Islam is believed to have originated in the 7th century in Mecca. Prophet Muhammad introduced it. According to Mohammad, Islam means to surrender to God. Those who profess Islamic religion are known as Muslims. According to the secular history, Islam is considered as the youngest religion in the world which was introduced by Prophet Muhammad after an angelic visitation between 570 and 632 AD. Muhammad authored the Quran that the Muslims believe is the holy book that contains the perfect words of Allah. The Islam considers the contribution of Muhammad to the development of the Islamic religion. However, they believe that the Islam started way back before Muhammad set foot on earth. According to Islam, the Quran was dictated by Muhammad, but it did originate from him. According to Islam Quran was given by God through his holy angel Gabriel to Mohammed. The Quran testifies that “This is a revelation from the Lord of the universe. The Honest Spirit (Gabriel) came down with it, to reveal it into your heart that you may be one of the warners, in a perfect Arabic tongue” (Sura 26:192-195). The Quran and the Bible have some discrepancies concerning the origin of Islam. According to the previous scriptures that the Quran acknowledges, there exist some contradicting statements. For instance, according to Sura 10:94, the Quran states that “If you have any doubt regarding what is revealed to you from your Lord, then ask those who read the previous scripture.” The contradiction between the Quran and the Bible has caused conflict between the traditional Jews and the Muslims in the Middle East. Some of the previous scriptures that have been mentioned in the Quran include Psalms of David, Gospel of Jesus Christ and Hebrew Torah (Sura 4:163; 5:44-48). The Islam professes different practices in comparison with other religious groups. This is evident in the way they worship, eat, drink, and think about war and peace, and their political and social relationships.
The Quran categorically states that God created mankind with the primary purpose of Worshiping Him. However, the Holy Bible states otherwise. Mankind was created to procreate and fill the earth and take care of God’s creation. Sura 19:54 and 37:83-109 contradict Genesis 22: 1-19 about the promises that God made to Isaac. The Muslims believe that such promises were made to Ishmael as opposed to Isaac. In other words, the Muslims claim that such promises or covenant was made between God and Ishmael.
The Quran and the Combat
The Verses of Combat in the Holy Quran
Quran is the primary source of the Islamic law. It regulates war and peace among the Muslims. It is considered as the supreme authority among the Muslims since other sources of the Islamic law are derived from it. The second source of the Islamic law is the hadith. It cannot contradict the Quran since it also draws its authority from Quran. The Quran admits that people should coexist peacefully at all times. According to Quran God created different nations and people so that they can coexist peacefully. However, some conditions and circumstances warrant war or combat (Quran 49:13).
According to Quran 2: 251, war becomes necessary when it intends to stop evil. The Muslims participate in war after considering all the prevailing circumstances. There must provide a valid justification for Muslims to engage in combat. In addition, during the war, there are stated conditions that they must adhere to. The Quran states the rule that necessitates the war also justifies ending or terminating the war when it is necessary.
The Quran and the hadith contain all the rules that regulate war. However, the Muslim writers and some Western scholars because of misunderstanding of the Quran believe that the Islamic religion plays a critical role in waging war. They consider the teachings of the Quran as the primary cause of the continued conflict in the Middle East. The Western scholars have gone further to assert that Quran plays a vital role in changing the religion of people. However, Quran states that people will always remain different and never compels anybody to abide by any religion (Quran 11: 118, Quran 2: 256). The non-Muslims have often misquoted some verses in Quran to justify that it promotes war, violence, and bloodshed. Some of the verses that are always quoted are found in Surah 2 verses 190-194. For instance Surah 2: 190 states that “fight against those who fight against you in the way of Allah, but do not transgress, for Allah does not love transgressors.” Quran 2: 193 asserts that, “Keep on fighting against them until mischief ends and the way prescribed by Allah prevail.” But if they desist, then know that hostility is only against the wrong-doers.” These verses have always been misquoted by Western scholars and non-Muslims to portray Muslims as violent.
According to Islam, they only engage in war for self-defense. Even during prophet’s lifetime, he only engaged in war under the guidance of the Quran. Those who fight do so because they have been wronged and would indeed emerge victorious because God would be on their side. This is emphasized in Quran 22: 39-41 which states that “Our Lord is God”-for had it not been for God’s repelling some men by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of God is much mentioned, would certainly have been destroyed. Verily God helps those that help Him – lo! God is Strong, Almighty – those who, if they are given power in the land, establish worship and pay the poor-due and enjoin what is good and forbid iniquity.” After realizing victory after the intervention of God, the Muslims are expected to remain humble before their Lord. In other words, they should be not arrogant because it is the works of God.
According to the Quran, the fighting should take place in the way of God (fi sabil Allah). In other words, those who are engaged in the war should be righteous and should never violate any provisions of the Quran concerning war and peace. Fighting in the way of God is contrary to fighting to be seen as a hero and fighting for booty since they do not give praise and honor to the uppermost being (God). The Quran only recommends the Islam to fight those who do not believe in God. This is stated in Al-Tawbah, 9:29, “Fight those who do not believe in God, nor in the Last Day, and who do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden, nor do they practice the religion of truth, from among of those who have been given the Scripture, until they pay the jizyah tribute, readily being subdued.” This is a group of people who have behaved with Muslims in a way that suggests that they should be fought. According to Quran, Islam is only expected to fight people who have broken pacts and attacked da’wah. According to the Quran, people whose deeds are contrary to the will of God should be fought continuously until they surrender.
The Link between the Verses of Combat and Forgiveness
Just like the Bible, the Quran also advocates for forgiveness. For instance, Surah Al-Hijr 15:85 states that “The believers are those who spend in charity during ease and hardship and who restrain their anger and pardon the people, for Allah loves the doers of good.” The verses that appeal for forgiveness consider that it is necessary to counter evil with good. The verses of forgiveness and pardon intend to shape morality and should be followed to the latter to promote dignity among all people, both Muslims and Non-Muslims (Kelsay & Johnson, 1991). However, the verses are built upon different considerations, and situations and their application are limited. People are asked to follow what is right and suitable at any given situation.
Islamic Law of War and Jihad
Jihad is a term that has often been misinterpreted and misunderstood by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Jihad does not mean holy war. It means persevere or struggle (Kelsay & Johnson, 1991). According to the Muslims, Jihad can be personal or a group of people who are struggling against oppression to achieve justice. The primary role of jihad is to ensure that peace and equity prevail in the community (Lane & Redissi, 2016). It also means a war that brings individuals closer to God. In other words, it must be carried out in the way of God. The term that is used to describe war is vital. Even during the times of Prophet, the word Jihad was not used to describe war. For instance, the prophet would say, “We have returned from the minor jihad to the major jihad – the struggle of the individual with his own self” (Quran: 25:52). The Quran considers Jihad as an obligation where people only engage in combat with righteous intention. According to the Quran Jihad is only applicable while defending religious freedom and for self-defense. It is applied when protecting those who have been oppressed, especially women and children who are crying out for help. The Muslims have the treaty to fight only when the war is necessary. According to the teachings of the Quran, it is not allowed to attack civilians, old people, children, religious people who are engaged in worship and to destroy plants and animals. However, there are some verses in the Quran which have been misinterpreted and misunderstood by the Muslims and the non-Muslims where they believe that the Quran is advocating for violence.
The Jihad does not allow the Muslims to engage in a fight where the lives of other religious groups are infringed. The jihad prohibits destruction of crops and animals. The Quran only recommends Muslims to fight those who fight them, but the civilians should be protected during the war (Lane & Redissi, 2016). The Prophet and his successors never allowed discrimination, and anytime their troops were going to war, they were instructed never to attack civilians but the actual fighters only. Quran 2: 194 states that you should fight only the combatants; however, you should not cause them more harm as they have caused you. In this case, it is clear that the Quran rules against weapons that are meant to cause mass destruction and those that target the civilians. The Muslims are encouraged by the Holy Quran never to transgress for God does not love transgressors (Quran 3: 123).
Islam and Peace
During the times of the prophet anytime that the Muslims defeated their enemies, they were expected to remain in the land after committing to protect the religion of the inhabitants. However, those wished to love could also do so peacefully. It is against the teaching of Quran to cause chaos to a particular community after you had defeated them in war. The Muslims who decided to remain in that particular region were accorded security but were subjected to some form of taxes known as jizya.
The Quran advocates for humanitarian intervention while defending the oppressed. However, the intervention must be carried out in strict adherence to the provisions of the Quran (Lane & Redissi, 2016). During the intervention it is necessary to cooperate with the Muslims as stated in the Quran 5: 2, “Co-operate in what is good and pious and do not co-operate in what is sinful and aggression.” There are no specific verses in the Quran that bars the Muslims from cooperating with the international community during the times of war to restore peace. Even the Prophet has recorded that he agreed with the authorities of Mecca to protect the weak and the old who he felt were being oppressed. In this case, Islam considers it necessary to sign an act that would promote peaceful coexistence between the Muslims and non-Muslims. For instance, Quran 60:8 states that “God does not forbid you front being kind and equitable to those who have neither made war on your account of your religion nor driven you from your homes. God loves those who are equitable.” As such, there is nothing that can prevent the Muslims from having good relations with their neighbors and those who profess different faith (Lane & Redissi, 2016). The Quran encourages Muslims to practice justice and equity at all times. They should take part in peace-keeping efforts for God loves those who act in justice.
General Muslims Traditions and Customs
Every culture or a group of people have a distinguishing customs and traditions that make them unique (Lane & Redissi, 2016). The Islam are followers of Prophet Muhammad, and they follow his teachings as directed in the Quran. Therefore, the teachings of the Prophet distinguish the Muslims from other religions. They have certain values and norms that they ascribe to. The Arabic culture professes the Abrahamic traditions, and they have many values, customs, and traditions to which they ascribe to. According to the prophet, he was not allowed to add or delete anything to the Abrahamic legacy. Therefore, the etiquette, traditions, and values of the Muslims is a true reflection of the Abrahamic traditions.
The Muslims would pronounce the name of God before having a meal or drink to recognize his countless blessings. Besides, they profess the name of God so that He can continue to provide for them in future. The Prophet, in some of his teachings, emphasized on the need give thanks to God before a meal or a drink. It is a custom that the subsequent generations of Muslims have conformed to. The Muslims also use the right hand for eating and drinking (Lane & Redissi, 2016). It reminds the Muslims the Muslims that they will find their records on the right-hand side of God on the Day of Judgment. Adherence to this practice symbolizes the commitment and desire of the Muslims to belong to the “right hand” when the final judgment is made. Even during the lifetime of the Prophet, he urged the Muslims to adhere to this tradition since it would favor them on the Day of Judgment.
The Muslim greetings and responses profess peace and blessings. The Muslims are encouraged to greet using the words “Assalaam `Alaikum” and respond with the words “Wa `Alaikum Assalaam’ (Yilmaz, 2016). The words are recommended by the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet. When you use the words, it means you are advocating for peace and blessings to your brothers or community. Besides, the young should humble before the old and take precedence in greeting. The strangers or passerby should also take precedence in the greeting of those who are seated.
The Muslims believe that a sneeze is caused by a disorder in the human body (Yilmaz, 2016). As such, when you sneeze, you relieve yourself of the disorder. After sneezing the Muslims are expected to thank God by professing the words Al-Hamdulillah.” Besides, those who hear him praise God after relieving himself of the temporary disorder should respond with the words “Yarhamukallah.” When a new child is born, the Muslims would often recite the word Adhaan in his right year. Adhaan means, the call to prayers. This is required of the Muslims since it is a way of blessing the children and encouraging them to conform to the ways of God.
The Muslims also trim their mustaches, clip nails, circumcise and remove hair from under the armpits and pubic area as part of physical cleansing (Yilmaz, 2016). According to the teachings of the Prophet, these practices or traditions symbolized cleanness. The Muslims consider unkempt mustache as a sign of arrogance. Besides, a large mustache can soil the food or drink. As such, it should be kept clean and short at all times. Large nails symbolize uncouth and dirty personality (Yilmaz, 2016). To ensure that these practices were adhered to, the prophet dictated the timeline upon which people were expected to trim their mustache. In addition, they were expected to remove the hair in the pubic area and under the armpit to show their commitment to physical cleansing.
The Muslims are also expected to keep the mouth, nose, and teeth clean as a way of promoting cleanliness and purification to elevate the Islamic religion (Yilmaz, 2016). Cleaning the mouth, teeth and nose are part of the teaching of Prophet. He expected all people who profess the Islamic religion to be clean to elevate the religion. The Prophet also directed the Muslims to wash the related organs after urination or defecation to maintain purity and cleanliness. Moreover, the Muslims are restrained from sexual intercourse during a woman’s menstrual cycle or during their perpetual discharge. These traditions were invented even before the coming of the Prophet. It conforms to the Abrahamic traditions.
Therefore, the Islam professes traditions and practices that make them distinct from other religious groups. Besides, they consider the Quran as the supreme authority and every law or teaching should abide by the dictates of the Quran.
In Nasr, S. H., In Dagli, C. K., In Dakake, M. M., In Lumbard, J. E. B., & In Rustom, M. (2015). The study Quran: A new translation and commentary.
Kelsay, J., & Johnson, J. T. (1991). Just War and Jihad: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on War and Peace in Western and Islamic Traditions.
Kepel, G., & Ghazaleh, P. (2004). The war for Muslim minds: Islam and the West (p. 256). Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Khadduri, M. (2006). War and Peace in the Law of Islam. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd.
Lane, J. E., & Redissi, H. (2016). Religion and politics: Islam and Muslim civilisation. Routledge.
Sein, L. (2016). War and Peace in Islam. Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies, 1(2), 111-116.
Whapoe, J. Z. (2009). Diagnosis and prescription to combat global terrorism: An insight in Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.
Yilmaz, I. (2016). Muslim laws, politics and society in modern nation states: Dynamic legal pluralisms in England, Turkey and Pakistan. Routledge.