The Quran is unequivocal and mubeen (perfectly clear) on the subject of war: it is prohibited to be fought as a means of converting people to Islam——
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
(Surat Albaqara 2:256)
There is no compulsion in religion; the proper way has been clearly distinguished from the wrong way. Whoever rejects evil, and believes in Allah, indeed he has taken grasp of the strongest hold that will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower.
Islam, according to the Quran, does not permit the acceptance and adoption of a belief system to be by force. All true belief must be freely chosen from the heart. Free will is an essential component of faith. Allah prohibits forcing people to convert to a particular religion or to adopt a belief system. To force others to convert to Islam (or any belief, for that matter) is oppression, and hence incurs Allah’s wrath. Contrary to what is being promulgated by some, the above aya unequivocally states that such use of force is both “wrong” and “evil”.
Allah only accepts “true” faith, which means faith arrived at with free will and choice. “False” faith is forced “faith;” a belief adopted because someone else compelled them by force of arms or other means, including psychological, to believe it. This is not faith, but rather an attempt at mind control, which is a losing strategy. It is an evil deed by the one who forces others to accept a belief, and it is also oppression of the party being compelled. So-called “Holy War,” which is not a translation of the word jihad whose only meaning is “struggle,” implying struggle to be a righteous and just person, not particularly referring to military action except insofar as that is part of one’s struggle against oppression.
So the idea that those who run off to “fight jihad” in order to go to paradise, insofar as that “jihad” is thought to mean waging war on non-Muslims, raping and killing them, for the sole reason that they are not “members” of Club Islam — this idea is entirely false, erroneous, misleading, and destructive. It defies the very core injunctions of Islam as clearly sent in the Quran, a book many jihadists have little time, interest, or inclination to read. They want lots of violence, sex, revenge, an outlet for rage, often itself justified, at the oppression enacted by non-Muslims against Muslims over the years.
But as it usually happens, instead of fighting against oppression and the actual oppressors against whom they have just cause, they avenge their rage on innocents, soft targets, easy prey. In doing so, they themselves become oppressors, and instead of earning paradise as they were promised by ignorant angry men, they enjoy the thrill of violence, and earn hellfire, according to the Quran they didn’t bother to look at or read. Thus IS members oppressed the Yazidis and will be taken to account on Judgment Day for that; and Al-Qaeda members oppressed children and innocents (having taken no direct action of aggression themselves against those members) on 9/11; thus various terror groups such as Hezbollah oppressed millions when they interfered in the just cause of the Syrian people against the brutal oppressive regime of al-Assad. Russia and Iran also joined in the support of the tyrant and thus became also oppressors.
وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ
Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight against you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah does not love transgressors.
Surat Albaqara 2:190
This clearly shows that waging war is for defense purposes only. One does not go out into the world, weapons in hand, picking fights with people who did not oppress you. But this is what is now presented as “jihad.” How can jihad, which means the struggle against oppression within and without (self-oppression which is sin and oppression of others, which is sin and crime both), be waged by oppressing others? It’s like fighting a war by joining the enemy, or trying to save someone by killing them.
And what are the “limits” referred to above? As clearly defined in the Quran, this means all the prohibitions already in place and applicable to all Muslims also apply in time of war. Rape is prohibited; even more so in war. Indiscriminate murder and unjustified killing is prohibited; the same rule applies to war. (Just wars being wars against oppression and oppressors, there is no contradiction.) Prayer is required in war as in peace, and there are clear protocols for wartime salat in the Quran. Even the taking of spoils of war has limits applied. An example of a specific, and extremely important prohibition relevant to this discussion is in Surat al-Isra’ 17:33:
وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَمَن قُتِلَ مَظْلُومًا فَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا لِوَلِيِّهِ سُلْطَانًا فَلَا يُسْرِف فِّي الْقَتْلِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مَنصُورًا
And do not take a life, for Allah has made this forbidden, except in the course of justice. And whoever is killed innocently (by mistake), then We have given his heir authority, so let him not transgress in the taking of a life, for He will be given victory.
The word “transgress” is a translation of “tusrifu” which means “be excessive.” Applying this more accurate level of meaning to the situation, we find here another clear prohibition, which is not to be excessive in killing. Practically speaking, this means do not prolong the suffering of the person being killed, do not videotape the killing and use it for recruitment advertising, do not tantalize or taunt a captive with possibilities of being spared or various horrific scenarios of killing, do not use relatives of the victim as a means of creating more suffering, do not kill people em masse, do not throw people from tall buildings, do not burn people alive. All this is excess and transgression. All this incurs Allah’s great wrath. All this leads not to paradise, but to hell. All this is oppression and is against Islam in the strongest possible terms. This is not jihad in the path of Allah but rather it is jihad in the path of Satan and against Allah, firmly and unequivocally. That is why Muslims who espouse these erroneous beliefs are failing and can never achieve victory. All their so-called “successes,” such as 9/11, are nothing more than theater and illusion, the net result of which is war, annihilation of entire peoples, the demonization of Islam, and division and hatred between Muslims themselves. “You shall know them by their fruits.” Behold the fruits of “holy war,” which is as unholy and unIslamic a collective deed as the worst oppression by, say, Israel against the Palestinians, and is in fact worse, because they have abandoned the very Quran that could have guided them to a true and real jihad against the many oppressive dictators supported by Western powers. Where are the Islamic countries now? In the same “paradise” that so-called “holy war” brings to those who wage it, a “paradise” of homelessness, destruction, and the brutal killing of the very innocents we are charged to protect. Pictured below: