A Time For War; A Call to Jihad
ISIS and Al Qaeda members come primarily from two small Islamist factions (Salafist & Wahabi) that branch off from the Hanbali sub-group of the Sunni tradition of Islam. Iit’s extremely difficult to get an accurate count on just how many individuals are affiliated with ISIS/Al Qaeda. But estimates are about 100,000 fighters for ISIS and approximately 30,000-50,000 members of Al Qaeda. Clearly, this is a small percentage of the total Muslim population (1.6 billion). Even if we multiply the combined total ten-fold to account for any sympathizers, we reach a only about 1.5 million. This is a large number, to be sure, but still pales in comparison to 1.6 billion. More pressing than any curiosity about numbers, however, is the following question: How do the beliefs of this percentage of “Muslims” compare with the beliefs of the greater Muslim population? To be more specific: Does Islam and the Koran teach/advocate the terrorism that is being preached/committed by ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other Islamist extremists?
This is an important questions since about one hundred verses in the Koran seem to indeed call for terrorism, war, and outright murder to be used against Infidels (i.e., non-Muslims); specifically, for the purpose of spreading Islamic rule. Consider the following Koranic passages (all taken from the Sahih International Translation), which exemplify the various places where the Koran describes what seems to be exactly the kind of deeds/atrocities now being committed by Islamist terrorists:
Quran 2:191-193 — [K]ill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah [disbelief] 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. And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah [disbelief] 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 2:216, 244 — Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not. . . . [F]ight in the cause of Allah and know that Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
Quran 3:151 — We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve for what they have associated with Allah of which He had not sent down [any] authority. And their refuge will be the Fire, and wretched is the residence of the wrongdoers.
Quran 4:74 — So let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. And he who fights in the cause of Allah and is killed or achieves victory — We will bestow upon him a great reward.
Quran 5:33 — Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land.
Quran 8:12, 15, 39 — “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip” . . . O you who have believed, when you meet those who disbelieve advancing [for battle], do not turn to them your backs [in flight]. . . . And fight them until there is no fitnah [unbelief] and the religion, all of it, is for Allah. . . .
Quran 9:5, 14, 29-30, 41 — [K]ill 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. . . . Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy the breasts of a believing people. . . . Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful . . . . The Jews say, “Ezra is the son of Allah “; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah .” That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?
Quran 47:3-4 — [W]hen you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah — never will He waste their deeds.
There are several others passages in both the Hadith and the Sunnah that also seem to call for war, killing, violence, and terrorism against unbelivers:
Sahih Al-Bukhari 2:35 — The Prophet said, “The person who participates in (Holy battles) in Allah’s cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His Apostles, will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to Paradise (if he is killed in the battle as a martyr).”
Sahih Al-Bukhari 52:256 — The Prophet . . . was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, “They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans).”
Sahih Al-Bukhari 52:220 — Allah’s Messenger said, “I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy). . . .”
Sahih Al-Bukhari 8:387 — Allah’s Apostle said, “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.’ And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them” . . . . “What makes the life and property of a person sacred?” He replied, “Whoever says, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’, faces our Qibla during the prayers, prays like us and eats our slaughtered animal, then he is a Muslim, and has got the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have.”
Sahih Muslim 1:149 — I said: Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is the best? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Belief in Allah and Jihad in His cause.”
Sahih Muslim 19:4294 — Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war. . . .”
Sahih Muslim 20:4645 — “[W]hoever cheerfully accepts Allah as his Lord, Islam as his religion and Mubammad as his Apostle is necessarily entitled to enter Paradise. He (Abu Sa’id) wondered at it and said: “Messenger of Allah, repeat it for me.” He (the Messenger of Allah) did that and said: “There is another act which elevates the position of a man in Paradise to a grade one hundred (higher), and the elevation between one grade and the other is equal to the height of the heaven from the earth.” He (Abu Sa’id) said: “What is that act?” He replied: “Jihad in the way of Allah! Jihad in the way of Allah!”
What do these verses/passages mean?
Notice that I didn’t ask: What do these verses/paassages literally say on the surface in a rigidly wooden literalist way? What must be ascertained is how these passages are legitimately interpreted by the vast majority of Muslims? Only by answering this question can we discover if Islam (as a religion) and if its holy writings (Koran, Hadith, Sunnah) preach violence, terrorism, and murder against non-Muslims, especially children/babies.