James M. Arlandson: Jihad and Qital in the Qur’an, Traditions and Classical Law

4 Jihad and Qital in the Qur’an, Traditions and Classical Law
Can Modern Islam Reform the Old Institutions of War and Taxes?
by James M. Arlandson, Ph.D.

This series of articles on Islamic shariah law is written for educators, journalists, judges, lawyers, legislators, city council members, government bureaucrat, think tank fellows, radio talk show hosts, TV and radio talk show hosts, and anyone else who occupies the “check points” in society. They initiate the national dialogue and shape the flow of the conversation. They are the policy and decision makers.

They have heard the critics of shariah and believe they exaggerate. Islam is a world religion, after all. It deserves respect. The critics must be “Islamophobic.”

Yet, these same intellectual elites may have a private, gnawing feeling that there is something wrong with shariah, as it relates to the modern world. Can the critics be all wrong, all the time? Which side should they trust — their private doubts or their natural tendency to trust world religions?

Defenders of shariah post articles and fatwas (religious rulings or opinions) saying, essentially, there is nothing wrong with shariah. Their intent, among others, is to alleviate the private doubts.

For example, the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) consists of a team of religious scholars, most of whom have their doctorates in Islamic law or other Islamic subjects; they have the authority to write fatwas. Their site is set up in the write-in Question and Answer format.

An enquirer asks for clarification about the jizyah tax, which was (and is) imposed on non-Muslims living in Islamic lands (taxes and jihad go hand-in-hand in Islam, as this entire article demonstrates).

The questioner writes:

Kindly clarify to me: Are Muslims ordered to humiliate non-Muslims under their rule according to [9:29] while taking the jizyah from them to put pressure on them to revert to Islam?

Then the questioner quotes Quran 9:29 (omitted here, but see below) and continues with a quotation from a Muslim scholar:

. . . Jizyah is “the payment in exchange for the right to life of the individual dhimmi [citizen liable to the jizyah tax], and it must be renewed annually. It is also punitive, and justified by the evil of the dhimmis … The payer is also insulted and humiliated when he pays. The tax is thus a means of pressing a dhimmi to convert, a humiliation, an expression of his conquered subject status, and an assertion of Muslim superiority.” Besides, “the jizyah should not be accepted when payment is made through an intermediary. The payer should come in person & remain standing: he who is collecting should be sitting … The tax collector should shake the clothing of the payer, saying, “˜Pay the jizyah, O dhimmi.” The tax collector can also say, “˜O Jew, enemy of God, pay!–

In its entirety here is the reply by the Muslim scholar at AMJA:

Jizyah is an amount of money assessed by the Muslim state, and required from the non-Muslims who live in the Muslim state to pay in order for the Muslims to protect them.

Our history shows clearly how just and kind Muslims were during their Golden Period when they used to accommodate non-Muslims and enjoy the mercy and justice of Islam together.[1]

The jizyah, then, is for the protection of non-Muslims, and Muslims were kind and just during the Golden Period while imposing the tax (but note the quotation of another Muslim scholar referenced by the questioner). Presumably the scholar at AMJA means the period that took place during the long Abbasid Dynasty (A.D. 750-1258). This dynasty is indeed known as the Golden Age. However, classical Islamic law, in the section below, mainly emerges during this period. And these laws reveal a different picture.

Do the decision and policy makers and intellectual elites who control the “check points” in Western society believe the reply at AMJA?

There is too much confusion about jihad and the lesser known word qital. This confusion has been circulating around the web for years. This article is designed to shed some light on the topic.

To get a fuller picture of jihad and qital, we look at their religious purpose, their rules, and their material spoils.

Here is the Table of Contents, with links:


Defining Jihad and Qital

The Purpose of Jihad and Qital

The Rules of Jihad and Qital

The Spoils of Jihad and Qital


The Purpose of Jihad and Qital

The Rules of Jihad and Qital

The Spoils of Jihad and Qital


The Purpose of Jihad and Qital

The Rules of Jihad and Qital

The Spoils of Jihad and Qital


Moderate Views?

Traditional Views




Defining Jihad and Qital

We begin with basic textual facts.[2]

The three-letter root of jihad is j-h-d (jihad or jahada). It more generally signifies “struggling” or “striving,” but in other contexts it means a war. In its various forms it appears about thirty-five times in the Quran: nine times in the Meccan chapters, and twenty-six times in the Medinan ones, a big increase.

As noted, while Muhammad lived in Mecca, he had no military, so the verses are peaceful. But when he migrated up to Medina, his raiders grew into a large army after a mere eight years. Chapter 9 of the Quran was one of the last chapters to be revealed, if not the last one. Jihad appears mostly in that chapter, in the context of war (ten times). This increase of the Medinan jihad verses reflects the rise of his military, though not every use of the word is in a military context, but simply striving or struggling.

But much more significant is the root q-t-l (qital or qatala), the meaning of which is much more narrow or restricted: slaying, killing, fighting, warring, and slaughtering. It appears a total of about one hundred and twenty-three times in the Quran: thirty-four times in the Meccan chapters, most of which do not involve Muslims as such, since his community was small. But the contexts are typically wars or conflicts of long ago or are commands not to kill the innocent, like children.

In the Medinan chapters q-t-l is found eighty-nine times, a huge increase over the Meccan ones. Chapter 2 and 3 of the Quran contain the most instances, at twenty-five, though Chapter 9 by itself comes in at ten. Of all the occurrences of q-t-l not every context is about war, but many are.

Maybe we have been focusing on jihad too much, when our attention should be directed at qital — or both at the same time.

See my article about The Mission of Muhammad and the Sword for more discussion on the growth of his military.

The Purpose of Jihad and Qital

A complicated practice like jihad and qital can have multiple goals or purposes, but religious dominance best summarizes them. Islam must prevail over all other religions.

Chapter 8 of the Quran deals with the Battle of Badr in A.D. 624. Muhammad and about 300 raiders confronted a Meccan caravan at a group of wells called Badr, near the coast on the Red Sea, about a two or three day journey by foot or horseback from Medina.[3] The Meccan caravan had finished their business up north in Syria and was heading home. The Meccan traders got word that Muhammad planned to attack, so they sent a message to their hometown to send reinforcements. About 1,000 showed up, but remarkably the Muslims won the battle.

Then he recounts the Meccans” transgression of barring him from the Kabah shrine: Quran 8:34 says:

34 Yet why should God not punish them when they debar people from the Sacred Mosque, although they are not its [rightful] guardians.[4]
(Quran 8:34)

He commands his followers to fight the Meccans. Quran 8:39 says:

39 Fight [q-t-l] them until there is no more persecution, and all worship is devoted to God alone” (Quran 8:39).

The clause “all worship is devoted to God alone” is a prediction of what Islamic policy will become: fighting for Islam, monotheism. He says that the Meccan pagans… 
“are the worst creatures in the sight of God who reject Him and will not believe” (v. 55).

Next, Chapter 8 continues by saying,

65 Prophet, urge the believers to fight [q-t-l]: if there are twenty of you who are steadfast, they will overcome two hundred, and a hundred of you, if steadfast, will overcome a thousand of the disbelievers, and a steadfast thousand of you will defeat two thousand.” (Quran 8:65)

In verses 39 and 65 the strong Arabic word qital is used, and, as noted, it means only fighting and killing physically and militarily. It does not mean an inner struggle against vices.

However, Muhammad offers peace. “But if they incline towards peace, you [Prophet] must also incline towards it” (v. 61). Despite the battle he just won, he was willing to have peace, presumably to take pilgrimages to the sacred shrine back in Mecca.

Next, Muhammad intends to make Islam prevail over every religion. Quran 9:33, the historical context of which is covered in the next section on the Tabuk Campaign in A.D. 630, says:

33 It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, to show that it is above all [other] religions, however much the idolaters may hate this.[5]
(Quran 9:33)

This verse is repeated two more times, word for word, in Quran 61:9 and 48:28, and this repetition shows theologically and religiously how important it is that Islam must prevail.

While in Mecca, in contrast, Muhammad had said, “You have your religion and I have mine” (Quran 109:6). Now, however, Islam must prevail over all religions. Muhammad and his community may use preaching and persuasion, but the Medinan verses in the Quran permit them to fight and kill Jews, Christians, and pagans.

The growth of the military in original Islam made all the difference. Now the institutional genetic code is set.

Islam must prevail, and if this is done militarily, then jihad and qital will be waged. That is the perfect definition of a holy war.

The Rules of Jihad and Qital

A complicated policy like jihad and qital needs some rules. Muhammad invented them as he went along, and they favor him and his community.

1. Women captives are sometimes forced to marry their Muslim masters.

In this verse Muhammad lays down laws for slaves and marriage. What happens to slave women who are captured during the raids that the Muslims went out on? Quran 4:24 says:

24 Also (prohibited are) women already married except those whom your right hands possess.[6]… (Quran 4:24)

The clause “your right hands possess” means those who are in one’s control (cf. “handmaid”), whether captured in war or bought at a slave sale, regardless of the immediate historical context when this verse was revealed.[7]

The topic of women slaves is covered more thoroughly in the next article about slavery and jihad, in the series.

2. Conquered women and children may be enslaved.

Muhammad besieged a large tribe of Jews in Medina, called the Qurayza, in their fortress. After some negotiations and a trial that went against them, the men were beheaded and their bodies and heads dragged and tossed into the trenches, whereas the women and children were sold into slavery. These three verses, especially v. 26, in Quran 33 deal with this verdict:

25 Allah turned back the unbelievers [Meccans and their allies] in a state of rage, having not won any good, and Allah spared the believers battle [q-t-l]. Allah is, indeed, Strong and Mighty. 26 And He brought those of the People of the Book [Qurayza] who supported them from their fortresses and cast terror into their hearts, some of them you slew [q-t-l] and some you took captive. 27 And he bequeathed to you their lands, their homes and their possessions, together with land you have never trodden. Allah has power over everything.[8] (Quran 33:25-27)

Allah permits the enslavement of Qurayza women and children, and Muhammad sold them. Allah permits Muhammad to take the Jewish clan’s property on the basis of conquest and his possession of all things. Selling humans produced a lot of wealth.

The topic of slavery and jihad is dealt with more thoroughly in the next article in the series.

3. A captured enemy may be killed, ransomed by money or an exchange, imprisoned, or released freely.

It is one of the great ironies of the Quran that Chapter 47 can be titled either “Muhammad” or “War” (Qital). It was written in the first year of his new life in Medina, when he had decided to wage war on the Meccans. Verse 4 says:

4 So, when you meet (in fight — Jihad in Allah’s cause) those who disbelieve, smite (their) necks till when you have killed or wounded many of them [th-kh-n], then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islam), until war lays down its burden.[9] (Quran 47:4)

Imprisonment may be just if the captured enemy can return to fight against the conquerors at a later time. But selling prisoners of war back to their clan was an Arab custom. Money could be made. It should be noted that the Quran offers release “by grace” or freely.[10]

The root in brackets means “subdue thoroughly, have a regular fighting, cause much slaughter, have a triumphant war… to do something great, make much slaughter, overcome, battle strenuously.”[11]

4. Property may be confiscated.

A conquering army at this time was permitted by custom and sheer power to take the wealth of the conquered. The historical context of Chapter 8 of the Quran concerns Muhammad’s and his militia’s surprise victory over the much-larger Meccan force at Badr in 624, in which over 300 Muslims won a surprise victory over about 1,000 Meccans. The Meccans had received word of this raid and sent their army up north to protect their caravan that was heading south back to Mecca.

Quran 8:7 says that the jihadists wanted the unarmed group (the caravan loaded with supplies), but Allah gave them that one, plus the Meccan army.

7 Remember how God promised you [believers] that one of the two enemy groups would fall to you: you wanted the unarmed group to be yours, but it was God’s will to establish the truth according to His Word and to finish off the disbelievers.[12] (Quran 8:7)

Muhammad and his militia were able to take the property the caravan had gotten in Syria. Now he was wealthy, especially compared to his poverty before he won this battle. And recall that Quran 33:25-27 say the Muslim community was permitted to confiscate the property of the Qurayza Jews in 627.

5. Fruit trees and homes may be destroyed.

In 625, Muhammad was strong enough to exile the Nadir tribe of Jews, besieging them in their strongholds for fifteen days until he started destroying their date palms.[13] Their livelihood undergoing destruction, they departed to the city of Khaybar, seventy miles to the north, where they had estates. This takeover helped relieve the ongoing poverty of many Muslims at that time, who took over their date orchards. This passage in the Quran says:

5 Whatever you [believers] may have done to [their] palm trees — cutting them down or leaving them standing on their roots — was done by God’s leave, so that He might disgrace those who defied Him.[14] (Quran 59:5)

In the same chapter of the Quran and during the same conflict, Muhammad destroys the homes of the Jewish tribe of Nadir who lived in Medina.

2 … God came upon [the Jews of the Nadir tribe] from where they least expected and put panic into their hearts: they brought ruin to their own homes by their own hands, and the hands of the believers [Muslims].[15]  (Quran 59:2)

It is not known in precise terms how many homes the Muslim armies under the four caliphs destroyed, but surely some were torn down, just from the nature of warfare. But Medina wanted the money from taxes, so the armies could not be too destructive.

6. The conquered pagans are at first allowed to convert or go free, but later they are forced to convert or be killed.

As noted, Muhammad fought the Battle of Badr, against the Meccans. Their caravan was traveling south from Syria back to Mecca, and Muhammad intended to capture it. In Quran 8:70, Muhammad proposes these options to his captives.

70 Prophet, tell those you have taken captive, “If God knows of any good in your hearts, He will give you something better [Islam] than what has been taken from you [the caravan], and He will forgive you[16]  (Quran 8:70)

So Muhammad tells the Meccans that they should realize that Allah had a divine plan: expose them to Islam. This is better than all the material riches they can trade in. A Muslim militia just defeated the Meccans and stood behind this message of conversion, so it is not clear how free they were to decide such weighty matters of conscience.

When Chapter 9 of the Quran was written about eight years later, Muhammad was very powerful militarily. Now pagans did not have the option to live under Islam, pay a tax, and keep their religion, as the People of the Book did. Quran 9:5 says:

5 … Then fight and slay [q-t-l] the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them.[17] (Quran 9:5)

If pagans accept Islam and pay a tax, they could live. If not, death.[18]

Then Muhammad continues with his denunciations and requirements imposed on pagan Arabs, especially those around Mecca.

11 If they repent, keep up the prayer, and pay the prescribed alms [zakat], then they are your brothers in faith: We make the messages clear for people who understand… 14 Fight [q-t-l] them: God will punish them at your hands, He will disgrace them, He will help you to conquer them, He will heal the believers’ feelings.  (Quran 9:11, 14)

In v. 11, these rituals are the signs of Islam, and pagans who follow them are essentially Muslims or very close to becoming one. However, if they do not keep their oaths and they mock Muhammad’s religion (vv. 12-13), then v. 14 says to fight them, using the three-letter root qital.[19] The last clause in that verse says God will heal the believers” feelings, which corresponds to Muhammad’s hatred for the pagans. 

7.  Three options are imposed on Jews and Christians.

Quran 9:29 lays out some conditions for the People of the Book (Jews and Christians; the Book is the Bible):

29 Fight [q-t-l] against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.[20]

The options are as follows: Jews and Christians may (1) Fight and die; (2) convert; (3) or keep their religion, but pay a tribute or submission tax, called the jizyah, while living under Islam.[21]

In that verse, Muhammad lifts his site far beyond the Kabah in Mecca, but to other religions and resources.

The Spoils of Jihad and Qital

Arab custom demanded that raiders and jihadists get a share of the spoils of a raid or war.

1. Dividing the Spoils

As noted, Chapter 8 of the Quran, in its entirety, celebrates the victory at Badr. With this victory, Muhammad lays out the rules for the spoils of war.

1 They ask you [Prophet] about [distributing] the battle gains. Say, “That is a matter for God and His Messenger, so be mindful of God and make things right between you. Obey God and His Messenger if you are true believers” … 41 Know that one-fifth of your battle gains belongs to Gods and the Messenger[22]…(Quran 8:1, 41)

The rest of v. 41 goes on to say that Muhammad gets to distribute the twenty percent as he wants, for close relatives, orphans, the needy, and travelers. Collecting the spoils of war was done in pre-modern Arab culture, and Muhammad followed the custom. “God helped you at Badr when you were weak” (Quran 3:123).[23]

2. Winning Hearts with Money

Before we leave the Battle of Badr, we can compare 8:41 with a verse in another chapter.

This one says that Muhammad can distribute alms taxes in a similar way as the schematic laid out in 8:41. Quran 9:60 says:

60 Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of God; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by God, and God is full of knowledge and wisdom.[24](Quran 9:60)

Thus Quran 8:41 says that one-fifth of the spoils go to the needy, while 9:60 here says that alms — sometimes collected from the defeated enemies after conquests — can be similarly used. This may involve funding anyone who recently converted, “whose hearts have been reconciled” to the truth (Islam).

3. Money Flow

In early 630 Muhammad conquered Mecca. Recall that the Meccans had chased him out of his hometown, and he wanted to return. He had traveled there in 629 after a peace treaty was signed in 628.[25] Around this time he predicts: “He has promised you [people] many future gains [spoils]: He has hastened this gain for you”[26] (Quran 48:20). The same word for “spoils” here appears in Quran 8:41, which shows the Muslim how to divide the spoils of war.

One spoil or gain, in addition to the money he was about to collect from the conquest of the city, he got to walk around the black stone housed in the Kabah. He judged the city to be weak, perhaps from all the raids and battles. Then he claimed that the Meccans broke the treaty and attacked first. “How could you not fight [q-t-l] a people who have broken their oaths, who tried to drive the Messenger out, who attacked you first?” (Quran 9:13).[27]

Whatever the case, he mustered out 10,000 Muslims and their allies and marched south from Medina to Mecca. He surrounded the city at night and told his soldiers to light bonfires to intimidate the Meccans. They surrendered, but not without the bloodshed of twenty-four men who put up some resistance.[28] Now at last he took control of the Kabah

At first he allowed the Meccans, though pagans, to administer their own shrine (Quran 9:19). It was their custom. However, he soon barred them. “Believers, those who ascribe partners to God [polytheists] are truly unclean: do not let them come near the Sacred Mosque after this year” (Quran 9:28; cf. v. 18).

As pilgrims came to Mecca to visit the shrine, he controlled the resources. It became a “means of support” for Islam (Quran 5:97).

His mission was accomplished and his heart’s desire fulfilled. He is the one with the upper hand and military power. Thus, Quran 109:6 and 2:256 — both of which taught religious tolerance — disappeared.

4. “Charity” Tax

The word “charity” is put in quotation marks because a “charity tax” is an oxymoron. Charity should be done freely and voluntarily, and certainly not in the context of jihad and qital.

After the conquest of Mecca, still other pagans around Mecca supposedly broke a treaty or oath with Muhammad. He declared war on them.

5 … Then fight and slay [q-t-l] the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity [zakat], then open the way for them[29]  11 If they repent, keep up the prayer, and pay the prescribed alms [zakat], then they are your brothers in faith… 12 But if they break their oath… 14 Fight [q-t-l] them: God will punish them at your hands, He will disgrace them, He will help you conquer them.” (Quran 9:5, 11, 12, and 14)

The zakat tax is the third of the Five Pillars of Islam — all requirements.[30] He can impose it on the pagans. In the bigger picture Chapter 9 of the Quran was one of the last to be revealed, if not the very last one. Many believe that its verses have final say over the earlier peaceful ones. Certainly Chapter 9 has been used to set later Islamic policies, after armies conquered territories.[31]

5. Submission Tax

It is often claimed that jihad is all about instituting justice. However, in late 630 Muhammad is not finished with his conquests (after his conquest of Mecca in early 630). He heard a rumor that a large force of Byzantines — the old eastern Roman empire — had gathered their forces to go south and attack Islam. To counter this threat, he led about 20,000 to 30,000 troops north to the town of Tabuk, in northern Saudi Arabia today. However, underestimating Islamic aggression, the Byzantines never showed up.[32] Islam was too far to the south and too insignificant at this time in its history.

Along the way, though, Muhammad forced the small and disunited tribes of Jews and Christians (People of the Book, the Bible) to pay a submission (jizyah) tax or fight him and die or become Muslims. Here are the options revealed in the Quran.

29 Fight [q-t-l] against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.[33] (Quran 9:29)

Historically the options become fight and die; or surrender, keep their faith, and pay the jizyah (submission) tax. If Christians and Jews become Muslims, they pay the zakat (charity) tax.

In Islamic history, vanquished Jews and Christians became known as dhimmis. This word appears in Quran 9:8 and 10, meaning a “treaty” or “oath,” but it can also mean those who are “condemned” “reviled” or “reproved” (Quran 17:18, 22; 68:49).[34] The phrase “willing submission” can also be translated as “humiliation,” “utterly humbled,” “contemptible” or “vile.” It can mean “small” as opposed to “great.”[35] Finally, in actual practice the phrase means that they became second-class citizens of sorts who lived under Islam and had to pay the jizyah.[36]

To sum up this section, the spoils of war may be the ultimate material purpose of jihad or qital. If we combine this with the religious reason to wage war — to make Islam prevail over all other religions — then the two purposes are very powerful motives to keep the institution of jihad alive. So imposing justice is not necessarily the only reason to wage jihad or qital.


The sources of shariah law are the Quran and the example of Muhammad in the traditions passed on orally. His example was finally written down in the hadith literature. The editors of this corpus were very eager to get only the best and soundest traditions. Please
see the article titled, “What Is Shariah?” in this series, for more information.

The Purpose of Jihad and Qital

A man asked Muhammad what men fight for: war booty, fame, or showing off. Muhammad replied:

He who fights that Allah’s word (i.e. Allah’s religion of Islamic monotheism) be superior is in Allah’s cause. color:black">[37]

This next tradition says that Muhammad will fight everyone until they confess that Allah is God and that Muhammad is his messenger.

Allah’s Messenger [Muhammad] said: “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against people till they say… (none has the right to worshiped but Allah), and whoever said [this] he saved his life and property from me except for Islamic law, and his accounts will be with Allah.”[38]

This is the mission of Muhammad: to bring the entire world under Islam. And if people refuse to convert, they must pay a tax, but they still come under Islam’s authority.

Waging war to make Islam prevail is the perfect definition of a holy war.

The Rules of Jihad and Qital

The hadith on the rules of war reflect the life of Muhammad and are consistent with the Quran.

1. Women captives are sometimes forced to marry their Muslim masters.

This topic is covered more thoroughly in the article about slavery, next.

2. Conquered women and children may be enslaved.

This topic is covered more thoroughly in the article about alavery, next.

3. A captured enemy may be killed, ransomed by money or an exchange, imprisoned, or released freely.

This topic is covered more thoroughly in the article about slavery, next.

4. Property may be confiscated.

A hadith says that Muhammad has been ordered by Allah that he should fight until everyone says Allah is God and Muhammad is his messenger. If they do, then their property and lives are safe. The implication is that if they do not submit to Islam, their property and lives will not be kept safe.

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,’ and whoever says, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,’ his life and property will be saved by me except for Islamic law, and his accounts will be with Allah, (either to punish him or to forgive him.)”[39]

The next section, The Spoils of Jihad, covers this topic more thoroughly.

5. Fruit trees and homes may be destroyed.

Recall that in Chapter 59 of the Quran, Allah gives special permission to Muhammad to burn the date palms of the Jewish tribe of Nadir. The hadith confirms it.

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: The Prophet burnt the date-palms of Bani [tribe] An-Nadir.[40]

Then this hadith quotes from the Quran to justify their actions.

It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah… ordered the date-palms of Banu [tribe] Nadir to be burnt and cut. These palms were at Buwaira. Qutaibah and Ibn Rumh in their versions of the tradition have added: So Allah, the Glorious and Exalted, revealed the verse: “Whatever trees you have cut down or left standing on their trunks, it was with the permission of Allah so that He may disgrace the evil-doers” (lix.5).[41]

Next, this house contained idols, so it had to be dismantled and burned.

Narrated Jarir: Allah’s Apostles said to me, “Will you relieve me from Dhul-Khalasa? Dhul-Khalasa was a house (of an idol) belonging to the tribe of Khath’am called Al-Ka’ba Al-Yama-niya. So, I proceeded with one hundred and fifty cavalry men from the tribe of Ahmas, who were excellent knights.” …  Jarir proceeded towards that house, and dismantled and burnt it.[42]

The conquered pagans are forced to convert or be killed.

In A.D. 632-633 right after Muhammad died in 632, Abu Bakr waged the Wars of Apostasy. Some tribes in Arabia had promised to adhere to Islam during the life of Muhammad, but after he died, they went back to their old ways, sensing Islam was weak. Abu Bakr vowed to show them they were wrong. One hadith says as follows:

When Allah’s Apostle [Muhammad] died and Abu Bakr became the caliph some Arabs renegade [reverted to disbelief] [Abu Bakr decided to declare war against them], Umar, said to Abu Bakr, “How can you fight with these people although Allah’s Apostle said, ‘I have been ordered [by Allah] to fight the people till they say: “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and whoever said it then he will save his life and property from me except on trespassing the law …  and his accounts will be with Allah.– Abu Bakr said, “By Allah! I will fight those who differentiate between the prayer and the zakat, as zakat is the compulsory right to be taken from the property [according to Allah’s orders], by Allah! If they refuse to pay me even a she-kid which they used to pay at the time of Allah’s Apostle, I would fight with them for withholding it.”

At the end of same hadith, Umar, soon to be the second caliph, responds that this policy came from Allah.

Then Umar said… “Allah opened Abu Bakr’s chest towards the decision [to fight] and I came to know that his decision was right.”[43]

This entire long hadith echoes Quran 9:33, 61:9, 48:28 (three identical verses), 2:193, 8:39-41, 9:29, and especially 9:5. All of them speak of fighting until Islam prevails, but 9:5 discusses battling specific pagans until they pay the zakat or charity tax.

In the command to fight the pagans (9:5) the fighting can only cease when the pagans (1) repent, (2) establish the Islamic prayer, and (3) pay the zakat. Now that these tribes refused the third of the three conditions they are considered basically like pagans again (as they refuse to obey an important obligation of Allah in Islam); then the command to fight them becomes applicable again.

Kill the old men who are polytheists, but spare their children.[44]

The women and children of polytheists are permitted to be killed during nighttime raids when visibility is low. A Muslim asked Muhammad

About the polytheist whose settlement were attacked at night when some of their offspring and women were smitten [killed]. The Prophet… said: They are of them.[45]

The last clause means they are all the same — they are polytheists, so it does not matter. Ahmad Hasan, the translator of the hadith collector and editor Abu Dawud, as well as Abdul Hamid Siddiqi, the translator of hadith collector and editor Muslim, are quick to add that the killing takes place at night when the men and the women and children cannot be distinguished.

7.  Three options are imposed on Jews and Christians.

This passage is found in the context of the Tabuk campaign, in which Muhammad marched northward to attack the Byzantines. He encountered Jewish and Christian tribes. He sent Khalid al-Walid, nicknamed the Sword of Allah, to attack a fortress at Duma, governed by a Christian named Ukhaidir. Here two of the three options are spelled out, after they captured him. (1) accept Islam, the option not mentioned here; (2) fight and die; (3) pay the tribute or submission tax called the jizyah.

Anas told that God’s messenger sent Khalid b. al-Walid to Ukaidir of Duma, and when they seized him and brought him he spared his life and made peace with him on condition that he should pay jizyah.[46]  

In the next hadith passage, shortened to get to the heart of it, Muhammad sends his companion Umar, soon to be the second caliph after Muhammad’s death, to a Byzantine emperor. He offers two of the three options: accept Islam or pay the tribute. Since the context is one of war, the final option, to fight and die, can be assumed. Umar tells the emperor:

… Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give jizyah (i.e. tribute)[47]….

The Spoils of Jihad and Qital

This short hadith is unambiguous: “Allah’s Apostle said, “˜Booty has been made legal for me.–[48]

Dividing the Spoils

In distributing the spoils of war, Allah gives it, while Muhammad is a mere distributor and treasurer.[49] Those few but important words set the stage for the other hadith passages on the spoils of war.

In the hadith collection edited by Bukhari (d. 870), who is considered a very sound editor, an entire section is called “The Book of Obligations of Khumus.” This latter word, khumus, means one-fifth of the spoils of war.

So twenty percent goes to Muhammad or the state, and eighty percent goes to the soldiers. This is based on Quran 8:41, which says that one-fifth goes to Muhammad. This eighty percent can be divided according to the discretion of the military commander, if he had not received specific instructions before he set out.

A tradition says that a horseman should get three shares, whereas an infantryman should get only two.[50] Another tradition distributes the spoils, as follows: two for the horseman, and one for the footman.[51] Horses were expensive, so only the upper classes could afford them, especially in going out to war. Their share is much greater than that of the lowly infantryman.

2. Winning Hearts with Money

Further, Muhammad, shortly after the Battle of Hunain in 630, named after a valley near Mecca, distributed the alms to people whose “hearts have been reconciled” to the truth, that is, Islam. A hadith explains his policy: . . . “[W]hen the Messenger of Allah . . . conquered Hunain he distributed the booty, and he bestowed upon those whose hearts it was intended to win.”[52] This hadith is reminiscent of Quran 8:41, but with the added feature of buying and keeping converts — coaxing them into Islam and remaining there — with the spoils of war. In addition, Quran 9:60 says that alms taxes can be used for those whose “hearts have been reconciled” to Islam.

These two hadith repeat the policy of giving money to recent converts:

Narrated Amr bin Taghlib: Allah’s Apostle gave (gifts) to some people to the exclusion of some others. The latter seemed to be displeased by that. The Prophet said, “I give to some people, lest they should deviate from True Faith or lose patience, while I refer other people to the goodness and contentment which Allah has put in their hearts.”[53]  . . .

Narrated Anas: The prophet said, “I give to Quraish people [tribe in Mecca] in order to let them adhere to Islam, for they are near to their life of Ignorance (i.e. they have newly embraced Islam and it is still not strong in their hearts).”[54]

3. Money Flow

Recall that Muhammad conquered the Jewish tribe of Nadir and Qurayzah and took their resources. This hadith says that people offered him dates, implying that he did not have any. Now, however, he could return the favor.

People used to give some of their date palms to the prophet (as a gift), till he conquered Bani [tribe] Quraiza and Bani An-Nadir, whereupon he started returning their favors.[55]

4. “Charity” Tax

The word “charity” is put in quotation marks because a “charity tax” is an oxymoron. Charity should be done freely and voluntarily, and certainly it should not appear in the context of war.

Recall in the section The Rules of Jihad and Qital, no. 6, that Abu Bakr was about to wage the Wars of Apostasy; forcing Arab pagans back into Islam, so they will have to pay the charity tax.

… Abu Bakr said, “By Allah! I will fight those who differentiate between the prayer and the zakat, as zakat is the compulsory right to be taken from the property [according to Allah’s orders], by Allah! If they refuse to pay me even a she-kid which they used to pay at the time of Allah’s Apostle, I would fight with them for withholding it.” [56]

It should be noted that as the centuries wore on, Islam sometimes did not force the non-Arab pagans to convert, but to pay a tax, which varied.

For more discussion about imposing taxes, see my article The Early Muslim Community and the Sword

5. Submission Tax

Next, dhimmis, usually Christians and Jews, but sometimes polytheists in far-flung Islam, are citizens of sorts in lands conquered by Muslim armies. They are required to pay the jizyah tax, as this hadith shows:

Narrated Juwairiya bin Qudama At-Tamimi: “We said to ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab [the second caliph] … Chief of the believers! Advise us.” He said, “I advise you to fulfill Allah’s convention (made with the dhimmis) as it is the convention of your prophet and the source of the livelihood of your dependents (i.e. the taxes from
the dhimmis.)

The purpose of this jizyah tax on dhimmis is now clear: it is “the source of the livelihood of your dependents” back in Arabia.

In keeping with Quran 9:29, which offered Jews and Christians the options of fighting or submitting and being taxes or converting, the hadith collector and editor named Muslim (d. 875) says that Muhammad would order his jihadists to make three offers when their army surrounds a town or settlement: (1) the surrounded enemy may convert; (2) they may refuse to accept Islam and pay the jizyah or poll (submission) tax, which allows non-Muslims to live under Islam; or (3) they must be fought if they refuse the first two.[58] All three were offered to the People of the Book and in later centuries to non-Arab pagans.

For more discussion about imposing taxes, see my article The Early Muslim Community and the Sword

To sum up this section, the purpose of jihad is to make Islam prevail over all other religions. The spoils of jihad and qital are also a strong purpose. Combined, they make powerful motives to keep jihad and qital going throughout early Islam.


From the Quran and the example set by Muhammad that was eventually written down in the hadith, jurists and judges developed shariah or Islamic law. Please see the article titled, What Is Shariah? in the series, for more information.

The scholar at the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, quoted in the Introduction to this study, says Islam was kind and just during the Golden Period. If he refers to the Abbasid Dynasty (750-1258), then these laws that follow were compiled in that timeframe, and a little later. But Islam did not change after that dynasty in regards to the purpose, rules, and spoils of jihad and qital, as we now see in this section.

Purpose of Jihad and Qital

Legal scholars agree that one purpose that Islam has in waging jihad is that it establishes the religion of Islam. . . . “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims and is etymologically derived from the mujahada [jihadist], signifying warfare to establish religion.”[59] And “the caliph fights all other peoples until they become Muslims.”[60]

Ibn Rushd (d. 1198), known in the West as Averroës and who synthesized all the schools of law up to his time, is clear:

Why wage war? The Muslim jurists agreed that the purpose of fighting the People of the Book… is one of two things: it is either for their conversion to Islam or the payment of jizyah.[61]

Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), Medieval statesman, jurist, historian, and scholar, writing a history that is still admired by historians today, states why Islam fights:

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.[62]

Next, Andrew Bostom put together a compendium of excerpts from early Islamic sources and modern scholars who wrote on jihad. He records these classical legal opinions about the necessity and nature of jihad.

Starting off, Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (d. 996) was a jurist of the Maliki school, and he says jihad is commanded by Allah, and Qayrawani repeats the options spelled out in Quran 9:29.

Jihad is a precept of Divine institution. Its performance by certain individuals may dispense others from it. We Malikis…maintain that it is preferable not to begin hostilities with the enemy before having invited the latter to embrace the religion of Allah except where the enemy attacks first. They have the alternative of either converting to Islam or paying the poll tax (jizyah), short of which war will be declared against them.[63]

Next, Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328) was a Hanbali jurist, and he says that Islam must get the upper hand and prevail over other religions, a claim that reflects Quran 9:33. Then he explains who should or should not be killed, and in which circumstance. Resisting Islam by words may get the resisters killed.

Since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought. As for those who cannot offer resistance or cannot fight, such as women, children, monks, old people, the blind, handicapped and their likes, they shall not be killed unless they actually fight with words (e.g., by propaganda) and acts (e.g., by spying or otherwise assisting in the warfare).[64]

Further, Shaikh Burhanuddin Ali of Marghinan (d. 1196) was primarily of the Hanafi school, and as given in the law book Hidayah, he writes that the Muslim commander of the army must first call the soon-to-be attacked people to Islam. If they refuse to heed the call or pay the tax, they will be fought, for the sake of religion (Islam), not so much for their property — though there is no doubt that Islamic armies did take property and wealth.

It is not lawful to make war upon any people who have never before been called to the faith, without previously requiring them to embrace it, because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith, and also because the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war… If the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax, it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.[65]

Finally, Al-Mawardi (d. 1058) was a jurist of the Shafi’i school. He says that it is forbidden to attack a people who have not been called to Islam. However, by his day Islam was so well known that its fame was an ipso facto call. In any case, a call to accept Islam should still go forth before attacking.

First, those whom the call of Islam has reached, but they have refused it and have taken up arms. The amir [leader] of the army has the option of fighting them… in accordance with what he judges to be in the best interest of the Muslims and most harmful to the [polytheist or unbeliever]… Second, those whom the invitation to Islam has not reached, although such persons are few nowadays since Allah has made manifest the call of his Messenger… it is forbidden to… begin an attack before explaining the invitation to Islam to them, informing them of the miracles of the Prophet and making plain the proofs so as to encourage acceptance on their part; if they still refuse to accept after this, war is waged against them and they are treated as those whom the call has reached.[66]

Waging war to spread Islam and make it prevail over culture and other religions is the perfect definition of a holy war.

The Rules of Jihad and Qital

The rules of classical shariah law are built on the Quran and the hadith, above.

1. Women captives are sometimes forced to marry their Muslim masters.

This topic is covered more thoroughly in the article about slavery, next.

2. Conquered women and children may be enslaved.

This topic is covered more thoroughly in the article about slavery, next.

3. A captured enemy may be killed, ransomed by money or an exchange, imprisoned, or released freely.

This topic is covered more thoroughly in the article about slavery, next.

4. Property may be confiscated.

This rule is covered more thoroughly in the next section, The Spoils of War.

5. Fruit trees and homes may be destroyed.

The medieval manual compiled by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d. 1368), Reliance of the Traveler: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law,[67] represents the Shafi”i school of law. He writes:

It is permissible to cut down the enemy”s trees and destroy their dwellings.[68]

Ibn Rushd says that a majority of jurists agree that property may be destroyed if a Muslim army uses a mongonel, an engine of war designed to throw missiles, in siege warfare. Also, if a city is besieged and women and children are known to reside there, then destruction of the city is still permissible:

The majority of the jurists agreed about the permissibility of attacking fortresses by means of mangonels [engine used to throw missiles], irrespective of women or children being in them, because of the report that the Prophet . . . positioned mangonels against the people of Ta”if [a town Muhammad attacked in early 630]. If there are Muslim captives and Muslim children in the fortress then, according to a group, mangonels should not be used, and that is the opinion of al-Awza’i, Al-Layth permitted this. The reliance of those who do not permit this is on the words of the Exalted, “If they (the believers and the disbelievers) had been clearly separated We verily had punished those of them who disbelieved with painful punishment.” [Quran
40:25] It appears that those who permitted this relied on jurisprudential interest.[69]

Some schools of law permit destruction of homes and fruit trees; others do not, according to Ibn Rushd’s summary.

This, then, is the extent of harm that is allowed to be inflicted upon their life and liberty. The harm that is permissible in the case of their property, that is, buildings, animals, and crops, is a matter of controversy among them. Malik permitted cutting of trees, picking of fruit, and destruction of inhabited buildings, but did not allow the slaughter of cattle and the burning of date palms. Al-Awza”i disallowed the cutting of fruit-bearing trees and the demolishing of buildings – churches or other. Al-Shafi’i said that houses and trees may be set on fire if the enemy used them as fortresses; otherwise the
destruction of houses and the cutting of trees is disapproved. The reason for their disagreement springs from the conflict between the practice of Abu Bakr and that of the Prophet… It is established that “the Prophet… set fire to the date-palms of Bani [tribe] al-Nadir”, and it is also established that Abu Bakr ordered his troops: “Do not cut trees, do not destroy buildings.”[70]

6. The conquered pagans are sometimes forced to convert or be killed; or non-Arab pagans can remain pagan but pay the jizyah tax.

Everyone who does not belong to the People of the Book is fought until they become Muslims. The passage goes on to say that one school of law allows for non-Arab idol
worshippers to pay the jizyah tax without converting to Islam

The caliph fights all other peoples [than Jews, Christians, or Zoroastrians] until they become Muslim (O: because they are not a people with a Book, nor honored as such, and are not permitted to settle with paying the poll tax (jizya) (n: though according to the Hanafi school, peoples of all other religions, even idol worshippers, are permitted to live under the protection of the Islamic state if they either become Muslim or agree to pay the poll tax, the sole exceptions to which are apostates from Islam and idol worshippers who are Arabs, neither of whom has any choice but becoming Muslim . . .)[71]

The Shafi”i legal opinion noted in that excerpt is similar to Quran 9:5, which states that Muhammad will fight the pagans in the Arab peninsula until the convert or die. Now that law is applied to pagans outside of the peninsula. However, the Hanafite school reflects Quran 9:29, which deals with Jews and Christians. The non-Arab polytheists outside of the peninsula also have three choices: convert, fight and die, or pay the jizyah tax. Some parts of Islamic law were evolving.

According to the Shafi”i school of law women and children are not targets of jihad, except under one condition.

It is not permissible to kill women and children… unless they are fighting against the Muslims.[72]

Ibn Rushd writes about killing women:

Similarly, there is no dispute among them [the jurists] that it is not permitted to slay minors or women, as long as they are not waging war. If a woman fights, the shedding of her blood becomes permissible.[73]

7.  Three options are imposed on Jews and Christians.

In this excerpt, the parentheses are added:

The caliph (1) makes war upon Jews, Christians and
Zoroastrians… provided he has (2)… invited them to enter Islam, and (3) if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizyah…)… and (1) the war continues until (2) they become Muslim or (3) else pay the non-Muslim poll tax.[74]

However, old men and monks may be killed:

It is permissible to kill old men (old man (shaykh) meaning someone more than forty years of age) and monks.[75]

In Late Antiquity, when Islam emerged, and the Medieval Age, when the Shafi”i jurist Misri wrote, life expectancy was much lower than it is today, so a forty-year-old man should not be seen as young. This permission to kill monks belies the law that says People of the Book may live.

Ibn Rushd says that various categories of noncombatants may or may not be killed, according to different schools of law. He writes:

They [the jurists] disagreed about the case of hermits cut off from the world, the blind, the chronically ill, the old who cannot fight, the idiot, and the peasants and serfs. Malik said neither the blind nor idiots nor hermits are to be slain, and enough of their wealth is to be left to them by which they may survive. Similarly, the old and decrepit are not to be slain, in his view, and this was also the view of Abu Hanifa and his disciples. Al-Thawri and al-Awza’i said that only the old are to be spared. Al-Awza”i added that the peasants are not to be slain either. According to al-Shafi’is most authentic opinion, all of these categories (of people) are to be put to death. The basis for their disagreement stems from the conflict of the specificity in some traditions with the general implication of (some verses of) the Qur’an, and also the generality of the authentic saying of the Prophet . . . , “I have been commanded to fight mankind until they say, ‘There is no God but Allah.”’ The words of the Exalted, “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them,” [Quran 9:5] imply the slaying of every nonbeliever whether or not he is a monk, and so does the saying of the Prophet (God’s peace and blessings be upon him), “I have been commanded to fight mankind until they say, ‘There is no God but Allah.”’[76]

Those categories of noncombatants may or may not have been Christian, but they are included under rule #7, for convenience.

The Spoils of Jihad and Qital

Classical shariah law on the spoils of war follows the Quran and hadith closely. We keep this section short, combining the numbered points or omitting others. The main point is still clear: Islam and warfare and money mixed.

1. Dividing the Spoils

Recall that Quran 8:41 says that one-fifth of the spoils of jihad belong to Muhammad, that is, the state. Later caliphs interpreted the percentage as implying that four-fifths went to the soldiers or, rather, the duly appointed military commander who then divided it up.

The first fifth is set aside [for the state]… and the remaining four are distributed, one share to each infantryman and three shares to each cavalrymen. From these latter four fifths, a token payment is given at the leader’s discretion to women, children, and non-Muslim participants on the Muslim side[77]

The first fifth of the spoils goes to the government, and it gets distributed according to the needs in a welfare state, such as to the poor or orphans.

An interesting twist in that short passage says that the imam or leader can distribute the spoils among women and children and non-Muslim allies who participated in the battle or negotiations some way with the Muslims. The spoils may also go to building up “Islamic interests as fortifying defenses on the frontiers, salaries for Islamic judges, muezzins, and the like.”[78]

2. Money Flow and Taxes

Quran 9:29 — which commands imposing Islam and taking the jizyah tax from Dhimmis (Christians and Jews and other non-Muslims in far-flung Islam) — was extremely important for legal scholars. They had to figure out how to treat the losers in Islamic war. What was to be done with their resources?

Malik (d. 795) was not only a jurist after whom a school of law was named; he was also a reliable collector of hadith. The tax the Jews and Christians had to pay was called the jizyah or poll (submission) tax. Malik, founder of a major school of law, says that the tax is designed to humble People of the Book.

Yahya related to me from
Malik that he had heard that Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz [a caliph during the Umayyad dynasty] wrote to his governors telling them to relieve any people who paid the jizyah from paying the jizyah if they became Muslims. Malik said, “The sunna [example of Muhammad] is that there is no jizyah due from women or children of people of the Book, and that jizyah is only taken from men who have reached puberty . . . [The] jizyah is imposed on the People of the Book to humble them.[79] . . .

This next excerpt represents the outlook and rulings in the Shafi”i school of law.

The caliph… makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians (N: provided he has first invited them to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizyah…) — which is the significance of their paying it, not the money itself — while remaining in their ancestral religions) (O: and the war continues) until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax.[80]

Bostom provides a lengthy analysis of this tax policy: how it was collected and its roots in jihad.[81]

Starting off, he writes that conquered people had to recognize Islam as supreme in the law and land ownership. The most thorough way to get this recognition is through the jizyah:

In The Laws of Islamic Governance, al-Mawardi (d. 1058) also examines the regulations pertaining to the lands and infidel (i.e., non-Muslim) populations subjugated by jihad. This is the origin of the system of dhimmitude. The native infidel population had to recognize Islamic ownership of their land, submit to Islamic law, and accept payment of the poll tax (jizyah). Al-Mawardi highlights the most significant aspect of this consensus view of the jizyah in classical Islamic jurisprudence: the critical connection between jihad and payment of the jizyah. He notes that “[t]he enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation.” Al-Mawardi then distinguishes two cases: (1) Payment is made immediately and is treated like booty; however “it does, however, not prevent a jihad being carried out against them in the future” (2) Payment is made yearly and will “constitute an ongoing tribute by which their security is established.” Reconciliation and security lasts as long as the payment is made. If the payment ceases, then the jihad resumes.A treaty of reconciliation may be renewable, but must not exceed ten years.

Bostom then notes that Islam offers the non-Muslim protection and taxation, as though the
non-Muslim were compensated “for not being slain.”

Al-Mawardi examines the regulations pertaining to the land taken from the infidels. With regard to land taken through treaty, specifically, he indicates two possibilities: either the infidels convert or they pay the jizyah and their life and belongings protected. The nature of such “protection” is clarified in this definition of jizyah by the respected Arabic lexicographer E. W. Lane, based on a careful analysis of the etymology of the term: “The tax that is taken from the free non-Muslim subjects of a Muslim government whereby they ratify the compact that assures them protection, as though it were compensation for not being slain.”

Finally, Bostom observes that the non-Muslim, while the jizyah tax is collected from him, could be humiliated, including physical abuse.

Another important aspect of the jizyah is the widely upheld view of the classical schools of Islamic jurisprudence about the deliberately humiliating imposition and procurement of this tax. Here is a discussion of the ceremonial for collection of the jizyah by the thirteenth-century Shafi’ite jurist an-Nawawi: “The infidel who wishes to pay his poll tax must be treated with disdain by the collector: the collector remains seated and the infidel remains standing in front of him, his head bowed and his back bent. The infidel personally must place the money on the scales, while the collector holds him by the beard, and strikes him both cheeks.”

To sum up this section, some schools of law did not require non-Arab pagans to convert and pay the zakat (charity) tax, but they could remain pagan and pay the jizyah (submission) tax. Other schools said they had to convert and pay the zakat. Christians and Jews could convert to Islam and pay the zakat tax, or remain as they are and pay the jizyah tax.

As noted in the sections covering the Quran and the hadith, the purpose and spoils of jihad and qital match up nicely. Together, they provide strong reasons to keep jihad and qital going in classical Islam.


A moderate calls for the reform of Islam, while a traditionalist believes Islam, revealed in the Quran and presented in the authentic hadith, is fine the way it and defends it. Usually, religious leaders are selected in this section, but sometimes a Muslim, like a journalist or medical doctor, who is in the public eye is included too. Do the moderates follow original and classical Islam? Do the traditionalists?

Moderate Views?

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between a moderate and traditionalist. The scholars and imams (leaders of mosques) cited, next, condemn terrorism, but do they call for reform of Islam, about jihad and qital?

Fatwa against a Terrorist Interpretation of a Medieval Text

Tom Heneghan of Reuters Press reports (March 31, 2010) that Muslim scholars declared that a Medieval text that seemingly allows jihad actually does not allow it; the old text had been misinterpreted today by jihadists. A fatwa is a religious ruling.

Prominent Muslim scholars have recast a famous medieval fatwa on jihad, arguing the religious edict radical Islamists often cite to justify killing cannot be used in a globalized world that respects faith and civil rights.  A conference in Mardin in southeastern Turkey declared the fatwa by 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyya rules out militant violence and the medieval Muslim division of the world into a “house of Islam” and “house of unbelief” no longer applies.

Osama bin Laden has quoted Ibn Taymiyya’s “Mardin fatwa” repeatedly in his calls for Muslims to overthrow the Saudi monarchy and wage jihad against the United States.

Referring to that historic document, the weekend conference said: “Anyone who seeks support from this fatwa for killing Muslims or non-Muslims has erred in his interpretation.  “It is not for a Muslim individual or a Muslim group to announce and declare war or engage in combative jihad “¦ on their own,” said the declaration.[82]

This fatwa may (or may not) be the correct interpretation of the Medieval text. But do these same scholars justify jihad and qital today, for the purposes and spoils outlined above? Do they denounce jihad and qital today, which are linked toreligion and taxes and conquest?

Fatwa against Terrorism in Canada and America

On January 8, 2010, twenty imams (leaders of mosques), associated with the Islamic Supreme Council, issued a fatwa condemning terrorism against Canada and the USA. They commend the religious freedom found in their two North American countries, noting that “in many cases, Muslims have more freedom to practice Islam here in Canada and the United States than many Muslim countries.”

They write:

…Therefore, it is an obligation upon us (Imams) to inform all Muslims around the world that Muslims in Canada and the United States have complete freedom to practice Islam.  There is no single city in Canada and the United States where MASAJIDS (Mosques) are not built.  In all major cities Islamic schools provide education to Muslim children about Qur’an and the Islamic traditions.  Thousands of Muslims perform Hajj every year and travel to Saudi Arabia with complete freedom and respect.  In the month of Ramadan, both Canadian and the United States governments recognize the occasion and greet all Muslim citizens.  Muslims pray five daily prayers in mosques without any fear or restrictions. Muslims have complete freedom to pay Zakat (poor due) to the charity or a person of their choice.  Muslims have complete freedom to celebrate their festivals openly, publicly and Islamically.  Muslims enjoy freedom of religion just like Christians, Jews and others.  No one stops us from obeying Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him). No one stops us from preaching Islam and practicing Islam. In many cases, Muslims have more freedom to practice Islam here in Canada and the United States than many Muslim countries.

In fact, the constitutions of the United States and Canada are very close to the Islamic guiding principles of human rights and freedom. There is no conflict between the Islamic values of freedom and justice and the Canadian /US values of freedom and justice.

Therefore, any attack on Canada and the United States is an attack on the freedom of Canadian and American Muslims. Any attack on Canada and the United States is an attack on thousands of mosques across North America. It is a duty of every Canadian and American Muslim to safeguard Canada and the USA. They must expose any person, Muslim OR non-Muslim, who would cause harm to fellow Canadians OR Americans. We, Canadian and American Muslims, must condemn and stand up against these attacks on Canada and the United States.[83]

Commendable as this fatwa is, it is one thing to condemn terrorism (easy to do), but it is another to condemn jihad and qital. Also, in the second paragraph they assume that Islam values human rights and freedom. However, Islam has a checkered past in linking jihad with human rights and freedom, as the next three articles in the series demonstrates, on slavery, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religious speech.

Finally, these moderates say in the second paragraph that Islam values justice. However, classically understood, justice by Islamic standards means that a society has submitted to Islam. A society that does not submit is unjust; therefore it is open to jihad and qital being justly waged against it.

The 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam says:


(a) In the event of the use of force and in case of armed conflict, it is not permissible to kill non-belligerents such as old men, women and children. The wounded and the sick shall have the right to medical treatment; and prisoners of war shall have the right to be fed, sheltered and clothed. It is prohibited to mutilate or dismember dead bodies. It is required to exchange prisoners of war and to arrange visits or reunions of families separated by circumstances of war.

(b) It is prohibited to cut down trees, to destroy crops or livestock, to destroy the enemy’s civilian buildings and installations by shelling, blasting or any other means.[84]

This improves on the Quran and the sacred traditions, classical law and historical Islam.

Traditional Views

The traditional point of view is rampant around the web and far outnumbers the moderate ones.

Dr. Jamal Badawi, a member of the Fiqh Council of North America, has written a brief article on jihad. He lays out these meanings of the word: a struggle against inner vices and a fight against social injustices. Then he says that there is a combative side.

Combative jihad is not only restricted in terms of what may or may not justify it, it is also strictly regulated. Prophet Muhammad taught how to behave in the battlefield. As a “hated act,” war should not be resorted to if other peaceful and just means may stop aggression or oppression. Intentions must be pure and no selfish personal or nationalistic agenda should be the driving force. There must be a declaration of war by a legitimate authority after due consultation. No noncombatants should be hurt. All must refrain from looting and unnecessary destruction. Prisoners of war and the injured must be treated humanely.[85]

However, we have seen that Muhammad’s behavior on the battlefield, which Badawi references in that excerpt, is questionable. The fuller story about jihad is much more complicated than what Badawi says here.

Still another traditional interpreter of Islam is Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, who writes that jihad, which he spells as jihaad, really means inner struggle or striving. He says jihad is not a holy war.

Bilal Philips writes on jihad:

Usually translated by the Western media as “holy war” is a greatly misunderstood principle in Islaam. There is no term in Arabic which means “holy war”. War is not “holy” in Islaam it is either just or unjust.

The meaning of jihaad is “striving” or “struggle”. It is used in Islaam to refer to a variety of different efforts enjoined upon the believers. Striving to keep God and His Messenger more important than loved ones, wealth and one’s own self is the most basic form of jihaad prescribed on every Muslim. The Prophet said, “No one has truly believed until Allaah and His Messenger becomes more beloved than everything.” Doing the righteous deeds prescribed by God is itself a jihaad. The Prophet was reported to have said, “The best jihaad is the perfect Hajj.” On another occasion, someone asked the Prophet if he should join the jihaad. The Prophet responded by asking him whether his parents were still alive and when he replied that they were, he said, “Make jihaad by serving them.”

Islaam and the Muslim community is a primary aspect of the physical jihaad which involves taking up arms against an enemy. God states in the Qur”aan “Permission to fight has been given to those who have been attacked because they are wronged. And indeed, Allaah is Most Powerful.” (22:39)“Fight
in the cause of Allaah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress the limits. Indeed Allaah does not love transgressors.”
(2:190). Muslims are also enjoined to fight against tyranny. The Qur”aan states, “Why shouldn’t you fight in the cause of Allaah and for those oppressed because they are weak. Men, women and children who cry out, ‘Our Lord! Rescue us from this town of oppressors and” (4:75)[86]

As we have observed in this article, jihad does not mean merely a struggle or striving, though to Bilal Philip’s credit, his second point says that jihad is “physical,” presumably military. However, he does not deal with qital, which means only warring, slaying fighting, killing, and slaughtering.

Another criticism of Bilial Philips” piece: justice is too narrowly defined in Islam. If a nation is Islamic, then it is just. If it is not Islamic, then it is unjust and therefore liable to be attacked. Islam can wage a just war against it.

The final criticism of Bilal Philips: this entire article demonstrates that fighting in jihad to make Islam prevail over culture and other religions is the perfect definition of a holy war. So jihad in many contexts is correctly translated as “holy war,” contrary to what he says.

Perhaps the most influential “traditional” Muslim is Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966).

He opposed the Egyptian regime in his day, was placed under house arrest, and then executed. He had been an early leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical movement espousing militant and peaceful Islam, whenever the situation warrants either approach. He was executed for opposing the Egyptian government.

In his multivolume commentary on the Quran, in the Shade of the Quran, he explains his view of jihad in his volume on Chapter 8 of the Quran, which deals with the Battle of Badr.

To understand his view is to grasp later radical movements, particularly those in the Palestinian Territory. The Islamic Circle of North America has put his commentary in its reading list, so young members can better understand the Quran.[87]

Qutb says that conquered people have to pay the jizyah tax, which he openly and accurately calls the loyalty or submission tax:

A time may come when enemies of Islam may find it expedient not to try to suppress Islam if it is willing to leave them alone, practicing within their national boundaries their own systems that allow some  people to be lords over others. They may offer such a state of coexistence if Islam is willing not to extend its declaration of universal freedom to their people. But Islam will not accept such a truce, unless they are willing to acknowledge its authority in the form of paying the loyalty or submission tax, jizyah, to guarantee that the message of Islam may address their people freely, without putting any material obstacle its sway.

Qutb outlines at least six purposes and justifications of jihad.

1. He says, first, jihad accomplishes the liberation of humankind.” We may describe the Islamic faith as a declaration of the liberation of mankind from servitude to creatures, including man’s own desires.”[88]

In the next long excerpt Qutb goes back and forth between claiming Islam allows religious freedom, but religions have to submit to Islam, after it liberates humankind through jihad.

Qutb writes:

It is never the intention of Islam to force its beliefs on people, but Islam is not merely a set of beliefs. Islam aims to make mankind free from servitude to other people. Hence, it strives to abolish all systems and regimes that are based on the servitude of one person to another. When Islam has thus freed people from all political pressure and enlightened their minds with its message, it gives them complete freedom to choose the faith they wish. However, this freedom does not mean that they can make their desires their gods, or that they choose to remain in servitude to people like them, or that some of them are elevated to the status of lordship over the rest. The system to be established in the world should be based on complete servitude to God alone, deriving all its laws from Him only. Within this system, every person is free to adopt whatever beliefs he or she wants. This is the practical meaning of the principle that “all religion must be to God alone.” Religion means submission, obedience, servitude and worship, and all these must be to God. According to Islam, the term “religion” is much wider in scope than belief. Religion is actually a way of life, and in Islam this is based on belief. But in an Islamic system, it is possible that different groups live under it even though they may choose not to adopt Islamic beliefs. They will, however, abide by its laws based on the central principle of submission to God alone.[89]

However, paganism is not offered freedom of religion. After liberating humankind through jihad, Islam says to submit to Islamic law, which severely restricts freedom of speech and religion, as the rest of the series of articles show.

2. Justifying jihad is easy for Qutb. Islam is not only defensive, but must go on the offensive sometimes. “When we review the situation with all its relevant circumstances, we realize that the argument that jihad is nothing more than a defensive in the narrow sense of the term, cannot hold.”[90] The goals of jihad are lofty, and they are reason enough to wage it. Islam is the way of life given by Allah, and people must be brought to submit to him, for their own good.

Such is the nature of Islam and its role of liberating all mankind from servitude to anyone other than God. The gulf is wide indeed between this understanding and confining Islam to a local status within national borders or racial limits, acting only to defend itself against outside aggression. To think of Islam in this light is to deprive it of its reasons for action.

The underlying reasons for jihad are clearly identified when we remember that Islam is the way of life God has given to man. It is not a system devised by an individual or a group of people, nor is it the ideology of a certain race. It is only when we begin to lose sight of this fundamental truth of God’s absolute sovereignty and people’s servitude to Him that we try to find external reasons to justify jihad. No one who is fully cognizant of this basic Islamic principle will need to look for any other justification for jihad.<[91]

3. Qutb continues to equate freedom with submission to Allah’s way. Jihad fights for that kind of freedom, which liberates even corrupt human nature. That is quite a goal for jihad. (One could call it utopian.)

Qutb writes:

It is the right of Islam to take the initiative. It is not the creed of a particular people or the system of a particular country. It is a system given by God for the entire world. As such, it has the right to take action to remove all obstacles that fetter man’s freedom of choice. It is a faith that does not force itself on any individual; it only attacks situations and regimes in order to free individuals from deviant influences that corrupt human nature and restrict man’s freedom.[92]

4. Jihad is justified because Islam is all about revolution. And humans, internationally speaking, need its program and way of life.

Qutb says:

So what is Islam? Islam is a revolutionary concept and a way of life, which seeks to change the prevalent social order and remold lit according to its own vision. Based on this definition, the word “Muslim” becomes the name of an international revolutionary party that Islam seeks to form in order to put its revolutionary program into effect. Jihad signifies that revolutionary struggle involving the utmost use of resources that the Islamic party mobilizes in the service of its cause.[93]

5. Jihad involves fighting for Allah’s cause — the furtherance of Islam — and resisting those who rebel against Islam.

Qutb reads:

Among the radical concepts of the revolutionary party named “Muslim” the most foundational is to engage every rebellious force that comes in Islam’s way: fight them, muster everything possible to replace them. But make sure that you do not become rebellious instead. Your mandate is contingent on your cleansing the world of rebellion and wickedness and subjecting it to God’s laws of justice and fair play.[94]

6. Finally, after Islam forms itself into the hizb-Allah or Party of Allah, Islam does not merely send out preachers and missionaries, but “divine enforcers.” It must control the power centers or the government. Then it implements righteousness from these centers.

Qutb notes:

[Islam] is not a party of preachers and missionaries but rather of divine enforcers. Its mission is to blot out, by force if necessary, oppression, moral anarchy, social disorder and exploitation so as to finish the so-called divine role of self-styled gods and replace evil with good. [After quoting Quran 8:39, 73 and 9:33 Qutb continues:] Thus, this Muslim party has no choice but to go for and control the power centers, for the simple reason that an oppressive immoral civilization derives its sustenance from an immoral governmental setup. Likewise, a righteous state apparatus cannot be implemented unless the reins of government pass from the mischief-makers to the peacemakers.[95]

In reply to Qutb, he confuses Islam with freedom. He believes that jihad will bring about Islam, which (supposedly) offers maximum freedom, because people do not have to submit to human authority, but to God’s. However, this entire series on shariah says that this religious law can become oppressive.

Islam, implemented by jihad, supposedly promotes righteousness, even to the point of removing human corruption. However, common experience tells us that corrupt human nature cannot be eradicated by human methods, particularly not warfare. This is religious utopianism, which seeks to remove all imperfections from society by law and war.

Ultimately, this utopian path only oppresses people because of its legal and military aspects. The further religious leaders go down this path, the more they remove people’s freedom.

To sum up this section on Modern Islam, in a few years these examples will appear old and outdated (except Qutb, whose views have been around for decades). But regardless of the particulars, these examples reveal that Islam is going through a struggle, though the traditionalists far outweigh and outnumber the moderates. And for good reason: the traditionalists have 1,400 years of the Quran, hadith, law, and history behind them.

Islam is extremely conservative and is difficult, even loathe to reform.


The purpose, rules, and spoils of jihad and qital merged. One purpose was theological — to make Islam dominant over all religions. But the material spoils of war were also a major purpose in waging jihad or qital. The rules of shariah and jihad and qital are not only about justice and freedom (as Islam defines those two terms).

After Muhammad’s death in 632, caliphs and legal scholars, many of whom did not live too far removed from Islam’s original culture, eagerly searched through the Quran and his example laid out in the hadith to come up with rules to govern and regulate society. They did not have to go far to find verses and deeds that endorsed and practiced jihad and qital.

The caliphs and jurists reached the conclusion that jihad and qital were an inseparable part of Islam. As the caliphs” armies marched out to regions near and far, they forced Islamic policies on the conquered societies, just as Muhammad’s example said to do.  

The purpose of jihad and qital is tied to making Islam prevail over all other religions, and that goal is the perfect definition of a holy war.

Jihad, qital, and taxation were incorporated into the Quran and Muhammad’s life and then expanded. However, religious taxes as a result of war against people are suspect. One of the foundation stones of modern society is equality before the law. But Islam teaches a privileged hierarchy and inequality before its shariah law, based on religion. A jizyah tax is imposed on non-Muslims. A second-class loyalty or submission tax is the opposite of freedom and legal equality before the law.

Nonetheless, certain modern Muslims, like Qutb, seek to persuade people that these religious policies come directly from God and should be implemented or imposed on the world today. However, these policies and religious laws should have never been imposed on anyone at any time, as if they were divinely universal.

Islam sees itself and the embodiment of justice. If a nation has not submitted to it, that nation is unjust. An unjust nation is open to being attacked. Therefore, Islam can wage a just war against an unjust nation. However, Islamic justice is much too narrow, restrictive, and regressive, for it is based on archaic and culture-bound shariah, which flows out of the seventh-century Quran and the traditions.

The fatwas issued by twenty North American imams against terrorism in the USA and Canada and by various other scholars about a Medieval text are small steps in the right direction, but it is not clear how they interpret jihad and qital.

Whatever the case, intellectual elites in the West and elsewhere around the world must be very careful about innocently referencing shariah generally and jihad specifically in their court rulings, laws, policies, and curricula, in the modern world.

In fact, the intellectual elites in free countries should not refer to Islamic shariah laws at all.[96]


[1] Main Khalid al-Qudah, “Jizyah: the Tax for
Question ID or fatwa no.
78006, amjaonline.com, February 2, 2009, with minor
mechanical adjustments. The insertion in brackets around the Quranic reference
is original; the other one is mine.

[2] We should not fall into
the trap of believing that the fewer the verses, the less significant the
theme. All it would take is one important verse calling for jihad, and then the
command to wage war would be established. These are the verses that have j-h-d
in them, whether verbs or noun forms. They are divided by Meccan and Medinan
chapters. Meccan chapters: 6:109 (most earnest); 16:38 (most earnest), 110
(this one v. may be Medinan); 22:78 (ch. 22 may be part Meccan, part Medinan)
25:52; 29:6, 8; 31:15; 35:42 (most earnest). Medinan chapters: 2:178; 3:142;
4:95; 5:35, 53, 54; 8:72, 74, 75; 9:16, 19, 20, 24, 41, 44, 73, 79, 81, 86, 88;
24:53; 47:31; 49:15; 60:1; 61:11; 66:9. Next, these verses have qital (noun) or qatala (verb) in them: Meccan chapters: 6:137, 140, 151; 7:127,
141, 150; 12:9, 10; 17:31, 33; 28:9, 19, 20, 33; 18:74; 20:40; 22:39, 58;
28:15, 19, 33; 25:68; 26:14; 29:24; 40:25, 26, 28; 51:10; 73:20; 74:19, 20;
80:17; 81:9; 85:4. Medinan chapters: 2:54, 61, 85, 72, 87, 91, 154, 178, 190,
191, 193, 216, 217, 244, 246, 251, 253; 3:13, 21, 111, 112, 121, 144, 146, 154,
156, 157, 158, 167, 168, 169, 181, 183, 195; 4:29, 66, 74, 75, 76, 77, 84, 89,
90, 91, 92, 93, 155, 157; 5:24, 27, 28, 30, 32, 70, 95; 8:16, 17, 30, 39, 65;
9:5, 12, 13, 14, 29, 30, 36, 83, 111, 123; 33:16, 20, 25, 26, 61; 47:4, 20;
48:16, 28; 49:9; 57:10; 59:4, 11, 12; 60:8, 9, 12; 61:4, 63:4. Source for j-h-d
and q-t-l: Hannah E. Kassis, A
Concordance of the Quran
(Los Angeles: UCP, 1982), 587-88; 928-33.

[3] Seyyed H. Nasr, Muhammad: Man of God, (Chicago: Kazi,
1995), 45, writes that the Battle of Badr took place “outside of Medina” and
the Muslim community was being attacked from all around, threatening its “very
existence” (ibid). However, if Muhammad had not sent out raids in 623 and had
not confronted the Meccans at Badr in 624, then the Meccans would have been
glad to be rid of him and would have controlled their shrine and conducted
their trade peacefully.

[4] Unless otherwise noted,
all translations of the Quran in this chapter are those of M.A.S. Abdel Haleem,
The Quran, 2nd ed. (New
York: Oxford, 2010). The word in brackets is his.
If readers would like to see various
translations of the Quran, they may go to the website
quranbrowser.com and type in the references.

[5] The word in brackets is the
The three-letter Arabic root z-h-r can
mean “to become distinct… ascend, be manifest, mount, get the better of,
distinguish, be obvious, conspicuous… get the upper hand over.” (Abdul
Mannan Omar, Dictionary of the Holy Quran,
[Hockessin, DE: Noor Foundation, 2004], 353-54). It can also mean
“triumph” or “victorious” or “prevail,” in this
case over all religions.
last three words come from various translations of the verse. Cf. 9:8 “get the
upper hand over you”; 61:14 “who came out on top”).
If readers would like to see various translation of the Quran,
they may go to the website
quranbrowser.com and type in the references.

[6] Abdullah Yusuf
Ali, the Meaning of the Holy Quran,
11th ed., (Belleville, Maryland: Amana, 2004). The parenthetical
note is his. He says in a comment on the verse that the clause “whom your right
hands possess” means “captives in a Jihad” (note 537).
Sayyid Abul Ala
, an Indo-Pakistani ultraconservative Muslim
commentator, agrees and says about the verse that is it lawful for Muslims to
marry women prisoners of war even when their husbands are still alive (The
Meaning of the Quran
, 4th ed., vol. 1,
trans. Ch. Muhammad Akbar, ed. A. A. Kamal, [Lahore, Pakistan:
Islamic Publications, 2003] 319,
). His translation and commentary are available
online at

[7] Khumus is one-fifth of the spoils of
war, which goes to the commander or back to Medina. This hadith says: “
The prophet sent Ali [soon to be the
fourth caliph] to Khalid [a general] to bring the Khumus (of the booty) and…
Ali had taken a bath (after a sexual act with a slave-girl from the Khumus)
. “˜Do you hate Ali for this? … Don’t hate him, for he deserves
more than that from Khumus– (Bukhari, Military Expeditions, 5.4350,
in Sahih
, 9 vols. trans. Muhammad Muhsin Khan (Riyadh: Darussalam, 1997),
hereafter cited as Bukhari
; the parenthetical
comments are the translator’s; bracketed comments are added).
The hadith are searchable online at the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement, under the aegis of the University of
Southern California.

[8] Yusuf Ali’s translation.
The words in brackets are added and not those of the translator.

[9] Hilali and Khan, The Noble Qur’an,
(Riyadh: Darussalam, 2002); all insertions are theirs. Yusuf Ali goes says that
this chapter was revealed early in Medina, and the fledgling Muslim community
was “under threat of extinction by invasion from Makkah” (i.e. Mecca). However,
the Muslim community conducted small but growing raids against Meccan caravans
within a year of arriving in Medina, so the threat is exaggerated.

[10] Hadith collector and
Abu Dawud (d. 870) in Sunan Abu Dawud, trans. Ahmed Hasan
(Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1984, 2004), hereafter cited as Abu
Dawud, says that a captured enemy combatant may be killed (Jihad, 2.2680); he
may be tied with chains as a slave (ibid. 2.2671-2674); he is allowed to be
beaten in order to extract information (ibid. 2 2675); he may be released
freely (ibid. 2.2682-2683), or he may be ransomed; that is, he may purchase his
freedom (ibid. 2.2684-2688).

[11] Omar, Dictionary, 80-81. It is used only twice
in the Quran, here in 47:4 and 8:67.

[12] The word in brackets is
added by Abdel Haleem.

[13] These hadiths refer to this historical event
surrounding the Nadir tribe and approve of it: Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj,
Sahih Muslim, 4 vols., trans. and ed. Abdul Hamid Siddiqi
(Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1992), Jihad and Military Expeditions,
4324-4326, hereafter
cited as Muslim; Abu Dawud Jihad, 2.2609.

[14] Abdel Haleem’s
bracketed notes.  Yusuf Ali in his
translation notes to Quran 2:190 says that Islam may wage war, but under
well-defined limits. “In any case, strict limits must not be transgressed:
women, children, old and infirm men should not be molested, nor trees and crops
cut down” . . . (note 204). However, the rules laid out in this article, based
squarely on the Quran, contradict Yusuf Ali’s claims. His commentary is helpful
much more often than not, but he frequently “soft sells” the harsh aspects of
Islam, so his footnoted commentary to his translation must be used with
caution, and so does his translation.

[15] Ibid. The bracketed
notes have been added.

[16] Ibid. The bracketed
notes have been added.

[17] Yusuf Ali’s
translation, and the parenthetical note is his. The note in the brackets was
added. He goes on to say that verse 6 says that some pagans among them may seek
asylum and Muslims should grant it (note 1253)

[18] In one tradition, women
and children should not be killed (Bukhari, Jihad, 4.3014, 3105; Muslim, Jihad
and Military Expeditions, 3.4319-4320; Abu Dawud, Jihad, 2. 2662). But this
makes economic sense, because the victors could sell them into slavery or enjoy
more sexual license with them. However, in another tradition, the women and
children of polytheists are permitted to be killed during nighttime raids when
visibility is low. A soldier asked Muhammad “about the polytheist whose
settlement were attacked at night when some of their offspring and women were
smitten [killed]. The Prophet . . . said: They are of them” (Abu Dawud,
ibid. 2.2666; Bukhari, ibid. 4.3012; Muslim, ibid. 3.4321-4323). That is, they
are all the same — they are polytheist, so they do not matter.

[19] Bukhari says that Muhammad was ordered by Allah
to call people to accept Islam (Jihad, 4.2946; cf. nos. 25 and 1399). If they
convert, then their lives and property will be kept safe from him. These hadith
from Bukhari make the same offer: ibid. 4.2937, 2940, 3010, 3058.

[20] Hilali and Khan’s translation; the
parenthetical notes are theirs; the note in the bracket has been added. Karen
Armstrong, former nun and essayist-historian on religion, who favors Islam,
writes the following about Jews and Christians submitting to Islam. “The Dhimmi
system [policies governing Christians and Jews] was not perfect. Later Islamic
law evolved some rather humiliating legislation: dhimmis were not allowed to
build without permission; their places of worship must not tower over the
mosque; they had to bow when the presented the jizyah tax were forbidden to
ride on horseback, and had to wear distinctive clothing, although these rules
were not rigidly enforced” (Jerusalem:
One City, Three Faiths
, [NY: Ballantine, 1997], 231).


[21] Hadith editor Muslim says that Muhammad would exhort his
jihadists to make three offers when their army surrounds a town or settlement:
(1) the surrounded enemy may convert; (2) they may refuse to accept Islam and
pay the jizyah or poll tax, which allows non-Muslims to live under the
“protection” of Islam; or (3) they must be fought if they refuse the
first two (Jihad and Military Expeditions, 3.4294; see Abu Dawud, Jihad,

[22] The bracketed
insertions are Abdel Haleem’s.

[23] Qutb, In the
of the Quran, trans. and
ed. Adil Salahi, (Markfield, England: Islamic Foundation, 2003), vol. 7, 88,
writes that “the Muslim community that struggles today for the rebirth of Islam
on earth, after the whole world has succumbed to [days of ignorance before Islam],
should reflect deeply on Badr and the decisive values it presents.” He does not
hesitate to link military jihad with suppressing injustice and lifting up
justice (= Islam), by means of imposing Islam on the world in order only to
benefit the world, not to harm it (133-37). He says, for example, “This
religion [of Islam] is a complete way of living, not a mere concept of belief.
It is a practical method that allows life to flourish and prosper” (7.109).

[24] Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation in the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 11th
ed., (Belleville, Maryland: Amana, 2004),
and the parenthetical notes are his. Chapter 9 of the Quran is
late, while Chapter 8 is early — both in Medina. They are placed side by side,
so to speak, to see how religious taxes and spoils of war can be used similarly
at different times.

[25] The treaty is called
the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, named after a plain near Mecca.

[26] “People” in brackets is
added by the translator; “spoils” was added by me. It comes from the root
gh-n-m. It is used in the Quran about nine times, but we omit the meaning
“sheep” in this list of references: 8:41, 69; 4:94, 48:15, 19, 20.

[27] The plural “oaths” may
refer to other treaties than just Hudaybiyyah (see Quran 9:1-9), but surely
Hudaybiyyah was one in a series (or so claims Muhammad).

[28] This contradicts Karen
Armstrong, “Is Islam Violent?” in Taking
Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim their Faith
, ed. Michael Wolfe,
(Rodale, 2002), 28, who says that Mecca was taken without bloodshed.

[29] Yusuf Ali’s
translation, and the parenthetical note is his. The note in the brackets is
added by me. He goes on to say that verse 6 says that some pagans among them
may seek asylum and Muslims should grant it (note 1253)

[30] The Five Pillars are as
follows: (1) Profession of faith; (2) regular prayer five times a day; (3) zakat or required charity tax; (4)
fasting during Ramadan; (5) pilgrimage or hajj.

[31] For the widespread
influence of Chapter 9, especially 9:29, which lays out three options for
People of the Book (fight and die; submit and pay a tax; or convert), see
Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad:
Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims
, (Amherst: Prometheus, 2005),

[32] Maududi, in The Meaning of the Quran, vol. 2, 4th
trans. Ch.
Muhammad Akbar, ed. A. A. Kamal, (Lahore, Pakistan: Islamic Publications,
Chapter 9 Commentary, calls the Byzantine
army”s failure to materialize “a moral victory.” He then says that Muhammad
presses home his moral victory and makes northern Christian Arab tribes pay the
jizyah. His commentary can be read
online at

[33] Hilali and Khan’s translation; parenthetical notes are theirs.

[34] Omar, Dictionary, 191-92, says, “To revile,
blame, reprove; treaty, good faith; covenant; protection  . . . blamed one; disgraced; abused  … miserable plight” (with slight mechanical

[35] For “humiliation,”
“contempt” or “utterly humbled,” see Quran 7:13, 119; 12:32; 27:37; for
“small,” see 2:82; 9:121; 10:61; 17:24; 18:49; 34:3; 54:53. The root is s-gh-r.
For “vile,” see Omar, Dictionary,

[36] For more information on
the history of jihad over the centuries to the present, including committing
genocide and pillaging, destroying, enslaving, capturing, besieging and
pursuing peaceful inhabitants, see Bostom, Legacy,
251-528; 589-678.

[37] Bukhari, Jihad,
004.052.065. The comments in parentheses are the translator’s. As noted, t
he hadith are searchable online at the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement, under the aegis of the University of
Southern California.

[38] Ibid. 004.052.196.

[39] Ibid. 004.52.496.

[40] Ibid. 004.52.263.

[41] Muslim, Expeditions and
Jihad, 019.4324. Mu comments are in brackets.

[42] Bukhari, Jihad,
004.52.262. The parenthetical comments are the translator’s.

[43] Idem, Dealing with
Apostates, 009.84.59.  An apostate is
someone who leaves a religion. The text in brackets is the translator’s; the
excerpt has been edited a little, like the modifying punctuation and changing
parentheses to brackets. My only comment in brackets is after the “Apostle of
God”: “Muhammad.”

[44] Abu Dawud, one of six sound hadith
collectors, no. 2664.

[45] Abu Dawud no. 2666; Bukhari, Jihad, 004.52.256;
Muslim, Jihad and Expeditions, 19. 4321-4323.

[46] James Robson, ed. and trans. Mishkat al-Masabih, vol 1. (Lahore: Sh.
Muhammad Ashraf, rpr. 1999), p. 859, with minor mechanical adjustments. The
translator notes: “
Duma was a
fortress near Tabuk. Ukaidir was a Christian. The incident took place in the
year 9 A. H. during the expedition to Tabuk” (note 3).

[47] Bukhari, Khumus, 004.53.386, with minor
mechanical adjustments. Khumus means one-fifth of the spoils of war. The
parenthetical comment is inserted by the translator.

[48] Ibid. 004.053.351.

[49] Ibid. Ch. 7, (p. 214).
These comments are not online, but in the book version of the hadith.

[50] Abu Dawud, Jihad, 014.2730; the other matching
references are not online

[51] Muslim, Jihad and Expeditions, 019.4358.

[52] Muslim, Zakat,

[53] Bukhari, Khumus, 004.053.373, with small
mechanical adjustments.

[54] Ibid. 004.055.558. The
note in brackets is mine; the parenthetical notes are the translator’s.

[55] Bukhari, Khumus, 004.053.357, with small mechanical changes and my insertion
in brackets; but the words in parentheses are the translator’s. See a parallel
hadith in idem, Military Expeditions,
5.4030 (005.059.364).

[56] Idem, Dealing with
Apostates, 009.84.59.  The text in
brackets is the translator’s; the excerpt has been edited a little, like the
modifying punctuation and changing parentheses to brackets, done by the

[57] Bukhari, Khumus, 004.053.388. The book version of
this hadith is missing. The notes in parentheses are the translator’s; the
notes in brackets are mine, with slight mechanical alterations of the entire

[58] Muslim, Jihad and Military Expeditions, 3.4294
); see Abu Dawud, Jihad, 2.2606, (this particular
hadith is not online). These three options appear in Muslim’s hadith as being
granted to polytheists.

[59] Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misr
(d. 1386), the Reliance of the Traveler,
rev. ed., trans. Nuh Ha Mim Keller (Beltsville, Maryland: Amana, 1994),
599. The word in brackets is added by me.

[60] Ibid. 603.

[61] Abu al-Walid Muhammad
ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd, The Distinguished
Jurist’s Primer
, vol. 1, trans. Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee (Reading: Garnet,
1994), 464, with slight mechanical alterations. Then he quotes Quran 9:29,
which lays out the standard three options for Jews and Christians, as outlined
in this article. He has a large section in his two-volume work about jihad

[62] Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: an Introduction to History, abridged, trans. Franz Rosenthal (Princeton
UP, 1967), 183. Though his work is a history and not a law book, he is included
here because of his legal background.

[63] Bostom, Legacy, 27.

[64] Ibid.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Ibid. 28

[67] Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Reliance of the
Traveler: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law
rev. ed., trans. Nuh Ha
Mim Keller, (Beltsville, Maryland: Amana, 1994).

[68] Ibid. p. 604.

[69] Ibn Rushd, Distinguished Jurist’s Primer, vol. 1,
460-61. The parenthetical comments are added by the translator; mine are in

[70] Ibid. 461; the
bracketed comments are mine.

[71] Misri, Reliance, 603, with slight mechanical
The parenthetical comments
labeled “O” is done by Sheikh Umar Barakat (d. post-1890), another modern
Shafi”i legal scholar. The comments label “n” are the translator’s. Cf. Ibn
Rushd, who agrees that polytheists outside of the Arab Peninsula get the three
options (1.462).

[72] Ibid. The context of
the rule does not specify People of the Book (Jews and Christians) or pagans.

[73] Ibn Rushd, Distinguished Jurist’s Primer, vol. 1,
458. The bracketed comments are mine.

[74] Misri, Reliance, 602.

[75] Ibid. 604. The
parenthetical notes are added by “O,” or
Sheikh Umar Barakat (d. post-1890), another modern Shafi”i legal

[76] Ibn Rushd, Distinguished Jurist’s Primer, vol. 1,

[77] Misri, Reliance,

[78] Ibid. 606.


[79] Malik ibn Anas, Muwatta: the First Formulation of Islamic
, rev. ed., trans. Aisha Abdarahman Bewley (Inverness, Scotland, 1991),
17.24.46, with slight mechanical changes. This law book is also available at the
Center for Muslim-Jewish

[80] Misri, Reliance,
602, with slight mechanical modifications. The parenthetical notes labeled “N”
is a comment by Sheikh Nuh Ali Salman (b. 1939), a modern Shafi”i legal
scholar; the parenthetical comments labeled “O” is done by Sheikh Umar Barakat
(d. post-1890), another modern Shafi”i legal scholar.

[81] The next three excerpts
are taken from Bostom, Legacy, 29,
with slight mechanical alterations.

[82] Tom Heneghan, Muslim Scholars Recast
Jihadists” Favorite Fatwa
,” FaithWorld, Reuters, March 31, 2010. Emphasis is

[83] Islamic Supreme
Council, “
Attack on Canada and the
United States Is an Attack on Muslims Too
,” January 8, 2010.

[84] World Conference on Human Rights, UN
GAOR, 4th Session, Agenda Item 5, Cairo Declaration on Human Rights,
Doc. A/CONF.157/PC/62/Add.18 (1993), Aug 5, 1990, University of Minnesota Human Rights Library.

[85] Jamal Badawi, “What Does Jihad Mean?” Dec 6, 2010, Fiqh Council of North America,
fiqhcouncil.org, with minor mechanical adjustments.

[86] Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, “Difficult Dawah
,” Dawah: Invite to God, with mechanical adjustments; emphasis

[87] Islamic Circle of North
Members Handbook, March 2010, p. 40.

[88] Qutb, In the
, vol. 7, 8.

[89] Ibid. 11-12, with
slight mechanical adjustments.

[90] Ibid. 18.

[91] Ibid. 22.

[92] Ibid. 23.

[93] Ibid. 27-28. Cf. 36-37,
which calls for an international Islamic revolution.

[94] Ibid. 30.

[95] Ibid. 35.

[96] The series is not about contrasting
Islam and Christianity, but readers may be curious about it. See my series on
the topic of warfare, beginning with
Introduction to the Sword in
Early Christianity and Islam
. Also, see my studies, How Christ Fulfills the Old Testament and How Christians Benefit from the Old
. We don’t need
to bring those Old Testament verses about war forward to today.


  1. says

    Check out this article about another sticking theme:

    <>“The Evidence is the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre of 8,000 Muslims by Serbs is a Hoax”


    “The Evidence is that Ibn Battuta,the Muslim Marco Polo,Islamic Icon of Travel,falsified Most of his Travels”


  2. says

    OT , but here’s an update to the mass-shooting in Toronto canada where 2 people died and 23 were sprayed by a gunmen.

    Seems that the Police feared using the “M” word to ID this Somali that may have got jihad to kill caadians.
    When the Toron to-18 MUSLIM TERRORISTS were caught we say the Police deny islam or Muslims had anything to do with thep lot to slaughter 10’000+ civilians in Toronto.


    July 30 2012

    TORONTO – An accused gunman charged with firing a weapon at a Scarborough barbeque where two people were killed and 23 others wounded arrived in Canada as a refugee from Somalia seeking a better life, border officials say.

    But the 19-year-old allegedly “fell in with the wrong crowd” after obtaining Canadian citizenship, officers of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said.

    The officers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said since he has been granted Canadian citizenship, it would be nearly impossible to deport him in the event of a conviction.

    Nahom Tsegazab, 19, of Toronto, has been charged with the reckless discharge of a firearm. He is expected back in court this week and is the only suspect charged in the July 16 mass shooting.

    Police said the suspect, who was believed to be the intended target, was injured in the Danzig St. shootout that killed Shyanne Charles, 14, and Joshua Yasay, 23, of Ajax.

    About 300 people attended the funeral services for Charles on Saturday in Scarborough. Yasay was buried last week.

    Officers suspect the gunfight, which was the worst in Toronto, stemmed from a dispute between the Galloway Boys and Malvern Crew street gangs over turf or drugs.


    This is another example of what i said about BOGUS msulim Refugees coming to canada to raise money for Terrorism back home.

    Note this : he “fell in with the wrong crowd” after obtaining Canadian citizenship.

    Translation: another Misunderstander of the peaceful quran and it’s canada’s fault where we need more Government money to assure a 100% employment rate for muslim youths.

    Blah blah ,blah blah blah blah…..

    Canada’s Refugee laws are used by human smugglers to jump the queue for Citizenship as to assure there stay like Maher Arar did and other Jihadists thugs.
    The last shooting at the Eaton’s Centre’s was also by a Sonali Muslims drug seller. Meanwhile the smug/elite/wealthy/white/liberals deny we have a refugee crisis and immigration crisis for importing trash from those islaic hell-holes in the Middle east.

  3. says

    Robert, thanks for posting Arlandson’s paper. For anyone else at all tempted by the “moral equivalent” argument, follow the links given above to Arlandson’s articles on the Answering Islam wesite.

    It was interesting to learn of the fatwa signed by 20 scholars delegitimizing jihad against the US and Canada on the grounds of religious liberty; and I would agree with Arlandson that it is a step in the right direction. But, I also note that Arlandson recognizes that how the rest of the Ummah will respond is an open question.

    The most troublesome aspect of the doctrines described is how jizya is the means whereby dhimmi pay for the right to live. Hence, Islamic doctrine seems to assume that non-Muslims are, by virtue of their non-believe, ipso facto guilty of a capital offense.

    Granted, there probably are untaught Muslims who might utter the moral equivalent of Al Smith’s proverbial “Will someone kindly tell me what a Papal encyclical is?”; but this description of jizya, qital, and jihad suggests that violence is to be expected when there is a revival of the Islamic faith.

  4. says

    So Muhammad tells the Meccans that they should realize that Allah had a divine plan: expose them to Islam. This is better than all the material riches they can trade in.

    Big deal! Back in 624, the Muslims were not powerful enough to defeat all Mecca. They were very surprised even to succeed the way they did at the Badr Robbery. The only reason they didn’t steal the possessions of the Meccans (which had been their original plan) was that the Meccan caravan cunningly escaped the ambush. The “decision” had nothing to do with either virtue or strategy – it was simply that the first part of the Muslims’ plan failed!

    Those Meccans who were exposed to Islam and converted after Badr were not the civilian inhabitants of a conquered city, but prisoners of war dragged from the battlefield. The Muslim sources claim that these prisoners were kindly treated in Medina until ransomed and sent home, and some of them converted to Islam because they were so impressed by Islamic justice and virtue. But we don’t have any non-Muslim counter-reports to tell us whether or not these conversions were under duress.

    There is NO evidence that Mohammed would have spared the Meccans’ property if it had fallen into his hands. When he later became more powerful and had the opportunity for plunder, he always took it!

  5. says

    I tried four times to go to antisharia.com. I got something about a “Mass injection attack” every time.

  6. says


    you observed: “The most troublesome aspect of the doctrines described is how **jizya is the means whereby dhimmi pay for the right to live**. Hence, Islamic doctrine seems to assume that non-Muslims are, by virtue of their non-believe, ipso facto guilty of a capital offense.”


    I assume you haven’t yet read Mark Durie’s book ‘The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom’?? He goes into this in much more detail, discussing the psychological/ spiritual dimension of this business of the jizya as a blood tax/ ransom.

    He argues that the humiliating and frightening ‘payment ritual’ (often involving a blow to the head or neck) that the dhimmis were forced to go through each time they handed over their jizya – year by year by year – was basically a symbolic beheading.

    Seriously ugly stuff.

  7. says

    Pursuant to my posting above.

    Here is part of Rev Dr Mark Durie’s discussion of the jizya.

    “”..for more than a millennium after initial Islamic conquest, and in widely spread localities throughout the Islamic world, there continued to be humiliating rituals, involving ritual enactment of a decapitation, to show that the jizya was a compensation for the dhimmi’s head.

    “The procedure thus stands for fourteen centuries of ritualized defeat.

    “The significance of this length of time is hard for us to grasp today.

    “Imagine if, after the Norman invasion in 1066, the Normans had required Anglo-Saxons to line up once a year on every village green of England to pay war reparations and be ritually stabbed in the heart.

    “Imagine too that this practice is still current today, it has been endorsed by every Archbishop of Canterbury since 1066, it will continue in England more than four centuries hence, and when it finally stops, it will only be due to the military intervention of a foreign power.

    “Such was the plight of the Jews of Morocco – and of non-Muslims all over the Islamic world – for more than a thousand years until emigration or European occupation brought an end to it. For the Jews of Yemen and Afghanistan, it was only the exodus to Israel after 1948 that finally released them from the humiliations of the jizya ritual.

    ‘A Blood Pact.

    ‘As a ritualized enactment of one’s own decapitation, the jizya payment can be considered to be a ‘blood pact’ or ‘blood oath’, in which the participant invokes death against themselves by simulating the manner of their execution, should they ever fail to keep the conditions of their oath.

    ‘Such oaths have been used for centuries in initiation ceremonies by secret societies and occult groups, for they are recognized to have psycho-spiritual power to bind initiates to submission and obedience..’.

    “The jizya ritual symbolically offers the consent of the dhimmi who participates in it to forfeit his very head if he violates any of the terms of the dhimma covenant which has spared his life. It is an act of self-cursing, which says in effect, “You can rightfully have my head if I break any of the conditions of my covenant”. Later, if a dhimmi violates his covenant, he has already pronounced the death penalty against himself, by virtue of undergoing this public ritual, and if he is killed, it would be by his own prior permission.’

    {Kepha: can you see how absolutely *fiendish* this whole thing is? – dda}.

    “The jizya ritual was hated by dhimmis; no doubt it was psycholgoically very damaging. The 18th century Moroccan commentator Ibn Ajibah [who was, by the way, a Sufi; so much for the idea that Sufis represent a softer, ‘nicer’ strain of Islam – dda] said that it represented the death of the ‘soul’, through the dhimmis’ execution of their own humanity…

    “**The intended result of the jizya ritual is for the dhimmi to lose all sense of his own personhood**.

    “I return for this los, the dhimmi was supposed to feel humility and gratitude [gratitude: this makes me want to puke – dda] towards his Muslim masters.

    “Al-Mawardi said that the jizya head tax was either a sign of contempt, because of the dhimmis’ unbelief, or a sign of the mildness [!!!! – dda] of Muslims, who granted them quarter (instead of killing or enslaving them); so humble gratitude was the intended response…”.

    From ‘The Third Choice”, pp. 139-41.

    So far as I can see, the dhimma/ jizya system is Abuse with a capital A: psychological, spiritual Abuse, calculated and *intended* to break the spirit and kill the soul.

    Islam is Sadism, sacralised.

  8. says

    Dumbledore’s Army wrote, quoting Mark Durie:

    “The jizya ritual symbolically offers the consent of the dhimmi who participates in it to forfeit his very head if he violates any of the terms of the dhimma covenant which has spared his life. It is an act of self-cursing, which says in effect, “You can rightfully have my head if I break any of the conditions of my covenant”. Later, if a dhimmi violates his covenant, he has already pronounced the death penalty against himself, by virtue of undergoing this public ritual, and if he is killed, it would be by his own prior permission.’

    {Kepha: can you see how absolutely *fiendish* this whole thing is? – dda}.

    *Exactly*, DDA. This is the same apologia you see many Muslims using for the savage massacre of the men and boys of the Banu Qurayza tribe at the hands of Muhammed and his thugs that killed as many as 900″that the victims themselves had agreed to their beheadings ahead of time, and that the “Prophet” was as a result just carrying out the law.

    This is exactly the same attitude taken toward any supposed breaking of the Dhimma”that brutal Muslim “reprisals” are not only the victims’ fault, but were agreed to by the victims themselves.

    God, I hate Islam.