The truth about the rules of Islamic warfare
James M. Arlandson
Muslim spokespersons who have access to the news media are misleading the public about jihad.
The Council on American Muslim Relations (CAIR) says the following about jihad at the time this present article was posted:
"Jihad" does not mean "holy war." Literally, jihad means to strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense (e.g., - having a standing army for national defense), or fighting against tyranny or oppression.
In reply, however, while it is true that a Muslim may wage jihad on the excess in his soul or on unbelief by non-violent means like argumentation, jihad must also include a military, violent war.
Also, the clauses that say that jihad means the struggle to improve "the quality of life" or the fight against "tyranny and oppression" are ambiguous. Islam expresses the will of Allah, and jihad battles anything that stands in its way.
By any clear reading of the Quran, the hadith (reports of Muhammads words and actions outside of the Quran), the histories, the biographies and the law books on early Islam, jihad cannot exclude military warfare in the cause of Allah in order to expand Islam.
Here is how jihad was done in early Islam.
The Quran is the ultimate source for later legal opinions. It is considered completely reliable and inerrant. What does it say about jihad?
What is the purpose or goal of jihad?
A complicated policy like jihad can have multiple goals or purposes, but this one comes late in Muhammads life in Medina and best summarizes the goal and purpose. He wants to make Islam prevail over every religion.
The following translation is approved and funded by the Saudi Royal family; the parenthetical explanations are inserted by the translators:
9:33 It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad) with guidance and the religion of truth, to make it superior over all religions, though the MushrikŻn (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) hate (it). (Hilali and Khan, The Noble Quran, Riyadh: Darussalam, 1996, 2002; parenthetical notes are theirs)
This verse is repeated two more times, word for word, in Suras 61:9 and 48:28. Muhammad means business.
The Arabic word for "to make it superior" comes from the root z-h-r, which means "to become distinct, obvious, conspicuous, or manifest; to ascend or to mount; to have the upper hand." It can also mean "triumph" or "victorious" or "prevail."
Seekers and the curious about Islam must understand this brute fact as they read the Quran: in the ten years that Muhammad lived in Medina (AD 622-632), he either sent out or went out on seventy-four small assassination hit squads, raids, expeditions, small battles, or full-scale wars like the Tabuk Crusade in AD 630, in which Muhammad led 30,000 soldiers north to invade the Byzantine empire. Sometimes the conflicts did not end in violence, but too many times they did. All verses (and there are not many) in the Medinan suras that seem to speak of peace and tolerance must be read in light of this violent historical context. Not far from the few tolerant verses the reader will find intolerant and violent verses.
Sura 9:33, simply put, predicts the conquest of Islam over all religions. Islam must dominate the world through jihad.
For a more detailed analysis of this verse and Suras 61:9 and 48:28, such as the literary and historical contexts, please see this article.
What are some rules of jihad?
These rules are numbered for clarity, not priority.
1. Conquered women and children may be enslaved.
In AD 627 Muhammad and his followers and allies withstood a large army of Meccans and their allies, without ever slugging it out in pitched battle. The Meccans attacked Muhammad because they were fed up with his aggressions against their trade. He dug trenches in spots around Medina to diminish the advantage that the Meccans had with their cavalry. After about a month the Meccans withdrew because of a fair that was about to begin, and this large gathering from all over brought in money. But Muhammad was not finished. While he was bathing, the archangel Gabriel allegedly appeared to him and told him to attack the large Qurayza tribe of Jews. He besieged them in their fortress, and after some negotiations and a "trial," the men were beheaded and their bodies and heads dragged and tossed into the trenches, whereas the women and children were sold into slavery.
These three verses, especially v. 26, in Sura 33 deal with this indefensible atrocity:
33:25 Allah turned back the unbelievers [Meccans and their allies] in a state of rage, having not won any good, and Allah spared the believers battle [q-t-l]. Allah is, indeed, Strong and Mighty. 26 And He brought those of the People of the Book [Qurayza] who supported them from their fortresses and cast terror into their hearts, some of them you slew [q-t-l] and some you took captive. 27 And he bequeathed to you their lands, their homes and their possessions, together with land you have never trodden. Allah has power over everything. (Majid Fakhry, An Interpretation of the Quran, NYUP, 2000, 2004)
These verses seem to celebrate death and conquest. The key root word in brackets, q-t-l or qital or qatala, means killing, warring, and slaughtering. This meaning is much more restricted than jihad, though this latter word can also mean killing, warring, or slaughtering. Next, Allah permits the enslavement of Qurayza women and children, so later Muslim familiar with the background of this verse will follow their prophet in this practice. Finally, Allah permits Muhammad to take the Jewish clans property on the basis of conquest and his possession of all things. This is a dubious revelation and reasoning. Allah speaks, and this benefits Muhammad materially. This happens too often in Muhammads life.
Selling humans into slavery produced a lot of wealth, so the Allah-inspired prophet never got a revelation that this practice should stop permanently and forever.
Muslim apologists (defenders of Islam), understandably, are quick to explain (away) this atrocity against the Qurayza, but their standard lines of defense have been answered here (scroll down to "Politics, Warfare, and Conquest," and point no. 5).
2. Women captives are sometimes forced to marry their Muslim masters, regardless of the marital status of the women. That is, the masters are allowed to have sex with the enslaved sex objects.
Sayyid Abul ALa Maududi, a highly respected Muslim commentator, reminds us that the historical context of the next sura finds Muhammad establishing rules for his community within two to five years after his Hijrah (Emigration) in AD 622. He lays down laws for marriage. What happens to slave women who are captured during the raids that the Muslims go on frequently? Sura 4:24 says:
4:24 And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands (as prisoners of war) . . . (Sayyid ALa Abul Maududi, The Meaning of the Quran, vol. 1, p. 319).
Maududi says in his comment on the verse that is it lawful for Muslims to marry women prisoners of war even when their husbands are still alive. But what happens if the husbands are captured with their wives? Maududi cites a school of law that says Muslims may not marry them, but two other schools, notably one that is analyzed under "Classical legal opinions," below, say that the marriage between the captive husbands and wives is broken (note 44). But why would a debate over this emerge? The answer is obvious for those who understand simple justice. No sex or marriage should take place between married female prisoners of war and their captors. In fact, no sex should take place between women captives and their Muslim overlords. But Islam traffics in injustice too often, as we saw with the Qurayza tribe.
Islam allows deep immorality with women who are in their most helpless condition. This crime is reprehensible, but Allah wills it nonethelessthe Quran says so.
For more information on this immorality, see this short article and the entry on "Rape" in the Index.
The hadith, in the next major section, demonstrate that Muslims jihadists actually have sex with the captured women, whether or not they are married.
3. A captured enemy may be killed, ransomed by money or by an exchange, enslaved, or released freely.
Sura 33:26 speaks of killing captured men and enslaving women and children (the same may be done to men in other battles, as the hadith and history demonstrate). A verse that comes earlier in the same sura says that after the captives are bound firmly, they may be released by freely or by ransom.
47:4 When you meet the disbelievers in battle, strike them in the neck, and once they are defeated, bind any captives firmlylater you can release them by grace or by ransomuntil the toils of war have ended. That [is the way]. (Haleem)
Imprisonment may be just if the captured enemy may return to fight against the conquerors at a later time. But selling prisoners of war either into slavery or back to their clan was an Arab custom that Allah should have abolished in a revelation to his prophet. But why should Muhammad receive this just revelation when money could be made by ransoming prisoners or selling them into slavery?
Allah should have taken away this option and allowed only free release or imprisonment.
4. The conquered are allowed (or forced) to convert.
In Sura 8, which deals with the Battle of Badr in AD 624, Muhammad proposes these options to his captives.
8:70 Prophet, tell those you have taken captive, "If God knows of any good in your hearts, He will give you something better [Islam] than what has been taken from you [the caravan], and He will forgive you" . . . (Haleem)
Muhammad tells them that if the conquered Meccans had any sense, they would realize that Allah had a divine plan: expose them to Islam. This is better than all the material riches they can trade in. However, it is not difficult to imagine a Meccan muttering under his breath that he would prefer to take his money and goods and return to Mecca, wanting Muhammad to stop harassing the Meccans trade.
Also, it is laughable for the prophet to offer only Islam in lieu of the Meccans material goods. Preaching religion at newly captured prisoners and justifying the aggressive Battle of Badr that robbed the Meccan of their caravan is misguided. Why not return their goods? Why go out on this raid in the first place?
5. Is it lawful to kill old men and Christian monks?
One school of law in the section "Classical legal opinions," below, says that it is legal to kill old men and monks. Where may they get this opinion? We should recall that Sura 33:26 says that all the men of the Qurayza tribe were killed, so that verse alone justifies this atrocity. It is possible that the school of law analyzed in the section "Classical legal opinions," below, justifies the death of monks from two passages.
First, Allah says to fight Jews and Christians or People of the Book in Sura 9, the historical context of which has been discussed above ("What is the purpose or goal of jihad?"):
9:29 Fight [q-t-l] against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Hilali and Khan)
Then Muhammad condemns rabbis and monks who devour the property of people and bar them from following the path of Allah (read: convert to Islam) in the same sura:
9:33 O believers [Muslims], many of the rabbis and monks devour the property of the people unjustly and bar others from the Path of Allah [Islam]. Those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend them in Allahs path, announce to them a very painful punishment. (Fakhry)
It is true that Muhammad goes on to explain an eternal hellish punishment for monks (v. 35), but it is not farfetched to believe that a strict school of law would combine the command to fight People of the Book (v. 29), with the condemnation of unjust and greedy monks. Why would these monks not be the first ones to be killed in a battle? However, it may be the case that the strict school of law may justify their deaths simply because they are Christian leaders.
6. Property may be stolen.
Muhammad fought the Battle of Badr in AD 624, in which 320 or so Muslims won a surprise victory over about 1000 Meccans. Their caravan was traveling south from Syria back to Mecca, and Muhammad intended to capture it. The Meccans got word of this raid and sent their army up to meet their caravan. Sura 8 deals with this (in)famous battle, and this verse says that Muhammad wanted the unarmed group (the large caravan), but Allah gave him not only that one, but also the armed group so that truth may prevail.
8:7 Remember how God promised you [believers] that one of the two enemy groups [The Meccan trade caravan or their army] would fall to you: you wanted the unarmed group to be yours, but it was Gods will to establish the truth according to His word and to finish off the disbelievers (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Quran, Oxford UP, 2004)
This verse says that only the Muslims wanted the caravan or material goods, whereas Muhammad rose above such petty concerns. However, history and simple reasoning says that he too wanted the material goods. If not, then he should have given back all the goods. It is always dubious to connect Gods truth with military victory, but no matter, for Muhammad captured a huge caravan, and now he was richer than ever before.
Also, we should not overlook Sura 33:27, quoted above, that promises all of the property of the Qurayza tribe:
33:27 And he bequeathed to you their lands, their homes and their possessions, together with land you have never trodden. Allah has power over everything. (Fakhry)
The word "bequeathed" is a euphemism for "stole" by conquest. As noted, timely and coincidental revelations that benefit Muhammad materially come often enough in his life.
7. Fruit trees may be destroyed.
In AD 625, Muhammad is strong enough to exile the Nadir tribe of Jews, besieging them in their strongholds for fifteen days until he started destroying their date palms, their livelihood. Their livelihood undergoing destruction and then theft, they departed to the city of Khaybar, seventy miles to the north, where they had estates. This takeover helped relieve the ongoing poverty of many Muslims, who took over their date orchards.
This verse in Sura 59 justifies his illegal act:
59:5 Whatever you [believers] may have done to [their] palm treescutting them down or leaving them standing on their rootswas done by Gods leave [permission], so that He might disgrace those who defied Him. (Haleem)
This is another coincidental and timely revelation that seeks to justify the unjustifiable. Later Muslim warriors may use this practice to destroy other assets that are valuable to civilians, so this is unjust for Allah and his prophet.
See this article for more details on the conflict with the Nadir tribe.
8. Homes may be destroyed.
In the same sura, Muhammad destroys the homes of the Nadir tribe.
59:2 . . . God came upon them [Jews of the Nadir tribe] from where they least expected and put panic into their hearts: they brought ruin to their own homes by their own hands, as well as the hands of the believers [Muslims] . . . (Haleem)
A classical opinion of one school of law (see "Classical legal opinions," below) agrees and also says that homes may be destroyed. This is also unjust for the revelation-soaked religion of Islam.
9. Three options are imposed on the enemy. It should be recalled that Sura 9:29 lays out some conditions for the People of the Book, when a Muslim army gathers outside their city gate, as Muslim interpreters agree:
(1) Fight and die; (2) convert; (3) keep their religion, but pay a tax, the jizyah, which Muslim apologists (defenders) argue amounted to "protection" for the "privilege" of living under Islam (read: not be attacked again).
This is as close as Muhammad can get to forcing the enemy to convert without technically forcing them. This policy will be worked out and further imposed after Muhammad dies of a fever in AD 632, and the policy will not always keep these fine line distinctions.
What happens to the spoils in jihad?
As noted in the previous section, Sura 8 deals with the Muslims surprise victory over the Meccans at the Battle of Badr in AD 624. After their victory, Arab custom demanded that the warriors get a share of the spoils of war. Muhammad says in 8:41, "Know that one-fifth of your battle gains belongs to God and the Messenger" . . . (Haleem). That is, Muhammad gets twenty percent for himself and for the needy in his community, as he distributes it. The warriors were to get eighty percent.
This eighty percent distribution is a strong inducement to keep the Arab custom of raiding alive. Why would Muhammad get a revelation telling him to follow the way of peace without warfare and raids? Twenty percent for him and eighty percent for his warriors speak more loudly than Gabriel.
What happens to martyrs in jihad?
Martyrs are guaranteed a fast track to Islamic paradise. Their deaths are depicted in economic terms. If they expend their lives as a living currency, Allah will exchange them for heavenly Islamic gardens.
61:10 You who believe, shall I show you a bargain that will save you from painful punishment? 11 Have faith in God and His Messenger and struggle [j-h-d] for His cause with your possessions and your personsthat is better for you, if only you knew12 and He will forgive your sins, admit you into Gardens graced with flowing streams, into pleasant dwellings in the Gardens of Eternity. That is the supreme triumph. (Haleem)
Muslims who struggle (j-h-d) in Allahs cause will either win the battle and live to see another day, so that they can collect some spoils of war, or they will die and have their sins forgiven and be admitted into Islamic heaven.
Sura 9:111 carries on the economic bargain.
9:111 God has purchased the persons and possessions of the believers for the Gardenthey fight [q-t-l] in Gods way: they kill [q-t-l] and are killed [q-t-l]this is a true promise given by Him in the Torah, the Gospel, and the Quran. Who could be more faithful to his promise than God? So be happy with the bargain you have made: that is the supreme triumph. (Haleem)
Two things should be noticed here. First, the root q-t-l is used three times in this short verse. Qital or qatala, as noted in the section "What are some rules of jihad?" means killing, warring, and slaughtering and is therefore less ambiguous or has a more restricted meaning than jihad, though this latter word can mean those same bloody acts.
Thus, if Muslim apologists (defenders) explain (away) jihad as non-violent, then they have not factored in the frequently used word qital.
For the historical and literary contexts and a more thorough analysis of Suras 61:10 and 9:111, please refer to this article.
If the readers would like to see the heavenly "virgin verses" in the Quran, they should go here, and type in these references: 44:51-56; 52:17-29; 55:46-78.
This is reason enough for dazed and confused young men to join Islam and become radicalized.
The hadith are the reports of Muhammads words and actions outside of the Quran. The three most reliable hadith collectors and editors are Bukhari (d. 870), Muslim (d. 875), and Abu Dawud (d. 875). The Quran and the hadith are the foundations for later legal rulings.
What is the purpose or goal of jihad?
The hadith follows the Quran in this question. Islam must be made superior over all other religions.
A man asked Muhammad what men fight for: war booty, fame, or showing off. Muhammad replied:
"He who fights that Allahs word (i.e. Allahs religion of Islamic monotheism) be superior is in Allahs cause" (Bukhari, Jihad, no. 2810, in Muhammad Muhsin Khans translation and edition, Riyadh: Darussallam, 1997; this edition of Bukhari is used throughout this section).
Allahs religion must become superior over all other religions, a decree that echoes Suras 61:9 and 9:111, above.
This tradition says that Muhammad will fight everyone until they confess that Allah is God and that Muhammad is his messenger.
Allahs Messenger [Muhammad] said: I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against people till they say . . . (none has the right to worshiped but Allah), and whoever said [this] he saved his life and property from me except for Islamic law, and his accounts will be with Allah . . . . (Bukhari, Jihad, no. 2946, cf. no. 25 and 1399)
It is the will of Allah that Islam must spread around the world and dominate it. If people submit to Islam, then their property and lives will be safe.
What are some rules of jihad?
The rules are numbered for clarity, not priority. They cover the same topics in the previous section on the Quran, with only a few exceptions.
1. Besides being enslaved, women are subjected to sex with their new Muslim masters.
Ali, Muhammads cousin and son-in-law, just finished a relaxing bath. Why?
The Prophet sent Ali to Khalid to bring the Khumus (of the booty) and . . . Ali had taken a bath (after a sexual act with a slave-girl from the Khumus).
What was Muhammads response to the person who hated Ali for this sexual act? "Do you hate Ali for this? . . . Dont hate him, for he deserves more than that from Khumus" (Bukhari, War Expeditions, no. 4350).
Khumus is one-fifth of the war booty, and Muhammad casually believes that slave women who are part of the one-fifth can be treated like sexual property. Ali is a Muslim hero. So why would the prophet scold his son-in-law who was married to his daughter Fatima, from his first wife Khadija? After all, slaves are fair sexual game.
2. The same sexual abuse happened to women who were part of the four-fifths of the spoils of war. Jihadists usually practiced coitus interruptus as they raped their slave women.
While on a military campaign and away from their wives, Muslim jihadists "received captives from among the Arab captives and we desired women and celibacy became hard on us and we loved to do coitus interruptus." They asked the holy prophet about this, and it is important to note what he did not say. He did not scold them or prohibit the immoral practice, declaring it haram (prohibited). Rather, he gets lost in theology and the quirky doctrine of fate:
It is better for you not to do so. There is no person that is destined to exist, but will come to existence, till the Day of Resurrection.
That is, these enquiring Muslims should stop doing coitus interruptus, but instead go all the way with the enslaved sex objects. Fate controls who should be born (Bukhari, Military Expeditions, no. 4138).
It is one thing for some soldiers in any army to strike out on their own and rape women. All armies have criminal soldiers who commit this wrong act. But it is quite another to codify rape in a sacred text. Islam codifies and legalizes rape for conquering jihadists.
3. In one tradition, women and children should not be killed (Bukhari, Jihad, nos. 3014-3105; Muslim nos. 4319-4320; Abu Dawud, no. 2662). But this makes economic sense, because the victors could sell them into slavery or enjoy more sexual license with them.
4. However, in another tradition, the women and children of polytheists are permitted to be killed during nighttime raids when visibility is low.
A Muslim asked Muhammad "about the polytheist whose settlement were attacked at night when some of their offspring and women were smitten [killed]. The Prophet . . . said: They are of them" (Abu Dawud no. 2666; Bukhari, Jihad, no. 3012; Muslim nos. 4321-4323). That is, they are all the samethey are polytheists, enough said. Ahmad Hasan, the translator of Abu Dawud, as well as Abdul Hamid Siddiqi, the translator of Muslim, are quick to add that the killing takes place at night when the men and the women and children cannot be distinguished. However, this is small comfort for the women and children who were killed. It would seem that an Allah-inspired prophet would be more cautious.
If it was probable that women and children would get killed in a night attack, Muhammad should have forbidden these untimely attacks.
5. The enemy may be killed, enslaved, ransomed, released freely, or beaten.
Abu Dawud says that a captured enemy combatant may be killed (no. 2680); he may be tied with chains as a slave (no. 2671-2674); he is allowed to be beaten in order to extract information (no. 2675); he may be released freely (no. 2682-2683), or he may be ransomed; that is, he may purchase his freedom (nos. 2684-2688).
Ibn Ishaq (d. 767) is not a collector and editor of hadith, but he is an early biographer of Muhammad; he lived a century before the three hadith editors used in this section. His book, The Life of Muhammad, (trans. A. Guillaume, Oxford UP, 1955), is a primary source for later reputable historians. He reports an egregious incident that occurred during the holy prophets conquest of the predominantly Jewish city of Khaybar in AD 628. In order to extract information on the location of the wealth of the city, Muhammad tortured a hapless citizen.
See this short article for more details on Muhammads use of torture.
6. Men are allowed (or forced) to convert.
It is true that a non-Muslim could embrace Islam anytime he wished, but Islam has the messy problem of armies accompanying their preachers and their message.
The passage in Bukhari, cited under the section "What is the purpose or goal of jihad?" says that Muhammad was ordered by Allah to call people to accept Islam (Jihad, no. 2946; cf. nos. 25 and 1399). If they convert, then their lives and property will be kept safe from him. These hadith from Bukhari make the same offer: Jihad, nos. 2937, 2940, 3010, 3058.
This is the entire mission of Muhammad: bring the entire world under Islam, the best religion that Allahthe god of the Arabian Peninsulahas to offer. The problem with this mission is that a Muslim army lurked in the background or gathered in the foreground to this alleged "freedom of religion." Only the strongest of the strong could resist this offer.
7. In Islamic war, old men who are polytheists may be killed.
"Kill the old men who are polytheists, but spare their children" (Abu Dawud, no. 2664). The translator of this hadith collection says that decrepit old men may not be killed, but how is a warrior supposed to distinguish them, except in extreme cases?
Islam either walks on the line between morality and immorality, or it swerves over too often into immoral acts.
8. Property may be stolen.
In the section, "What is the purpose or goal of jihad?" a hadith says that Muhammad has been ordered by his god that he should fight until everyone says Allah is God and Muhammad is his messenger. If they do, then their property and lives are safe (Bukhari, Jihad, no. 2946; cf. nos. 25 and 1399). It is often claimed that Islam does not force conversions. But only the strongest of the strong could resist this threat. If they do not submit to this divine order, then they lose their property and lives. This actually happened throughout the many raids and wars that early Muslims embarked on.
The rule of "to the victors go the spoils" is unjust for a religious system.
9. Fruit trees may be destroyed.
It should be recalled that Muhammad besieged the Nadir tribe of Jews, and they finally surrendered when he was in the process of destroying their date palm orchards and homes. These hadiths refer to this historical event and approve of it: Muslim nos. 4324-4326; Abu Dawud no. 2609).
This is also unjust because by analogy jihadists may possibly destroy other sources of food among the civilians.
10. Three options are imposed on the conquered.
The hadith collector and editor Muslim says that Muhammad would exhort his jihadists to make three offers when their army surrounds a town or settlement: (1) the surrounded enemy may convert; (2) they may refuse to accept Islam and pay the jizya or poll tax, which allows non-Muslims to live under the "protection" of Islam (read: not be attacked again); or (3) they must be fought if they refuse the first two (no. 4294; see Abu Dawud no. 2606). These three options appear in Muslims hadith as being granted to polytheists, but history demonstrates that they were conquered or killed completely. The second option was taken away from them. But all three were offered to the People of the Book, or Jews and Christians (Sura 9:29).
What happens to the spoils in jihad?
In the hadith collection edited by Bukhari, an entire section is called "The Book of Obligations of Khumus." This latter word means one-fifth of the spoils of war. So twenty percent goes to Muhammad or the State, and eighty percent goes to the soldiers.
However, this eighty percent can be divided along different lines. A horseman should get three shares, whereas an infantryman should get only two (Abu Dawud nos. 2728-2730). Another tradition distributes the spoils, as follows: two for the horseman, and one for the footman (Muslim no. 4358).
Islam, led by Allah and Muhammad, allegedly breaks down class hierarchy, but this uneven distribution keeps it alive in the most visible way. Horses were expensive, so only the upper classes could afford them, especially in going out to war. But their share is much greater than that of the lowly infantryman.
What happens to the martyrs in jihad?
The hadith, like the Quran, promises the fast track to Islamic paradise for jihadists.
This hadith says that no one would wish to return to this earthly world, except the martyrs, so that they could die again.
The Prophet said: "Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the Hereafter) would wish to come back to this world, even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again in Allahs cause." (Bukhari, Jihad, nos. 2795, 2797; cf. nos. 36, 97, 2795, and 2817).
The martyrs get beautiful dark-eyed houris or virgins in Islamic heaven.
They are called so [fair or light females with dark eyes] as ones eyesight is perplexed while looking at them, and also because of the intense blackness of their irises and intense whiteness of the sclerotic coat of their eyes . . . . (Bukhari, Jihad, Chapter 6)
This one says that Islamic paradise has one hundred grades that are reserved for the mujahadeen or jihadists (note the three letter root j-h-d in mujahideen and jihad).
. . . The prophet said, "Paradise has one hundred grades which Allah has reserved for the Mujahidun who fight in Allahs Cause, and the distance between each of two grades is like the distance between heaven and the earth. So when you ask Allah (for something), ask for the Al-Firdaus which is the middle (best) and the highest part of Paradise. (Bukhari, Jihad, no. 2790)
This is reason enough for a dazed and confused young would-be jihadist to join the cause of Allah (cause = war).
Classical legal opinions
Sharia is Islamic law embodied in the Quran and the hadith. Fiqh is the science of applying and interpreting sharia, done by qualified judges and legal scholars. Over the first two centuries after Muhammads death in AD 632, four main Sunni schools of fiqh emerged, led by these scholars: Shafi (d. 820), who lived mostly in Mecca, Arabia, but who was buried in Cairo, Egypt; Malik (d. 795), who lived in Medina, Arabia; Abu Hanifa (d. 767), who lived in Kufa, Iraq; and Ibn Hanbal (d. 855) who lived in Baghdad, Iraq.
The following medieval manual compiled by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d. 1368), Reliance of the Traveler: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, (rev. ed., trans. Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Beltsville, Maryland: Amana, 1994), summarizes rulings in the Shafi school of fiqh.
Our analysis is limited to this hard-hitting manual in the matter of jihad, which follows the Quran and hadith closely, because (1) radicals can use it and still remain within orthodox Sunni Islam; and because (2) geographically, this school covers the hotspots today in the Islamic world: Saudi Arabia and Egypt mainly, but also Palestine and Jordan, "with a significant number of followers in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Hejaz [Western Arabia], Pakistan, India and among Sunnis in Iran and Yemen" (Oxford Dictionary of Islam).
What is the purpose or goal of jihad?
Al-Misri says that jihad establishes the religion of Islam.
. . . Jihad means to war against non-Muslims and is etymologically derived from the mujahada, signifying warfare to establish religion. (p. 599, o9.0)
The Caliph fights those who are not People of the Book or Zoroastrians (a Persian religion), in order to force them to become Muslims, according to the Shafii school.
The caliph fights all other people until they become Muslim . . . because they are not a people of the Book, nor honored as such, and are not permitted to settle with paying the poll tax (jizya) (though according to the Hanafi school, peoples of all other religions, even idol worshippers, are permitted to live under the protection of the Islamic state if they either become Muslim or agree to pay the poll tax, the sole exceptions to which are apostates from Islam and idol-worshippers who are Arabs, neither of whom has any choice but becoming Muslim (p. 603, o9.9).
Thus, the goal is to force people to become Muslims or to pay a tax for the "privilege" of living under Islamic "protection," that is, so they will not get attacked again. They have three choices: convert, fight and die, or pay the tax. Though technically this is not a forced conversion, it comes close when a Muslim army sits outside the city gate. As we will see shortly, non-Muslims have more "incentives" to convert.
These purposes do not reveal a defensive war, when the goal is to establish Islam in a region that was blessed to live outside of this excessively controlling religion.
What are some rules of jihad?
1. Women and children are not targets of jihad, except under one condition.
It is not permissible to kill women and children . . . unless they are fighting against the Muslims. (p. 603, o9.10)
Islam may (or may not) do this out of a sense of justice, but as we will see, below, women and children are kept as slaves or sold into slavery. So an economic motive must be factored in for letting them live. Nothing is purely peaceful and just in Islam, without a sting at the end of a law or Quranic verse.
This rule is more just than the practice in the hadith that permits nighttime attacks that puts women and children at risk. It seems this later jurist is more just than Muhammad and the first generation of Muslims. Muslims should follow this jurist, instead of the founder of Islam.
2. Women and children are sold into slavery.
When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the womans previous marriage is immediately annulled. (p. 604, o9.13)
This means that the "generosity" in not killing them is mitigated by their being enslaved. Islam could have been judged more positively if it did not have this hard rule in it (and many others). True, slavery was a world-wide occurrence, but Islam codifies it in religious law, based on the Quran and example of Muhammad.
What happened to the rule that hero-jihadists could rape female prisoners, either going all the way with them or practicing coitus interruptus? Is al-Misri, the jurist who wrote this Shafii manual, embarrassed by these hadith (see previous section, no. 2)? Is the practice too deeply entrenched in jihad? Whatever the case, one thing is certain: the legal manual does not prohibit this horrible immorality.
How is this evidence of Islam being the religion of peace and justice?
3. When an enemy is taken captive, the caliph has four options:
When the adult male is taken captive, the caliph . . . considers the interests . . . of Islam and Muslims and decides between the prisoners death, slavery, release without paying anything, or ransoming himself in exchange for money or for a Muslim captive held by the enemy. (p. 604, o9.14)
In the Hadith, jihadists could beat prisoners, and according to the earliest biography of Muhammad, he tortured a man to extract information. Apparently, this Shafii law improves on original Islam and the founder.
4. But if the captive converts to Islam while captured, then one option is removed:
If the prisoner becomes a Muslim . . . before the caliph chooses any of the four alternatives, then he may not be killed, and one of the other three alternatives is chosen. (ibid)
Avoiding death, even before the captive knows which alternative will be imposed on him, is a powerful incentive to "freely" convert to Islam.
5. To preserve a conquered mans property and small children from military theft is also a powerful motive to "freely" convert to Islam:
Whoever enters Islam being captured may not be killed or his property confiscated, or his young children taken captive. (p. 604, o9.13)
Everyone has often heard that Islam does not force conversions. Evidently, forced conversions by this definition take place only when a sword hangs directly over the necks of the conquered. This definition is wrong. People actually were forced to convert, unless they were willing to forgo their entire livelihoods and their "young children." Only the strongest of the strong would resist this coercion, having this option hung over them like a sword of Muhammadhe owned several and even nicknamed them.
6. Old men and monks may be killed:
It is permissible to kill old men (old man (shaykh) meaning someone more than forty years of age) and monks. (ibid.)
In Late Antiquity and the Medieval Age, life expectancy was much lower than it is today, so a forty-year-old man should not be seen as young. Also, killing monks is wrong. This belies the law that says People of the Book may live.
7. Fruit trees and homes may be destroyed.
This law is not very peaceful for a religion that claims that the Quran came down directly from Allah and that Muhammads life was guided directly by his deity:
It is permissible to cut down the enemys trees and destroy their dwellings (p. 604, o9.15).
We should not be surprised at this ruling, since Muhammad started cutting down the trees and destroying the homes of the Jewish Nadir tribe before he exiled them (Sura 59:5).
8. The three options are imposed on the People of the Book. In this excerpt, the parentheses are added:
The caliph (1) makes war upon Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians . . . provided he has (2) . . . invited them to enter Islam, and (3) if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya . . .) . . . and (1) the war continues until (2) they become Muslim or (3) else pay the non-Muslim poll tax . . . (p. 602, o9.8)
The passage in the manual quotes the Quran in Sura 9:29, the foundation of the three options.
9. As noted in the section "The purpose of goal of jihad," everyone who does not belong to the People of the Book is fought until they become Muslims.
The caliph fights all other peoples until they become Muslims. (p. 603, o9.10)
The passage goes on to say that some schools of law allow for non-Arab idol worshippers to pay the jizya tax without converting to Islam, but the Shafii school, the one analyzed here, says that they must convert or die. Why would not terrorists today use the most severe school of law, especially when it dominates their geographical area in Iraq (Sunnis), Saudi Arabia, and Palestine?
What happens to the spoils in jihad?
The spoils are divided into five parts.
. . . The first fifth is set aside [for the state] . . . and the remaining four are distributed, one share to each infantryman and three shares to each cavalrymen. From these latter four fifths, a token payment is given at the leaders discretion to women, children, and non-Muslim participants on the Muslim side. (p. 606, o10.1)
As noted in the Hadith section, Islam verbally claims to break down class structure, but in reality these rules keep it alive. Only the rich or upper classes could own a horse to spare for battle, and the cavalrymen were usually far fewer than the infantrymen. However, the horsemen get a much larger take than the lowly infantrymen. How is this equality?
The first-fifth of the spoils goes to the state, and it gets distributed according to the needs in a welfare state, such as to the poor or orphans. It may also go to building up "Islamic interests as fortifying defenses on the frontiers, salaries for Islamic judges, muezzins, and the like" (p. 606, o10.3).
Spoils of war are a powerful incentive for the poor and disaffected to join a religion that conquers new areas in order to gain wealth, even though the conquered people did not initiate warfare against Islam. If anyone is looking for a reason for the growth of Islam, he or she does not need to look beyond this pointthough other factors, such as weakening Byzantine and Persian Empires, play a role.
Islam was not spread by simple preaching, without an army lurking in the background or standing in the foreground.
What happens to martyrs in jihad?
The Shafii manual quotes a hadith:
A man said, "O Messenger of Allah, will my mistakes be forgiven me if I am killed, in steadfastness and anticipating Allahs reward, advancing and not retreating?" He replied: "Yes, except for debts." (p. 667, p20.3(3))
It is unclear how Allah extracts the debts from a jihadist, but maybe it involves some degree of punishment for him in the afterlife or a financial burden on his family in their earthly life. Ruling o9.5(1) (p. 602) says that a creditor may give his debtor permission to fight, so the hadith passage is not followed that closely.
More importantly, this passage guarantees jihadists the forgiveness of sins and an escalator to heaven. This is reason enough for dazed and confused young Muslim men to conduct jihad against unbelievers.
Before moving on to the Christian response to these atrocities, we should take stock of the last three sections.
The hadith and the Shafii school follow the Quran closely. All three sources permit injustices in jihad. Muslim soldiers are allowed to rape and enslave captured women. Male enemies may be executed. In nighttime raids women and children are permitted to leave this life, provided it is not deliberate. However, what does this say about Muhammads capacity to be rightly guided in a life-and-death policy in a jihad?
Jihadists are allowed to destroy homes and fruit trees of an entire tribe, the Nadir, so this means that they are allowed do to this to the homes and fruit trees of other enemies. The Quran, a pure revelation from Allah, says so. By analogy, the Muslim soldiers may do this to other kinds of civilian property if this helps them win the conflict. Muhammad should have received a revelation that contradicts this excess.
One powerful motive for waging jihad is the material benefits. The conquered territories fall under the control of the jihadists, and they are permitted to keep it. If anyone is looking for the reason for the spread of Islam, then this is a solid one, (though other reasons come into play, like following the will of Allah). The newly conquered have the option to convert, in which case they pay a forced "charity" or zakat tax that Muslims had to pay. Or they are allowed to remain in the Biblical faith and pay a jizya or poll tax (Sura 9:29). Granted, it is often asserted that the jizya is less than the forced "charity" or zakat tax, but either way, money flows into the Islamic treasury.
Why would Muhammad receive a revelation that dries up this money flow?
Jesus and the earliest church never waged even a small holy war on people in Israel or in the Greco-Roman world who refused to convert or submit to his new religion, and neither he nor his church imposed a "non-conversion" tax on them.
So the three questions have been taken out or modified, and others have been posed instead.
What are and what happens to Christians martyrs?
Matthew 5:10; 10:39; 19:29 speak of laying down ones life and giving up ones possessions. These verses call Jesus disciples to be willing to give up all material possessions for the kingdom of God and to lay down their life mainly in a spiritual way, and possibly in a physical death under severe and fatal persecution. But the verses are not found in the context of a bloody religious war.
Rather, Jesus calls his disciples to pick up their cross and follow him (Matthew 10:38, 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23, 14:27), but he also says that they should do this daily (Luke 9:23). The image of the cross means that they must follow Jesus no matter what, on a daily basis, which precludes an earthly martyrdom, which is done only once; per contra, a "daily martyrdom" is continuous. A twisted love of physical death is not in view in those New Testament passages in the context of qital or jihad.
It is also true that some of the early Christians suffered martyrdom, but, again, never in the cause of warfare; rather, they were persecuted and put to death because the listeners and local authorities were offended at their message, not because the Christians "fight in Gods way: they kill and are killed" (Sura 9:111). Stephen is the prime example and the first martyr in Christianity (Acts 6:8-8:1). He was stoned to death because he preached the truth, not because he was chopping off heads in a battle, only to have his head chopped off in turn by an enemy who had sneaked up behind him. His place in heaven was already secure before he preached or died, because Christ had saved him in his "Martyrs" death on the cross.
True, the risen Christ predicted martyrdom for a few of his followers in the church at Smyrna (Revelation 2:10), but they did not initiate it in warfare; they were being persecutedseverely and fatally. Moreover, after their deaths, this New Testament church did not raise a small army to wage a jihad on their persecutors (as Muhammad did on his Meccan persecutors). It is better to die loving ones executioner than to kill the executioner in rage. This stands in sharp contrast to Muhammads misguided belief that fighting enemies will relieve the rage that his Muslims have against them (Sura 9:15).
It is also true that some later Christians even sought out martyrdom, though not in the context of military warfare, but to win fame. Church authorities rightly rebuked them. The following cannot be repeated too often because it diametrically opposes the Islamic doctrine of salvation: only Christs "Martyrdom" guarantees a believers place in heaven; only his ultimate good work on the cross paves the way to God. Thus, the Christian does not (or should not) have a psychological inducement to kill himself or to be killed in battle to achieve heaven. He needs only trust in Christ.
Hence, the Quranic bargain of martyrdom is completely foreign to devout Christians and even to nominal Christians world over, who no longer take their faith seriously. Christians want heaven, and they are assured of it by the atoning death of Christ, once they receive the life-giving Spirit, who is not Gabriel, as claimed in Islamic theology.
Is Christianity a warrior religion?
Jesus and his disciples through the first three centuries turned the world upside down by simple proclamation, not by butchering with swords (or by threatening to butcher with swords) people who opposed their ministrythe warpath of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century and the Medieval Crusaders do not set the genetic code in the very origins of Christianity in the New Testament.
On the other hand, Muhammad is foundational to Islam, and he says that a martyrs death in the cause of Allah (cause = war) guarantees heaven. The contrast between the two religions is stark.
For more information on the Christian Crusades and the Islamic Crusades see this article.
Christs original way leads to life and the light; Muhammads original way leads to death and darkness.
What about the wars in the Old Testament?
This question has been answered more thoroughly in this article and this one, but the short answer may be discussed here.
Allah and the true God at war are worlds apart.
(1) The historical span of Quranic and Biblical history must be considered. In Islam, Muhammad lived in Medina for only ten years (AD 622-632). In this brief time, he either sent out or went out on seventy-four raids, expeditions, or full-scale wars. They range from small assassination hit squads to eliminate anyone who insulted him, to an Islamic Crusade during which Muhammad led 30,000 jihadists against Byzantine Christians.
In contrast, the Old Testament books covers around 1,400 hundred years before Christ, and God did not send out leaders to wage war in most of these years. For example, the Book of Judges alone says that people enjoyed many decades of peace during the rule of each judge who was raised up in order to fight off aggression. Once this was done, peace reigned for more than ten years.
Allah compelled Muhammad to fight often in his ten years according to the evidence in the Quran and Islamic history, but the true God for over 1,400 years did not wage nearly as many wars per year in Israels existence according to the Bible and Biblical history.
(2) Clarity characterizes divine commands about war in Hebrew history, but not in Islamic history. In the Old Testament, the true God issued commands to wipe out specific inhabitants, for example, Sodom and Gomorrah (punishments that the Quran also endorses) or the cities in Canaansevere commands to be sure, but if such commands are given, they must be clear.
On the other hand, Muhammad goes from one treaty or command to the next in regards to the polytheists in Arabia. For example, in AD 628 he signed, under Allahs guidance, the Treaty of Hudaybiyah with Meccan polytheists, but then he finds (in his mind) probable cause to cancel the Treaty. Finally, in Sura 9:1-5, he unilaterally breaks other treaties he had made with polytheists, but in some cases he keeps them until their expiration dates. How is this clarity and guidance?
Thus, the true God is clear and stable in his severe, divine commands, whereas Allah is unclear and fluctuating in his severe commands. This is significant because Allah gives the impression of feeling his way, but God is decisive.
(3) Who is attacked? In the Bible, the true God orders warfare only against Canaanites who were too far gone in their decadence. Let us assume, contrary to fact, that a nation neighboring Israel was made up of ethical monotheists. Would the true God decree that a war should be waged against them? To reason deductively, the answer is found in the Book of Jonah. He preached to Nineveh hundreds of miles away, and the inhabitants of this city were neither degraded Canaanites nor monotheists. God did not wage war on distant Nineveh despite its being polytheistic. Jonah preached good news. So how much more would God not attack a nation if it were made up of monotheists? The bottom line is this: the only reason that God ordered these wars after the Exodus was to purge a small and specific land (see no. 4, below). He did not ordain wars of conquest outside of Israel to spread Judaism around the known world. If Judaism was spread, it was done by proclamation, as seen in the calling of Jonah.
On the other hand, Muhammad waged war on polytheists, and Muslims believe that these polytheists were also too far gone morally. But Muhammad also attacked Jews and Christians, who are monotheists. For example, he embarked on an Islamic Crusade against the Byzantines in AD 630. The Byzantines never showed up, so Muhammad believed a false rumor that said they were mustering a large army to invade Arabia. But along the way Muhammad extracted agreements from Arab Christians and Jews so that they would not be attacked again by him. Allah ordained wars of conquest outside of Arabia in order to spread Islam by military force. Muhammad and his deity wanted either conversion (the converted paid a forced "charity" or zakat tax) or money in a jizya tax on the unconverted. Either way, money flowed into the Islamic treasury back in Arabia.
Muhammads attacks on monotheists, besides polytheists, in and outside of Arabia demonstrate beyond all doubt that Allah and God at war are worlds apart.
(4) Geography is a factor. God told the ancient Hebrews to cleanse the land of Canaan, but not to do this to surrounding nations. To repeat a point in no. 3, the only reason these wars after the Exodus took place was to purge a small and specific land. God did not ordain the conquest of large regions far beyond Israel, in order to spread Judaism. It is true that King David and King Solomon expanded the borders of Israel, but this tiny nation is the size of New Jersey, one of the smallest states in the US. How does this temporary expansion compare to the Assyrian, Babylonian, or Egyptian Empires? How does this compare to the Islamic Empire stretching from Spain to India within only a few decades after the death of Muhammad in AD 632?
In contrast, Muslims could claim that Allah told Muhammad to cleanse Arabia of polytheists, but Allah also tell his prophet and his successors to expand beyond this region to conquer other territories, like the Persian and Byzantine Empires and a city like Jerusalem. Thus, ancient Israel had a completely different calling that is related specifically to their land, which is small geographically, whereas Islam waged war on peoples of distant lands, far beyond Arabia.
It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of "the land" in Biblical history. God wanted only a specific land to be purified, not worldwide conquest. But Allah waged war on the entire known world.
However, for Christians, this debate over the differences between Allah and God at war is academic, anyway. They believe that the first coming of Jesus Christ, 600 years before Muhammad, ushered in a new era of salvation, a way to the true God that excels the one offered in the Old Testament, and much better than the one offered in the Quran; thus, Muhammads wars on polytheists were misguided from the start, coming so late in history after Jesus showed us a better way.
Christians honor the Old Testament and regard it as inspired, but at the same time they acknowledge that it was written for its own times; they also believe that Christ fulfilled it, and hence they must rise above such commands as animal sacrifices, diet restrictions, and wars over geopolitical "holy" sites like Jerusalemthe Emperor Constantine and the Medieval Crusaders are not foundational to Christianity; only Christ is.
Jesus raised his vision much higher than Jerusalem or any other holy site. He loves the whole world and wants to win it to his cause and spiritual kingdom one soul at a time and by proclamation alone, not by waging war on the unconverted or the religiously deceived, like the pagans whom Muhammad slaughtered. True monotheism does not need a black stone just because pagans walked around it for centuries before Muhammad conquered it. True monotheism does not need a city or any earthly holy site. Christianity looks towards the heavenly Jerusalem (Book of Revelation) or the City of God (Augustine).
For more information on how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, click on this article.
Isnt the US a Christian nation, so why does it wage war?
I got at least two emails from Muslims who point out that America, a "Christian" nation, uses the sword, so who am I to talk about it? First, we should set aside the complications of defining the US as "Christian." Rather, we should note that this comparison leaps over 1,400 and 2,000 years of history. It is always better to compare the founder of a religion and his sacred texts with the founder of another religion and his sacred texts. Jesus and Muhammad should be contrasted, not Muhammad and the US government. Muhammad claims direct inspiration from God; the US government does not.
When the proper contrast is made, then the similarities break down completely. The two religious founders differ from each other as much as bright daylight and dark night.
Also, since the Enlightenment (c. 1600-1800), reason has influenced the West. Original Christianity teaches the dignity of humans. Human reason agrees. For example, here is what the Geneva Convention says about the treatment of women during a war, to choose only this one topic:
Women must be protected against any attack on their honor, including rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. Women must also not be adversely discriminated against because of their sex.
This is an improvement on the Quran and the hadith. The Quran "annuls" marriages so jihadists can have sex with captured women or enslave them, and the hadith simply allows jihadists to have sex with them, as their human property.
For the first three centuries or more after the Resurrection of Jesus, the church turned the known world upside down by proclamation alone. The early Christians did not raise armies to attack polytheists, tear down pagan temples, or force Jews to convert. They did not wage a Christian jihad. Was the church perfect, though? No one is. But Jesus set the genetic code for his worldwide movement, and he chose the path of divine peace and love. And it caught on and spread like God-breathed wildfire.
Jesus never raised even a small army to conquer the unconverted and the stubborn. In the passage about Satan tempting Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13), Satan shows Jesus the whole world and all of its kingdoms. Satan promises to give the whole thing to him. No doubt this included military conquest and riches beyond anyones wildest dreams. Jesus turned it down, rebuking the devil. Therefore, if original Christianity is followed closely, then women will not be raped during military conquests. People will be able to keep their property. Forced taxes after a military conquest, even a religious tax (zakat) that makes it into a pillar of the faith, will not be imposed. On the positive side, Jesus and all of disciples will spread the message of the kingdom by preaching aloneConstantine and the Medieval Crusaders are not foundational to Christianity, so they do not set the genetic code.
But Jesus and his early church turned the world upside down with their message and peaceful method of spreading it.
This demonstrates that the true God was backing this divine Messiah and his message. This demonstrates that the message of Christ was attractive and winsome.
In contrast, for the first three centuries and many more after Muhammads death of a fever in AD 632, Islam spread only with an army lurking in the background or standing in the foreground. Muhammad set the genetic code for Islam, and he either sent out or went out on seventy-four raids, expeditions or full-scale wars. Military armies stormed out of Arabia and conquered cities along the Tigris and Euphrates, as well as cities towards the Mediterranean Sea, like Jerusalem in AD 638. Then Islam spread militarily beyond those regions.
No one can predict accurately how far Islam would have spread if it had used only proclamation without armies. But the implication is that it would not have spread very far. After all, as soon as Arab tribes had heard that Muhammad had died, many of them revolted against Islam and wanted nothing more to do with it. The world could have judged Islam more positively if it had not used military jihad as the means of spreading Allahs religion around the known world. But it did use military jihad.
This implies that the true God did not back this merely human and mortal messenger (Sura 3:144) and his message. This demonstrates that the message of Muhammad was unattractive and too restrictive, like forced prayers five times a day or a forced pilgrimage to a black stone that true monotheism does not need.
On the other hand, Muhammad is foundational to Islam, and he wants the whole world, even by conquest, if necessary. This conquest allows for injustices. They have seeped into the Quran and in his words and policies in the hadith.
Martyrs in the early church of Jesus Christ suffered because of their holiness and because their proclamation offended ungodly authorities. They did not die in a military holy war. They entered heaven only because of Christs once-and-for-all and unique "Martyrdom" on the cross.
This is right.
Dying as a Muslim martyr in a holy war catapults him into a hundred layers of paradise. Muhammads martyrs were called into dying in a military holy war that they often initiated in order to expand Islam.
This is wrong.
Which religious path leads to true peace?
The way of Jesus leads to life. The way of Muhammad led to death.
This article at an Islamic website quotes mostly from the Meccan suras (chapters) in the Quran, in which Muhammad was not strong enough to wage a military holy war, so he is forced to take a more peaceful path. And the few Medinan suras the author cites, in which Muhammad became violent, are Muhammads claims that he and his fellow Muslims were being persecuted by Meccans early on, though he lived in Medina, about two hundred-plus miles from Mecca. But this is wrong or exaggerated or self-induced, as seen here.
This short article at a website produced under the auspices of the University of Southern California says that jihad is defensive or offensive, but the offensive jihad is waged only to suppress tyranny. This is a whitewash. Jihad may be also used to spread Islam around the world, even if this entails a physical war. History demonstrates this. It also says inaccurately that women and children are not targets, but the hadith says they may become targets in a nighttime raid when visibility is low. Women may also be raped or sold into slavery as sexual property. It also implies that only the medieval Crusaders engaged in an offensive jihad. But this overlooks the Islamic Crusades that took place long before the Christian Crusades.
Here is an article contrasting the two Crusades.
This Muslim online booklet (also here and here) is directed at young Muslims. It analyzes jihad in the Quran, hadith, and legal rulings, and concludes that it includes a physical fight. Here is a key quotation:
People have for some time now ridiculed this but today these same people acknowledge that preparation for war is the surest way to peace! Allah did not ordain jihad for the Muslims so that it may be used as a tool of oppression or tyranny or so that it may be used by some to further their personal gains. Rather jihad is used to safeguard the mission of spreading Islam. This would guarantee peace and the means of implementing the Supreme Message. This is a responsibility which the Muslims bear, this Message guiding mankind to truth and justice. For Islam, even as it ordains jihad, it extols peace . . .
Here a write up on Hasan al-Banna, the author of the article on jihad.
Thus, jihad is used to spread Islam aggressively and offensively around the world. Here is the whitewashed article.
The Index to Islam's entry on jihad has articles and links that blow away the smokescreen that the previous Muslim webmasters produce. The facts are these: jihad must include a military war, and it is not always defensive. Also, jihad allegedly suppresses tyrany and injustice, but too often this means anything that opposes Islam. But Islam means just the opposite. Its rules are excessively controlling.
This article on jihad discusses the multiple definitions of the term, depending on the context. The argument in this present article, however, concerns violent, physical jihad, for that is the one that lashes out and harms people. Jihad may be waged defensively to battle tyranny, but, as noted, "tyranny" may be defined as anything that stands in Islams way, one of the most tyrannical religions this world has ever seen. The other meanings that are peaceful do not bother people materially or physically.
Articles by James Arlandson
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