Deception and the Just War Doctrine

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Deception_of_Non-Muslims

Islam’s Just War Doctrine is a Lie

Muslims often promote the view that the Quran develops a doctrine of just war. That is, war is only permissible in self-defence. This is a blatant lie. It is based on three broad misrepresentations. First, it relies on the implication or assumption that in military strategy, anything short of slaughtering everyone in your path is self-defence. Second, it relies on misrepresenting Muhammad’s actions as being consistent with a self-defence doctrine. Third, it relies on misrepresenting the content of the Quran, by claiming verses say things they do not say, by inserting extra words into verses, and taking absurd liberties with interpretation. [1] [2] [3]

Misrepresenting Historical Military Strategy

In even the most aggressive military campaign, there are appropriate times to make peace or negotiate some form of ceasefire. For example Genghis Khan, one of the most violent and aggressive people in the history of warfare, went to some effort to project a promise that any city who surrendered to him would be spared, while any city that fought him would be destroyed. There are two fundamental reasons for this. The first is that dead men pay no taxes. If you want to rapidly build a large, profitable empire, the only way to do so is to capture a large population, alive. Second, slaughtering everyone tends to unite and motivate your opponents. If everyone is convinced you will slaughter them regardless of what they do, they will abandon previous hostilities with each other and unite against a common threat, then fight to the death to stop you, even when it seems that death on the battlefield is inevitable. It is much better to give them the option of surviving if they surrender without a fight, and even join you in the ongoing plunder (something that Genghis, as well as most other historical empire builders did to great effect). This doctrine is a natural extension of the divide and conquer strategy.

Muhammad made a few, very limited suggestions to do the same. Unlike most other empires, he imposed religious as well as financial obligations on those who surrendered. That is, they must convert to Islam in a religious sense, submit to rule by Muslims under religious shariah law, as well as pay religious taxes (to the empire, of course). The tactic chosen by Muhammad depended largely on relative military strength. Where the opposition was weakest, Muhammad tended to prefer slaughter without any options for survival. Where the opposition was formidable and well defended, he naturally preferred a negotiated outcome. Muslims falsely portray this as Muhammad encouraging or preferring peace in a generalised sense. [4] Muslims will even claim that the self-defence doctrine was adopted by almost every empire on earth, and that this being the norm, a resurgent Islamic State would inevitably follow the same example. [5]

Definition of Just War

Muslims will claim that “just war” literally means only in self-defence. [6] However, self-defence is only part of the typical conception of just war, and by itself is a gross simplification (yet still too complex for Muhammad to communicate in the Quran). For example, it becomes meaningless without a doctrine of proportionality, otherwise even a trivial act of aggression on the part of an enemy can be used to claim self-defence – a practice often exploited by Muhammad whenever one of his own treaties became inconvenient for him. The early history of Islam is littered with other groups (Jews, mostly) violating treaties (whose textual content has conveniently been lost to history) and paying dearly for their treachery.

The suggestion that the Quran can communicate a doctrine of just war without even a cursory discussion of proportionality or what self-defence means, or even mentioning self-defence, is absurd.

Muslim scholars (eg, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi) who eschew an Islamic just war doctrine, often cite failure to accept Islam after it has been revealed as a just cause for war. The Quran reinforces this.

Misrepresenting Muhammad’s Actions

Muslims will argue that Muhammad’s actions were entirely consistent with a just war doctrine based only on self-defence. They will justify this claim by citing an example of Muhammad refraining from slaughtering a “severely weakened” opponent and agreeing to concessions with them. [7] His opponent at the time, the city of Mecca, which Muhammad was trying to gain entry to, was at the time more powerful than Muhammad’s army.

A brief History of Muhammad’s Militant Aggression

See also: Political History of Islam

Muhammad started out preaching in Mecca. The Meccan verses in the Quran tend to be less violent, and Muhammad was largely unsuccessful in recruiting people to his religion. Muhammad’s own tribe managed the Kaaba, a prominent pagan shrine, which was very lucrative for them. Muhammad preached against them. He eventually fled Mecca in fear of his life.

Muhammad's career of Murdering Meccan traders and stealing their goods

He ended up in Medina, where he formed a militia and started robbing Meccan trade caravans and murdering traders. This is often justified by Muslims with the following excuses:

  • Only the original Muslims who fled Mecca and were thus wronged by the Meccans took part in murdering Meccan traders and stealing their goods. Muslims will even back this up with a link to a wikipedia article clearly saying the opposite. [8][9]
  • Muhammad was merely taking revenge for the Meccan emigrants. [10]
  • Muhammad only ever killed people in self defence. [11]
  • Muhammad was leading a nation when he fled Mecca and a state of war thus existed from then until he started murdering Meccan traders. [12][13][14]
  • There must be a different definition for nation in 7th century Arabia. [15]
  • Muhammad was only concerned for the welfare of 'his people'. [16]
  • Muhammad only ever killed people to survive. [17][18]
  • Mecca was the only commercial centre in the area. [19]
  • The people of Medina were non-farmers in a farming area. [20][21]
  • It was the only option Muslims had for survival. [22]
  • Murder and bloodlust were not the 'primary' objective of the raids. [23]
  • Muhammad was under political pressure from his followers to take revenge. [24]
  • They were not allowed to trade in Mecca. [25]
  • Muhammad first raided Meccan traders and stole their goods within a year of fleeing Medina. [26]

These are all either lies or cynical, self serving spin. They go a long way to explaining why any conflicts in the middle east or north Africa (the footprint of the original Caliphate) tend to spiral out of control. Islam creates a culture of hysterical over-reaction and constant victimhood mongering, which is seen in nearly all Muslims, including converts from a liberal, western background. Adopting this over-reaction and victimhood mongering is the only way for western converts to accept the many and various moral crimes committed by Muhammad.

The truth is that only 45 people fled Mecca with Muhammad, including men, women and children, in 622. This was the size of his flock after 12 years of preaching the more peaceful version of Islam. [27] They were successfully integrated into a very large community in Medina. It was not until 624 that they managed to steal anything or kill any people. Muhammad's first caravan raid had only 6 people and failed. By March 624, Muhammad was able to kill more Meccans in a single raid than the total number of 'oppressed' Muslims from Mecca on whose behalf he was supposedly exacting revenge. Both Meccan emigrants and Medina locals participated from the first murder and theft. From his first successful raid, Muhammad's wealth, power and prestige grew until he was able to march on Mecca with ten thousand warriors in 630. Muhammad died eight years after first spilling blood in the name of Islam and receiving spoils of war. He managed to carve out a large nation in that time, turning what was a multicultural, multireligious society without any centralised government into a violent and oppressive dictatorship imposing Islamic monoculture by slaughtering innocent people. All, according to Muslims, in an act of self defence.

Muslims will flip back and forth between the two most common excuses: justifying the murders and theft as an act of self defence, and as a just act of war in response to Meccan oppression (rather than criminal theft and murder). However, modern just war doctrines that are based on self-defence specifically exclude revenge or ‘stealing property back’ as a justification for war, as this would make it inevitable that even the smallest feuds escalate to armed conflict.

Muhammad's campaign to get rid of Medina's Jewish tribes

Muhammad became more popular as his militia became more successful and profitable. However, three large tribes of Jews remained in Medina and stood between Muhammad and absolute authority over the city. Muhammad tended to have little success converting Jews, despite initially seeing them as natural allies. In addition, the pagans of Medina were somewhat hostile towards Mecca, born of jealousy over the Kaaba and the central role that Mecca played in Arab paganism, while the Jewish tribes had significant trade links with Mecca. It was at this time that Muhammad instructed Muslims to pray towards Mecca instead of Jerusalem, making pagan Mecca rather than the traditional Abrahamic centres the focal point of his religion.

This public address by Muhammad is what counts as diplomacy for a Muslim:

"O Jews, beware lest God bring on you the like of the retribution which he brought on Quraysh. Accept Islam, for you know that I am a prophet sent by God. You will find this in your scriptures and in God's covenant with you."

The Quraysh were Muhammad’s own tribe from Mecca. Muhammad’s militia had recently had their first large scale victory against them. This address, made by Muhammad in a market place in 624, was one of the earliest expressions of Muhammad’s “convert or die” doctrine. Muhammad proceeded to get rid of the three large tribes, one by one.

The first tribe to fall victim to Muhammad were the Banu Qaynuqa, shortly after Muhammad's address to them in the marketplace. According to Islamic traditions, a Banu Qaynuqa goldsmith assaulted a Muslim woman, causing her to be stripped naked. He was killed by a Muslim, which sparked a series of revenge killings. Muhammad expelled the entire tribe from Medina as punishment – another clear rejection of the concept of proportionality.

There were now two large Jewish tribes in Medina. Muhammad assassinated the chief of one of them (the Banu-Nadir), who had written erotic poetry about Muslim women, then expelled them about a year later and seized their property. By this stage Muhammad was creating a large number of enemies, so he set about attacking smaller groups of Arabs outside of Medina to prevent his enemies uniting.

Eventually the Meccans came to attack Medina, but ended up retreating without a fight. They were allied with the last of the three Jewish tribes in Medina. Afterwards, Muhammad was instructed by an angel to lay siege to the tribe. They surrendered without a fight and were taken prisoner. Muhammad executed every adult male (those with pubic hair) in the tribe, totaling approximately 800 victims. A small number, perhaps two, who converted to Islam were spared. Again, doctrines of just war that are based on self-defence forbid the execution of POWs (Prisoners of War). In order to spread perceived blame and reduce the risk of rebellion over his harsh actions, Muhammad had some of the Jews’ previous allies pass the judgement and conduct many of the executions.

Muhammad then attacked the Jewish community of Kaybar where many of the Banu Nadir had sought refuge. Muhammad ordered the torture of the Banu Nadir treasurer to force him to reveal the location of their gold. Muhammad then decapitated him and later took his wife as a concubine. Muhammad took possession of all their land, but allowed them to continued farming it on condition that they pay 50% of their produce as a tax. After Muhammad’s death they were expelled by Caliph Umar as part of a broader campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Muhammad then negotiated a 10 year treaty with Mecca that allowed Muslims to make pilgrimage to the pagan Kaaba. Two years later, some Meccans apparently violated it. Although Muslim scholars often cite an official declaration of war as a requirement of Islamic just war, Muhammad marched on Mecca with as much secrecy as possible, not even telling his own companions what his plans were, and attempting to give the impression had had an alternative target. The Meccans were actively trying to renegotiate peace, but Muhammad ignored their efforts.

With the exception of a single minor skirmish, the Meccas surrendered without a fight. Muhammad destroyed all pagan idols except for the Kaaba itself and rapidly Islamised Mecca.

Having captured Mecca, the Muslims were now the dominant force on the Arabian peninsula. Muhammad adopted an even more aggressive military strategy, sending out many raids to destroy competing religious sites and slaughter non-Muslims, mostly pagans. He captured most of the peninsula in the short time between capturing Mecca and his death. Non-Muslims were banned from Mecca, which until that point had been a focal point of pagan worship and pilgrimage for the entire peninsula. All treaties were abrogated. Muslim sources acknowledge that Muhammad in effect declared total war against pagans.

Following his death, Muslim rulers expanded the empire rapidly. Muslim commanders were under general instructions to accept the surrender of cities on the condition that they accepted Islam, Muslim rule and paid religious taxes to the empire. Within a century they created the largest land empire that had ever existed.

To insist that this was all done in self-defence is an exercise in absurdity.

Misrepresenting the Quran

Deception_of_Non-Muslims#Lying_about_the_Quran

The Quran promotes and justifies violence. This is not a few scattered verses, but is a dominant theme in the Quran. Whole chapters are devoted to it. For example, chapter 9 is devoted, from start to finish, to encouraging Muslims to slaughter the infidel. [28] Paying religious taxes to support the war effort is also a dominant theme, with a common refrain being to “fight with your life and your wealth”. Other chapters that heavily promote violence and aggressive warfare are chapter 2, 3, 4 and 8

Quran never mentions self-defence

Muslims will make the absurd argument that the Quran does not use the term self-defence because it was written in Arabic, not English. That is, they will literally use the fact that self-defence is written in English to justify its absence from the Quran (you do not misunderstand, it really is that stupid). However no English translations use the term either. [29]

Muslims will also claim that the Quran “clearly explains” the concept of self-defence without mentioning the term, without any textual justification for the claim [30] or citing for example Quran 22.39-40: [31]

Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged... [They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right - only because they say, "Our Lord is Allah ."

However, this is actually a direct contradiction of the self-defence doctrine. Waging war as revenge for past wrongs (because they were wronged…) is explicitly excluded from any legitimate just war doctrine that is based on self-defence. The verse in question was used by Muhammad when initially forming his first militia in Medina, which he used to rob Meccan caravans and murder Meccan traders, by justifying it as revenge for his mistreatment in Mecca. Muslims will also argue that this verse is “clearly specifying who (and only who) fighting against is given permission to”. This is effectively inserting the word “only” into the Quran. The Quran offers many reasons for going to war. Not only are none of these reasons stated or implied to be the “only” reason, it simply does not make sense that a particular reason is the only permissible one when other reasons (eg mocking Islam) are also given. [32]

Muslims will also argue that verses in the Koran permit war "only" against people that Muslims have peace treaties with that they are actively violating. [33] Not only does this contradict other examples of the "only" conditions in which war is permitted, it leaves out an explicit reference to self defence and is a clear contradiction of Muhammad's behaviour. Some of the 'violations' used by Muhammad and the rightly guided Caliphs to abandon treaties and slaughter the infidel were trivial at best, while other reasons had nothing at all to do with treaties.

The Quran commands Muslims to slaughter the infidel repeatedly, only occasionally placing genuine limitations on it – eg where there is a peace treaty, unless there is some kind of trivial violation of the treaty. These verses were always conveniently revealed when Muhammad needed to motivate his followers to mobilise for war yet again, and for the most part Muslims correctly interpret them as motivational rather than as some poorly explained rule or restriction. Where restrictions such as following peace treaties are genuinely intended, the Quran states them clearly and explicitly, not as a riddle or a blank slate for filling in the gaps with whatever new moral imperatives Muslims pick up from non-Muslim legal theorists.

Muslims will also cite Quran 8:61 as a “clear” explanation of what self-defence means: [34]

And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah.

However the only interpretation of this verse that is consistent with Muhammad’s actions is that Muslims are to spare those who surrender without a fight (and accept Muslim rule, shariah law, and religious taxes to the Islamic state). It is certainly not a clear explanation that war is only permitted in self-defence. At the very least, it does not limit warfare to self-defence, as the verse is entirely consistent with the historical military practice (among the more aggressive empire builders) of slaughtering anyone who fights back and sparing groups who surrender without a fight and agree to whatever terms are offered.

Other, even more vague verses are also used as “clear explanations”, however they all put the onus on the infidel to make peace. Not a single one puts the onus on Muslims to seek out peace, though countless verses urge them to violence, often without qualification. Not a single one stipulates self defence as the only justification for war. [35]

Muslims will attempt to argue that Quran 60:8 states that Muslims are only permitted to engage in war as an act of self-defence. However it merely states that Muslims are not explicitly forbidden from being nice to people who do not attack Muslims – they are merely forbidden from being ‘allies’ with them. [36]

60:8 Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. 60:9 Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion - [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers.

Context

Muslims will complain that quoting chapter 9 in its entirety is actually taking it out of context, because it does not quote the entire Quran at once, thus leaving out all the other verses that (apparently) state that war must only be fought in self-defence. [37] [38]

Those same Muslims will then make the absurd claim that chapter 9 of the Quran reveals a self-defence doctrine. For example, claiming that 9:4 states that fighting is only permitted against those who violate oaths. [39]

In order to make this claim, verse 5 must be omitted, because it clearly states that Muslims are to slaughter the infidel wherever they find them (unless they convert to Islam and pay religious taxes to the Islamic State). Thus, it is deliberately taking the verse out of context. It is also a misrepresentation of verse 4. Verse 4 does not state that violating oaths is the only permitted justification for war. Rather, it says that Muslims should not violate an existing peace treaty (one of the rare occasions that the Quran actually places limitations on slaughtering the infidel). And of course, ‘violating oaths’ is a caveat on this – again no concept of proportionality is invoked. The smallest violation of a treaty can be used as justification for slaughtering the other party, if it suits the interests of the Islamic State. Thus, Muslims pretend that a caveat on a caveat to the general rule of slaughtering the infidel wherever you find them as actually presented as the only condition for slaughtering the infidel.

This is what verse 4 and 5 actually states:

9:4. Except those of the Mushrikun [infidel] with whom you have a treaty, and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor have supported anyone against you. So fulfill their treaty to them to the end of their term. Surely Allah loves Al- Mattaqun (the pious - see V.2:2).

9:5. Then when the Sacred Months (the Ist, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikun (see V.2:105) wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Muslims will also claim that verse 13 of chapter 9 states that Muslims should only slaughter the infidel if the infidel attacks Muslims first. [40] Again, what the verse actually states is very different. Also, the preceding verse cites criticism of Islam as an example of an attack and a justification for slaughtering the infidel.

9:12. But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and attack your religion with disapproval and criticism then fight (you) the leaders of disbelief (chiefs of Quraish - pagans of Makkah) - for surely their oaths are nothing to them - so that they may stop (evil actions). 9:13. Will you not fight a people who have violated their oaths (pagans of Makkah) and intended to expel the Messenger, while they did attack you first? Do you fear them? Allah has more right that you should fear Him, if you are believers. 9:14. Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of a believing people

For clarity, Mushriken means infidel and Makkah is an alternative spelling of Mecca.

These verses were revealed after Muhammad captured Mecca, banned pagans, abrogated all treaties and set about capturing the rest of the Arabian peninsula. The “attack you first” bit appears to be a reference to the earlier Meccan attack on Medina, which was followed by a peace treaty and then by Muhammad marching on Mecca despite the Meccans suing for peace. It is a reference to a past event being used as a retaliation justification, and clearly not, as some Muslims will attempt to argue, an instruction that the infidel must attack first. Again, just war doctrines based on self-defence specifically exclude retaliation for past wrongs as justifications for war, as it destroys the meaning of the self-defence doctrine.

The Muslims at the time were afraid that Muhammad’s aggressive actions, especially seizing the Kaaba and bringing an end to a long standing pagan tradition of peaceful, inclusive pilgrimage, would unite their enemies against them, and also test the allegiance of recent converts who were now being instructed to kill their friends, families and old allies. (See: islamicstudies.info/tafheem.php?sura=9&verse=11 and discover-the-truth.com/2016/05/05/the-sword-verse-surah-913-24/). It is about as far removed from a self-defence doctrine as it is possible to get, yet still cited by Muslims as a Quranic example of the self-defence doctrine.

Muslims will quote half of a verse from chapter 9 of the Koran to make it appear a general command to maintain peace with non-Muslims, but leave out the first half of the verse which makes it clear that it is a reference to people with whom Muslims have a peace treaty. [41]

Oppression

Muslims will claim that Quran 2:193 specifies the only conditions under which war may be fought. [42] [43] [44] [45] [46]

They make this claim, even while quoting the verse, which says to slaughter the infidel until they convert to Islam and until there is no more fitnah (rebellion, presumably against Muslim rule):

2:193 Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah . But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.

Other translations use words like polytheist and disbeliever instead of oppressor and fitnah. [47] These translations come across as far more internally consistent. It is misleading to imply that Muslims in the 7th century had the same concept of oppression that we do today.

The key misrepresentation here is taking extraordinary liberties with the words “cease”. Although it would logically be a reference to what comes before – paganism and rejecting shariah law, Muslims will attempt to construe this verse as only permitting war against oppression.

Muslims cannot offer any kind of explanation as to what the verse means by oppression. [48] [49]

Islam entirely rejects any concept of individual personal liberty. In this context, oppression does not have a clear meaning. The very same verse that apparently calls for Muslims to fight oppression begins by calling on Muslims to slaughter the infidel until worship is only for Allah – hinting for example at denial of basic religious freedom. Several other verses in the Quran as well as Hadith reinforce this concept: that only Allah has the right to be worshiped and that jihad is to continue towards this goal. Muhammad’s own actions also reinforce this rejection of religious freedom.

For example, prior to Islam, Mecca and the Kaaba were a centre for pagan religious pilgrimage, where the pagans would annually set aside their differences and come together in peace to practice their various faiths. As soon as Muhammad gained control of it, he destroyed all the pagan monuments, Islamised the Kaaba, banned all non-Muslims from Mecca, and used Mecca and Medina as bases from which to slaughter pagans and destroy competing religious monuments across the Arabian peninsula – about as clear an example of oppression as you can get. The actions of the Meccans immediately prior to Muhammad marching on Mecca – trying to negotiate for the peace treaty with Medina to remain in place, including provisions for religious freedom and for Muslims to be able to join the pagan pilgrimage to Mecca, are the opposite of oppression, and particularly generous given Muhammad’s previous lengthy career robbing Meccan caravans and murdering traders.

The Quran never explains what is meant by oppression, but the examples given suggest that anything short of submission is to be considered intolerable. Chapter 9, verse 12 cites criticism of Islam as a form of attack in the context of justifying bloodshed. Limited religious freedom was only extended to “people of the book”. That is, Christians and Jews – provided they accepted living as second class citizens. Muslims will attempt to claim that examples from other chapters of the Quran of what modern, liberal minded people would identify as oppression is actually a clear explanation of what this particular verse means by oppression. However, the Quran never gives an explanation or even description of what oppression means. [50]

Muslims will also feign an inability to comprehend the difference between describing, elsewhere in the Quran, a situation that a modern reader identifies as oppression and actually clarifying what this particular verse or any other verse means by oppression. [51] Even if the verse is intended to mean fight until there is no more oppression, the fact that Muhammad was the greatest oppressor of the time still destroys any potential for meaning.

Muslims will also employ a peculiar circular logic here by insisting that by always putting the onus on non-Muslims to seek out peace and always putting the onus on Muslims to wage Jihad, the Quran must be referring to a self-defence doctrine because it is always up the aggressor in conflict to cease aggression in order to achieve peace, therefor the Quran must mean that the non-Muslim is the aggressor. This is an extension of the typical victimhood mentality that always portrays Muslims as not being responsible for the violent conflict they find themselves in, even if they happen to build the largest land empire the world had ever seen in only 100 years. [52]

Proportionality

Muslims will argue that a verse that explicitly instructs Muslims to commit acts of evil in retribution is a doctrine of proportionality. [53] Apparently, the following verse is the closest that the Quran comes to a doctrine of proportionality in war, despite devoting many chapters to promoting and justifying war:

42:40 And the retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it, but whoever pardons and makes reconciliation - his reward is [due] from Allah . Indeed, He does not like wrongdoers.

42:41 And whoever avenges himself after having been wronged - those have not upon them any cause [for blame].

The context of this verse is not war. It is an "eye for an eye" verse. Just war doctrines specifically exclude retribution as a justification for war.

When the Quran does impose self defence and proportionality

The Quran does clearly impose a doctrine of both self defence and proportionality, albeit a little simplistically. [54][55] Despite the clear and unambiguous statement, this verse of the Quran is not used by Muslims seeking to build a case for Islam's just war doctrine, because it limits the restriction to Islam's holy months.

2:194 During the Sacred Months, aggression may be met by an equivalent response. If they attack you, you may retaliate by inflicting an equitable retribution. You shall observe God and know that God is with the righteous.

This is the "exception that proves the rule". That is, the only reason the Quran needs to specify this exception during the holy months is because it explicitly encourages hostile and aggressive warfare at other times. It also demonstrates the absurdity of the elaborate "re-interpretations" that are necessary in order to read a just war doctrine into other verses of the Quran. The examples provided above were not cherry-picked for their hollowness. They were the best examples provided.

Muslims will attempt to argue that verse 2:194 is a reference to some kind of domestic fighting rather than warfare, [56] even after arguing that preceding verse (which calls on Muslims to convert people by the sword) is in fact a reference to a just war doctrine of self defence and proportionality. [57]

2:193 Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah . But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.

Consider also this verse calling for the slaughter of non-Muslims outside of the hold months:

9:5. Then when the Sacred Months (the Ist, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikun (see V.2:105) wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Justifying Lies about the Quran

Muslims often cite the potential benefit of ‘positive misinterpretations’ or white lies about the Quran as helping to make Muslims more peaceful. However, they cannot stop Muslims from picking up the Quran, reading it for themselves, and discovering what it actually says. In fact, Islam commands them to do exactly this, and explicitly forbids misrepresenting the Quran.

Thus these misinterpretations only serve to deceive non-Muslims. This is particularly true in the case of just war doctrine. Those who misrepresent the Quran’s key messages on war will never find themselves in charge of a Muslim army waging holy war. Thus it only serves to encourage naivete in non-Muslims seeking to understand religiously motivated violence. It create a blind spot, for example in anticipating the number of Muslims from western countries like to travel to or support ISIS, and encourages ineffective responses to the problems. For example, the opinion of a non-Muslim political leader on the Quran’s true message, no matter how sincere, progressive or well-communicated, will never hold any weight with a conservative Muslim considering holy war who is capable of reading the Quran for himself.