Is Islam violent?

Is Islam violent? Does the Quran encourage violence? I have seen some of the Quran extracts which talks about Muslims not being allowed to befriend Christians and that the West are all infidels, etc. For example,
“O ye who believe, take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.” (5:51)

Two common fallacies. God tells Muslims in the Quran not to be allies in war with the people of the Book (Christians and Jews). Nothing to do with friendship. The word God uses in the Quran is “Awliyaa'”, plural of “Waliyy”, which means close ally and the context you quote is a context of war as you can see from the very next verse, 5:52. Thus, the quoted translation is misleading.

When there is no war, the instructions from God are, “God does not forbid you to be cordial and just with those who do not fight you in religion or expel you from your homes. God loves the just” (60:8) The next verse emphasizes the different circumstances of wartime, “What God forbids you is to be allies with those who fight you in religion, expel you from your homes or ally themselves with those who do. Those of you who ally themselves with them are the wrongdoers” (60:9)

Even when there is war, God’s instructions are to honor all treaties until the other side breaks them, “Except those polytheists with whom you have treaties and they did not break them nor ally with your enemies: Complete the term of the treaties. God loves those who fear Him.” (9:4)

There are a number of Quranic passages that appear to evoke hatred. For instance,

“…slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush…” (9:5)

You left out the beginning of the verse! It says, “When the term [of the treaty] expires…” Then, the state of war is back and when in war one kills the enemy. In the same chapter, God instructs Muslims to “fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively.” (9:36)

The reason for war and the conditions to end it are defined by God in chapter 2. He says, “Fight in the way of God those who fight you and do not commit aggression; God does not like the aggressive.” (2:190) And, “Fight them until there is no persecution and the religion is for God [alone]. If they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.” (2:193)

Another example,

“…O Prophet, strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them…” (9:73)

Bad translation. The word used is “Ughluzh” which means be firm or tough as opposed to being lenient “Urfuq.”

A third example is,

“The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom;” (5:33)

This is the legal punishment for a crime. When a judge passes a capital punishment verdict on an accused, he or she does not hate that person. He or she is applying the law. You may be surprised to know that this very verse is the Islamic law condemning terrorism and specifying the capital punishment for it. Muslim scholars have agreed that armed robbery falls under the category of “going around with corruption in the land” and that terrorism (Tarwee` ul Aamineen) falls under the category of “waging war against God and His messenger.”

And what about where it says in the Hadith “Jihad in the way of Allah” as a way for paradise.

What about it? Perhaps you think that Jihaad means war. That’s another fallacy promoted by the media. Jihaad means exerting an effort that meets with resistance. It can be done with words, “And struggle with them a big struggle using it (the Quran)” (25:52). It can be done by the disbelievers!, “And if they struggle with you so that you would associate others in worship with Me, others of whom you have no knowledge, then do not obey them.” (29:8, 31:15). It can be done with money (8:72). It can be done in oneself, like when someone is struggling to find the truth about God (29:69)

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