In a research under the title “The Qur’an and War: Observations on Islamic Just War,” from 2012, Dr. Joel Hayward says that his purpose is to analyze the holy text which underpins Islam and articulates its mandatory codes of conduct in order to determine what that text, the Qur’an, actually requires or permits Muslims to do in terms of military violence….
This article is intended to be useful — sufficient to dispel any assumptions that the Qur’an advocates the punishment, subjugation or even killing of “infidels” as well as to reveal its key concepts governing justice during wartime…
Even a cursory reading of the Qur’an will draw the reader’s eyes to hundreds of scriptures extolling tolerance, conciliation, inclusiveness and peace, but also to a few scriptures that seem to be more aggressive…
“my conclusion (and that of every authoritative Islamic scholar) that the Qur’an is unambiguous: Muslims are prohibited from aggressive violence and are compelled, should war prove unavoidable, always to act within a code of ethical behavior that is closely akin to, and compatible with, the western warrior code embedded within Just War.
Hayward chooses to confirm his above-written assertions by trying to analyze verses that are used as warmongering by the “enemies of Islam.” He claims that “many critics assert that verses 9:29 and 2:190-194 directs Muslims to wage war against any and all disbelievers anywhere who refuse to embrace Islam or at least to submit to Islamic rule.” However, he says “they do not mandate Muslims to wage aggressive war or to inflict disproportionate or indiscriminate brutality.”
Then surprisingly he turns to analyze the abrogation doctrine. He claims that “The Qur’an itself states in several Surah that Allâh’s words constitute a universally applicable message sent down for ‘all of mankind’ and that it was a ‘reminder’ (with both ‘glad tidings and warnings’) to ‘all’ of humanity (Surah 34:28, Surah 39:41 and Surah 81:27). But what is the connection between abrogation and Islamic just war?
Hayward tries to prove the abrogation doctrine is non-existent. How he does so? Very simple: he just dismisses all Islamic classical exegetes and totally relies on the fresh new Islamic propagators in the West. Here is the main problem: the disqualification of Islamic classic and most important exegetes. In his words: “certainly most Islamic authorities on the Qur’an and Muhammad today, as opposed to scholars from, say, the more ambiguous medieval period (author’s emphasis), are firm in their judgement that the most warlike verses in the Qur’an, even those revealed very late in Muhammad’s mission, do not cancel out the overwhelming number of verses (author’s emphasis) that extol tolerance, reconciliation, inclusiveness and peace.
Who are the exegetes that cancel these most important doctrine? Well, the oracles of Hayward are three, in fact four:
The British scholar Dr Zakaria Bashier (War and Peace), who claims that “all the beautiful verses throughout the Qur’an which instruct Muslims to be peaceful, tolerant and non-aggressive are No reason exists at all to think that they have been overruled.”
The “Prolific British scholar Louay Fatoohi (Jihad in the Qur’an: The Truth from the Source), arguing that “overwhelming number’ of Muslim scholars reject the abrogation thesis regarding war (author’s emphasis). Fatoohi highlights the fact that throughout history the Islamic world has never acted in accordance with this extreme view, that Muslims have co-existed very well with other faith communities and that the 1600 million peaceable Muslims in the world today clearly do not accept the view otherwise, if they did, they would be at war as we speak.”
Muhammad Abu Zahra (Concept of War in Islam), an important and influential Egyptian intellectual and expert on Islamic law, summed up the mainstream Islamic view by rejecting any abrogation thesis pertaining to conflict and stating that “War is not justified… to impose Islam as a religion on unbelievers or to support a particular social regime. The prophet Muhammad fought only to repulse aggression.”
Sohaib Nazeer Sultan (The Koran for Dummies) makes the same point that the martial verse and the sword and those like it do not abrogate the more numerous peaceful, tolerant and inclusive verses.
However, not only we do not have any corroboration for these claims, we just have to believe they know better than Ibn Salama, al-Nasikh wal-Mansukh; al-Nahhas, al-Nasikh Wal-Mansukh; al-Baydawi, Anwar at-Tanzil wa-Asrar at-Ta’wil; al-Zarkasi, al-Burhan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an; al-Suyuti, al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an; and Lubab an-Nuqul fi Asbab an-Nuzul; Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, al-Tafsir al-Kabir; Ibn Hazm, al-Nasikh wal-Mansukh; al-Zamakhshari, al-Kashshaf; al-Tabari, Tafsir; al-Wahidi, Kitab Asbab Nuzul al-Qur’an; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir.
You see, all these esteemed exegetes, biographers of Muhammad, highly acclaimed interpreters of Qur’an in Islamic religious history are put aside and thrown away by the new scholars of the 21st century, who use Da’wah as a diplomacy of deceit to mislead the infidels. It is as if James Madison and Thomas Jefferson have not written the US constitution, or that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay have not written the “Federalist.” Even better say, it is as if these personalities have nothing to do with the US constitutional and political establishment, and they all must be null and void compare to new propagators claiming totally the opposite about the history of the US.
Then, Hayward turns “the so-called ‘verse of the sword of Surah 9:5.” He claims
“Bin Laden certainly did draw upon the verse of the sword and other seemingly militant Qur’anic scriptures in his August 1996 ‘Declaration of War against the Americans occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places’ as well as in his February 1998 fatwâ.”
However, Bin Laden “is not representative of Islamic belief or behaviour.” For Hayward
“It is quite true that, taken in isolation, Surah 9:5 seems an unusually violent pronouncement for a prophet who had for twenty years preached tolerance, peace and reconciliation (my emphasis). Yet it is equally true that, when read in the context of the verses above and below Surah 9:5, and when the circumstances of its pronouncement by Muhammad are considered, it is not difficult for readers without preconceptions and bias to understand it more fully… It is thus not as bloodthirsty as Robert Spencer and his colleagues portray it… it would only nowadays have any relevance and applicability if polytheists and idolaters ever tried to undertake and re-establish pagan practices in the Saudi Arabian cities devoted only to Allâh: Mecca and Medina. In other words, in today’s world it is not relevant or applicable (author’s emphasis and double emphasis).
Moreover, Hayward says Ibn Kathir said no such thing that the verse of the sword abrogates all peaceful verses ever previously uttered by the prophet, as Spencer claim: “Spencer mistakenly extrapolates this to claim, baselessly.”
Well, the reader in Arabic and in English who reads Ibn Kathir classical Tafsir, is sure Ibn Kathir said verse 9:5 abrogates all the so-called peaceful verses. If one wonders how Hayward misunderstands what Ibn Kathir said, well here is Hayward’s interpretation to another warmongering verse (4:89), which clearly claim to “seize and slay the infidels wherever you find them.” This verse, Hayward says,
“is surrounded by so many other explanatory and qualifying verses that its superficially violent meaning is immediately moderated by its context of tolerance and understanding. First, it threatened violence in self defence only … Secondly, it stated that, if those aggressors left the Muslims alone and free to practice their faith, and if they did not attack them, but offered them peaceful co-existence, then Allâh would not allow Muslims to harm them in any way… The verse not only offered peaceful co-existence to those who formally made peace with the Muslims, but also to anyone…”
Well, this is indeed an interesting interpretation, yet it has nothing to do with the reality. What ridicule the situation is Hayward own words: first, there is a war against the infidels, but it is only “self-defense.” Second, “if those aggressors left the Muslims alone and free to practice their faith, and if they did not attack them, but offered them peaceful co-existence, then Allâh would not allow Muslims to harm them in any way” (my emphases). In other words, if those “aggressors” yield to the Muslim demands, than peace prevails according to the Muslims’ terms. This “coexistence” has one meaning: a total defeat and surrender to Islam, as those aggressors must to live under Muslims’ terms. This is not exactly a peaceful coexistence.
Hayward is right when claiming that Surah 22:39 contains that first transformational statement of permission to fight in self-defense. However, he could not avoid using Da’wah, diplomacy of deceit, by claiming “Interestingly, it even extols the defense of houses of worship, including the churches of Christians and the synagogues of Jews.” Where from he has taken this false statement?
Hayward continues by claiming that
“In every Qur’anic example in which warfighting (qital) is encouraged for protection against oppression or violence, verses can be found that stress that, should the wrongdoers cease their hostility, then Muslims must immediately cease their own fighting.”
Well, the root q-t-l (noun Qitāl) means slaying, killing, fighting, slaughtering. It appears 123 times in the Qur’an, of which thirty-four times in the Meccan Sûwar and eighty-nine times in the Medina Sûwar, and it reveals the warlike character of the Arab Islamic political culture. The purpose and rules of Jihād Fī-Sabīlillāh and Qitāl merge together, being an inseparable part of Islamic roles, motivations, and targets. Both have the same objectives to make Islam dominant over all other religions. That is why Jihad is the inspiration, the call to bring Islamic religious and political superiority, while Qitāl is the earthly act of fighting and slaughtering the infidels.
As a propagator of Islam, Hayward could not escape praising Muhammad as a pacifist tender person and anti-war hero:
“Muhammad was no warmonger and forgave and pardoned mortal enemies whenever he could. This “reluctant warrior,” to quote one scholar, urged the use of nonviolent means…
Muhammad recognised that wars were so unpalatable to his peace-loving community that, even though the causes of Muslim warfighting were just, he had to go to extra lengths…
However, the truth is unfortunately very different. Hayward have to learn the three best and most acclaimed biographers of Muhammad: Ibn Ishaq, Sīrat Rasûl Allāh; al-Tabari, Ta’rīkh al-Rusûl wal-Mulûk; and al-Waqidi, Kitāb al-Maghāzī, as to really realize the way and the character of the wars conducted by Muhammad and his believers. Even personally, the list of Muhammad’s killing is long.
Hayward states that “the Qur’an repeatedly enjoins Muslims to remember that, whenever possible, they should respond to provocations with patience and efforts to facilitate conciliation.” But he does not mention that this command was true only to the Meccan period, when Muhammad and his community of believers were small, weak and vulnerable, compare to the Meccans. This is something to recall: after 12 years of religious preaching at Mecca there were only 150 believers, including women and children. However, to introduce the war-like character of the Arabs, 10 thousand joined Muhammad’s ranks after his victory in the Badr War, in March 624.
Only at the end of his research, Hayward refers to topic, mainly “Observations on Islamic Just War.” He claims that
“The reasons for going to war expressed within the Qur’an closely match those within jus ad bellum, the Just War criteria which establishes the justice of a decision to undertake combat. The criteria include Just Cause, Proportionality and Last Resort” (my emphasis).
He has done nothing to prove this claim. He claims that
“Muhammad would instruct them to fight honourably, not to hurt women and children, not to harm prisoners, not to mutilate bodies, not to plunder and not to destroy trees or crops.”
However, from reading Muhammad’s biographers and other Islamic reliable sources, the picture is the opposite. I have referred to these, only from Islamic exegesis in the first chapter of my book: Islam and the Infidels.
From reading his research it is doubtful if Hayward knows Arabic well, which a great fault is. However, he is also mistaken by claiming that
“Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, compiled the Qur’an’s and the prophet’s guidance on the conduct of war into a code that has served ever since as the basis of Islamic thinking on the conduct of battle” (my emphasis).
Well, Abu Bakr lived only two years, and only Uthman, the third Caliph, compiled the Qur’an, in 644. To be more accurate, this period of the four first Caliphs, al-Khulafā’ al-Rashidûn, prove the warmongering character of the Arabs: in less than 30 years, there were two civil wars; the great rift separation in Islam, between the Sunnah and the Shī’ah, and three of the four Caliphs were murdered.
Hayward is now back to the issue of Jihad. He claims:
“Interestingly, given that jihad is now associated with extremists who are full of hatred, like Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, the Qur’an does not allow hatred to form the basis of a military or other armed response to perceived injustices” (5:8; 3:134).
Well, he should read the paper published in Modern Diplomacy (January 19 and January 27, 2016), concerning hatred. Yet, he continues by misquoting verses 2:256 and 5:32. These verse were dealt very extensively in my Da’wah papers on Modern Diplomacy (February 22, and March 4, 2016).
Hayward adds insult to injury by claiming that
“Despite rejection by several powerful Jewish tribes, Muhammad remained convinced that the Jewish and Christian faith communities (as opposed to individual tribes which acted treacherously) were eminently acceptable to Allâh.”
Well, the truth is that the three Jewish tribes of Medina were deported and massacred, their women and children were forcefully Islamized, and their belongings were seized and taken. The truth is that in Arabia the Jews were passed through process of genocide and ethnic cleansing, being the “worst enemies of Allah;” “like apes and pigs.”
Again, Hayward makes his work cheap by claiming that
“jihad, far from meaning some type of fanatical holy war against all unbelievers, is the Arabic word for “exertion” or “effort” and it actually describes any Muslim’s struggle against the things that are ungodly within him or her and within the wider world.
Well, this is incorrect. Jihad comes from the third conjugation of the root j.h.d. and it means war. From here comes Mujāhidûn and Jihād. Indeed, it is mentioned (not in the Qur’an and not in an authentic, Sahīh, Hadīth) there is al-Jihād al-Akbar (the spiritual Jihad as compare to al-Jihād al-Saghīr, but it is also clear that al-Jihād al-Akbar will be practiced only after al-Jihād al-Saghīr is finished, meaning there will be infidels and Islam prevails.
Hayward concludes his research by bringing a long statement
This article is not an attempt at religious apologetics. It is written by a scholar of military strategy and ethics for a military audience in an endeavour to demonstrate that the world’s second largest religion (only Christianity has more adherents) includes at its core a set of scriptures that contains a clear and very ethical framework for understanding war and guiding the behaviour of warriors” (Author’s emphasis).
Well, it is the right time to directly refer to the subject matter raised by Hayward, which was unfortunately highly apologetic and misleading.
Just war in Arabic is Sīyār. Reading the Islamic Four School of Jurisprudence (Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali and Hanafi), and the Sharī’ah (Ahmed ibn Naqib al Misri, ’Umdat as-Sālik; Ibn Rushd, The Distinguished Jurists Primer; and Abu Zakariya Yahya, Riyad al-Sālihīn), clearly reveal there is no concept of “Just War” in Islam as in Western, Judeo-Christian thinking. From Islamic vantage point, any war which is directed against the infidels is morally justified and religiously legitimized. It comes even from the names: Islamic wars are not Hurûb (plural of Harb), but rather Futûhāt (plural of Fath), which literally means opening the world to the call of Islam.
Muslims wage Jihad in order to occupy the world and bring it under its fold, and/or to disseminate the religion to all humanity. This is why it is a just war to achieve a legitimate and a sacred cause. They wholeheartedly believe that their territorial expansion and their use of force and coercion against the other is not aggression but a fulfillment of the Qur’anic command to spread Islam to all humankind. The distinction is clear: every war activity in Islam is described as totally defensive, and every move of the infidels is defined as totally and undoubtedly aggressive.
The normal and justified relationships between Dār al-Islām, the domain of Islam, and Dār al-Harb, the domain of war, where the infidels reside, is a state of infinite war. The Muslims are totally justified in their state of belligerency against the infidels. Dār al–Islām is conceived as any territory conquered by force in the history of Islam, to become Waqf. By this reasoning, all territories of the infidels in Dār al-Harb, must be subdued or eliminated.
A lasting peace between Dār al-Islām, being a religious and political community, and Dār al-Harb is impossible, until Dār al-Harb no more exist. When the entire world has become Dār al-Islām, submission (Islām) to Allah will become the law of the nations. Until then, war is the normal and lasting state. Dār al-Sulh or Dār al-‘Ahd exist only when Muslim power is weak and they cannot win over the infidels. Arab-Islamic political culture institutionalizes the conflict as the natural state of affairs. The word Salām denotes a state of security within the Muslim community (Ummah) and only those coming under its rule and governance. Everything is temporary and subject to change, in accord with Muslim values and interests.
Majid Khadduri, a world leading authority on Arab definitions of peace and war states clearly: Arabs and Muslims view peace with infidels only as a tactical means for achieving their strategic objective. It is a valid instrument only if it serves the Islamic interests. Peace constitutes a temporary break in the ongoing war against the infidels, and it is clearly seen from the intriguing 1,400 year sequence of wars, terrorism, alliances and violent violation of agreements and treaties between Arabs and Muslims and others. Muslims might come to terms with the enemy, provided that they should resume Jihad after the expiration of the treaty, or according their interests. By their very nature, treaties must be of temporary duration, for the normal relations between Muslim and non-Muslim territories are not peaceful, but warlike.
Islam could not abolish the warlike character of the Arabs who were constantly at war with each other. It indeed reaffirmed the war basis of inter-group relationship by institutionalizing war… transforming inter-Muslim war into a holy war designed to be ceaselessly declared against those who failed to become Muslims (pp. 53-4). This change, as a matter of fact, did not imply abandonment of the Jihad duty; it only meant the entry of the obligation into a period of suspension… There is no permanent compromise with non-believers (pp. 64-5).
This is summarized in a statement by the renowned Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406)
In the Muslim community, Jihad as 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. Therefore, caliphate and royal authority are united in Islam, so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to both of them at the same time.
Muhsin Khan, The Translator of Sahīh al-Bukhārī into English states
So, it is incumbent upon Muslims to follow the path which Allah’s Messenger adopted to avoid polytheism and heresy in all its shapes and to take the Qur’an and the Prophet’s traditions as torches in front of us to guide us. We have to teach our brethren and convey the message to non-Muslims all over the world as much as possible in order to save them from the Hell-fire. We have to prepare ourselves to stand in the face of our enemy and to possess the means of power and to participate in the progress of useful industries in order to protect our religion and be powerful enough to face our enemy, as Allah ordered.