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Unjustified and Justified Aggression


Unjustified and Justified Aggression


Published in April 18, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy



 The Almighty Lord God says in the Quran: "Say, "My Lord has forbidden immoralities - both open and secret-and sin, and unjustified aggression..."" (7:33). The query raised is as follows: is there allowed, permissible, justified aggression? God says in the Quran: "As for those who disbelieve in God's Verses, and kill the prophets unjustly..." (3:21). The query raised is as follows: is it possible that prophets might be killed justly within retribution? We provide answers to both question in the points below, while we seek guidance from our Almighty Lord God.  


Firstly: unjustified aggression:

1-  Unjustified aggression is prohibited in Islam: "Say, "My Lord has forbidden immoralities - both open and secret-and sin, and unjustified aggression, and that you associate with God anything for which He revealed no sanction, and that you say about God what you do not know."" (7:33).

2- The basis of this prohibition of unjustified aggression is that it contradicts and goes against justice; God in the Quran commands justice and prohibits unjustified aggression: "God commands justice, and goodness, and generosity towards relatives. And He forbids immorality, and injustice, and aggression. He advises you, so that you may take heed." (16:90).

3- The vast majority of human beings implore and supplicate to God in times of adversity and hardships, and when they are saved, they tend to commit unjustified aggression: "But then, when He has saved them, they commit unjustified aggression on earth and oppose justice. O people! Your unjustified aggression is against your own souls. After the enjoyment of the present life, then, to Us is your return, and We will inform you of what you used to do." (10:23).


Secondly: justified aggression:

1- Justified aggression means just retribution in the exact measure equal to the offense committed, as we infer from this Quranic verse: "The repayment of a bad action is a bad action equivalent to it..." (42:40).

2- We notice in the Quranic verse 42:40 the Quranic unique style of using the same term/word twice or more to refer to different meanings within the same topic or context; i.e., the first "bad action" is the unjustified aggression, and the second "bad action" equivalent to it is justified retribution as part of sharia legislations in the Quran. This unique style is used a lot in the Quran; e.g., it is employed with the word "scheme" which refers sometimes to evil schemes of human beings or the retaliation of God against sinners and evil schemers: "They schemed, and God schemed; but God is the Best of schemers." (3:54); "When the disbelievers plotted against you, to imprison you, or kill you, or expel you. They schemed, and God schemed; but God is the Best of schemers." (8:30); "They schemed a plan, and God schemed a plan, but they did not notice. So note the outcome of their scheming; We destroyed them and their people, altogether." (27:50-51). It is no sin at all to exact revenge against offenders/aggressors in the same measure of the offence/aggression committed, as per the Quranic verse 42:40, because sinners are those who commit unjustified aggression on earth, as we read in the very next verses: "As for those who retaliate after being wronged, there is no blame on them. Blame lies on those who commit injustices against people and unjustified aggression on earth. These will have a painful torment." (42:41-42).

3- The same unique style is employed regarding the topic of retaliating military aggression in the same way: "...Whoever commits aggression against you, retaliate against him in the same measure as he has committed against you. And be conscious of God, and know that God is with the  pious ones." (4:194).

4- Justified aggression is manifested in evicting people out of their homes and driving them out by force unjustly, a crime which was committed by the Qorayish polytheists inside Mecca against the early believers: "Those who were unjustly driven out of their homes, merely for saying, "Our Lord is God."..." (22:40). 

5- As per the same style discussed above, we are told that it is not sinful to retaliate in the exact measure of the offence/aggression committed: "And kill them wherever you overtake them, and expel them from where they had expelled you..." (2:191). God will side with the wronged party by lending victory to them because they seek just retaliation, especially when the aggressive party commits more aggression after the just retaliation is exacted on aggressors: "If you were to retaliate, retaliate to the same degree as the injury done to you. But if you resort to patience-it is better for the patient ones." (18:126); "That is so! Whoever retaliates similarly to the affliction he was made to suffer, and then he is wronged again, God will definitely assist him. God is Pardoning and Forgiving." (22:60).

6- Thus, unjustified aggression is unjust one and it is against justice – the number-one Quranic value – while justified aggression is the just retaliation as per Quranic sharia laws and legislations, using the unique style we have explained above. 

7- The above points about justified action is asserted by the fact that the synonymous Arabic words (Truth) and (Right) come in some Quran contexts to denote justice: "...and that you do not kill the soul which God has sanctified-except in the course of justice/Right..." (6:151); "And do not kill the soul which God has made sacred, except in the course of justice/Truth..." (17:33); " judge between us fairly with the Truth, and do not be biased..." (38:22); ""O David, We made you a ruler on earth, so judge between the people with justice/Truth, and do not follow desire, lest it diverts you from God's Path..." (38:26); "...and the prophets and the witnesses will be brought in; and Judgment will be passed among them equitably with the Truth, and they will not be wronged. And every soul will be fully compensated for what it had done. He is well aware of what they do." (39:69-70).


Thirdly: unjustified killing of prophets:

1- God mentions in the Quran that the disbelieving sinners and disobedient ones among the Israelites murdered some of their prophets unjustly; they were killed in an unjustified manner; i.e., without committing a murder that entails retaliation by exacting the capital punishment on them. This fact is mentioned in these Quranic verses: "...That was because they disbelieved in God's Verses and killed the prophets unjustly..." (2:61); "As for those who disbelieve in God's Verses, and kill the prophets unjustly..." (3:21); "...and they incurred wrath from God, and were stricken with misery. That is because they rejected God's Verses, and killed the prophets unjustly..." (3:112); "...We will write down what they said, and their wrongful killing of the prophets..." (3:181); "...and their denial of God's Verses and their killing of the prophets unjustly..." (4:155).

2- The question here is as follows: could we imagine that some prophets were killed in the course of justice (i.e., justified aggression or retaliation) because they might have committed the sin/crime of murder?


Fourthly: justified killing of prophets:

1- Of course, the basic fact here is that the prophets/messengers of the Lord God are the best human beings or the crème de la crème of humanity; yet, they were human beings after all; they were never infallible, and theoretically, some of them might have committed small sins or even grave ones (which include murdering people and to disbelieve in God); these Quranic verses apply to all human souls, including souls of God's prophets and messengers: "And the soul and He who proportioned it. And inspired it with its wickedness and its righteousness. Successful is he who purifies it. Failing is he who corrupts it." (91:7-10). This is why God in all His Divine Scriptures warns prophets/messengers against falling into the trap of polytheism and disbelief to avoid nullifying their good deeds and entering into Hell like losers; for instance, God directly addresses Muhammad here: "It was revealed to you, and to those before you, that if you embrace polytheism, your works will be in vain, and you will be of the losers." (39:65). This Quranic verse is about previous prophets/messengers of the Lord God: "...Had they embraced polytheism, their deeds would have gone in vain." (6:88). Hence, theoretically, if prophets/messengers, whose mission was to convey the message of monotheism; i.e., (There is no God but Allah), were liable to fall into the trap of polytheism, this means that – theoretically – they were liable to commit murder (i.e., to kill an innocent soul that never committed the sin of murder), and this is deemed as unjustified aggression, of course. Hence, they were liable to be put to death justly (i.e., in the course of justice by retaliation) if they committed murder. Within these facts in mind, we understand the heinous crime of the disobedient, disbelieving sinners among the Israelites who murdered some prophets unjustly, as these prophets never committed the crime/sin of murder.    

2- This asserts the divine justice of the Lord God; prophets/messengers would have been punished in the same way like the rest of human beings in case they committed sins that entailed retaliation; they were not exempted or spared for merely being prophets/messengers of God.

2/1: Any prophets/messengers of God who committed grave injustices, crimes, or grave sins will be punished on the Last Day, as is the case with all human souls: "It is not for a prophet to act dishonestly. Whoever acts dishonestly will bring his dishonesty on the Day of Resurrection. Then every soul will be paid in full for what it has earned, and they will not be wronged." (3:161).

2/2: Thus, all human beings (prophets and non-prophets and their peoples) will be judged and questioned on the Last Day equally using the same measures/criteria: "We will question those to whom messengers were sent, and We will question the messengers. We will narrate to them with knowledge, for We were never absent. The scales on that Day will be just. Those whose weights are heavy-it is they who are the successful. But as for those whose weights are light-it is they who have lost their souls, because they used to deny Our Verses unjustly." (7:6-9).

2/3: The same measures/criteria will apply on the Last Day to Muhammad and his people (and his contemporaries/companions who include believers and disbelievers) within the same bearing of responsibility for one's deeds/stances/words in this world and on the Last Day; Muhammad will not be responsible for them, nor they for him, on the Last Day and its Judgment; all human souls – good/pious and bad/sinful – will defend itself on the Last Day and will receive the outcome of their deeds; this applies to prophets and non-prophets: "It is a message for you, and for your people; and you will be questioned." (43:44); "You will die, and they will die. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be quarrelling before your Lord." (39:30-31); "...You are not accountable for them in any way, nor are they accountable for you in any way..." (6:52); "On the Day when every soul will come pleading for itself, and every soul will be paid in full for what it has done, and they will not be wronged." (16:111).

3- We thus understand the greatness of Islam (i.e., the Quran) and the misguidance of the Muhammadans!

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