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Note: We are receiving several emails concerning some verses in the Holy Quran which according to them call for killings of non-Muslims. A islam101 team member gave the following reply to two such emails.


"God commands justice, the doing of the good, and liberality to kith and kin. He
forbids all shameful deeds, injustice and rebellion. Thus does he instruct you, that you may receive admonition." 16:90

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of male and female, and made you
into nations and tribes, that he may know and cooperate with one another." 49:13


        I want to thank you for taking time out and sending me these questions in regards to Islam. In light of all that has taken place in the last three weeks or so, many people now have an increased curiosity about the faith. I assure you, the explanations that I will put forward (and there are even more) is not damage control on my behalf, nor on the behalf of the Holy Qu'ran. Islam doesn't condone mass murder of innocent people as displayed not only here in America and abroad. I know that you two gentlemen had a lot of questions and due to an overwhelming amount of emails that this site receives, notwithstanding other projects that I am involved in (not to mention family), I can not answer all of the questions presented. However I will answer the ones that seem to keep being raised, in regards to what Islam promotes. I do want to encourage you both (as well as anyone else who is looking for answers), to visit a local Mosque and question the Imam in regards to the questions that you have. I am confident that he can further elaborate on the Qu'ran's inner meaning. Islam is the fastest growing religion not only in America but in the world. And the conversion is coming by way of the Surah and not the sword. And now to the discussion at hand.

You have sent me a few Surahs (the term chapter is often used but that is actually inappropriate but I'll leave that off for another discussion) and you are obviously looking at the content of that particular ayat (verse is also used but that is incorrect as well). I too would be apprehensive, if not fearful of the content (i.e. meaning and or significance). However, I now want you to focus in on the context (the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs) of the passages.
For example, when I was in my first year of law school, the professor asked, "do we have free speech in America?" Almost everyone answered yes. One student went on to say that, "America guarantees the right under the United States Constitution, that we can basically say what we want and not fear retribution." The professor then paused and asked, "can you yell fire in a crowded theater?" The entire class unanimously stated, "no!" The reasons being is obvious. But what if there was a fire? What I am trying to demonstrate to you, is what my Professor made me aware of. There are circumstances that cause people to do something that they would
not normally do (yell fire in a crowded movie theater). Such is what had happened during the course of war, in which the Muslims were being attacked during the life time of the Prophet.  When Islam got its first start in the Arabian peninsular, the Muslims were being persecuted for their beliefs. In short...they were at war with those who didn't want Islam to succeed. And even then, the conditions of war was put down by Allah (which means The God in Arabic).

"The prohibited month - for the prohibited month, and so for all things prohibited - There is the law of equality. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves."                                                  Holy Qu'ran 2:194

"At the same time the Muslims are commanded to exercise self-restraint as much as possible. Force
is a dangerous weapon. It may have to be used for self-defense or self-preservation, but we must
always remember that self-restraint is pleasing in the eyes of Allah. Even when we are fighting, it
should be for a principle not out of passion."  - Abdullah Yusuf Ali commentary on the above quote.

"...approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If Allah had pleased, he could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then Allah hath opened no way for you (to war against them)."
                                                                                          Holy Qu'ran  4:90

"Approach or come: refers not to the physical act of coming, but to the mental attitude; the heart is
mentioned for sincerity. When they sincerely promise not to fight against you, do not pursue them.
Remember that if they had fought against you, your difficulties would have been increased. Their
neutrality itself may be a great advantage to you. So long as you are satisfied that they are sincere
and their acts support their declarations of peace with you, you should not consider yourself justified
in pursuing them and warring against them." - Abdullah Yusuf Ali commentary on the above quote.

"But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); But if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: For Allah is oft forgiving, most merciful." 9:5

"When war becomes inevitable, it must be prosecuted with vigor. According to the English phrase,
you cannot fight with kid gloves. The fighting may take the form of slaughter, or capture, or siege,
or ambush and other stratagems. But even then there is  room for repentance and amendment on the
part of the guilty party, and if that takes place, our duty is forgiveness and establishment of peace.
The repentance must be sincere, and that is shown by conduct - a religious spirit of true prayer and
charity. In that case we are not to bar the gate against the repentant. On the contrary we must do all
we can to make their way easy, remembering that Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful." -I.E..

It is thus clear that the Muslims were allowed to fight only in self-defense, to preserve their national existence, and they were forbidden to be the aggressors. I can't begin to emphatically emphasize this point. Many misconceptions arise from those who pick up the Qu'ran and assume that unbelievers, infidels, and hypocrites are Qu'ran terms for Jews and Christians.
Therefore whenever the Qu'ran issues a criticism towards Jews and Christians, it then calls for their death and or demise. This is far from the truth. The two of you are incredibly intelligent individuals is apparent by your quest for the truth. Again, I encourage you to speak to a local Imam and bring your questions and concerns to him. Please get a copy of these books, it will help to explain much if not all of the questions that you have raised.

1.  The Meaning of The Holy Qu'ran - Abdullah Yusuf Ali. New Edition with Revised Translation and commentary.
2. Islam: the Natural Way by Abdul Wahid Hamid

3.  The Life of Muhammad - Haykal

I hope I helped to shed some light on a few questions that you may have had and if you have anymore, do not hesitate to forward some more. I will try and answer as many questions that I can about the religion of Islam. May God continue to bless you and your entire family and may he continue to guide us to a better truth and understanding of ourselves.

Alan Is'mail Ali

Read Also: The Quran on War, Peace and Justice