Like the verses of al-Baqara, 2/191 and at-Taubah, 9/29, how can the verses of violence in the Qur’an be universal?

Details of the Question
Like the verses of al-Baqara, 2/191 and at-Taubah, 9/29, how can the verses of violence in the Qur’an be universal?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is clearly understood from this question that the concept of “Universality” is not properly understood. The universality of the Qur’an and Islam means the practicability of its basic principles in all times and in all environments. However, it does not mean that all of its details or a particular ruling is necessary to practicable in all times in the same vein. The abrogation (naskh) of some of its decrees after a while is clear proof of this truth. The gradual revelation of the Qur’an in 23 years duration is another indicator of this truth.

For example, In the Surah of al-Baqara 190-191, Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith. The expressions that indicate the universal principles of war are as follows: Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress limits”, “but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there”. These principles are universal because the principles that are valid all the time and becoming to the human dignity are expressed here. “Fight with those who have decision/fight you..”; but do not fight unjustly.. do not transgress limits by killing people that Islam forbids fighting such as women, child, elderly or anyone like priests who have no aim but living their own religion.”

In short, in these verses, a war is advised based on defense against enemy attacks. It is advised not to do any injustice even in a war.

The local details in these verses which are not universal but necessitated again by local conditions are as follows: “slay them wherever ye catch them”. A state of war is clearly understood from this expression. State of war requires strategies and tactics that are proper to the present conditions. In the event of the occurrence of those conditions, the same orders are valid again so, by this feature, it is also universal.

Every conscious being who looks at the verses given above conscientiously understands that there cannot be any advice like “killing unbelievers that are met by chance without rhyme or reason” by any means.

The related verse of at-Taubah is an order related to a war environment. After the conquest of Mecca, the Byzantines and Christian Ghassanids residing in the Damascus region under their protection, made plans and prepared military units in order to attack Muslims. The expedition of Tabuk comes into existence after the revelation of this verse. That is to say, the event is because of the opposite parties creating trouble.

As a matter of fact, the Jews of Banu Nadir and Banu Qurayza from the people of the book cooperated with the Meccan polytheists and received what they deserved. (See, Ibn Ashur, the interpretation of the related verse).

There are many verses about the people of the book which have a quality of peace and universality. One of them is as follows:

 “And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation) unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say "We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our God and your God is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)." (Surah al-Ankaboot 29/46)  

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