The Quran: A Short Introduction (and Chronology) What is the Quran?
The Quran (Koran) is the Holy Book of Islam and the religion’s most sacred text. The word itself means “recitation.” It is a series of “revelations” that Muhammad claimed to have received from Allah at various – often highly convenient – times in his life and then dictated to scribes.
The book is divided into 114 Suras (chapters) that contain ayat (verses). Despite the internal claim that it is “perfectly arranged”, the Suras are not in chronological or thematic sequence, but sorted simply by general size, with the larger appearing first. As such, there is no logical continuity or transition between chapters – and precious little within.
The Quran was compiled in the years and decades following Muhammad’s death from snatches of writings on papyrus leaves, wood carvings, animal bones and, especially, the memory of his companions, who were beginning to die off in the aggressive military campaigns that characterized Islam’s expansion.
There is generous redundancy within the text, as well as contradictions – which are said to be resolved through “abrogation,” whereby later verses have authority over earlier ones when there is an apparent dispute between them. (It isn’t made clear how Muslims are supposed to know which verses are “later” from the text alone, since the Quran is not in chronological order).
Although the words in the Quran are believed by Muslims to be those of Allah, and not Muhammad, there are several places in the narration where this simply doesn’t make sense. In some cases, Muslim scribes mended the problem by inserting the word “say” in front of certain text to make it appear as if Allah is telling Muhammad to speak in the first person. In other cases, their clean-up work was not quite as thorough (such as the famous 27:91, in which the word “say” is not in the original Arabic).
The words of the Quran are said to be the literal, eternal words of Allah himself, relevant to all people at all times (although it includes directives personal to Muhammad, such as 33:53). It is not a book of history, although there is some badly garbled fragments of stories from the Bible scattered throughout. The verses that issue rules and edicts are generally open-ended. Very few are bound by historical context within the text, including calls to violence against unbelievers.
The Quran is almost incomprehensible in and of itself due to the piecemeal way in which it was compiled. Directives, topics, diatribes, incomplete accounts of Old Testament stories and mythological characters appear randomly, with very little literary consistency. Themes are disjointed and shifting, something that would not be expected of a perfect book of instruction.
External sources, such as the Hadith (narrations of Muhammad’s words and deeds) are essential for understanding both the context of critical Quranic passages as well as their meaning. Even so, interpretations are often arbitrary and, since there is no longer a central authority in Islam, various Muslim factions often claim sharply different interpretations.
Older versions of the Quran would be helpful in the study of certain words (since vowels are often left out of transcriptions) but, unfortunately, these ancient texts are either destroyed or hidden from public view by authorities, since they differ somewhat from modern versions – and thus throw into question the Quran’s internal claim to be the immutable word of God (although the Hadith plainly indicates that multiple versions existed following Muhammad’s death).
The suras of the Quran can be grouped into two distinct periods in Muhammad’s life. There is the earlier “Meccan” period, when Muhammad had little to say about violence or “fighting in Allah’s way.” Not only did he not have the power to force Islam on others at the time, but he was borrowing heavily from Judeo-Christian religious tradition.
Then there are the “Medinan” suras and later, in which the commands to violent Jihad and intolerance increase corresponding to Muhammad’s military strength. The bloody 9th Sura (the Verse of the Sword) is one of the very last to be handed down by the prophet of Islam, and it came at a time when the Muslims had already achieved power over their neighbors, forcing into exile those who would not convert.
Most of the Quran is about unbelievers and much of this is devoted to their earthly or divine punishment. People of other religions are said to be “cursed by Allah.” The more tolerant verses (though popular with contemporary apologists) are less numerous than the later, more violent ones. According to the Quran itself, the later verses abrogate those that precede them (Allah doesn’t change his word, 6:115, but he does “substitute” it when he comes up with something better, 2:106 16:101).
It is important to note that the Quran does not contain a single original moral value. However, it is the only major religion to do away with the rule of general benevolence found in all others – including Christianity’s “Golden Rule.” Instead of advocating universal love and charity, the Quran distinguishes between believers and unbelievers, drawing a sharp distinction in the value of each group and laying the foundation for discrimination and dehumanization (see Is the Quran Hate Propaganda?).
Those who abandon themselves to what the Quran literally says generally become a danger to those around them who are not like-minded. Other Muslims often maintain a discreet loyalty to a predetermined moral framework, around which they mold, filter or ignore inconvenient passages of the Quran – while placing disproportionate emphasis on limited fragments of earlier verses that appear to project a more peaceful message.
The Quran repeatedly stresses Muhammad’s personal claim to being a prophet. Those who accept it are morally superior to those who don’t. Muslims will receive the highest reward in paradise while the non-believers will suffer egregious torment in hell – as well as a “painful punishment” in this life.
The proclamation that Muhammad is God’s prophet happens to be the only original idea in the Quran. It is supported through circular reasoning: Muhammad is Allah’s prophet because Allah says so – and we know that Allah says so because that is what Muhammad says. (It isn’t hard to see why the early Muslims had to kill a lot of people to get their point across).
Grammatical, theological and scientific errors abound within the Quran, but they are often “explained away” through elaborate and complicated theories that may seem absurd to more objective students – even if such sophistry reinforces the faith of those who believe that the book is perfect in every way regardless of what it contains (to say otherwise is to risk a death sentence). Also, for a book that claims to be “clearly written” it is suspicious that most copies are accompanied by voluminous commentary that often exceeds the actual body of verses.
The exaggerative praise that accompanies the Quran (a book that literally tells Muslim men that they may keep women as sex slaves) makes Christian fundamentalist claims about the Bible “containing God’s word” seem rather tame by comparison. Syllables of the Quran continue to be committed to memory with a level of fanaticism that has not diminished over the generations.
Allah apparently spoke in the obscure Quraish dialect, which few Arabs at the time understood all that well (and even fewer still today). This is significant because Muslim apologists often use this point opportunistically, particularly with regard to the passages of the Quran that clash with modern sensibilities. The knee-jerk line is that such verses have a different meaning in Arabic (even if this alternate meaning seems to have eluded fourteen centuries worth of Arabic-Islamic scholars).
More recent translations are usually tainted by the interpreter’s preferences, particularly in catering to contemporary Western tastes. A quick test for determining whether a version of the Quran is honest or “politically correct” is to turn to verse 4:34 and check whether the word “beat” or “scourge” is used in the instruction to discipline belligerent wives. If it is there, then the copy is probably closer to the Arabic than more recent “whitewashed” versions.
If you are serious about acquiring a Quran, then confirm also that verses 4:24, 23:6, 33:50 and 70:30 stay faithful to the Arabic in using the word ‘captive,’ ‘slave,’ or ‘those whom thy right hand possesses’ in reference to the women authorized by Allah for a man’s sexual use. Contemporary translators are notorious for ignoring the original Arabic and pretending that Muhammad is speaking only of wives, when, in fact, it is evident from the text that he distinguishes between wives and non-wives (sex slaves).
The Quran distributed by CAIR, Muhammad Asad’s “The Message of the Quran,” should be avoided by serious inquirers. It is a 20th century Westernized translation that manipulates the naive by changing the wording of unflattering verse and offering mitigating commentary to convince readers that they are not seeing what they are really seeing.
We recommend the highly readable non-Muslim translation from CSPI (or the abridged version) or the Noble Quran, which is less readable but more objective. The Noble Quran is a recent translation, but one that is mostly faithful to the Arabic.
It is best to balance out one translation with occasional references to others, including to the MSA website, which contains the Pickthall, Shakir and Yusuf Ali Muslim translations.
Estimated Chronology of the Quran
Suras from Mecca
96, 68, 73, 74, 111, 81, 87, 92, 89, 93, 94, 103, 100, 108, 102, 107, 109, 105,113,114,112,53,80,97,91,85,95, 106,101,75, 104,77,50,90,86,54,38,7,72,36,25,
35, 19,20, 56,26,27, 28, 17, 10, 11, 12, 15, 6, 37, 31, 34, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45,
46, 51, 88, 18, 16, 71, 14, 21, 23, 32, 52, 67, 69, 70, 78, 79, 82, 84, 83, 29
Suras from Medina
2, 8, 3, 33, 60, 4, 99, 57, 47, 13, 55, 76, 65, 98, 59, 110, 24, 22, 63, 58, 49, 66, 61, 62, 64, 48, 9, 5
Quran Topic Index
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About the Site
Why the Quran is Not from Allah:
Timeless… unchangeable… perfect?
Mmm… maybe not.
The Quran makes a lot of claims about itself. It says that it is the perfect and incorruptible revelation of God to man, and that it is so important that it has existed eternally on tablets in heaven.
Critics claim that it is a badly-arranged collection of quotations from one man, passed off as the word of God to a gullible audience in a primitive society. When accused of being a madman, for example, Muhammad would go into his tent and then emerge with a pearl ‘from Allah’ like, “You (Muhammad) are not a madman” (68:2). The people would then take this as proof that he was not.
Some Muslims say that the Quran would not be believed by so many today if it were not true. But belief does not make truth – particularly when it has to be shamelessly enforced with discrimination, maiming and death.
In fact, most Muslims have never read the Quran, a book they (nonetheless) are willing to kill and die over. Their conviction is based on what they hear from other Muslims, particularly as they are growing up.
An objective reader would almost certainly conclude that the Quran is less a product of divine origin than Muhammad’s imagination and the circumstances in which he found himself.
Here are ten quick examples:
Verse 27:91 reads “For me, I have been commanded to serve the Lord of this city.” If these are the words of Allah, then it would mean that someone is ‘commanding’ him to serve another god. The verse only makes sense if Muhammad is speaking from his own perspective.
(This would also explain why “Allah” takes an oath to Allah in no fewer than seven other verses).
Verse 5:3 says that the Islamic religion was “perfected” and “completed” on “this day”, yet 249 more verses follow it, including two additional Suras (9 and 110).
Also, how could the Quran be eternal if there was a time when it was not completed?
So much of the Quran is devoted to redundant claims and threats about Muhammad’s status as a prophet, yet there is not a single original moral value. Nowhere does it tell men not to rape women or refrain from sex with children. In fact, it gives men permission to rape their slaves and implies that sex with children is permissible (verse 65:4).
Wouldn’t a perfect book teach perfect morality?
Despite being a relatively small book, the Quran contains unnecessary repitition. Moses is mentioned 136 times. Some passages of misquoted Bible stories are nearly word-for-word identical (eg. Suras 20 & 26).
Why would God waste space saying essentially the same thing about something obscure when he could have offered clear moral principles about peace, tolerance (or sex with children)?
The Quran confuses Mary the mother of Jesus with Mary the sister of Aaron (and Moses) in Sura 19.
Despite tortured apologetics, the simplest and most obvious explanation is that Muhammad was mistaken. This would also explain why the Quran that he narrated erroneously states that Christians worship the Virgin Mary as a god (5:75, 5:116) when they never have.
The Quran tells Muslim men that they may have sex with women captured as slaves. Even worse: the passage is repeated in four different places. By contrast, there is not a single verse that tells Muslims that they are to pray five times a day.
The Quran says that it is “clear”, but then says elsewhere (3:7) that only Allah understands the meaning of some verses (which begs the question of why they are there). It says that it explains “all things” (16:89), but then tells Muslims to follow the example of Muhammad (33:21) – without saying what that is.
In practical terms, it is impossible to understand the Quran without references to external sources such as the Hadith and Sira (usually laid out in voluminous footnotes). Yet these sources are often contradictory and almost never agreed on.
Even in the Quran, devout Muslim scholars infer dramatically different meanings from the same verses. For example, most interpretations of 38:33 say that Solomon slashed at his own horses, severing their legs and necks. However, some contemporary translators, including one of the most respected (Yusuf Ali) say that Solomon really just passed his hand over their bodies in a loving way.
More alarming (and unfortunately more typical) are verses like 5:33, which mandates crucifying those who “wage war on Allah”… without really explaining what this means.
Unlike the Old Testament prophets, Muhammad narrated petty defenses of his claim as a prophet (and even his own sanity) that are remarkably redundant.
For example, no fewer than 8 passages (83:13, 27:68, 46:17, 16:24, 6:25, 26:137, 25:5 and 23:83) say that “Allah’s messenger” is accused of repeating “tales of the ancients,” but that anyone who doesn’t believe him will burn in Hell. Why wouldn’t Allah just say it once and then use the remaining space for something more edifying?
Isn’t this more of what one would expect from an overly-defensive poseur than from an eternal revelation of God to man?
The Quran says that written copies of the Bible (Torah and Gospel) existed at the time of Muhammad (29:46, 3:3, 3:78) and a great many verses “confirm” that those copies are true (even if the Jews and Christians were later accused of misinterpreting them “with their tongues”). Parts of the Quran obviously rely on the Bible for completeness and many verses insist that the Word of God cannot be changed or corrupted.
Here’s the problem:
There are hundreds of New Testament manuscripts that pre-date the time of Muhammad, all discovered at different times and different places by different people. There are hundreds more of the Torah. All agree almost perfectly with the modern version of the Bible, which contradicts the Quran.
At the same time, not a single copy or fragment of either the Torah or Gospel from any era has ever been found which deviates in a way that agrees with the Quran.
How is that the “true” Bible – the one that supposedly confirms the Quran – never survived in any form, while so many “corrupted” copies did?
Isn’t it more likely that Muhammad simply made it up as he went along and later accused Christians and Jews as a cover story for his own mistakes?
As mentioned, despite being a small book, the Quran is supposed to be the timeless, unchangeable word of God. Why would God use precious and valuable space on the personal life of one man – the same one who happens to be narrating the “revelation”?
Consider verse 33:53:
O you who believe! Enter not the Prophet’s houses, except when leave is given to you for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation. But when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken your meal, disperse, without sitting for a talk. Verily, such (behaviour) annoys the Prophet, and he is shy of (asking) you (to go), but Allah is not shy of (telling you) the truth.
That has to be immortalized on a tablet in heaven?
Substantial portions of the Quran (particularly suras 33 and 66) are equally self-serving and address the sex, money or respect from his wives to which Muhammad is entitled. Moreover, several such passages are repetitive.
Couldn’t Allah have thought of a more important message for mankind than telling us (several times over) that Muhammad may sleep with an unlimited number of women?
What about the Quran’s verses of Peace and Tolerance for other religions?
While there are some verses in the Quran (and episodes from Muhammad’s life) that would appear to promote tolerance and peace, they are usually mitigated by circumstances and context. Closer examination proves less convenient to the simplistic interpretation furnished by apologists. Usually one learns more about what some Muslims wish were there rather than what actually is.
Coexistence as equals was something that Muhammad promoted only when he did not have the power to conquer. In the full context of the Quran, peace means submission, and tolerance of other religions means not killing those members who agree to live in a subjugated status to Islamic rule.
[Note: This page will be added to over time]
Quran (2:208): O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace [Islam].
This is a mistranslation. The Arabic word is “Islam.” This is not the same as “peace,” which is salaam. The verse is actually a call for Jews and Christians to embrace Islam – not an exhortation for Muslims to be peaceful. In fact, verse 193 tells the faithful to fight “until worship is for Allah alone.”
Quran (2:62): Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
Taken by itself, this verse indicates an extraordinary tolerance for Jews and Christians (Sabians were a very obscure Middle Eastern sect that Allah curiously chose to mention in place of, say, a religion like Hinduism with hundreds of millions of followers but unknown to Muhammad the “messenger”). The verse would seem to indicate that Jews and Christians will be admitted to heaven and, thus, should not be discriminated against by Muslims here on earth.
The truth is that this verse was narrated at a time when Muslims did not have the power to fight Jews and Christians. Muhammad needed to stay in the good graces of the Jewish tribes at Medina. Once Muslims obtained power, things changed – as did the Quran’s view of other religions.
A [chronologically] later verse in the Quran, 3:85, bluntly states: ” Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers. It really can’t be any plainer than that. Non-Muslims will go to hell.
Abrogation, the “substituting of one verse with another” is an important tool in resolving the Quran’s contradictions. Had the tolerant verse, 2:62, been narrated last, then it might be argued that it overrides the many other verses that curse and condemn Jews and Christians (3:110, 5:13, 5:17, 5:73…) and call for their subjugation(9:29). Unfortunately, it is the intolerant verses that supersede 2:62, both in their abundance and chronological sequence.
So, the apologist who quotes this verse out of context is either telling you what they want to believe or what they want you to believe – but not what the Quran as a whole actually teaches.
Quran (2:256): There is no compulsion in religion.
Well… except when there is, as the Quran later prescribes. This verse is addressed in a separate article here.
Quran (4:93): And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell to abide therein, and the Wrath and the Curse of Allah are upon him, and a great punishment is prepared for him
This verse explicitly applies to the killing of a believer (someone who is Muslim). The omission of non-Muslim life is highly conspicuous. A religion that forbids members from deliberately killing each other is hardly breaking new ground or setting a high moral mark. Other religions and moral systems generally apply the worth of human life universally.
Quran (5:8): Stand out firmly for Allah… and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just, that is nearer to piety, and fear Allah
Although this verse would appear to say that one should not be influenced by their hatred for others, it is actually speaking of the hatred that others have for them. The arabic word qawmin refers to something belonging to another people. The same word is used in verse 5:77 of the same sura in reference to the “desires” of others. It is obviously not referring to a desire for others, just as verse 8 is not speaking of a hatred for others.
As verse 6 makes clear, the “doing justice” spoken of in verse 8 means performing a religious duty (prayer, ablution…). In fact, much of the rest of Sura 5 speaks very poorly of Jews and Christians specifically. Nowhere does it say to treat them justly, but it does tell Muslims to shun them (5:51) or risk being labeled an apostate.
So, properly translated, verse 8 would read: “do not let other people’s hatred cause you to deviate from performing [religious rituals] for Allah.”
Quran (5:32): Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind…
When presented, this verse is almost always redacted to say “if anyone killed a person it would be as if he killed all mankind”. The full reading (including the verse that follows) conveys a much different meaning. This is addressed in a separate article here.
Quran (5:69): Surely, those who believe, those who are the Jews and the Sabians and the Christians, – whosoever believed in Allah and the Last Day, and worked righteousness, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve
This verse is sometimes quoted within the context of an argument that people of other religions will be accepted by Allah as long as they are ‘righteous’.
The verbs used in the verse are actually in the past tense, meaning that the reference is to Jews and Christians who existed prior to Muhammad. This is important, because the full context of the passage shows that that the rules have changed.
Verse 5:68, which directly precedes this reads:
“O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! You have nothing (as regards guidance) till you act according to the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), and what has (now) been sent down to you from your Lord (the Qur’an).” Verily, that which has been sent down to you (Muhammad ) from your Lord…
Jews and Christians must now accept the Quran and Muhammad in order to be saved. In other words, they must become Muslim. This is consistent with other Quran verses which disparage Jews and Christians, including verse 72 in the same sura, which reads:
Surely, they have disbelieved who say: “Allah is the Messiah [‘Iesa (Jesus)], son of Maryam (Mary).” But the Messiah [‘Iesa (Jesus)] said: “O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode
Believing Christians and Jews are explicitly condemned to Hell in the Quran.
Quran (8:61): But if they incline to peace, you also incline to it….
Taken in isolation, this verse seems to say that Muslims are to be peaceful toward those who are peaceful to them. This would appear to be self-evident, but it seems that the moral bar is set fairly low in the Quran.
If this means that Muslims are to live peacefully and not expand their religion via military force, as some suggest, then the lesson was completely lost on Muhammad’s own Companions, who did exactly the opposite. Most likely, this is because they kept the verse in context.
The verse prior to this, 8:60, says to “make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allah does know.”
Who is that Muslims are to prepare for war against? Verse 55 says it is the unbelievers, who are lower than animals: “Verily, The worst of moving (living) creatures before Allah are those who disbelieve”. The verses between tell Muslims that they cannot trust unbelievers and to punish them “severely” in war. If treachery is suspected at any point after non-Muslims are subjugated, Muslims are to break the covenant and attack the “enemies of Allah” and (somewhat chillingly) “others whom you may not know”.
The relationship between Muslims and others is thus not one of equality and tolerance. As a whole, the passage declares that non-Muslims are, by nature, an inferior group on par with animals. They cannot be trusted and should be viewed with suspicion. Muslims can break any covenant merely on the basis of this suspicion and punish the unbelievers “severely,” because that’s what Allah wants…
But other than that, it’s all about peace!
Quran (17:33): And do not kill anyone which Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause.
This is one of those verses that sounds better from a distance. What it literally says is that you aren’t supposed to kill people that you aren’t supposed to kill… unless it’s for a good cause (in which case it’s game on). In fact, one could reasonably argue that since it implies that there is already a list of forbidden targets, the verse exists mainly to provide an exception to the rule.
So, who is it “forbidden” to kill and what constitutes a “just” cause?
The only group that the Quran explicitly forbids killing intentionally is believing Muslims (and, more tenuously, dhimmis who pay the jizya). The greatest cause of all, according to one of the Quran’s last (and most violent) chapters, is that Allah’s religion be superior over all others (9:33) – which happens to coincide perfectly with what Islamic terrorists say is their supreme goal.
Verse 17:33 thus provides divine justification for Islamic terror in which even innocent victims are collateral damage. Does this sound like peace and tolerance?
Quran (24:22): And let not those among you who are blessed with graces and wealth swear not to give (any sort of help) to their kinsmen, Al-Masakin (the poor), and those who left their homes for Allah’s Cause. Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you?
Part of this verse tells one to forgive as they want to be forgiven by Allah. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with this, but, as usual, there is bit more to the story.
The broader textual context is that one set of Muslims (those among you blessed with graces and wealth) is being advised to forgive another less fortunate group of Muslims. So, unless one cherry-picks the fragment, it is not actually a universal ‘Golden Rule.’
The historical context of the verse is an episode known as “Ifk,” in which Muhammad’s favorite wife, Aisha, was accused of infidelity. Muhammad felt the accusation was false and (not surprisingly) so did Allah – who copiously vowed eternal damnation and a lifetime of curses for the accusers.
In fact, the main theme of Sura 24 isn’t forgiveness, but condemnation for those who falsely accused his chaste wife of sexual impropriety. So what of verse 22? It was a relatively obscure instruction to a group of comparatively wealthy Muslims not to withdraw financial support for the entire group of Muslim emigrants which had produced the accusers.
Quran (39:10): Say (O Muhammad ): “O My slaves who believe, be afraid of your Lord and keep your duty to Him. Good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world, and Allah’s earth is spacious!”
The last part of this verse (“Good is the reward for those who do good”) is sometimes extracted from context and said to mean that anyone who does good will be rewarded regardless of their religious belief. This venture in cherry-picking is refuted by surrounding text as well as other parts of the Quran.
The “good” that one is supposed to do is not defined in verse 10. A naïve reader would probably project their own values and assume that this means acts of unselfishness. An astute reader would look at the surrounding text and discover that it actually refers to Islamic belief and worship (as verse 9 puts it, “one who is obedient to Allah, prostrating himself or standing (in prayer) during the hours of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the Mercy of his Lord”).
Instead of singing the praises of universal brotherhood, the surrounding verses distinguish Muslims and condemn those outside the circle of faith. Verse 7 says “If you disbelieve, Allah has no need for you.” The next verse says that disbelievers will “dwell in the fire” (of Hell). For good measure, verse 9 states that those who believe are not “equal” to those who “know not.” Verse 11 specifically slams the practice of “setting up rivals” with Allah (as polytheists and Christians were said to do).
This is in keeping with the theme of the Quran. Verse 39:10 was an early verse “revealed” at Mecca. Later suras, such as the aforementioned verse 3:85 are very clear about people of other religion being denied entry to heaven. Verse 14:18 says that the good works of those who reject Allah are “as ashes” (see also verses 18:103-106).
Quran (60:8): Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes.
If this verse means that Muslims are told to show justice and kindness to non-believers (as apologists pretend) then why doesn’t it just say that – instead of the more equivocal “Allah does not forbid…”? It is because this is not the context (as the rest of the sura makes clear). The verse actually refers to a specific episode in Muhammad’s life in which “Allah” was giving permission to break the terms of a treaty signed with the Meccans.
Under the treaty of Hudaibiya, Muslims were to return to Mecca anyone who left that city to join them. When two “believing” women showed up, “Allah” suddenly had a change of heart and allowed Muhammad to accept them into his tribe (60:10). It is an embarrassing episode for Islam’s apologists because it means that Muslims were the first to break the terms of the treaty.
Since the women are said to be “believing”, the verse is not even referring to non-Muslims! In fact, rather than telling Muslims to embrace non-believers, the same sura actually warns Muslims against this. Verse 60:1 says: “Do not give them friendship when they disbelieve in that truth which hath come unto you.”
Quran (109:6): To you be your religion, and to me be mine.
If this verse were narrated at a time when Muhammad had the power to impose his religion, then it might be more meaningful. In fact, it was a very early verse narrated when he was in Mecca and had no power. Things were different a decade or so later, when he came back to destroy the idols worshipped by the people – the same idols he refers to in this verse!
Scholars usually point out that the real meaning of the verse pertains to distinction rather than tolerance. One of the gods worshipped by the polytheistic Meccans was called ‘Allah’. Muhammad wanted it known that their ‘Allah’ was not the same as that worshipped by the Muslims.
Bukhari 83:49: The Prophet said, “Whoever killed a Mu’ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise.
This verse from the Hadith essentially means that the life of a non-Muslim is protected as long as they accept dhimmitude – subjugation and third-class status under Islamic rule. By implication, the non-Muslim who wishes to live independent of Muslim hegemony is subject to being killed. This is in keeping with the Quran 9:29, which tells Muslims to fight Christians and Jews until they submit to Muslim rule.
Jami at-Tirmidhi 2510: “…You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love each other… spread the peace among each other”
This is roundly considered a weak hadith (ie. not a genuine saying of Muhammad, but manufactured after his death). Even so, the verse speaks to love among the believers and not to non-Muslims. (see David Wood’s commentary)
Jami at-Tirmidhi 1854: “O Mankind, spread peace and feed people…”
This is how the quote appears in ads placed on buses by the Muslim PR group, Engagement2030. It is meant to create the impression that Islam is about good works and charity, such as feeding the hungry. Unfortunately, the verse is not found in the sahih collections of Bukhari and Muslim, but in lesser sources.
The word “mankind” is added to the telling to make it appear as if this is a universal command, although it does not appear in the source. In the Hadith, one version actually goes on to instruct the beheading of disbelievers and another urges the mistreatment of slaves, neither of which seems very charitable.
Sahih Muslim 1:65 – “A Muslim is one from whose hand and tongue others are safe”
In the Sahih Hadith collection, this verse actually reads, “A Muslim is one from whose hand and tongue the Muslims are safe.” Propagandists substitute the word “Muslims” for “others” or “people” so as to mislead readers into thinking that the verse refers to the decent treatment of all people, when the true reading conspicuously limits such treatment to fellow Muslims.
Sira (Life of Muhammad)
It goes that a Jewish woman in Mecca would throw garbage on the doorstep of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in defiance of his message, and one day she fell sick and could not throw the garbage, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) visited her. Then it is said that she was so amazed at his character that she realized his prophethood and accepted Islam.
This story is often quoted by Muslim apologists to demonstrate the amazingly gracious and tolerant character of their prophet Muhammad. There is no source cited, however, because it is a complete fabrication that does not exist in any historical text.
Rather than demonstrate the character of Muhammad, the propagation of the story speaks to what many Muslims wish were there instead of the real stories about the fate of those who insulted Muhammad:
A Jewish woman used to insult the Prophet and say bad things about him, so a man strangled her until she died, and the Prophet ruled that no blood money was due in this case. (Abu Dawud 4349)
A blind man had a slave-mother [his wife, the mother of his children] who used to abuse the Prophet (pbuh) and disparage him. He forbade her but she did not stop. He rebuked her but she did not give up her habit. One night she began to slander the Prophet (pbuh) and abuse him. So he took a dagger, placed it on her belly, pressed it, and killed her. A child who came between her legs was smeared with the blood that was there. Abu Dawud 38:4348.
Other examples of Muhammad’s true position on peace and tolerance can be found here.
Muhammad said, “There is no superiority of race except by piety and good actions”
This is how the verse appears on a bus ad. Although admirably progressive, it is unfortunately based on a fabricated hadith by Ahamd ibn Hanbal about 200 years after Muhammad died. It purports to be a part of Muhammad’s “Farewell Sermon” in 632, and reads, ” Indeed, there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, nor of a non-Arab over an Arab, nor of a white over a black, nor a black over a white, except by taqwa.”
The real sermon is recorded most reliably by Sahih Muslim, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Ishaq. None of these mention the part about race – although Muhammad made sure to condone wife-beating in his final address to mankind. The true source for this figment is almost certainly Ibn Hanbal’s imagination – or that of a later scribe. Ibn Hanbal had a well-earned reputation for fabricating sayings of Muhammad.
The Quran’s Verses of Violence
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Does the Quran really contain over a hundred verses promoting violence?
The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding. Muslims who do not join the fight are called ‘hypocrites’ and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter.
Unlike nearly all of the Old Testament verses of violence, most verses of violence in the Quran are open-ended, meaning that they are not necessarily restrained by historical context contained in the surrounding text (although many Muslims choose to think of them that way). They are part of the eternal, unchanging word of Allah, and just as relevant or subject to interpretation as anything else in the Quran.
The context of violent passages is more ambiguous than might be expected of a perfect book from a loving God. Most contemporary Muslims exercise a personal choice to interpret their holy book’s call to arms according to their own moral preconceptions about justifiable violence. Islam apologists cater to these preferences with tenuous arguments that gloss over historical fact and generally don’t stand up to scrutiny. Still, it is important to note that the problem is not bad people, but bad ideology.
Unfortunately, there are very few verses of tolerance and peace to balance out the many that call for nonbelievers to be fought and subdued until they either accept humiliation, convert to Islam, or are killed. Muhammad’s own martial legacy, along with the remarkable stress on violence found in the Quran, have produced a trail of blood and tears across world history.
Quran (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing… but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun(the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)” (Translation is from the Noble Quran) The verse prior to this (190) refers to “fighting for the cause of Allah those who fight you” leading some to claim that the entire passage refers to a defensive war in which Muslims are defending their homes and families. The historical context of this passage is not defensive warfare, however, since Muhammad and his Muslims had just relocated to Medina and were not under attack by their Meccan adversaries. In fact, the verses urge offensive warfare, in that Muslims are to drive Meccans out of their own city (which they later did). Verse 190 thus means to fight those who offer resistance to Allah’s rule (ie. Muslim conquest). The use of the word “persecution” by some Muslim translators is disingenuous – the actual Arabic words for persecution (idtihad) – and oppression are not used instead of fitna. Fitna can mean disbelief, or the disorder that results from unbelief or temptation. A strict translation is ‘sedition,’ meaning rebellion against authority (the authority being Allah). This is certainly what is meant in this context since the violence is explicitly commissioned “until religion is for Allah” – ie. unbelievers desist in their unbelief. [Editor’s note: these notes have been modified slightly after a critic misinterpreted our language. Verse 193 plainly says that ‘fighting’ is sanctioned even if the fitna ‘ceases’. This is about religious order, not real persecution.]
Quran (2:244) – “Then fight in the cause of Allah, and know that Allah Heareth and knoweth all things.”
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.” Not only does this verse establish that violence can be virtuous, but it also contradicts the myth that fighting is intended only in self-defense, since the audience was obviously not under attack at the time. From the Hadith, we know that this verse was narrated at a time that Muhammad was actually trying to motivate his people into raiding merchant caravans for loot.
Quran (3:56) – “As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.”
Quran (3:151) – “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority”. This speaks directly of polytheists, yet it also includes Christians, since they believe in the Trinity (ie. what Muhammad incorrectly believed to be ‘joining companions to Allah’).
Quran (4:74) – “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.” The martyrs of Islam are unlike the early Christians, who were led meekly to the slaughter. These Muslims are killed in battle as they attempt to inflict death and destruction for the cause of Allah. This is the theological basis for today’s suicide bombers.
Quran (4:76) – “Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah…”
Quran (4:89) – “They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.”
Quran (4:95) – “Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame, etc.), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home).Unto each, Allah has promised good (Paradise), but Allah has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward ” This passage criticizes “peaceful” Muslims who do not join in the violence, letting them know that they are less worthy in Allah’s eyes. It also demolishes the modern myth that “Jihad” doesn’t mean holy war in the Quran, but rather a spiritual struggle. Not only is this Arabic word (mujahiduna) used in this passage, but it is clearly not referring to anything spiritual, since the physically disabled are given exemption. (The Hadith reveals the context of the passage to be in response to a blind man’s protest that he is unable to engage in Jihad, which would not make sense if it meant an internal struggle).
Quran (4:104) – “And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain…” Is pursuing an injured and retreating enemy really an act of self-defense?
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”
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” No reasonable person would interpret this to mean a spiritual struggle. The targets of violence are “those who disbelieve” – further defined in the next verse (13) as “defy and disobey Allah.” Nothing is said about self-defense. In fact, the verses in sura 8 were narrated shortly after a battle provoked by Muhammad, who had been trying to attack a lightly-armed caravan to steal goods belonging to other people.
Quran (8:15) – “O ye who believe! When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. (16)Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless maneuvering for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey’s end.”
Quran (8:39) – “And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion is all for Allah” Some translations interpret “fitna” as “persecution”, but the traditional understanding of this word is not supported by the historical context (See notes for 2:193). The Meccans were simply refusing Muhammad access to their city during Haj. Other Muslims were allowed to travel there – just not as an armed group, since Muhammad had declared war on Mecca prior to his eviction. The Meccans were also acting in defense of their religion, as it was Muhammad’s intention to destroy their idols and establish Islam by force (which he later did). Hence the critical part of this verse is to fight until “religion is only for Allah”, meaning that the true justification of violence was the unbelief of the opposition. According to the Sira (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 324) Muhammad further explains that “Allah must have no rivals.”
Quran (8:57) – “If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember.”
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…”
Quran (8:59-60) – “And let not those who disbelieve suppose that they can outstrip (Allah’s Purpose). Lo! they cannot escape. Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy.” As Ibn Kathir puts it in his tafsir on this passage, “Allah commands Muslims to prepare for war against disbelievers, as much as possible, according to affordability and availability.”
Quran (8:65) – “O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight…”
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.” According to this verse, the best way of staying safe from Muslim violence at the time of Muhammad was to convert to Islam: prayer (salat) and the poor tax (zakat) are among the religion’s Five Pillars. The popular claim that the Quran only inspires violence within the context of self-defense is seriously challenged by this passage as well, since the Muslims to whom it was written were obviously not under attack. Had they been, then there would have been no waiting period (earlier verses make it a duty for Muslims to fight in self-defense, even during the sacred months). The historical context is Mecca after the idolaters were subjugated by Muhammad and posed no threat. Once the Muslims had power, they violently evicted those unbelievers who would not convert.
[Note: The verse says to fight unbelievers “wherever you find them”. Even if the context is a time of battle (which it was not) the reading appears to sanction attacks against those “unbelievers” who are not on the battlefield. In 2016, the Islamic State referred to this verse in urging the faithful to commit terror attacks: Allah did not only command the ‘fighting’ of disbelievers, as if to say He only wants us to conduct frontline operations against them. Rather, He has also ordered that they be slain wherever they may be – on or off the battlefield. (source)]
Quran (9:14) – “Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of a believing people.” Humiliating and hurting non-believers not only has the blessing of Allah, but it is ordered as a means of carrying out his punishment and even “heals” the hearts of Muslims.
Quran (9:20) – “Those who believe, and have left their homes and striven with their wealth and their lives in Allah’s way are of much greater worth in Allah’s sight. These are they who are triumphant.” The Arabic word interpreted as “striving” in this verse is the same root as “Jihad”. The context is obviously holy war.
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.” “People of the Book” refers to Christians and Jews. According to this verse, they are to be violently subjugated, with the sole justification being their religious status. Verse 9:33 tells Muslims that Allah has charted them to make Islam “superior over all religions.” This chapter was one of the final “revelations” from Allah and it set in motion the tenacious military expansion, in which Muhammad’s companions managed to conquer two-thirds of the Christian world in the next 100 years. Islam is intended to dominate all other people and faiths.
Quran (9:30) – “And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!”
Quran (9:38-39) – “O ye who believe! what is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter. Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place.” This is a warning to those who refuse to fight, that they will be punished with Hell.
Quran (9:41) – “Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah! That is best for you if ye but knew.” See also the verse that follows (9:42) – “If there had been immediate gain (in sight), and the journey easy, they would (all) without doubt have followed thee, but the distance was long, (and weighed) on them” This contradicts the myth that Muslims are to fight only in self-defense, since the wording implies that battle will be waged a long distance from home (in another country and – in this case – on Christian soil, according to the historians).
Quran (9:73) – “O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.” Dehumanizing those who reject Islam, by reminding Muslims that unbelievers are merely firewood for Hell, makes it easier to justify slaughter. It explains why today’s devout Muslims generally have little regard for those outside the faith. The inclusion of “hypocrites” (non-practicing) within the verse also contradicts the apologist’s defense that the targets of hate and hostility are wartime foes, since there was never an opposing army made up of non-religious Muslims in Muhammad’s time. (See also Games Muslims Play: Terrorists Can’t Be Muslim Because They Kill Muslims for the role this verse plays in Islam’s perpetual internal conflicts).
Quran (9:88) – “But the Messenger, and those who believe with him, strive and fight with their wealth and their persons: for them are (all) good things: and it is they who will prosper.”
Quran (9:111) – “Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Quran: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme.” How does the Quran define a true believer?
Quran (9:123) – “O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.”
Quran (17:16) – “And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein; thus the word proves true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction.” Note that the crime is moral transgression, and the punishment is “utter destruction.” (Before ordering the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden first issued Americans an invitation to Islam).
Quran (18:65-81) – This parable lays the theological groundwork for honor killings, in which a family member is murdered because they brought shame to the family, either through apostasy or perceived moral indiscretion. The story (which is not found in any Jewish or Christian source) tells of Moses encountering a man with “special knowledge” who does things which don’t seem to make sense on the surface, but are then justified according to later explanation. One such action is to murder a youth for no apparent reason (74). However, the wise man later explains that it was feared that the boy would “grieve” his parents by “disobedience and ingratitude.” He was killed so that Allah could provide them a ‘better’ son. [Note: This parable along with verse 58:22 is a major reason that honor killing is sanctioned by Sharia. Reliance of the Traveler (Umdat al-Saliq) says that punishment for murder is not applicable when a parent or grandparent kills their offspring (o.1.12).]
Quran (21:44) – “We gave the good things of this life to these men and their fathers until the period grew long for them; See they not that We gradually reduce the land (in their control) from its outlying borders? Is it then they who will win?”
Quran (25:52) – “Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness with it.” – The root for Jihad is used twice in this verse – although it may not have been referring to Holy War when narrated, since it was prior to the hijra at Mecca. The “it” at the end is thought to mean the Quran. Thus the verse may have originally meant a non-violent resistance to the ‘unbelievers.’ Obviously, this changed with the hijra. ‘Jihad’ after this is almost exclusively within a violent context.
Quran (33:60-62) – “If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and the alarmists in the city do not cease, We verily shall urge thee on against them, then they will be your neighbors in it but a little while. Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter.” This passage sanctions the slaughter (rendered “merciless” and “horrible murder” in other translations) against three groups: Hypocrites (Muslims who refuse to “fight in the way of Allah” (3:167) and hence don’t act as Muslims should), those with “diseased hearts” (which include Jews and Christians 5:51-52), and “alarmists” or “agitators who include those who merely speak out against Islam, according to Muhammad’s biographers. It is worth noting that the victims are to be sought out by Muslims, which is what today’s terrorists do. If this passage is meant merely to apply to the city of Medina, then it is unclear why it is included in Allah’s eternal word to Muslim generations.
Quran (47:3-4) – “Those who disbelieve follow falsehood, while those who believe follow the truth from their Lord… So, when you meet (fighting Jihad in Allah’s Cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives)… If it had been Allah’s Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost.” Those who reject Allah are to be killed in Jihad. The wounded are to be held captive for ransom. The only reason Allah doesn’t do the dirty work himself is to to test the faithfulness of Muslims. Those who kill pass the test.
Quran (47:35) – “Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost (Shakir: “have the upper hand”) for Allah is with you,”
Quran (48:17) – “There is no blame for the blind, nor is there blame for the lame, nor is there blame for the sick (that they go not forth to war). And whoso obeyeth Allah and His messenger, He will make him enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow; and whoso turneth back, him will He punish with a painful doom.” Contemporary apologists sometimes claim that Jihad means ‘spiritual struggle.’ If so, then why are the blind, lame and sick exempted? This verse also says that those who do not fight will suffer torment in hell.
Quran (48:29) – “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves” Islam is not about treating everyone equally. This verse tells Muslims that there are two very distinct standards that are applied based on religious status. Also the word used for ‘hard’ or ‘ruthless’ in this verse shares the same root as the word translated as ‘painful’ or severe’ to describe Hell in over 25 other verses including 65:10, 40:46 and 50:26..
Quran (61:4) – “Surely Allah loves those who fight in His cause” Religion of Peace, indeed! The verse explicitly refers to “rows” or “battle array,” meaning that it is speaking of physical conflict. This is followed by (61:9), which defines the “cause”: “He it is who has sent His Messenger (Mohammed) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam) to make it victorious over all religions even though the infidels may resist.” (See next verse, below). Infidels who resist Islamic rule are to be fought.
Quran (61:10-12) – “O You who believe! Shall I guide you to a commerce that will save you from a painful torment. That you believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), and that you strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives, that will be better for you, if you but know! (If you do so) He will forgive you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow, and pleasant dwelling in Gardens of’Adn- Eternity [‘Adn(Edn) Paradise], that is indeed the great success.” This verse refers to physical battle in order to make Islam victorious over other religions (see verse 9). It uses the Arabic root for the word Jihad.
Quran (66:9) – “O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be stern with them. Hell will be their home, a hapless journey’s end.” The root word of “Jihad” is used again here. The context is clearly holy war, and the scope of violence is broadened to include “hypocrites” – those who call themselves Muslims but do not act as such. Other verses calling Muslims to Jihad can be found here at AnsweringIslam.org
Hadith and Sira
Sahih Bukhari (52:177) – Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.”
Sahih Bukhari (52:256) – The Prophet… was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, “They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans).” In this command, Muhammad establishes that it is permissible to kill non-combatants in the process of killing a perceived enemy. This provides justification for the many Islamic terror bombings.
Sahih Bukhari (52:65) – The Prophet said, ‘He who fights that Allah’s Word (Islam) should be superior, fights in Allah’s Cause. Muhammad’s words are the basis for offensive Jihad – spreading Islam by force. This is how it was understood by his companions, and by the terrorists of today. (See also Sahih Bukhari 3:125)
Sahih Bukhari (52:220) – Allah’s Apostle said… ‘I have been made victorious with terror’
Sahih Bukhari (52:44) – A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, “Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” He replied, “I do not find such a deed.”
Abu Dawud (14:2526) – The Prophet said, Three things are the roots of faith: to refrain from (killing) a person who utters, “There is no god but Allah” and not to declare him unbeliever whatever sin he commits, and not to excommunicate him from Islam for his any action; and jihad will be performed continuously since the day Allah sent me as a prophet…
Abu Dawud (14:2527) – The Prophet said: Striving in the path of Allah (jihad) is incumbent on you along with every ruler, whether he is pious or impious
Sahih Muslim (1:33) – the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah
Sahih Bukhari (8:387) – Allah’s Apostle said, “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’. And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally.”
Sahih Muslim (1:30) – “The Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah.”
Sahih Bukhari (52:73) – “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords’.”
Sahih Bukhari (11:626) – [Muhammad said:] “I decided to order a man to lead the prayer and then take a flame to burn all those, who had not left their houses for the prayer, burning them alive inside their homes.”
Sahih Muslim (1:149) – “Abu Dharr reported: I said: Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is the best? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Belief in Allah and Jihad in His cause…”
Sahih Muslim (20:4645) – “…He (the Messenger of Allah) did that and said: There is another act which elevates the position of a man in Paradise to a grade one hundred (higher), and the elevation between one grade and the other is equal to the height of the heaven from the earth. He (Abu Sa’id) said: What is that act? He replied: Jihad in the way of Allah! Jihad in the way of Allah!”
Sahih Muslim (20:4696) – “the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: ‘One who died but did not fight in the way of Allah nor did he express any desire (or determination) for Jihad died the death of a hypocrite.'”
Sahih Muslim (19:4321-4323) – Three separate hadith in which Muhammad shrugs over the news that innocent children were killed in a raid by his men against unbelievers. His response: “They are of them (meaning the enemy).”
Sahih Muslim (19:4294) – “Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war… When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them… If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them.”
Sahih Muslim (31:5917) – “Ali went a bit and then halted and did not look about and then said in a loud voice: ‘Allah’s Messenger, on what issue should I fight with the people?’ Thereupon he (the Prophet) said: ‘Fight with them until they bear testimony to the fact that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger’.” The pretext for attacking the peaceful farming community of Khaibar was not obvious to the Muslims. Muhammad’s son-in-law Ali asked the prophet of Islam to clarify the reason for their mission to kill, loot and enslave. Muhammad’s reply was straightforward. The people should be fought because they are not Muslim.
Sahih Muslim (31:5918) – “I will fight them until they are like us.” Ali’s reply to Muhammad, after receiving clarification that the pretext for attacking Khaibar was to convert the people (see above verse).
Sahih Bukhari 2:35 “The person who participates in (Holy Battles) in Allah’s cause and nothing compels him do so except belief in Allah and His Apostle, will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty ( if he survives) or will be admitted to Paradise ( if he is killed).”
Sunan an-Nasa’i (Sahih) “Whoever dies without having fought or thought of fighting, he dies on one of the branches of hypocrisy”
Tabari 7:97 The morning after the murder of Ashraf, the Prophet declared, “Kill any Jew who falls under your power.” Ashraf was a poet, killed by Muhammad’s men because he insulted Islam. Here, Muhammad widens the scope of his orders to kill. An innocent Jewish businessman was then slain by his Muslim partner, merely for being non-Muslim.
Tabari 9:69 “Killing Unbelievers is a small matter to us” The words of Muhammad, prophet of Islam.
Tabari 17:187 “‘By God, our religion (din) from which we have departed is better and more correct than that which these people follow. Their religion does not stop them from shedding blood, terrifying the roads, and seizing properties.’ And they returned to their former religion.” The words of a group of Christians who had converted to Islam, but realized their error after being shocked by the violence and looting committed in the name of Allah. The price of their decision to return to a religion of peace was that the men were beheaded and the woman and children enslaved by the caliph Ali.
Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 484: – “Allah said, ‘A prophet must slaughter before collecting captives. A slaughtered enemy is driven from the land. Muhammad, you craved the desires of this world, its goods and the ransom captives would bring. But Allah desires killing them to manifest the religion.’”
Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 990: Cutting off someone’s head while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ is not a ‘perversion of Islam’, but a tradition of Islam that began with Muhammad. In this passage, a companion recounts an episode in which he staged a surprise ambush on a settlement: “I leapt upon him and cut off his head and ran in the direction of the camp shouting ‘Allah akbar’ and my two companions did likewise”.
Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 992: – “Fight everyone in the way of Allah and kill those who disbelieve in Allah.” Muhammad’s instructions to his men prior to a military raid.
Saifur Rahman, The Sealed Nectar p.227-228 – “Embrace Islam… If you two accept Islam, you will remain in command of your country; but if your refuse my Call, you’ve got to remember that all of your possessions are perishable. My horsemen will appropriate your land, and my Prophethood will assume preponderance over your kingship.” One of several letters from Muhammad to rulers of other countries. The significance is that the recipients were not making war or threatening Muslims. Their subsequent defeat and subjugation by Muhammad’s armies was justified merely on the basis of their unbelief.
Other than the fact that Muslims haven’t killed every non-Muslim under their domain, there is very little else that they can point to as proof that theirs is a peaceful, tolerant religion. Where Islam is dominant (as in the Middle East and Pakistan) religious minorities suffer brutal persecution with little resistance. Where Islam is in the minority (as in Thailand, the Philippines and Europe) there is the threat of violence if Muslim demands are not met. Either situation seems to provide a justification for religious terrorism, which is persistent and endemic to Islamic fundamentalism.
The reasons are obvious and begin with the Quran. Few verses of Islam’s most sacred text can be construed to fit the contemporary virtues of religious tolerance and universal brotherhood. Those that do are earlier “Meccan” verses which are obviously abrogated by later ones. The example of Muhammad is that Islam is a religion of peace when Muslims do not have the power and numbers on their side. Once they do, things change.
Many Muslims are peaceful and do not want to believe what the Quran really says. They prefer a more narrow interpretation that is closer to the Judeo-Christian ethic. Some just ignore harsher passages. Others reach for “textual context” across different suras to subjectively mitigate these verses with others so that the message fits their personal moral preference. Although the Quran itself claims to be clear and complete, these apologists speak of the “risks” of trying to interpret verses without their “assistance.”
The violent verses of the Quran have played a key role in very real massacre and genocide. This includes the brutal slaughter of tens of millions of Hindus for five centuries beginning around 1000 AD with Mahmud of Ghazni’s bloody conquest. Both he and the later Tamerlane (Islam’s Genghis Khan) slaughtered an untold number merely for defending their temples from destruction. Buddhism was very nearly wiped off the Indian subcontinent. Judaism and Christianity met the same fate (albeit more slowly) in areas conquered by Muslim armies, including the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe, including today’s Turkey. Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of a proud Persian people is despised by Muslims and barely survives in modern Iran.
Violence is so ingrained in Islam that it has never really stopped being at war, either with other religions or with itself.
Muhammad was a military leader, laying siege to towns, massacring the men, raping their women, enslaving their children, and taking the property of others as his own. On several occasions he rejected offers of surrender from the besieged inhabitants and even butchered captives. He inspired his followers to battle when they did not feel it was right to fight, promising them slaves and booty if they did and threatening them with Hell if they did not. Muhammad allowed his men to rape traumatized women captured in battle, usually on the very day their husbands and family members were slaughtered.
It is important to emphasize that, for the most part, Muslim armies waged aggressive campaigns, and the religion’s most dramatic military conquests were made by the actual companions of Muhammad in the decades following his death.
The early Islamic principle of warfare was that the civilian population of a town was to be destroyed (ie. men executed, women and children taken as slaves) if they defended themselves and resisted Islamic hegemony. Although modern apologists often claim that Muslims are only supposed to “attack in self-defense”, this oxymoron is flatly contradicted by the accounts of Islamic historians and others that go back to the time of Muhammad.
Some modern-day scholars are more candid than others. One of the most respected Sunni theologians is al-Qaradawi, who justifies terror attacks against Western targets by noting that there is no such thing as a civilian population in a time of war:
“It has been determined by Islamic law that the blood and property of people of Dar al-Harb [ie. non-Muslim people who resist Islamic conquest] is not protected… In modern war, all of society, with all its classes and ethnic groups, is mobilized to participate in the war, to aid its continuation, and to provide it with the material and human fuel required for it to assure the victory of the state fighting its enemies. Every citizen in society must take upon himself a role in the effort to provide for the battle. The entire domestic front, including professionals, laborers, and industrialists, stands behind the fighting army, even if it does not bear arms.”
Consider the example of the Qurayza Jews, who were completely obliterated only five years after Muhammad arrived in Medina. Their leader opted to stay neutral when their town was besieged by a Meccan army that was sent to take revenge for Muhammad’s deadly caravan raids. The tribe killed no one from either side and even surrendered peacefully to Muhammad after the Meccans had been turned back. Yet the prophet of Islam had every male member of the Qurayza beheaded, and every woman and child enslaved, even raping one of the captives himself (what Muslim apologists might refer to as “same day marriage”).
One of Islam’s most revered modern scholars, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, openly sanctions offensive Jihad: “In the Jihad which you are seeking, you look for the enemy and invade him. This type of Jihad takes place only when the Islamic state is invading other [countries] in order to spread the word of Islam and to remove obstacles standing in its way.” Elsewhere, he notes: “Islam has the right to take the initiative…this is God’s religion and it is for the whole world. It has the right to destroy all obstacles in the form of institutions and traditions … it attacks institutions and traditions to release human beings from their poisonous influences, which distort human nature and curtail human freedom. Those who say that Islamic Jihad was merely for the defense of the ‘homeland of Islam’ diminish the greatness of the Islamic way of life.”
The widely respected Dictionary of Islam defines Jihad as “A religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad. It is an incumbent religious duty, established in the Quran and in the Traditions as a divine institution, and enjoined specially for the purpose of advancing Islam and of repelling evil from Muslims…[Quoting from the Hanafi school, Hedaya, 2:140, 141.], “The destruction of the sword is incurred by infidels, although they be not the first aggressors, as appears from various passages in the traditions which are generally received to this effect.”
Dr. Salah al-Sawy, the chief member of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America, stated in 2009 that “the Islamic community does not possess the strength to engage in offensive jihad at this time,” tacitly affirming the legitimacy of violence for the cause of Islamic rule – bound only by the capacity for success. (source)
Muhammad’s failure to leave a clear line of succession resulted in perpetual internal war following his death. Those who knew him best first fought afterwards to keep remote tribes from leaving Islam and reverting to their preferred religion (the Ridda or ‘Apostasy wars’). Then the violence turned within. Early Meccan converts battled later ones as hostility developed between those immigrants who had traveled with Muhammad to Mecca and the Ansar at Medina who had helped them settle in. Finally there was a violent struggle within Muhammad’s own family between his favorite wife and favorite daughter – a jagged schism that has left Shias and Sunnis at each others’ throats to this day.
The strangest and most untrue thing that can be said about Islam is that it is a religion of peace. If every standard by which the West is judged and condemned (slavery, imperialism, intolerance, misogyny, sexual repression, warfare…) were applied equally to Islam, the verdict would be devastating. Islam never gives up what it conquers, be it religion, culture, language or life. Neither does it make apologies or any real effort at moral progress. It is the least open to dialogue and the most self-absorbed. It is convinced of its own perfection, yet brutally shuns self-examination and represses criticism.
This is what makes the Quran’s verses of violence so dangerous. They are given the weight of divine command. While Muslim terrorists take them literally, and understand that Islam is incomplete without Jihad, moderates offer little to contradict them – outside of personal opinion. Indeed, what do they have? Speaking of peace and love may win over the ignorant, but when every twelfth verse of Islam’s holiest book either speaks to Allah’s hatred for non-Muslims or calls for their death, forced conversion, or subjugation, it’s little wonder that sympathy for terrorism runs as deeply as it does in the broader community – even if most Muslims prefer not to interpret their personal viewpoint of Islam in this way.
Although scholars like Ibn Khaldun, one of Islam’s most respected philosophers, understood that “the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force”, many other Muslims are either unaware or willfully ignorant of the Quran’s near absence of verses that preach universal non-violence. Their understanding of Islam comes from what they are taught by others. Believers in the West are often led to think that their religion is like Christianity – preaching the New Testament virtues of peace, love, and tolerance. They are somewhat surprised and embarrassed to find that the Quran and the bloody history of Islam’s genesis say otherwise.
Others simply accept the violence. In 1991, a Palestinian couple in America was convicted of stabbing their daughter to death for being too Westernized. A family friend came to their defense, excoriating the jury for not understanding the “culture”, claiming that the father was merely following “the religion” and saying that the couple had to “discipline their daughter or lose respect.” (source). In 2011, unrepentant Palestinian terrorists, responsible for the brutal murders of civilians, women and children explicitly in the name of Allah were treated to a luxurious “holy pilgrimage” to Mecca by the Saudi king – without a single Muslim voice raised in protest.
The most prestigious Islamic university in the world today is Cairo’s al-Azhar. While the university is very quick to condemn secular Muslims who critique the religion, it has never condemned ISIS as a group of infidels despite horrific carnage in the name of Allah. When asked why, the university’s Grand Imam, Ahmed al-Tayeb explained: ” Al Azhar cannot accuse any [Muslim] of being a kafir [infidel], as long as he believes in Allah and the Last Day—even if he commits every atrocity.”
For their part, Western liberals would do well not to sacrifice critical thinking to the god of political correctness, or look for reasons to bring other religion down to the level of Islam merely to avoid the existential truth that it is both different and dangerous.
There are just too many Muslims who take the Quran literally… and too many others who couldn’t care less about the violence done in the name of Islam.
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Is the Quran Hate
What does the holiest book of Islam really say about non-Muslims?
Why the Violence?
Why the Indifference?
On September 25, 2002, a group of armed Islamists in Karachi, Pakistan entered the office of a Christian charity, tied seven workers to chairs and then brutally murdered them. According to Muslim witnesses, the Muslims “showed no haste. They took a good 15 minutes in segregating the Christians and making sure that each one of their targets received the most horrific death.”
The killing of non-Muslim humanitarian workers by devout followers of Islam occurs quite often. While there is rarely any celebration on the part of other Muslims, neither is there much outrage expressed by a community renowned for its peevishness.
While rumors of a Quran desecration or a Muhammad cartoon bring out deadly protests, riots, arson and effigy-burnings, the mass murder of non-Muslims fails to raise any sort of real passion. In the eleven years following 9/11 nearly 20,000 acts of deadly Islamic terrorism were perpetrated, yet all of them together do not provoke the sort of outrage on the part of most Muslims that the mere mention of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo inspires.
This critical absence of moral perspective puzzles many Westerners, particularly those trying to reconcile this reality with the politically-correct assumption that Islam is like other religion. The Judeo-Christian tradition preaches universal love and unselfishness, so it is expected that the more devout Muslims would be the most peaceful and least dangerous… provided that Islam is based on the same principles.
But beneath the rosy assurances from Muslim apologists that Islam is about peace and tolerance lies a much darker reality that better explains the violence and deeply-rooted indifference. Quite simply, the Quran teaches supremacy, hatred and hostility.
Consider the elements that define hate speech:
Drawing a distinction between one’s own identity group and those outside it
Moral comparison based on this distinction
Devaluation or dehumanization of other groups and the personal superiority of one’s own
The advocating of different standards of treatment based on identity group membership
A call to violence against members of other groups
Sadly, and despite the best intentions of many decent people who are Muslim, the Quran qualifies as hate speech on each count.
The holiest book of Islam (61% of which is about non-Muslims) draws the sharpest of distinctions between Muslims (the best of people, 3:110) and non-believers (the worst of creatures, 98:6). Praise is lavished on the former while the latter is condemned with scorching generalization.
Far from teaching universal love, the Quran incessantly preaches the inferiority of non-Muslims, even comparing them to vile animals and gloating over Allah’s hatred of them and his dark plans for their eternal torture. Muslims are told that they are destined to dominate non-believers, against whom harsh treatment is encouraged.
The Islamic State put these teachings from their holy book into practice during a restaurant siege in Bangladesh during Ramadan 2016. They spared fasting Muslims and fed them their iftar – while torturing and killing those who could not recite from the Quran.
Polished Muslim pundits in the West are fond of using the word ‘bigot’ to describe critics of Islam, but they are rarely challenged on their own view of the Quran. What does the book they claim to be the literal and eternal word of Allah really say about non-Muslims?
The Quran Distinguishes Muslims from Non-Muslims
and Establishes a Hierarchy of Relative Worth
The Quran makes it clear that Islam is not about universal brotherhood, but about the brotherhood of believers:
The Believers are but a single Brotherhood (49:10)
Not all men are equal under Islam. Slaves and the handicapped are not equal to healthy free men, for example (16:75-76). The Quran introduces the “Law of Equality,” which establishes different levels of human value when considering certain matters, such as restitution for murder (2:178).
Neither are Muslim believers equal to non-Muslims:
Are those who know equal to those who know not? (39:09)
Is the blind equal to the one who sees Or darkness equal to light? (13:16)
A believing slave is superior to an unbeliever (2:221 speaking of a prospective wife)
The Quran plainly tells Muslims that they are a favored race, while those of other religions are “perverted transgressors”:
Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors. (3:110)
As we shall see later, Allah condemns non-Muslims to Hell based merely on their unbelief, while believers are rewarded with the finest earthly comforts in the hereafter, including never-ending food, wine and sex (56:12-40).
Much of the Quran is devoted to distinguishing Muslims from non-Muslims and impugning the latter. Among other things, non-Muslims are said to be diseased (2:10), perverse (2:99), stupid (2:171) and deceitful (3:73).
The first sura of the Quran is a short prayer that is repeated by devout Muslims each day and ends with these words:
Keep us on the right path. The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors. Not (the path) of those upon whom Thy wrath is brought down, nor of those who go astray. (1:6-7)
Muhammad was once asked if this pertained to Jews and Christians. His response was, “Whom else?” (Bukhari 56:662, Sahih Muslim 34:6448).Since Allah makes such a strong distinction between Muslims and those outside the faith, it is only natural that Muslims should incorporate disparate standards of treatment into their daily lives. The Quran tells Muslims to be compassionate with one another but ruthless to the infidel:
Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are severe against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves… (48:29)
The Arabic word used to describe the ideal treatment of non-Muslims (shin-dal-dal) is the same word used in over 25 places in the Quran to describe how painful Allah has made Hell for them.
Islamic law actually forbids formal Muslim charity (in the form of the zakat payment) from being used to meet the needs of non-believers.
Allah intends for Muslims to triumph over unbelievers:
And never will Allah grant to the unbelievers a way to triumph over believers [Pickthall – “any way of success”] (4:141)
The only acceptable position of non-Muslims to Muslims is subjugation under Islamic rule:
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. (9:29 Jizya is the money that non-Muslims must pay to their Muslim overlords in a pure Islamic state.)
A common criticism of many Muslims is that they often behave arrogantly toward others. Now you know why.
The Quran Dehumanizes Non-Muslims
and Says that They are Vile Animals
The Ayatollah Khomeini, who dedicated his entire life to studying Islam, said that non-Muslims rank somewhere between “feces” and the “sweat of a camel that has consumed impure food.” Small wonder. The Quran dehumanizes non-Muslims, describing them as “animals” and beasts:
Those who disbelieve from among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures. (98:6)
Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve, then they would not believe. (8:55)
Verse 7:176 compares unbelievers to “panting dogs” with regard to their idiocy and worthlessness.
Verse 7:179 says they are like “cattle” only worse.
Verse 9:28 says the unbelievers are unclean.
Verse 6:111 says they are ignorant.
Verse 23:55 says they are helpers of the devil.
Verse 5:60 even says that Allah transformed Jews of the past into apes and pigs. This is echoed by verses 7:166 and 2:65.
A hadith (Bukhari 54:524) says that Muhammad believed rats to be “mutated Jews” (also confirmed by Sahih Muslim 7135 and 7136).
Verses 46:29-35 even say that unbelieving men are worse than the demons who believe in Muhammad.
According to Islamic law, non-Muslims may be owned as property by Muslims, but – in keeping with Islam’s supremacist message – a fellow Muslim should never be (unless they convert to Islam under enslavement). Even Christians and Jews are not considered fully human in that the penalty for killing one of them is limited to one-third of the compensation due for unintentionally killing a Muslim.
The Quran Says that Allah does NOT Love Unbelievers
Christianity teaches that God loves all people, but hates sin. The Quran never says this. Instead it explicitly declares that Allah does not love those who do not believe in him:
He does not love the unbelievers (30:45)
Allah only loves those who obey Muhammad (at least according to Muhammad, who provided the “narration”):
Say: “Obey Allah and His Messenger”: But if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith. (3:32)
Instead of a god that loves the sinner, even while hating the sin, the wrath of Allah is placed squarely on the individual:
Surely Allah does not love any one who is unfaithful, ungrateful. (22:38)
Verses 11:118-199 say that Allah does not bestow mercy on everyone. For this reason, he chooses not to guide some people:
And Allah’s is the direction of the way, and some (roads) go not straight. And had He willed He would have led you all aright. (16:9)
In fact, he tells Satan to lead the unbelievers to destruction:
And lead to destruction those whom you can with your (seductive) voice (17:64)
For those whom Allah does not love, there will be the most terrible of eternal torments, including eternal roasting:
Those who reject our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire: as often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the penalty: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. (4:56)
“Allah is the enemy of the unbelievers” (2:98) and, as we shall see, he hates them so much that he even leads them into sinning and actively prevents them from believing in him, thus ensuring their fate.
The Quran Says that Non-Muslims are
Destined for Eternal Torture in Hell
Although nowhere does the Quran say that Allah loves those who don’t believe Muhammad, there are over 400 verses that describe the torment that he has prepared for people of other religions (or no religion):
And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers (3:85)
The relative worth of non-Muslims is that they are but fuel for the fire of Hell:
(As for) those who disbelieve, surely neither their wealth nor their children shall avail them in the least against Allah, and these it is who are the fuel of the fire (3:10 Shakir: “firewood of hell”)
As they are fueling the fire, unbelievers will be tormented by Allah’s angels on his command:
“O ye who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire whereof the fuel is men and stones, over which are set angels strong, severe, who resist not Allah in that which He commandeth them, but do that which they are commanded.” (66:6)
It doesn’t matter how many good deeds an unbeliever does, because they count for nothing with Allah:
The parable of those who reject their Lord is that their works are as ashes, on which the wind blows furiously on a tempestuous day: No power have they over aught that they have earned (14:18)
Shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works? They are those who deny the Signs of their Lord and the fact of their having to meet Him (in the Hereafter): vain will be their works, nor shall We, on the Day of Judgment, give them any weight. That is their reward, Hell, because they rejected Faith, and took My Signs and My Messengers by way of jest. (18:103-106)
Muhammad told his people that anyone who rejects his claim to be a prophet will go to Hell:
Surely those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers and (those who) desire to make a distinction between Allah and His messengers and say: ‘We believe in some and disbelieve in others’, and desire to take a course between (this and) that. These it is that are truly unbelievers, and We have prepared for the unbelievers a disgraceful chastisement. And those who believe in Allah and His messengers and do not make a distinction between any of them– Allah will grant them their rewards (4:150-152)
In Christianity, punishment in the hereafter is directly tied to sin and ‘wickedness.’ There is relatively little said about Hell, but the emphasis is on personal suffering for selfish or cruel deeds. In Islam, Hell is a punishment for merely not believing Muhammad’s personal claims about himself. In contrast to the Bible, every 12th verse of the Quran speaks of Hell and vividly describes Allah’s wrath on unbelievers:
But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads, Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning. (22:19-22)
No one could torture a person in this way without hating them intensely. Neither can Allah’s intense loathing for unbelievers help but affect the Muslim attitude toward those outside the faith.
The personal superiority of Muslims is confirmed by the contrasting picture painted in so many places in the Quran in which they are rewarded with the greatest of earthly comforts in heaven, while the unbelievers concurrently suffer horrible torment (see Sura 56:12 for just one example).
Allah Himself Prevents Non-Muslims from Understanding
It would make no sense if Allah gave the people that he hates an opportunity to avoid his wrath. The Quran says that Allah deliberately puts obstacles in the way of unbelievers to keep them from accepting the truth:
If Allah wished, he could provide guidance to every soul:
If We had so willed, We could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance (32:13)
But, instead he sets a veil over the hearts and coverings over their ears:
Verily We have set veils over their hearts lest they should understand this, and over their ears, deafness, if thou callest them to guidance, even then will they never accept guidance. (18:57) – See also 17:46 & 45:23
Allah even uses chains and barriers to prevent unbelievers from believing:
Certainly the word has proved true of most of them, so they do not believe. Surely We have placed chains on their necks, and these reach up to their chins, so they have their heads raised aloft. And We have made before them a barrier and a barrier behind them, then We have covered them over so that they do not see. And it is alike to them whether you warn them or warn them not: they do not believe. (36:7-10)
For the same purpose, Allah also fills the hearts of unbelievers with doubt:
No soul can believe, except by the will of Allah, and He will place doubt (or obscurity) on those who will not understand (10:100)
Allah Actually Causes Non-Muslims to Sin
Not content with merely preventing unbelievers from knowing the truth (which is enough to condemn them to Hell) the Quran says that a hateful Allah also causes unbelievers to commit the very sin that he will later punish them for:
And if Allah please He would certainly make you a single nation, but He causes to err whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases; and most certainly you will be questioned as to what you did (16:93)
Although Satan tempts Muslims, it is Allah himself who causes unbelievers to err.
…and whomsoever Allah causes to err, you shall not find a way for him. (4:143, see also 4:88 and 74:31)
Allah intentionally sends the people that he hates astray:
…and Allah sendeth him astray purposely, and sealeth up his hearing and his heart, and setteth on his sight a covering? Then who will lead him after Allah (hath condemned him)? Will ye not then heed? (45:23)
Allah even sends demons to inspire unbelievers to commit further bad deeds (that he can later hold against them):
See thou not that We have set the Evil Ones on against the unbelievers, to incite them with fury? (19:83)
According to verse 3:54, Allah plots and schemes against unbelievers using deceit (the literal meaning of makara, the word used). Elsewhere, the Quran explains that Allah tricks unbelievers into thinking that they are doing good deeds, when, in fact, they are merely deepening their own eternal punishment with bad deeds:
As to those who do not believe in the hereafter, We have surely made their deeds fair-seeming to them, but they blindly wander on. (27:4) See also 39:23, 6:39, 35:8, 13:27 & 14:4)
Allah recruits Satan to join Him into fooling unbelievers into thinking that they are doing good:
On the contrary their hearts became hardened, and Satan made their (sinful) acts seem alluring to them. (6:43)
The joke is on non-Muslims, of course, who will protest on Judgment Day that they did everything they thought was right – but are sent to Hell anyway:
Then would they offer submission (with the pretence), “We did no evil (knowingly).” (The angels will reply), “Nay, but verily Allah knows all that ye did; “So enter the gates of Hell, to dwell therein. (16:28-29)
The Quran Says that Non-Muslims Should Not be Taken as Friends
Given that Allah hates non-Muslims to the extent that he would prevent them from knowing the truth, cause them to err and then condemn them to eternal torture for their unbelief and misdeeds, it would make little sense if he intended Muslims to treat unbelievers by the same standards that they treat each other here on earth.
The Quran says that no true Muslim would ever love anyone who resists Islam, even if it is a family member:
Thou wilt not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, loving those who resist Allah and His Messenger, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. (58:22)
There are at least nine places in the Quran where believers are warned not to befriend non-Muslims:
O ye who believe! Take not for friends unbelievers rather than believers: Do ye wish to offer Allah an open proof against yourselves? (4:144)
In fact, anyone who does take a non-Muslim as a friend could be accused of being an unbeliever as well:
O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. (5:51)
Note that Christians, according to the Quran, are included in the ranks of “unbelievers”:
They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary (5:17)
Muhammad said that unbelievers have it out for Muslims. They may appear harmless or friendly, but, in reality, they harbor corruption and evil intentions:
O ye who believe! Take not into your intimacy those outside your ranks: They will not fail to corrupt you. They only desire your ruin: Rank hatred has already appeared from their mouths: What their hearts conceal is far worse (3:118)
For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies (4:101)
As for them, they are but plotting a scheme (86:15)
Those outside of Islam are really helpers of evil against Allah:
The Misbeliever is a helper (of Evil), against his own Lord! (25:55)
The Quran says that “hostility and hate” will exist between Muslims and infidels “for ever” until the latter “believe in Allah alone.” (60:4)
Instead of befriending non-Muslims, the Quran encourages hostility. Muslims are ordered to fight unbelievers:
O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty. (9:123)
The Quran tells Muslims that they will spend eternity laughing at unbelievers (83:34) and mocking their suffering as they are tortured in Hell:
And the dwellers of the garden will call out to the inmates of the fire: Surely we have found what our Lord promised us to be true; have you too found what your Lord promised to be true? They will say: Yes. Then a crier will cry out among them that the curse of Allah is on the unjust. (7:44) – Muhammad got an early start on this by personally mocking his dead enemies following the Battle of Badr (Ibn Ishaq 454)
One does not befriend those over whose suffering they will later rejoice, nor does it make any sense that Muslims would befriend those whom the Quran labels “enemies of Allah” by virtue of their unbelief.
The Quran Says that Other Religions are Cursed by Allah
Buddhists in Thailand, Jews in Israel, Christians in Indonesia, Hindus in India… Why is Islam at war with every major world religion, when none of these religions are at war with each other? Part of the reason is that the Quran is specific about the inferiority of other faiths (see 48:28) and the hatred that Allah harbors for their people.
Although religious Muslims typically become upset when someone “insults” their religion, here is what the Quran says about Jews and Christians:
The Jews call Ezra a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! (9:30) (See also Bukhari 8:427), one of the last things Muhammad ever said on his deathbed was “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians.”)
The Quran specifically addresses Christians, Jews, Polytheists (Hindus) and atheists:
Christians are disbelievers (98:5-6) and blasphemers (5:17, 5:73) who have invented a lie about Allah (10:68-69) by ascribing partners to Allah (ie. the Trinity). Inventing a lie about Allah is the worst of sins (7:37, 29:68) and for this reason Christians are condemned to Hell (10:70). Although one (early Medinan) verse seems to say that righteous Christians will go to heaven, this is abrogated by later verses that make it very clear that Christians must cease being Christian (ie. reject the Trinity) or suffer eternal torment for their beliefs (5:72-73).
Jews are also cursed by Allah (5:13), in one of his final ‘pronouncements’. The Quran goes on to assure Muslims that Jews are wicked (4:160-162) – so wicked, in fact, that they have somehow managed to do the impossible (18:27) and alter the word of Allah (2:75). Jews are “fond of lies” and “devour the forbidden” (5:42); they are the worst enemies of Muslims (5:82)
The Quran assures believers that Jews and Christians have “diseased hearts” (5:52). Allah even takes credit for the enmity between them (5:14). Only Jews and Christians who submit to Islamic subjugation and pay the Jizya are protected in this world (9:29 & Ibn Ishaq 956).
Hindus are polytheists. Although Muhammad didn’t know any Hindus (and neither did Allah, apparently) the Quran still manages to lay the groundwork for the 1000-year ethnic cleansing campaign against the Hindu people that is estimated to have taken tens of millions of innocent lives. In Islam, polytheists are worse than all other religion. Those who join idols (11:14) to Allah also invent a lie about Him (29:17) and will burn in Hell. Even believing in other divine entities along with Allah is an unforgivable crime (4:48, 40:12).
Atheists believe in no god, which is even worse than believing in the wrong one (Muhammad and his successors had atheists put to death – Bukhari 84:57). Merely questioning the existence of Allah is a testament to one’s impiety (25:21), even as Muslim narcissism is encouraged in the Quran. Muhammad always answered probing questions merely by telling the inquiring party that they would go to Hell if they didn’t believe in him (36:49-64). The Quran discourages Muslims from intellectual inquiry (5:101-102).
Any Muslim who gives up his religion is a “perverted transgressor” (3:82). Perverted as well is anyone who denies Allah (40:63) or does not believe Muhammad (2:99). Freedom of conscience does not exist in Islam. Muhammad clearly prescribed the death penalty for apostates (Bukhari 52:260).
While contemporary Muslim apologists often speak of “dialogue” (meaning a unilateral arrangement in which they tell you about Islam while you listen) the Quran speaks of Jihad instead:
Listen not to the unbelievers, but strive (Jihad) against them with the utmost strenuousness. (25:52)
What would be the point in hearing anything a non-Muslim has to say… or even talking with them for that matter? Allah has already sealed their hearts and condemned them to Hell:
As for the Disbelievers, Whether thou warn them or thou warn them not it is all one for them; they believe not. Allah hath sealed their hearing and their hearts, and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be an awful doom (2:6)
For those wondering why Allah would even make infidels if their ultimate destination is Hell, Muhammad said that the purpose of some (Jews and Christians, at least) was to take the place of Muslims, so that they would not suffer there (Sahih Muslim 6666).
The Quran Says that People of Other Religions are to be Violently Punished in This World
Allah himself fights against the unbelievers (9:30), so why should Muslims not fight in his cause rather than in the cause of evil (4:76)? )? About 19% of the Quran is devoted to the violent conquest and subjugation of non-Muslims:
Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies and others besides, whom ye may not know (8:60)
Strive hard (Jihad) against the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell,- an evil refuge indeed. (66:9, See also 9:73, and 9:123 – “Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you”)
Muslims are to expect a reward in this life as well as the next (4:134), so it makes sense that unbelievers should be punished in this life as well:
…He whom Allah sendeth astray, for him there is no guide. For them is a penalty in the life of this world, but harder, truly, is the penalty of the Hereafter… (13:33-34)
There are at least two places in the Quran where the violent death of non-Muslims is referred to as Allah’s reward for unbelief (2:191, 9:26), as in “such is the reward for unbelievers.” Verse 3:56, bluntly states that “those who reject faith” will be “punished with terrible agony in this world” (a vow that Muhammad and his companions personally took it upon themselves to fulfill).
The Quran tells Muslims thate Quran tells Muslims that Allah uses them to violently punish others:
Fight them, them by your hands and bring them to disgrace… (9:14)
Verse 4:102 says Allah has prepared a humiliating torment for the disbelievers. Narrations from Muhammad’s life show little distinction between punishment from Allah violence from at the hands of faithful Muslims.
Allah could slay unbelievers himself, but he makes it a test for Muslims to prove their faith:
“If it had been Allah’s Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, by means of others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost” 47:4)
One of the most violent chapters in the Quran charters Muhammad and his followers with making Islam “superior over all religions” (9:33).
As noted, verse 8:55 compares unbelievers to animals. In keeping with this theme, the passage goes on to encourage Muslims to gain “mastery” over them and severely punish those who disobey, so as to intimidate the rest:
So if you gain the mastery over them in war, punish them severely in order to disperse those who are behind them, so that they may learn a lesson ” (8:57).
In the end, All beings on heaven and earth will be forced to bow down to Allah, either willingly or by force:
And unto Allah falleth prostrate whosoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly (13:15)
Muslims are told that Allah “loves those who fight in his way” to make Islam “victorious over all other religions, even though the disbelievers resist” (61:4-11). Those who do resist Islam will be humiliated:
Those who resist Allah and His Messenger will be among those most humiliated. (58:20 – The context for this verse is the eviction of the Jewish tribes of Medina and the confiscation of their wealth, land, and children by Muhammad).
Non-Muslims are to be fought until religion is only for Allah:
And fight them until there is no more ftna (unbelief, worshipping others beside Allah), and religion is all for Allah… (8:39 – Some translate the word “fitna” as “persecution”, but in this context it means resistance to Islam – defined in the prior verse as an unwillingness to believe (see verse 38). This passage was “revealed” following a battle that Muhammad deliberately provoked. Verse 2:193 essentially says the same thing and was also “revealed” at a time when the Muslims were not under physical attack).
Those with “diseased hearts” – which include Christians and Jews according to 5:52 – are to be “seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter” (33:60-62) al) along with “hypocrites” (Muslims who are judged not to be true believers by their associations with unbelievers or their unwillingness to engage in Jihad).
Non-Muslims are to be encroached on, pressured and punished by the Muslims:
See that we gradually reduce the land (in their control) from its outlying borders? (13:41 – See also 21:44)
We shall punish them gradually from directions they perceive not. (68:44)
And He made you heirs to their land and their dwellings and their property, and (to) a land which you have not yet trodden, and Allah has power over all things. (33:27, See also Bukhari 53:392)
Allah will grant Muslims authority and power over all other people:
Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion… (24:55)
(Muhammad’s companions continued to self-fulfill this prophecy with an aggressive and senseless military expansion that left a trail of bodies from Spain to India).
Allah provides instructions to Muslims for dealing with unbelievers who are unwilling to accept Islamic rule:
Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.” This because they contended against Allah and His Messenger: If any contend against Allah and His Messenger, Allah is strict in punishment. (8:12-13)
Defeating non-Muslims should be easy for true believers because they are superior in intelligence and understanding:
O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred (steadfast) they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are a folk without intelligence (8:65)
Other verses of violence may be found here.
Remember that the Quran says that not all men are equal according to Islam. This even applies to Muslims with regard to their aggressiveness toward unbelievers. Those who kill or are killed on behalf of Islam are more pleasing to Allah:
Not equal are those of the believers who sit at home… and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and lives” (4:95)
The pattern of violence and aggressive disregard for human suffering that is persistent in Muslim history and contemporary attitude toward non-believers reflects the message of the Quran, which is one of personal superiority and arrogance.
In today’s world, Muslim dominance is characterized by the oppression and discrimination of non-Muslims, while Muslim minorities within larger societies are distinguished by varying degrees of petulant demand, discord and armed rebellion. Few Muslims are uncomfortable with this blatant double standard, in which Islam either plays the victim or unapologetically victimizes others, depending on its position of power – and the reason is obvious.
Islam is a supremacist ideology in which the role of non-believers is subordinate to the position of Muslims. Those who resist Islamic rule are to be fought until they are either killed or fully humiliated and forced to acknowledge their inferior status by converting to Islam or by paying a poll-tax and otherwise accepting the subjugation of their own religion.
There is simply no other religion on earth that draws such sharp distinction between its own members and others, or devotes as much of its holiest text toward condemning and dehumanizing those who merely choose not to follow its dogma.
So much about Islamic terrorism and the general indifference of the broader Muslim community toward the violence makes sense only against this dual nature of Islam – as does the strange willingness of Muhammad’s followers to tolerate their own subjugation under Ottoman or Arab tyrants, such as Saddam Hussein, while being violently opposed to a Jewish neighbor state.
The apologists are correct in saying that Islam teaches love and kindness, but they fail to add that this applies only to the treatment of those within the Muslim community. Loyalty to one’s own identity group is valued above all else and empathy for those outside the faith is optional at best – and even explicitly discouraged in places.
If this is a “misunderstanding” of Islam by modern-day “radicals,” then it is an error that the founder of Islam made as well. In Muhammad’s time, non-Muslims were put to death merely for speaking out against the new religion and its self-proclaimed prophet. Likewise, the Jews of Qurayza were summarily rounded-up and executed on Muhammad’s order, even though they had not even fought in battle. Since the life of a non-Muslim is cheap, actual physical harm to a Muslim is not necessary to justify murder according to the example of Muhammad.
The Quran meets every criterion by which we define hate speech. Not only does the message inspire loathing and disregard for others, but the text mandates the superiority of Islam, even if the means of establishment is by violent force.
In his later years, Muhammad directed military campaigns to subjugate other tribes and religions, “inviting” them to Islam at the point of a sword and forcing them to pay tribute regardless. He set in motion the aggressive military campaigns that made war against all five major world religions in just the first few decades following his death.
Islam incorporates the ultimate devaluation of non-Muslims in the most obvious way by teaching that while a Muslim may be punished with death for murdering a fellow Muslim (Bukhari 83:17), no Muslim can be put to death for killing a non-Muslim (Bukhari 83:50, 3:111 – Muhammad: “No Muslim can be killed for killing a kafir.”). The Quran’s “Law of Equality,” which assigns human value and rights based on gender, religion and status, is the polar opposite of equality in the sense intended by Western liberal tradition, which ideally respects no such distinction.
One can always find apologists willing to dismiss the harsh rhetoric of the Quran with creative interpretation, tortuous explanation or outright denial, but their words and deeds almost always belie a concern for Islam’s image that does not extend to Islam’s victims – at least not with the same sense of urgency – thus proving the point.
Of course, there are also exceptional Muslims who do not agree with Islamic supremacy and sincerely champion secularism and respect for all people. Some even find verses or fragments of such to support their independent beliefs. But, for these people, the Quran as a whole will always be a constant challenge, since it explicitly teaches the distinct and inferior status of non-Muslims.
References to Jews in the Quran
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The Quran Was it really the eternal word of God to Mankind?
The Muslim claim is based on circular reasoning:
We know the Quran was from Allah because Muhammad said so and we know that Muhammad spoke for Allah because the Quran says so.
About the Quran
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Estimated Chronology of the Quran
Suras from Mecca
96, 68, 73, 74, 111, 81, 87, 92, 89, 93, 94, 103, 100, 108, 102, 107, 109, 105,113,114,112,53,80,97,91,85,95, 106,101,75, 104,77,50,90,86,54,38,7,72,36,25,
35, 19,20, 56,26,27, 28, 17, 10, 11, 12, 15, 6, 37, 31, 34, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45,
46, 51, 88, 18, 16, 71, 14, 21, 23, 32, 52, 67, 69, 70, 78, 79, 82, 84, 83, 29
Suras from Medina
2, 8, 3, 33, 60, 4, 99, 57, 47, 13, 55, 76, 65, 98, 59, 110, 24, 22, 63, 58, 49, 66, 61, 62, 64, 48, 9, 5