Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quran on Human Interaction in times of Peace and War

Following is a collection of Quranic verses, originally collected by Kabir Helminski , pertaining to a set of rules/decorum/courtesy that must exist between individuals and societies in times of peace and war. I have used translations of the Quran from multiple sources. 

1. "Unto every one of you have We a different law and way of life. And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: But He willed it otherwise in order to test you by means of what He vouschafed unto you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good works! Unto God you all must return; and then He will make you truly understand all."
Quran 5:48 

Muhammad Asad mentions in his english translation/commentary of this verse:
"Thus, the Quran impresses upon all who believe in God - Muslims and non-Muslims alike - that the differences in their religious practices should make them "vie with one another in doing good works" rather than lose themselves in mutual hositilty" ... 

2. "O you who have attained to faith, when you go forth [to war] in God's cause, use your dicenrment, and do not - out of a desire for the feelting gains of this worldy life - say unto anyone who offers you the greeting of peace, "Thou art not a believer": for with God there are gains abundant. You, too, were once in the same condition - but God has been gracious unto you. Use, therefore, your discenrment: verily, God is always aware of what you do."
Quran 4:94 Translated by Muhammad Asad

This verse discusses the rules of war and more. The Quran clearly commands Muslims from mistreating non-combatants as enemies and using their supposed unbelief/difference in religion as a pretext for plundering them. Thereafter, the Quran reminds Muslims that "You, too, were once in the same condition", which was a time whem Muslims were weak and numerically insignificant and thus at the mercy of enemies - thus Muslims should treat their opponents with the same consideration which they themselves once had hoped for. This is Muhammad Asad's understaning of the verse. 

Abdullah Yusuf Ali, another famous translator of the Quran, adds that this verse does NOT only refer to "war", but it applies to when a Muslim travels abroad for pure motives - such as "trading/business" or "jihad". He explains that the immediate occasion of this verse was in connection with Jihad, but the words are general and can be applied to similar circumstances. 

In the book Asbab Al Nuzul (Context and Occasions of the Revelation of the Quran) by Al Wahidi, it is mentioned that this verse was revelaed after a Muslim had killed an innocent non-Muslim who had offered peace and in one narration perhaps even converted to Islam. Yet, the Muslim killed him, "out of a desire for the feelting gains of this worldy life", (for the booty). 

In my opinion this verse is as relevant today as it was back then. Nations have long invaded, occupied, and murdered innocent civilians in order to attain "feelting gains of this worly life", and justified it by using "national security", and "moral superiorirty" in the case of Colonialism, as excuses for evil.

3. "Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clearly from error; whoever rejects evil and has faith in God has grasped the most trustworthy, unfailing handhold. And God hears and knows all things, God is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light"
Quran 2:256-257

It is mentioned in Asbab Al Nuzul by Al Wahidi, that this verse may have been revealed when Muslim women of Madinah tried to coerce their sons to convert to Islam. 

The documentation of the above event in history by Muslim historians and this verse of the Quran shows that Islamic history has been well preseverd and follows the injunctions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): "speak the truth even if it be against yourself".

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