How Can Islam Be About Mercy While Some Claim It Promotes Violence?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


As I understand it, Islam is characterised by mercy, encompassing compassion towards all of creation and a profound love for the Creator. However, I have encountered quotations from scholars, particularly within the Shafi’i school of thought, that seem to imply severe consequences, including the potential execution of male disbelievers due to their rejection of Islam. Could you kindly explain how these pronouncements align with Islam’s overarching theme of mercy?

Additionally, I am eager to understand if classical scholars, in their teachings, have addressed the concept of world peace, imparting guidance on fostering harmony among diverse communities.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him. Amin.

Islam is indeed a religion that emphasises mercy, compassion, and justice. The core principles of Islam revolve around the worship of the One Creator, Allah, and the well-being of His creation. The concept of mercy is deeply rooted in Islamic teachings, and the Quran describes Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) as a “Mercy to all of creation” [Quran, 21:107].

Allah says: “Indeed, Allah commands justice, grace, as well as generosity to close relatives. He forbids indecency, wickedness, and aggression. He instructs you so perhaps you will be mindful.” [Quran, 16:90]

Regarding the alleged quotations from scholars that you claim imply severe consequences for disbelievers, it is essential to understand the historical context and the jurisprudential discussions within Islamic scholarship.

Understanding Sacred Law and Classical Islamic Scholars

Classical scholars, including those from the Shafi’i School, have indeed discussed legal rulings in various contexts. It is crucial to approach these discussions with a nuanced understanding, considering the specific conditions and situations under which such rulings were formulated and the contemporary application thereof based on the understanding of traditional scholars.

Islamic jurisprudence, or Fiqh, addresses various issues, including individual conduct, societal norms, and legal rulings. The application of these rulings is contingent upon the prevailing circumstances and the traditional understanding of the contemporary application of these rulings. In cases where the discussion pertains to the consequences of disbelief, it is essential to recognise the diversity of opinions among scholars and the varying interpretations of Islamic texts.

Peace and Harmony with Justice

It is also noteworthy that Islamic teachings promote justice, peace and harmony. Classical scholars have extensively addressed the concept of world peace within the broader framework of Islamic ethics. The Quran encourages Muslims to strive for peace and justice and to engage in dialogue with people of other faiths. Scholars have emphasised the importance of coexistence and mutual respect among diverse communities.

Allah says: “Allah does not forbid you from dealing kindly and fairly with those who have neither fought nor driven you out of your homes. Surely Allah loves those who are fair.

Allah only forbids you from befriending those who have fought you for ˹your˺ faith, driven you out of your homes, or supported ˹others˺ in doing so. And whoever takes them as friends, then it is they who are the ˹true˺ wrongdoers.” [Quran, 60:8-9]


In conclusion, Islam is a religion that promotes mercy, justice, and peace. While some historical discussions within Islamic jurisprudence may include rulings that appear stringent, it is crucial to approach them with a comprehensive understanding of the context and to recognise the diversity of scholarly interpretations, opinions, and applications.

Islamic teachings, as derived from the Quran and the Sunna, emphasise the importance of compassion, tolerance, and the pursuit of peace for the betterment of humanity.

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.