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"Removing the Middleman" Chapter 2: Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow): Verses 216-218


Fighting (for a just cause) is a must even if you dislike it. Perhaps you dislike a certain thing that is good for you while you may like something that is bad for you. God knows while you do not know (the real essence). 106

They ask you regarding fighting during the sacred month. Say, “Fighting during the month is a serious (offense), but restricting people from serving God, denying Him and the sacred mosque (its sanctity), and forcing people out of its premises are greater offenses.” (Persistent) persecution is worse than killing. They will not stop fighting you until they, if they can, turn you away from your way of life. (In that event), whoever of you turns away from his way of life (Islam) and then dies in that state of denial, these are the people whose work in this life and in the Hereafter will be worth nothing, and they will have company in the Hellfire where they will stay. 107

Those who believed left their homes (to maintain their faith and freedom) and struggled hard in following God’s way—they can hope for God’s mercy, and God is ever Forgiving, Merciful.


106 As we know from 2:190, God has asked us not to be an aggressor and to always be inclined toward peace, even at the point of temporary humiliation (e.g., the Hudaibiya Treaty—please research Prophet Mohammad’s life story for more information). But to defend one’s right to worship God and to be free to follow his way of life are universal human rights and should be defended, even if that means going to war with the perpetrator. Not fighting in those instances increases the likelihood of such violations of human rights to persist and turns it into a state of persistent persecution, which the Qur’an declares as worse than killing. Islam equates social justice and good morals with belief in God.

107 God demands that our commitment to His way of life (Islam) be taken seriously and that one should not be so uncommitted or ready to give up his belief in servitude to others in the face of adversity or temptation for worldly gains. Just like persecution is unacceptable and punishable, so is the denial of God and the refusal to acknowledge His Grace. As God said in the Qur’an, “There is no coercion in matters of faith (or in this way of Life, meaning Islam), and the right course is indeed made distinct from the deviated path; whoever then denies the evil ways and converges to God is adopting a system that will never fail…” (2:256, 10:99), and people should be free to choose between belief and a lack of belief. God will settle the difference on the Day of Judgment, and each of us has to face the consequences of our actions.


The persecution of people by their leaders, fellow men, and enemies is a serious matter in the eyes of God, and it is even considered worse than killing. Persecution demoralizes and dehumanizes people and causes serious mental and physical pain and resentment on a long-term basis. We saw these things happen to Muslims during European colonial rule, to Jews during the Holocaust, to Soviet citizens during Stalin’s and Lenin’s eras, and to the Chinese during Mao Zedong’s rule, yet this continues to happen even today, whether to citizens in China or in Palestine. The rise of extremist acts, such as suicide bombings, happens under this type of persistent persecution of people who are devoid of freedom and personal dignity as well as food, safe homes, and security. This is not to condone any form of extremism, but the world (including Muslims) needs to realize that one cannot eliminate one form of extremism (such as terrorism) while supporting another form of extremism (such as state-sponsored persecution of one group by another).


Each one of us needs to seriously refrain from causing harm, even in a personal way, e.g., abusing one’s spouse or children, taking away someone’s property illegally and forcibly, causing mischief in society, or breaking rules and laws deliberately for profit. Whether this is done by individuals, a group, leaders (even those elected through democratic means), or a ruling class, it all falls under the definition of persecution. Even worse is when this is done in the name of religion, ethnicity, state-craft, or ideology.