Does the Quran say in its verse 4:89 that "Those who reject Islam must be killed"?

This is clearly a case of people falsely adding "Those who reject Islam must be killed" where it doesn't appear in this verse or the preceding verses.

This is not a matter of interpretation as the question is currently edited.

In comparison, the community welcomed the question Does the Quran advise men to beat their wives if they disobey them? with a shower of upvotes, rather than closing.

Why is Mohammed's analogous question being treated so differently?


I think we are confusing between two different versions of the question.

After giving lots of thoughts about this, I realized that iff (if and only if) the only purpose of the question is to find out whether the quote is exactly matched and found in the translations of the Quran or not, it would be on-topic.

The purpose of the question would be only to find out if the verse exists in the American translations of the Quran or not (regardless of the interpretation of if it is taken out of context or not as others will come claim that).

In that sense, our job would be to simply find out if that sentences matches the recognized translations Quran (And add a disclaimer where we say that interpretations are not allowed and we're not doing any interpretations).

It is worth noting that there are two versions of the question, one off-topic and one on-topic.


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In the former version of the question, he is asking us to interpret what the Quran means. In the latter version of the question, he is asking us only whether the quote is found in the Quran (which doesn't make any sense for us skeptics, since he can just check it himself) but still we can leave our judgement aside and just answer it.

Example answer on the question:

According to a very credible source Quran.com, the verse is the following (in Arabic).

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Nonetheless, there are different American-language translations of the verse:

Sahih International: They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.

Pickthall: They long that ye should disbelieve even as they disbelieve, that ye may be upon a level (with them). So choose not friends from them till they forsake their homes in the way of Allah; if they turn back (to enmity) then take them and kill them wherever ye find them, and choose no friend nor helper from among them,

Yusuf Ali: They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks;-

Shakir: They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah's way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.

Muhammad Sarwar: They wish you to become unbelievers as they themselves are. Do not establish friendship with them until they have abandoned their homes for the cause of God. If they betray you, seize them and slay them wherever you find them. Do not establish friendship with them or seek their help

Mohsin Khan: They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya' (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad SAW). But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya' (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them.

Arberry: They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper

Fortunately, Mohsin Khan's translation matches the verse you have specified.

Disclaimer and warning: Please do not add any comments explaining, interpreting the translation as this is not the job of the site. The one and only purpose of this answer was to find out whether the translation of the verse exists or not.

  • 1
    +1 This is an excellent answer. Yes, the original version of Mohammad's question was different. That is why I specifically say "as the question is currently edited" in the meta question.
    – DavePhD
    Jan 1 '17 at 19:55
  • It is certainly on topic, but is it not the claim being made in the linked site, it's an evident straw man, unfortunately.
    – Sklivvz
    Jan 1 '17 at 20:36
  • @Sklivvz would this version of the claim be explicit enough: "the Quran states in Sura 4:89, “Those who reject Islam must be killed. If they turn back (from Islam), take hold of them and kill them wherever you find them.” " fosterfriess.com/2015/10/06/… and wnd.com/2009/09/111055
    – DavePhD
    Jan 1 '17 at 20:49
  • @Sklivvz "is it not the claim being made in the linked site" can you please explain? I didn't understand the point. Jan 1 '17 at 20:52
  • There is a very serious problem with the answer. We can't tell what is the importance and relevance of each translation. This is very important, because saying "Yes there is a translation that gives that quote" is not all, we need some prespective, is this translation considered acurate, maybe it's not considered correct at all, what is the weight of this translation among the Muslim comunities, these are very important factors which we need to get a full picture and we can't get, because these are not objective facts. Continue in next comment.
    – SIMEL
    Jan 1 '17 at 21:06
  • 1
    @GeorgeChalhoub On the site linked by the question we are talking about, we can find the claim, which is, basically, that the Koran says to kill infidels. It provides a quote and an indication of the surah. Now - the point that is being made by the author is comparing the Koran to the US Constitution, for that to work any good translation or realistic paraphrase would work equally. Looking to confirm or deny the exact wording is a red herring argument.
    – Sklivvz
    Jan 1 '17 at 21:07
  • I'll give an example from Judaism, there is an interpratation of the Bibel by Cassuto which is considered a bad interpretation of the Bible by most Orthodox Jews, so a quote about the bible from him has a different weight than a quote from Ovadia Yosef. But some things from Cassuto are quoted by Nechama Leibowitz who is considered a good source. It's a mess and we don't have the tools to deal with that mess, on Islam.SE they do have them, which is where this question belongs.
    – SIMEL
    Jan 1 '17 at 21:11
  • 1
    To sum up, to just give all the possible translation of the Quran that ever were without context is litteraly quoting out of context, especialy when we are talking about as sencetive a topic as the Muslim stence on killing non-muslims, and this site isn't built to give context to religious interpretation.
    – SIMEL
    Jan 1 '17 at 21:14
  • @IlyaMelamed I agree Skeptics shouldn't be interpreting the Quran, but IslamSE rejected migration with a comment to the effect that this is as simple as just looking up the verse, not a matter of interpretation. I think an answer like "that is not accurate as a direct quote" and giving an accurate direct quote is appropriate.
    – DavePhD
    Jan 1 '17 at 21:22
  • Further to my point: whenever we have English quotes of someone whose original language is not English, we always look at the original language version. Asking whether a specific translation exists is not something we do, as far I can recall. Example of what I just said
    – Sklivvz
    Jan 1 '17 at 21:24
  • @IlyaMelamed: I agree, we're not here to give interpretation. On this website, we can simply say: yes this verse was translated to the following in English by X, however we cannot confirm whether the weight of the translation is high or not, nor whether the muslim community acknowledges this translation, let alone American language translations.. I understand the question is debatable and sensitive so I guess I'm neutral when it comes to the this question, but I wouldn't oppose an OP asking if a translation of that exists without any interpretation. Jan 1 '17 at 21:27
  • @Sklivvz: I agree that would be a red herring argument but the OP's question may simply be if an English translation of that kind exists, thats it (without any strings attached). So I guess the OP can explicitly dismiss the fallacy in the claim and it could be accepted? I'm neutral. Jan 1 '17 at 21:34
  • 1
    Considering that the initial question was "Does the Quran prescribe Muslims to kill Those who reject Islam?", which is the real question that was being asked and that was migrated and rejected, and considering that such an interpretation would completely change the meaning of the question, I am personally not inclined to reopen. In fact, even without the brouhaha I would have considered closing it in the current version. It does not seem a genuine, honest question to me. It might well be, but I am not convinced.
    – Sklivvz
    Jan 1 '17 at 21:42
  • @DavePhD, George, What we have here is the exact problem I said, DavePhD claims that this is not a reasonable translation, while George found a translation that does translate the verse as the claim, so who is right? Is this translation reasonable and accurate? More importantly what does the Muslim comunity thinks about it, the Hebrew Bible sais to stone disobidiant children, but every Jewish leader will explain that we don't do it because ..., religious doctorine can't be summed up with one quote, especialy when we are talking in English about a quote in Arabic.
    – SIMEL
    Jan 1 '17 at 21:42
  • @IlyaMelamed George found the exact same translation, minus the phrase "Those who reject Islam must be killed". So, George would be able to give a perfect answer, showing what additions and subtractions the OP source did to the verse.
    – DavePhD
    Jan 1 '17 at 21:52

The question is based on a claim that paraphrases the Koran. That surah says

They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah . But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.

I am not sure the case is that clear cut at all, nor that it can be answered without interpretation of a matter expert, but ultimately it's a question on what that surah means not on the exact wording.

  • The claim presents it as an exact quote, not a paraphrase. The claim says:" “Those who reject Islam must be killed. If they turn back (from Islam), take hold of them and kill them wherever you find them.” QURAN 4:89 "
    – DavePhD
    Dec 31 '16 at 15:48
  • And IslamSE rejected the migration because it was so clear, just a matter of looking up the verse, no interpretation needed in their mind.
    – DavePhD
    Dec 31 '16 at 16:02
  • 2
    "The claim presents it as an exact quote, not a paraphrase" <- I wonder if this is the key. I interpreted the claim as a paraphrase, not an exact quote. Even though it is presented in quote marks, the page paraphrases other text in quotes. e.g. FIRST AMENDMENT: “Congress cannot take away the right of the people to pe- tition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (sic) That's a paraphrase, not a quote, despite the quote marks..
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Jan 1 '17 at 3:45
  • @Oddthinking This is how we handled a similar situation in the past skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/28171/…
    – DavePhD
    Jan 1 '17 at 14:02

I think that this question is very off topic.

a. This is a question that is very "easy" to check, the claim has a quote and an exact place to look. Just open the Quran on the referenced verse and check for yourself. The Quran is freely and easily accessible on line.

b. As DavePhD's answer shows, this is actually a question about the proper interpretation and translation to English. This is not a question of objective facts, but of a subjective religious interpretation, and as such doesn't fit this site. It does however fit Islam.SE.

c. A way in which a similar question could appear is if there was a claim that Islamic leaders use this verse to incite violence against non-muslims, then the question "Is this verse used to incite violence against non-muslims by Muslim leaders?"

  • The problem is that MANY different websites google.com/… are presenting this supposed quote (continued below)
    – DavePhD
    Jan 1 '17 at 14:07
  • (continues from above) and people trust these sites and don't think to question whether the quote is real or read the Quran themselves. Many people at least in the USA never read the Quran.
    – DavePhD
    Jan 1 '17 at 14:09
  • @DavePhD, please see my comments on George's answer.
    – SIMEL
    Jan 1 '17 at 21:15

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