Today's Reminder

December 05, 2021 | RabiÊ» II 29, 1443

Living The Quran

Muhammad (Muhammad) - Chapter 47: Verse 4

"So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah - never will He waste their deeds."

Certain verses of the Quran have been tossed around by radicals and by Islamophobes alike, alleging that there is some Quranic support for violent activity. The slightest familiarity with the verses in question would demonstrate that nothing could be further from the truth.

This above verse is perhaps the most outrageous of all misquotations. A phrase in the middle of a passage about battle is ripped out of its context and presented ludicrously as, “When you meet disbelievers, smite their necks.” To even the most casual reader who bothers to glance at the passage, the verse is talking about a meeting in mutual battle between warriors (Ar. “fi’l-muharabah” as al-Baydawi (d.685H) explains) that comes to an end “when the war lays down its burdens” as the verse itself states. This verse is specifically discussing mutual battle with those disbelievers engaged in warfare as noted by Ibn Jareer al-Tabari. This is clear from the opening line of the chapter which states, “Those who disbelieve and prevent people from the path of God“, which as Ibn Abbas has stated, is in reference to the pagans of Quraysh, who oppressed the believers by denying them the freedom to practice their faith and then went to war with them to exterminate their community.

With respect to the phrase, “until the war lays down its burdens“, Imam Qatadah (d.117H) explained it saying, “until the enemy warriors lay down their burdens” – a phrase that was echoed by many scholars throughout history, including Ibn Qutaybah al-Daynuri (d.276H). Note also that this verse provides Muslims with only two options for prisoners of war – unconditional release or acceptance of ransom. The verse mentions no other option, and indeed scholars have pointed out that this is the general rule, for the Prophet Muhammad only punished those war criminals guilty of treachery or gross violations, but otherwise he almost universally would pardon people even his most ardent opponents, as he did with the war chief Thumamah ibn Uthal, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, Habbar ibn al-Aswad, Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl, Umayr ibn Wahb, Safwan ibn Umayyah, Suhayl ibn Aamir, and the list goes on.

Compiled From:
"Top Five Misquotations Of The Qur’an" - M. Nazir Khan

From Issue: 817 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Alloted Provision

The provision that one receives is called rizq. Rarely does God use two very similar names that evoke one attribute. When it comes to provision, God is al-Raziq and al-Razzaq, both names referring to Him as the provider. We creatures are known as marzuq, that is, the beneficiaries of God's provision. Some scholars say that provision is anything from which a person derives benefit. Others say it refers to all the material possessions one has. The dominant opinion is the former.

God divides the provision of people into two kinds: inner (batini) and outer (zahiri). The outward provision includes such things as food, shelter, and well-being. Inner provision includes knowledge, good character, contentment, and similar qualities. Even the people in a person's life (friends, teachers, spouse, family, and so on) are considered provision.

Along with the provision that God gives, He also has given the means (asbab) by which one must seek out his provision. There should be no confusion about the means of attaining provision and the provision itself. When one starts to believe that his or her provision is in the hands of another person, this creates a breeding ground for diseases, such as coveting what others have, doing whatever it takes to get it, and becoming angry when one does not receive what he or she expects.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said that the Angel Gabriel disclosed to him, "No soul will die until it completes the provision that was alloted to it." [Sahih al-Jami] One must trust in God and seek refuge in Him from resorting to illicit livelihood out of fear of not having enough wealth.

Compiled From:
"Purification of The Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp. 79, 80

From Issue: 733 [Read original issue]



War has been aptly described as 'a psychosis caused by an inability to see relationships.' The First Crusade was especially psychotic. From all accounts, the Crusaders seemed half-crazed. For three years [on their march from Europe to Jerusalem] they had had no normal dealings with the world around them, and prolonged terror and malnutrition made them susceptible to abnormal states of mind. They were fighting an enemy that was not only culturally but ethnically different — a factor that, as we have found in our own day, tends to nullify normal inhibitions — and when they fell on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, they slaughtered some thirty thousand people in three days. 'They killed all the Saracens and Turks they found,' the author of the Deeds of the Franks reported approvingly. 'They killed everyone, male or female.' The streets ran with blood. Jews were rounded up into their synagogue and put to the sword, and ten thousand Muslims who had sought sanctuary in the Haram al-Sharif were brutally massacred. 'Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen,' wrote the Provencal chronicler Raymond of Aguilers: 'Men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers.' There were so many dead that the Crusaders were unable to dispose of the bodies. When Fulcher of Chartres came to celebrate Christmas in Jerusalem five months later, he was appalled by the stench from the rotting corpses that still lay unburied in the fields and ditches around the city.

When they could kill no more, the Crusaders proceeded to the Church of the Resurrection, singing hymns with tears of joy rolling down their cheeks. Beside the Tomb of Christ, they sang the Easter liturgy. 'This day, I say, will be famous in all future ages, for it turned our labors and sorrows into joy and exultation,' Raymond exulted. 'This day, I say, marks the justification of all Christianity, the humiliation of paganism, the renewal of faith.' Here we have evidence of another psychotic disconnect: the Crusaders were standing beside the tomb of a man who had been a victim of human cruelty, yet they were unable to question their own violent behavior. The ecstasy of battle, heightened in this case by years of terror, starvation, and isolation, merged with their religious mythology to create an illusion of utter righteousness. But victors are never blamed for their crimes, and chroniclers soon described the conquest in Jerusalem as a turning point in history. Robert the Monk made the astonishing claim that its importance had been exceeded only by the creation of the world and Jesus's crucifixion. As a consequence, Muslims were now regarded in the West as a 'vile and abominable race,' 'despicable, degenerate and enslaved by demons,' 'absolutely alien to God,' and 'fit only for extermination.'

The Muslims were stunned by the Crusaders' violence. By the time they reached Jerusalem, the [Crusaders] had already acquired a fearsome reputation; it was said that they had killed more than a hundred thousand people at Antioch, and that during the siege they had roamed the countryside, wild with hunger, openly vowing to eat the flesh of any Saracen who crossed their path. But Muslims had never experienced anything like the Jerusalem massacre. For over three hundred years they had fought all the great regional powers, but these wars had always been conducted within mutually agreed limits. Muslim sources reported in horror that the Franks did not spare the elderly, the women, or the sick; they even slaughtered devout ulema, 'who had left their homelands to live lives of pious seclusion in the holy place.'

Compiled From:
"Fields of Blood" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 214 - 216

From Issue: 886 [Read original issue]