The Testimony of the Quran
LESSON SEVEN: THE QURAN’S TESTIMONY ABOUT FIGHTING AND WARFARE
In this study we shall be looking at what the Quran teaches about warfare and fighting. We shall examine various aspects of warfare such as the division of booty and the treatment of those who refuse to fight. We shall finish by looking briefly at what the different books of the previous scriptures teach on this subject.
1. Warfare has been appointed by Allah for Muslims.
2:216 – Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not.
2. Allah assists the believers who are engaged in battle.
a. 3:13 – “There has already been for you a Sign in the two armies that met (in combat): One was fighting in the cause of God, the other resisting God; these saw with their own eyes Twice their number. But God doth support with His aid whom He pleaseth. In this is a warning for such as have eyes to see.”
b. 8:65-67 – O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred (steadfast) they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are a folk without intelligence. Now hath Allah lightened your burden, for He knoweth that there is weakness in you. So if there be of you a steadfast hundred they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a thousand (steadfast) they shall overcome two thousand by permission of Allah. Allah is with the steadfast. It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desireth (for you) the Hereafter, and Allah is Mighty, Wise.
3. Believers are thus encouraged to take part and fight in war against unbelievers and idolaters.
a. 2:190-193 – Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God 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. But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.
1) What should be done to those who fight against us?
2) Aggressors should be slain where?
b. 9:13,14 – Will ye not fight a folk who broke their solemn pledges, and purposed to drive out the messenger and did attack you first? What! Fear ye them? Now Allah hath more right that ye should fear Him, if ye are believers. Fight them! Allah will chastise them at your hands, and He will lay them low and give you victory over them, and He will heal the breasts of folk who are believers.
c. 9:29 – Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
4. In warfare, the unbelievers should be struck down and killed wherever they are found.
a. 4:91 – Ye will find others who desire that they should have security from you, and security from their own folk. So often as they are returned to hostility they are plunged therein. If they keep not aloof from you nor offer you peace nor hold their hands, then take them and kill them wherever ye find them. Against such We have given you clear warrant.
b. 5:33 – The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom.
What is to be done to those who fight against Allah and His messenger?
c. 9:5 – Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
What is to be done to the idolaters who may be living peacefully but who continue in their idolatry?
d. 47:4 – Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah’s Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.
5. Various other commands concerning warfare.
a. A believer should be armed, either lightly or heavily.
9:41 – Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah! That is best for you if ye but knew.
b. Fleeing from battle is forbidden.
8:15,16 – O ye who believe! When ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them. If any do turn his back to them on such a day – unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own)- he draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and his abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed)!
c. In battle, we should show our harshness to our foes.
9:123 – O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty (unto Him).
d. We should not regret that Allah has appointed war for us.
4:77 – Hast thou not turned Thy vision to those who were told to hold back their hands (from fight) but establish regular prayers and spend in regular charity? When (at length) the order for fighting was issued to them, behold! A section of them feared men as – or even more than – they should have feared Allah: They said: “Our Lord! Why hast Thou ordered us to fight? Wouldst Thou not Grant us respite to our (natural) term, near (enough)?” Say: “Short is the enjoyment of this world: the Hereafter is the best for those who do right: Never will ye be dealt with unjustly in the very least!
6. Believers who die in battle will receive from Allah a great reward.
a. 3:157 – And if ye are slain, or die, in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all they could amass.
b. 3:169 – Think not of those, who are slain in the way of Allah, as dead. No, they are living. With their Lord they have provision.
c. 3:195 – And their Lord hath heard them (and He saith): Lo! I suffer not the work of any worker, male or female, to be lost. Ye proceed one from another. So those who fled and were driven forth from their homes and suffered damage for My cause, and fought and were slain, verily I shall remit their evil deeds from them and verily I shall bring them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow – A reward from Allah. And with Allah is the fairest of rewards.
d. 4:74 – Let those fight in the cause of Allah Who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah,- whether he is slain or gets victory – Soon shall We give him a reward of great (value).
7. Believers who are not killed in battle are to share the booty of war with Allah and His prophet.
a. 8:41 – And know that out of all the booty that ye may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to Allah,- and to the Apostle, and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer,- if ye do believe in Allah and in the revelation We sent down to Our servant on the Day of Testing,- the Day of the meeting of the two forces. For Allah hath power over all things.
b. 45:20,21 – This is clear indication for mankind, and a guidance and a mercy for a folk whose faith is sure. Or do those who commit ill-deeds suppose that We shall make them as those who believe and do good works, the same in life and death? Bad is their judgment!
In the above we have looked at some of the main passages on warfare and battle in the Quran. We shall turn our attention now to what the Previous Scripture teaches on this subject. We shall begin in the Taurat and books of the prophets and then go on to the Injil.
8. In the Taurat and Prophets, Allah often used war and battle to punish unbelieving nations. It was also used to punish the nation of Israel, the descendants of the prophet Ibrahim, when it was disobedient and followed the evil practices of the nations around it. However, Allah promised to give victory in battle to His people if they obeyed Him.
a. Leviticus 26:3 and 7,8 – ” `Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am Allah. 7 You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. 8 Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.
b. Deuteronomy 9:1-6 – Hear, O Israel. You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. 2 The people are strong and tall–Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: “Who can stand up against the Anakites?” 3 But be assured today that Allah your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as Allah has promised you. 4 After Allah your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “Allah has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that Allah is going to drive them out before you. 5 It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, Allah your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Ibrahim, Ishaq and Yaqub. 6 Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that Allah your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.
1) Who is Israel commanded to fight?
2) Who is stronger, the Anakites or Israel?
3) According to vs. 3, why will Israel be able to defeat them?
4) Why had Allah decided to give the Anakite land to Israel?
c. Deuteronomy 7:1-6 – When Allah 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– 2 and when Allah 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. 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and Allah’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. 5 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. 6 For you are a people holy to Allah your God. Allah your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
1) How many nations is Israel to drive out?
2) When Allah has delivered them to Israel, what is Israel to do to them? (vs. 3)
3) What more were the Israelites to do according to verse 5?
d. 1 Samuel 15:1-3 – Samuel said to Talut, “I am the one Allah sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from Allah. 2 This is what Allah Almighty says: `I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ ”
10. With the coming of Isa al-Masih and Allah’s sending His Holy Spirit into men’s hearts, religious focus shifted from the external to the internal. Jihad, warfare in Allah’s name, shifted from a physical fight against Allah’s human foes to a spiritual battle with the forces of evil that lie behind and direct the human enemies of Allah.
a. Because his disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit, Isa could command them to do what would otherwise have been impossible in their own strength – to love, not kill, their enemies.
Matthew 5:43-48 – “You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
1) What are we to do to those who persecute us?
2) What does Allah do for both the evil and good?
3) Even pagans and evil people do what?
b. We can love our enemies and pray for Allah to lead them on the right path because we know that Allah, not us, is the final judge. It is He who will one day judge and punish all evil.
Romans 12:17-21 – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for Allah’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says Allah. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1) As far as we are able we should live how with everyone?
2) Who will finally judge and avenge evil?
3) Are we to overcome evil by force (by war and killing) or by good (by love and prayer)?
c. Since our warfare is a spiritual one, not a physical one, we do not fight with normal weapons of war.
Matthew 26:50-54 – Isa replied, “Friend, do what you came for.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Isa and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Isa’s companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Isa said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
1) How did one of Isa’s disciples try to defend him?
2) What did Isa command him?
3) What did Isa say will happen to those who draw the sword?
d. Our weapons are spiritual ones for spiritual battle.
Ephesians 6:10-18 – Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of Allah so that you can take your stand against the schemes of Iblis. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of Allah, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of Allah. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
1) In verse 11, whose armor are we to put on?
2) Our struggle is not against what?
3) Instead, our struggle is against what?
4) What is our breastplate to be?
5) What is our shield?
6) Whose arrows will our shield protect us from?
7) What is our spiritual sword?
11. Let us close this study with some personal questions for your thought and reflection.
a. One sometimes hears Islamic Jihad explained in spiritual terms as a fight against spiritual forces of evil. Do you see any such example of spiritual warfare or fighting in the Quran?
b. Where would you say such people probably have gotten their idea for such spiritual warfare from – the Quran, the Taurat, the books of the Prophets, or the Injil?
c. Think about the end result of the two ways of dealing with evildoers.
1) If you kill an evildoer in war, what is his final fate?
2) However, if you love an evildoer, pray for him, and lead him to repentance and faith, what is his final fate?
3) What did Allah do for us when we were His enemies and living in sin? (Read Romans 5:8 – But Allah demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, al-Masih died for us.)
d. Let us consider why we do not find the command to love our enemies in the Taurat, the books of the Prophets or the Quran.
1) Without the power of Allah’s Holy Spirit working, do you think that it is possible for a person truly to love his enemy?
2) Did Isa love his enemies? Explain.
3) Do you think it is possible to love our enemies if we are filled with the Holy Spirit as Isa was? Why?
4) What do you think might be the reason why we do not find the command to love our enemies in the Quran or the Taurat, but only in the Injil? (Consider who sent the Holy Spirit into his disciples lives – see John 16:5-15 below. Consider also the significance of one title for Isa in the Quran – The Spirit of Allah.)
John 16:5-15–“Now I (Isa) am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, `Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”
Praise Allah He has not dealt with us according to our sin and rebellion. Were He to give us what we deserve, we would all be destroyed and sent to hell forever. Yet Allah, in his love and mercy, is patient and kind to His disobedient creation. And He paid a high price for his love and mercy to sinners, sending Isa al-Masih to suffer and die in our place. Through Isa, He opened the way for us to return to Him in repentance and faith. And He now sends us out to win others, even our enemies, to that same path of repentance and trust using the same spiritual weapons of love and faith.
PRAISE ALLAH, THE MERCIFUL AND PATIENT ONE WHO IS QUICK TO FORGIVE AND ABOUNDING IN GRACE AND LOVE
As you finish this lesson spend some time in prayer. Praise Allah for His having saved you from your path of rebellion and disobedience. Thank Him for his love and mercy shown to you while you were still His enemy. And ask Him for the Holy Spirit’s power in your life in order to love and reach out to others who have yet to experience Allah’s mercy, even those who are your enemies.