My @Quora answer to Where in the Quran does it say that non-believers must be killed?
Answer by Jim Ashby:
Much of the Quran needs to be cross-referenced with ahadith in order to understand its context and make sense of what you’re reading. I'll be dealing, mostly, with contradictions of two often-cited admonitions repeated frequently in the Quran:
- There should be no compulsion in religion.
- You should only fight in self-defense.
These admonitions are invoked by apologists to support the claim that, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance.
Quran (9:5) – "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them."
This ayah is from the next-to-last sura (Al-Taubah) in the Quran. It takes place in Mecca after Muhammad and his men conquered it (with only a small number of deaths involved) . . . Muhammad was in complete control of the city. In this ayah, a revelation from Allah is clearly planning future attacks to take place after the end of pilgrimage season ('the sacred months'). This is not counseling self-defense in any way, shape, or form. Period. It's giving specific orders to kill pagans or imprison People of the Book who will not recognize the authority of Muhammad and Islam. It commands the Muslims to kill recalcitrant pagans ('idolaters') wherever they are found AND to ambush, assault and imprison People of the Book who are not honoring Mecca's dhimma contract. In other words, make sure to convert or kill any recalcitrant pagans and force all recalcitrant Jews and Christians into dhimmitude. But, if they're cooperating (‘keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate [zakat]’), then leave them alone.
This murderous ayah is PROOF of Allah commanding conversion of pagans by the sword and forced dhimmitude for all other non-Muslims. It should be noted here that Meccans weren't fighting Muhammad: they were merely resisting his authority: they weren't 'getting with the program', so to speak. Attacking and killing them directly violates the Quranic injunction against fighting except in self defense. And since the goal is to convert or kill pagans and force the rest into dhimmitude, it also violates the Quranic injunction against compulsion in religion. This is an example of abrogation: a later revelation contradicting earlier ones. In essence, the clear, perfect, immutable, inerrant Quran contradicts itself: Allah changed his omniscient mind.
Now, I ask you, which is more likely:
- Allah, the perfect embodiment of truth, abrogated his own clear, perfect, immutable, inerrant Quran?
- Muhammad, a mere mortal man, needed the doctrine of abrogation to excuse the contradictions that accompanied his transformation from the tolerant but powerless prophet of Mecca to the intolerant and powerful warlord of Medina?
Common sense tells us that Muhammad conjured 'revelations' as suited his needs and ascribed them to Allah. Even Aisha teased Muhammad about the the convenient timing and content of his 'revelations'.
This first ayah was the one I wanted to flesh out in detail. The remaining ones are added for good measure. Check them out if you like.
Quran (8:67) – "It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he had made a great slaughter in the land."
What can be said about that?!? It’s just plain barbaric.
Quran (8:12) – "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them."
This revelation comes after Muhammad moved to Medina and was gaining power. Is this a man of peace and tolerance or is this a man bent on forced conversions – despite previous revelations (in Mecca) that claim there should be no coercion in religion?
Quran (8:39) – "And fight with them until there is no more fitna and religion should be only for Allah"
‘Fitna’ is disbelief. This is yet another ayah in which power has gone to Muhammad’s head and prior injunctions for self-defense and no coercion in religion go out the window.
Quran (5:33) – "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement"
This comes from one of the last sura in the Quran. Does this sound like a representative of God to you? Waging war against Allah and His messenger is NOT actual violence and attacks (as in a real war), it’s 'making mischief in the land': disrespecting Allah, Islam, the Quran and/or Muhammad. To this day, such disrespect is all the warrant needed for violent retaliation. Charlie Hebdo, anybody?
Quran (2:216) – "Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."
Muhammad is trying to get his followers on board with his plan to raid caravans for camels and booty. The ‘back story’ here is that Muhammad and his followers are impoverished because the possessions they left behind, in Mecca, when they moved to Medina, were confiscated by the Meccans. You can see that the men are, at least initially, reticent to risk their lives (caravans were accompanied by armed fighters, for protection from robbers). Indeed, their first few attempts to raid caravans failed, probably because of their reticence.
Also note that raiding caravans is an offensive, not defensive, operation . . . contrary to what the Quran preaches.
Quran (9:29) – "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."
This is one of the last revelations from Muhammad. Note that believers aren’t being told to fight in self defense. They’re being told to fight unbelievers because they don’t believe (are resisting Islam). Also notice that dhimma (which demands jizya tribute tax) had already been instituted by Muhammad.