Kill the infidels?

I’m certain this has been covered on the message boards before, but I couldn’t find it in a search. Is there really a passage in the Koran that says “Kill the infidels”, referring to the killing of Jews who refused to convert during the inception of Islam? I’ve heard this passage quoted before, and my father swears he’s read it in the Koran himself. So, is it an interpretation issue? Is there an explanation that it’s taken out of context? Or, is it just one of those quotes that main-stream Muslims try to ignore?

Probably Sura 9:5, the famous “sword-passage” or “sword-verse” - Here’s one translation: [9:5] Once the Sacred Months are past, you may kill the idol worshipers ( mushrikun ) when you encounter them, punish them, and resist every move they make. If they repent and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), you shall let them go. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

In context it is generally considered to be referring to the pagan Banu Ishmael who broke a ceasefire near the end the Medinan-Meccan struggle.

There are at least two major interpretations ( with doubtless many variations on the themes ). The radical, militant one is that this is an abrogating sura that supercedes the previous passages that called for peace and understanding and fully authorizes violence against unbelievers. This interpretation appeared in the 10th century ( apparently ) at a time the Pax Islamica was fracturing and the Muslim world was beginning to feel paranoid. It is the favored interpretation of ObL and like minded thinkers.

The second interpretation is that this was a specific, directed passage, referring to the Banu Ishmael and not meant to be taken as a general command aginst all unbelievers. Part of the argument for this is that it is one of the very passages in the Quran that does not start with the phrase ‘Bismillah’, which means, roughly, “In the name of Allah”. Also there is the meaning of the word mushrikun or mushrikeen. Moderates say that it generally refers to polytheists and not Jews or Christians ( or Zoroastrians ) who are usually referred to separately as Christians or Jews or collectively as ahl al-khitab ( ‘People of the Book’ ). Also, the four passages preceding this one talk about how war is not to be made on those who keep treaties. This is the interpretation favored by the more peacefully minded.

But I’m not a true expert on this stuff and I don’t read Arabic, so I’m afraid I can’t offer a definitive answer as to who is right ( or if this is the correct passage ). As usual with religious writings, the devil is not so much in the details, but in the interpretation of the details.

  • Tamerlane

I showed what you wrote to my dad…he is a bit stubborn, but he insists that it specifically said to kill all infidels, referring to Jews who refused to convert. Any thoughts?

Any thoughts? Your dad appears to want to believe something hateful about Islam and Muslims, no matter what the actual proof is. Feel free to show him this post.

Here’s a relevant thread.

For general fighting of ignorance about Islam, there is tons of useful info in the “Ask the Muslim guy” threads parts one and two.

The Spanish inquistion resulted in the expulsion of jews from spain. Many of them moved to the more tolerant muslim lands (here ).
The jewish portions of Jerusalem remained throughout 800 years of muslim rule ( here )
Perhaps someone has recently added a new chapter to the Koran, promoting increased intolerance for infidels ? That seems unlikely, as does the possibility that the old time muslims simply ignored the dictates of their holy book.

…and Monty wants to turn another GQ into a pit thread.

JAPrufrock is ASKING A QUESTION. He’s telling the relevant info, and seeking cites.
He’s looking for the Straight Dope, not the Obnoxious Dope.

I’ll go look for some cites relevant to the OP. I’ll try to contribute to the veracity or the falsity of question. I’ll follow the lead of ALMOST all of the previous posters, and not insult Prufrock’s dad. Sheesh.

One single answer does not totally bury the question, and monty waves his “bigot” flag. Tired.

Ah, perhaps this one. Same general context, but the phrase ‘People of the Book’ here almost certainly refers specifically to Jews, such as those in Khaybar, that were fighting Muhammed ( there being very few Christians in that part of Arabia at the time ).

"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued’’ (9.29).

‘Subdued’ in this context likely does not necessarily mean “converted”. But it certainly does at least mean removed from power and subordinated to the young Muslim state ( i.e. paying religious poll taxes to it ). Again, the moderate line would be that this was a situational verse referring to those Jewish tribes in alliance with the aforementioned polytheist tribes that were in opposition to Muhammed and the young Islamic state and not necessarily a general commandment to all Muslims in all times. Oh and I’ve also seen the argument advanced that a more correct contextual translation is “Fight back against those who believe…”, implying a more defensive posture. Your guess is as good as mine as to how accurate that is, though I should point out that I read it at a site ( ) whose patrons seem to be firm believers in the concept that Islam allows fighting only in self-defence or to right injustice, not to spread religion, and therefore that might might color their translation.

The fundamentalist line would, of course, be that this command is still operational.

Again, a question of interpretation, over which the Muslim world continues to be at odds with itself.

I might still not have the right passage, though. Perhaps it was a line from some hadith ( supposed sayings of Muhammed and his Companions, some of them disputed ), rather than the Qur’an.

  • Tamerlane

No, stockton. JAPrufrock already said that he showed the actual info to his dad. Looks like his dad refuses to believe the cited info. What’s that leave?

:::Looks like his dad refuses to believe the cited info.:::

I asked a question about a specific passage, and, while Tamberlane was trying to help, the passage he quoted was entirely different. And your response?

:::Your dad appears to want to believe something hateful about Islam and Muslims, no matter what the actual proof is.:::

Sorry, but while Tamamerlane certainly appears to be quite knowledgeable on the topic, I would hardly use his first response as ‘proof’ any more than my father recounting a passage he read in the Koran as ‘proof’. Now, quit trolling…

Don’t call me a troll. For one thing, I’m not. For another, it’s against the board’s rules.

Look, I admit I may be mistaken in your dad’s vested interest in continuing to believe the Qur’an says to kill the Christians and Jews. Sadly, from what you’ve recounted above, especially the last posting, I don’t think I am.

“Don’t call me a troll. For one thing, I’m not. For another, it’s against the board’s rules.”

Quack, quack.

The qur’an is a big book. It is quite possible for Tamerlane’s quote to be correct and for there still to be something else(or a different interpretation) which backs up JAPrufrock’s Dad’s memory. Don’t expect people to fall all over themselves rushing to agree with you, you have no clue what JAPrufrock’s Dad’s motives are.

We’ll be returning to the facts, now.

Sure 'nuff, manhattan.

Fact: JAPrufrock asked for thoughts. Then got some. Then showed his dad. Then said his dad essentially blew them off. I then posted my thoughts about his dad blowing off those facts.

Fact: JAPrufrock then calle me a troll.

Fact: I pointed out that (a) I’m not & (b) it’s against the site’s rules to accuse someone of that.

Fact: CarnalK then called me a troll.

Fact: No mods mentioned that it’s against the rules to do that.

Fact: If the OP wasn’t all that interested in thoughts on what’s arguably a GD question, he shouldn’t have started this thread, IMHO.

How’s them facts?

Perhaps he read something not from the Koran but from an Islamic leader? For instance, the following:
Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled and incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of other [countries] so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world. . . Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. . . .
Islam says: Kill them [the non-Muslims], put them to the sword and scatter [their armies].
Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Koranic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.
– The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, quoted in Amir Taheri’s Holy Terror: Inside the World of Islamic Terrorism, 1987

(Note: I am leaving out large parts of the quote for the sake of not having the mods beat up on me. )

Someone who is simply reading an article that may be footnoted might not realize the quote is not from the Koran.


Well, I think a more relavent question is do a significant number of muslims actually interpret the Quran this way. And I’d have to say, um, yes. Not the majority to be sure, not even close. But unfortunately it only takes one to be a homocide bomber. Or 19 to kill 3000+ infidels.

I really don’t see too much significance in the literal text of any holy scripture. Its not an instruction manual, its stories and principles of faith. Written 1000+ years ago. Slavery, killing of homosexuals, beating of wives, people have sited passages in the Christian Bible supporting these as well. Some still do.

But I have to say, use of the word infidel by members of the government of even modern, less-hostile Islamic states (i.e. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia etc.) shows how much more intertwined their culture is with their faith. I mean, how many times do you hear Tony Blair or Colin Powell use the word heathen?