Allah has declared ‘fitna’ an evil which is worse than murder. That is why the people involved in ‘fitna’ are held liable to be killed so that ‘fitna’ may be quelled. In the succeeding lines, we will shed light on Quranic concept of ‘fitna’, the types of people involved in ‘fitna’, and the places subjected to ‘fitna’.
“Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors” (al-baqra-190).
“And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- îaram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers” (al-baqra-191).
“Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] ‘Deen’ is for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors” (al-baqra-193).
“but averting [people] from the way of Allah and disbelief in Him……….. are greater [evil] in the sight of Allah. And fitnah is greater than killing" (al-baqra-217).
From these verses of Sura al-baqra and other Quranic verses dealing with subject of ‘Fitnah’, following points can be adduced:
i. There are two types of ‘fitnah’; the first type of ‘fitnah’ is to establish non-Islamic systems- political, social, ideological, economic, ethical, administrative or legal systems- OR replacement of Islamic systems with non-Islamic systems. Al-baqra-193 states: “Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] ‘Deen’ is for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors”. In this verse, word ‘fitnah’ means replacement of ‘Deen’/ Islamic systems with non-Islamic systems OR establishment of non-Islamic sytems; other instances, among many others, in which word ‘fitnah’ has been used in the same sense are al-nisa-91; al-anfal-73, 39; al-baqra-217; al-mumtahanah-5.
ii. The second type of ‘fitnah’ is trial which may lead to violations of Islamic systems (al-anfal-28; al-taghabun-15; al-ankabut-10). Such violations of Islamic injunctions /systems do not tantamount to establishment of non-Islamic system or replacement of Islamic systems with non-Islamic ones.
iii. Only non-Muslims may be involved in the first type of ‘fitnah’ (al-baqra-217); whereas Muslims may be involved in the second type of ‘fitnah’. The first type of ‘fitnah’ pertains to only Islamic societies (al-baqra-191). In other words, it is only in Islamic societies that non-Muslims’ efforts to establish non-Islamic system or replace Islamic systems with non-Islamic ones are called ‘fitnah’; such efforts by non-Muslims in non-Muslim societies are not called ‘fitnah’. It does not mean that establishment of non-Islamic systems in non-Islamic societies is permissible in Quran; it is not permissible, but it is not called ‘fitnah’ in Quranic terminology.
iv. The first type of ‘fitnah’ has been declared worse than killing (al-baqra-191; 217). The people involved in this type of ‘fitnah’ are held liable to be killed by the state/Islamic society (al-baqra-191). But if these non-Muslims restraint propagating ‘fitnah’ (if they give up efforts to establish non-Islamic systems or replace Islamic systems with non- Islamic ones), they are no more liable to be killed (al-baqra-193).
v. The first type of ‘fitna’ leads to ‘fasad’/ corruption in society; it results in deshaping of Islamic systems and makes them corrupted (al-anfal-73).
vi. One form of the first type of ‘fitnah’ is ‘irtidad’/sedition from religion (al-ahzaab-14).