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Declaration of War… Against non-Muslims?!

Question and answer details
Egon
Declaration of War… Against non-Muslims?!
2003-03-22
I read in another site about Islam, that Muslims are allowed to kill non-Muslims in a whole range of cases. This includes such cases where the individual non-Muslim has not done any harm to any Muslim. Is Islam a declaration of war against non-Muslims?
Shahul Hameed
Answer
Salaam Egon,

Thank you very much for your question.

In fact, Islam is not at all any kind of war declaration against non-Muslims. On the contrary, it is a peaceful religion. No genuine Islam site is entitled to give such a caricature of Islam as the one you described in your mail.

Actually the word ‘Islam’ is derived from the same root as that of ‘salaam’, which means ‘peace’. The very name of the religion - Islam - means submission to God’s will. This is which is the way to peace in this world and the next.

The All Merciful God wants all humans to live in peace. Therefore, His laws taught to mankind through his prophets teach us justice, mercy and love. That is true Islam; the religion of peace.

Islam teaches that we should respect all prophets and all religions. Indeed, Islam considers all the prophets of God as its own prophets; including Abraham, Moses and Jesus. All of them taught the same religion of God; it was after their time that differences crept in through misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

The true religion of God is peaceful and total submission to God, which is Islam. So the idea that Muhammad (pbuh) taught a new religion, or a religion different from that of Moses or Jesus, is wrong.

I would quote here the former pop singer, Cat Stevens - who later became Yusuf Islam after he reverted to Islam:

“Like other Westerners I had been forewarned about Islam - that strange foreign religion, which seemed to belong to people with a different color, of a different culture. But after being given the Qur’an - the Book of God - in my late twenties, I discovered quite the reverse of what I'd expected. One of the first revelations was that the word Islam itself comes from salaam, which means peace. A faith and concept far away from the horrific violence, destruction and terrorism we have seen [in recent weeks].

The Qur’an specifically declares that if anyone kills a person, except [in punishment] for murder or spreading discord on the earth, it will be as if he has killed the whole of humanity. It also goes on saying that if anyone saves the life [of a person] it will be as if he has saved the whole of humanity.

As I surfed through he pages of the Qur’an in 1976, during those lonesome days back in the rock-world's oceanic wilderness, it amazed me how similar Islam was to my Biblical lessons as a schoolchild. But now it was carrying me beyond home and customary landscapes, to a new religious shore inhabited by Turks and Arabs.

I was nicely surprised! The Qur’an showed me a belief in the universal existence of God (Allah), One Merciful God for all. It did not speak against peoples or lands; it said that, although we may be from different countries and tribes, we were all human born of the same original parents, Adam and Eve. The Qur’an directly says that the best of people in God's sight are the most pious.

The English translation of the Qur’an I held in my hands was full of stories and lessons from the history of humanity as a whole. The Gospel and Torah - the holy books of the Christians and Jews - are mentioned. So is Jesus and Abraham; in fact there is more mention in the Qur’an about Moses than any other Prophet. Why?

Islam acknowledges that all true faith began with God and accepts the existence of other cultures, showing how we can all live together in peace. The Qur’an says that there is no compulsion in religion. This means that once a person is of a certain faith, there should be no force imposed on that person to change. Elsewhere it states: *{To you, your religion; to me mine.}* So respect for prayer, charity, law and order is at the core of the Qur’an’s, even if another's faith is different.”

Yet, we need to understand that the Qur’an permits Muslims to fight for defending themselves against aggression, oppression and injustice. You can read this clearly in Surah 22, verses 39 – 40:

*{To those against whom war is made, permission is given [to defend themselves], because they are wronged - and verily, Allah is Most Powerful to give them victory – [they are] those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right – [for no cause] except that they say: “Our Lord is Allah...”}*

Obviously, this permission includes fighting in self-defense and the protection of family and property. But, always the proviso is that fighting should be the last option, when all other avenues are closed.

Jihad is an Islamic concept, which is usually misunderstood. In Islam, the term jihad is applied to all forms of striving; and it does not mean: “holy war”. It is used particularly in the sense of striving in the way of Allah, by pen, tongue, hand, media and if inevitable, with arms. But most certainly, jihad in Islam does not include striving for individual or national power, glory, wealth, prestige, pride or world dominance.

It is the misunderstanding about the concept of jihad that gives some the feeling that Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims. Also, the misguided actions of some extremists may give a wrong idea of Islam. In fact, Islam is a religion of peace based on justice, mercy and sacrifice.

Hope the foregoing answers your question. Do keep in touch.

Thank you and salaam.

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The Propaganda of Terrorism

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