Verses about War and the Interpretation Thereof
After seeing the definition of war in the Qur’an, let us now examine the verses about war that are misused by some radicals and used against Islam by some opponents of Islam:
Examination of Verse 191 of Surat al-Baqara:
This verse is one that was sent down after Muslims were subjected to severe pressure and violence and were forced to migrate from Mecca to Medina. The conditions we discussed in detail above came about and Muslims received the command to defend themselves against direct attacks. They used the methods of that community, which never stopped oppressing them, that refused to heed pleasant words and that turned a deaf ear against all calls to peace or negotiation, against it.
However, the verse also contains a reminder of the rules of war: “Do not fight them in the Masjid al-Haram until they fight you there. But if they do fight you, then you also fight them.” As we have seen, the only condition for fighting them is for the other side to have attacked first. If they do not wage war, if they do not attack, then it is absolutely unlawful for Muslims to fight.
It is of course very suspicious how the radicals and opponents of Islam who distort this verse ignore this rather important provision. The verse explicitly grants Muslims only the right to self-defense: The verse is not therefore commanding warfare and aggression.
In verse 191 of Surat al-Baqara, Muslims are only given the right to defend themselves. This verse does not therefore legitimize war and aggression.
Another important element in the verses is revealed as follows: “Fitna [sedition, strife] is worse than killing.” Inciting communities, encouraging hatred, spreading hatred, anarchy and terror by engaging in slander and outright falsehoods thereby producing hostile masses of people is fitna, and the verse tells us that fitna is worse than killing; thus, the communities that attack Muslims are the ones that engage in actual, psychological and covert fitna and the harm they do is very great. Muslims defend themselves when their aggression rears its head.
The way that some fanatics are taken in by hearsay or superstition and declare individuals, societies or faiths to be spreading fitna and then seek supposed evidence for their perversions from verses of the Qur’an is of course exceedingly pitiful. Fitna involves actions that will lead to corruption, such as spreading division among Muslims, leading them into loss and sin by inflicting all kinds of troubles on them, then establishing the infrastructure for mass rebellions and engaging in physical and verbal assaults on Muslims. Therefore, in order to be able to accuse someone of fitna, they have to have committed one or more of these actions. Those who seek to accuse Jews or Israel by branding them as engaging in fitna thus flies in the face of this verse. According to the Qur’an, it is a sin to accuse all Jews or Israel of engaging in fitna. People who spread fitna may emerge from any religion or country. Yet in the same way that it is impossible to brand all Arabs, Turks or Muslims as spreaders of fitna simply because there are some Arabs, Turks or Muslims who engage in fitna, there is also no question of branding all Jews or all Israelis as spreaders of fitna. According to the Qur’an, a Muslim can dine in the home of a Jew, can be his guest and friend, and can even marry a Jewish woman (This will be clarified in detail in another chapter). That being the case, it is impossible for a Muslim to unconditionally brand that person as a spreader of fitna. People who make such sweeping claims know nothing of the Qur’an, as we said at the beginning, and are acting out of ignorance resulting from being raised under the influence of countless fabricated hadiths regarding fitna and the Jews. The hadiths in question and the position of the People of the Book according the Qur’an will be examined in due course in later chapters.