Who are the true followers of Allah?

What do the following verses from the Quran have in common? Note that I am taking the liberty of quoting from several English translations, lest someone accuse me of cherry picking one particular translation to fit a certain agenda. I prefer to let the Quran speak for itself, rather than forcing an idea by choosing one particular translation.

Sura 3:142

Khan                  Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah tests those of you who fought (in His Cause) and (also) tests those who are As- Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)?

Maulana                  Do you think that you will enter the Garden while Allah has not yet known those from among you who strive hard (nor) known the steadfast?

Pickthal                  Or deemed ye that ye would enter paradise while yet Allah knoweth not those of you who really strive, nor knoweth those (of you) who are steadfast?

Rashad                  Do you expect to enter Paradise without GOD distinguishing those among you who strive, and without distinguishing those who are steadfast?

Sarwar                  Did you think that you could go to Paradise before God knew which of you fought for His cause and which of you bore patience?.

Shakir                  Do you think that you will enter the garden while Allah has not yet known those who strive hard from among you, and (He has not) known the patient.

Sherali                  Do you suppose that you will enter Heaven while ALLAH has not yet caused to be distinguished those of you that strive in the way of ALLAH and has not yet caused to be distinguished the steadfast.

Yusufali                  Did ye think that ye would enter Heaven without Allah testing those of you who fought hard (In His Cause) and remained steadfast?

And …

Sura 9:16

Khan                  Do you think that you shall be left alone while Allah has not yet tested those among you who have striven hard and fought and have not taken Walijah [(Batanah – helpers, advisors and consultants from disbelievers, pagans, etc.) giving openly to them their secrets] besides Allah and His Messenger, and the believers. Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.

Maulana                  Do you think that you would be left alone while Allah has not yet known those of you who struggle hard and take not anyone as an intimate friend besides Allah and His Messenger and the believers? And Allah is Aware of what you do.

Pickthal                  Or deemed ye that ye would be left (in peace) when Allah yet knoweth not those of you who strive, choosing for familiar none save Allah and His messenger and the believers? Allah is Informed of what ye do.

Rashad                  Did you think that you will be left alone without GOD distinguishing those among you who strive, and never ally themselves with GOD’s enemies, or the enemies of His messenger, or the enemies of the believers? GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.

Sarwar                  Do you think that God will not make any distinction between those of you who have fought for His cause and have relied on no one other than God, His Messenger, and the faithful ones, and other people? God is Well Aware of what you do.

Shakir                  What! do you think that you will be left alone while Allah has not yet known those of you who have struggled hard and have not taken any one as an adherent besides Allah and His Messenger and the believers; and Allah is aware of what you do.

Sherali                  Do you think that you would be left in peace, while ALLAH has not yet known those of you who strive in the cause of ALLAH and do not take anyone for an intimate friend besides ALLAH and HIS Messenger and the believers?  And ALLAH is well-Aware of what you do.

Yusufali                  Or think ye that ye shall be abandoned, as though Allah did not know those among you who strive with might and main, and take none for friends and protectors except Allah, His Messenger, and the (community of) Believers? But Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do.

And ….

Sura 47:4

Khan                  So, when you meet (in fight Jihad in Allah’s Cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islam), until the war lays down its burden. Thus [you are ordered by Allah to continue in carrying out Jihad against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam (i.e. are saved from the punishment in the Hell-fire) or at least come under your protection], but if it had been Allah’s Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost,

Maulana                  So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, smite the necks; then, when you have overcome them, make (them) prisoners, and afterwards (set them free) as a favour or for ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (shall be so). And if Allah please, He would certainly exact retribution from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will never allow their deeds to perish.

Pickthal                  Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain.

Rashad                  If you encounter (in war) those who disbelieve, you may strike the necks. If you take them as captives you may set them free or ransom them, until the war ends. Had GOD willed, He could have granted you victory, without war. But He thus tests you by one another. As for those who get killed in the cause of GOD, He will never put their sacrifice to waste.

Sarwar                  If you encounter the disbelievers in a battle, strike-off their heads. Take them as captives when they are defeated. Then you may set them free as a favor to them, with or without a ransom, when the battle is over. This is the Law. Had God wanted, He could have granted them (unbelievers) victory, but He wants to test you through each other. The deeds of those who are killed for the cause of God will never be without virtuous results.

Shakir                  So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates. That (shall be so); and if Allah had pleased He would certainly have exacted what is due from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others; and (as for) those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will by no means allow their deeds to perish.

Sherali                  And when you meet in regular battle those who disbelieve, smite their necks; and, when you have overcome them, by causing great slaughter among them, bind fast the fetters – then afterwards either release them as a favour or by taking ransom – until the war lays down its burdens. That is the ordinance. And if ALLAH had so pleased, HE could have punished them Himself, but HE has willed that HE may try some of you by others. And those who are killed in the way of ALLAH – HE will never render their works vain.

Yusufali                  Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah’s Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.

The common thread in these verses is: 1) Jihad is warfare against non-believers in Islam; 2) It is a requirement; and 3) It is a way for Allah to distinguish his true followers from those that are not. Jihad seems to be Allah’s way of separating the wheat from the chaff, or the sheep from the goats, to use a couple of biblical analogies.

This is not merely my opinion from reading the plain sense meaning of the text. Ibn Kathir, a fourteenth century scholar who wrote an extensive commentary on the Quran, says of Sura 9:16, ” the purpose of Allah revealing this aya [verse] was to distinguish “between those who obey him and those who disobey him.” Thus, participation in fighting against infidels – jihad – is the hallmark of true followers of Allah. Indeed, Sura 9:20-21 provides the following injunction:

Sura 9:20-21

Khan                  Those who believed (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism) and emigrated and strove hard and fought in Allah’s Cause with their wealth and their lives are far higher in degree with Allah. They are the successful. Their Lord gives them glad tidings of a Mercy from Him, and that He is pleased (with them), and of Gardens (Paradise) for them wherein are everlasting delights.

Maulana                  Those who believed and fled (their homes), and strove hard in Allah’s way with their wealth and their lives, are much higher in rank with Allah. And it is these that shall triumph. Their Lord gives them good news of mercy and pleasure, from Himself, and Gardens wherein lasting blessings will be theirs,

Pickthal                  Those who believe, and have left their homes and striven with their wealth and their lives in Allah’s way are of much greater worth in Allah’s sight. These are they who are triumphant. Their Lord giveth them good tidings of mercy from Him, and acceptance, and Gardens where enduring pleasure will be theirs;

Rashad                  Those who believe, and emigrate, and strive in the cause of GOD with their money and their lives, are far greater in rank in the sight of GOD. These are the winners. Their Lord gives them good news: mercy and approval from Him, and gardens where they rejoice in everlasting bliss.

Sarwar                  To those who have believed in God, left their homes, and fought for His cause with their possessions and in person, God will grant high ranks and success. Their Lord will give the glad news of His granting mercy to them, His pleasure, and His admitting them to a Paradise full of everlasting bounties wherein they will live forever.

Shakir                  Those who believed and fled (their homes), and strove hard in Allah’s way with their property and their souls, are much higher in rank with Allah; and those are they who are the achievers (of their objects). Their Lord gives them good news of mercy from Himself and (His) good pleasure and gardens, wherein lasting blessings shall be theirs;

Sherali                  Those who believed and left their homes for the sake of God and strove in the cause of ALLAH with their wealth and their lives have the highest rank in the sight of ALLAH. And it is they who shall triumph. Their Lord gives them glad tidings of mercy from HIM, and of HIS pleasure, and Gardens wherein there shall be lasting bliss for them;

Yusufali                  Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive with might and main, in Allah’s cause, with their goods and their persons, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah: they are the people who will achieve (salvation). Their Lord doth give them glad tidings of a Mercy from Himself, of His good pleasure, and of gardens for them, wherein are delights that endure:

These two verses add commentary to the verses quoted above. Sura 9:20-21 indicate that those who fight in jihad for Allah’s cause are the ones who, in the words of Yusuf Ali, will achieve salvation. Verse 21 describes the salvation which awaits those who fight for Allah with their lives … “gardens of pleasure with everlasting delights.”

Now granted, the Quran also says salvation (or paradise) can be achieved in other ways as well, which only demonstrates the Quran is inconsistent at best, and contradictory at worst, which is why it cannot be trusted as divinely inspired. But that’s not my problem to unravel. But the bottom line is this: Nobody can claim that the Quran cannot be held responsible for the actions of violent Muslims who kill non-Muslims. They do this in order to achieve paradise, and to be known as true followers of Allah, just as these verses demonstrate.

 

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