Answering Jihad: “Fight Against Those Who Do Not Believe” – Quran 9:29


Discover The Truth

Kaleef K. Karim & Bachir Guediri


1. Introduction
2. Background on Quran 9:29
3. The Verse – Historical context
4. Jizya (Jizyah)
5. Conclusion

1. Introduction

This article examines chapter 9, verse 29 of the Quran, in its historical context. Some claim that the verse (Q. 9:29) endorses and ‘sanctions Muslims to kill innocent Christians and Jews’. This is simply not true. We undertook the task to investigate the verse (Q. 9:29) as a result of some critics misusing, and twisting the verse to mean something it has never intended to say. It is only appropriate to respond to their claims, given the fact that, not even Prophet Muhammed (p) interpreted it as such during his own life.

2. Background

It is agreed by some of the earliest classical to modern commentators on the Quran that this verse (Q. 9:29) was revealed concerning the expedition to Tabuk, to face…

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Categories: Islam

1 reply

  1. Last two comments here are pretty good:


    Dear Paul; I found a much better explanation for that verse: If Q.9:29 meant that the cause of war was the unbelievers unbelief, then jizya wouldn’t have been accepted from them! Since when they give jizya it is prohibited to fight them, but they are still abiding to their unbelief. Now, is the justification for war being an unbeliever and not paying jizya? The answer is again no, since all jurists agree that jizya is not taken from women, children, the old, …etc So if the reason for war was being an unbeliever + not paying jizya then jizya would have been taken from women, children, the old …etc So the only remaining option is that the cause of war that can be concluded from Q.9:29 is that it is ḥirāba, a term that comes from the noun ḥarb meaning war, we can thus translate it as ‘waging war’. Hence Q.9:29 is in line with the Islamic justification of war, which is to repulse aggression and assure security and protection to Muslim as well as non-Muslim citizens. And that is basically what the vast majority of jurists, from Hanbalis, Malikis, al-Shafi’i in one opinion, and Hanafis as well as in Twelver Shi’ism, state, that the justification of war is ḥirāba and not unbelief in itself. And as the verse Q.9:13 preceding Q.9:29 makes it clear:

    How could you not fight a people who have broken their oaths, who tried to drive the Messenger out, who attacked you first? Do you fear them? It is God you should fear if you are true believers.

    Qurʾān – 9:13

    And the attestation to that is that Q.9:29 was revealed after an aggression: The very early exegete, Mujāhid ibn Jabr (d. 104H) explained that this fighting was revealed in reference to the Prophet Muhammad’s (ﷺ) campaign against the Byzantine empire. The Prophet ﷺ sent al-Harith ibn Umayr al-Azdi as an emissary to the Byzantine vassal state of the Ghassanids, but the chieftain Shurahbeel committed the shocking crime of tying up the emissary, torturing him, and murdering him. When an army was dispatched to confront the Ghassanids for their crime, the Vicarius Theodorus summoned a large force of Roman soldiers to engage in war against the Muslims in the Battle of Mu’tah. Thus, this verse was revealed in regards to fighting within an existing war against an enemy political entity, namely the Byzantine empire, which lead to preparations for the expedition of Tabuk. The hostility of the group in question is mentioned in the this very Qur’anic passage itself, which goes on to state Q.9:32 that this instruction refers to those “who attempt to extinguish the light of Islam with their mouths“, which Aḍ-Ḍahāk (d. 105H) stated meant “they attempt to destroy Muhammad and his companions.”


    An important remark by the great scholar al-Buti:

    الآية أمرت بالقتال لا بالقتل، وقد علمت الفرق الكبير بين الكلمتين … فأنت تقول: قتلت فلاناً، إن بدأته بالقتل، وتقول: قاتلته، إذا قاومت سعيه إلى قتلك بقتل مثله، أو سابقته إلى ذلك كي لا ينال منك غرة.

    The verse [Q. 9:29] commands qitāl (قتال) and not qatl (قتل), and it is known that there is a big distinction between these two words … For you say ‘qataltu (قتلت) so-and-so’ if you initiated the fighting, while you say ‘qātaltu (قاتلت) him’ if you resisted his effort to fight you by a reciprocal fight, or if you forestalled him in that so that he would not get at you unawares.


    Liked by 1 person

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