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I have heard that Muslims are supposed to slay non-believers because they are not Muslim.

Is this true? Is this in the Quran? If it is, where is it stated like this? If not, what are the Quranic passages that get identified as such and are misinterpreted this way?

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Indeed there are people who hold this view and even quote the Qur'an to support their actions but this is a gross misunderstanding of the Qur'an, of the historical contexts in which the verses were revealed and due to their own inherent tendencies towards extremism. You may also find such statements from non Muslims who want to tarnish the image of Islam.

One of the verses which may be quoted to support this errant view is Qur'an 9:5

And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush.

However, the verse is clearly referring to the Meccan polytheists and not just any disbeliever. Secondly, the Qur'an didn't say just kill any polytheist, but only those whom had broken their treaty with the Muslims (see the previous verse9:4).

In another verse, the Qur'an explicitly makes it clear that the order to fight the disbelievers is only with regards to those who fight the Muslims or help others in fighting the Muslims (Qur'an 60:8):

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.

There are many verses of the Qur'an, too numerous to list all, that establish that man has been given the free will to believe or to disbelieve. Don't forget people are believers or disbelievers only according to Allah's will: if Allah had willed, everyone would have been a believer, and so killing people simply because of their disbelief is contrary to the will of Allah (Qur'an 10:99).

And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed - all of them entirely. Then, [O Muhammad], would you compel the people in order that they become believers?

You may wonder, how would the Prophet debate with disbelievers on religious issues, settle disputes between them, eat their food, accept their gifts, sign treaties with them, and even in one instance stand up in respect of a Jew that had died, if he also ordered to kill them? Does that make sense? How would the Qur'an say we're allowed to marry women from the People of the Book if we're supposed to kill them? Would you kill your own wife or inlaws?

In a summary, this is a minority extremist view, or one held by ignorant critics of Islam, and we have a duty to point out the errors of anyone who might be inclined towards this.

  • 1
    Good answer. To add to what you said, some extremist claim verse 9:5 has abrogated all other verses that commands tolerance. So they believe it is ok to compel others to Islam. But by setting aside lot of verses by citing an unrelated verse, they are following Quran partially and Quran says there is humiliation in this world for those who do so. Quran 2:85 – Abu Ziyad Mar 1 '15 at 4:22
  • "the Qur'an didn't say just kill any polytheist, but only those whom had broken their treaty with the Muslims" As I understand it, that's not the correct context for this ayah. Explanation of Quran 9:5- youtube.com/… – Student Mar 6 '15 at 18:31
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    Quran 9:5 is not about all polytheists, in the beginning of sura 9:1 itself it is mentioned " to those with whom you had made a treaty among the polytheists.". In 9:4 it is again reminded this does not apply to other polytheists who have not broken treaty. "Excepted are those with whom you made a treaty among the polytheists and then they have not been deficient toward you in anything or supported anyone against you;". In 9:7 also it is said polytheists who didn't broke the treaty are exempted. Clearly from Quran it is not a command to kill all polytheists after four months notice. – Abu Ziyad Mar 7 '15 at 7:29
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Any verse in the Quran can be misinterpreted. This is why it is a must for Muslims to read the commentary of the verses to understand the Quran.

Examples of misinterpreted verses:

And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you http://quran.com/2/191

However, if you read other verses in the Quran. You will see some verses prohibiting muslims from killing anyone:

Quran:

Say, "Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities - what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason." An-Nam verse 151

These legal rights include:

  • Muslim

    1. Leaving religion.
    2. Killing someone else.
    3. Married man/women who commit adultery.
  • Non-Muslims

    1. Whoever attacks Muslims.
    2. Those who try to stop a muslim caliph from spreading Islam to the world (only valid at the time when Muslims had an Islamic state +1100 years ago...)

Another prohibition from Hadith (Saying of the prophet):

The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Whoever killed a Mu'ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling). Bukhary - sunnah.com

Note: "person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims", this statement includes the modern laws that govern countries. i.e: Muslims in a muslim/non-muslim countries are not allowed to kill non-Muslims because there are laws that prohibit violence"


  • If this was intended to be a full list, it should have included sorcery and homosexuality. I seem to remember there were more capital offenses in the orthodox sunni schools, but I can't recall them - maybe it was only those. – G. Bach Jul 20 '16 at 12:58

protected by Jon Ericson Jun 13 '16 at 19:12

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