The Qur’an says:
[9.5] So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
It sounds like it is instructing followers of Allah to kill those who don’t believe. Is this correct? Clearly it says it. Right?
My dear brother, even though the verse entails a directive of fighting against the polytheists, yet this directive is not universal in its nature and is restricted to the direct addressees of the messenger of God.
For my explanation of the significance and method of determining the addressees of the Qur’anic verses, please refer to one of my earlier responses titled: “Determining the Addressees of the Qur’anic Verses” and for my explanation of the first few verses of Surah Al-Taubah, which include the referred verse, please refer to a subsequent discussion on the aforementioned response.
One may, however, be tempted to ask why, in Al-Taubah 9: 5, did God direct the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions to kill all the polytheists. An answer to this question would require a thorough understanding of the ‘Law of God relating to His Messengers’. I have referred to and explained this law in a number of my earlier responses. I would therefore request you to kindly refer to the following of my earlier responses for my explanation of this Law:
The Political Revolution Brought About by the Prophet (pbuh) (you may ignore the question, and go directly to the answer of this question); Difference Between Nabi (Prophets) & Rasu’l (Messengers); Jihad of the Messenger & his Companions; Punishment for Apostasy; Comparing Surah Al-Taubah 9: 5 and “There is No Compulsion in Religion”; Some Clarifications Regarding the Position & Mission of a Rasu’l; and Regarding Jizyah on non-Muslim Citizens of an Islamic State.
In case any of your questions remains unanswered, please feel free in writing back to me.
September 28, 2001