Frequently Misquoted Verses From The Quran

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The above meme is frequently posted by people who wish to show Islam in a bad light through claims that the Quran not only permits indiscriminate violence against unbelievers but actually encourages and demands such violence to be carried out to advance Islam. The verses are not only quoted incomplete or misquoted in an unfavourable interpretation but taken out of context.

Daesh and other extremist groups use the same approach to justify their violence in order to use terrorism to achieve their political goals. If they had enough support for their political ideology dressed up as Islam then not only would they have long since conquered the planet, they would not need to use terrorism in the first place.

Let’s start with Quran 2:191, but let’s see it all in context and I will quote the whole verses as well.


Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.
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- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.
And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah . But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors. Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah . But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.
[Fighting in] the sacred month is for [aggression committed in] the sacred month, and for [all] violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.

Quran 2:190-194 https://quran.com/2/190
The condition for fighting and killing are clearly stated:
– Those who fight you.
– Those who have expelled you.
– Those who oppress you.
– Those who assault you.
– Do not transgress (no revenge, no unprovoked attacks).
– If they cease fighting then mercy is to be shown, no retaliation or unprovoked fighting is permitted.
– Only use the same amount of force as you are subjected to by those who assault you.
These rules are no different to what the Geneva Convention or secular law allow. You are allowed to defend yourself with equal force as you are facing, but do not use excessive force and do not continue once the attacker has stopped their assault on you.

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Let not believers take disbelievers as allies rather than believers. And whoever [of you] does that has nothing with Allah , except when taking precaution against them in prudence. And Allah warns you of Himself, and to Allah is the [final] destination.

Quran 3:28 https://quran.com/3/28
The verse doesn’t say Muslims are not allowed to befriend non-Muslims, it says don’t befriend them rather than fellow Muslims, meaning be inclusive and don’t discriminate against fellow believers in favour of non-believers. In fact other passages say that Muslims are allowed to be friends with non-Muslims.

“Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.
Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”

Quran 60:8-9 https://quran.com/60/8

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Say, “We have believed in Allah and in what was revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Descendants, and in what was given to Moses and Jesus and to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims [submitting] to Him.”
And whoever desires other than Islam as religion – never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.
How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief and had witnessed that the Messenger is true and clear signs had come to them? And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.
Those – their recompense will be that upon them is the curse of Allah and the angels and the people, all together,
Abiding eternally therein. The punishment will not be lightened for them, nor will they be reprieved.

Quran 3:84-88 https://quran.com/3/84
This passage refers specifically to those who wilfully reject God. Those who have believed and then turn away in rejection of a faith they have clearly held. It does not refer to people who have never believed or who doubted God’s existence.

Meanwhile the Quran clearly states that there is no compulsion in believing, so it makes absolutely clear this does not refer to people who have never accepted God as the one true God and the Prophet Mohammed as His messenger, it refers to people who have made the declaration of faith and then reject this belief later on.


There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.

Quran 2:256 https://quran.com/2/256

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And his soul permitted to him the murder of his brother, so he killed him and became among the losers.
Then Allah sent a crow searching in the ground to show him how to hide the disgrace of his brother. He said, “O woe to me! Have I failed to be like this crow and hide the body of my brother?” And he became of the regretful.
Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.
Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,
Except for those who return [repenting] before you apprehend them. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Quran 5:30-34 https://quran.com/5/30
A man whose soul/conscious allowed him to kill his brother comes to regret his deed when God sends him a sign in the form of a crow.
The message of verse 32 clearly states that all life is sacred and no one has the right to take the life of someone else unless it is punishment for a serious crime and so decided by a court of law. Fitnah (strive) in this case refers to the act of treason. But! There is always a condition with Sharia law, that if the perpetrator sincerely regrets his or her action that no punishment is to be applied as it is better to let a guilty person remain unpunished than to punish someone innocent, a principle which dates back to the Old Testament in Genesis 18.

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[Remember] when He overwhelmed you with drowsiness [giving] security from Him and sent down upon you from the sky, rain by which to purify you and remove from you the evil [suggestions] of Satan and to make steadfast your hearts and plant firmly thereby your feet.
[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.”
That is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger. And whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger – indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.
“That [is yours], so taste it.” And indeed for the disbelievers is the punishment of the Fire. O you who have believed, when you meet those who disbelieve advancing [for battle], do not turn to them your backs [in flight].
And whoever turns his back to them on such a day, unless swerving [as a strategy] for war or joining [another] company, has certainly returned with anger [upon him] from Allah , and his refuge is Hell – and wretched is the destination.
And you did not kill them, but it was Allah who killed them. And you threw not, [O Muhammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw that He might test the believers with a good test. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.

Quran 8:11-17 https://quran.com/8/11

This passage speaks of the Battle of Badr when the Muslims faced a formidable foe from Mecca which was advancing to persecute and kill them. The Muslims were inexperienced in fighting and probably would have preferred to flee an army which vastly outnumbered them.
God gave them a sign to show He is with them. First of all He sent a rain shower to allow them to feel ritually clean and then He sent these words of encouragement that victory will be theirs.
Verse 12 speaks of terror God cast into the army of Meccans who persecuted the Muslim believers. The punishment of fire speaks of the punishment God has for unbelievers who fight with aggression those who believe in Him. It is not for mankind to administer this punishment.
It was God’s command that the Muslims should fight those who were aggressors against them, so He takes the full responsibility for the death of the unbelievers killed in battle.

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Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are those who have disbelieved, and they will not [ever] believe –
The ones with whom you made a treaty but then they break their pledge every time, and they do not fear Allah .
So if you, [O Muhammad], gain dominance over them in war, disperse by [means of] them those behind them that perhaps they will be reminded.
If you [have reason to] fear from a people betrayal, throw [their treaty] back to them, [putting you] on equal terms. Indeed, Allah does not like traitors.
And let not those who disbelieve think they will escape. Indeed, they will not cause failure [to Allah ].
And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.
And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah . Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.
But if they intend to deceive you – then sufficient for you is Allah . It is He who supported you with His help and with the believers
And brought together their hearts. If you had spent all that is in the earth, you could not have brought their hearts together; but Allah brought them together. Indeed, He is Exalted in Might and Wise. And brought together their hearts. If you had spent all that is in the earth, you could not have brought their hearts together; but Allah brought them together. Indeed, He is Exalted in Might and Wise.
O Prophet, urge the believers to battle. If there are among you twenty [who are] steadfast, they will overcome two hundred. And if there are among you one hundred [who are] steadfast, they will overcome a thousand of those who have disbelieved because they are a people who do not understand.

Quran 8:55 https://quran.com/8/54

Back to the Battle of Badr, which was the Meccans’ persecution of the Muslims after they drove them out of their homes in Mecca. Verse 60 asks the believers to prepare for battle against their aggressors by any means possible, but the following verse clearly states that if the enemy offers peace that the Muslims should accept such a deal. Verse 62 then follows up that they should trust God against deception.

Verse 65 follows on from there that God will give the believers victory no matter how outnumbered they are. This is a common theme with the Old Testament where God gave victory to the much outnumbered Jews.
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So travel freely, [O disbelievers], throughout the land [during] four months but know that you cannot cause failure to Allah and that Allah will disgrace the disbelievers.
And [it is] an announcement from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah is disassociated from the disbelievers, and [so is] His Messenger. So if you repent, that is best for you; but if you turn away – then know that you will not cause failure to Allah . And give tidings to those who disbelieve of a painful punishment.
Excepted are those with whom you made a treaty among the polytheists and then they have not been deficient toward you in anything or supported anyone against you; so complete for them their treaty until their term [has ended]. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous [who fear Him].
And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah . Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.
How can there be for the polytheists a treaty in the sight of Allah and with His Messenger, except for those with whom you made a treaty at al-Masjid al-Haram? So as long as they are upright toward you, be upright toward them. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous [who fear Him].
How [can there be a treaty] while, if they gain dominance over you, they do not observe concerning you any pact of kinship or covenant of protection? They satisfy you with their mouths, but their hearts refuse [compliance], and most of them are defiantly disobedient.
They have exchanged the signs of Allah for a small price and averted [people] from His way. Indeed, it was evil that they were doing.
They do not observe toward a believer any pact of kinship or covenant of protection. And it is they who are the transgressors.
But if they repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, then they are your brothers in religion; and We detail the verses for a people who know.
And if they break their oaths after their treaty and defame your religion, then fight the leaders of disbelief, for indeed, there are no oaths [sacred] to them; [fight them that] they might cease.
Would you not fight a people who broke their oaths and determined to expel the Messenger, and they had begun [the attack upon] you the first time? Do you fear them? But Allah has more right that you should fear Him, if you are [truly] believers.

Quran 9:2-13 https://quran.com/9/2

This passage refers to the Arab tribes which broke their treaties with the Muslims. It asks the Muslims not to accept broken promises and to fight those who wilfully break their promises to lord it over the Muslims without giving them any equal rights.

Verse 9:5 is not a random instruction out to kill unbelievers just for not believing the same as Muslims but relates to the pagan tribes of Arabia, who were in a state of war with the Muslims. Therefore, to interpret the passage in any other way is to contradict the very text of the Qur’an.

The last part of verse 5 and verse 6 however tell the believers to show mercy to those who acknowledge their error and ask for forgiveness. The believers are asked to grant them protection, to tell them about their faith and to lead them to a place of safety, meaning to grant them refuge. It says nowhere that the unbelievers have to accept Islam in order to receive this protection: “But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah . Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.”
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Allah has already given you victory in many regions and [even] on the day of Hunayn, when your great number pleased you, but it did not avail you at all, and the earth was confining for you with its vastness; then you turned back, fleeing.
Then Allah sent down His tranquillity upon His Messenger and upon the believers and sent down soldiers angels whom you did not see and punished those who disbelieved. And that is the recompense of the disbelievers.
Then Allah will accept repentance after that for whom He wills; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
O you who have believed, indeed the polytheists are unclean, so let them not approach al-Masjid al-Haram after this, their [final] year. And if you fear privation, Allah will enrich you from His bounty if He wills. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Wise.
Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.
The Jews say, “Ezra is the son of Allah “; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah .” That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?
They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah , and [also] the Messiah, the son of Mary. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him.
They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah refuses except to perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it.
It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although they who associate others with Allah dislike it.

Quran 9:25-33 https://quran.com/9/25

Again there is historical context to this passage. It refers to the Battle of Mu’tah between the Byzantine Empire (Romans) and the Muslim believers who had sent an emissary to the Byzantine vassal state of the Ghassanids, but the chieftain Shurahbeel committing the shocking crime of tying up the emissary, torturing him, and murdering him.
When the Muslim believers dispatched an army to confront the Ghassanids for this crime, the Ghassanids assembled a large army of Roman soldiers to fight the Muslim believers at the Battle of Mu’tah.
Again it’s a passage which refers to a one time event in history and a specific enemy which, as verse 32 states, “want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths”, which al-Dahhak stated meant “they wish to destroy Muhammad and his companions.”

Verse 31 states the theological disagreements between Jews, Christians and Muslims. “They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah , and [also] the Messiah, the son of Mary. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him.”
When the Prophet Mohammed was near his death he clearly stated that Muslims should not make images and statues of him to avoid falling into the trap of worshipping him instead of God. Muslims do not believe in the Holy Trinity, while Jesus is a much revered prophet, he is a son of God and not THE son of God to them. He is seen as a very important prophet and teacher, but not as part of the Trinity that the Christians believe in. To them this is a misinterpretation of the scriptures.
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It was not [proper] for the people of Madinah and those surrounding them of the bedouins that they remain behind after [the departure of] the Messenger of Allah or that they prefer themselves over his self. That is because they are not afflicted by thirst or fatigue or hunger in the cause of Allah , nor do they tread on any ground that enrages the disbelievers, nor do they inflict upon an enemy any infliction but that is registered for them as a righteous deed. Indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of the doers of good.
Nor do they spend an expenditure, small or large, or cross a valley but that it is registered for them that Allah may reward them for the best of what they were doing.
And it is not for the believers to go forth [to battle] all at once. For there should separate from every division of them a group [remaining] to obtain understanding in the religion and warn their people when they return to them that they might be cautious. O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness. And know that Allah is with the righteous.

Quran 9:120-123 https://quran.com/9/120

Again this passage refers to a specific time in history and a specific aggressor.
Verse 123 was revealed in order to fight the enemy, Banu Qurayza, a Jewish tribe who lived in Medina. They allied with the pagan Arabs of Mecca in order to persecute and kill the Muslim community, making them the aggressors. The hypocrites the verse refers to were a group of people who became openly hostile towards the Muslim community and verse 123 tells the Muslims they should now treat the hypocrites as their enemy.
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Whoever should think that Allah will not support [Prophet Muhammad] in this world and the Hereafter – let him extend a rope to the ceiling, then cut off [his breath], and let him see: will his effort remove that which enrages [him]?
And thus have We sent the Qur’an down as verses of clear evidence and because Allah guides whom He intends.
Indeed, those who have believed and those who were Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians and the Magians and those who associated with Allah – Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allah is, over all things, Witness.
Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth and the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the moving creatures and many of the people? But upon many the punishment has been justified. And he whom Allah humiliates – for him there is no bestower of honor. Indeed, Allah does what He wills.
These are two adversaries who have disputed over their Lord. But those who disbelieved will have cut out for them garments of fire. Poured upon their heads will be scalding water By which is melted that within their bellies and [their] skins.
And for [striking] them are maces of iron.
Every time they want to get out of Hellfire from anguish, they will be returned to it, and [it will be said], “Taste the punishment of the Burning Fire!”
Indeed, Allah will admit those who believe and do righteous deeds to gardens beneath which rivers flow. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearl, and their garments therein will be silk.

Quran 2:15-23 https://quran.com/22/15

Hellfire and damnation passages are never very popular with unbelievers, they are seen as condemnation for their doubt or complete disbelieve in a deity by that same deity, which makes verse 15 a very illustrative instruction as it says “if you doubt the teachings of God’s messenger about punishment in the Hereafter then you can just commit suicide by hanging and find out for yourself if it is true or not”. You do have to forgive scriptures for coming across as a bit sarcastic and me for getting the giggles at this particular verse which says that you can either believe what is taught or you can go and find out the hard way for yourself.

In context of the preceding verses and the following verses it can be clearly seen that verse 19 does not refer to an earthly punishment in this life by the hands of human beings, but it refers to the punishment reserved to God after Judgment Day. This is not an instruction to Muslims how to deal with unbelievers, this is what God says He will punish unbelievers with after He pronounces His judgment on them. It is clearly not for mankind to carry out such a judgment as only God can see into the hearts of all mankind to know whether they have truly believed in Him or not, this is made clear in verse 17: “Indeed, those who have believed and those who were Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians and the Magians and those who associated with Allah – Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allah is, over all things, Witness.”
God will judge the people of the scriptures who have believed in Him because He is witness to their deeds and beliefs.

Verses 19 to 21 then refer to the punishment for those who have wilfully disbelieved in God because verse 20 makes clear the punishment of hellfire is for a specific set of people, namely “these are two adversaries who have disputed over their Lord”.

Verse 23 describes the paradise which awaits those who have believed and because of their faith have proven this with good deeds in this life.
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Those who disbelieve and avert [people] from the way of Allah – He will waste their deeds. And those who believe and do righteous deeds and believe in what has been sent down upon Muhammad – and it is the truth from their Lord – He will remove from them their misdeeds and amend their condition.
That is because those who disbelieve follow falsehood, and those who believe follow the truth from their Lord. Thus does Allah present to the people their comparisons.

So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah – never will He waste their deeds.
Quran 47:1-4 https://quran.com/47/1

Verse 4 describes conduct in battle with those enemy armies who persecuted the Muslims. The context is made clear in the opening verse which says: “Those who disbelieve and avert [people] from the way of Allah – He will waste their deeds.” Specifically it is in reference to the pagans of Quraysh, who oppressed the believers by denying them the freedom to practice their faith and then went to war with them to exterminate their community.

Reading the full verse makes it clear that these instructions remains “until the war lays down its burdens”, meaning until the war ends with the enemy stopping their aggression. It also gives instructions what to do with prisoners captured in war. There are only two option, either release the prisoners unconditionally at the end of the war or release them in exchange for a ransom.
The verse mentions no other option, and indeed scholars have pointed out that this is the general rule, for the Prophet Muhammad only punished those war criminals guilty of treachery or gross violations, but otherwise he almost universally would pardon people, even his most ardent opponents, as he did with the war chief Thumamah ibn Uthal, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, Habbar ibn al-Aswad, Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl, Umayr ibn Wahb, Safwan ibn Umayyah, Suhayl ibn Aamir, and the list goes on.

It is clear this verse refers to defensive battle and cannot be seen as an everyday instruction. Indeed many verses in the Quran speak of God’s mercy and give instructions to believers how to show the peaceful message to unbelievers as well as to never punish a crime committed by an unbeliever against a believer with a disproportionate punishment.

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided. And if you punish [an enemy, O believers], punish with an equivalent of that with which you were harmed. But if you are patient – it is better for those who are patient.
Quran 16:125-126 https://quran.com/16/125
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The meaning of all of these intentionally misquoted verses becomes clear once they are read completely within the textual context of preceding and following verses as well as by learning their historical context. Knowledge of the historical context of these verses clearly demonstrates that most of these passages relate to either fighting against those engaged in warfare or to God’s punishment for those who wilfully turned from Him.

Attempts to portray the Quran and Islam as inherently violent do not stand up to scrutiny and a bit of reading and research. Those guilty of deliberately misquoting scripture to their own ends only serve to perpetuate the views of extremists and they help to justify the hatred of islamophobes and extremists alike.
Selective misquoting is the preferred method of both radical extremists and those who hate Muslims. It is a form of cherry picking what they want to use to give their cause credibility. And not equal are the good deed and the bad.

Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.
Quran 41:34 https://quran.com/41/34

And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace.
Quran 25:63 https://quran.com/25/63

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided. And if you punish [an enemy, O believers], punish with an equivalent of that with which you were harmed. But if you are patient – it is better for those who are patient.
Quran 16:125-126 https://quran.com/16/125
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Added by popular demand:

What is [the matter] with you [that you are] two groups concerning the hypocrites, while Allah has made them fall back [into error and disbelief] for what they earned. Do you wish to guide those whom Allah has sent astray? And he whom Allah sends astray – never will you find for him a way [of guidance].
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.
Except for those who take refuge with a people between yourselves and whom is a treaty or those who come to you, their hearts strained at [the prospect of] fighting you or fighting their own people. And if Allah had willed, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause [for fighting] against them.
You will find others who wish to obtain security from you and [to] obtain security from their people. Every time they are returned to [the influence of] disbelief, they fall back into it. So if they do not withdraw from you or offer you peace or restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you overtake them. And those – We have made for you against them a clear authorisation.
Quran 4:88-91 https//quran.com/4/88
Again this passage refers to a specific time in history when the Muslim community were under regular attack by the Meccans. The hypocrites referred to in verse 88 are two tribes, the Ashja’ and Banu Damrah, who at first accepted Islam just to later turn away because they preferred worldly goods, material possessions and to remain with the unbelievers, the Quraysh, instead of migrating to Medina to join the Muslim community. They broke their treaty with the Muslim community and joined the unbelievers in attacking the Muslim community.
The Muslims were divided over how to deal with them. Some reasoned that as they once accepted Islam they should be treated as believers while others reasoned that as they went back to their previously held beliefs they should be treated the same as unbelievers.
God gave His instructions how to deal with them, requesting the Muslims to fight them if they joined the aggressors in attacking their community, but to show them mercy if they returned back to them.
This passage is not about apostates who turn away from Islam, but never show aggression to Muslims. Such apostates are not to be harmed.
But those who once knew the truth about God and then not only turned away but went much further in joining attacks on the Muslim population, those are the apostates God commanded to kill, not because they turned away from the Islamic faith, but because they broke their treaty with the Muslim community and joined in the persecution and extermination of the Muslim believers.
It also does not give permission for random attacks on unbelievers. It is made clear that it only refers to those who turn against Muslims in violent aggression. The Quran makes clear that all life is sacred and no one must be murdered without reason such as having committed a crime which is severe enough to justify capital punishment or because that person was violently attacking a believer.
Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.”
And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law].
Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.
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