Quran Facts | 9:29 – Fight Christians and Jews
15876
page-template-default,page,page-id-15876,page-child,parent-pageid-15919,,qode-theme-ver-10.0,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.12,vc_responsive
 

9:29 – Fight Christians and Jews

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.

Fight those from among the People of the Book who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor hold as unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have declared to be unlawful, nor follow the true religion, until they pay the tax with their own hand and acknowledge their subjection. (9:29)

 

Allegation

It is alleged that this verse calls for Muslims to fight Jews and Christians who refuse to follow Islam and bring them under the subjection of Muslims.

 

Context

Many Christian and Jewish tribes (referred to as People of the Book) were hostile to Muslims in Arabia. Some of them were allied with the Roman Empire. This verse is speaking of such Christians and Jews who live in a Muslim country or territory but do not acknowledge their state and rather seek to cause disorder by rebellion. Such people must be brought to understand that they are of a country and are obligated to abide by the rules and regulations of that state, paying taxes, and not conducting rebellion by aiding foreign powers. It must be understood that this verse only applies to such people who are hostile to Muslims and become conquered people living under a Muslim government. It does not apply to Christians and Jews who peacefully lived among Muslims.

 

Such people would in no way become second hand citizens, the only limitation put on them is that they are subjects of a state and expected to abide by its rules and regulations including tax payments.

 

As for paying Jizya tax, this meant that the Christian or Jew was exempt from military service and would enjoy the protection of the state’s military apparatus.

Here, it is important to note that the Quran draws a distinction between the social identity of being a Jew or a Christian and their actual religious status. Verse 9:29 says to fight those from among the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day. Now we know that, generally, Jews and Christians believe in God and the Day of Judgement. So what does it mean in this verse to say those Jews and Christians who do not believe in God and the Day of Judgement? It would mean those who identified as Jews and Christians but their deeds reflected little or no value of the teachings of religion, and thus no true faith in God and a Day when mankind will face divine judgement. They unjustly opposed and sought the destruction of Islam and the fundamental freedoms and values it sought to establish.

 

This inference is affirmed by verse 2:63 of the Quran that states: Surely, the Believers, and the Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians, whichever party believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord. Now these Jews and Christians in 2:63 are stated as believers in God and His Judgement and thus behave accordingly with equity. One can think of it as Christians defending fundamental freedoms against oppression by Nazi-Christians in WWII— both are Christians that can draw the distinction given in the above verses of the Quran.


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.