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"Discover the Truth's" Game

8:59-60
"Make Ready Against
 [the Disbelievers]
All Steeds of War..."


From Discover the Truth:

The above passage, is a historical verse which gave Muslims permission to fight the enemy, which was hostile to the Muslim community. Their goal was to exterminate, kill all Muslims...
(October 3, 2014)

What the Quran Says

8:59. Let not those who disbelieve think that they can outstrip (escape from the punishment). Verily, they will never be able to save themselves.

8:60. And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allah does know


What the Apologists Want You to Believe

How could anyone possibly think that verses telling Muslims to wage war on "disbelievers" has anything to do with disbelief or violence?  That's just impossible, says DTT:
All one needs to do is read the verse that proceeds. The next verse (Quran 8:61), Allah orders Muslims that if the enemy were to ‘incline to peace’, then Muslims have incline to peace as-well. But, if the enemy does not want peace, then Allah gives Muslims to engage the enemy until there is no more persecution against Muslims. Let’s Read 8:61,

(8:61) And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah.
The previous verse speaks of "treachery", so DTT's contention is that the context implies dealing with a treacherous people in self-defense.


Why They are Wrong

Discover the Truth makes a valid point that the surrounding verses should be included in the full interpretation of verses 8:59-60, since they have relevance.  The question is whether the context makes the passage as benign as they insist.

What kind of "treachery" is the passage referring to?  What kind of "peace" is being offered?  Everyone can agree that an enemy which breaks a peace treaty and attacks you is entitled to a military response, but is that really supported by the textual and historical context?

The full passage does speak of "treachery", but only in the sense that it is "feared."  In other words, the other party doesn't have to actually break the treaty for Muslims to break their side of it.  Already, we are in the realm of double standards.  That's where the part about "disbelief" comes in.  The special rule that Muslims claim for themselves to break an unbroken pact is based on religious status.

Neither is the historical context supportive of DTT's contention that the "disbelievers" wanted to "exterminate and kill all Muslims."  The passage was narrated after the Battle of Badr, when the targeted group was a Jewish tribe which had been in Medina long before Muhammad arrived.  There is nothing written about their wanting to kill Muslims, although everyone agrees that the Muslims did attack them and besiege their stronghold for fifteen days before they surrendered. 

Although some historians write simply that the Banu Qaynuqa were "the first to violate the treaty," this appears to be more of an editorial opinion, much like Discover the Truth's assertion that the tribe wanted to "exterminate all Muslims."  The only reliable detail concerning the "crime" of the Qaynuqa is that they rejected Muhammad's claims about himself, since his understanding of the Talmud differed from the real thing (see The Banu Qaynuqa for more)

So, no real treachery is detailed in the Sira, and neither is there any real peace offered.  After the Qaynuqa tribe surrendered, Muhammad had the men bound and intended to behead them - meaning that it was the Muslims who wanted to exterminate the Jewish tribe rather than other way around, as DTT imagines.

Muhammad was persuaded not to slaughter his captives only due the vehement lobbying of another Muslim, whose life they had saved.  Instead of butchering the entire tribe as he wanted to do, Muhammad stripped them of their livlihood and had them evicted, taking the balance of their property.

Small wonder that Ibn Kathir's commentary on verses 8:59-60 reads as follows: Allah commands Muslims to prepare for war against disbelievers, as much as possible, according to affordability and availability.

Further Reading

Discover the Truth Propaganda Index

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