“Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Qur’an” 8:12

Non-believers believe the Qur’an is full of evil and oppression and promotes terrorism. This is because they do not understand the Qur’an’s context as they read like they do with the bible. I recently received a question in my WhatsApp inbox “My Muslim brother, you claim Islam is a religion of peace, how do you answer this?” He sent me a list of Qur’anic verses which he and others believe the Qur’an is evil.

This article is my answer to the Christian friend and I hope it shall be helpful to Muslim brothers and sister who encounter the same questions.

Qur’an 8:12 “Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Qur’an”

Some non-Muslims either through ignorance or Islam-bashing continue to take verses of the Holy Quran out of context and its history to justify their false propaganda. In order to gain a proper understanding of many verses in the Holy Quran, it is important to understand and know the historic context of the revelations.

So many revelations in the Holy Quran came down to provide guidance to Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) and the fellow Muslims based on what they were confronting at that time. The verse 8:12 is one such verse which is misinterpreted. The verse and its brief explanation are as follows:

8:12 “Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you:
give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers:
smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”

This verse and the verses before and after it were revealed about the Battle of Badr, which occurred in Arabia in the early seventh century; a battle in which the pagans of Makkah traveled more than 200 miles to Madinah with an army of about 1000 to destroy Muslims. Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) and fellow Muslims had suffered severe persecutions and torture for 13 years in the city of Makkah. And now that they had fled Makkah and found a sanctuary in the city of Madinah, they were once again threatened. Muslim Army was only about 300 strong. God Almighty gave the order to Muslims to fight to defend their lives and faith. The enemy came to them with the intent to kill Muslims. It was a war to defend themselves and their Faith. It was a war imposed upon Muslims.

And when you fight, you strive to kill the enemy during the fight. However, even during the war, Islam has the highest moral law of war. You don’t kill children, women or anyone who is not fighting with you.

You also don’t fight, if the enemy wants a peace treaty. You can read Qur’an 8:61 if you like. It says:

“But if the enemies incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in God: for He is One that hears and knows (all things)”.

I will repeat as I said in the previous misconception, God Almighty also says in 60:8-9:

“God forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith
nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for God
loves those who are just. God only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong”.

For the ignorant, misquotation is a habit they enjoy. Misquoting the Holy Quran is a sin and a shame for the one who commits such an act, as God says in Qur’an 4:50:
“Behold! how they invent a lie against Allah! but that by itself is a manifest sin!”

And He says in 11:18:

“Who does more wrong than those who invent a lie against Allah? They will be turned back to the presence of their Lord, and the witnesses will say, “These are the ones who lied against their Lord! Behold! The curse of Allah is on those who do wrong!”

Imagine if the following Biblical paragraph is used in the same way the above verse is used. Muslims know that Jesus, peace be upon him, like all prophets, came with the message of peace to earth. However, a misquotation may change the whole meaning. Read:

KJV-Matthew10:34-35

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword; for I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law”.

If I ask my Christian brother to convince me that the verses do not mean what the contexts say, will he?

Even though Prophet Muhammad (p) had left Makkah to find peace for the Muslim community without being persecuted, oppressed, they once again were trying to terrorize the Muslim community. Let’s read from Qur’an 8:9-19,

8:9 “[Remember] when you asked help of your Lord, and He answered you, “Indeed, I will reinforce you with a thousand from the angels, following one another.”

8:10 “And Allah made it not but good tidings and so that your hearts would be assured thereby. And victory is not but from Allah . Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise”.

8:11 “[Remember] when He overwhelmed you with drowsiness [giving] security from Him and sent down upon you from the sky, rain by which to purify you and remove from you the evil [suggestions] of Satan and to make steadfast your hearts and plant firmly thereby your feet.”

8:12 “[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.”

8:13 That is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger. And whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger – indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.”

8:14 “That [is yours], so taste it.” And indeed for the disbelievers is the punishment of the Fire”.

8:15 O you who have believed, when you meet those who disbelieve advancing [for battle], do not turn to them your backs [in flight].”

8:16 “And whoever turns his back to them on such a day, unless swerving [as a strategy] for war or joining [another] company, has certainly returned with anger [upon him] from Allah , and his refuge is Hell – and wretched is the destination”.

8:17 “And you did not kill them, but it was Allah who killed them. And you threw not, [O Muhammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw that He might test the believers with a good test. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.”

8:18 “That [is so], and [also] that Allah will weaken the plot of the disbelievers.”

8:19 “If you [disbelievers] seek the victory – the defeat has come to you. And if you desist [from hostilities], it is best for you; but if you return [to war], We will return, and never will you be availed by your [large] company at all, even if it should increase; and [that is] because Allah is with the believers.”

When we read the verses before and after, we get a clear picture that this was a battle. The killing that is mentioned in 8:12 is on the battlefield, which took place 1400 years ago. When we read 8:17 it says that it was not Muhammad (or his companions) who killed the enemy, but it was Him (God) who had done so. Furthermore, 8:19 offers peace to the enemy, if the enemy desists from hostilities against Muslims.