journal so that they can have a clear comprehension of its overall arrangement.


I. Introduction

The question of Islam’s relationship with other religions of the world carries a significance that needs no elaboration. Shortened frontiers, enhanced communication and increased interaction in this present era have only magnified the importance of this issue. Indeed, the past fourteen centuries of co-inhabitation with other religions has greatly influenced world history and the shaping of global geographic boundaries.

The general opinion of Muslim scholars on this matter is based on the premise that Islam is the final truth and therefore only Islam has the right to rule in this world; non-Muslims better be aware of this or else they will have to face animosity and hostility from Muslims. Peaceful co-existence is something which generally finds mention in the Muslim view where they are in power and people of other religions live in subservience to Muslims. Jeffrey Lang, professor of Mathematics at the Kansas University, who converted to Islam in the early eighties, vividly records this typical Muslim mindset in the following words:  

‘I’m sure you know that it’s incumbent on Muslims living in the United States to work and struggle and, if necessary, to fight to establish an Islamic state here’, said the dean of the Middle Eastern University, aware that tradition and scholarship were on his side.

‘My idea of what makes a state Islamic might be very different from yours’, I answered. ‘Do you, for example, feel that your country is an Islamic state?’

‘Of course it’s not perfect’, he offered. ‘But we’re free to practice our faith and most of the Sharī‘ah is enforced’.

‘But what if we’re already free to practice our rituals here and to influence the laws and government through democracy?’

‘But democracy recognizes the will of the majority, while an Islamic state gives final authority to God as revealed in the Qur’ān and teachings of the Prophet!’

‘Might not the two converge in a society where the majority are committed to the viewpoint that God is the supreme authority and Muhammad is His Prophet? If the majority is not so committed, then what purpose is served by declaring an Islamic state or a state religion?’

‘What you’re advocating is secularism!’1

A little deliberation shows that Muslim scholars base their view on what transpired in Arabia fourteen hundred years ago when Muhammad (sws) the last of the Messengers of Allah led a long struggle against the exponents of Kufr (denial of the truth). Many verses of the Qur’ān and certain Āhadīth which record and depict this struggle apparently ask the believers to be hostile to non-Muslims. There are directives like severing ties with non-Muslims and cursing them in prayer. Some Qur’ānic verses and Āhadīth even ask the believers to put to death non-Muslims. As Rev. Stephene puts it:

In the Qur’ān, the Mussulman is absolutely and positively commanded to make war upon all those who decline to acknowledge the Prophet until they submit, or, in the case of Jews and Christians, purchase exemption from the conformity by the payment of tribute. The mission of the Mussulman, as declared in the Qur’ān, is distinctly aggressive. We might say that Mahomet bequeathed to his disciples a roving commission to propagate his faith by the employment of force where persuasion failed. ‘O Prophet, fight for the religion of God’ – ‘Stir up the faithful to war,’ such are commands which Mahomet believed to be given to him by God. ‘Fight against them who believe not in God, nor the last day’, ‘attack the idolatrous in all the months’, such are his own exhortations to his disciples.2

So the conclusion is simple. Muslims must follow what is written in their Holy book and what is ascribed to their Prophet (sws).

II. The Premise

In this regard, the basic premise3 which needs to be understood is that most directives of Islam that depict hostility and antagonism towards non-Muslims are directed towards a specific category of non-Muslims, which may exist today but cannot be humanly pinpointed. In reality, this category of non-Muslims were punished by the Almighty in the era of Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) for reasons that shall be discussed later. The hostility and antagonism which the Qur’ān depicts against these non-Muslims are actually the various manifestations of the punishment meted out to them. In religious parlance, such non-Muslims are called the Kuffār (singular: Kāfir) or Disbelievers.

In other words, directives which apparently depict hostility and antagonism against non-Muslims are not related to the non-Muslims of times other than the times of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) since the Kuffār among them  cannot be ascertained.

III. Arguments and Rationale

I will now attempt to substantiate the above mentioned premise. First, an attempt will be made to identify the Disbelievers (Kuffār). Next the basis and source of their punishment will be delineated. This will be followed by details of the preaching mission of the Rusul4 (plural of Rasūl: Messengers) of God who became the agents of this punishment so that the readers can view the whole act of retribution in its overall perspective. Finally, the major directives which relate to the Kuffār (Disbelievers) and which have been erroneously extended to all non-Muslims shall be elaborated upon.

a. Identifying the Disbelievers (Kuffār)

In the Qur’ān, the word Kāfir is used as a term to denote a person who denies a Messenger of the Almighty even though he is convinced of the truth of his message5.

It is humanly impossible for a person to determine whether an individual or a group of individuals is deliberately denying a Messenger since no one can know what is in a person’s heart; neither can any one be correctly aware of the excuses and hindrances a person may have in this regard. It is only the Almighty who on the basis of His all embracing knowledge can inform us of such a denial, for it is He alone who knows what is in the hearts. In times when He used to send His Messengers, He chose to impart this information to them through Wahī (revelation). However, after the termination of the institution of Wahī, people who have deliberately denied a Messenger cannot be pinpointed. In other words, after the departure of Muhammad (sws), the last Messenger, no Muslim is in a position to ascertain who among his addressees is guilty of deliberately denying the message of Muhammad (sws). Therefore, now, only on the Day of Judgement will it be known whether a particular person is a Kāfir or not.

As a consequence, the Christians and Jews and followers of other religions who live after the age of the Prophet (sws) cannot be called Kāfirs; the right name for them is non-Muslims.

b. Punishing the Disbelievers (Kuffār)

According to the Qur’ān, denying a Messenger of God in spite of being convinced about his veracity is something which deserves severe punishment both in this world and in the Hereafter since this is tantamount to deliberately denying the Almighty Himself. The worldly punishment of the Disbelievers (Kuffār) was carried out by the Almighty in two ways: Either He directly destroyed them Himself through disasters and calamities or by His Messengers and their Companions (rta) -- who in this exercise were no more than agents of His retribution. In the second case, the Messengers and their Companions (rta) just replaced the weapons of destruction as the role of earthquakes, storms, cyclones and lightning was assumed by them.

Referring to the first form of punishment, the Qur’ān says:

فَكُلًّا أَخَذْنَا بِذَنْبِهِ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِ حَاصِبًا وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَخَذَتْهُ الصَّيْحَةُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ خَسَفْنَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَغْرَقْنَا (٢٩ : ٤٠)

Each one of them We seized for their crime: of them, against some We sent a violent tornado with showers of stones; some were caught by a mighty blast; some We sunk in the earth; and some We drowned in the waters. (29:40)

Referring to the second form of divine punishment, the Qur’ān asserts:

قَاتِلُوهُمْ يُعَذِّبْهُمْ اللَّهُ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ وَيُخْزِهِمْ وَيَنْصُرْكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ (٩ :١٤)

Fight them [ O Believers!] and God will punish them with your hands and humiliate them and help you to victory over them. (9:14)

فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَتَلَهُمْ (٨ :١٧)

It is not you [O believers] who slew them; it was [ in fact] God [who slew] them. (8:17)

While explaining this verse, the celebrated Muslim authority, Shāh Walī Ullāh, writes:

فَصَارُوْا فِيْ ذَلِكَ بِمَنْزِلَةِ الْمَلَئِكَةِ تَسْعىَ فِيْ إِتْمَامِ مَا أَمَرَ اللهُ تَعَالى غَيْرَ أَنْ الْمَلئِكَةَ تَسَعى مِنْ غَيْرِ أَنْ يُّعَقَّدَ فِيْهِمْ قَاعِدَةٌ كُلِّيَّةٌ وَالْمُسْلِمُوْنَ يُقَاتِلُوْنَ لِأَجَلِ قَاعِدَةِ كُلِّيَّةٍ عَلَّمَهُمْ اللهُ تَعَالى وَكَانَ عَمَلُهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَعْظَمُ الْاَعْمَالِ وَصَارَ الْقَتْلُ لَا يُسْنَدُ إنَّمَا يُسْنَدُ أِلَى الْأَمِيْرِ كَمَا يُسْنَدُ قَتْلُ الْعَاصِىْ إِلىَ الْأْمِيْرِ دُوْنِ السَّيَّافِ. وَهُوَ قَوْلُه تَعَالَى ’فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوْهُمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللهَ قَتَلَهُمْ

The Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) in the fulfillment of this mission became like angels who also strive for the implementation of God’s directives. The difference between angelic and human undertakings is that the former strive without being guided by any universal principle, while human beings fight for the sake of a definite overall objective given to them by the Almighty. Thus Jihād becomes the greatest of all their deeds. That is why the act of killing is not attributed to them. It is attributed to the Divine Being who issued the directive to kill. This is like ascribing the act of killing of a traitor to the ruler rather than the slayer, as the Qur’ān says: ‘You slew them not, but God slew them’.6

In other words, what needs to be understood is that it was the Almighty who took matters in His own hands and punished the Kuffār in this world in the time of His Messengers. It is precisely for this reason that in this particular sphere, the Prophet Muhammad (sws) is not a role model for Muslims. What mankind needs to learn from this whole exercise is to be mindful of a reality that it tends to forget: reward and punishment in the Hereafter on the basis of a person’s deeds. This reward and punishment which is to take place in the Hereafter is substantiated visually by the Almighty through the agency of His Messengers so that mankind may always remain heedful to this reality. The court of justice which will be set up for every person on the Day of Judgement was set up for the nations of Messengers in this world so that the latter could become a visual testimony to the former. The Qur’ān at numerous instances has used this argument to substantiate the reward and punishment in the Hereafter. In Sūrah Hāqqah, for example, it says:

الْحَاقَّةُ مَا الْحَاقَّةُ  وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْحَاقَّةُ كَذَّبَتْ ثَمُودُ وَعَادٌ بِالْقَارِعَةِ  فَأَمَّا ثَمُودُ فَأُهْلِكُوا بِالطَّاغِيَةِ   وَأَمَّا عَادٌ فَأُهْلِكُوا بِرِيحٍ صَرْصَرٍ عَاتِيَةٍ  سَخَّرَهَا عَلَيْهِمْ سَبْعَ لَيَالٍ وَثَمَانِيَةَ أَيَّامٍ حُسُومًا فَتَرَى الْقَوْمَ فِيهَا صَرْعَى كَأَنَّهُمْ أَعْجَازُ نَخْلٍ خَاوِيَةٍ  فَهَلْ تَرَى لَهُمْ مِنْ بَاقِيَةٍ  وَجَاءَ فِرْعَوْنُ وَمَنْ قَبْلَهُ وَالْمُؤْتَفِكَاتُ بِالْخَاطِئَةِ   فَعَصَوْا رَسُولَ رَبِّهِمْ فَأَخَذَهُمْ أَخْذَةً رَابِيَةً   إِنَّا لَمَّا طَغَى الْمَاءُ حَمَلْنَاكُمْ فِي الْجَارِيَةِ   لِنَجْعَلَهَا لَكُمْ تَذْكِرَةً وَتَعِيَهَا أُذُنٌ وَاعِيَةٌ  (٦٩ :١-١٢)

The Inevitable! What is the Inevitable? What do you know what the Inevitable is? It is the Pounding One which the ‘Ād and the Thamūd denied. As for the Thamūd, they were destroyed by a calamity that exceeded all bounds and the ‘Ād by a storm, fierce and violent. He let loose this [storm] on them for seven nights and eight days to ravage them. You would have seen them lying overthrown as though they were hollow trunks of palm-trees. So do you now see any of them? And the same crime was committed by Pharaoh and those before him and by the overturned settlements also such that they disobeyed the Messenger of their Lord [sws]. So He gripped them with an intensifying grip. [Similarly, as a consequence of denying Noah (sws)] when [the storm blew over and] the flood rose high it was We who carried you upon the ark to make this [account of your ancestors] a reminder for you and that retaining ears may retain it . (69:1-12)

The justification of the retribution carried out by the Messengers on the Kuffār is that through divine help, the basic truths7 become manifest in their personalities to the extent that no one is left with any excuse to deny it. In the words of the Qur’ān, this is called Shahādah ‘ala al-nās (bearing witness to the truth before other peoples). The Almighty has referred to this aspect in the following words:

إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ رَسُولًا شَاهِدًا عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَى فِرْعَوْنَ رَسُولًا (٧٣ :١٥)

To you [O People of the Quraysh!] We have sent forth a Rasūl as witness to the truth upon you just as we sent a Rasūl to the Pharaoh. (73:15)

In other words, what authorizes a Messenger to punish the Kuffār is that it can be ascertained in this very world that they are guilty of denying the basic truths in spite of being convinced about them. Good and evil are elucidated with ultimate clarity and people who accept evil do so not because of any confusion but because of their own stubbornness.

So it can be concluded that since a Messenger reveals the basic truths in their ultimate form and those who deny it do so because of their stubbornness and even confess their sins, a Messenger has the perfect justification to punish his people after they have denied him.

c. The Preaching Mission of the Messengers

As mentioned earlier, a detailed analysis of the preaching mission of the Messengers shall now be made so that the punishment meted out by the Almighty through them to the Disbelievers can be viewed by the reader in the overall perspective. This will be done in two sections. The first covers the general features of this mission and the second one covers the manifestation of these features in the era of Muhammad (sws).

1. General Features

i. The Objective of the Messengers

In the words of the Qur’ān, the basic objective of the Messengers of Allah is to decide the fate of their respective peoples in this world in such a manner that if these people deny their Messengers, they are subdued in this very world:

وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِرُسُلِهِمْ لَنُخْرِجَنَّكُمْ مِنْ أَرْضِنَا أَوْ لَتَعُودُنَّ فِي مِلَّتِنَا فَأَوْحَى إِلَيْهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ لَنُهْلِكَنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ وَلَنُسْكِنَنَّكُمْ الْأَرْضَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامِي وَخَافَ وَعِيدِ (١٤ :٩-١٤)

And the disbelievers said to their Messengers: We will drive you out of our land, or you return to our religion’. But their Lord inspired [this message] to them [–the Messengers –]: ‘Verily We will cause the wrong-doers to perish! And verily We will cause you to abide in the land, and succeed them. This is for those who feared the time when they shall stand before My tribunal and those who feared My warnings’. (14:9-14)

It has been ordained that the Almighty and His Messengers will always prevail:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحَادُّونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي الأَذَلِّينَ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا وَرُسُلِي إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ (٥٨ :٢٠-١)

Indeed those who are opposing Allah and His Messenger are bound to be humiliated. The Almighty has ordained: I and My Messengers shall always prevail. Indeed Allah is Mighty and Powerful. (58:20-1)

The Old Testament refers to this law in the following words:

If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy, 8:19-20)

The New Testament mentions this law in the following words:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered: ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish’. (Luke, 13:1-4)

ii. Phases of the Mission

A Rasūl’s mission after passing through various phases culminates in achieving the above mentioned objective of deciding the fate of his nation in this very world. This mission can be categorized in the following phases:8


a. The Propagation Phase

b. The Acquittal Phase

c. The Judgement Phase


In the following paragraphs, we will take a look at some of the important features of these phases.

a. The Propagation Phase

With this phase begins the mission of the Messengers. During this phase, with the special help and assistance of the Almighty, the Messengers remove misconceptions which may surround the basic truths and vehemently say that if people do not accept these truths they shall be doomed in this world and in the Hereafter. In this phase, the Messengers of Allah never use force or retaliate against any oppression or persecution encountered. They spend all their time and energy in earnestly urging people to mend their ways.

b. The Acquittal Phase

At the end of the Propagation Phase – which is signaled by he Almighty since only He knows when enough time has been given to people to reflect and accept such truths – a Messenger disassociates himself from his people by announcing his acquittal and migrating from them so that the Almighty can pronounce His judgement both upon the followers of the Messenger and his adversaries. It is now that his adversaries are called Kāfirs, implying that they have rejected the basic truths in spite of being convinced about them.

Two important things must be noted about the migration of a Messenger which takes place in this acquittal phase.

Firstly, it signals the end of his nation. It means that all that could have been done to call them to accept faith has been done. Before migration, as long as a Messenger remains among his people, they are protected from any punishment and given respite due to his presence. So, when the pagan Arabs demanded from Muhammad (sws) to bring the punishment he had been threatening them with, they were told:

وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَأَنْتَ فِيهِمْ (٨ :٣٣)

But God was not going to send them a punishment whilst you are amongst them. (8:33)

Secondly, a Messenger is not authorized to make the decision of migration for himself since only the Almighty knows when a particular people has been given enough time to accept the basic truths. A Messenger must keep to his task of warning his people, in spite of bitter opposition, until he is informed by the Almighty that the time for warning them is over. The Prophet Jonah (sws) was reprimanded by the Almighty when he on his own decided to migrate from his people: 

وَذَا النُّونِ إِذْ ذَهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ أَنْ لَنْ نَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ فَنَادَى فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنْ الظَّالِمِينَ (٢١ :٨٧)

And remember Dhu’l-Nūn, when he departed in wrath thinking that We will not hold him responsible! So he cried through the depths of darkness: ‘There is no god but You. Glory to You. I was indeed wrong!’ (21:87)

The Prophet Muhammad (sws) was told to exercise patience and not be like Jonah (sws) until the decree of Allah arrived:

فَاصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ وَلَا تَكُنْ كَصَاحِبِ الْحُوتِ إِذْ نَادَى وَهُوَ مَكْظُومٌ (٦٨ :٤٨)

So wait with patience for the Command of your Lord, and be not like the Companion of the Fish, -- when he cried out in agony. (68:48)

On the other hand, when Abraham (sws) argued with the Almighty that the nation of his nephew, the Prophet Lot (sws), be given more respite, he was told that none among the righteous were left in it. While the Qur’ān (11:74) makes a passing reference to this, the Bible gives the following details:

Then Abraham approached Him and said: ‘Will You sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare that place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?’ The Lord said: ‘If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake’. Then Abraham spoke up again: ‘Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?’ ‘If I find forty-five there’, He said: ‘I will not destroy it’. Once again he spoke to him: ‘What if only forty are found there?’ He said: ‘For the sake of forty, I will not do it’. Then he said: ‘May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?’ He answered: ‘I will not do it if I find thirty there’. Abraham said: ‘Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?’ He said: ‘For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it’. Then he said: ‘May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?’ He answered: ‘For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it’. (Genesis, 18:23-32)

c. The Judgement Phase

This phase is the culmination of a Messenger’s preaching mission. He decides the fate of his nation in this phase. It is in reality the Almighty who undertakes this task as pointed out before.

It is evident from the Qur’ān that in the Judgement phase, the punishment of the Disbelievers9 normally takes two forms depending upon the situation that arises.

If a Messenger has very few companions and he has no place to migrate from his people and attain political power, then the Messenger and his companions are sifted out from their nation by the Almighty and made to migrate to a safe place. Their nation is then destroyed through various natural calamities like earthquakes, typhoons and cyclones. The Qur’ān says:

فَكُلًّا أَخَذْنَا بِذَنْبِهِ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِ حَاصِبًا وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَخَذَتْهُ الصَّيْحَةُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ خَسَفْنَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَغْرَقْنَا (٢٩ :٤٠)

Each one of them We seized for their crime: of them, against some We sent a violent tornado with showers of stones; some were caught by a mighty blast; some We sunk in the earth; and some We drowned in the waters. (29:40)

The ‘Ad, nation of Hūd (sws), the Thamūd nation of Sālih (sws) as well as the nations of Noah (sws), Lot (sws) and Shu‘ayb (sws) were destroyed through such natural disasters when they denied their respective Messengers as is mentioned in the various sūrahs of the Qur’ān.10 In the case of Moses (sws), the Israelites never denied him. The Pharaoh and his followers however did. Therefore, they were destroyed.

The Prophet Jonah’s people accepted faith and were saved from punishment:

فَلَوْلَا كَانَتْ قَرْيَةٌ آمَنَتْ فَنَفَعَهَا إِيمَانُهَا إِلَّا قَوْمَ يُونُسَ لَمَّا آمَنُوا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمْ عَذَابَ الْخِزْيِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَمَتَّعْنَاهُمْ إِلَى حِينٍ (١٠: ٩٨)

Why was there not a single township which professed faith so that its faith should have profited it, -- except the people of Jonah? When they believed, We removed from them the penalty of ignominy in the life of the present, and permitted them to enjoy their life for a while. (10:98)

In the second case, a Messenger is able to win a fair amount of companions and is also able to migrate to a place where he is able to acquire the reins of political power through divine help. In this case, a Messenger and his companions subdue their nation by force, and execute them if they do not accept faith. The nation of a Messenger is then given further respite during which the Messenger starts to purge and cleanse the people who accept faith and organizes them for a final onslaught upon the forces of evil. He also strengthens his hold and authority in the land. Once his companions are ready for an armed conflict, these addressees are given a final ultimatum and then attacked. The forces of a Messenger are destined to triumph and humiliate his enemies. The punishment, which in the previous case descended from the heavens, in this case emanates from the sword of the believers. It was this situation which arose in the case of Muhammad (sws). His opponents were destroyed by the swords of the Muslim believers until at the conquest of Makkah, the remaining accepted faith. (Details follow in the next section).

Referring to this form of divine punishment, the Qur’ān asserts:

قَاتِلُوهُمْ يُعَذِّبْهُمْ اللَّهُ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ وَيُخْزِهِمْ وَيَنْصُرْكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ (٩ :١٤)

Fight them and God will punish them with your hands and humiliate them and help you to victory over them. (9:14)

فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَتَلَهُمْ (٨ :١٧)

It is not you [O believers] who slew them; it was [ in fact] God who slew them. (8:17)

In other words, as pointed out earlier, it is the Almighty Himself who punishes the addressees of Messengers if they deny their respective Messengers; the Messengers and their companions are no more than a means to carry out this Divine plan.

The punishment and humiliation of nations towards whom Messengers were sent generally took place in two ways: Nations who subscribed to monotheism were spared if they accepted the supremacy of their respective Messenger, while nations who subscribed to polytheism were destroyed. The latter fate is in accordance with the fact that polytheism is something that the Almighty never forgives:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَنْ يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ وَمَنْ يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ افْتَرَى إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا (٤ :٤٨)

God never forgives those guilty of polytheism though He may forgive other sins to whom He pleases. Those who commit polytheism devise a heinous sin. (4:48)

إِنَّهُ مَنْ يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ الْجَنَّةَ وَمَأْوَاهُ النَّارُ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍ (٥ :٧٢)

God has absolutely forbidden Paradise to the person who is guilty of polytheism. Fire will be his abode. For the wrong-doers, there will be no help. (5:72)

For similar reasons, in the Judaic law, perpetrators of polytheism were to be punished with death in this world:

If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshipped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky, and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. (Deuteronomy 17:2-5)

Consequently, the Israelites were told that they should put to death all the polytheist nations and not to spare them in any way:

When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations – the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you – and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. (Deuteronomy 7:1-5)

The Old Testament also mentions that there were certain nations that were to be spared if they were prepared to live a life of subjugation. In the light of the Qur’ān, it can be adduced that such nations were those who did not subscribe to polytheism. They were not put to death and were given the option to live if they accepted the supremacy of the Mosaic law:

When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labour and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, and children, the livestock and everything else in the city you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby. (Deuteronomy, 20:10-15)

Consequently, the People of the Book (the Israelites) were not wiped out as a nation because, being the People of the Book, they were basically adherents to monotheism. Their humiliation took the form of constant subjugation to the followers of Jesus (sws) till the day of Judgement as referred to by the following verse:

إِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَاعِيسَى إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ (٣: ٥٥)

Remember when God said: ‘O Jesus! I will give death to you and raise you to Myself and cleanse you from those who have denied; I will make those who follow you superior to those who reject faith till the Day of Resurrection. (3:55)

Here one might ask: Why were the People of the Book in particular the Christians regarded to be monotheists when they ascribed to trinity -- which apparently is a polytheistic doctrine? The answer to this question is that Christians are basically followers of monotheism. The Bible is very explicit about it:

The most important one, answered Jesus, is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one’. (Mark, 12:29)

Christians never admit to polytheism, though they are involved in certain polytheistic practices. A person becomes a polytheist when he openly admits that he is a polytheist. A person who claims to be a monotheist in spite of being involved in polytheistic practices, cannot be regarded as a polytheist. The reason is that a person might be doing something wrong without realizing that what he is doing; all Christians whether of today or from the period of Jesus (sws) never admit to polytheism; trinity to them is in accordance with monotheism. Of course Muslims do not agree with them but unless they claim polytheism, it can only be said that in spite of claiming to be monotheists they are involved in polytheism. Their case is the case of a Muslim who goes to the grave of a saint to ask him to grant a wish; we will not call such a Muslim a polytheist; we shall tell him that what he is doing is something which is against monotheism to which he himself strongly claims adherence. Similarly, we will not call Christians polytheists but we will keep telling them that what they are doing is not in accordance with monotheism.

It is precisely for this reason that the Qur’ān never called the People of the Book as polytheists though they subscribed to certain blatant forms of polytheism. The Qur’ān only called the Ismaelites as polytheists because they admittedly subscribed and testified to the creed of polytheism. They strongly advocated that polytheism was the very religion the Almighty had revealed and claimed that they were strong adherents to this religion. Because of this very reason, they were called the Mushrikūn (the adherents to the creed of shirk) by the Qur’ān.

2. The Era of Muhammad (sws)

We shall now examine the details of the punishment that the Almighty administered to the Kuffār in the era of Muhammad (sws) in the overall perspective of the various phases of his preaching mission.

i. The Propagation Phase

In the fortieth year of his life, Muhammad (sws) was summoned by the Almighty to serve Him. Makkah at the time was the social and cultural centre of Arabia. It was its central city. So, in accordance with the Almighty’s established practice of sending a Messenger to the central city of a land, Muhammad (sws) was called upon to begin his endeavour in this city:

وَكَذَلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِتُنْذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَى وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا وَتُنْذِرَ يَوْمَ الْجَمْعِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ فَرِيقٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَفَرِيقٌ فِي السَّعِيرِ (٤٢ :٧)

Thus have We sent by inspiration to you an Arabic Qur’ān that you may warn the Mother of Cities and all around her; – and warn [them] of the Day of Assembly of which there is no doubt [when] some will be in the Garden, and some in the Blazing Fire. (42:7)

In Makkah, where Muhammad (sws) spent about thirteen years of his preaching endeavour, his addressees were basically the Idolaters – the descendants of the Prophet’s great ancestor: the Prophet Ismā‘īl (sws). However, the People of the Book (the Jews and the Christians) were also addressed at various instances. Besides these two distinct pockets of opponents, there were the Munāfiqūn (the Hypocrites) of whom only a few were in Makkah and who emerged as a sizeable faction in Madīnah as the Islamic message started to gain momentum.

Muhammad (sws) bore witness to the basic truths before all these three groups and refuted their evil beliefs. As pointed out earlier, in the terminology of the Qur’ān, this is called Shahādah. He revived various Abrahamic practices and rituals, cleansing them of various interpolations added by the polytheists, and delineating the basic truths of monotheism and accountability in the Hereafter on the basis of the Sharī‘ah brought by him.

The real debate with the Idolaters concerned their polytheistic beliefs and religious innovations (Bid‘āt). They were repeatedly asked to give up their religion of Idolatry since it had no grounds. It was only the Almighty who could have told them that He had associated with Him certain other deities. Without the sanction of the Almighty, they had no means to know about such details for themselves. Consequently, when they claimed that polytheism was revealed to them by the Almighty Himself, the Qur’ān called this a vicious lie:

إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءٌ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنْتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمْ مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَمَا تَهْوَى الْأَنْفُسُ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَهُمْ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ الْهُدَى (٥٣ :٢٣)

These are nothing but names which you have devised – you and your fathers – for which Allah has sent down no authority [whatsoever]. They follow nothing but conjecture and what their own souls desire! – even though there has already come to them guidance from their Lord! (53:23)

سَنُلْقِي فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا الرُّعْبَ بِمَا أَشْرَكُوا بِاللَّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَمَأْوَاهُمْ النَّارُ وَبِئْسَ مَثْوَى الظَّالِمِينَ (٣ :١٥١)

Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of those who have denied [the basic truths] because they joined companions with Allah for which He had sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire; and evil is the home of the wrongdoers! (3:151)

It is precisely for this reason that their denial of monotheism amounted to a deliberate rejection of the message of Muhammad (sws), as a result of which they would have to face the punishment of Hell in the Hereafter:

بَلَى قَدْ جَاءَتْكَ آيَاتِي فَكَذَّبْتَ بِهَا وَاسْتَكْبَرْتَ وَكُنْتَ مِنْ الْكَافِرِينَ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ تَرَى الَّذِينَ كَذَبُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ وُجُوهُهُمْ مُسْوَدَّةٌ أَلَيْسَ فِي جَهَنَّمَ مَثْوًى لِلْمُتَكَبِّرِينَ (٣٩ :٥٩-٦٠)

Nay there came to you My signs and you rejected them and showed haughtiness and as a result became from among the disbelievers. On the Day of Judgement you will see that faces of those who told lies against God will turn black. Is not in Hell an abode for the haughty. (39:59-60)

Similarly, the People of the Book were asked to desist from their attitude of hostility and antagonism and to honour the covenant they had made of professing belief in the final Messenger – someone whose name was mentioned in their very books:

وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ إِذَا عَاهَدْتُمْ وَلَا تَنقُضُوا الْأَيْمَانَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا وَقَدْ جَعَلْتُمْ اللَّهَ عَلَيْكُمْ كَفِيلًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّتِي نَقَضَتْ غَزْلَهَا مِنْ بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ أَنكَاثًا تَتَّخِذُونَ أَيْمَانَكُمْ دَخَلًا بَيْنَكُمْ أَنْ تَكُونَ أُمَّةٌ هِيَ أَرْبَى مِنْ أُمَّةٍ إِنَّمَا يَبْلُوكُمْ اللَّهُ بِهِ وَلَيُبَيِّنَنَّ لَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مَا كُنْتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ (١٦ : ٩١-٢)

Fulfill the Covenant of Allah when you have entered into it, and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them: indeed you have made Allah your witness; for Allah knows all that you do. And be not like a woman who breaks into untwisted strands the yarn she has spun after it has become strong. Nor take your oaths to practice deception between yourselves, lest one party should be more numerous than another: for Allah will test you by this; and on the Day of Judgement He will certainly make clear to you [the truth of] that wherein you disagree. (16:91-2)

قَالَ عَذَابِي أُصِيبُ بِهِ مَنْ أَشَاءُ وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَسَأَكْتُبُهَا لِلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ بِآيَاتِنَا يُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الْأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِنْدَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنْ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمْ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمْ الْخَبَائِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِهِ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا النُّورَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ مَعَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (٧: ١٥٦-٧)

He [-- the Almighty --] said: ‘With My Punishment I visit whom I will; but My Mercy extends to all things. That [mercy] I shall ordain for those who do right, and practice regular charity, and those who believe in Our Signs – Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own [Scriptures] in the Torah and in the Injīl – for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good [and pure] and prohibits them from what is bad [and impure]; he releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that were upon them. So those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the Light which is sent down with him – it is they who shall prosper. (7:156-7)

Like the Idolaters also, their real crime, according to the Qur’ān, was deliberate denial:

فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ مَا عَرَفُوا كَفَرُوا بِهِ فَلَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ  عَلَى الْكَافِرِين( ٢ :٨٩)

When there came to them that which they recognized, they disbelieved in it. So let the curse of Allah be on the disbelievers. (2:89)

وَدَّ كَثِيرٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَوْ يَرُدُّونَكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ إِيمَانِكُمْ كُفَّارًا حَسَدًا مِنْ عِنْدِ أَنفُسِهِمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ الْحَقُّ (٢ :١٠٩)

Many of the people of the Book wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed out of envy from their own selves even after the truth has become manifest to them. (2:109)

الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمْ الْكِتَابَ يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَإِنَّ فَرِيقًا مِنْهُمْ لَيَكْتُمُونَ الْحَقَّ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ (٢: ١٤٦)

Those to whom We have given the Book recognize him [--Muhammad—] as they recognize their sons. But verily, a party of them conceal the truth while they know it. (2:146)e

كَيْفَ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ قَوْمًا كَفَرُوا بَعْدَ إِيمَانِهِمْ وَشَهِدُوا أَنَّ الرَّسُولَ حَقٌّ وَجَاءَهُمْ الْبَيِّنَاتُ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ (٣ :٨٦)

How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief and after they bore witness that the Messenger [Muhammad (sws)] is a truth and after clear proofs had come unto them? And Allah guides not the people who are wrong-doers. (3:86)

Initially, Muhammad (sws) could muster very little support from his tribe in favour of his message. Most people of Makkah rejected his call and only a few youth of the city accepted it. The hostility shown by the chiefs of Makkah was so severe that most people reckoned that it would only be a matter of days before this newly founded faith would reach a disastrous end. Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) were put through severe physical torture and mental affliction. Such was the extent of the persecution suffered by the Prophet (sws) that for many years he had to confine his endeavour to his near relatives. However, after many years of persistent struggle, when it became evident that the people of Makkah were denying the Prophet (sws) due to sheer obstinacy, the Almighty asked him to dissociate himself from these people.

ii. The Acquittal Phase

After thirteen long years of calling people to the truth, the Almighty told Muhammad (sws) that the basic truths had been unveiled to the Idolaters of Makkah. They had knowingly denied these and therefore were now prone to punishment. In the meantime, the city of Madīnah had come under the influence of the Divine message and its chiefs readily accepted Islam. Muhammad (sws) was directed to migrate to Madīnah and leave his people. Sūrah Kāfirūn records this declaration of acquittal in the following words:

قُلْ يَاأَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ وَلَا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ وَلَا أَنَا عَابِدٌ مَا عَبَدتُّمْ وَلَا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ (١٠٩ :١-٦)

Declare you [O Prophet!]: O Kuffār! I shall worship not that which you worship. Nor will you ever worship [alone] that which I worship. Nor ever before this was I prepared to worship that which you worshipped. Nor were you ever prepared to worship that which I have been worshipping. [So, now] to you your religion and to me mine. (109:1-6)

This is perhaps the only instance in the Qur’ān in which the disbelievers have been directly addressed in such words11. These words are not meant to condemn or chide them; they actually convey their true behaviour. After thirteen long years of propagation and exhortation, the leaders of the Quraysh had refused the calls of sense and reason. Their denial was based on nothing but stubbornness in spite of the fact that the truth had been revealed to them in its purest form. Consequently, Muhammad (sws) at this stage addressed them by a name which aptly described their deeds, and on divine bidding, departed from them. The last verse of the sūrah, it must be appreciated, is not an expression of tolerance; it expresses renunciation on the part of the Prophet (sws) and a warning to the Kuffār that they must now get ready to face the consequences of their obdurate denial.

As far as the People of the Book were concerned, the migration did not end the propagation phase for them since many of them were based in Madīnah. They were given more time to contemplate the consequences of denial until at a certain point in time in Madīnah, their time for accepting faith expired too. In other words, the Shahādah (bearing witness to the truth) reached its completion for them in the early Madīnan period after which Judgement was pronounced upon them together with the Hypocrites and the Idolaters of Arabia.

iii. The Judgement Phase

Following are the details of the Judgement when it finally took place:

a. The Reward

After Muhammad (sws) migrated to Madīnah, the people of Arabia on whom the truth had already been unveiled were given a further chance to contemplate upon the consequences of their denial. Here in Madīnah, the believers were prepared to launch a final assault on the Kuffār. They were told that their opponents would never be able to triumph over them:

وَلَوْ قَاتَلَكُمْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوَلَّوْا الْأَدْبَارَ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُونَ وَلِيًّا وَلَا نَصِيرًا سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَلَنْ تَجِدَ لِسُنَّةِ اللَّهِ تَبْدِيلًا (٤٨ :٢٢-٣)

If the Kuffār should fight you, they would certainly turn their backs; then would they find neither protector nor helper. Such has been the practice approved of God already in the past: no change will you find in the practice approved of God. (48:22-3)

They are given glad tidings of success in the following words:

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمْ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا وَمَنْ كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْفَاسِقُونَ (٥٥:٢٤)

God has promised to those among you who professed belief and did righteous deeds that He will of surety grant you political authority in this land as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish their religion – the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change [their state] after the fear in which they [lived] to one of security and peace: ‘They will worship Me [alone] and not associate anyone with Me’. If any do reject faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked. (24:55)

The sincere among them who were guilty of some blemishes were forgiven after some punishment:

وَعَلَى الثَّلَاثَةِ الَّذِينَ خُلِّفُوا حَتَّى إِذَا ضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ الْأَرْضُ بِمَا رَحُبَتْ وَضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ أَنفُسُهُمْ وَظَنُّوا أَنْ لَا مَلْجَأَ مِنْ اللَّهِ إِلَّا إِلَيْهِ ثُمَّ تَابَ عَلَيْهِمْ لِيَتُوبُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ (٩ :١١٨)

[He turned in mercy also] to the three whose matter was deferred to such a degree that the earth seemed constrained to them for all its spaciousness, and their souls seemed straitened to them – and they perceived that there is no fleeing from Allah but to Him. Then, He turned to them that they might repent: for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. (9:118)

The weak among them were told that if they repented and mended their ways and remained steadfast, then hopefully the Almighty would also forgive them:

وَآخَرُونَ اعْتَرَفُوا بِذُنُوبِهِمْ خَلَطُوا عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَآخَرَ سَيِّئًا عَسَى اللَّهُ أَنْ يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (٩ :١٠٢)

And others who have acknowledged their wrong-doings: they have mixed an act that was good with another that was evil. Perhaps, God will turn unto them [in mercy]: for God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (9:102)

b. The Punishment

In the Judgement phase, the humiliation of the Disbelievers took place in two phases. Initially, all active adversaries were put to death whether they belonged to the Idolaters of Arabia or the People of the Book. Some of the Jews killed were only done so after they had broken the pacts which had guaranteed them security and protection. The following verse mentions this first phase:

وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لَا تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ لِلَّهِ (١٩٢:٢)

Keep fighting against them until persecution does not remain and [in the land of Arabia] Allah’s religion reigns supreme. (2:192)

Though this verse addresses only the Idolaters, its last words ‘and [in the land of Arabia] Allah’s religion reigns supreme’, shows that followers of all other religions were also to be subdued until the religion of Islam reigned supreme in the Arabian peninsula.

In the next phase, when the believers had been prepared for a final onslaught against the Kuffār, who had been given ample time to contemplate on the consequences of their denial, the stage was set to pronounce the final judgement against the addressees of Muhammad (sws). Sūrah Tawbah describes in detail the events which took place in the final phase regarding the three major opponents: the Idolaters, the People of the Book and the Hypocrites. The sūrah is divided into three sections. In the first, the Idolaters of Arabia; in the second, the People of the Book, and, in the third, the Hypocrites are dealt with.

1. For the Idolaters

Initially, the Idolaters were given an ultimatum of four months after which their humiliation would start:

بَرَاءَةٌ مِنْ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ إِلَى الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتُّمْ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ فَسِيحُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُمْ غَيْرُ مُعْجِزِي اللَّهِ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ مُخْزِي الْكَافِرِينَ (٩ :١-٢)

This is a declaration of acquittal from Allah and His Messenger from these Idolaters with whom you had made contracts. So move about in the land  for four months but you should know that you are not beyond the grasp of Allah and Allah shall indeed humiliate those who reject Him. (9:1-2)

Tribes who had honoured their contracts were provided immunity during the period of the contract. However, once the contract period ended, they would also be treated similarly:

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتُّمْ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَنقُصُوكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَمْ يُظَاهِرُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَحَدًا فَأَتِمُّوا إِلَيْهِمْ عَهْدَهُمْ إِلَى مُدَّتِهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ (٩: ٤)

But this action shall not be taken against those Idolaters with whom you have entered into alliance and who did not breach the contract nor aided anyone against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for Allah loves the pious. (9:4)

Later, this announcement was repeated for those people among these Idolaters who had not accepted faith until the day of Hajj-i-Akbar (9th Hijra). They were given a final extension by a proclamation made in the field of ‘Arafāt on that day. According to the proclamation, this final extension would end with the last day of the month of Muharram. Before this period, they had to accept faith and demonstrate this acceptance by offering prayers and paying Zakāh; otherwise they would face execution at the end of that period. The Qur’ān says:

فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ فَإِنْ تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (٩ :٥)

When the forbidden months are over, slay the Idolaters wherever you find them. Seize them, surround them and everywhere lie in ambush for them. But if they repent from their wrong beliefs and establish the prayer and pay Zakāh, then spare their lives. God is Oft-Forgiving and Ever Merciful. (9:5)

However, if a person asked for asylum to understand the teachings of Islam, he was to be given this asylum and no action was to be taken against him until this period was over.

وَإِنْ أَحَدٌ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ اسْتَجَارَكَ فَأَجِرْهُ حَتَّى يَسْمَعَ كَلَامَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ أَبْلِغْهُ مَأْمَنَهُ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (٩ :٦)

If anyone among the Idolaters asks you for asylum, grant it to him so that he may hear the Word of Allah and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge. (9:6)

2. For the People of the Book

After the Idolaters, the fate of the People of the Book is stated in Sūrah Tawbah. Since it had become evident that their denial too was based on sheer obstinacy, Muslims were asked to fight them into subjugation unless they accepted the superiority of the Muslims by paying Jizyah:

قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلَا بِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَلَا يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلَا يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنْ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حَتَّى يُعْطُوا الْجِزْيَةَ عَنْ يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ (٩: ٢٩)

Fight those who believe not in Allah or the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission and are subdued. (9:29)

A final charge sheet of their crimes was presented to them in the following words:

وَقَالَتْ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّهِ وَقَالَتْ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ قَوْلُهُمْ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ يُضَاهِئُونَ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ قَاتَلَهُمْ اللَّهُ أَنَّى يُؤْفَكُونَ اتَّخَذُوا أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا إِلَهًا وَاحِدًا لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ سُبْحَانَهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ  (٩ :٣٠-١)

The Jews [of Arabia] call ‘Uzayr the son of God, and the Christians call Christ the son of God. That is a saying from their mouth; [In this] they but imitate what the Disbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth. They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and [they take as their Lord] Christ, the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One God: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: [far is He] from having the partners they associate [with Him]. (9:30-1)

It has been shown in the previous sections that the difference in punishment between the Idolaters and the People of the Book seems to be based on the fact that while the former ascribed to polytheism, the latter were basically monotheists.

3. For the Hypocrites

In the third section of Sūrah Tawbah, the Hypocrites are taken to task and told that if they do not desist from this behaviour, they would meet their fate also:

يَحْلِفُونَ بِاللَّهِ مَا قَالُوا وَلَقَدْ قَالُوا كَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ وَكَفَرُوا بَعْدَ إِسْلَامِهِمْ وَهَمُّوا بِمَا لَمْ يَنَالُوا وَمَا نَقَمُوا إِلَّا أَنْ أَغْنَاهُمْ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ فَإِنْ يَتُوبُوا يَكُ خَيْرًا لَهُمْ وَإِنْ يَتَوَلَّوْا يُعَذِّبْهُمْ اللَّهُ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَمَا لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ (٩ :٧٤)

They swear by Allah that they said nothing [evil], but indeed they uttered blasphemy, and they did it after accepting Islam; and they meditated a plot which they were unable to carry out: this revenge of theirs was only because of the blessings with which Allah and His Messenger had enriched the Muslims. If they repent, it will be best for them; but if they turn back [to their evil ways], Allah will punish them with a grievous penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: they shall have none on earth to protect or help them. (9:74)

وَمِمَّنْ حَوْلَكُمْ مِنْ الْأَعْرَابِ مُنَافِقُونَ وَمِنْ أَهْلِ الْمَدِينَةِ مَرَدُوا عَلَى النِّفَاقِ لَا تَعْلَمُهُمْ نَحْنُ نَعْلَمُهُمْ سَنُعَذِّبُهُمْ مَرَّتَيْنِ ثُمَّ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَى عَذَابٍ عَظِيمٍ (٩ :١٠١)

There are Hypocrites among the desert Arabs round you as well as among the Madīnah folk: they are obstinate in hypocrisy: you do not know them: We know them: twice shall We punish them: and in addition shall they be sent to a grievous penalty. (9:101)

I now conclude this section by presenting Ghamidi’s thesis12 regarding the continuation of Muhammad’s (sws) mission by his immediate Companions (rta) and why this mission was divinely terminated with the departure of these immediate Companions (rta). Muhammad (sws) directly bore witness to the truth before his Companions (rta) as a group. Moral concepts were personified in these Companions (rta) in the ultimate degree. They were a group of noble souls who graced this world and became embodiments of moral ideals in their collective capacity. They became the representatives of the truth and were called the ‘best community’ by the Almighty Himself:

كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنْ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ (٣ :١١٠)

You are the best of peoples evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and truly believing in God. (3:110)

None other than the Almighty Himself selected these noble Companions (rta) to carry on this task of Shahādah ‘alā al-Nās (bearing witness to the truth before other nations of their times):

هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ مِلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمْ الْمُسْلِمينَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَفِي هَذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ (٢٢ :٧٨)

He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the religion of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this [Qur’ān]: [He chose you so that] the Messenger may be a witness [of this religion] to you, and you be witnesses of this religion to non-Muslims [of your times]. (22:78)

Such was the nature of their endeavour that the Almighty announced that He was pleased with them: 

رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ (٩٨:٨)

Allah is well pleased with them and they with Him. (98:8)

The Qur’ān uses the words Ummat-i-Wasat (the intermediate community) for the Companions (rta).

وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا (٢ :١٤٣)

Thus have We made of you an intermediate group so that you be witnesses [of this religion] over the nations, and the Rasūl be such a witness over you. (2:143)

This use is very meaningful since they stood between Muhammad (sws) and the rest of the world of their times who were able to observe the whole process of the Companions’ (rta) Shahādah (bearing witness to the truth). Since these Companions (rta) were called Shuhadā ‘alā al-Nās (witnesses to the truth before other peoples) in this verse and since, as a result, the truth had become personified in their collective capacity, they too had the authority to punish those who knowingly denied the truth.

Once Muhammad (sws) had completed his Shahādah, his Companions (rta) stood as an extension to this Shahādah. Muhammad (sws) himself initiated their task by writing letters to the various non-Muslim states of the world. Letters were written to the emperors of Abyssinia, Egypt, Persia, Rome, Bahrain, Yamamah, Damascus and Amman. These states were required to submit to Muslim authority by paying Jizyah if they wanted to remain on their religions or face the consequences of war. The countries where the Companions (rta) were to go were, as a result, demarcated by these letters. In other words, the Prophet Muhammad (sws) himself informed his Companions (rta) about the areas and territories upon which the Shahādah would be completed once these Companions (rta) reached them, and which as result were to be subdued if they do not pay Jizyah.

In the Old Testament also, the areas of Canaan, on which the Israelites13 were to wage war after the Prophet Moses (sws) were, on similar grounds, divinely demarcated:

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Command the Israelites and say to them: When you enter Canaan, the land that will be allotted to you as an inheritance will have these boundaries: Your southern side will include some of the Desert of Zinalong the border of Edom. On the east, your southern boundary will start form the end of the Salt Sea, cross south of Scorpion Pass, continue on to Zin and go south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it will go to Hazar Addar and over to Azmon, where it will turn, join the Wadi of Egypt and end at the Sea. Your western boundary will be the coast of the Great Sea. This will be your boundary on the west. For your northern boundary, run a line from the Great Sea to Mount Hor and from Mount Hor to Lebo Hamath. Then the boundary will go to Zedad, continue to Ziphron and end at Hazar Enan. This will be your boundary on the north. For your eastern boundary, run a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham. The boundary will go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain and continue along the slopes east of the Sea of Kinnereth. Then the boundary will go down along the Jordan and end at the Salt Sea. This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side.’ (Numbers, 34:1-12)

However, after the departure of the Companions (rta) of Muhammad (sws), since no one enjoys the status of Shuhadā ‘ala al-Nās (witnesses to the truth before other peoples), the right to punish people for deliberately denying the truth can no longer be exercised.

In other words, after Muhammad (sws) and his Companions  (rta), it cannot be ascertained whether the basic truths have been revealed in their ultimate form nor can it be determined whether those who have denied have done so in spite of being convinced about them; consequently, Muslims after them cannot wage war to punish people for not accepting Islam. They must keep on presenting Islam to non-Muslims, who also, as a result of the above mentioned premise, cannot be pinpointed as the Kuffār (Disbelievers).

d. Misplaced Directives

It shall be shown on the basis of the above discussion that there are some directives of Islam which are solely related to the Kuffār and cannot be related to other non-Muslims. The two principles which have been kept in consideration in ascertaining these directives are:

a. The fact that the basic truths have been revealed in their ultimate form can be ascertained.

b. People who have knowingly denied these truths can be pinpointed.

Both these points are based on the fact that knowledge of both is dependent on wahī (revelation) which, of course, is no longer available. It is also to be noted that deliberately denying Muhammad (sws) the last Messenger of God is equivalent to denying these basic truths since it was he who for the last time delineated them in their ultimate form on the face of this earth.

First, here is a summary of these directives:

1. The Punishment of Apostasy

2. Waging War against Non-Muslims

3. Dhimmī Status of Non-Muslim Minorities

4. Prohibition of Friendship with Non-Muslims

5. The Superiority of Muslim Blood

6. Greeting non-Muslims in an Inferior Way

7. Non-Muslims to be necessarily Doomed in the Hereafter

8. Assassination of Non-Muslims

9. Cursing Non-Muslims

10. Prohibition of asking for Forgiveness for Non-Muslims

11. Reward of Killing Non-Muslims

I will now elaborate upon each of these:

1. The Punishment of Apostasy

According to almost all Muslim jurists14, a Muslim who leaves the folds of Islam is punishable by death. They base their verdict on the following Hadīth as narrated by Ibn Abbās in the following way:

مَنْ بَدَّلَ دِينَهُ فَاقْتُلُوهُ (بخارى: ٦٩٢٢)

Execute the people who change their faith. (Bukhārī: No. 6922)

In their opinion, the ruling pronounced in this Hadīth is regarded to have a general application for all times upon every Muslim who renounces his faith from the times of the Prophet (sws) to the Day of Judgement.

It has been shown in the previous sections that once the Idolaters of Arabia had deliberately denied the message of Muhammad (sws), they were sentenced to death because of this denial:

فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ فَإِنْ تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوْا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (٩ :٥)

When the forbidden months are over, slay the Idolaters wherever you find them. Seize them, surround them and everywhere lie in ambush for them. But if they repent of their wrong beliefs and establish the prayer and pay Zakāh, then spare their lives. God is Oft-Forgiving and Ever Merciful. (9:5)

The above quoted Hadīth is merely a statement of this law for the Arab Idolaters of the Prophet’s times. It has no application to any other people or nation. It does not even relate to the People of the Book of the Prophet’s times. For reasons already explained, the law for these Idolaters was to either accept faith or face extinction. Hence, it follows that if a person among the Idolaters after accepting faith reverted to his original state of disbelief, he had to face the same penalty. The following Hadīth is of similar meaning also:

أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أُقَاتِلَ النَّاسَ حَتَّى يَشْهَدُوا أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ فَإِذَا فَعَلُوا ذَلِكَ عَصَمُوا مِنِّي دِمَاءَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُمْ إِلَّا بِحَقِّ الْإِسْلَامِ وَحِسَابُهُمْ عَلَى اللَّهِ (مسلم: رقم ٢٢)

‘I have been directed to fight against these people until they testify to the oneness of God and to the prophethood, of Muhammad, establish the prayer and pay Zakāh. If they accept these terms, their lives will be spared except if they commit some other violation that entails their execution by Islamic law and [in the Hereafter] their account rests with God’. (Muslim: No. 22)

The following text of this Hadīth clearly shows that by the word ‘الناس’ (al-Nās), the people implied are the Mushrikīn (The Idolaters of Arabia):

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أُقَاتِلَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَتَّى يَشْهَدُوا أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ فَإِذَا شَهِدُوا أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَلَّوْا صَلَاتَنَا وَاسْتَقْبَلُوا قِبْلَتَنَا وَأَكَلُوا ذَبَائِحَنَا فَقَدْ حَرُمَتْ عَلَيْنَا دِمَاؤُهُمْ وَأَمْوَالُهُمْ إِلَّا بِحَقِّهَا (نسائ رقم: ٣٩٦٦)

Anas Ibn Mālik reports from the Prophet: ‘I have been directed to fight against these Idolaters until they testify to the oneness of God and to the fact that Muhammad is his servant and messenger. If they testify to the oneness of God and to the fact that Muhammad is his servant and prophet, establish our prayer and face our Qiblah [while praying], and eat our slaughtered animals, their life and wealth we shall hold sacred except if they commit some violation. (Nasā’ī: No. 3966)

The onslaught launched by the first Caliph Abū Bakr (rta) against those who had desisted to pay Zakāh in his times should also be understood in this perspective. Since, according to Islam, a person who refuses to pay Zakāh does not legally remain a Muslim, those who had evaded Zakāh from among the Idolaters had actually reverted to their state of disbelief. About them the directive was either to accept faith or face death. So, the Caliph Abū Bakr (rta) was merely administering the punishment of death upon them.

Consequently, apart from the Idolaters of Arabia of the Prophet’s times, it has no bearing upon any other person or nation.15

2. Waging War against Non-Muslims

Authorities are of the opinion that Muslims must fight the polytheist nations as well as the Jews and Christians of today until they subdue them. It is further held that while the polytheist nations must be put to death if they do not accept faith, the Jews and Christians can be allowed to live on their religions if they submit to Muslim authority by paying Jizyah16.

The following verses are generally presented in support of this view:

 فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ فَإِنْ تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوْا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (٩ :٥)

Slay the Idolaters wherever you find them. Seize them, surround them and everywhere lie in ambush for them. But if they repent from their wrong beliefs and establish regular prayers and pay Zakāh, then spare their lives. God is Oft-Forgiving and Ever Merciful. (9:5)

قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلَا بِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَلَا يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلَا يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنْ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حَتَّى يُعْطُوا الْجِزْيَةَ عَنْ يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ (٩ :٢٩)

Fight those who believe not in Allah or the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah after being subdued and live a life of submission. (9:29)

It has been shown in the previous sections that these verses and other verses of similar meaning specifically pertain to the polytheists, the Jews and the Christians of the Prophet Muhammad’s times. They had deliberately denied the message of Muhammad (sws) and were as a result given this punishment. Today, after the termination of the institution of Wahī (revelation), it cannot be known whether people are knowingly denying his messengerhood or not; therefore, no action can be taken against them. Muslims must continue to develop friendly relations with them and cordially invite them to Islam without threatening their existence or authority.

After Muhammad (sws), his authorized Companions (rta) carried on the mission against the major political powers of their times. This onslaught, it has been discussed earlier, was specific to their status as witnesses to the truth, and their endeavour was basically a manifestation of a divine scheme. Consequently, the age old debate about whether Islam was spread through the sword or not should also be understood in this perspective. The Companions (rta) of Muhammad (sws) in their collective capacity were only enforcing the implication of their status as witnesses to the religion of the truth. In reality, they were not spreading Islam; they were punishing people who had deliberately denied the truth.

Consequently, after them, as has been stated earlier, Muslims have no right to subdue nations and countries in the name of Islam or impose Jizyah upon them.

3. The Dhimmī Status of Non-Muslim Minorities

It is held by Muslim authorities that the non Muslim citizens of an Islamic state are of two categories17 regarding their citizenship in a state:

(i) Dhimmīs, viz. those who have come under an Islamic State on account of being subdued in a battle.

(ii) Musta’mins, viz. non-Muslim residents of Dāru’l-Harb who temporarily reside in Dāru’l-Islām.

Since subduing non-Muslims by force is no longer permitted today, Dhimmis and Musta’mins are categories of non-Muslims specific to the age of the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta). The directives of Fiqh related to Dhimmīs and Musta’mins consequently cannot be related to the non-Muslims of today.

The Non-Muslim minorities of today living in Muslim countries can only be classified as Mu‘āhids (citizenship by contract)18. Keeping in view the general welfare of the state, through mutual consent, any contract can be made with non-Muslims of today regarding their rights. As such, all dealings with them should be according to the terms of the treaty concluded with them.19

4. Prohibition of Friendship with Non-Muslims

On the basis of the following verses of the Qur’ān, some Muslim scholars20 are of the view that Muslims should never make friends with non-Muslims; in fact, they should show hostility and venom towards them:

لَا يَتَّخِذْ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْكَافِرِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِنْ دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (٣ :٢٨)

Believers should not make friends with the Kuffār against the interest of the believers. (3:28)

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا الْكَافِرِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِنْ دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَتُرِيدُونَ أَنْ تَجْعَلُوا لِلَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ سُلْطَانًا مُبِينًا (٤ :١٤٤)

O believers do not make friends with the Kuffār against the interest of the believers. Do you wish to offer God an open argument against yourselves? (4:144)

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَى أَوْلِيَاءَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ وَمَنْ يَتَوَلَّهُمْ مِنْكُمْ فَإِنَّهُ مِنْهُمْ (٥ :٥١)

Believers take not these Jews and the Christians for your friends. They are but friends to each other. And he amongst you who turns to them [for friendship] is of them. (5:51)

If the third verse is understood in the light of the first two, it is evident from the first two verses that the actual word used for the Jews and Christians is ‘Kuffār’. Consequently, owing to reasons discussed earlier, these verses cannot be related in any sense to the non-Muslims of today.

5. The Superiority of Muslim Blood

The following Hādith is presented as evidence to support the view that a Muslim will not be killed if he is guilty of killing a non-Muslim21 whereas the reverse will be carried out:

لَا يُقْتَلُ مُؤْمِنٌ بِكَافِرٍ (ابو داؤد: رقم ٤٥٠٦)

No Muslim will be killed in Qisās of a Kāfir. (Abū Dā’ūd: No. 4506)

It is evident from another text of this that here the word Kāfir signifies an Idolater:

لَا يُقْتَلُ مُسْلِمٌ بِمُشْرِكٍ (دارمى: رقم ٢٣٥٦)

No Muslim will be killed in Qisās of an Idolater. (Dārmī: No. 2356)

Here again it is to be noted that after Muhammad’s migration to Madīnah, the Idolaters had lost their right to live after having deliberately denied him. As a result, this Hadīth and other Āhadīth of similar meaning are solely related to the Idolaters of the Prophet’s times.22 This directive has no bearing on the non-Muslims of today.

Consequently, today if a Muslim is guilty of murdering a non-Muslim, he shall certainly be sent to the gallows if he is not forgiven by the family of the slain.

6. Greeting Non-Muslims in an Inferior Way

Some Muslim scholars hold that non-Muslims should not be greeted in the ceremonial way by saying Assalāmu ‘alaykum (peace be to you)23. It is argued that non-Muslims do not deserve this prayer. The following Hadīth is presented in support of this view:

قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذَا سَلَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابِ فَقُولُوا وَعَلَيْكُمْ (بخارى: رقم ٦٢٨٨)

The Prophet (sws) said: ‘When the People of the Book greet you, reply them by saying wa alaykum’. Bukhārī: No. 6288)

If all the texts of this Hadith are collected and analyzed, what comes to light is the fact that some among the People of the Book of the Prophet’s times used to mischievously twist their tongue in a swift manner and instead of saying the proper words of the salutation would say Assāmu ‘alaykum (death be to you), which when quickly pronounced sounded very near to the original words of Assalāmu ‘alaykum. It was to counter this devilish prank that the Muslims were directed to say: Wa ‘alaykum (to you too). It must be borne in mind that the Muslims were asked to give this particular reply only after the basic truths had been revealed in their ultimate form by Muhammad (sws) to the People of the Book after many years of propagation, and in spite of that they were not willing to submit to them. Had this ultimate stage not come, one can safely conclude that Muslims would never have been asked to reply with equally harsh words and would have continued to say the words: Assalāmu ‘alaykum, the best of prayers and the best of wishes.

Today no Muslim preacher can ever be in a position to say that non-Muslims have deliberately denied the message of Muhammad (sws). Therefore, he must continue his efforts of propagation all his life, and remain a well-wisher of all the non-Muslims of the world, and continue to greet them with Assalāmu ‘alaykum.

Consequently, the following Hadīth (which contains a similar directive) also relates specifically to the People of the Book of the Prophet’s times. It has no bearing with the People of the Book of later times:

لَا تَبْدَءُوا الْيَهُودَ وَلَا النَّصَارَى بِالسَّلَامِ فَإِذَا لَقِيتُمْ أَحَدَهُمْ فِي طَرِيقٍ فَاضْطَرُّوهُ إِلَى أَضْيَقِهِ  (مسلم: رقم  ١٦٠٢)

Don’t initiate salutations to the Jews or the Christians, and force them to the narrowest of paths when one of them meets you on your way. (Muslim: No. 1602)

Even in the time of the Prophet (sws), before the non-Muslims of his times had become Kuffār by deliberately rejecting his message, they too were greeted as Muslims were. In this period, the Prophet (sws) himself said Assalāmu ‘alaykum to the non-Muslims of his times. Uthāmah Ibn Zayd reports:

أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَرَّ بِمَجْلِسٍ وَفِيهِ أَخْلَاطٌ مِنْ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْيَهُودِ فَسَلَّمَ عَلَيْهِمْ (ترمذى: رقم  ٢٧٠٢)

The Prophet (sws) once passed by a mixed gathering of Muslims and Jews and said Assalāmu ‘alaykum to them. (Tirmadhī: No. 2702)

7. Non-Muslims to be Necessarily Doomed in the Hereafter

It is generally held that all non-Muslims will necessarily go to Hell. Verses like the following usually form the basis of this view:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَـابِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ فِى نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ خَـالِدِينَ فِيهَآ أَوْلَـئِكَ هُمْ شَرُّ الْبَرِيَّةِ (٩٨ :٦)

The disbelievers among the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] and the Idolaters shall burn for ever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures. (98:6)24

Once again, it must be appreciated that these verses speak of the Jews and Christians and the Idolaters of the Prophet Muhammad’s (sws) times, who had deliberately denied the message of Muhammad (sws). As far as the non-Muslims of later times are concerned, they will meet this fate only if they also deny Messengerhood of Muhammad (sws) in spite of being convinced about its veracity.

8. Assassination of Non-Muslims

One of the arguments on the basis of which it is held that blasphemy is punishable by death is the assassination of certain non-Muslims of the Prophet’s times who had allegedly blasphemed against Allah and the Prophet (sws)25. If all these cases are analyzed, it comes to light that this conclusion is incorrect.

Once again we are faced with a situation in which the people assassinated are those who had already become worthy of punishment after the Prophet’s migration to Madīnah. While most of them were given more time and respite to contemplate on the consequences of their denial, those among them who assumed the role of active adversaries and were spreading disorder and anarchy in the society were punished by death after they were repeatedly warned on their highly antagonizing behaviour.

These steps specifically relate to the adversaries of Muhammad (sws), who had stuck to their subversive activities and cannot be extended for general application.

9. Cursing Non-Muslims

The common Muslim thinks that he must curse non-Muslims and have an ill-intent for them. In this regard, a supplication called the Qunūt-i-Nāzilah in which the Almighty’s help is invoked to destroy and crush non-Muslims is at times read in the prayer.

Again it needs to be pointed out that cursing non-Muslims or expressing ill-intention towards them is only related to the Kuffār who no longer can be pin pointed. For this very reason, today, a Muslim preacher must continue his efforts of propagation all his life, and remain a well-wisher of all the non-Muslims of the world. So, as far as reading the Qunūt-i-Nāzilah is concerned, it was only Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) who had the prerogative to read it. Later Muslims do not have this right.

10. Prohibition of asking for Forgiveness for Non-Muslims

A common perception among Muslims is that the following verse of the Qur’ān has stopped them from asking the Almighty for forgiveness of non-Muslims

مَا كَانَ لِلنَّبِيِّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَنْ يَسْتَغْفِرُوا لِلْمُشْرِكِينَ وَلَوْ كَانُوا أُوْلِي قُرْبَى مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُمْ أَصْحَابُ الْجَحِيمِ (٩ :١١٣)

It is not proper for the Prophet and those who believe to ask Allah’s Forgiveness for the Mushrikūn, even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the Fire. (9:113)

Again, it needs to be appreciated, as the verse itself clarifies that the Idolaters of Arabia of the Prophet’s times were condemned to Hell because of their persistence in denying the truth in spite of being convinced about it. Today, since no one is in a position to ascertain this denial, this verse does not relate to non-Muslims of times after the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta).

11. Reward of Killing a Non-Muslim

On the basis of the following Hadīth, it is contended that killing a Non-Muslim absolves the Muslim who kills him from the wrath of Hell:

لَا يَجْتَمِعُ كَافِرٌ وَقَاتِلُهُ فِي النَّارِ أَبَدًا (مسلم: رقم ١٨٩١)

A disbeliever and his killer will never be together in Hell. (Muslim: No. 1891)

In other words, what is construed from this Hadīth is that a Muslim will be rewarded with Paradise if he kills a non-Muslim. Consequently, Imam Abū Dā’ūd, the celebrated Muslim scholar and compiler of Hadīth has placed this Hadīth in a chapter entitled: ‘باب فى فضل من قتل كافرا’ (bāb fī fadli man qatala kāfiran: Chapter on the Reward of a Muslim who Kills a Kāfir)26.

Again, it needs to be appreciated that these words relate to the Idolaters of the Prophet’s times who had lost their right to live after they had deliberately rejected the truth. These words are not related to later Muslims.

IV. Behavior of Muslim Minorities: Some Misconceptions

Muslim interaction with non-Muslims is more pronounced in countries where Muslims live as minorities. The aggression of the religious activists among them, besides factors mentioned and analyzed before27, hinges on some other perceptions as well. Some of the important ones are:

a. Muslims are a chosen race of God, and therefore only they have the right to rule.

b. The struggle to achieve the supremacy of Islam is a religious requirement of every Muslim. Therefore, if Muslims are living as minorities in some non-Muslim country they must strive to achieve this by whatever means they can.

c. Since Islam is not in conformity with democracy, so instead of democratically changing a non-Muslim government or an un-Islamic Muslim government, militant means can be resorted to.

d. Jihād is the solution to all the woes Muslims are facing today.

In the opinion of this writer, all these perceptions are unfounded and based on misinterpretation of certain verses of the Qur’ān.

All these issues shall now be addressed:

a. Muslims are the Best Nation

The following verse is contended to be the basis of this ‘self-righteousness’:

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ (٣ :١١٠)

You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and truly believe in God. (3:110)

It is to be appreciated that this verse specifically pertains to the Companions (rta) of Muhammad (sws) who bore witness to the religion of truth before certain non-Muslim nations of their times. It has already been explained before that the Almighty had chosen them for this task:

هُوَ اجْتَبَـكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكمْ فِى الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ هُوَ سَمَّـكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِى هَـذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيداً عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَآءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ (٢٢ :٧٨)

He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the religion of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this [Qur’ān]: [He chose you so that] the Rasūl may be a witness [to this religion] before you, and you be witnesses to this religion before non-Muslims. (22:78)

The following verse also mentions their obligation:

وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَـكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَآءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا (٢ :١٤٣)

Thus have We made you an intermediate group so that you be witnesses [to this religion] before the nations, and the Rasūl be such a witness before you. (2:143)

The context of 3:110 must be understood in the light of 2:143 and 22:78. The reason why the Companions (rta) have been called the ‘Best Community’ in 3:110 is that after Muhammad (sws) himself had borne witness to the religion of truth before them, the truth had manifested itself in their collectivity. Since this testimony by Muhammad (sws) was confined to them and not to later Muslims, the title ‘Best Community’ is specifically meant for the Companions (rta) of Muhammad (sws) and does not relate to other Muslims.

b. Struggle for Islamic Supremacy

It is held by some Muslim scholars of contemporary times that it is the religious obligation of Muslims to strive for the supremacy of Islam. If a Muslim country is not following Islam, Muslims must organize an effort to topple its rulers and enforce Islam. An obvious corollary of this view point is that if they are living as minorities in some non-Muslim country, here also they should strive to achieve the supremacy of Islam. They term this struggle an ‘Islamic Revolution’ and present the following verse in support of this view:28

هُوَ الَّذِى أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَى وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ (٦١ :٩)

It is He Who has sent his Rasūl with Guidance and the Religion of Truth that he may proclaim it over all religions, even though the Idolaters may detest [this]. (61:9)

On the basis of the phrase ‘all religions’, it is understood that the followers of Islam must struggle for its dominance in their respective countries and territories.

An analysis of the context of this verse shows that it also belongs to the class of directives that relate to the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta). It is to be noted that al-Mushrikīn (the Idolaters) is used in this verse. The Qur’ān uses this word specifically for the Idolaters of Arabia of the Prophet’s times. As a result, ‘all the religions’ in the conjugate clause can only mean all the religions of Arabia at that time.29 Therefore, the verse has no bearing on Muslims after the times of the Prophet Muhammad (sws).

It has already been shown in an earlier section that the Companions (rta) of Muhammad (sws) were promised sovereignty in the land of Arabia after the Idolaters of Arabia had knowingly denied the message of Muhammad (sws).

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمْ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ (٢٤ :٥٥)

God has promised, to those among you who professed belief and did righteous deeds that He will, of a surety grant them political authority in this land as He granted it to those before them; that he will establish their religion – the one which He has chosen for them. (24:55)

Consequently, striving to achieve the political supremacy of Islam is no religious obligation of a Muslim. The verses from which this obligation has been construed specifically relate to Muhammad and his Companions (rta).30

c. Islam and Democracy

A strong perception that prevails among quite a number of Muslims is that Islam and democracy are at poles with each other. They contend that in a democracy, laws are made by the people and in this regard the ambit of law making is infinite. On the other hand, they maintain, that Muslims are bound to follow certain Divine laws and not make laws by themselves. Consequently, there is no compatibility between the two.

In this regard, it needs to be appreciated that there are two basic aspects of democracy:

1. The process of electing representatives of the people to run the country.

2. The scope of legislation done in the parliament of a country by the elected representatives.

The first aspect is in complete harmony with the political law of Islam as mentioned in the Qur’ān:

وَأَمْرُهُمْ شُورَى بَيْنَهُمْ (٤٢ :٣٨)

The affairs of state of the believers are run by their mutual consultation. (42:38)

Keeping in view linguistic considerations, it is evident that a consensus or majority opinion of the Muslims can in no way be overruled. The Qur’ān has not said: ‘The believers are consulted in their affairs’; it has, on the contrary, declared: ‘Their affairs of state are run by their mutual consultation’. The style and pattern of the verse demands that an Islamic government should be established through the consultation of the believers, continue to exist on this basis and should cease to exist without it. It should conduct its affairs, in all cases, on the basis of a consensus or majority opinion of the believers.

As far as the second aspect is concerned, Islam imposes a broad restriction on it. The scope of legislation must never exceed the directives of the Qur’ān and Sunnah. In the words of Ghāmidī:

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ فَإِنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِنْ كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا (٥٩:٤)

Obey God and the Prophet and those of you who are in authority, and if you disagree among yourselves in any matter, refer it to God and the Prophet, if you are believers in Allah and the Last Day. This is better and more seemly as regards the consequences. (4:59)

The above quoted directive was given to the Muslims when the Qur’ān was being revealed and the Prophet (sws) himself was present among them. Consequently, they had the opportunity to refer back all their disagreements to the Prophet (sws). Obviously, since the authority of Allah and His Prophet (sws) are eternal, therefore in all affairs in which an eternal directive has been given by them it is incumbent upon those in authority whether they are the rulers or members of the parliament to forever submit to them. Their orders and directives can only be obeyed after obeying Allah and his Prophet (sws), and if they do not overrule or exceed the limits adjudicated by these authorities. Therefore, in an Islamic State no law can be enacted contrary to the Qur’ān and Sunnah or one which does not take into consideration the guidance provided by them. The believers indeed have a right to disagree with those in authority, but they can have no disagreement with Allah and His Prophet (sws). In fact, if such a situation arises even with those in authority, the decision must be made in the light of the Qur’ān and Sunnah.31

It can be said that with the above quoted qualification, the political system of Islam resembles democracy in its essence.

Muslims must therefore adopt democratic means to bring a change in the society they are living in. They must also remember that as citizens of non-Muslim countries they are bound in contract with that country. They must follow the laws of the country -- whose citizens they have become by their own free choice -- in letter and in spirit. Abiding by laws is their religious duty. Moreover, if they feel that it is not possible for them to practice their religion because of some hindrance created by a law or ruling of that country, even then they should not disobey the law and cause any disruption. The correct attitude in such a case would be to migrate from that country.

d. Jihād32

For many Muslims Jihād is the answer to all their woes. Taking up arms and destroying the enemy is the solution to the injustices they are suffering. In this regard, guerrilla warfare, hidden attacks, clandestine offensives on an enemy are considered part of Jihād by these activists.

In the opinion of this writer, Jihād has unfortunately become one of the most misunderstood directive of Islam. Here, in this section two of its important aspects shall be elaborated upon:


1. The Authority to wage Jihād

2. The Sole Grounds for Jihād

1. The Authority to Wage Jihād

Both the Qur’ān and the established practice of the Prophets of Allah explicitly say that Jihād can only be waged by a state. No group of people has been given the authority to take up arms, because individual groups if given this license will create great disorder and destruction by fighting among themselves once they overcome the enemy. A study of the Qur’ān reveals that the Makkan Sūrahs do not contain any directive of Jihād for the simple reason that in Makkah the Muslims did not have their own state. One must remember that Islam does not advocate ‘the law of the jungle’. It is a religion in which both human life and the way it is taken, hold great sanctity. Islam does not give us any right to take life unless certain conditions are fulfilled. So, it was not until an Islamic state was established in Madīnah that the Qur’ān gave the Muslims permission to take up arms against the onslaught mounted by the Quraysh:

أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ  الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلَّا أَنْ يَقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ (٢٢ :٣٩-٤٠)

To those against whom war is made, permission is given [to fight] because they have been oppressed and verily Allah is Most Powerful to help them. [They] are those who have been expelled from their homes without any basis, only because they said: Our Lord is Allah. (22:39-40)

Consequently, the Prophet (sws) never retaliated in Makkah to the inhuman treatment which was given to him as well as to some of his Companions (rta). Muslims must remember the torment suffered by the Prophet (sws) particularly at Tā’if. Bilāl (rta) was put through the gravest of tortures. The limbs of Ammār Ibn Yāsir (rta) were torn apart by strong camels. In spite of this reign of terror let lose by the Quraysh, the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta) never retaliated with force even though they could have easily done so. The Prophet (sws) preferred to suffer and be persecuted than to counter attack his enemies, since Muslims at that stage had not fulfilled this all important pre-requisite of Jihād: establishment of a state.

Similarly, the earlier Prophets were not allowed by the Almighty to wage war unless they had established their political authority in an independent piece of land. For instance, the Prophet Moses (sws), as is evident from the Qur’ān, was directed to wage war only after he had fulfilled this condition. Since the Prophet Jesus (sws) and his Companions (rta) were not able to gain political authority in a piece of land, they never launched an armed struggle.

Consequently, there is a consensus among all authorities of Islam that only an Islamic State has the authority to wage Jihād. No group, party or organization has the authority to lift arms. People who undertake such activities disobey the religion they follow. Without state authority Jihād is no more than a terrorist activity. Referring to this pre-requisite of state authority, the Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:

وَإِنَّمَا الْإِمَامُ جُنَّةٌ يُقَاتَلُ مِنْ وَرَائِهِ وَيُتَّقَى بِهِ (بخارى: رقم ٢٩٥٧)

A Muslim ruler is the shield [of his people]. A war can only be waged under him and people should seek his shelter [in war]. (Bukhārī: No. 2957)

This condition is so explicit and categorical that all the scholars of this Ummah unanimously uphold it. Sayyid Sābiq, while referring to this consensus, writes:

من الفروض الكفائية ما يشترط فيه الحاكم مثل: الجهاد وإقامة الحدود.

Among Kafāyah obligations, there is a category for which the existence of a ruler is necessary e.g., Jihād and administration of punishments.33

‘Uthmānī, a Hanafite jurist writes:

ولا يخفى أن الأمير الذي يجب الجهاد معه كما صرح به حديث مكحول إنما هو من كان مسلما ثبتت له الإمارة بالتقليد إما باستخلاف الخليفة إياه كما نقل أبو بكر رضي الله عنه ’ وإما ببيعة من العلماء أو جماعة من أهل الرأي والتدبير  قلت : فلو بايع العلماء أو جماعة من المسلمين رجلا لا يقدر على سد الثغور وحماية البيضة وجر العساكر و تنفيذ الأحكام بشوكته و بأسه ولا على إنصاف المظلوم من الظالم بقدرته وسطوته لا يكون ذلك أميرا ولا إماما ’ وإنما هو بمنـزلة الحكم ومبايعة الناس له منـزلة التحكيم ولا يجدي تسميته إماما أو أميرا في القراطيس وأفواه الناس فإن مدار الإمارة والإمامة على القوة والقدرة دون التسمية والشهرة فقط ’ فلا يجب على عامة المسلمين مبايعته ولا إطاعة أحكامه ’ ولا الجهاد معه

It is obvious from the Hadīth narrated by Makhūl34 that Jihād becomes obligatory with the ruler who is a Muslim and whose political authority has been established either through nomination by the previous ruler similar to how Abū Bakr transferred the reins [of his Khilāfah to ‘Umar] or through pledging of allegiance by the ulema or a group of the elite …in my opinion, if the oath of allegiance is pledged by ulema or by a group of the elite to a person who is not able to guard the frontiers and defend honour [of the people] organize armies or implement his directives by political force neither is he able to provide justice to the oppressed by exercising force and power, then such a person cannot be called ‘Amīr’ (leader) or ‘Imām’ (ruler). He, at best, is an arbitrator and the oath of allegiance is at best of the nature of arbitration and it is not at all proper to call him ‘Amīr’ (leader) or a ‘Imām’ (ruler) in any [official] documents nor should the people address him by these designations. The reason for this is that the basis of leadership and rulership is power and authority and it does not hinge only upon the fact that he gets famous by this name. It is not imperative for the citizens to pledge allegiance to him or obey his directives and no Jihād can be waged alongside him.35

Ibn Qudāmah, a Hanbalite jurist, writes:

وأمر الجهاد موكول إلى الإمام واجتهاده ويلزم الرعية طاعته فيها يراه من ذلك

The matter of Jihād rests with the ruler [of a state] and his Ijtihād. The opinion he forms in this regard must be obeyed by the citizens of his country.36

Māwardī, a Shafite authority, while enumerating the obligations of a Muslim ruler says:

والسادس : جهاد من عاند الإسلام

His sixth obligation is to conduct Jihād against those who show hostility against Islam…37

In the words of Imām Farāhī:

In one’s own country, without migrating to an independent piece of land, Jihād is not allowed. The tale of Abraham (sws) and other verses pertaining to migration testify to this. The Prophet’s life (sws) also supports this view. The reason for this is that if Jihād is not waged by a person who holds political authority, it amounts to anarchy and disorder.38

While commenting on the underlying reasons which form the basis of state authority for Jihād, Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, writes:

The first reason [for this condition] is that God Almighty does not like the dissolution and disintegration of even an evil system until a strong probability exists that those who are out to disintegrate the system will provide people with an alternative and a righteous system. Anarchy and disorder are unnatural conditions. In fact, they are so contrary to human nature that even an unjust system is preferable to them....this confidence [that a group will be able to harmonize a disintegrated system and integrate it into a united whole] can be reposed in such a group only as has actually formed a political government and  has such control and discipline within the confines of its authority that the group can be termed as Al-Jamā‘ah [the State]. Until a group attains this position, it may strive [by religiously allowable means] to become Al-Jamā‘ah -- and that endeavour  would be its Jihād for that time -- but it does not have the right to wage an ‘armed’ Jihād.

The second reason is that the import of power, which a group engaged in war acquires over the life and property of human beings, is so great that the sanction to wield this power cannot be given to a group the control of whose leader over his followers is based merely on his spiritual and religious influence on them  [rather than being based on legal authority]. When the control of a leader is based merely on his spiritual and religious influence, there is not sufficient guarantee that the leader will be able to stop his followers from fasād fi’l-ard [creating a situation of disorder in the society]. Therefore, a  religious leader does not have the right to allow his followers to take out their swords [that is to wage an armed struggle] merely on the basis of his spiritual influence over them, for once the sword is unsheathed there is great danger that it will not care for right and wrong and that those who drew it will end up doing all [the wrong which] they had sought to end. Such radical groups as desire revolution and the object of whom is nothing more than disruption of the existing system and deposition of the ruling party to seize power for themselves play such games -- and they can, for in their eyes disruption of a system is no calamity, nor is cruelty of any kind an evil. Everything is right to them [as long as it serves their purpose]. However, the leaders of a just and righteous party must see whether they are in a position to provide people with a system better than the one they seek to change and whether they will be able to stop their followers from doing such wrong as they themselves had sought to root out. If they are not in that position, then they do not have the right to play games with the life and property of people on the basis of their confidence in mere chances and to create greater disorder than the one they had sought to end.39

Here some people justify that in some cases Islam allows Jihād without state authority by citing the skirmishes carried out by Abū Basīr against the Quraysh. I am afraid this is a misinterpretation of facts: It is known historically40 that after the treaty of Hudaybiyyah, Abū Basīr defected to Madīnah. However, according to the terms of the treaty, he was duly returned back to the Quraysh by the Prophet (sws). He was sent back in the custody of two people of the Quraysh. On the way back, he killed one of his two custodians and again defected to Madīnah. When he arrived in Madīnah, the Prophet (sws) was angry with what he had done. Sensing that the Prophet (sws) would once again return him to the Quraysh, he left Madīnah and settled at a place near Dhu’l-Marwah, where later on other people joined him. From this place, they would attack the caravans of the Quraysh.

If these guerrilla attacks are analyzed in the light of the Qur’ān, the basic thing which comes to light is that whatever Abū Basīr and has Companions (rta) did was not sanctioned at all by Islam. The Qur’ān says that the actions and deeds of a person who had not migrated to Madīnah were not the responsibility of the Islamic state:

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يُهَاجَرُوا مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ وَلَايَتِهِمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ حَتَّى يُهَاجِرُوا (٨ :٧٢)

And as to those who believed but did not migrate [to Madīnah], you owe no duty of protection until they migrate. (8:72)

Not only did the Qur’ān acquit the newly founded Islamic state of Madīnah from the actions of these people, we even find the following harsh remarks of the Prophet (sws) about Abū Basīr when he returned to Madinah after killing one of  his two custodians:

وَيْلُ أُمِّهِ مِسْعَرَ حَرْبٍ لَوْ كَانَ لَهُ  (بخارى: رقم ٢٧٣٤)

His mother be cursed, if he is able to find some supporters he is bound to ignite the flames of war. (Bukhārī: No. 2734)

So, one can safely conclude that Jihād without state authority is terrorism and is totally prohibited in Islam. Moreover, clandestine attacks on a country even with state authority are not allowed. Jihād must be openly declared against the enemy country. If a peace treaty has been made with it, then it should first be openly declared null and void. Similarly, non-combatants of the enemy country should never be targeted. No one has the right to take the life of innocent civilians.

2. The Sole Ground for Jihād

In this regard, it needs to be understood that, apart from self-defence, the only legitimate reason for an Islamic state to undertake Jihād is to curb oppression and persecution in some other state whether Muslim or Non-Muslim. The Qur’ān says:

وَمَا لَكُمْ لَا تُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنْ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَاءِ وَالْوِلْدَانِ الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا أَخْرِجْنَا مِنْ هَذِهِ الْقَرْيَةِ الظَّالِمِ أَهْلُهَا وَاجْعَل لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ وَلِيًّا وَاجْعَل لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ نَصِيرًا   (٤ :٧٥)

And why is it that you not fight in the cause of God and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated and oppressed -- men, women, and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord! rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from Yourself one who will protect and raise for us from Yourself one who will help!’ (4:75)

Again, this should be resorted to when all diplomatic means fail. Moreover, Muslims should be in a position to successfully combat the enemy, otherwise the whole venture would be no more than a suicide. Again whether or not a country is in a position to wage war is a decision that should be taken by the elected representatives of the state and of course as human beings the possibility of error is always there.

The guideline to give due consideration to one’s military might is found in the life of the Prophet (sws) also. According to the Qur’ān, it was necessary in those times that the believers should be in a certain number before they launch an attack. Initially, the believer to enemy ratio was 1:10 (The Qur’ān, 8:66). However, later, after large scale conversions to Islam in later years of the Prophet (sws), this was reduced to 1:2 (The Qur’ān, 8:66). It seems that in both these situations, the Almighty would be providing the remaining support Himself for this noble cause of curbing oppression. The above ratios were meant for the time of the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta). Today, of course, the overall extent of faith Muslims have cannot be compared to that found in the days of the Prophet (sws). Therefore, an Islamic State should realize that if it wants to wage Jihad, its military might should never be less than half of the enemy’s military might if it wants to even expect Divine help.

Consequently, Muslim countries of today should keep consolidating and developing their military might to check any aggression from its enemies. The Qur’ān says:

وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُمْ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ وَمِنْ رِبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدُوَّ اللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ وَآخَرِينَ مِنْ دُونِهِمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَهُمْ اللَّهُ يَعْلَمُهُمْ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِنْ شَيْءٍ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تُظْلَمُونَ (٨ :٦٠)

Muster against them all the men and cavalry at your disposal so that you can strike terror into the enemies of Allah and of the believers and others beside them who may be unknown to you, though Allah knows them. And remember whatever you spend for the cause of Allah shall be repaid to you. You shall not be wronged. (8:60)

I have also attempted to explain in the previous sections of this article that Jihād is or was never carried out for territorial aggrandizement or for forcibly converting people to Islam. People who erroneously justify either or both of these two bases draw their arguments from the Jihād carried out by the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta). It has already been shown that the Jihād carried out by the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta) after him was governed by a specific law meant only for the Prophets of Allah and their immediate addressees, and has nothing to do with later Muslims. A study of the Qur’ān reveals that the purpose of their Jihād was neither territorial aggrandizement nor forcible conversion of people to Islam: contrary to both, it was a Divine punishment meted out to people who had arrogantly denied Muhammad (sws) in spite of being convinced about the truth of his message.41

In the light of these details, it is evident that Muslims today have no right to carry out Jihād to subjugate other countries to establish the supremacy of Islam or to forcibly convert people to Islam.

V Conclusion: A New Basis for Relations with Non-Muslims

It is evident from the forgoing discussion that in order to make the reward and punishment that is going to take place in the Hereafter an observable reality in this world, the Almighty selects certain personalities called Messengers to elucidate and explain the basic truths to their respective peoples. With the special help and assistance of the Almighty, they remove misconceptions that surround these concepts and vehemently remind people that if they do not accept these truths they shall be doomed in this world and in the Hereafter. Messengers give glad tidings of success both in this world and in the next to those who profess faith in them. People who deliberately deny these truths are punished in various degrees so that this whole episode can become an argument for the reward and punishment that is to take place on similar grounds in the Hereafter.

As a consequence of this fundamental premise what needs to be understood is that some directives of Islam are specific to the age of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) and cannot be extended to later periods. The reason for this, as pointed out many times before in this article, is that a Muslim preacher cannot unveil the basic truths in their ultimate form as a Messenger is able to. Nor can he know whether a non-Muslim is knowingly denying it or not. Only the Almighty knows this. In the age of Messengers, He chose to reveal this judgement through His appointees, while in the second period of history He has not chosen to do so. Consequently, it is imperative that Muslims study the Qur’ān and the life of the Prophet (sws), which are replete with the details of this divine scheme in the proper perspective.

If all these premises are true, then the attitude of Muslims towards non-Muslims should drastically change. Instead of showing an antagonistic behaviour towards them by threatening to subdue them, they should try to present the teachings of Islam in a lucid and articulate manner. They should think of ways and means to communicate the true message of Islam and refrain from policing and threatening non-Muslims. Like true preachers, they should invest their time in thinking of ways and means to earnestly call people to the truth. Their preaching should have a humble tone in it and they should deal very affectionately and amicably with non-Muslims. Muslims should consider them as their potential addressees to whom they can present the teachings of Islam through character and good deeds. Being antagonistic and hostile to them is a totally uncalled for attitude. Moreover when Muslims settle in non-Muslim countries, they are bound in a contract of citizenship. They must always honour this contract while living in such areas. They should respect the laws and live peacefully. They must never break these laws and if a situation comes when, owing to some law, they are not able to follow a directive of their religion which seems imperative to them, then instead of violating the law they should migrate from that country. They must remember that honouring a contract is a sacred duty and people who break their promises are disliked by the Almighty.

In this regard, for Muslims, the personality of the Prophet (sws) is a model in another sphere -- a sphere in which he expended all his efforts in the propagation phase to preach, educate and influence people in favour of Islam. In the words of Ghāmidī:

All the Prophets of Allah adopted the method of convincing and urging people to accept the message they brought. In every period of time, whenever they were sent to their people, they vigilantly stuck to this methodology. True that many a time was their message rejected, they were exiled from their territories and many a time they were even killed, but they never changed this modus operandi. The Almighty always bade them to remain steadfast on this cause for this is their real duty. They have to reform and educate the society. Consequently, it is a historical fact that whenever the Prophets have been able to convince people about the basic truths, it was done in this manner. It is through this way that the mission of the Prophet Moses (sws) was accomplished and it is by adopting this course that the rulers of the Prophet Jonah’s (sws) nation accepted faith. Above all, the first Islamic state was founded in Madīnah by the Prophet Muhammad (sws) by working along these lines.42

Today, the non-Muslim world has severe apprehensions about the Muslim bloc. To them Muslims pose a great threat to their freedom and liberty. John L. Esposito of the Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA, writes:

According to many Western commentators, Islam and the West are on a collision course. Islam is a triple threat: political, demographic, and socioreligious. For some, the nature of the Islamic threat is intensified by the linkage of the political and the demographic. Thus Patrick Buchanan could write that while the west finds itself ‘negotiating for hostages with Shiite radicals who hate and detest us,’43 their Muslim brothers are populating Western countries. The Muslim threat is as global in nature as Muslims in Europe. The Soviet Union, and America proliferate and prosper. Other observers such as Charles Krauthammer, in the midst of the unraveling of the Soviet Union, spoke of a global Islamic uprising, a vision of Muslims in the heartland and on the periphery of the Muslim world rising up in revolt: a “new ‘arc of crisis’ … another great movement is going on as well, unnoticed but just as portentous: a global intifada”44.45

Muslims should come forward and put an end to the threat non-Muslims feel from them. The highly talked of ‘Clash of Civilizations’ should be converted into a ‘Dialogue between Civilizations’. Muslims must learn to live in a pluralistic world peacefully.

Moreover, if the issues discussed in this article are found convincing, then the real threat to non-Muslims lies elsewhere: They must calmly contemplate on the fate of deliberately denying the last Messenger of God. They must keep in mind the fate of their ancestors in the Prophetic times – a fate which they met by knowingly denying him. However, the sword of Democles does not hang over them in this world at least. Whether they knowingly deny may or may not be known in this world, but surely in the Hereafter this reality shall be unveiled. Such an attitude would lead them to the gravest of penalties. Similarly, they should also consider how a careless attitude in this regard may prove disastrous for them in the Hereafter for according to the Qur’ān the Almighty has sent His Messengers and Prophets so that man is left with no excuse to deny the basic truths:

رُسُلًا مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ لِأَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى اللَّهِ حُجَّةٌ بَعْدَ الرُّسُلِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا (٤ :١٦٥)

[We sent] messengers who gave glad tidings as well as warnings so that mankind after the coming of these messengers are left with no plea against the Almighty [regarding the basic truths]. For God is exalted in power, wise. (4:165)

In recent times, many non-Muslim scholars have paved the way for a meaningful dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims. They have tried to pinpoint the areas of mutual agreement. William Montgomery Watt, professor emeritus of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Edinburgh University, writes:

The most important requirement is to admit that religious and moral systems other than Islam, even if they are far from perfect in Muslim eyes, may contain a large measure of truth. Muslims would, of course, continue to hold that Islam is religiously and morally superior, but they would also have to recognize that the adherent of any moral and religious system normally thinks that his system is superior to others. Since there is no generally accepted criterion to distinguish between the truth and falsehood of such systems, co-operation between the adherents of different systems requires that all should admit that the others are true at least up to a point, and it is usually unnecessary to specify in what respects each is true. In other words, Muslims are required to accept a pluralism of religions and moralities, and to see themselves as one community within a pluralistic world. A corollary would be that they might possibly have something to learn from some of the other systems.

It is in the application of moral values to social and political life that co-operation would appear to present fewest problems, at least intellectually. The relation of morality to religion is a difficult question because, though we may speak of Christian ethics and Buddhist ethics, morality is to a great extent independent of religion, and is based rather on the nature of human beings. At the same time, however, religion helps individuals to live more in accordance with their moral beliefs. The life of all human communities is based, among other values, on those implicit in the fifth to the ninth of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, which may be stated positively as respect for parents, for life, for marriage and for property, and truthfulness in public statements. Recognition of these values is also assumed as part of the basis of the United Nations and other global institutions, though there is still much to do before all international political activity is based on moral principles. Since these values are all upheld by the Sharī’ah, Muslims should have no difficulty in co-operating with others who are working for a fuller incorporation of moral values into the life of human beings at all levels.46

 If, in the opinion of Professor Watt, morality is the most common factor among various religions, then one great moral value is upholding the truth. Conversely, denying what one is convinced of is a grave sin. Muhammad (sws) and his preaching mission must always continue to be thought provoking to Non-Muslims since it poses a threat to them in the Hereafter if they deny him in spite of being convinced of his Prophethood. They must keep in mind that as per the Qur’ān, the Almighty has played His role in elucidating this fact. Only a legitimate excuse on their part can now save them on the Day of Judgement from His wrath.






1. Jeffrey Lang, Struggling to Surrender, 2nd ed., (Beltsville: Amana Publications, 1995), p. 190

2. Rev. W.R.W. Stephene, Christianity and Islam; The Bible and the Qur’ān, 1st ed., (London, 1877), pp. 141-2

3. This premise has been developed on the basis of research carried out by Javed Ahmad Ghāmidī (b: 1951). For details see: Ghāmidī, Usūl-u-Mabādī, 1st ed., (Lahore: Danish Sara, 2000), pp. 55-8 / Ghāmidī, Mīzān, 1st ed., (Lahore: Dāru’l- Ishrāq, 2001), pp. 183-204. It would be pertinent to note here Ghamidi’s research itself is based on the seminal works of his two predecessors: Hamīdu’l-Dīn Farāhī (d: 1930) and his pupil Amīn Ahsan Islahī (d: 1997).

4. Here the word Rusul (Messengers) implies a special cadre among the Anbiyā (Prophets).

5.Details follow in the next section.

6. Shāh Walī Ullāh, Hujjatullāhi al-Bālighah, 1st ed., vol. 2, (Lahore: al-Maktabah al-Salafiyyah, 1975), p. 171

7. It is evident from 2:62 that these basic truths are:

i. Belief in the One and Only God.

ii. Belief in the Hereafter.

iii. Belief that a person shall be held accountable on the Day of Judgement on the basis of his deeds.

8. The various phases with reference to Noah (sws) are very compactly set forth in a brief sūrah of the Qur’ān. For an analysis of these phases, see Appendix A.

9. These two forms were also referred to earlier in the section ‘Punishment of the Disbelievers’. (See: p. 9)

10. In particular, a graphic summary of the fate of these nations is found in Sūrah Qamar. For details, see Appendix B.

11. They are addressed by the word: Kāfirūn.

12. For details see: Ghāmidī, Mīzān, 1st ed., (Lahore: Dāru’l-Ishrāq, 2001), pp. 201-4

13. It is evident from the Qur’ān (2:143) that just as the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) were conferred the status of Shuhadā ‘alā al-Nās (witnesses to the truth before other peoples), the Israelites after Moses (sws), in their collective capacity were conferred this status.

14. Ibn Rushd, Bidāyatu’l-Mujtahid, 1st ed., vol. 4, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Ma‘rifah, 1997), p. 304 / ‘Abdu’l-Rahmān Jazīrī, Kitābu’l-Fiqh ‘alā Madhāhibi’l-Arba‘ah, 7th ed., vol. 5, (Beirut: Dār Ahya’i’l-Turāth al-‘Arabī, 1980), pp. 422-5 / Wahbah al-Rakhīlī, al-Fiqhu’l-Islāmī wa Adillatuhu, 1st ed. vol. 6, (Damascus: Dāru’l-Fikr), p. 186

15. The original research that forms the basis of this inference has been carried out by Javed Ahmad Ghāmidī. For details see: Ghāmidī, Burhān, 2nd ed., (Lahore: Danish Sara, 2000), pp. 127-31

16. This is the view of Ahmad, Shāfi‘ī and Ibn Hazm. For details see: Ibn Qudāmah, Al-Mughnī, vol. 8, (Riyād: Maktabah al-Riyād al-Hadīthah,1981), pp. 500-1 / Shāfi‘ī, Kitābu’l-Umm, 2nd ed., vol. 4, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Ma‘rifah, 1973), pp. 174-5 / Ibn Hazm, Al-Muhallā, 1st ed., vol. 5, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Fikr), pp. 413-4. In this regard, the Hanafite jurists are however of the view that death was only prescribed for the Idolaters of Arabia of the Prophet’s times. As far as polytheists of other times and lands are concerned they cannot be put to death if they do not accept Islam. Like the People of the Book, they too can be allowed to remain on their faith if they accept the superiority of Islam and pay Jizyah. For details see: Sarakhsī. Kitābu’l-Mabsūt, 2nd ed., vol. 10, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Ma‘rifah, 1978), p. 7 / Jassās, Ahkāmu’l-Qur’ān 1st ed., vol. 3, (Dāru’l-Kitābi’l-‘Arabī), p. 93. Mālik and Ibn Qayyim are of the view that Jizyah can be taken from all types of Idolaters. For details see: Mālik, Al-Mudawwanatu’l-Kubrā, 1st ed., vol. 3, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Fikr, 1986), p. 406 / Ibn Qayyim, Zādu’l-Ma‘ād, 14th ed., vol. 3, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1986), p. 154

17. ‘Abdu’l-Karīm Zaydān, Ahkāmu’l-Dhimiyyīn wa’l Musta’minīn Fī Dāri’l Islam, 1st ed., (Baghdad: Maktabatu’l-Quds, 1982), pp. 22-60

18. The Mīthāq (treaty) of Madīnah made with Jewish tribes by the Prophet (sws) is an example of this type of citizenship.

19. For more details, see the Appendix C.

20. Jassās, Ahkāmu’l-Qur’ān 1st ed., vol. 2, (Dāru’l-Kitābi’l-‘Arabī), p. 228 / Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr Al-Qur’ānu’l-‘Azīm, 1st ed, vol. 2, (Lahore: Amjad Academy, 1982), p. 68

21. This is the opinion of Shāfi‘ī and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. For details see: Al-Mughnī, vol. 7, (Riyād: Maktabah al-Riyād al-Hadīthah,1981), pp. 652-3 / Shāfi‘ī, Kitābu’l-Umm, 2nd ed., vol. 6, (Beirut: Dāru’l-Ma‘rifah, 1973), p. 38

22. Since the word Mushrik is used in this Hadīth, the directive it mentions does not even pertain to the People of the Book of the Prophet’s times.

23. ‘Abdu’l-Rahmān Muhaddith Mubārakpurī, Tuhfatu’l-Ahwadhī, 1st ed., vol. 2, (Faisalabad: Diyā al-Sunnah, ), p. 397

24. For verses of similar meaning, see 3:10, 63, 131; 4:56, 115; 7:41; 8:50; 9:63, etc.

25. Ibn Taymiyyah, Al-Sārimu’l-Maslūl ‘alā Shātmi’l-Rasūl, 1st ed., (Multan: Nashru’l-Sunnah), pp. 61-180

26. Abū Dā’ūd, Sunan, 1st ed., vol 3, (Beirut: Daru’l-Jayl, 1992), p.7

27. See section on ‘Misplaced Directives’.

28. See for example Mawdūdī, Shahādat i Haq, 10th ed., Islamic Publications, 1961, Lahore / YY Haddad, The Qur’ānic Justification of an Islamic Revolution: The view of Syed Qutb, The Middle East Journal, 37 (1), 1983, pp. 17-20

29. The original research that leads to this conclusion has been carried out by Javed Ahmad Ghāmidī. For details see: Ghāmidī, Burhān, 1st ed., (Lahore: Danish Sara, 2000), pp. 135-8

30. This of course does not mean that Muslims should not strive for this cause. It only means that this is not their religious responsibility.

31. Ghāmidī, Mīzān, 1st ed., (Lahore: Dāru’l-Ishrāq, 2001), pp. 98-9

32. For a detailed treatment of this topic see: Ghāmīdī, Mīzān, 1st ed., (Lahore: Dāru’l-Ishrāq, 2001), pp. 241-79

33. Sayyid Sābiq, Fiqhu’l-Sunnah, 2nd ed., vol. 3, (Beirut: Daru’l-Fikr, 1980), p. 30

34. The complete text of the Hadīth is:

eعَنْ مَكْحُولٍ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْجِهَادُ وَاجِبٌ عَلَيْكُمْ مَعَ كُلِّ أَمِيرٍ بَرًّا كَانَ أَوْ فَاجِرًا وَالصَّلَاةُ وَاجِبَةٌ عَلَيْكُمْ خَلْفَ كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ بَرًّا كَانَ أَوْ فَاجِرًا وَإِنْ عَمِلَ الْكَبَائِرَ وَالصَّلَاةُ وَاجِبَةٌ عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ بَرًّا كَانَ أَوْ فَاجِرًا وَإِنْ عَمِلَ الْكَبَائِرَ (ابو داؤد: رقم ٢٥٣٣)

Makhūl narrates from Abū Hurayrah who narrates from the Prophet: Jihād is obligatory upon you with a Muslim ruler whether he is pious or impious, and the prayer is obligatory upon you behind every Muslim whether he is pious or impious even if he is guilty of the major sins and the prayer is obligatory upon every Muslim whether he is pious or impious even if he is guilty of the major sins. (Abū Dā’ūd: No. 2533)

35. Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmānī, Ii‘lā al-Sunan, 3rd ed., vol. 12, (Karachi: Idarātu’l-Qur’ān wa ‘Ulūmi’l-Islāmiyyah, 1415 AH), pp. 15-16

36. Ibn Qudāmah, Al-Mughnī, vol. 8, (Riyād: Maktabah al-Riyād al-Hadīthah,1981), p. 352

37. Abu’l-Hasan ‘Alī Māwardī, Al-Ahkām al-Sultāniyyah, 1st ed., (Beirut: Dāru’l-Kitāb al-‘Arabī, 1990), p. 52

38. Farahi, Majmū‘ah Tafāsīr-i-Farāhī’, 1st ed., (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1991), p. 56

39. Da‘wat-ī-Dīn awr us kā Tarīqah-i-kār (Urdu; ch. 14, pp 241-2) (translated by Asif Iftikhar)

40. For details see: Bukhārī: No. 2734

41. An obvious corollary of this premise is that the stance adopted by some scholars that all of Islam’s wars were in self-defence is incorrect. It is against this premise and belies established history. The following excerpts typically depict this stance:

There are no passages to be found in the Qur’ān that in any way enjoin forcible conversion, and many that on the contrary limit propagandist efforts to preaching and persuasion. It has further been maintained that no passage in the Qur’ān authorizes unprovoked attacks on unbelievers, and that, in accordance with such teaching, all the wars of Muhammad were defensive.

(Thomas Arnold, The Preaching of Islam, 4th ed., (Lahore: Ashraf  Publications, 1979), p. 451)

Islam seized the sword in self-defence, and held it in self-defence, as it will ever do.

(Ameer Ali, The Spirit of Islam, (Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications), p. 218)

42. Ghāmidī, Burhān, 2nd ed., (Lahore: Danish Sara, 2000), p. 260

43. Patrick J. Buchanan, Rising Islam May Overwhelm the West, New Hampshire Sunday News, August 20, 1989.

44. Charles Krauthammar, The Crescent of Crisis: Global Inifada, Washington Post, October 29, 1991.

45. John L. Esposito, The Islamic Threat, Myth or Reality, 1st ed., (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 175

46. W. Montgomery Watt, Islamic Fundamentalism and Modernity, 1st ed., (London: Routeledge, 1988), pp. 104-5

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