Let those then fight in the cause of Allah who would sell the present life for the Hereafter. And whoso fights in the cause of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, We shall soon give him a great reward. (4:75)
It’s alleged that there are numerous verses in the Holy Quran which urge Muslims to fight and take part in violence against the nonbelievers and that it is incumbent upon true believers to fight and kill the non-believers. It is alleged that this verse forms a basis for extremists who commit suicide attacks.
In the early years of Islam, the Muslims faced bitter persecution for practicing their religion and when that failed the forces of oppression took to the battlefield in an attempt to destroy the Islamic movement. The fundamental verses of the Quran (22:40-41) that permit armed engagement clearly call for the protection of religious freedom for all (not just Muslims): Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged…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…
By reading the verses around 4:76 we can comprehend that the context of this verse is not about suicide attacks or attacking disbelievers for their faith, rather the verses are drawing a distinction between those Muslims who exhibited a greater spirit of sacrifice and bravery by engaging the enemy in the battlefield versus those who remained off the battlefield. By reading verses 4:73-76 we can open the context of the subject of these verses:
“And among you there is he who will tarry behind, and if a misfortune befall you, he says, ‘Surely, Allah has been gracious to me, since I was not present with them. But if there comes to you some good fortune from Allah, he says, as if there were no love between you and him, ‘Would that I had been with them, then should I have indeed achieved a great success! Let those then fight in the cause of Allah who would sell the present life for the Hereafter. And whoso fights in the cause of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, We shall soon give him a great reward. And what is the matter with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah… and of the weak — men, women and children — who say, ‘Our Lord, take us out of this town, whose people are oppressors, and make for us some friend from Thyself, and make for us from Thyself some helper?” (4:73-76)
These verses are referring to those Muslims who were not bold enough to go to the battlefield and used to entertain excuses to avoid fighting. Then, verse 4:75 praises martyrdom and the sacrifice of those Muslims who engaged a much larger enemy at the risk of losing their lives as “who would sell the present life for the Hereafter”. Verse 4:76 then clearly enunciates the principle upon which the military engagement is taking place which is to fight the oppression which was causing the weak to leave their homes in search of a better life.
Verse 4:75 does not by any stretch of the imagination encouraging Muslims to conduct suicide attacks on disbelievers, rather, it’s giving a spiritual incentive to Muslims that they should fight for “freedom of religion” and for those who were oppressed and driven out of their homes unjustly. We also need to acknowledge that those who would survive the wars, they would also have to go through lots of sacrifices. Their businesses would suffer a great deal, to go to war requires a lot of funds, and if they get injured, it would take a while before they would be able to be sustain themselves and their families. There was no immediate benefit in fighting a war of self-defense. Thus the reward and conviction was moral and spiritual, to obtain the countenance and pleasure of God.
Suicide in Islam is haraam which means it is absolutely forbidden. Allah says in the Holy Quran, “…And cast not yourselves into ruin with your own hands, and do good; surely, Allah loves those who do good.” (2:196)
In Hadith, it is clearly forbidden as well. It was narrated from Thaabit ibn al-Dahhaak (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever kills himself with something in this world will be punished with it on the Day of Resurrection.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5700; Muslim, 110).
Therefore, it is completely false to say that verse 4:75 of the Holy Quran encourages Muslims to be suicide bombers.