Does the Koran incite violence?

Sura 2 verse 191-193The so-called scandal verses

"And kill them wherever you come across them, and drive them out, from whence they drive you; for oppression is worse than manslaughter. (...) And fight it until the oppression has ceased, and faith in God there and if they let go, there is no enmity except against the unjust. "

The Koran has been revealed piecemeal over a period of over 22 years. It refers to the most varied of events and circumstances of the Revelation period between 610 and 632. That is why we find traces of almost all events of its time in it: everyday and ritual, peaceful and warlike, legal and religious. He does not deal with his topics abstractly, but in specific contexts and using examples. This is also the case with the subject of "religious freedom and violence".

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A closer historical examination of the Koran reveals that precisely in verses of the Koran, which are emphasized by many hate preachers and opponents of Islam because of their warlike content, there is actually a liberal attitude towards differences of belief and opinion. These passages from the Koran include above all the so-called "scandalous verses", which were revealed in Medina in the last years of Revelation - this also includes verses 191 to 193 in Sura 2.

The key word in the Arabic original is fitna: "And fight them until the fitna has ceased. ”The word originally means“ oppression, ”“ torture, ”and“ trial. ”In many Koran commentaries from the Middle Ages is used fitna understood as "unrest" and "turmoil" and interpreted as "unbelief", "idolatry" and "heresy". This statement subsequently acquired a meaning with which one could justify suppressing and persecuting non-Muslims or Muslims who think differently as "troublemakers". Because it is precisely this wording that lends itself to extensive overinterpretation: "Fight against them until nobody causes unrest", "... until nobody disbelieves", "... until nobody thinks otherwise", etc.

The verse does not originally speak of a confrontation with those who do not believe or believe otherwise. Rather, the verse is about the armed conflicts with the pagan Meccans. These Meccans exercised violence against the first, still weak Muslims, until they had to leave their homeland and emigrate to Medina. Seen in this way, this passage from the Koran is about nothing other than the principle of defending oneself against persecution and oppression and insisting on freedom of belief.

This approach is in line with the UNESCO Declaration on the Principles of Tolerance. There it says in Article 1, Paragraph 4: "In accordance with the respect for human rights, practiced tolerance means neither tolerating social injustice nor giving up or weakening one's own convictions."

So much for the UNESCO declaration on the principles of tolerance. To conclude, now once again the verses that have been explained here: "And kill them wherever you come across them, and drive them out, from whence they drive you; for oppression is worse than manslaughter. (...) And fight it until the oppression has ceased and faith in God is there. And if they cease, there is no enmity except against the unrighteous. "