While there are differing views among Muslims on their interpretation of Qur’anic verses about war, as about other subjects, the majority of Muslim scholars today interpret the Qur’an to allow war only for self-defense, as delineated in the following verse: “Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits by aggressing; surely God does not love transgressors” (Qur’an, 2:190).
The other justification for war in the Qur’an is to protect others from harm, but this is permissible only if the harm prevented is greater than the harm caused by the acts of war. This is the same as the principle of proportionality in the Christian doctrine of just war, which bears other similarities to the concept of war in the Qur’an.
According to the following Qur’anic verses, protecting others from harm includes defending people of other faiths: “To those against whom war is made, permission is given to fight, because they are oppressed. Verily, God is capable of aiding them. They are those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of what is just, for no other reason than that they say, ‘Our Lord is God.’ Had God not restrained one set of people by means of another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, temples and mosques wherein God’s name is oft-mentioned would have been destroyed. God will certainly aid those who aid His cause” (Qur’an, 22:39-40).