Is Islam a Religion of War or Peace?

Can it be said that Islam is a religion of war? Do not the wars of Muhammad prove it?

The word Islam is derived from the Arabic root “silm = سلم”, which means “peace”, “salvation”, “submission” and “giving”.

All the commandments in the Quran and the practices of Prophet Muhammad clearly show that Islam is a religion of peace and justice.

There is no basis on labeling Islam as a religion of sword without knowing the reasons and consequences of the Prophet’s wars.

Muhammad Hamidullah, the author of “Battlefields of the Prophet Muhammad” makes the following remarkable comment about Prophet’s wars:

“When he was breathing his last after 10 years of active governance and diplomacy, he was in charge of a government which has 2 million km squares of land. This land, which is as big as Europe without Russia and involves a greatly diverse community, had been conquered by the cost of 250 fallen men in enemy lines. In this period of 10 years, we can calculate the loss of Muslims as 1 martyr per month. There’s no period in human history which gives this much value and respect to human blood.”

Hamidullah explains the 250 fallen enemies based on the historical evidence as follows:

“According to Ibn Hisham, the Prophet went on 27 campaigns from Madina in which 9 of them actually resulted in a battle. We cannot assume that the below list is certain, for some of the campaigns has no record about losses. However, it can give us an idea in bold outline about the battles of that era.”

Campaign Enemy army Enemy loss Muslim army Muslim loss
Badr

950

70

313

14

Uhud

3.000

22

700

70

Mustaliq

(?) 200

10

 (?) 30

1

Trench

12.000

8

3.000

6

Khaybar

20.000

93

1.500

15

Mu’tah

100.000

?

3.000

13

Conquest of Mecca

?

13

10.000

3

Hunayn

?

?

12.000

4

Ta’if

?

?

12.000

12

Total

 

216

 

138

“44 Muslims who are trapped and brutally murdered in Raji’ and Bi’r Ma’una are not involved in the list. Also, the Jews who were taken as captives during the battle with Banu Qurayza and sentenced to death according to Jewish law by judges of their own choice, are not involved in the list.”  [“Hazreti Peygamberin Savaşları” (Turkish Translation of ‘Battlefields of the Prophet Muhammad’), M.Hamidullah, 1991, Istanbul, p.21-22]

Starting a war against a community is only possible in case of the existence of danger from their enmity according to the Qur’an:

“Fight for God’s cause against those who start a fight against you, but do not commit any aggression. God does not like aggressors.” (al-Baqarah 2:190)

The red-lines of war have been drawn by God:
“God does not forbid you from being kind and equitable to those who do not start a fight against you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes. Indeed, God likes those who are equitable.
God only forbids you from making friends of those who fight you because of religion or expel you from your homes or aid in your expulsion. The ones that make friends of them are the wrongdoers. (Al-Mumtahanah/The Examined One 60:8-9)

It is obvious from the results above that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) strictly complied with these rulings. He conquered lands by winning the hearts of their residents rather than killing them.

 

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Date: Mar 5, 2013