Qur’an 6: Booty, Repentance & a Tough Leader

I’m a British humanist reading The Qur’an (Tarif Khalidi’s translation) and blogging about it as I go. I’m doing my best not to make assumptions, apart from assuming it was written – not necessarily in the order given – by a man (or men) in Arabia in the 7th century. I realise that some Muslims will consider the whole exercise blasphemous, and some anti-theists will say it’s not critical enough. The aim is not to be offensive, but simply to share a personal, non-scholarly, view of one of the most influential texts of our time. [More…]

I was warned that Chapters 8 (‘Booty’) and 9 (‘Repentance’) are claimed to have been written at a time of war and contain verses that, taken in isolation, appear “difficult”. It’s certainly true that the authorial/Messenger’s voice here seems more confident, and tougher, and speaks of current wars and past victories. And it’s clear this was written well into his career: “Remember a time when you were few in number an held to be weak…”. Medinah is specifically mentioned in Chapter 8 and there are references to those who “emigrated” (apparently those who followed him from Mecca to Medinah).

To modern eyes, the idea that raiding caravans and taking away booty – violent robbery – is morally acceptable is, to say the least, problematic. The author even brings God into the details: “Booty belongs to God and His Messenger”…”Remember when God promised you that one of the two caravans should be yours whereas you had wanted the unarmed one to be yours….”.

Like slavery and the unequal status of men and women, raiding caravans was apparently so embedded in the culture of 7th century Arabia that it seems not to have occurred to the author to consider its morality. That’s just the way it is.

[Update: The claimed context of this chapter makes some difference. The commentators say that it’s about a specific battle, the Battle of Badr, which took place when Muhammed and his supporters planned one of their regular raids on the caravans of their Meccan enemies. But this time its leader got wind of the plan, diverted the caravan and instead the Muslims were confronted by the Meccan army. They won against the odds, with claimed support from angels.]

The ‘Repentance’ chapter title comes from a section about polytheists. In previous chapters he only advocated killing unbelievers when they made war, leaving their final punishment to God. Here he’s more aggressive but also offers the opportunity of repentance:

“Once the sacred months are shorn, kill the polytheists wherever you find them, arrest them, imprison them, besiege them and lie in wait for them at every site of ambush. If they repent, perform the prayer and pay the alms, let them go their way.” And: “O believers, fight the unbelievers near you, and let them find you harsh, and know that God stands with the pious.”

On the other hand, he and his followers also needed some polytheists’ help, so there’s an exception “for those among the polytheists with whom you had a compact, and who never let you down, nor ever aided anyone against you – with them you are to fulfil their compact until their appointed term.” This is consistent with his strong line on sticking to deals.

Although Chapter 8 emphasises that, among believers, “blood relatives are more closely obligated one to another”,  the Repentance chapter makes clear: “It is not right for the Prophet and the believers to ask forgiveness for polytheists, even if they are relatives, once it has become clear to them that they are the denizens of hell.”

In contrast with the more ambivalent, some good, some bad, approach in previous chapters, here his definition of polytheists includes Jews and Christians on the basis that: “The Jews say Ezra is the son of God while the Christians say Christ is the son of God”. Apparently the Arabic says “Uzair” here, not Ezra, and it was only several centuries after Mohammed’s time that the two were put together on the basis of a misunderstanding of the beliefs of a Yemeni Jewish tribe. Either way, his claim that Jews consider anyone the son of God is simply incorrect – the concept is as unacceptable in Judaism as in Islam. It looks like another example of his rather rough-and-ready understanding of the other monotheistic religions.

More understandably, he’s not a fan of rabbis and monks “who hoard gold and silver and do not spend them in the cause of God”. Hell fire for them.

In several places in the “Repentance” chapter, he makes it clear that it’s no longer enough to believe; you must also “perform the prayer and pay the alms”, implying there are now some rules to follow.

And, as well as making alms-giving a key requirement, he specifies what the money should be used for: “Voluntary alms [are there other kinds?] are for the poor and wretched, for those who collect them, for those whose hearts have been won over, for slaves to buy their freedom, for those in debt, for the cause of God and for the needy wayfarer. This is an ordinance of God.”

[Updated] Speaking of money, he also says: “Fight those who do not believe in God or the Last Day, who do not hold illicit what God and His Messenger hold illicit, and who do not follow the religion of truth from among those given in the Book, until they offer up the tribute, by hand, in humble mien.” This is apparently the justification for the ‘Jizya’ tax on non-Muslims in Islamic countries.

We’ve already had the idea that the afterlife is more important than this life. Here he goes further: believers must love God more than their own families:

“Say: ‘If your fathers and your sons, your brothers and your spouses and your clans, together with the wealth you acquired and a commerce you fear will find no market [?], and homes you find pleasing – if all these are more dear to you than God, His Messenger and the struggle in His cause, then wait and attend until God fulfils his decree’. God guides not the dissolute.”

He’s also more direct about identifying his own demands with those of God and using the threat of hell as a lever: “For those who offend the Messenger of God, painful punishment is in store…Do they not know that he who oversteps the limit with God and His Messenger – for him awaits the fire of hell…”

And he tries to apply that quite widely. On the basis of promised rewards from God: “It is not fitting for the people of Medinah and the Bedouins in their vicinity to fail to aid the Messenger of God, not to prefer their own selves to his”. He says this despite warning his followers that “Some of the Bedouins…are hypocrites, as are some of the inhabitants of Medinah”. God knows who these backsliders are  and “will torment them twice, and then they shall be conveyed to a torment most painful” unless they repent.

He’s particularly angry with wealthy people who said they believed but then asked to be excused when he ordered his followers to relocate (presumably from Mecca to Medinah) and with others who are reluctant to follow him into battle:

“O believers, what is it with you? When it is said to you ‘March forth in the cause of God.’, you pretend you cannot heave yourself off the ground. Do you prefer this present life to the afterlife? The luxuries of this life are but a trifle compared to the life hereafter. If you do not march forth, He will punish you most painfully  and will substitute another community in your stead….”

“Those [wealthy people] who left behind …contrary to the wishes of the Messenger of God” are “sinners” and “a pollution; their final place of rest is hell.”

He’s also worried about doubters who “come to prayer but lazily, and only spend reluctantly…They swear to God they are people of your number, but they are not, for they are a people that lose heart.” Worse are the “Hypocrites” – ref also previous chapters – who “reverted to unbelief after having embraced Islam” – they’re destined for hell fire.

Perhaps reflecting the problem of persuading more wealthy people to abandon their homes and businesses to follow him, and his own commercial background, he frames believing in God as a business transaction: “God has purchased from the believers their souls and their wealth, and in exchange, the Garden shall be theirs. They fight in the cause of God, they kill and are killed – a true promise from Him in the Torah, the Evangel and the Qur’an…So be of good cheer regarding that business deal you transact. This is the greatest of triumphs.”

Overall, the picture painted is of a highly-driven leader, who expects total commitment, coping with a mix of devoted followers and a wider circle who display the (very recognisable) characteristics of doubt, laziness and resistance to change. His main tools are the promise of heaven and the threat of hell. And, like any good leader, he makes sure his followers feel appreciated.

Finally, some other interesting items:

  • He says: “It is not fitting for a prophet to hold prisoners until he has achieved supremacy in the land.” It’s not clear whether that means captives should be killed or set free.
  • Arguably, there’s a verse here that prevents non-Muslims visiting mosques “There shall frequent the mosques of God only he who believes in God and the last Day, who performs the prayer and dispenses alms.” On the other hand, it doesn’t tell Muslims to stop visitors and non-Muslims won’t be bound by the verse, so I suppose that’s (just about) ok.
  • Four of the twelve months are referred to as “sacred months”. Apparently these were established in pre-Qur’anic times as a period when there should be no fighting, and now they’re set aside for the preparation and execution of the Haj and the Umrah pilgrimages.
  • There’s a lot here about fighting and overcoming odds. He reminds his followers that success is down to God being on your side: “You did not slay them, it was God who slew them.”
  • He explicitly recognises the presence of women among the believers: “The believers, male and female, are friends of one another. They command to virtue and forbid vice. They perform the prayers and pay the alms, and they obey God and His Messenger.”
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Author: HumanistJ

I'm a humanist - someone who thinks you can live a good life without believing in anything supernatural. I chair South West London Humanists, I'm a trustee of Humanists UK and its Dialogue Officer. This blog is purely my personal view.

28 thoughts on “Qur’an 6: Booty, Repentance & a Tough Leader”

  1. You seemed to miss on some very important aspects in these two challenging chapters. “If the disbelievers incline to peace, then you too incline to peace”. Also another important verse was claiming that even in the context of all out war with Polytheists that broke treaties the Muslims should “seek your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah . Then deliver him to a place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.” (9:6)

    This basically, even in all out war, safe guards the Polytheists who want protection and inclines the Muslims to escort them to a safe place away from the violence to teach them more about the Qur’an. These strict war guidelines were very generous compared to many other empires, thats important.

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    1. I’m afraid the text I have in front of me now doesn’t say that:
      The verse about “….grant them protection ….” is not in the context of polytheists who have broken treaties at all. In fact a few verses later make clear that you’re expected to fight anyone who breaks their promise (9:12). The context of 9:6 is polytheists, who you are urged to “kill…wherever you find them”, arrest, imprison, besiege or ambush unless they repent, pay the alms and pray, in which case they should be let go. But if a polytheist “seeks your protection” (in other words, doesn’t fight against you) then grant him that until he hears the word of God, then take him to a place of safety. As you’re supposed to kill polytheists, then I assume that means that he will cease to be a polytheist after hearing the word of God, so you then look after him. If it doesn’t mean that, then it contradicts the previous paragraphs.

      The instruction that if the disbelievers incline to peace (which presumably means surrender) then accept is fine, but hardly a revolution in the rules of war.

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      1. Why would you grant protection to those that have broken peace treaties? Yes the verse does talk about fighting the Polytheists but not the ones that have withheld their treaties and did not fight you or conspire other tribes to fight you.

        Peace and surrender don’t mean the same thing. Your interpretation makes no sense. Why would it mean “If they incline to surrender, then you incline to surrender”. What would the Muslims be surrendering? It literally means if the enemy inclines to peace (no fighting) then you too do not fight.

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  2. I am not sure if you are aware of the dilemma surrounding the way the Quran was gathered and the mysterious and primitive process in which it was consolidated to appear the way it is right now. You probably know it is not arranged in chronological order. This presents a difficult challenge as what was really the last message since the “author” keeps changing his mind and swing positions, which led to scholars to invent the concept of abrogation to explain the controversies.

    These two chapters for example (Booty and Repentance) are among the last “revelations”, especially the Repentance. Those who consolidated the Quran in the time of Abu-Bakr, the first Khalifa) were confused whether these two chapters are actually one and not two separate chapters. As a result, they didn’t put the opening statement you see at the beginning of every chapter (In the Name of God, most gracious and Merciful).

    The Repentance is an extra ordinary and the most dangerous chapter, it is arguably the last set of governing rules to dominate Arabia since the dawn of Islam and it was “revealed” when most Arabia was already submitted and committed to the new religion system (around year 9 AH, which about 2 years before Mohammed’s death). This chapter contains the order to kill or expel the polytheists from Arabia, eradicate the unbelievers and fight the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) until they pay special tax or embrace Islam. These are the core cause of ISIS atrocities today, and the pretext used to expand and invade other regions.

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    1. In the first post in this series, about why I’m doing it and my approach, it says:
      “While there is some dispute about the history of early Islam, as a humanist I’m 99.99% confident that the Quran is a human creation and was not dictated by an angel called Gabriel. I know what the traditional view is, but apart from the fact that it originated somewhere in Arabia in the 7th century, I don’t know for sure who actually originated it, or who set the apparently non-chronological order of the verses, or whether the differences between the original versions and the version we have now really were as minor as they are claimed to be, or why a text supposedly delivered from God isn’t perfectly clear and consistent in its meaning.
      But what matters is the text as it exists, along with the narrative about it, whether or not they’re historically accurate.”

      So I’d be interested to see the evidence that these two chapters “…are among the last “revelations”, especially the Repentance. Those who consolidated the Quran in the time of Abu-Bakr…were confused whether these two chapters are actually one and not two separate chapters. As a result, they didn’t put the opening statement you see at the beginning of every chapter”. Are there any contemporary sources or other evidence? As far as I can see, the Qur’an itself makes clear that the order is not chronological (or any sort of “-logical” in a modern sense, apart perhaps from descending order to chapter length) and that this was written by someone based in Medinah following an exit, with some followers, from Mecca.

      One thing though I am pretty sure about: there is nothing in the Qur’an – so far as I have read – to tell people to kill unbelievers. On the contrary, it says it’s God’s job to send them to the fires of hell.

      Your point about tax on non-Muslims is important one though, and I’ll update the post to include it. Thanks.

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      1. There are numerous Arabic sources that narrate why this is the only chapter that is missing the usual opening (Basmallah). The most famous of these is the one sourced to the third successor (Khalifah) to Mohammed (his name is “Uthman”, the one who ordered the assembly and consolidation of the Quran to a universal version). He explained why he put these two chapters together. Also, he said that chapter 9 was the last to be revealed.

        See https://wikiislam.net/wiki/Revelational_Circumstances_of_the_Qur'an:_Surah_8_(Al-Anfal)

        Remember: Chapter 8 (Booty) is called “Al-Anfal” in Arabic, and chapter 9 (Repentance) is called “Bara’ah” or “Taubah”.

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    2. WIKIISLAM is *NOT* a reliable source of information. What a joke. Are you trying to make yourself look like a troll on this academic, respectful and neutral channel? WikiIslam was created in 2005, in collaboration with various individuals from Faith Freedom International . Faith Freedom International openly state in their ignorant paranoia that “We believe in the oneness of humanity and oppose Islam for inciting hatred against non Muslims. Muhammad instructed his follower to conquer the world by the sword and to rule it with terror. We are determined to not let that happen.”

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  3. Quote: “He says: “It is not fitting for a prophet to hold prisoners until he has achieved supremacy in the land.” It’s not clear whether that means captives should be killed or set free.”

    He means captives should be killed. He wanted to do it after the first battle (Badr) but was talked out of it by his followers (Abu Bakr).

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    1. What? 8:67 is not about killing captives. When you say Muhammad needed convincing to NOT kill them you are stating opposite to the truth. In fact when told the kill the captives Muhammad turned away and ignored Umar a few times before Abu Bakr advised pardoning them and Muhammad instantly held to that opinion and felt relieved and happy for the prisoners. Tafsir Ibn Kathir states about verse 8:67

      `Umar bin Al-Khattab stood up and said, `O Allah’s Messenger! Cut off their necks,’ but the Prophet turned away from him. The Messenger of Allah again asked,(O people! Allah has made you prevail over them, and only yesterday, they were your brothers.) `Umar again stood up and said, `O Allah’s Messenger! Cut off their necks.’ The Prophet ignored him and asked the same question again and he repeated the same answer. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq stood up and said, `O Allah’s Messenger! I think you should pardon them and set them free in return for ransom.’ Thereupon the grief on the face of Allah’s Messenger vanished. He pardoned them and accepted ransom for their release.

      So my question to you is why are you substituting the truth for a lie and a lie for the truth? Agenda much?

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      1. There is no such thing as “truth” and “lie” about a conversation allegedly happened 1400 years ago and got narrated only 150 years later along with several other different narrations than the groomed one you liked to quote. So you can only speculate about what really went on and nothing can be proved here.

        This blog is about interpreting the Qur’anic text, not the “Hadeeth” or traditions, and the verse is clearly advocating against having prisoners of war before “thickening the earth with blood” (حتى يثخن في الأرض). That is literally what the verse means in its Arabic text and context. So if you are not supposed to take prisoners until you shed a lot of blood then what you should do other than killing the prisoners? The next verse after that one is condemning them for taking ransoms to secure their release, so what should they do with them instead you think?

        As a military leader, Mohammed always wanted to reach the status of feared military supremacy, and inspired by the military leaders of the Bible, he needed a massacre to achieve that status. His next chance came close few months later when he wanted to commit mass killing against around 700 men prisoners from the Jewish tribe of “Beni Qainu-Qaa” for a trivial incident, but they were saved by their ally and an influenctial tribal leader “Ibn Salool”, so he – Mohammed – had to release them.
        But his wish came true few years later in the horrible massacre of the prisoners from the Jewish tribe of “Beni Quraitha” where he mastered the killing of 600~800 men and teenagers.

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      2. Ah yes the convenience of denying Islamic history when it doesn’t suit you, sounds legitimate. If 8:67 meant to kill prisoners, it would say to kill prisoners. Instead the entire Qur’an is consistent in freeing prisoners or holding them for ransom, as seen in Surah Muhammad.

        “Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them (as prisoners), then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens.” (47:4)

        The above is the worst case scenario, when in battle. 8:67 sends the exact same message, during battle, blood will be shed but prisoners can be held for ransom.

        The Hadith also is entirely consistent and plausible within the context of the verse and i am more than certain that if the hadith supported your narrative and showed that Muhammad wanted them killed then you would be happy to cite it.

        The most laughable fact about your detailed “analysis” of Surah 8:67 is that ALL of the details you mention came from the hadith and hadith only. Yet the fact is you TWISTED the hadith in order to make it fit into your demented interpretation of the verse when in fact the verse AND the hadith you use as “support” both disagree with you.

        Even more hilarious is after claiming you are here to only “analyse” the Quran and not other post Quranic texts you talk about Bani Qurayza. A tribe NOT mentioned in the Quran. You talk about killing 600-800 men, none of which are talked about in the Quran. All of these sources you are using to come up with these statistics are Secondary Islamic sources, NOT the Qur’an.

        Any other lies i need to address?

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      3. As I say in my introductory post, I’m simply taking the Qur’an as it is – no-one can claim the Hadith are anything other than man-made, and written a long time afterwards.

        In this case what it says about prisoners is ambiguous. In an earlier chapter it tells followers not to try to guess what ambiguities mean, as only God knows. That made little sense to me, but it is what the text says. So in its own terms, it looks like we simply don’t know.

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      4. I have no gripe with your reading of the Quran to be honest. My commentary was aimed at Temujain who is trying to twist hadiths to make that verse suit his agenda. I simply cited him the Hadith he is referring to which proves Muhammad did NOT want to kill the captives and declined three times when Instructed by Umar. The verse in of itself is ambiguous but reading the Quran you will see never is it sanctioned to kill prisoners- only ransom or setting them free. Let me know if you see otherwise.

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  4. There is no verse preventing non-Muslims from visiting mosques. That verse talks about who would be worthy of building and maintaining mosques (by providing material and/or performing rituals of praying and reciting Quran).

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    1. It says “There shall frequent the mosques of God only he who believes in God and the last Day, who performs the prayer and dispenses alms.” There is nothing in that verse 9:18 or 9:17 about building and maintaining mosques.

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      1. “Frequent” is close but not precise translation to the Arabic word “يعمر” which has a wider meaning than “frequent” visiting. There is a “maintenance” element in the word.

        See (http://quran.com/9/18):
        “The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah , for it is expected that those will be of the [rightly] guided.”

        The context of that verse is explained by the next one. It is said that they came to answer couple of old Meccans who glorified themselves by exaggerating their role in watering the pilgrims and maintaining the Grand Mosque of Mecca. So these verses came to dismiss their claim and to state that this “honor” belongs to those who were the first to believe and strived to carry the faith.

        See (http://quran.com/9/19):
        “Have you made the providing of water for the pilgrim and the maintenance of al-Masjid al-Haram equal to [the deeds of] one who believes in Allah and the Last Day and strives in the cause of Allah ? They are not equal in the sight of Allah . And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.“

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      2. “Frequent” is close but not precise translation to the Arabic word “يعمر” which has a wider meaning than “frequent” visiting. There is a “maintenance” element in the word.
        See (http://quran.com/9/18)
        “The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah , for it is expected that those will be of the [rightly] guided.”

        The context of that verse is explained by the next one. It is said that they came to answer couple of old Meccans who glorified themselves by exaggerating their role in watering the pilgrims and maintaining the Grand Mosque of Mecca. So these verses came to dismiss their claim and to state that this “honor” belongs to those who were the first to believe and strived to carry the faith.

        See (http://quran.com/9/19)
        “Have you made the providing of water for the pilgrim and the maintenance of al-Masjid al-Haram equal to [the deeds of] one who believes in Allah and the Last Day and strives in the cause of Allah ? They are not equal in the sight of Allah . And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.“

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  5. I suppose one of the purposes of this exercise is to get a feeling about the effect of reading the Quran on those believe in it as the word of God.
    It may help a bit to mention that the vast majority of modern Muslims don’t actually take the Quran on face value, and that is a good thing. They don’t necessary fully understand it, it’s still difficult language even for Arabs and quite often ambiguous. Traditionally, it’s a pure ritual just to recite it without necessary understanding what it means literally, although the Quran urges them to think and ponder on its verses. They are taken by the general impression of its compassionate message.
    You will see something like this (http://quran.com/16/90)
    “Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.”

    They are not really consciously aware of the extreme doctrine of the “sward verses” – as they call them – in this chapter which clearly declares open war on all other faiths until they submit or pay special tax, whether they are pagans, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians or any other form of different beliefs or the lack of it.
    Those who take it on face value and they are serious about their faith will either end up abandoning it completely, or becoming extremist on their way to become jihadist or terrorist.

    What ISIS did to the Iraqi Yazidis and Christians is entirely based on the doctrine of this important and dangerous chapter.

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    1. What a cop out. So you are not a practicing Muslim if you do good, but you are a practicing Muslim if you are ISIS and Jihadis. The Jizya existed as a means to force the divided Arab communities to become PART of the Ummah. Why? Well at this stage Islam had spread and indeed it was being threatened by nearby Persian/Sassanid and Byzantine empires who were huge, intimidating and well armed armies. When Muhammad sent them letters about his Prophethood they ripped them and put them under their feet and defiantly saw Islam as an impending threat.
      So, the Muslims either had to kill, or eventually be killed when the Islamic empire spread. Yet Arabia was a place of trivial tribes who did not honour contracts or treaties and the land was divided into many “communities”. The Jizya tax was a way to enforce the Arabs within all of these other faiths to become a part of the Ummah and strengthen the Muslim community and make it appear like a much bigger and intimidating force to the empires that surrounded Saudi Arabia. Not everyone had to pay the jizya, those in hardship were exempt and some chose to fight whilst others were happy with the mere “protection”.

      Seeming these lands no longer have disputed borders that are being challenge or fought for there is no need for a Jihad. Only upon those that lay war amongst us. The verse of the sword was specifically during the period of the Islamic expansion through the Middle East.

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      1. So forcing all non-Muslims to pay a special tax, with the only way out to convert to Islam, was a way to unite “Arab communities”? If this reading is right -and I’ve no idea whether the historical evidence backs it up – what it describes is essentially an aggressive colonial power using this device to help force itself on the neighbouring areas. It’s as if the British in nineteenth century India had said that everyone could either pay a special tax or convert to Anglicanism and therefore become “one of us”.

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      2. Well you will find in many cases when Islam spread to other nations outside of Arabia, it spread by the means of trade and in mostly peaceful circumstances where the “verse of the sword” was not used. South East Asia is a great example of how Islam spread to become extremely populous without any “striking of the necks”. As i said, the context behind the verse was clearly one where Islam wanted to dominate the Arabian playing field which was being fought for by the Sassanids and Byzantines both while Muhammad was alive and after he died. The Jizya was actually quite a tactical idea, it forced the numerous scattered Non Muslim communities to become part of the Ummah (nation) whilst the Muslims were dominant in the land but faced much larger and brutal empires around them. This war and missionary expansion was essential for Islams survival.

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      3. What a pathetic justification for a primitive and barbaric authoritarian rule to impose a mythical ideology on people or face the dire consequences! But thanks anyway for proving my exact point!
        The Jizya Tax has nothing to do with Rome or Persia as you are trying to cover it up with, the sward-verse is clearly stating the purpose : To follow the new religion’s law and order, or pay a humiliating and degrading tax.
        Here it is: http://quran.com/9/29
        “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah (tax) willingly while they are humbled.”
        The last bit says “until they give the jizyah (tax) willingly while they are humbled” which is a very light translation to the original Arabic word صاغرون which literally means “humiliated and submissive”.
        Now trying to put a historical context to the verse to mark it as irrelevant nowadays is a miserable attempt to cherry-pick the text, and we could equally mark the entire Quran as irrelevant because virtually everything has a historic context that can go with it!
        People who read the Qur’an don’t need to follow it up by reading the massive and quite often conflicting sources of Hadeeths (prophet’s sayings) and Seera (prophet’s life story events) and Tafseer (explanations) and “Reason of Revelations” so that they can understand which verse is relevant and which is not! They can only take it by face value, that what the Qur’an says about itself and what expect its followers to do!

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      4. Do you seriously expect to be taken seriously when your comments are riddled with hypocrisy? As i said, when you responded to this bloggers post about a certain Quranic verse it is you that pulled out every other “secondary” Islamic source that is NOT Qur’anic to promote your twisted statement. Yet now suddenly you are against it. Very peculiar!

        You see my statement about the “Verse of the Sword” being strictly a verse during Islams missionary conquest across Arabia is supported within authentic Hadiths.

        Either way history proves to us that a major part of Islams conquest of Arabia had lots to do with the Byzantine and Sassanid empires around. Islam had to face these empires sooner or later, it was inevitable and the Muslims needed power. The Jizya was not only about dominion, otherwise the Muslims would have forced the Jews/Christians to fight. In fact all of the terms and conditions behind the Jizya tax reveals it is less about “conquering” them but forcing them to be a “part” of the Ummah.

        The Jizya is no more humiliating than the current taxes i pay here (by force) with my current government- for things that go against my wishes.

        The bottom line was that Islam was becoming an empire and a system that coerced unison within a very divided people were necessary.

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      5. Although I’m not a believing Moslem anymore I have always understood those verses to be in context to
        [9:13] ‘Will you not fight against those who broke their pledges and did all they could to drive the Messenger away and initiated hostilities against you? Do you fear them?’
        and also in accordance to the verse asking to fight against those who fight you and not to aggress, and therefore only as means of defense. So if a Jewish or Christian tribe started to fight the Moslems then keep fighting them until you win and then they have to pay tribute. But not in the sense of go ahead and fight everyone who is not a Moslem.

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  6. “The Jizya is no more humiliating than the current taxes i pay here (by force) with my current government- for things that go against my wishes.”

    This I disagree with, though I understand that many try to downplay the text in terms of making paying of the jizya a humiliating experience. I don’t read Arabic but reading from the numerous Islamic translations that are considered authentic, the most gentle term used is “until they are humbled” with humbled having several definitions, one of which is “having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience,”. Other interpretations used the word “humiliated” which is defined as “to cause (a person) a painful loss of pride, self-respect, or dignity; mortify.”

    Whilst I may be frustrated at the level of tax I may pay for the state and country, at no point do I feel a painful loss of pride or self respect or any type of humiliation. I can understand forcing people to feel this way may be a good tactic to keep a group in check and subservient. It doesn’t appear to be a good life for non muslims living under these conditions, at least from these interpretations.

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    1. The most accurate term is “Until they are subdued”. Tax is nothing honorable, even in our governments today. Ask any free citizen of the modern world if they feeled honoured to pay a tax and ask them if they could- would they STOP paying tax? You see our modern system penalizes us if we do not pay our taxes, we are seen as “tax evaders” and criminals- hence we are FORCED to pay the tax and indeed, we too are subdued- even if we percieve it not. If we had an option or a choice then yes the modern model would be better but the fact remains the Jizya model and our current tax model in liberal and democratic societies is a very similar thing.

      Yes it would have been challenging for those that had to pay it, yet there was strong leniency to allow people to not pay it. It was only applicable to healthy men who were capable of paying it and who were fit enough to work and fight battles.

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      1. Amazed that there is any argument about the massive difference between a universal tax system – in our case a redistributive one determined by a democratically-elected government – which everyone pays into, and a discriminatory system which penalises those who do not follow a particular religion. It’s called coercion.

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      2. Jizya is not universal. It was a local tax system meant primarily during the Islamic expansionist period. The tax did not have anything to do with religious coercion, considering that the Jizya tax was exempted by those that devoted their lives to their religion (monks, priests etc).If Jizya was even about personal coercion it wouldn’t exclude women, children, old men, mentally or physically ill etc.

        Your’e clearly reading into Jizya as some sort of system of cruelty when in fact it was not really the case. People weren’t penalized for following another religion, they actually avoided the tax by being devoted to their (other) religion.

        This tax was simply about coercing people to become a community. Something the Arabs most definitely were not. Why is that hard for you to comprehend?

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