Surah 8: The Spoils of War and the Power of Non-Violence

So I'll be honest. ??I struggled through this Surah. ??And if you read the title, The Spoils of War, you might know why. Yes, it was almost entirely about war. ??

I understand that the beginnings of religion often involved martyrdom, wars, and bloodshed. ??It is true in the Old Testament with the Conquest of Canaan and in the New Testament beginning with Jesus and then the many martyrs of the first three centuries of the early Christian church until Constantine. ??And I understand that Mohammed (PBUH) and his followers were involved in wars, like the Battle of Badr with the??Quraish. ??So I understand the context of a chapter about war in the Quran. ??But it still doesn't make it easier to read.

I struggle to relate to the idea of a divinely supported war against the other, or the unbeliever, whether it be in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, or any other religion. ??I tend to be a supporter of non-violence, a pacifist, or idealist, if you will. ??But at the same time, I am a realist and understand that war is a reality today, and maybe even a necessity in some situations, though it shouldn't be. ??

Religion should be about love, peace, forgiveness, and justice (justice achieved through non-violence means and as a last resort then, maybe, war, but hopefully not). ??

I'd love some background on this chapter from some of my Muslim friends out there. ??Do Muslims reinterpret and critique this Surah? ??How much does it apply to today and in what way???

Or maybe it's more like the way we view the story of David and Goliath. ??We don't focus on the war aspect, but rather, we symbolically and metaphorically interpret the story of the underdog overcoming great odds with God's support, and this helps us remember God is with us and that with God, we can get through the tough time and accomplish great things. ??In this sense,??I did appreciate Surah 8's portrayal of Allah always being with Allah's people.

The documentary Little Town of Bethlehem tells the story of a Palestinian Muslim, an Arab Christian, and an Israeli Jew putting aside their differences and joining together to promote a non-violent solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. ??

No matter what our scriptures say, I think we should be more like the three characters of this inspiring true story. ??I'd love to learn more about some Muslim and interfaith non-violent organizations that promote peace and justice.
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