Quran Facts | 4:105 – Always Pursue The Enemy (Non-Muslims)
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4:105 – Always Pursue The Enemy (Non-Muslims)

Introduction

It is alleged that several verses of the Holy Quran incite believers to commit violence against non-Muslims by way of aggression. Such verses are misused by extremists to commit acts of violence against non-Muslims. However, a holistic and consolidated study of the verses, the teachings of the Holy Quran and the historical narratives of the aggression of the opponents of Islam, as well as the broader context of the Roman-Persian wars clearly demonstrates that these wartime injunctions were defensive in nature. The conflicts occurred due to oppression of fundamental freedoms including the freedom of conscience and practicing one’s religion of choice. Islamic teachings permits military engagement as a defense and protection of fundamental human freedoms.

And slacken not in seeking these people. If you suffer, they too suffer as you suffer. But you hope from Allah what they hope not. And Allah is All-Knowing, Wise. (4:105)

 

Allegation

The allegation against 4:105 is that it commands the Muslims to remain in pursuit of the disbelievers to and that it advocates ongoing violence against disbelievers. The Muslims would ‘hope’ for a reward for fighting disbelievers whereas the disbelievers will be denied any such reward.

 

Context

The context of this verse is to fight with valor and determination during wartime against those who attacked and persecuted Muslims for the purpose of destroying Islam and the fundamental values of freedom of conscience and human rights enshrined in its teachings. By reading the verses before 4:101-104 (given below) one can readily establish that the context here is precautionary provisions for shortening prayers and praying in turns etc. during wartime when the enemy is in pursuit and may be nearby. The verses are also encouraging the Muslim soldiers not to dampen their spirits given the harsh conditions and environment as the enemy is affected by the same conditions.

 

And when you journey in the land, it shall be no sin on you to shorten the Prayer, if you fear that those who disbelieve may give you trouble. Verily, the disbelievers are an open enemy to you. (4:102)

 

And when thou art among them, and leadest the Prayer for them, let a party of them stand with thee and let them take their arms. And when they have performed their prostrations, let them go to your rear, and let another party, who have not yet prayed, come forward and pray with thee; and let them take their means of defence and their arms. The disbelievers wish that you be neglectful of your arms and your baggage that they may fall upon you at once. And it shall be no sin on you, if you are in trouble on account of rain or if you are sick, that you lay aside your arms. But you should always take your means of defence. Surely, Allah has prepared an humiliating punishment for the disbelievers. (4:103)

 

And when you have finished the Prayer, remember Allah while standing, and sitting, and lying on your sides. And when you are secure from danger, then observe Prayer in the prescribed form; verily Prayer is enjoined on the believers to be performed at fixed hours. (4:104)

 

And slacken not in seeking these people. If you suffer, they too suffer even as you suffer. But you hope from Allah what they hope not. And Allah is All-Knowing, Wise. (4:105)

 

The verse stating that Muslims have a hope from Allah which disbelievers do not means that Muslims are engaged in a just fight to protect fundamental values and principles of freedom of conscience and the right to practice one’s religion. By believing they are fighting in a just war against the forces of oppression upon God’s command, they can hope for God’s help and reward, and gain the countenance of their Lord which is not a psychology the enemy would possess.


Fundamental Teachings of Islam

The following verses of the Holy Quran clearly state that fighting is only permitted as a defensive recourse against oppression and that fundamental freedom of religion and conscience must be maintained at all times.

 

1) Conditions on permission to fight– must be defensive and to protect universal freedom of conscience

Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged — and Allah indeed has power to help them. Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’. And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty. (22:40-41)

 

The fundamental verses of the Quran (22:40-41) that permit Muslims to undertake military engagement clearly outline conditions which are defensive and where Muslims were being attacked and persecuted on the basis of their beliefs. Further, the verses clearly state that such undertaking must extend to a universal freedom of conscience where churches, cloisters and synagogues must be protected. This is also further validated by Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (on whom be peace) covenants with the Christians instructing Muslims to never attack Christians on the basis of religion and beliefs.

 

And fight them until there is no persecution and religion is wholly for Allah. But if they desist, then surely Allah is Watchful of what they do. (8:40)

 

Verse 8:40 above further endorses the principle that taking up an armed conflict must only be in context of protecting freedom of religion, and if the enemy desists then one should cease hostilities.

 

Some allegation narratives consider that ‘religion being wholly for Allah’ in this verse means that only Islam is to be enforced as a religion. However this allegation is negated by 22:40-41 above which clarifies that the principle of the Quran is freedom of religion and fighting is not permitted to enforce any one religion.

 

2) Peace and reconciliation with the enemy must be sought at all times

The Quran states that during wartime, seeking peace and reconciliation is a duty. This is emphasized to such a great degree that even if one fears that the enemy is seeking peace out of deception (as a strategy of war) one should still incline to it and put their trust in Allah (see 8:62-63 below).

 

And if they incline towards peace, incline thou also towards it, and put thy trust in Allah. Surely, it is He Who is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. And if they intend to deceive thee, then surely Allah is sufficient for thee. He it is Who has strengthened thee with His help and with the believers. (8:62-63)

 

And if two parties of believers fight against each other, make peace between them; then if after that one of them transgresses against the other, fight the party that transgresses until it returns to the command of Allah. Then if it returns, make peace between them with equity, and act justly. Verily, Allah loves the just. (49:10)

 

And fight them until there is no persecution, and religion is freely professed for Allah. But if they desist, then remember that no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors. (2:194)

 

3) Peace as a fundamental desired state of affairs in Quran

The term ‘Islam’ itself is derived from the root ‘Salema’ which means peace. The traditional greeting used by Muslims translated to ‘peace be with you’. Peace is a prominent theme in the Holy Quran and a fundamental desired state of affairs. Following are a few verses from the Holy Quran that illustrate the fundamental value of peace.

Peace on you-- a word of greeting from the Merciful Lord. (36:59)

And make not Allah a target for your oaths that you may thereby abstain from doing good and acting righteously and making peace between men. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (2:225)

Thereby does Allah guide those who seek His pleasure on the paths of peace, and leads them out of every kind of darkness into light by His will, and guides them to the right path. (5:17)

And Allah calls to the abode of peace, and guides whom He pleases to the straight path. (10:26)

And the servants of the Gracious God are those who walk on the earth in a dignified manner, and when the ignorant address them, they say, ‘Peace!’ (25:64)

He is Allah, and there is no God beside Him, the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace, the Bestower of Security, the Protector, the Mighty, the Subduer, the Exalted. Holy is Allah far above that which they associate with Him. (59:24)

 

4) There can be no compulsion in religion

The Holy Quran declares in 2:257 that there can be no compulsion in religion. The meaning of any given verse of the Holy Quran must comply with this rule. Therefore, any given verse of The Holy Quran addressing armed engagement cannot be taken to mean waging war on disbelievers or infidels on account of their beliefs. This negates the assertion that Quran sanctions violence against disbelievers.