‘Kill Them… Fitna (Disbelief) Is Worse Than Killing’? – Quran 2: 191 – 194

Donate To Discover The Truth

Background

These verses were revealed at the treaty of Hudaybiyah, or just after it (Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi, Tafsir Jalalayn and Tafsir Ibn Kathir).

Analysing Verses

As noted from our previous article, we showed from Muslim and non-Muslim scholars that the verse was revealed at a time when the Muslims were being persecuted by the Quraish. The scholars pointed out that the Arabic word ‘fitna’ used for the verse means, ‘persecution’, and ‘oppression’ i.e., that the verse showed Muslims who were being persecuted for their beliefs, that they were allowed to fight back against the oppressors. To end the persecution and let man be free to practice their religion without interference from anyone.

Let us read from 2:190 – 195 to get a better understanding of the verses:

Fight in the way of God those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors. 2:190
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- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. 2:191

And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. 2:192

Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors. 2:193

[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 Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him. 2:194

And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good. 2:195

1. 2:190 – This verse tells us to “fight those who fight you” i.e., self-defence, but at the same time commands Muslims not to transgress, 1400 years ago (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas and Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi).

2. The next verse (2:191) tells us that the killing involved in the incident was only aimed at those who tried (or did) expelling people by force (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas, and Tafsir Ibn Kathir).

2.1 The next sentence in the verse is the favourite part in which some critics twist. It goes like, “and fitnah is worse than killing”, translated by them as “disbelief (fitna) is worse than killing”.

Their made up interpretation for this verse is that it sanctions killing of non-Muslims, just for following and believing in another religion. This is not true. In fact, the next sentence in the same verse (2:191) under discussion tells Muslims the following:

“…And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them…” – Quran 2:191

The intended meaning for the passage on ‘fitna’ is understood by classical scholars to mean, to hinder and forcefully make Muslims disbelieve in the message of Islam is worse than killing (Mujahid Ibn Jabr (645-722 AD), Tafsir In Kathir and Tafsir Jalalayn). The verse intended meaning was aimed at those early Muslims who were persecuted and killed, just for believing in Islam. The Quraysh forcefully made Muslims leave the religion of Islam, under persecution.

If the verse as some claim sanctions the killing of non-Muslims, on account of their faith, the same verse wouldn’t say to the Muslims not to start fighting until they fight first. Hence, just reading the verse shows that it was a war of self-defence.

The verse commanded faithful believers then to fight, to end persecution (fitna) as the following Muslim and non-Muslim Quran translations state for 2:191.

Non-Muslim Translation:

Arthur John Arberry 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. Quran 2:191

Muslim Translations:

Muhammad Asad And slay them wherever you may come upon them, and drive them away from wherever they drove you away – for oppression is even worse than killing…

M. M. Pickthall And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. …

Shakir And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter…

Yusuf Ali (Saudi Rev. 1985) And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter…

Yusuf Ali (Orig. 1938) And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter…

Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar And kill them wherever you came upon them, and drive them out from wherever they drove you out. And persecution is more grave than killing…

Wahiduddin Khan Slay them wherever you find them [those who fight against you];[2] drive them out of the places from which they drove you, for [religious] persecution is worse than killing…

[The Monotheist Group] (2011 Edition) And kill them wherever you find them, and expel them from where they expelled you, and know that persecution is worse than being killed…

Abdel Haleem Kill them wherever you encounter them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, for persecution is more serious than killing…

Ahmed Ali And fight those (who fight you) wheresoever you find them, and expel them from the place they had turned you out from. Oppression is worse than killing…

Hamid S. Aziz Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drive you out; for persecution (oppression or sedition) is worse than slaughter…

Shabbir Ahmed (But if they keep on fighting), subdue them wherever you find them. And drive them out from where they have driven you out. For, oppression, cruelty and persecution are even more severely destructive than the killing…

Syed Vickar Ahamed And slay them (who fight against Allah’s cause) wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; For persecution and injustice are worse than killing…

Dr. Munir Munshey Kill them wherever you find them. Expel them from where they drove you away. Persecution and oppression are worse than killing…

Dr. Kamal Omar And kill them wherever you overpower them and extern them from where they have externed you. And tumult and oppression (are) worse than slaughter…

Talal A. Itani (new translation) And kill them wherever you overtake them, and expel them from where they had expelled you. Oppression is more serious than murder.

Bilal Muhammad (2013 Edition) And slay them wherever you catch them. And drive them out from where they have driven you out, for oppression is worse than slaughter…

Maududi Fight against them wherever they confront you in combat and drive them out from where they drove you out. Though killing is bad, persecution is worse than killing…

[The Monotheist Group] (2013 Edition) And kill them wherever you encounter them, and expel them from where they expelled you, and know that persecution is worse than being killed…

Bijan Moeinian Face your enemies anywhere they challenge you and take back your lost lands/ homes from them. [Although killing, which is inevitable in fight is bad,] persecution is worth than killing…

Maulana Muhammad Ali And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out of where they drove you out, and persecution is worse than slaughter…

Sher Ali And slay these transgressors wherever you meet them and drive them out from where they have driven you out; for persecution is worst than slaying…

Rashad Khalifa You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder…

Sayyed Abbas Sadr-Ameli And slay them wherever you find them, and drive them away from where they drove you away. And persecution is more grievous than slaughter…

Mir Aneesuddin And kill them wherever you find them and drive them out from the place from where they drove you out, for persecution is severer than slaughter…

Mohammad Shafi And kill them wherever you find them, amd turn them out from where they turned you out. For, persecution is worse than killing…

The reason why the verse (2:191) emphasizes that oppression (persecution) is worse than killing, is when one dies, one does not feel any more pain. Whereas when a human-being is persecuted, and oppressed, the physical pain and mental trauma the victim receives from the oppressor is continuous. That is why persecution, oppression is worse. Hence, the verse highlights to people that lived 1400 years to fight persecution.

3. The next verses gives us more evidence that the verses were revealed to make the Quraish cease from hostilities, stop persecuting Muslims:

“And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” – Quran 2:192

“Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.” Quran – 2:193

Notice, the verse says if they “cease”, then God is Forgiving and Merciful. Meaning that if they stop fighting and persecuting the Muslims for their beliefs, God would forgive their past acts against the believers.

Moreover, look the word “fitna’ (persecution) is used again in this verse. From the same sentence in 2:193, the verse tells us that if they the oppressors cease from aggression then they should be left alone. But if they continue with their ways in persecuting and killing Muslims, then they were allowed to fight back. This shows that these verses were revealed as a result of the Muslims at the time only wanted to live freely to practice their religion.

3.1 A point is made by some, what does the following sentence mean in “until worship is for God”?

“…until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah… 2:193”

When we read the part before “worship” is mentioned we get clear picture what verse means. Here we are told that the aim for the Muslims 1400 years ago was that there be no more persecution, and that people be free “acknowledge worship for Allah” i.e., man is free to follow his religion without getting persecuted, oppressed for their beliefs by tyrants.

Different Quran translations for for 2:193 that “fitna” means persecution (oppression).

Non-Muslim Translation:

Arthur John Arberry Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is God’s; then if they give over, there shall be no enmity save for evildoers.

Muslim Translations:

Muhammad Asad Hence, fight against them until there is no more oppression

M. M. Pickthall And fight them until persecution is no more…

Shakir And fight with them until there is no persecution

Yusuf Ali (Saudi Rev. 1985) And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression

Yusuf Ali (Orig. 1938) And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression

Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar And fight them until there be no persecution

Wahiduddin Khan Fight them until there is no more fitna [religious persecution]…

[Al-Muntakhab] And fight them until persecution ends…

[The Monotheist Group] (2011 Edition) And fight them so there is no more persecution

Abdel Haleem Fight them until there is no more persecution

Hamid S. Aziz But fight them until there be no more oppression (persecution or sedition)…

Shabbir Ahmed And fight the aggressors until persecution is eliminated and there remains no compulsion or coercion in religion…

Syed Vickar Ahamed And keep fighting them until there is no more persecution and injustice…

If they desist, let there be no hostility except against the oppressors.

Dr. Kamal Omar And fight them to kill until there is no more tumult and oppression

Talal A. Itani (new translation) And fight them until there is no oppression

Bilal Muhammad (2013 Edition) And fight against them until there is no more oppression

[The Monotheist Group] (2013 Edition) And fight them so there is no more persecution

Maulana Muhammad Ali And fight them until there is no persecution

Sher Ali And fight them until there is no persecution

Rashad Khalifa You may also fight them to eliminate oppression

Amatul Rahman Omar And fight them until persecution is no more…

Ahmed Hulusi Fight them until the fitnah (the pressure to make you give up your faith) is lifted and you are able to practice the religion of Allah as you like. If they cease (pressuring and fighting), there is no hostility except against the wrongdoers.

Sayyed Abbas Sadr-Ameli And fight with them until there is no (more) persecution

Mir Aneesuddin And fight with them till there is no persecution

Mohammad Shafi And fight with them until persecution exists no more…

4. Let’s read the last part of the verse (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 Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.” Quran 2:194

We read that if a person ‘assaults’ you then you can assault the person back the same way perpetrator did (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Jalalayn, Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas). Clear self-defence here!

Commentaries

Some of the earliest exegesis on the Quran state that the verses (2:190-194) where it mentions ‘fitna’, was in reference to the Muslims who were getting persecuted, so much so that they would abandon their faith.

Mujahid Ibn Jabr (645-722 AD):

“Fitna is worse than killing
The fitna to which they are subjecting you, trying to make you return to disbelief, is worse than killing. Mujahid said it is referring to the believers, so the meaning is that being killed is better for a believer than being subjected to fitna. …” [1]

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (1301-1373 AD):

“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]

Tadabbur-e-Qur’an (Pondering Over The Qur’an) – Scholar Amin Aḥsan Iṣlaḥi (1901-1997):

“’for persecution and oppression are worse than slaughter’
The Word fitnah here means the use of force and violence to make a person change his religion, a phenomenon commonly known as persecution. The Qur’an uses it in this sense at several places: ‘Those who persecute (fatanu) believing men and women, and then do not turn in repentance, will have Hell’s suffering’ (al-Buruj, 85, 85:10); ‘but none believed in Moses except some children of his people, because of the fear of Pharoah and his chiefs, lest they should persecute them (yaftina-hum)’ (Yunus, 10:83); and ‘Then surely your sustainer, to those who leave their homes after trials and persecutions (min ba’di ma futini)… (an0Nahl, 16:110). This explains the justification for permitting the Muslims to fight against the polytheists if they attacked them, even within the precincts of the sacred Mosque or in the sacred months. This short sentence means that although waging war in the sacred Months and within the precincts of the Sacred Mosque is a serious offence, persecuting men and women merely on account of their belief in Allah is far greater offence than killing. The Muslims are granted permission to fight back and retaliate against the disbelievers promptly and effectively.” [3]

Qur’anic Keywords: A Reference Guide – Abdur Rashid Siddiqui:

“B. PERSECUTION
The word fitnah is also used for the persecution of believers. The persecution by Pharaoh of Bani Isra’il (Yunus 10:83), and of the believers by the Ashab al-Ukhdud (the makers of the pit fire) (al-Buruj 85:10), is termed fitnah. In this sense the Fitnah is regarded as worse than killing and warfar (al-Baqarah 2:191 and 217).” [4]

Conclusion:

Having analysed the verses, one can clearly see that these verses were revealed at a time when the Muslims, 1400 years ago, were getting persecuted by the Quraysh. As shown, these verses have nothing to do with harming innocent non-believers. They were revealed concerning those who used to oppress, persecute and kill Muslims

Related article:

Shirk Or Persecution – What does The Word Fitna Mean?

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.

References:

[1] Tafsir Al Qurtubi, Classical Commentary Of The Holy Qur’an, [Dar al-Taqwa] volume 1, page 492
[2] See Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1986), volume, page 227 – 229
[3] Tadabbur-e-Qur’an (Pondering Over The Qur’an) Tafsir of Surah al-Fatihan and Surah al-Baqarah [Translation: Muhammad Saleem Kayani, 2006], By Amin Aḥsan Iṣlaḥi, volume 1, page 486 – 487
[4] Qur’anic Keywords: A Reference Guide By Abdur Rashid Siddiqui, page 61

fitna1

Advertisements

Tagged as: , , , , ,

2 Responses »

Trackbacks

  1. “Accursed, They Will Be Seized Wherever Found And Slain…” – Surah 33:61 – Discover The Truth
  2. “Fight With Them Until There Is No More Fitna [Disbelief]…?” – Quran 8:39 – Discover The Truth

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

Facebook

Twitter

%d bloggers like this: