Home > Islam > An Exegesis of the Terrorism Verse in the Koran: Koran 3:151

An Exegesis of the Terrorism Verse in the Koran: Koran 3:151

With all of the terrorist attacks being committed recently by Pseudo-Islamic extremists in the name of Islam or Islamism, I thought that it would be a good idea to write a blog post about the “Terrorism Verse” in the Koran. Many critics of the Koran quote this verse saying that the Koran promotes terrorism. Maybe the Pseudo-Islamic extremists think that this verse grants them divine authority to commit terrorist acts against innocent people, too. However, I do not believe that it does.

Here is the verse in question:

Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: and evil is the home of the wrong-doers! (Koran 3:151, Yusuf Ali)

Yusuf Ali added the word “soon” to this verse, but the Arabic word which means “soon” does not appear in the Arabic text. So, we should ignore this adverb and look at the rest of his translation.

The text says:

We shall cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers.

Allah is speaking. Notice the first person plural is used. Here is more evidence from the Koran that God is Tri-personal. This verse is saying, We (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) shall cast terror into the hearts of Unbelievers.

The verse continues giving the reason for casting terror into their hearts.

For they joined companions with Allah, for which He sent no authority.

This part of the verse teaches that although Allah is Tri-personal, He is still only one God. The third person singular is used to indicate that God is one. The Unbelievers in this verse are the polytheists and not the Christians and the Jews. The polytheists worship other gods in addition to Allah.

The Koran is simply confirming whatever Scripture went before it. (Koran 5:48) In the Bible, there are similar teachings. Here are some examples.

But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. (Leviticus 26:14-16, NKJV)

They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; they have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in My anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell; it shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap disasters on them; I will spend My arrows on them. They shall be wasted with hunger, devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction; I will also send against them the teeth of beasts, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword shall destroy outside; there shall be terror within for the young man and virgin, the nursing child with the man of gray hairs. (Deuteronomy 32:21-25, NKJV)

For destruction from God is a terror to me, and because of His magnificence I cannot endure. (Job 31:23, NKJV)

Lord, why do You cast off my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me? I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth; I suffer Your terrors; I am distraught. Your fierce wrath has gone over me; Your terrors have cut me off. (Psalm 88:14-16, NKJV)

Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, will lop off the bough with terror; those of high stature will be hewn down, and the haughty will be humbled. (Isaiah 10:33, NKJV)

Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; they will see the land that is very far off. Your heart will meditate on terror: “Where is the scribe? Where is he who weighs? Where is he who counts the towers?” You will not see a fierce people, a people of obscure speech, beyond perception, of a stammering tongue that you cannot understand. (Isaiah 33:17-19, NKJV)

It is God who casts terror into people’s hearts. He may use individuals to do this. In Koran 3:151, the reason for God casting terror into the hearts of Unbelievers is because of the practice of idolatry — worshiping other gods in addition to the Holy Trinity. One can say that the same reason for God casting terror into people’s hearts is given in Leviticus 26:14-16 and Deuteronomy 32:21-25. One of God’s commandments in the Decalogue is: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”  (Deuteronomy 5:7)

This verse from the Koran is not encouraging offensive jihad on peaceful polytheists. There are only three reasons for warfare in the Koran: self-defense (Koran 2:190; 3:125; 9:13), to end religious persecution (Koran 9:12), and to liberate the oppressed (Koran 4:75). Even a polytheist who desires to be at peace with the Muslims and seeks their protection in war is not to be killed. (Koran 4:90,94; 9:6)

The Koran, like the Bible, forbids murder.

Take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law. (Koran 6:151, Yusuf Ali)

This verse from the Koran continues on by describing the ultimate punishment of unbelievers, that is, idolaters.

Their abode will be the Fire.

The Fire is, of course, Gehenna, that is, the Second Death mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. (See Revelation 20:11-14; 21:8,14,15.) St. Paul said that idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9,10; Galatians 5:19-21)

This verse from the Korans says, “Evil is the home of wrong-doers.” People who commit sins such as idolatry, murder, hatred, and dissensions live among people who do the same things. The polytheists spoken of in this verse were killing, hating, and fighting the Muslims, who were not starting fights with them. Their home was evil, that is, in an environment of evil.

One should not think that everyone who lives in an environment of evil is practicing heinous sins. Some people live in such an environment, but not by choice.

The critics of the Koran and the Pseudo-Islamic extremists do not interpret verses from the Koran in the context of the whole Koran and along with the Bible which the Koran confirms. The interpret verses as isolated texts.

So, this verse, which has been labeled “the Terrorism Verse,” does not promote terrorism. It is talking about God casting terror into the hearts of polytheists who fight against and persecute the Muslims. God probably did this when the Muslims were fighting back in self-defense, trying to stop the religious persecution they were suffering under the polytheists, or trying to liberate other oppressed Muslims from the oppression of the polytheists. They were not trying to forcefully convert people to Islamic monotheism. “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Koran 2:256) God cast terror into their hearts because they disobeyed His commandments and ascribed other gods as partners with the one and only true God — the Holy Trinity. God warned the ancient Israelites of similar consequences in the Torah. Verses from the Koran need to be interpreted in the context of the whole Koran as well as in the context of the passage in which they occur. The Bible needs to be consulted in order to get a good understanding of the meaning because the Koran confirms the Bible. It does not contradict it.  Interpreting verses from the Koran in isolation from the rest of the Scriptures, both Koranic and Biblical, is the error of Pseudo-Islamic extremists and critics of the Koran.

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