Quran (2:216) – ‘Fighting is enjoined on you…’

𝐐𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐧 (𝟐:𝟐𝟏𝟔) – ‘𝐅𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐬 𝐞𝐧𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮…’

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


2:216 “Fighting is enjoined on you, and it is an object of dislike to you, and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know.”

The above passage lays out that it’s binding to fight against tyranny, and oppression. The fighting that is mentioned in the verse is not against innocents, but against those who oppress innocent men, women, and children. As the next verse shows:

2:216 Fighting is enjoined on you, and it is an object of dislike to you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and God knows, while you do not know.
2:217 They ask you concerning the sacred month about fighting in it. Say: Fighting in it is a grave matter,

and hindering (men) from God’s way and denying Him, and (hindering men from) the Sacred Mosque and turning its people out of it, are still graver with God, and persecution is graver than slaughter; and they will not cease fighting with you until they turn you back from your religion, if they can; and whoever of you turns back from his religion, then he dies while an unbeliever– these it is whose works shall go for nothing in this world and the hereafter…

Commentary on 2:216 – 217

“A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an” Islamic Thought – Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali

“Our natural disposition and tendency favor peace, harmony, and stability among relatives, neighbours, and friends. However, while condoning and encouraging these tendencies, the Qur’an also says: “…Much as you dislike it, fighting has been prescribed for you. But you may despise something that is good for you, and you may love something that is bad for you. God knows, but you do not …” [2:216] . 

Peace is to be welcomed when rights are protected and beliefs are respected; but if peace means abject surrender and subjugation, it cannot be easily defended on moral or realistic grounds. This delicate balance is well presented in the verse: “…

They ask you wether fighting is permitted during the sacred month. Say, ‘fighting in it is a grave matter’ …” [2:217], meaning it is not permitted. However, what should be done if aggression is perpetrated, terrorizing peaceful communities and jeopardizing their rights of worship and belief? Should not aggression be repelled, in order to

protect one’s rights? The verse continues: “….but to deny God and debar people from His path and prevent them from worshiping in the Holy Mosque, and to drive its inhabitants away, is far more grave in the sight of God…” [2:217]. In short “…sedition (Arabic: fitnah ) is a greater threat than killing..” [2:217] and fighting or armed resistance should be permitted in “defense” of one’s integrity and beliefs.

However, in circumstances in which we are faced with enemies who will not be satisfied until we forsake our religion and way of life and adopt theirs, defensive action becomes obligatory and the blame for instigating the conflict will not fall on us but on those who were the cause of it.

These introductory remarks enable us to appreciate fully the meaning of the following verse: “…fight for the cause of God those who fight against you, but do not commit aggression because God does not love the aggressors…” [2:190]. This is an eternal principle, and everything else the Qur’an has to say on this subject agrees with it. [1]

‘Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia’ – Professor Alexander Mikaberidze

“Wrongful expulsion of believers – Muslims and other monotheists – from their homes for no other reason than their avowal of belief in one God is one of the reasons – jus ad bellum – that justify recourse to fighting, according to these verses. Earlier revelations (Koran 42.40 – 43) had allowed only nonviolent self-defense against the wrongful conduct of the enemy.

In another verse (2.191), the Koran acknowledges the enormity of fighting, and thus the potential taking of human life, but at the same asserts the higher moral imperative of maintaining order and challenging wrongdoing. Therefore, when both just cause and righteous intention exist, war in self-defense becomes obligatory.” [2]

‘Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith’ – Michael Wolfe

“The only war condoned by the Qur’an, therefore, is a war of self-defense. “Warfare is an awesome evil” (2:217), but sometimes it is necessary to fight in order to bring the kind of persecution suffered by the Muslims to an end (2:217) or to preserve decent values (22:40). 

But Muslims may never initiate hostilities, and aggression is forbidden by God (2:190). While the fighting continues, Muslims must dedicate themselves wholly to the war in order to bring things back to normal as quickly as possible, but the second the enemy sues for peace, hostilities must cease (2:192).” [3]

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[1] Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali, “A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an” Islamic Thought, page 18 -20
[2] Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia [Copyright 2011], by Alexander Mikaberidze, Volume 1, page 929
[3] Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith by Michael Wolf, page 28

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