What About Warfare?
In a sense, war began in the Garden of Eden. There, Adam and Hawwa listened to the lies of Shaitan and defied Allah's clear commands (Genesis 3). Later, Hawwa's first son murdered his younger brother, and humanity has been fighting ever since. Many Old Testament believers in Allah, both kings and prophets, took part in war. At best, war is a necessity due to the presence of evil. As the Scriptures say,
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. … A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8, NLT)
When evil people hurt the innocent, they should be stopped. Sometimes Allah himself does so, as he did via the ancient flood (Genesis 6–8) and with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18–19). At other times, he expects people to step in. When and how that should happen is not always easy to say.
In ancient times, the kingdom of Israel was to be a theocracy—a people ruled by Allah himself. He wanted them to purge the great evil out of the land they were to inhabit, and that initially meant war. But war was not supposed to be a continual practice. Once the cleansing of the land was completed, fighting was to diminish or end. Later, Israel turned from Allah and wanted a mere human king to rule them. Those kings sometimes fought as Allah had commanded, but more often than not they were simply motivated by foolish thinking.
When Isa came, he used a whip to cleanse the temple in al-Quds. But beyond that, he rejected aggressive warfare and violence. The following occurred just before he was killed.
Men approached, grabbed Isa and arrested him. Then one of the men with Isa reached for his sword and drew it out. He struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off an ear. But Isa said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For those who take up the sword will die by the sword. Don't you realize I can call on my Father and in an instant he'll send me thousands of angels! But if I do, how will the Scriptures be fulfilled which say things must happen as they are?” (Matthew 26:50-54)
A few hours later, when standing before the Roman judge who finally condemned him to death, Isa said:
“My kingdom is not in this world. If it were, my followers would wage jihad so I wouldn't be turned over to the Jews. No, my kingdom is not here.” (John 18:36)
Prophet Yahya did not condemn soldiers for their work (Luke 3:14), and neither did Isa (Matthew 8:5-13). Isa's great emissary Paul instructed the believers to obey their rulers, part of a government's responsibility being to “bear the sword” (Romans 13:1-7). On the other hand, there is no teaching in the Injil about pursuing violence to advance the kingdom of Allah. The sword may bring subjection but not sincerity.
Nevertheless, some followers of Isa have misapplied his teachings and wrongly gone out to war. Throughout history, people of all faiths have believed that God called them to advance his purposes by violence. We should not be surprised. All political systems have also been responsible for war, death, and destruction. And some of the world's most violent offenders have been atheists. It is the morally corrupt state of humanity, not “religion,” and certainly not Isa, which is responsible for murder and mayhem. Isa allows for none of it, and his followers who have done otherwise, including many during the time of the Crusades, were confused, misled, and wrong.