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Correcting the Misconception, Misrepresentation and Misinterpretation of Islam

Correcting the Misconception, Misrepresentation and Misinterpretation of Islam



By Abdulrazaq Oyebanji Hamzat, Ilorin, Kwara State Nigeria

Goodwill Ambassador, International Human Right Commission

I decided to come up with this piece from the learned Islamic scholars who had previously explained the said challenge due to the challenge I was confronted with in some forums where Christians claimed the Quran supported aggression against non Muslims, this is a misinterpretation of the words of God and a misrepresentation.

This piece is for those people who wish to be enlightened and I pray that the almighty will give you the understanding. The letter from the prophet which reads below is the truth (A message from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) over 1400 years ago.


In 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery came to Prophet Muhammed (SAW) and requested his protection. He responded by granting them a charter of rights.


"This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullahi, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.


Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.


No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses.


Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.


No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.


No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)... not just the truth for the people living during the time of the prophet, but will continue to be true until the day of Judgment.


In further supporting the above letter from prophet Mohammed (SAW) the Quran also has this to say, "Not all these people are alike. From amongst the people of the book are those who stand in the night time, reciting the verses of God while prostrating. They truly believe in God and the Day of Judgment, they encourage goodness, admonish evil and take lead in doing acts of virtue; such are the righteous people. Whatever good they will do is not going to go waste. And God is aware of the pious people." (3:113-5)


Indeed those who believe (Muslims) and those who are Jews, and the Nazarenes [the rightly guided Christians], and the Sabeans, whoever [amongst them] believes in Allah, the Day of Judgment, and does good deeds, for him there is going to be reward before his Lord: They will neither have any fear of the future nor sorrow of the past. (2:62).


Here comes the verse of the holy Quran quoted as a command for Muslims to attack the Christians.  This is what the Quran says in... At-Taubah sura 9:29 " Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."


Source from the Noble Quran. The Above verse is indeed from the holy Quran. For every Qur’anic verse, there is what we call asbabu nuzul,(reason for revelation).  In light of the historical context of this verse, it becomes very clear that the verse was revealed in connection with aggression initiated against Muslims.


As Dr. Jamal Badawi very accurately concludes with regard to verse 9:29 and similar verses:  All of these verses, without exception, if studied carefully, address aggression and oppression committed against Muslims at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), whether by idolatrous Arabs, some of the Jewish tribes in Madinah, or by some Christians.


Some people have falsely concluded from verse 9:29, that Muslims are commanded to attack all non-Muslims until they pay money. In fact, such an interpretation is completely false and contradicts authentic Islamic teachings. Commenting on this verse, Shaykh Jalal Abualrub writes: These Ayat (Quranic verses) stress the necessity of fighting against the People of the Scripture, but under what conditions?


We previously established the fact that the Islamic State is not permitted to attack non-Muslims who are not hostile to Islam, who do not oppress Muslims, or try to convert Muslims by force from their religion, or expel them from their lands, or wage war against them, or prepare for attacks against them. If any of these offenses occurs, however, Muslims are permitted to defend themselves and protect their religion.


Muslims are not permitted to attack non-Muslims who signed peace pacts with them, or non-Muslims who live under the protection of the Islamic State. (Abualrub, Holy Wars, Crusades, Jihad) Likewise, the following fatwa points out that Muslims cannot attack a peaceful non-Muslim country:


Question: Is it an obligation of an Islamic state to attack the neighboring non-Muslim states and collect ‘jizya’ from them? Do initiating from them?  We see this in the example of the rightly guided Caliphs who fought against the Roman and Persian Empires without any aggression


Answered by Sheikh Hânî al-Jubayr, judge at the Jeddah Supreme Court


If the non-Muslim country did not attack the Muslim one nor mobilize itself to prevent the practice and spread of Islam, nor transgress against mosques, nor work to oppress the Muslim people in their right to profess their faith and decry unbelief, then it is not for the Muslim country to attack that country. Jihâd of a military nature was only permitted to help Muslims defend their religion and remove oppression from the people.


The Persians and Romans did in fact aggress against Islam and attack the Muslims first.


The Chosroe of Persia had gone so far as to order his commander in Yemen specifically to kill the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Romans mobilized their forces to fight the Prophet (peace be upon him), and the Muslims confronted them in the Battles of Mu’tah and Tabûk during the Prophet’s lifetime.


May Allah guide us all. And May peace and blessing be upon our Prophet Muhammad. (SOURCE, emphasis added) The above fatwa refers to the historical context in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) fought against other nations. The Prophet Muhammad did not initiate aggression against anyone, rather he and his followers were under attack from all who sought to crush the new Islamic state.


The first hostilities between the Muslims and the Roman empire began when the Prophet Muhammad’s messenger to the Ghassan tribe (a governate of the Roman empire), Al-Harith bin Umayr Al-Azdi, was tied up and beheaded (Al-Mubarakpuri, Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum, p. 383). The killing of a diplomat was an open act of war, and the Prophet Muhammad sent an armed force to confront the tribe, but the Roman empire brought in reinforcements and the resulting conflict, known as the Battle of Mut’ah, was a defeat for the Muslims.


Only after this did subsequent battles between the Muslims and the Roman Empire occur, and the Muslims emerged victorious. Likewise, as mentioned in the above fatwa, hostilities between the Muslims and the Persians only began after the Persian emperor Chosroe ordered his governor in Yemen Badham, to kill the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, although his efforts were thwarted when the latter accepted Islam. Other non-Muslim groups, such as those in Madinah, also initiated hostilities against the Muslims despite peace treaties as Shaykh Sayyid Sabiq writes:


As for fighting the Jews (People of the Scripture), they had conducted a peace pact with the Messenger after he migrated to Madinah. Soon afterwards, they betrayed the peace pact and joined forces with the pagans and the hypocrites against Muslims. They also fought against Muslims during the Battle of A`hzab , then Allah revealed…[and he cites verse 9:29] (Sayyid Sabiq, Fiqhu as-Sunnah, Vol. 3, p. 80) therefore, the command to fight in verse 9:29 relates to those non-Muslims who commit aggression and not those who are committed to live in peace. The verse is subject to certain conditions that were apparent when it was implemented in the time of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, as Shaykh Sayyid Sabiq writes:


What we have stated makes it clear that Islam did not allow the initiating of hostilities, except to: 1. repel aggression; 2. protect Islamic propagation; 3. deter Fitnah and oppression and ensure freedom of religion. In such cases, fighting becomes a necessity of the religion and one of its sacred ordainments. It is then called, ‘Jihad’. (Sayyid Sabiq, Fiqhu as-Sunnah, Vol. 3, p. 81)


The verse then proceeds to mention some issues relating to the Islamic state, and governing non-muslim citizens of the Islamic state. Dr. Maher Hathout comments on the regulations in verse 9:29:


Freedom of religion is an essential aspect in an Islamic state. One of the five pillars of Islam is zakat (almsgiving). The People of the Book (Christians and Jews) are not obliged to pay the Islamic zakat that is spent by the state for social necessities and state affairs as defined in the Quran (see 9:60). But they must pay other taxes to share in the state budget. If they refuse to pay this tax to the state and rebel against the state, then it is the obligation of the state to confront them until they pay it. This is what Caliph Abu Bakr did after the death of the Prophet, when some people refused to pay zakat. (Hathout, Jihad vs. Terrorism; US Multimedia Vera International, 2002, p.53)


The verse mentions Jizya, which is unfortunately misunderstood by some people. Like any nation, the Islamic government requires its citizens to pay taxes in return for its services. Since Muslims pay the Zakat, the non-Muslim citizens are required to pay Jizya (for more information on Jizya, please refer to Jizya in Islam and Jizyah and non-Muslim minorities). Dr. Monqiz As-Saqqar writes concerning the Jizya tax:


The sum of jizya was never large to the extent that the men were unable to pay. Rather, it was always available and reasonable. During the reign of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, jizya never exceeded one dinar annually and it never exceeded four dinars under the Umayyad rule. (SOURCE)


Shaykh Abu’l-Hasan Al-Mawardi (d. 1058CE) explicitly points out that the Jizya should be exacted in accordance with the means of the people, and the Imam should judge and conclude the amount to the satisfaction of the leaders of those being taxed:


The fuqaha (Jurists) differ as to the amount of the Jizya. Abu Hanifa considers that those subject to this tax are of three kinds: the rich from whom forty-eight dirhams are taken; those of average means from whom twenty four are taken, and the poor from whom twelve dirhams are taken: he thus stipulated the minimum and maximum amounts and prohibits any further judgment on behalf of those responsible for its collection.


Malik, however, does not fix its minimum and maximum amount and considers that those responsible should make their own judgment as to the minimum and maximum. Ash-Shafi’i considers that the minimum is a dinar, and that it is not permitted to go below this while he does not stipulate the maximum, the latter being dependent on the ijtihad (judgment) of those responsible: the Imam, however, should try to harmonize between the different amounts, or to exact an amount in accordance with people’s means.


If he has used his judgment to conclude the contract of jizyah to the satisfaction of the leaders of the people being taxed, then it becomes binding on all of them and their descendants, generation after generation, and a leader may not afterwards change this amount, be it to decrease it or increase it. (Al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah, Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. 1996, pp. 209-210)

Hence, the laws of Islam forbid Muslims from oppressing non-Muslims and command them to treat others with justice and compassion. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad PBUH himself forbade Muslims from harming non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state or any non-Muslim with whom there was an agreement of peace, as he said,


“The one who wrongs a covenanter or impairs his right or overworks him or forcibly takes something from him, I will be his prosecutor on the Day of Judgment. (Sunan Abi Dawud 170/3 no. 3052, Sunan an-Nasa’i 25/8 no. 2749, and verified by Al-Albani no. 2626).


In conclusion, verse 9:29 commands Muslims to fight against only those who initiate aggression as illustrated by its historical context. Muslims may only fight under strict conditions, and are commanded to live peacefully with peaceful non-Muslim neighbors. And also, on the term fight..FIGHTING NEED NOT ALWAYS BE PHYSICAL, IT CAN ALSO BE INTELLECTUAL


Finally, people might now say well isn’t Islam violent because Muslims are commanded to fight those who do not believe in God and so on etc etc. Not really, because fighting in this verse does not explicitly mean physical violence. Observe the words in the above verses like “willingly”, “willing submission”, “readily” etc. Here it is spoken about bringing a change from within the hearts of people which is brought about intellectually.


There are many ways in which you fight against somebody that does not involve a physical aspect. You can fight someone with the tongue, using your wisdom and telling him about the truth, you are fighting against the lies that a person is propagating and eventually with your tongue you will speak the truth and crush his lies leading him to the truth. So fighting does not have to only be physical. I hope this explanation would meet you in good faith and would truly show you what Islam is all about which is peace. I would always be here to answer you.




Abdulrazaq Oyebanji Hamzat can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.