Quran 2:191- ‘And kill them wherever you find them…’ Explained

Donate To Discover The Truth

Kaleef K. Karim

Quran 2:191 – “And kill them wherever you find them…”

Critics as usual apply ‘cut and choose’ approach with regards to this passage (Quran 2:191). They only quote, And kill them wherever you find them…(2:191). However, when we read the passage in its context (2:190-195) it says opposite what they portray of the verse.

Quran 2:190 – 195

2:190 Fight in the way of God those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. God does not like transgressors.
2:191 And kill them wherever you find them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah [Persecution] is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.
2:192 And if they cease, then indeed, God is Forgiving and Merciful.
2:193 Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah [Persecution] and [until] worship is for God. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.
2:194 [Fighting in] the sacred month is for [aggression committed in] the sacred month, and for [all] violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. And fear God and know that God is with those who fear Him.
2:195 And spend in the way of God and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, God loves the doers of good.

It’s important whenever one reads a Quranic verse, to read it in its context. As you have read, critics only quote the part which suites them, they isolate previous verses and the ones after. When the passage is examined in context, it is clear that nowhere does it sanction the killing of innocent people. From verse 2:190 to 2:195, when read, Allah makes it evident to fight those only who fight them, fighting in self-defence.

Another thing some love to do with the verse is, change the Arabic word’s meaning. Example, the Arabic word ‘Fitna’ used in 2:191 and 2:193, they deceptively have translated the word as ‘disbelief’. So, when it’s read in that perspective, the passage is implying to fight to those who are disbelievers, just because of their religion. This again when we examine it, it will turn out to be a lie. The Arabic word ‘Fitnah’ means ‘persecution’, ‘corruption’, ‘sedition’. But when the word ‘Fitnah’ is used in verse 2:191 and 2:193 it means ‘persecution’.

Non-Muslim Translation

Arthur John Arberry

2:191 And slay them wherever you come upon them, and expel them from where they expelled you; persecution is more grievous than slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then, if they fight you, slay them — such is the recompense of unbelievers.

Arabic Word 'Fitna'

The Arabic word for disbelief is ‘kufr’. The following Definition(s) on the Arabic word ‘Fitna’.


Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies Hayrettin Yücesoy writes

“One of the most frequently mentioned portents of the end of time in Muslim prophecies is civil disorder, fitna. Yet contrary to what one might expect, in none of the many instances in which the term fitna (civil disorder) is mentioned in the Quran is it connected to end of time events. In the Qur’anic text, fitna refers to a sort of trial: “And know that your wealth and your children are a trial [fitna], and that with God is a mighty wage.” In other verses, the term connotes discord, controversy, and dissension: “As for those in whose hearts is swerving, they follow the ambiguous part, desiring dissension [fitna], and seeking to explain it; and none knows its meaning, save only God.” Fitna may also mean seduction: “Children of Adan! Let not satan tempt, [v. yaftatin], you as he brought your parents out of the Garden, stripping them of their garments to show them their shameful parts.” On other occasions, it describes chaos and civil disorder: “As for the unbelievers, they are friends one of another. Unless you do this, there will be strife [fitna] in the land and great corruption.” Finally it refers to plotting and acts of conspiracy: “Had they gone forth among you, they would only have increased you in trouble, and run to and fro in your midst, seeking to stir up sedition [fitna] between you; and some of you would listen to them; and God knows the evildoers.” A similar meaning is given in the following verses, where conspiracy against the community and its social and religious status quo is condemned: Persecution [fitna] is more grievous than slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then if they fight you, slay them- such is the recompose of unbelievers.” Even the ban on fighting during the holy months is lifted in cases of the greater danger of persecution: “Fighting in it is a heinous thing, but to bar from God’s way, and disbelief in him, and the Holy Mosque, and to expel its people from it- that is more heinous in God’s sight; and persecution [fitna] is more heinous than slaying.” [1]


Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir,

“Concerning the verse “If two groups of believers fall to fighting” Q. 49.9) and “fight against them until there is no ‘fitnah’” (Q.2:193), he answered: “We done all this in the time of Prophet. At that time, we came minority so that a Moslem was be faced by fitnah in his religion, either he would be killed or would be the victim of oppression. When the Moslem community grows as powerful adherents, killing oppression has gone.” Based on this argument, we can conclude that ‘fitnah’ should be defined as any oppression or forcing Moslem to do or not to do something against his rights as human being; all this being ratio legis or cause to proclaim fight against oppressor or those who want to kill them.” [2]

Arabic-English Dictionary of Qur’anic Usage. Elsaid M. Badawi and Muhammad Abdel Haleem,

“f-t-n to purify gold and silver by smelting them; to burn; to put to the test, to afflict (in particular as a means of testing someone’s endurance); to disrupt the peace of a community; to tempt, to seduce, to allure, to infatuate. Of this root, six forms occur 60 times in the Qur’an fatana 17 times futina six times; futun once; maftun once and fitnatun 34 times.
fitnatun [n.] 1 test (8:28) your possessions and your children are only a test 2 affliction, trial (22:11) but if a trial befalls him, he reverts to his old ways [lit. falls flat on his face, turns back to front] 3 persecution (2:191) and drive them out from where they drove you out, for persecution is more serious than killing 4 dissension, discord, civil unrest, infighting, mutiny (9:47) they would have scurried around in your midst, trying to sow discord among you 5 temptation, allurement (2:102) yet they [both] never taught anyone until they first said, ‘we are but a temptation-do not [fall for us and] reject the faith’ 6 treachery, defection, desertion (33:14) but if it [the city] had been entered from [all] its sides, with them in it, and they were asked to commit treachery, they would have committed it.” [3]

Arabic-English Lexicon,Edward William Lane commenting on the Arabic word ‘Fitna’,

fitna 1


In conclusion, as we have examined the Arabic word ‘fitna’, and the context of passage, the verse does not promote the killing of innocent people. As shown, the passage shows that Muslims were allowed to fight those who were persecuting the Muslims, 1400 years ago. In other words, the passage sanctioned fighting in self-defence. [5] [6]

Don’t forget to follow Discover The Truth on Facebook and Twitter. PLEASE help spread the word by sharing our articles on your favourite social networks.

Related article:

Shirk Or Persecution – What does The Word Fitna Mean?


[1] Messianic Beliefs and Imperial Politics in Medieval Islam: The ʻAbbāsid Caliphate in the Early Ninth Century [Copyright 2009] By Hayrettin Yücesoy page 37 – 38
[2] See Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1986), volume, page 227 – 229.
[3] Arabic-English Dictionary of Qur’anic Usage: By Elsaid M. Badawi and Muhammad Abdel Haleem page 693
[4] Arabic-English Lexicon by Edward William Lane (London: Willams & Norgate 1863) Book 1, page 2335
[5] the classical scholar Al-Mawardi in his commentary on Quran 2:190 states:
“(but do not transgress), which means do not assault and transgress against those who are not fighting and do not kill women and children.” (Min Rawai’ al-Tafasir al-Nukat wa al-`Uyuun by al-Mawardi, volume 1, page 251)
[6] Muhammad al-Nasaafi:
“We should not transgress by initiating the fighting and not fight those who are not fighting from among the women, children, elders and so forth.” (Madarik al-tanzil wa-haqa’iq al-ta’wil, by Muhammed al-Nasaafi, volume 1, page 165).

Tagged as: , , , , ,

44 Responses »

  1. Good Job!

    May God reward you with the best of rewards. Ameen.

  2. Thanks for the explanation. This is very interesting and a great source of information for those who can’t read the Original Quoran but would like to understand the message.

  3. But it does call for violence! This is why Jesus said “it has been said ‘an eye for eye’ but I say unto you ‘do not resist the evil man, and whomever strikes you in the right cheek, I say unto you turn to them your left cheek'”. The point is that we are not G_d and ONLY G_d can judge us. Man is easily corrupted. Islam lacks this level of complexity and nuance. Islam is a very simple minded faith.

    • Hi
      I just wanted to say that this is not about judging others nor about violence, this is simply about self-defence which is a right to all humans in the current times, or do you just suggest that people stay defenceless when attacked by others?
      one more thing is that Islam is a very deep and complete religion. if you don’t believe me, I invite you to know more about it and I promise that with the right sources, you will find it flawless. 🙂

    • If that is the case, Pope Urban II would not have launched the Crusades for what he saw as “aggression” against the Christians. If Christians (or any community for that matter) refrained from self defense, they wouldn’t survive to this day, owing to the barbaric propensity of humans for violence.

    • looks like you have not spent enough time to comprehend Islam well at all. try to speak to some of our learned scholars, you see, i can not pick up the national guidelines of medicine books and start telling actual doctors what they are doing is wrong. likewise, for you to understand the whole and main message of Islam you to chat with some actual qualified Islamic scholars. Hope u’ll take this on board

    • First of all, you should be a bit more careful when speaking of Jesus and violence. For you seem to have overlooked an element of Christology, that upon which ALL Christian hope rests. The retuning Jesus. To do what? TO FIGHT SO THAT HE MAY BECOME MESSIAH OF ISRAEL. Hence the messianism, rapture concepts of christian groups today. And you also overlook the setting to which Jesus came, as opposed to what Muhammad faced. This is what happens when, instead of trying to learn, you come just to denigrate. Very unchristian approach to learning.

    • Jesus started calling for violence Mathew 10:34 and luke 19:27?

    • I would say you are very simple minded. This article is about nuances and context!

      • Have you really read the Qur’an? Also the only way to understand and book is by understanding the context within. No one can pull out a quote from a book that explains the entire theme. Yes this is about “context,” but such is not a nuance. The only way to understand the Qur’an is by reading in it’s entirety and with an open mind.

    • @ m a

      Your claims of you been forgiving and all falls short when you judge my religion, Islam, ”simple minded” without even justly reading the Quran justly. Seems like the very judgement of Islam you hold may be valid for yourself. I hope not. I invite to to justice. First, read a Quran.

      ”The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent to it. But if someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with Allah. Certainly He does not love wrongdoers.”
      (Surat Ash-Shura, 40)

      ”Whether you reveal a good act or keep it hidden, or pardon an evil act, Allah is Ever-Pardoning, All-Powerful.”
      (Surat An-Nisa, 149)

      ”Make allowances for people, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant.”
      (Surat Al-A‘raf, 199)

      ”Those of you possessing affluence and ample wealth should not make oaths that they will not give to their relatives and the very poor and those who have made hijra in the way of Allah.* They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Allah to forgive you? Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
      (Surat An-Nur, 22)

      • old covenant to new covenant theology doesn’t change the fact that Jesus condoned violence at some point in his career as “God”…

      • Oops sorry replied to wrong comment, it was targetted to “Buddy Silver”

    • m a, as a CHRISTIAN, do you believe these verses of the BIBLE, as the word of GOD?

      Bible: DESTROY everything that BREATHES
      Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an INHERITANCE, you shall not leave alive anything that BREATHES. “But you SHALL UTTERLY DESTROY them …..   ”
      (Bible: Deuteronomy: 20:16-17)

  4. what about Quran (8:12) “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”?

  5. One of the most famous ‘controversial’ or ‘violent’ verses in the Qur’an, always taken out of context, and have debated countless, mindless, individuals who are unable to read on this verse.

    Thank you for making this article, and this website filled with all the answers. This will make everything useful, Jazak’Allah.

  6. Mashaallah, thank you for the clarification on that topic. I admit that I was unintelligent enough to believe the words of Islamophobes without fully and thoroughly researching the truth. Now I am more certain that Islam is a religion of peace and does not, in any way, promote violence. Once again, thank you and Allah bless you and your family.

  7. Assalamualikum!. Mashallah you have written on the very topic which I was occupied with since sometime. Some sections of the non-muslim brethern certainly do the “cut and choose” approach and either intentionally or out of ignorance.

    I too received a similar set of verses to answer/clarify. I have written the following article on the same topic of verse 2:191



  8. Alhamdulillah, Am realy happy to have come across this article. I can now answer this guy who has being troubling me with these verses. May Allah increase you in Eemaan. Ameen

  9. The evidence of clear writing (flawlessness) against killing would not be mass misunderstanding (certainly not within the same faith) and debate on intent, and certainly not killing. What would you say to removing/rewriting the Koran to clear up these points…leave no doubt as to intent. Further, in the interest of advancing society from barbarism, tribalism, simply remove all reference to the judging and punishing of others. Remove man from judging the heart and intent of others, let God do that in the end. Bible included. The evidence of God is how we love each other. Let the courts judge, let religion once again return to respect-display it as the guidance to being higher beings. As long as tribalism continues, God suffers, we remain apes.

    • Screw every religion’s “god”! The root of all evil.

    • You see,we simply cannot rewrite the Quran.It is a crime against god in out religion cuz it’s like telling god that whatever your wrote isn’t even write and we can improve it.one doesn’t simply perfect what has already been perfected(the context would’ve been easily understood by actual Arabs as Arabic is a very big language with each word having tens of meanings)

  10. where is its other verses its not complete … (And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- îaram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.


  11. >>When the passage is examined in context, it is clear that nowhere does it sanction the killing of innocent people.<<

    Then you need to let your comrades in the Middle East know this, because they sure as hell go around killing unbelievers wholesale.


  1. Quran 8:39 – ‘And fight With Them Until There Is No More Fitna (Persecution)’ | Discover The Truth
  2. Quran 9:123 – ‘Fight Those Of The Unbelievers Who Are Near To You…’ | Discover The Truth
  3. Quran 61:4 – ‘Surely Allah Loves Those Who…’ | Discover The Truth
  4. Inside McFloogle's Mind / Empathy and Islam
  5. ‘Kill Them… Fitna (Disbelief) Is Worse Than Killing’? – Quran 2: 191 – 194 – Discover The Truth
  6. “Fight With Them Until There Is No More Fitna [Disbelief]…?” – Quran 8:39 – Discover The Truth
  7. Quran 2:191- ‘And kill them wherever you find them…’ Explained | WE DEFEND ISLAM
  8. – Quran 2:191- ‘And kill them wherever you find them…’ Explained – Peace in The Quran

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: