Combating Terrorism

Combating Terrorism


Dr. Ali S. Awadh Asseri

(Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon)

     The holy Qur’an also provides detailed guidelines and regulations regarding the conduct of wars: who is to fight and who is exempted,[1] when hostilities must cease[2] and how prisoners should be treated.[3] Most importantly, the holy Qur’an emphasizes that the response to violence and aggression must be proportionate.[4] However, Qur’anic verses also underscore that peace, not violence and warfare, is the norm. Permission to fight the enemy is balanced by a strong mandate for making peace: ‘If your enemy inclines toward peace, then you, too, should seek peace and put your trust in God’,[5] and ‘Had God wished, He would have made them dominate you, and so, if they leave you alone and do not fight you and offer peace, then God allows you no way against them’.[6] Islam forbids the killing of non-combatants.

     But what of those verses, sometimes referred to as the ‘sword verses’, that call for killing unbelievers, such as ‘When the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush?’[7] This is one of a number of Qur’anic verses that are selectively  cited to demonstrate the supposedly violent nature of Islam and its scripture. In fact, however, the passage above is followed and qualified by, ‘But if they repent and fulfil their devotional obligations and pay the Zakat (charity), then let them go their way, for God is forgiving and kind’.[8] The same is true of another often quoted verse: ‘Fight those who believe not in God, Nor in the Last Day, Nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, Nor hold thereligion of truth (even if they are) of the People of the Bok’, which is often cited without the line that follows, ‘until they pay the tax with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued’.[9]


[1] Ibid., Surah 48, Verse17; Surah 9, Verse 91.

[2] Ibid., Surah 2, Verse 192.

[3] Ibid., Surah 47, Verse 4.

[4] Ibid., Surah 2, Verse 294

[5] Ibid., Surah 8, Verse 61.

[6] Ibid., Surah 4, Verse 90.

[7] Ibid., Surah 9, Verse 5.

[8] Ibid., Surah 9, Verse 5.

[9] Ibid., Surah 9, Verse 29.