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Introduction

The Qur'an is the ultimate source of wisdom in Islam. It is a fundamental part of a Muslim's life. This "living text" is a source of everything from creed to law. The subjects of violence and war are even addressed in the codex. Verses 190 to 194 from Al-Bakarah ("The Cow"-chapter 2) are commonly referred to on these subjects. These ayahs(verses) relay information about fighting, guidelines for doing so, and the extent to which it should be done. Beyond the skeleton message of the verses, the details vary with slight detail based on the translator. These differences are evident for example between the modern translator, Abdel Haleem, and tafsir al-Jalalyn, which providea a much more pre-modern translation. These differences in interpretation arise from variation in defining key terms and phrases found in the verses. Along with the analysis of key terms, the context and background to the verses and their revelation. 
    The failure of applying the latter technique for analysis of verses has led to much controversy and misinterpretation with ayahs 190 to 194 from "The Cow". They are commonly used out of context, resulting in a negative light on Islam. This negativity due to flawed interpretation can only be reversed with a complete and thorough understanding of the context and meaning of the verses. This will be done with the aid of two similar, but slightly contrasting interpretations by Abdel Haleem and al-Jalalyn.

Translation of the verses provided by Abdullah Yusuf Ali:

The Cow
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
[2:190]
Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors.

[2:191]
And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.

[2:192]
But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

[2:193]
And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.

[2:194]
The prohibited month for the prohibited month,- and so for all things prohibited,- there is the law of equality. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, Transgress ye likewise against him. But fear God, and know that God is with those who restrain themselves.
Subpages (3): Equality Fighting Mercy