Does Islam command its followers to wage war against unbelievers or kill them without provocation? This is a popular misconception among Westerners, and the statements of a few radicals in the Muslim world don’t help in ending this false idea in peoples’ minds. In fact, Islam forbids the taking of any human life except for a just cause under the law, that is capital punishment for convicted murderers, fighting in wartime, or self-defense. The Quran has this to say about taking a life:
“Don’t take a life which Allah has made sacred except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you that you may learn wisdom.” (Qur’an 6:151)
The Qur’an never says to fight and kill people who are not believers, although one of its verses, which is often quoted out of context, does say “to fight the unbelievers wherever you find them.” However, this command was revealed when a state of war existed between the first Muslim community and their stronger opponents, the idol-worshippers of Mecca. The command was directing the Muslims not to run away from a fight with oppressors but instead to go headlong into battle with the people who had been attacking them without mercy for so long. Here are the Qur’anic verses that command Muslims to fight:
“Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight you, but don’t be the aggressors, because Allah doesn’t approve of aggression. Fight them wherever they are found, and drive them out from where they drove you out, because being oppressed is worse than being slaughtered …. But if they cease being hostile, remember that Allah is the Forgiving, the Source of All Mercy. But if they continue to oppress [people], then battle them until oppression is no more and justice and faith in Allah prevails. If they seek peace, then you seek it as well, but continue to pursue the evil-doers.” (Qur’an 2:191–194)
So the above verse clearly shows that Islam never encourages war against disbelievers or any human being.