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Fighting and Jihad

The Arabic word ‘qātil’ which means ‘fight’ or ‘kill’ is mentioned in the Quran 170 times. Here are all the Quranic verses where it is mentioned.

Three of  the verses actually deal with killing or hunting wild animals. One of them deals with David killing Goliath. 23 of the verses deal with murders and killing incidents during the time of Moses. 16 of them deal with disbelievers killing or fighting the prophets. 23 of them deal with disbelievers killing or fighting the believers. Six of them deal with disbelievers killing their own children. Seven of them mention the fact that disbelievers are cursed. 21 of them talk about people who do not wish to fight. Two of them talk about disbelievers fighting each other. 14 of them talk specifically about the prohibition of killing. 9 of them talk about battles specifically during Muhammad’s time. 7 of them talk about the rewards of fighting in the cause of God. 38 of them are orders to fight or kill disbelievers under strict conditions.

So, now let’s look at these last 38 cases of the word ‘qātil (fight or kill)’ refer to BELIEVERS FIGHTING DISBELIEVERS. All of these 38 cases without exception come with conditions attached to them.

Below is a list of those verses, and all the conditions:

So, looking at all these 38 cases, we can not find a single verse in the Quran which orders the believers to fight the disbelievers simply because they have a different belief system. Someone might say, “yes, but you only looked at the word “qatil” (fight), and you did not look at the popular word “jihad’ (strive).” So let’s look at the word ‘jihad’ as well.

The word ‘jihad’ is mentioned in the Quran 41 times, and it actually means ‘to strive’ or ‘to keep trying’ or ‘to not give up’, it does not mean ‘to kill’. Here are all those 41 cases:

From all the 41 cases above, only 4 of them actually talk about ‘striving’ against the disbelievers. And those cases are in verse 9:73, 25:52, 25:52, and 66:9. Two of those cases are specifically about the time of Prophet Muhammad (9:73, 66:9), who was already being unjustly abused by disbelievers, and the two other cases are both in verse 25:52, which says:

“Therefore, do not obey the disbelievers, and strive (jihad) against them with this (Quran), a great striving.” (25:52)

So, this is the only verse in the Quran which orders the believers to do ‘jihad’ (strive) against the disbelievers, and what it is really saying is that ‘jihad’ against disbelievers is done by reciting or preaching the Quran.


  1. Fighting (qatil) against disbelievers is only allowed for self-defense.
  2. There is no such thing as Jihad (proactive striving) against disbelievers, except for preaching the Quran to them.

And here are two crucial verses which prove this conclusion:

“There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. … “ (2:256)

“Had your Lord willed, all the people on earth would have believed. Do you want to force the people to become believers?” (10:99)