Does Jihad mean Either Islam or Death?
The phrase Either Islam or death, which has been sloganized by the adversaries of Islam, has never been actualized practically throughout history. It is not possible to be actualized henceforward. For the universal discipline, that Islam has introduced has brought quite contrary rules. First, the adversaries of Islam are offered to be Muslim and then if they do not accept, they are announced to pay their tributes by living under the protection of Muslims or else to be fought against. At war time, children, the elderly, women, and men of religion are not be killed, slaves are to be treated in a humane fashion, and any demand for peace is to be assessed favorably at any phase of the war. All of these are the decrees of Islam.
Some people deliberately distort the truths of Islam by quoting verses from the Quran but they do not write previous and latter part of these verses and this leads some people into thinking that the Quran orders tyranny and murder. For example, in the surah (chapter) Baqara ayat (verse) 191 Allah announces; Kill them wherever you come upon them However, when we read the previous and latter part of the verse, it is not hard to see what Allah speaks of, Fight in Gods cause (in order to exalt His Name) against those who fight against you, but do not exceed the bounds (set by God), for surely God loves not those who exceed the bounds.,(While at war) kill them wherever you come upon them, and drive them out from where they drove you out (thus recovering your lands from their usurpation). (Though killing is something you feel aversion to) disorder (rooted in rebellion against God and recognizing no laws) is worse than killing. Do not fight against them in the vicinities of the Sacred Mosque unless they fight against you there; but if they fight against you (there), kill them – such is the recompense of the (rebellious) unbelievers. (Al-Baqara Surah, 2:190-191)
Furthermore, the reason for this verse to be sent down has to do with idolaters of Mecca who for 13 years did their best to tyrannize Muslims.
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