SWORD VERSE in the Qur'an

Ar: ayat al-sayf

Refers to (at-taubah 9:5):

Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
This verse, according to many Muslim commentators, abrogates a famous verse often used by Muslims when interacting with non-Muslims, al-Baqarah 2:256:
There is no compulsion in religion (la ikraha fi d-dini). The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower.
Muslims like to use this verse to show that Islam does not force people into accepting Islam. It should be noted, however, that this verse is a Meccan verse, where Muhammad was at a disadvantage, having to deal with the strong pagan at Mecca. The tone of the Qur'anic verses changed shortly after he moved to Medinah.

The Sword Verse is a Medinan verse, and it allows the Muslims to compel non-Muslims to accept Islam. However, it is also abrograted by the condition in the verse: "But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free."

Ibn al'Ata Iqi refers to the sword verse as one of the marvels ('aja'ib) of the Quran! (Powers, David S. "The Exegetical Genre nasikh al-Qur'an was mansukhuhu." in Approaches to the History of the Interpretation of the Qur'an, Andrew Rippin, ed., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988, 130-131). Zamakshari agrees with this.


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