This article is intended to be useful — sufficient to dispel any assumptions that the Qur’an advocates the punishment, subjugation or even killing of “infidels” as well as to reveal its key concepts governing justice during wartime…
Even a cursory reading of the Qur’an will draw the reader’s eyes to hundreds of scriptures extolling tolerance, conciliation, inclusiveness and peace, but also to a few scriptures that seem to be more aggressive…
“my conclusion (and that of every authoritative Islamic scholar) that the Qur’an is unambiguous: Muslims are prohibited from aggressive violence and are compelled, should war prove unavoidable, always to act within a code of ethical behavior that is closely akin to, and compatible with, the western warrior code embedded within Just War.
Hayward chooses to confirm his above-written assertions by trying to analyze verses that are used as warmongering by the “enemies of Islam.” He claims that “many critics assert that verses 9:29 and 2:190-194 directs Muslims to wage war against any and all disbelievers anywhere who refuse to embrace Islam or at least to submit to Islamic rule.” However, he says “they do not mandate Muslims to wage aggressive war or to inflict disproportionate or indiscriminate brutality.”
Then surprisingly he turns to analyze the abrogation doctrine. He claims that “The Qur’an itself states in several Surah that Allâh’s words constitute a universally applicable message sent down for ‘all of mankind’ and that it was a ‘reminder’ (with both ‘glad tidings and warnings’) to ‘all’ of humanity (Surah 34:28, Surah 39:41 and Surah 81:27). But what is the connection between abrogation and Islamic just war?
Hayward tries to prove the abrogation doctrine is non-existent. How he does so? Very simple: he just dismisses all Islamic classical exegetes and totally relies on the fresh new Islamic propagators in the West. Here is the main problem: the disqualification of Islamic classic and most important exegetes. In his words: “certainly most Islamic authorities on the Qur’an and Muhammad today, as opposed to scholars from, say, the more ambiguous medieval period (author’s emphasis), are firm in their judgement that the most warlike verses in the Qur’an, even those revealed very late in Muhammad’s mission, do not cancel out the overwhelming number of verses (author’s emphasis) that extol tolerance, reconciliation, inclusiveness and peace.
Who are the exegetes that cancel these most important doctrine? Well, the oracles of Hayward are three, in fact four:
The British scholar Dr Zakaria Bashier (War and Peace), who claims that “all the beautiful verses throughout the Qur’an which instruct Muslims to be peaceful, tolerant and non-aggressive are No reason exists at all to think that they have been overruled.”
The “Prolific British scholar Louay Fatoohi (Jihad in the Qur’an: The Truth from the Source), arguing that “overwhelming number’ of Muslim scholars reject the abrogation thesis regarding war (author’s emphasis). Fatoohi highlights the fact that throughout history the Islamic world has never acted in accordance with this extreme view, that Muslims have co-existed very well with other faith communities and that the 1600 million peaceable Muslims in the world today clearly do not accept the view otherwise, if they did, they would be at war as we speak.”
Muhammad Abu Zahra (Concept of War in Islam), an important and influential Egyptian intellectual and expert on Islamic law, summed up the mainstream Islamic view by rejecting any abrogation thesis pertaining to conflict and stating that “War is not justified… to impose Islam as a religion on unbelievers or to support a particular social regime. The prophet Muhammad fought only to repulse aggression.”
Sohaib Nazeer Sultan (The Koran for Dummies) makes the same point that the martial verse and the sword and those like it do not abrogate the more numerous peaceful, tolerant and inclusive verses.
However, not only we do not have any corroboration for these claims, we just have to believe they know better than Ibn Salama, al-Nasikh wal-Mansukh; al-Nahhas, al-Nasikh Wal-Mansukh; al-Baydawi, Anwar at-Tanzil wa-Asrar at-Ta’wil; al-Zarkasi, al-Burhan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an; al-Suyuti, al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an; and Lubab an-Nuqul fi Asbab an-Nuzul; Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, al-Tafsir al-Kabir; Ibn Hazm, al-Nasikh wal-Mansukh; al-Zamakhshari, al-Kashshaf; al-Tabari, Tafsir; al-Wahidi, Kitab Asbab Nuzul al-Qur’an; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir.
You see, all these esteemed exegetes, biographers of Muhammad, highly acclaimed interpreters of Qur’an in Islamic religious history are put aside and thrown away by the new scholars of the 21st century, who use Da’wah as a diplomacy of deceit to mislead the infidels. It is as if James Madison and Thomas Jefferson have not written the US constitution, or that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay have not written the “Federalist.” Even better say, it is as if these personalities have nothing to do with the US constitutional and political establishment, and they all must be null and void compare to new propagators claiming totally the opposite about the history of the US.
Then, Hayward turns “the so-called ‘verse of the sword of Surah 9:5.” He claims
“Bin Laden certainly did draw upon the verse of the sword and other seemingly militant Qur’anic scriptures in his August 1996 ‘Declaration of War against the Americans occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places’ as well as in his February 1998 fatwâ.”
However, Bin Laden “is not representative of Islamic belief or behaviour.” For Hayward
“It is quite true that, taken in isolation, Surah 9:5 seems an unusually violent pronouncement for a prophet who had for twenty years preached tolerance, peace and reconciliation (my emphasis). Yet it is equally true that, when read in the context of the verses above and below Surah 9:5, and when the circumstances of its pronouncement by Muhammad are considered, it is not difficult for readers without preconceptions and bias to understand it more fully… It is thus not as bloodthirsty as Robert Spencer and his colleagues portray it… it would only nowadays have any relevance and applicability if polytheists and idolaters ever tried to undertake and re-establish pagan practices in the Saudi Arabian cities devoted only to Allâh: Mecca and Medina. In other words, in today’s world it is not relevant or applicable (author’s emphasis and double emphasis).
Moreover, Hayward says Ibn Kathir said no such thing that the verse of the sword abrogates all peaceful verses ever previously uttered by the prophet, as Spencer claim: “Spencer mistakenly extrapolates this to claim, baselessly.”
Well, the reader in Arabic and in English who reads Ibn Kathir classical Tafsir, is sure Ibn Kathir said verse 9:5 abrogates all the so-called peaceful verses. If one wonders how Hayward misunderstands what Ibn Kathir said, well here is Hayward’s interpretation to another warmongering verse (4:89), which clearly claim to “seize and slay the infidels wherever you find them.” This verse, Hayward says,
“is surrounded by so many other explanatory and qualifying verses that its superficially violent meaning is immediately moderated by its context of tolerance and understanding. First, it threatened violence in self defence only … Secondly, it stated that, if those aggressors left the Muslims alone and free to practice their faith, and if they did not attack them, but offered them peaceful co-existence, then Allâh would not allow Muslims to harm them in any way… The verse not only offered peaceful co-existence to those who formally made peace with the Muslims, but also to anyone…”
Well, this is indeed an interesting interpretation, yet it has nothing to do with the reality. What ridicule the situation is Hayward own words: first, there is a war against the infidels, but it is only “self-defense.” Second, “if those aggressors left the Muslims alone and free to practice their faith, and if they did not attack them, but offered them peaceful co-existence, then Allâh would not allow Muslims to harm them in any way” (my emphases). In other words, if those “aggressors” yield to the Muslim demands, than peace prevails according to the Muslims’ terms. This “coexistence” has one meaning: a total defeat and surrender to Islam, as those aggressors must to live under Muslims’ terms. This is not exactly a peaceful coexistence.