Commonly misquoted, half-presented and the most misused verse among all war-time Qur’anic commandments: 4:91

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, WordForPeace.com
 
The commonly misquoted, half-presented and the most misused verse among all the war-related Qur’anic commandments is as the following:

“…seize them and kill them wherever you find them…” (Qur’an, 4:91).

This war-time verse is often misused today to misguide the gullible Muslims that they are required to kill anyone who does not come under the fold Islam.

Context of the Verse:

To understand the context of any war-time verse in the Qur’an, you only need to do two things:

  1. Identify the pronouns
  2. Read the verses before and after the war-time verse

This simple technique is so obvious. But it requires a very special “education” to apply it.

Let’s identify the pronouns in the verse: “…seize them and kill them wherever you find them …” (Qur’an, 4:91).

Here, there is only one pronoun, “them,” used three times, and it’s pretty clear that it refers to the same group of people. This group of people referred to as “them” can only be identified if we look at the verses before and after.

Looking at the preceding verses, we learn the following:

  • Verse 4:88 tells us that the pronoun “them” is referring to ‘munafiqun’ (literally: hypocrites) who pretended to be Muslims in Madina but were actually spies and informants to the enemies in Mecca. (Note: The group declared Munafiqun by the Quran was in Madina. Although their activities were strongly condemned, they were allowed to live in peace as part of the Madina charter of human rights. But this group not only opposed Muslims in Madina and criticised the Prophet but also broke the treaty on several occasions).
  • Verse 4:89 tells us that if these hypocrites turn and fight you, then you are allowed to fight them back.
  • Verse 4:90 tells us that Muslims are not allowed to touch anyone who does not want to fight.

Clearly, “them” is referring to a group of hypocrites who attempted to harm and kill the Muslims. The Qur’an, further, says in more of the verse:

“So if they neither withdraw, nor offer you peace, nor restrain themselves from fighting you, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them: In their case [only], We have provided you with a clear warrant against them.We give you clear authority against these type of people.” (Qur’an, 4:91)

Proof from the Qur’an

There is not a single verse in the Qur’an which says to harm another person because of their not being a Muslim. On the contrary, there are several verses which talk about respecting non-Muslims.

To further clarify the subject matter, let’s look at these verses:

  • “He does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith and driven you out of your homes, God loves the just.” (Qur’an, 60:8)
  • “ There is no compulsion in religion…” (Qur’an, 2:256)
  • “Had your Lord wanted, all the people on earth would have believed. So will you force people to believe?” (Qur’an, 10:99)
  • “So warn them: your only task is to warn, you’re not supposed to force them.” (Qur’an, 88:21-22)

Prophetic traditions on war

  • “Do not wish for an encounter with the enemy; pray to Allah to grant you security; but when you [are forced to] encounter them, exercise patience.” (Sahih Muslim)
  • “Whoever kills an innocent non-Muslim will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise.” (Sahih Bukhārī)
  • “Do not kill any child, any woman, or any elder or sick person [even during the war].” (Sunan Abu Dawud)
  • “Do not practice treachery or mutilation. (Muwatta Malik)
  • “Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle.” (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud)
  • “Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship. (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)
  • “Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees.(Al-Muwatta)
  • “Do not wish for an encounter with the enemy; pray to Allah to grant you security; but when you [are forced to] encounter them, exercise patience.” (Sahih Muslim)
  • “No one may punish with fire except the Lord of Fire.” (Sunan Abu Dawud).

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