The reality and misconceptions surrounding Islamic wars and Jizya

Does Quran 9.29 & 9.123 seek Muslims to ever fight disbelievers around?

Islamic wars and Jizya were never intended to demean non-Muslims, nor was the term Dhimmi ever in disrespectful use toward any subject. Dhimmi, is a special status awarded to the subjects or communities who were part of the Khilafa (Islamic Caliphate) as non-Muslim people of the land. Prophet Muhammad, God’s blessings be on him made it very clear in letting Muslims know that- “if anyone harms a Dhimmi, he would have instead harmed me”. This traditional extension of an Arab pledge to protection of their subjects was then solemnised by the holy Prophet of God, making it a grave sin to violate the status quo.

Introducing the concept of susceptibility to misunderstand the Quran

Before you begin to read any verse related to war in Quran you need to perhaps understand the background of Muslim struggle through those times in which Quran was contextualised. Nevertheless, it is worth a mention that in Islam war has been a defensive stratagem unless to liberate humans from oppression and tyranny. If not read under this context the verse such as cited below can be grossly misunderstood.

Quran 9.123 O you who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who gird about you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who are the righteous.

Jews, Christians and others religious communities who were residents of Islamic lands lived and thrived under Khilafa. Islam, honoured and aided them to retain their cultural heritage, religious doctrine and justice system. In Islamic establishment, they got to administer their public affairs completely untouched by the Islamic authority.

As it was then needed they rendered taxes to the government of Islam, which meant that Islamic establishment reciprocated them with safety and security from enemies uncommon to Muslims as it was binding upon Muslims to extend protection. Islamic contribution of imparting exemplary value systems in administering equality and justice does not need any substantiation before the world for the mere fact that Muslims were primarily responsible for the growth of the eastern world from when much of the Europe was submerged in dark ages. Muslims over a wide span on the planet from Spain to Indonesia were successful in establishing peace and justice with great scientific learning that sustained and flourished vernacular societies of all cultures and dissenting religions. Embedded rich in history the Muslim traditions to cherish and uplift living standards for all peoples of faith remains incontestable.

Whereas today, Muslims and other religious minority communities live in democracies wherein they empower majority represented candidacies supporting the idea of common code for social regulations. This in its outfit doesn’t sound discriminatory though, but essentially forces them to compromise their value systems from administering their dearly held ethnic socio-family laws such as marriages, divorces and inheritances to mention a few. Also as the minorities lose their precious edge on proportional participation to move motions per their conscience in that they fall out of their space to partake in active governance. It is certainly prudent of future democracies to diversify socio-family laws for such communities in good hopes to effectively apprehend their operations in suspended forms which does amount to unaccounted abuse and loss of integrity in the health of overall democracy.

Clarifying part of misconception surrounding Islamic wars and Jizya

Almighty God, Allah has made it undoubtedly clear in His Book that He loves not the mischief (fasad) makers on earth, and that He loves not the starters of war, and further that He loves not the wasters of resources etc. But He loves those who pay taxes and charity, who seek to reach out and help each other. Thus, were Muslims commanded to pay taxes known as Zakah which were always capped at higher than what Dhimmi’s were to pay.

In circumstances were Muslims were faced with enemy challenges who fought Islam which then essentially meant that they fought to curb freedom and liberty of men to choose the faith of their choice the right to fightback was sanctioned by God. And if in situations disbelievers who disliked Islam become averse towards Muslim progress then God recommends Muslims to closely watch for any signs of annoyance from them such that their ills can be warded off. If violations worsen to the point of mounting clear mischief against your peace in the region or defilement of treaties meant for peace in the region, then fight them for their constant trespasses and annoyances as is taught in the Quran.

…And let them find in you harshness… explains the seriousness of Muslim attitude against deception to the extent that the enemy must straighten their conduct for good conciliation.

As every society wishes for safe neighbourhoods that it must be free from constant annoyances for a healthy and stress free living. Therefore, to achieve this we do take precautions in securing our borders from the annoyances of terrorists and extremists. If the neighbourhoods don’t understand what it means to be peacefully living, then the resulting outcome will mostly be a conflict in which circumstance God expects Muslims to do a good job to ensure evil people be brought to Justice.

A verse in surah named At-Tauba (a chapter named repentance) is probably the most susceptible to misinterpretation, verse of the Quran.

Quran 9.29 Fight those who believe not in God nor in the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by God and (so practised by) His Messenger, nor acknowledge of the religion of Truth from the People of the Book (Jews & Christians), until they pay the Jizya (Guardian Tax) with willing submission, and their governing bodies regulated.

In this subject of Islamic wars and Jizya, the context as mentioned is always a fight that is instigated by the opponent. As such in the Quran Muslims are prohibited to commence any fight. So, when such enemy forces muster their ranks the verse encourages Muslims to fight with bravery. Allah, the Sublime intendeds to educate people of His greater wisdom in our creation and the purpose for us to be here. If someone becomes averse towards peace and begins to curb efforts made by the sincere ones to liberate a people from the narrowness of life, then God takes such people as enemies in His path. Such people who stood against Muslims restraining their operations in Arabia and nearing the borders of the Christian Rome, were sought after by this verse to fight. As such Allah, the Knowledgeable encourages sincere Muslims in the Quran to maintain excellent relations with the Christians and in general with people of all other faiths, regardless of their religious dissent.

Quran 5.85 …and nearest among them in love to the Believers wilt thou find those who say, ‘We are Christians’ Because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant.

Also, in Islamic wars and Jizya: to expedite the war to the point of submission is the key command implying that wars must end and they cannot be loaded as burdens over people for ever. Of the like, what we see in our present world how catastrophe strikes when weapons fall into wrong hands of whom form a sinister coalition desperate to transform civilisations into graveyards.