Apr 212005
This article is from the second edition of Jihad in the Qur’an: The Truth from the Source. The book is now in its third edition.

This is one verse that teaches the Muslims to be measured in their response to aggression: 

The [violation of ] al-Haram month is for [the violation of] the al-Haram month, and the violation of anything is retaliated to with the same. So, whoever commits a hostility against you [O you who believe!], respond to him with a similar hostility. And act dutifully toward Allah, and know that Allah is with the dutiful (2.194).
The Arabs before Islam used to observe total peace in four months of the year known as the al-Haram months. The word “al-Haram” means “the prohibited,” referring to the fact that fighting in those months is forbidden. If enemies of Islam violate one of the al-Haram months and attack Muslims, the verse above instructs the Muslims to retaliate within that month only. Muslims must not continue hostilities into another al-Haram month unless their enemies start new hostilities in that month. The verse states that all retaliatory acts by Muslims must be characterized by measuredness and proportionality.

We can see a similar example in the verse 2.191: 

And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you [O you who believe!], and do not transgress. Surely, Allah does not love the aggressors (2.190). And kill them wherever you find them and drive them out whence they drove you out; persecution is severer than killing. And do not fight them at the al-Haram mosque until they fight you in it, but if they do fight you, then kill them. Such is the reward of the disbelievers (2.191). But if they desist, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (2.192). And fight them until there is no persecution and religion is Allah’s. But if they desist, then there should be no hostility, except against the wrongdoers (2.193).

Because the al-Haram mosque is a place in which fighting is prohibited, Muslims were not allowed to attack there enemies with whom they were at war. They were permitted to fight at the al-Haram mosque only if their enemies extended the fighting to that place. Once the enemies have stopped hostilities in the al-Haram mosque, the Muslims must cease fighting there immediately. Allah’s commands aim at containing hostilities and limiting them.

Like verses 2.192 and 2.193 above, the following verse, in addition to commanding Muslims to be measured in their responses to aggression, encourages people to forgive and seek reconciliation: 

And the recompense of an act of aggression is a similar act, so whoever forgives and makes reconciliation then he will have his rewards from Allah. Surely He does not love the wrongdoers (42.40).

This is another verse that orders the Muslims to respond to aggression proportionately, and it also encourages them to forgive, stating that showing patience instead of retaliating — when this is an option — is a better response: 

And if you chastise [O you who believe!], then chastise with the like of that with which you were afflicted. And if you show patience, then it is better for those who are patient (16.126).

Again, put these divine instructions in their historical context and you will be able to see a unique form of justice. This fascinating divine justice is one aspect of the beauty of the Qur’an and its Lord, Allah.

Its genuine measuredness and proportionality make the military response in Islam in complete contrast to modern wars. Statistics show that the overwhelming majority of human casualties in modern wars are not intended targets. This is the result of the use of mass destruction weapons which are becoming increasingly deadlier. Those mass killers are not restricted, as their manufactures and users would have us believe, to nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Any weapon that cannot be used effectively to select its intended target is a blind, mass killing piece of weaponry. A classical bomb or rocket, therefore, is effectively a mass destruction weapon despite it not being labeled as such.

As if these blind and deadly weapons, which are launched far from their intended targets and which kill numerous invisible people, are not satisfying enough, a new clean and neat mass killing weapon called “economic sanctions” has been commissioned. This weapon has proved particularly successful in murdering children, the elderly, the ill, and the poor.

There is a fundamental difference between the disciplined retaliation that the Qur’an permits and the emotive, irrational, and random revenge that can be seen in various conflicts around the world.


Copyright © 2004 Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved

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