The Holy verse says:
"So let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. And he who fights in the cause of Allah and is killed or achieves victory – We will bestow upon him a great reward. And what is [the matter] with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and [for] the oppressed among men, women, and children who say, "Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper?" Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the cause of taghut. So fight against the allies of Satan. Indeed, the plot of Satan has ever been weak." (4:74-76)
Before we even try any explanation let me point out that these verses are NEVER mentioned in their right context, people who claim that verses 4:74 and 4:76 are violent NEVER put them in their context and NEVER mention 4:75 (although surprisingly 75 lies between 74 and 76)
The first verse explains who will be willing to fight in the cause of Allah? The verse answers that they are those who "sell the life of this world", who can possibly this verse be describing, is it a strong conquering army? I really doubt that because when you are a strong conquer then you will not be tempted by "selling your life" but rather you will be encouraged to fight by "the bounty" you will gain. When this verse was revealed Muslims were in Medinah after they emigrated from Mecca because of the torture and prosecution they suffered from.
Some Muslims were still left behind in Mecca and were too weak and scared to even attempt emigrating. From these people were "Salama Ibn Hesham, Alwaleed Ibn Alwaleed, Ayash Ibn Abi Rabiaa even Ibn Abbas, the famous disciple of our noble prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and his mother and many others who had families, but did not have power enough to guarantee their safe exit from Mecca.
That is what is clearly shown in the second verse when God says: "And what is [the matter] with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and [for] the oppressed among men, women, and children who say, "Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper?" (4:75). The city mentioned here is "Mecca".
This idea is strongly supported by the verse after when God says: "Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the cause of taghut. So fight against the allies of Satan. Indeed, the plot of Satan has ever been weak." (4:76), which shows clearly that those who were fighting against the Muslims were fighting for "taghut"
Who is "taghut"?
The one who exceeds his limits in tyranny, in Arabic it is used for singular and plural. So the war that God in the above verses ordered Muslims to wage is against the tyranny of people who oppress others and steal their freedom of choice. Please notice that "taghut" means exceeds the limit in tyranny, Muslims are ordered to fight such a leader to ensure freedom of choice.
Freedom of choice is a major issue in Islam...Why? because Man is distinguished from other creatures by God's biggest gift to mankind which is "the mind", the tool we use to choose between different options in life, take that away from man and you are depriving him of his humanity and humiliating him. In Islam that is totally unacceptable.
This idea is strengthened by the rest of the verse (4:76) when the verse says: "So fight against the allies of Satan" (4:76), because that was Satan's major problem with mankind, their honoring because of their mind and their capability to choose, so when someone tries to deprive man of that right given to him by The Highest Authority, namely God, then he is considered an alley of Satan.
The verse ensures Muslims that : "Indeed, the plot of Satan has ever been weak." (4:76), because Satan does not have the power to force a human to do anything, but he can only tempt him. For Muslims they are responsible for fighting such an attitude to guarantee people can freely choose their religion even if they chose not to be Muslims. We have previously discussed briefly the example of Egypt and the religious freedom of Christian Egyptians there as well as the golden age of Jewish culture in Andalusia under the Islamic state.