SERMON: Does the Quran say ‘Kill the Non-believers Where You Find Them’?

Millions of Muslims crowd at Mecca shrine


The verse in question is found in chapter 9, Surah Tawba. This was one of the final chapters of the Quran revealed to the holy Prophet (sawws). If we look at the surah overall, it mainly examines the preparation, journey and aftermath of the famous battle of Tabbuk, which occurred in the 9th year AH. Therefore, and very importantly, each verse has to be considered under this context, and analyzed taking the historical events into consideration. The chapter also deals, in many places, with the hypocrites that existed everywhere at that time, as well as their signs and methodology of influence.

The Polytheists in and around Mecca were given a certain time frame, to either embrace Islam and abandon worshipping idols, or leave the area. Look at this verse for example, where Allah ta’la clearly instructs the Prophet to adopt the peaceful method of dealing with them:
ﻭَﺇِﻥْ ﺃَﺣَﺪٌ ﻣِﻦَ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺸْﺮِﻛِﻴﻦَ ﺍﺳْﺘَﺠَﺎﺭَﻙَ ﻓَﺄَﺟِﺮْﻩُ ﺣَﺘَّﻰٰ ﻳَﺴْﻤَﻊَ ﻛَﻠَﺎﻡَ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪِ ﺛُﻢَّ ﺃَﺑْﻠِﻐْﻪُ ﻣَﺄْﻣَﻨَﻪُ ۚ ﺫَٰﻟِﻚَ ﺑِﺄَﻧَّﻬُﻢْ ﻗَﻮْﻡٌ ﻟَﺎ ﻳَﻌْﻠَﻤُﻮﻥَ [ ٩ : ٦ ]

If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge. (9:6)

Verse 73 and many other verses in the holy Quran must not be interpreted without objectively analyzing the historical context of revelation. Many exegetes of the Quran point to the specific nature of this and other verses, whilst lessons applicable at all times can still be derived. This means that Allah (swt) instructed the Prophet to be harsh with the disbelievers who were adamant in fighting His religion and destroying it. They were not willing to accept any peaceful means of resolving the matter.

Therefore this and the other verses which seemingly ‘incite hatred’ against non-believers cannot be hijacked by some Muslims to satisfy their whims and desires, because they were revealed for a specific circumstance. Many other verses in the Quran strongly encourage peaceful co-existence whilst others warn of the severe consequences of killing innocent souls, irrespective of faith.

The School of Ahlul-Bayt (as) propagates that Jihad comes into 2 categories: defensive and offensive. During the time of the occultation of the Imam, offensive Jihad is prohibited since it requires the permission of the ma’som (as). Defensive struggle involves self-defense against occupiers and the natural right of humans to resist occupation against their homelands, possessions. This type of Jihad does not require the permission of the Ma’soom, but the direction of the representative of the Imam (the marajie), is preferable.

From Official Website of Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hilli