When can a Muslim use violence?
All praise is due to Allah. Peace and blessings be upon him after whom there will be no other prophet. Violence is not required or desired in Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The Muslim is the one from whose hand and tongue Muslims are safe.” Reported by al-Bukhary (10) and Muslim (40) on the authority of Abdullah ibn `Amr (may Allah be pleased with them). He also said (peace and blessings be upon him), “The Muslim is the one from whose hand and tongue Muslims are safe; and the believer is the one with whom people feel secure with regards to their blood and properties.” [Reported by al-Nasa’I (4995) al-Termidhi (2627) and others on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him)]
Thus, the culture of Islam is the culture of peace, not the culture of violence and aggression. Nevertheless, violence could be used. When there is aggression, one can fight back. Almighty Allah said “And whoever avenges himself after having been wronged – those have not upon them any cause [for blame]. The cause is only against the ones who wrong the people and tyrannize upon the earth without right. Those will have a painful punishment. And whoever is patient and forgives – indeed, that is of the matters [requiring] determination. [42:41-43] Violence is permissible only within the limits of resisting aggression. But if one remains patient when hurt and does not repay it back, he is described by Almighty Allah as complying with one of the foremost commandments of Allah that must be kept with diligent resolve.
Violence is not the basic principle in this religion. The basic principle is to call to the religion with fair means “Call to the path of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition. And argue with them in the fairest manner. Indeed, it is your Lord who knows best those who have strayed from His path; and He knows best those who are guided aright.” [16:125] One more point I want to draw attention to is to ask the questioner: Violence with whom? Against whom? And in which context? These are very important points. It is necessary to balance between the possible benefits and harm when using violence. How many a case of violence led to more violence, and thus the reaction goes on endlessly! This violence then will be sinful and the others will have their share also in the sin of this violence; particularly violence directed to the ruler.
In Saheeh Muslim (1847) the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said to Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman (may Allah have mercy with him) “You shall listen and obey the commander. Even if he beats your back and takes your properties, you have to listen and obey.” This is because such kind of violence leads to more violence and chaos. Thus, violence is permitted only in certain and regulated cases in Islam and is not the basic principle in Islam. Rather, the culture of tolerance is the basic principle.