Post-classical history



The following extracts from the Qur’an and hadith demonstrate the at times mixed attitudes towards warfare and other faiths that are found in their pages.

(i) Qur’an

The Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, is believed by Muslims to have been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by God. Its arrangement seems somewhat haphazard, but a number of early Muslim scholars wrote works establishing a chronology for the revelation of its verses. The verses below, however, are presented in the order in which they appear in the received text.

(a)2: 62. Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians – any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

(b)2: 190. Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for Allah loveth not transgressors.

(c)2: 256. Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects Evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

(d)5: 32. On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person – unless it be for murder or spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people. And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. then although there came to them Our Messengers with Clear Signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.

(e)5: 65–6. If only the People of the Book had believed and been righteous, we should indeed have blotted out their iniquities and admitted them to Gardens of Bliss. If only they had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course: but many of them follow a course that is evil.

(f)9: 5. But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers, and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

(g)9: 29. Fight those who believe not in Allah nor in the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and his Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

(h)15: 94–5. Therefore expound openly what thou art commanded, and turn away from those who join false Gods with Allah. For sufficient are We unto thee against those who scoff.

(i)16: 125. Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.

(j)22: 39–40. To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged – and verily, Allah is Most Powerful for their aid – (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right – (for no cause) except that they say, ‘Our Lord is Allah’. Had not Allah checked one set of people by means of another there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid His (cause) – for verily Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (Able to enforce His Will).

Source: The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an. (2004) Ed. and trans. ‘Abdullah Y. ‘Ali. 11th Ed. Beltsville, MD: Amana Publications, pp. 33–4, 76, 106–7, 257, 269, 438, 445, 635, 669 and 832–3.

(ii) Hadith

Used by Muslims to assist with their interpretation of the Qur’an, the hadith are accounts of the sayings and actions of the Prophet and his Companions. The hadith presented below are drawn from the Sahih of Muhammad ibn Isma‘il al-Bukhari (d. 870), widely regarded among Muslims as one of the foremost compilers of reliable accounts. Each hadith begins with an isnad (chain of transmitters); we have retained the isnad of the first hadith presented here, to demonstrate how it works, but have omitted theisnads of the subsequent hadiths for reasons of space.

(a)Al-Hasan ibn Sabbah reported to us [that] Muhammad ibn Sabiq reported to us [that] Malik ibn Mighwal reported to us, saying [that he] heard al-Walid ibn al-‘Ayzaz speak on the authority of Abu ‘Amr al-Shaybani, who said [that] ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud, may God be pleased with him, narrated: ‘I asked the Messenger of Allah, Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him: “O Allah’s Apostle! What is the best deed?” He replied: “To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times.” I asked: “What is next in goodness?” He replied, “To be good and dutiful to your parents.” I further asked: “What is next in goodness?” He replied: “To take part in jihad in Allah’s Cause.” I did not ask the Messenger of Allah, Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him, any more, and if I had asked him more, he would have told me more.’

(b)‘A’isha bint Talha narrated that ‘A’isha [the wife of the Prophet], Allah be pleased with her, had said: ‘O Allah’s Apostle! We consider jihad as the best deed. Should we not fight in Allah’s Cause?’ He said: ‘The best jihad (for women) is hajj which is accepted by Allah.’

(c)Abu Hurayra, Allah be pleased with him, narrated: ‘I heard Allah’s Apostle, Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him, saying: “The example of a militant in Allah’s Cause, and Allah knows better who really strives in His Cause, is like a person who fasts and prays continuously. Allah guarantees that He will admit the militant in His Cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty.”’

(d)Anas, Allah be pleased with him, narrated: ‘The Prophet, Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him, said: “A single endeavour (of fighting) in Allah’s Cause in the afternoon or forenoon is better than the entire world and its contents. A place in Paradise (even though) as small as a bow or a lash of one of you is better than all of the world with its contents. If a woman with beautiful, big and lustrous eyes from Paradise appeared to the people of the earth, she would fill the space between Heaven and the Earth with light and pleasant scent; and her head cover is better than the world and whatever it contains.”’

(e)Nafi‘ narrated from ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar, Allah be pleased with both: ‘During some of the holy battles of the Prophet, Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him, a woman was found killed. Allah’s Apostle, Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him, forbade killing women and children.’

(f)‘Amr ibn Maymun narrated: ‘Umar [caliph, 634–44] (after he was stabbed [by a Persian slave]) instructed (his would-be successor) saying: “I urge him (the new caliph) to take care of those non-Muslims who are under the protection of Allah and His Apostle. That is to observe the convention agreed upon with them, and fight on their behalf (to secure their safety). He also should not overtax them beyond their capability.”’

Source: Muhammad ibn Isma‘il al-Bukhari. (2003) Sahih al-Bukhari. Ed. and trans. Muhammad M. al-Sharif. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, Vol. 2, pp. 217–18, 220, 275 and 285. At some points we have edited al-Sharif’s translation for clarity.

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