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Facts & Faith

Terrorism and Jihad: An Islamic Perspective -Part 4
By Dr. Zakir Naik

I ask people throughout the world: why don’t you read your own religious scriptures first?

Deceit – Quoting Scriptures Out of Context

Frequently, many of the sceptics and critics of Islam pick up the verses of the Qur’an and they say that the Qur’an says we should kill the non-Muslims and they quote the verses. One such famous verse which is quoted by most of the critics to attack the Qur’an is verse 5 of Surah Tawbah (i.e. Ch. No. 9 V. No. 5) in which Allah (swt) states:

“And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give Zakah, let them (go) on their way.

Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Surah At-Tawbah 9:5]

This verse is even used by Arun Shourie, one of the staunchest critics of Islam. Even he quotes this famous verse in his book “The world of Fatawas”. In his book, Arun Shourie has inserted the word ‘Hindu’ next to the word ‘Kafir’ in the translation of this verse. Please note that the meaning of the Arabic word ‘Kafir’ is ‘one who rejects faith, a disbeliever. Arun Shourie gives the translation of this verse as follows” “Whenever you find a Kafir (Hindu), you kill him and wait for him in every stratagem of war”. In this manner, Arun Shourie is trying to show the world that this book of the Muslims, this word of Almighty God, the Glorious Qur’an, asks the Muslims to kill the non-Muslims (and in brackets the word ‘Hindus’) whenever and wherever you find them. Furthermore after quoting verse No. 5 in this book of his, he jumps to verse No. 7 of the same Surah (chapter) of the Qur’an.If anyone quotes any text out of context, you may not understand the meaning of that text. However, if you read the context you will understand the meaning of that text. The first few verses of Surah Tawbah Ch. No. 9 speak about the peace treaty between the Muslims and the Mushriks of Makkah.This peace treaty was unilaterally broken by the Mushriks of Makkah. So it is in this context that Almighty Allah states in verse no. 5 that whenever you find the enemy in the battlefield – kill him.

Allah is telling the Muslims, don’t get scared in the battle field, whenever the enemy comes to attack, fight them, and kill them if required; wait for them in every stratagem of war. This verse of the Qur’an is in the context of a battlefield. When the enemies who have broken the peace treaty, when they attack you, don’t get scared in the battlefield, fight them, if required even kill them. Now any army general, any President of any country, or any Prime Minister, to boost the morale of his soldiers he will use these words. For example, a few decades earlier, there was a war between America and Vietnam. If the American President or Army General tells the American soldiers in the battlefield that they should not get scared and wherever they find a Vietnamese, they should kill him, now if we were to quote the American President and say that he said that wherever you find a Vietnamese kill him, we will make him sound like a cruel man. Such a statement is appropriate in the battle field, to boost up the morale, when two opposing forces are arrayed against each other. In a similar manner, the Qur’anic verse refers to the situation in the battlefield, when the enemies had broken a peace treaty.

Arun Shourie, after quoting verse no. 5, jumps to verse no. 7. Any logical person will understand that there is something in verse no. 6 which he has not quoted.

Verse 6 of Surah Taubah states:

“And if anyone of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah (i.e. the Qur’an). Then deliver him to his place of safety.” [Surah At-Tawbah 9:6]

I ask you, which army general in the world today, even if he may be the best human in the world, which army general will make such a statement as that made in this verse 6 – “deliver him to his place of safety”? The maximum he will say, if he is a good human, is that let the enemy go. No army general today will instruct his soldiers or his forces to escort the enemy to a place of security. But then this is what the Qur’an says – that if any of your enemies seek peace, do not fight them, but instead escort them to a place of security. Such a gesture is one of magnanimity, of forgiveness and of reciprocation of peace. And this is the verse that is deliberately skipped by Arun Shourie in his book. When the enemies of Islam and the Islam-baiters attack Islam, it is the duty of the Muslims to clarify doubts and remove the misconceptions.

Fighting for a just cause has been prescribed by all major religions.

I am a student of comparative religion. Please read the scriptures of all the major world religions – fighting has been prescribed in all religious scriptures. Yes. All the major religions of the world have prescribed fighting, at sometime or the other, especially in self-defence or for fighting against oppression and injustice.

(The Lord said) “Go ye after him through the city, and kill: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: [Book of Ezekiel 9:5]

“(Moses said): Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” [Book of Exodus 32:27-28]

Jesus Christ (Pbuh) told the Apostles, his followers, to take up the sword and fight, and one of the Apostles, chopped off a person’s ears.

Then said he (Jesus) unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. [Gospel of Luke 22:36]

And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. [Gospel of Matthew 26:51]

So if the Christians read their scriptures, what does the scripture say? That you have to fight!

I ask the Hindus: Have you read Mahabharata? What is the Mahabharata? The Mahabharata, an epic and religious scripture of the Hindus, talks about the fight between two families of relatives, between the cousins, the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The Bhagavad Gita is the essence of the Mahabharata. If you read the Bhagavad Gita, it contains eighteen chapters that talk about fighting.

In the battlefield, Arjun prefers not to fight and be killed rather than having his conscience burdened with the killing of his relatives. At this moment, Krishna advises Arjun in the battlefield and this advice is contained in the Bhagavad Gita. There are several verses in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna advises Arjun to fight and kill the enemies even though they are his relatives.

The Bhagavad Gita is advice given by Lord Krishna to Arjuna when Arjuna is depressed in the battlefield and says, “how can I kill, how can I fight my relatives and my cousins?”

O Krishna, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession that those who destroy family traditions dwell always in hell”

“Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing ourselves to commit great sinful acts, driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness.”

I would consider better for the sons of Dhritarashtra to kill me unarmed and unresisting rather than fight with them.

“Arjuna, having thus spoken, cast aside his bow and arrow, and sat down on the chariot, his mind, overwhelmed with grief”. [Bhagavad Gita 1:43-46]

So Lord Krishna gives advice to Arjuna that he should fight for the truth even if it be against your father, against your relative – do not hesitate, fight them, kill them says that Lord Krishna.

“My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the progressive values of life. They lead not to higher planets but to infamy.

“O son of Partha, do not yield to this degrading impotence. It does not become you. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy!” [Bhagavad Gita 2:2-3]

Krishna further says:

“Considering your specific duty as a Kshatriya, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on religious principles, so there is no need for hesitation.”

“O Partha, happy are the Kshatriya to whom such fighting opportunities come unsought, opening for them the door of the heavenly planets”.

“If however, you do not fight this religious war, then you will certainly incur sin, for neglecting your duties, and thus lose your reputation as a fighter”. [Bhagavad Gita 2:31-33]

It will be devilish on my part if I were to pick up some selective verses of the Bhagavad Gita and tell the Hindus that their most popular religious book tells you to kill your relatives.

All verses of religious scriptures are to be understood in their respective contexts. The context is that even if it is your own relatives that are against the truth, you have to first follow the commandment of Almighty God. For the truth you can and should fight anyone who obstructs truth and justice or anyone who perpetuates wrong doing, falsehood and injustice, irrespective of whether it is your father, or any of your other relatives.

The same message is even given in the Qur’an. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an in Surah Nisa Ch. No. 4, V. No. 135:

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives.

Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both.” [Surah An-Nisa 4:135]

You have to fight for justice even if it is against your own interests. You have to stand out for witnessing Allah (swt) and for witnessing the truth of Almighty God even if it is against yourself, against your parents and against your relatives.

I ask people throughout the world: why don’t you read your own religious scriptures first? There is more fighting mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita than in the Qur’an. That does not mean that what the Bhagavad Gita states is wrong. The Quran says in Surah Al-e-Imran Ch. 3 V. 64:

“Come to a word that is equitable between us and you that we will not worship except Allah...” [Surah Al-e-Imran 3:64]

I ask the critics of Islam: “Have you read the scriptures of the other religions?” Almost all the major religions in the world have prescribed fighting at one time or the other – for the truth – whether it is Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism or Islam. So why are you selectively picking up Islam, targeting it and doing false propaganda against it?

(The English translation of verses of the Glorious Qur’an is taken from the translation published by Saheeh International.

The English translation of verses of the Bhagavad Gita is taken from Bhagavad Gita – As It Is by Swami Prabhupada.

The English translation of verses of the Bible is taken from the King James Version).

(Dr Zakir Naik is the President of the Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation and can be reached at [email protected])