Skills Test #1
If you’ve read the works suggested up to this point, and by read I mean that you’ve dedicated your time to re-reading them several times, making notes as you go along, testing yourself on what you’ve learned so far etc, then you’re ready to put your knowledge and skills to test. I’m going to walk you through one common claim about the Qur’an and then leave you to try to solve or respond to a similar claim using the same methodology I’ve used.
Claim: Qur’an 9:5 teaches that Muslims must kill kafirs (or infidels). It says to murder kafirs (or infidels) wherever you find them, this proves that ISIS and Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and TTP are following the Qur’an!
Step 1 (Verifying the reference):
Verify that what the person is claiming, is their claim actually said in the reference they are giving? So we go to Qur’an 9:5, does it say to slay kafirs or infidels wherever you find them?
And when the sacred months have passed, then kill 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. – Qur’an 9:5.
In reading the verse, it doesn’t mention infidels or kafirs, the Qur’an mentions polytheists. So it’s referring to a specific group of people. We must raise our suspicions at this point, because what the person has claimed and what the verse says are two different things. Looking closer, the verse begins by mentioning certain months, what are these months? Why after these months? At this point, we must understand that since the person is claiming that this verse refers to them (kafirs or infidels), correct them, as it refers to polytheists (mushrikeen). If the verse refers to them (the person making the claim), and it’s speaking about polytheists, then we must ask the person who is making the claim, “are you a polytheist?”. The person is then at a conundrum, if they do not consider themselves polytheists, then clearly the verse does not speak about them, since it isn’t speaking about them then it would mean that the verse did not state what they initially thought it stated.
In other words, let’s assume the person is a Christian. They claim that the verse commands Muslims to kill Christians, because Christians are kafir. If we inform them that it actually says to fight the polytheists, then it would mean that the verse commands Muslims to fight polytheists. Therefore the only way the verse can mean “fight the Christians”, is if the Christian considers themselves to be polytheists.
Step 2 (Understanding the Context):
This verse/ passage does not exist in isolation. It has a context, it has a meaning. We must look at what the verses before it and after it say. The verse does not exist by itself, it exists among many other verses, which all add together to give its complete meaning. This means that we cannot read the verse by itself to understand what it is fully trying to say, we must read what the other verses say so that we may have a complete understanding of its message.
[This is a declaration of] disassociation, from Allah and His Messenger, to those with whom you had made a treaty among the polytheists. – Qur’an 9:1.
In checking the verses before and after, we see that Allah is referring to a specific group of polytheists that the Messenger ﷺ made a treaty with. So what treaty did modern day Christians make with the Prophet ﷺ? What treaty? Ask the person who claimed that this verse applied to disbelievers/ kafirs/ Christians/ Jews, what treaty did the disbelievers/ kafirs/ Christians/ Jews of today made with the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, from 1400 years ago. It is quite obvious that no such treaty exists, so again this negates their claim.
Step 3 (Verifying the Verse’s Complete Meaning):
Finally, we consult the commentaries to see who the verse is commanding the Muslims to fight, what months it is referring to and what treaty it is referring to. One example is that of Maududi’s Tafsir, it says that this treaty refers to the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. This Treaty was between the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and the polytheists of Quraysh. Therefore, these verses, especially that of verse 5, refer to a specific group of people, at a specific time, in a specific place, in the past! It has nothing to do with violently and randomly killing non-Muslims today.
In three easy steps, we have entirely refuted one of the most popular verses used by the critics of Islam to claim that it commands Muslims to commit terrorism. What we learned from this exercise, was that we must learn to verify the information being claimed before we agree or disagree with it. We must check the primary source, consult what the scholars have said before we even comment or reply to the claim.
Using the method I used above, can you examine if this claim is true?
Qur’an 2:191 says to kill Christians wherever Muslims see them!