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Discover the Truth's Propaganda

2:216-218:
"Fighting is Ordained for
You Though You Dislike It"


From Discover the Truth:

The words used by God Almighty are clear that the chaos was started and created by the polytheists. The sacred month which Muslims had to abide, and not fight was no longer applicable to them since the polytheists had persecuted the Muslims continually. The wealth of the Muslims were taken. When the Muslims fled to Madinah from persecution, the polytheists still continued oppressing the Muslims. And they had a number of times tried to assassinate the Prophet (p). Giving these factors, what the Companions did in Nakhlah was justified, even though the Prophet (p) never commanded them to do that.
(August 16, 2014)  

What the Quran Says

2:216. Fighting is ordained for you though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.
2:217. They ask you concerning fighting in the Sacred Months. Say, "Fighting therein is a great (transgression) but a greater (transgression) with Allah is to prevent mankind from following the Way of Allah, to disbelieve in Him, to prevent access to Al-Masjid-al-Haram, and to drive out its inhabitants, and al-Fitnah is worse than killing. And they will never cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion (Islamic Monotheism) if they can. And whosoever of you turns back from his religion and dies as a disbeliever, then his deeds will be lost in this life and in the Hereafter, and they will be the dwellers of the Fire. They will abide therein forever."
2:218. Verily, those who have believed, and those who have emigrated and have striven hard in the Way of Allah, all these hope for Allah's Mercy. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.

What the Apologists Want You to Believe

These verses are clearly intended to motivate violence against disbelievers.  The mitigation strategy is to pose a historical context in which fighting seems to be a sensible or necessary reaction under the circumstances.

Everyone agrees that these verses were narrated shortly after a group of Muslims sent by Muhammad staged a deadly raid on a caravan from Mecca, in which the driver was killed.  This was controversial because it occurred during the Sacred months in which tribes did not fight.  (The apologists may or may not admit that this was also the first act of direct violence between the Muslims and Quraish since Muhammad fled to Medina).

Facing stiff criticism from the other tribes at Medina, who had welcomed him without knowing that he would bring hostilities (and war) with him, Muhammad first claimed that he did not send the men to kill anyone.  This seems to be true.  However, there was a lot of unclaimed loot sitting around.  In short order, "Allah" came up with a passage that rationalized the violence - and the subsequent enjoyment of captured wealth (2:216-218).

The historical context therefore poses a challenge to the contemporary apologist, since the act of ambushing and looting a group of merchants hardly qualifies as self-defense. 

DTT tries to claim a broader context in which "chaos" was created by the Quraish and the Muslims were under persecution (in Medina).  Blame is thus shifted to the victims of the incident by their association with the non-Muslim tribe at Mecca.  For good measure, DTT also claims that "the wealth of the Muslims was taken" at some point in the past - thus appearing to justify the raids (although not necessarily the murder).

How They Do It: 'Adding' to the Quran

Although the verses authorize Muslims to kill (and presumably rob) non-Muslims, it doesn't actually say that these things were being done to them, or that their own wealth had been stolen.  The stated justification has to do with the victims' disbelief in Allah and their having prevented the Muslims from visiting the Kabaa in Mecca (performing a pilgrimage, which only Muhammad appeared unable to do).  These are acts that the rest of the world does not consider worthy of bloodshed.

Although the word fitna is used in the passage to rationalize "killing," the verse conspicuously distinguishes killing from what the Quraish were doing (ie. not killing).  [A further examination of fitna can be found here].

So, DTT creates an alternate rendering of the verse, where rationale for violence that isn't explicitly mentioned ('killing' and 'stolen wealth') is substituted for what is ("disbelief"). 

How They Do It: Citing Contemporary Apologists and Weak Hadith

Not a single reliable hadith verse is cited in support of DTT's thesis. 

How They Do It: Ignoring Reliable Sources

None of Muhammad's earliest biographers allege that the wealth of Muslims had been taken, or that Muhammad was under attack in Medina at the time of the first successful caravan raid.  As with the Quran passage, the motive given for the raids and perpetuation of hostilities has to do with religious belief.

The TROP article MYTH: Muhammad Raided Caravans to Retrieve Stolen Property cites these sources and shows that Muslims (including Muhammad) had time to transfer their business affairs prior to the migration, and that the property they sought to take belonged to the Quraish.

Isn't it suspicious that the earlier sources say exactly the opposite of what Discover the Truth wants people to believe?

How They Do It: Sleight of Hand

DTT posts a link to a page with several articles that it says proves that the Muslims were under persecution at Medina.  A response to each of these can be found on the index page under the section "Did the Quraish Persecute Muslims After They Fled To Medina?"
 

Why They are Wrong

The verses (2:216-218) as they exist are an open-ended command to fight non-believers even when it doesn't feel good or make sense.  The explicit rationale has to do with a proper religious order in which "the way of Allah" prevails over the disbelievers. 

The verses do not say anything about having to defend one's life or recover stolen wealth.  They tell devout Muslims to kill for the sake of religion, and were narrated at a time when early Muslims had just stolen the wealth and taken the life of someone who posed no discernable threat to them. 

Neither the textual or historical context mitigate the straight-forward reading of these verses.  This does not preclude a believer from attaching their own conditions to an imperative like "fighting is ordained for you though you dislike it", but it is a personal choice.

Further Reading

Discover the Truth Propaganda Index

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