Ayat Al Sayf (the verse of the sword) Chapter 9 verse 5
Frequently quoted by fundamentals and terrorists the world over to justify their barbaric and inhuman acts this verse is perhaps one of the most controversial of the verses of the Holy Quran. It has been thrown in the face of peace loving Muslims the world over again and again as proof that their religion preaches hate and killing.
“Slay the pagans wherever you may come upon them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every conceivable place…” (9:5)
Rather than just leave it out there for the rest of us to go cross eyed over, i have tried to research this and found the best explanation at Muajabah’s Blog which says
Case closed? Wrong. These verses have a context, and when understood in their proper context, it will become quite clear that the verses cited above are not a carte blanche for Muslims to kill all non-Muslims…
…In the Qur’an, the principle of fighting is purely self-defensive. According to all available Traditions, the earliest verses revealed with regards to fighting are these:
“Permission [to fight] is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged and, verily, God has indeed the power to succour them; those who have been driven from their homelands against all right for no other reason than their saying, ‘Our sustainer is God!'” (22:39-40).
Along with this verse is 2:190, which says:
“And fight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you…”
Thus, it is quite clear that fighting is to be done in self-defense. Now, anyone can commit acts of terror and aggression and say, “it’s in self-defense.” In fact, that is precisely what Al Qaeda is doing: they claim by killing 3,000 people in New York City and Washington, D.C., they are “defending” the Muslim nation against “Zionist and Crusader” aggression against the Muslims. What sheer rubbish.
The Qur’an clearly states, in the remainder of 2:190 it says:
“…but do not commit aggression, for verily, God does not love aggressors.”
“Committing aggression” includes killing innocent civilians in Tel Aviv, Beslan, New York, Baghdad, or wherever. Furthermore, when the enemy ceases its hostility, fighting must cease:
“…but if they desist, then all hostility shall cease, save against those who [willfully] do wrong” (2:193).
Another verse repeats this insistence that hostility must cease when the enemy stops its aggression against you:
“But if they [the enemy] incline to peace, incline thou to it as well, and place thy trust in God: verily, He alone is all-hearing, all-knowing! And should they seek but to deceive thee [by their show of peace] – behold, God is enough for thee! He it is who has strengthened thee with His succour, and by giving thee believing followers” (8:61-62).
Thus, even if the enemy is feigning a peaceful posture, the Muslims are still commanded to cease hostility and “place their trust in God.” Thus, it is quite clear that fighting is in self-defense, and aggression is not allowed. Now, Muslims have waged wars of aggression in the past, for sure, and they even called them “jihad against the infidels” in order to justify their desire for territorial expansion. In fact, one of the most pertinent examples of this was the Ummayad Dynasty, which enacted a policy of “jihad” as perpetual warfare. But, such a policy is not Islamically correct, and as the collapse of the Ummayad Dynasty showed, not sustainable.
The point is, on its own anything taken from scripture can be misunderstood, one has to study things a bit go into a little depth and know the context of the passage to make an informed decision.