The Prophet said:

I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger (ﷺ), and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah
[ Bukhari ]

The word used for “the people” is


(Which I thought meant Mankind, because I don’t know arabic and my only contact with the word was in surah Nas lol)

So who was the prophet commanded to fight

  • Note that this hadith is just a rewording of the verse 9:5.
    – The Z
    Dec 15, 2021 at 14:56

2 Answers 2


Allah says in the Quran:

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. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (9:5)

This verse was revealed regarding the polytheists of the Arabs. But, it applies generally in circumstances where similar conditions are fulfilled (e.g. there is no peace treaty, the leader has decided fight, etc.). Since this is not a question about what conditions allow fighting, I won't go into explaining what they are.

But, what needs to be understood is that when fighting is mentioned, it is referring to when the conditions are fulfilled. Obviously, the Prophet (SAW) never fought people while they had a peace treaty.

As for this hadith, it is nothing but a rewording of the above verse in the Quran and an indirect reference to it.

Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "I have been commanded (by Allah) to fight people until they testify that there is no true god except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform Salat and pay Zakat. If they do so, they will have protection of their blood and property from me except when justified by Islam, and then account is left to Allah." (Bukhari and Muslim)

So, what "the people" means in the context of this hadith may be divided into two ways of reaching the same conclusion:

  1. It means the disbelievers of the Arabs and, by extension, everyone similar to them. This would be interpreting the words specifically and expanding from the specific.

  2. It means people in general. Then, we disclude those whom we are forbidden to fight like those who have peace treaties and those who pay Jizyah. So, this would be interpreting words generally then discluding those that are exempted.

    In this case, the hadith is doing nothing except explaining when exactly inherent protection for people applies. Disbelievers do not have inherent protection. Their protection needs to be added by a certain mean (e.g. peace treaty, Jizyah, etc.), while Muslims have inherent protection. The Prophet, thus, mentions what makes inherent protection apply to a person is: him believing, performing Salah, and paying Zakah.

Either way, the end result is the same that we are allowed to fight in a certain case and not allowed to fight when it is forbidden.

In support of the second way of thinking, many of the scholars have used this hadith as evidence that there is a hadd (legal punishment) of death for the Muslim who refuses to pray or refuses to give Zakah. They claim this hadith shows that the protection of a Muslim's blood only applies when he performs Salah and gives Zakah.

It should also be noted that Abu Bakr (RA) fought the people who refused to give Zakah during the Riddah wars.


The word Nas/ناس/People does not refer to mankind, nor the non-Muslim minorities living under a Muslim authority, it refers to non-Muslim nations and Jihad [i.e. Strive] in general.

Jihad is prescribed for two reasons:

  1. Establish God's law on the earth, and to free the people from polytheism.
  2. Defend the Muslim minorities living under repression from a non-Muslim tyrant -> Qur'an [2:190]

Jihad is not:

  1. Killing innocents -> Qur'an [6:151]
  2. Forcing Islam without people's will -> Qur'an [2:256]
  3. Taking the properties of non-Muslim without right -> https://sunnah.com/abudawud:3052

Jihad is not what the western media paints the terrorist groups with, the terrorist groups are not even relevant to what the Prophet [PBUH] was doing in his life and the wars he participated in.

Jihad did not start with Islam, the first time in human history when Allah prescribed Jihad was ~3000 years ago, the time when Allah saved Israel from Egypt and led them to the Holy Land to fight the Canaanites:


يَـٰقَوْمِ ٱدْخُلُوا۟ ٱلْأَرْضَ ٱلْمُقَدَّسَةَ ٱلَّتِى كَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَلَا تَرْتَدُّوا۟ عَلَىٰٓ أَدْبَارِكُمْ فَتَنقَلِبُوا۟ خَـٰسِرِينَ

O my people, enter the Holy Land [i.e., Palestine] which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back [from fighting in Allah's cause] and [thus] become losers.

Prophet Moses, king David, his son Solomon, these noble Prophets [and all Israelite messengers] were ordered to strive for Allah's cause:


Indeed, it is from Solomon, and indeed, it is: 'In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful,

Be not haughty with me but come to me in submission [as Muslims].'

This is what the Prophet did before declaring the war, to inform the nations of God's message, then fight [not kill] until submitting to God's order.

The rise of Islam and its expansion [فتوحات is the Arabic name of Islamic Conquests] was also mentioned in the Old Testament, Isaiah 54:

1 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.

2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

Barren -> The Arabs of Kedar, not receiving a messenger after Ishmael [PBUH]

Desolate Woman -> Hajar, mother of the Ishmaelite Arabs

Married Wife -> Sarah, mother of the Israelites

Tent -> The Kingdom of God [as called in the Gospels], the Islamic Caliphate

Right and Left -> East and West of the Holy Land

Inherit the Gentiles -> Inherit the Covenant of Abraham from the Israelites

Allah prescribed Jihad after the covenant with Abraham [Qur'an 2:124], before the covenant; He sent the divine punishment upon the disbelievers Himself, because the believers were minorities among them and couldn't fight.

The case became different after Allah revealed the Torah, at which He stopped the divine punishment and ordered the believers to fight the disbelievers, this was not something Prophet Muhammad had a choice in, it's an order.

Hadeeth: https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah:4019

They do not break their covenant with Allah and His Messenger, but Allah will enable their enemies to overpower them and take some of what is in their hands. Unless their leaders rule according to the Book of Allah and seek all good from that which Allah has revealed, Allah will cause them to fight one another.

  • Ibn hazm and Qatadah said 2:256 was abrogated
    – Hisham
    Dec 15, 2021 at 16:14
  • Source please + It's illogical that forcing the religion was the doctrine of the Prophet [PBUH], since you have verses like [6:107], [12:103], etc...... Also look at [60:4-9], the Prophet had Jews under his authority in the Madinah, and no reports he forced Islam on them [till their betrayal]. Qur'an[2:256] doesn't apply to apostates though.
    – Ahmed Ali
    Dec 15, 2021 at 16:23
  • source is Trust me Bro
    – Hisham
    Dec 15, 2021 at 16:31
  • No Tafsir for [2:256] says it was definitely abrogated, so the point is standing, and that's also the point of Jizya in the first place, but again; that verse is not about apostates, they are a different case.
    – Ahmed Ali
    Dec 15, 2021 at 17:04

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