Does Islam Ordain The Killing of All Disbelievers?

04 April, 2017
Q Hello, I am a Hindu, but I love to read and understand every religion because I believe that every religion started for a cause. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) started Islam because the world needed the Quran at that time and the same is with every religion. The holy books are the way to Moksha. As in mathematics, every problem can be solved through multiple ways. So, every religion is a distinct, but not exclusive path to the common goal- salvation. Now the query is that is there some wrong interpretation of Quran going on? Because I have a Muslim friend who says that every Kaafir should be killed and he says that it is written in the Quran. Well!!! What is the real definition of Kaafir and is it true that Kaafirs should be killed? I believe that no religion teaches violence- be it Islam or Christianity or Hinduism. We need to kill the ill thoughts and not the ill-doers, isn't it? Also, I will be highly gratified if you could give me a link to the English interpretation of Quran. Thank you.

Answer

Salam (Peace) Siddharth,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Thank you also for your interest in religion and for your respect for our Prophet (peace be upon him) and for sending peace unto him. We appreciate your good manners and the way you formulated your question.

Let’s agree on some facts. First, we should have mutual respect for each other because we are humans and we come from the same father and mother, Adam and Eve.

If we are not brothers in Islam, we are brothers in humanity.

Second, we have to fight ill thoughts, as you put it, and odd opinions that come to the surface when we deal with religious texts. We have to read texts within their contexts not out of their contexts.

Therefore, the context should be determined and the time period should be considered. The circumstances should be explained well in order to understand verses of the Quran, which Muslims believe is God’s Word.

Muslims believe that Islam is the true religion in the sight of God. The message of Islam; i.e. to recognize the existence of God and to worship Him alone, was delivered to the prophets and messengers who came before the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

Islam means true submission to the will of God. A Muslim is a person who submits willingly to the will of God.

Islam is a religion of peace and love. Muslims do not impose Islam on people against their will and desire. Islam should be based on complete conviction. One of the basic rights in Islam is the right of religious freedom.

We read in the Quran what means:

{Let there be no compulsion in religion […]} (Quran 2:256)

As for the definition of the word “kaafir”, it means in Arabic “to cover”. From this root meaning, anyone one who hides or covers the truth is called a kaafir.

To determine who is a kaafir and who is not, is not an easy issue or a simple decision. God alone knows what is there in people’s hearts.

As for the misconception that Muslims should kill all kaafirs (disbelievers), it is a common misconception that is raised every now and then. I think it is a good opportunity to say few words in this regard.

Islam prohibits the killing of any human being without a just cause. Islam considers the life of people of a sacred nature regardless of their religion or race.

Killing a human being is a big sin as big as killing of all mankind. And saving the life of a human being is like saving the whole of humanity. We read in the Quran what means:

{On account of [his deed], We decreed to the Children of Israel that if anyone kills a person– unless in retribution for murder or spreading corruption in the land– it is as if he kills all mankind, while if any saves a life it is as if he saves the lives of all mankind […]} (Quran 5:32)

Let us understand the context of the verses which are frequently cited in this connection. Verses that refer to fighting non-Muslims were talking about a state of war between Muslims and the pagans of Makkah.

This state of war is not the norm and therefore the order to kill the pagans cannot be generalized and applied to non-Muslims in every time and place and under all circumstances.

This is what happened. These verses were taken out of the historical context and claimed to have encouraged Muslim to kill innocent people.

Throughout the Quran we find many passages calling for coming into good terms with people of other faith communities and arguing with them in the best manner.

Islam also calls for having a dialogue and building peace with them. The Quran is a book of peace and should be understood in the proper context.

Those who carry out terrorist attacks in the name of Islam have nothing to do with Islam. Islam is about peace, tolerance, love, and cooperation.

Look around you where Muslims are the majority population. What about the non-Muslim communities under the Muslim rule? Are they killed in millions? Or do they live peacefully with their Muslim neighbors?

Non-Muslims practice their religions freely and their houses of worship are protected. Non-Muslims under Muslim Spain were not forced out of their countries. There are many Christians and Jews in the Arab world and they live peacefully and safely.

Islam spread East and West without shedding one drop of blood. Islam spread with the power of the word not the power of the sword.

Even under non-Muslim rule, Muslim communities coexist peacefully.

Imagine that there was an order for Muslims to kill non-Muslims during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him); would the Prophet leave alive any non-Muslim tribe in the Arabian Peninsula?

The Prophet, his companions, and followers lived with non-Muslims though they had the authority and the power to put an end to their lives.

No one can deny that there are rare killing incidents where Muslims are involved. This shouldn’t be generalized to all Muslims. Islam is not to be judged by the actions of few Muslims.

Jihad is allowed only against the oppressors and aggressors and only to establish justice. Jihad is not meant to violate the laws or to terrify people.

Now, do you still believe that Islam tells Muslims to kill non-Muslims? If not, please explain this fact to your Muslim friend who has a difficulty in understanding the true message of the Quran.

You can find an English translation of the Quran here.

I hope this answers your question. We will be more than happy to answer any questions you have about Islam.

Salam and please keep in touch.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Quranic Verses Misinterpreted as Teaching Violence

Are All Non-Muslims Enemies of Islam?

Foreign Policy of Islam: Peace or War?

About Dr. Mohsen Haredy
Dr. Mohsen Haredy holds a PhD in Hadith literature from Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is the former Executive Manager and Editor-in-Chief of E-Da`wah Committee in Kuwait, and a contributing writer and counselor of Reading Islam. He graduated from Al-Azhar University and earned his MA in Hadith literature from Leiden University.