The ‘Sword Verses’ (aayaat-e-jihad) and their contexts in the Qur’an (Part 3)

  • Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah (Islamic tax) willingly while they are humbled. (9:29 Qur’an)

The radical Islamist ideologues often misquote this Qur’anic verse (9:29) to justify the acts of violence in the name of establishing an ‘Islamic state’. But if we take the verse in its historical context or the shan-e-nuzul (reason for revelation), we can clear such misconceptions.

An authoritative Islamic cleric in India, Maulana Yaseen Akhtar Masbahi put this verse into its proper context and explains the rationale behind it. He writes in his Urdu book “Aayat e Jihad Ka Qur’ani Mafhum”:

“In this verse 29 of Surah Taubah, the order was given to fight those who were hell-bent on mischief-making, hate-mongering and inciting conflicts and strife, besides disbelieving in God or the Day of Judgement, considering unlawful the things declared unlawful by God and His Prophet (pbuh) and rejecting the truth.

  • “O Prophet, strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination”. (Surah Tahrim verse: 9)

Maulana Misbahi explains this verse:

“Surah Tahrim was revealed after the migration from Makkah to Madina when Muslims were struggling to survive and protect their lives. The order to fight against the pagans in this verse is similar to the order in the previous verse. It was necessary to be strict against their oppressors and enemies to ensure their plans did not succeed. Their internal and external plans had become increasingly dangerous for Muslims and it was essential for Muslims to defend themselves against their designs.”

  • “O Prophet, urge the believers to battle. If there are twenty [who are] steadfast among you, they will overcome two hundred. And if there are one hundred [who are] steadfast among you, they will overcome a thousand of those who have disbelieved because they are a people who do not understand.” (Surah Anfal Verse: 65).

Maulana gives the context of the above Qur’anic verse:

“Surah Anfal was revealed in Madina after the people of Makkah had made life difficult for the Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) emigrated from Makkah to Madina. The pagans and enemies of Islam in Makkah would not let the Muslims live in peace in Madina either. They conspired, plotted and tried to force the Muslims out of Madina also. They came in great numbers with a fully equipped army in order to attack the Muslims in Madina. When the unprepared Muslims came face to face with them, they were only 313 in total. This battle was named “Badr” which was the first battle in Islam. The above verse was revealed just before this battle in which the Prophet (pbuh) is ordered by Allah the Almighty to prepare his small army to face the enemy by means of motivation, instilling in them passion, courage and bravery. Thus, when they faced the enemies with the strength of faith and spirituality, every single person among them proved to be equivalent to two of the enemies.”

Maulana further explains that this Qura’nic exhortation of jihad was revealed in a particular context:

“If the enemies are preparing an army for battle; if they are restless for war; if they are preparing their horses and armour; if they have unsheathed their swords and are cleaning their rifles, machine guns and cannons; if they are gathered in thousands with hateful eyes; what else can you do at that time other than instill in your men and youths passion, courage and bravery? If that is not done at that time the end result will be annihilation, humiliation, despair and disgrace. Which country, community, clan or religion is prepared to allow itself to be destroyed by an enemy without putting up any kind of fight or struggle?”


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