Wants explanation of Qur'anic verse (2:256)
Fatwa No: 89484


The site below claims that the verse: 2:256 is only applicable for people of scriptures (Jews, Christians) and not polytheists. The site says that the polytheists are to be killed if they don't accept Islam. Why such a harsh punishment for polytheist? Is it not a right of every individual to adopt the faith which he likes? I cannot understand this matter clearly. Please note that almost one-third of the world is full of polytheists. Should they all be killed if they don't accept Islam? Please explain as this topic is criticized by many anti-Islamists. http://islam-qa.com/index.php


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. We ask Allaah to exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.


First we should consider the following facts:

1)     It is an obligation on every Muslim to be certain that what Allaah has legislated is a result of a complete knowledge, and a thorough wisdom. Allaah says (which means): {And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice.}[6:115], i.e. truth in information and just in rulings, free from all kinds of lies or injustice.

2)     It is Allaah who created all the creation and blessed them with his bounties whether apparent or hidden. So He is the One who ordains and forbids, and the One who legislates whether something is lawful or forbidden. Therefore, it is an obligation on His Creation to submit themselves to His Order and stick to His Commandments. Indeed He has clarified to us the reason why He has created us which is to worship Him Alone without associating with Him any partners or associates. Allaah says (which means): {O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous.}[2:21]. Thus, it is not correct to say that mankind are free to believe in what they want.

3)     The misconception and claims of the non-Muslims about Islam are endless. In the early times, the polytheists told the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ): 'How is it that what you personally slaughter with a knife is lawful and what Allaah has slaughtered with a golden knife, [meaning the dead animal that is dead by itself], is not lawful? So Allaah revealed the following verse (which means): {And do not eat of that upon which the name of Allaah has not been mentioned, for indeed, it is a grave disobedience. And indeed do the devils inspire their allies [among men] to dispute with you. And if you were to obey them, indeed, you would be associating others to Him.}[6:121]. So, first we think that one should debate with such people the issues of the foundation of belief in Allaah.

The above are some facts that one has to take into consideration. As regards the verse in question which is the saying of Allaah (which means): {There is no compulsion in religion.}[2:256], the scholars may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them differed about whether or not it is abrogated. Some scholars may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them are of the view that it is abrogated and others oppose this opinion, and say that it is revealed in connection to the people of the book, especially that they are not fought against if they pay Jizyah [tax imposed by Islam on the people of the book when under Muslim rule], whereas the polytheists, have either to accept Islam or be fought against.

However, some other scholars may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them consider that Jizyah is accepted by all the polytheists except the Arab polytheists as they speak the language in which the Qur'an was revealed; the evidence against them is more confirmed. However, some other scholars may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them consider that Jizyah is accepted by all the polytheists without exception. This last opinion is more correct, and Allaah knows best. The evidence about this is what Burayda  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) told him: "If you meet your enemy who are polytheists call them to three things, whichever one they agree to, accept from them and do not harm them…"[In this Prophetic narration, Jizyah is mentioned among the three things]. Therefore, the issue is the one of Ijtihad (juristic opinion on matters on which the Qur'an and the Sunnah has not specified) among the scholars may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them and the opinion that you have read on this site that only Islam is accepted from the polytheists otherwise war is declared against them, is a considerable view point and it is the view of the majority of the scholars may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them

Allaah knows best.

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