Surah at-Taubah (Repentance ) 9 : 5
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
The Qur’ānic instruction is very clear. A state of all-out war was then to be declared:
The word which is used here to describe those four months in the Qur’ānic text is ‘ĥurum’, which is the one that describes the four months when fighting is not allowed except to repel aggression. These form two periods every year when people can go freely, secure from any danger of war. Because of the same usage scholars have disagreed in their interpretations of this statement here, on whether the four months meant the same ones observed annually, i.e. Dhu’l-Qa`dah, Dhu’l-Ĥijjah, Muĥarram and Rajab. In that case, the remaining period of grace given after the declaration of the termination of treaties would only be the rest of Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muĥarram, i.e. 50 days. Or were these four months, when fighting was forbidden, to start on the day of sacrifice and to end on 10 Rabī` II? A third point of view suggests that the first interpretation applies in the case of those who had violated their treaties and the second applies to those who did not have any treaty and those who had treaties with an unspecified duration.
The correct interpretation, in our view, is that the four months meant here are different from the four sacred months observed annually. The same description is given to both because fighting during them is forbidden. This new period of grace also applied to all, except in the case of those who had treaties lasting for a specified length of time, in which case such treaties were to be honoured in full. Since God has said to them: “You may go freely in the land for four months,” then the four months must start from the day when the announcement was made to them. This fits with the nature of this announcement.
God’s instructions to the Muslims were clear: when the four months were over, they were to kill any idolater wherever he was found, or they were to take him captive, or besiege him if he was in a fortified place, or lie in wait for him so that he could not escape without punishment, except for those to whom obligations were to be observed for as long as their treaties remained in force. Indeed the idolaters were given enough notice, which meant that they were not taken by surprise. Nor did they fall victim to any treachery. Their treaties were terminated publicly and they were made fully aware of what was to be done with them.
Moreover, this was not meant as a campaign of vengeance or extermination, but rather as a warning which provided a motive for them to accept Islam. “If they should repent, take to prayer and pay the zakāt, let them go their way. For God is Much-Forgiving, Merciful." For 22 years they had been listening to the message of Islam put to them in the clearest possible way. For 22 years they were, nevertheless, trying to suppress the message of Islam by persecution, open warfare and forging alliances to destroy the Islamic state. This was a long history that contrasted with the never failing tolerance of Islam, as demonstrated by God’s Messenger and his Companions. Nevertheless, Islam was now opening its arms to them. Instructions are here issued to the Prophet and the Muslims, the very victims of persecution who were driven out of their homeland and suffered a war of aggression, to extend a hand of welcome to those idolaters should they turn to God in repentance. Such repentance should be genuine, confirmed by their observance of the main duties of Islam. That is because God never rejects anyone who turns to Him in sincere repentance, no matter how great his sins are: “For God is Much forgiving, Merciful.”
We do not here want to go into any of the arguments which are frequently found in books of commentary on the Qur’ān or Islamic jurisprudence, i.e. fiqh, concerning the proviso mentioned in this verse: “If they should repent, take to prayer and pay the zakāt, let them go their way.” These arguments discuss whether these are the essential conditions of being a Muslim, in the sense that a person who does not observe them is considered an unbeliever. They also discuss whether these are sufficient for the acceptance of anyone who declares repentance without going into the other basic duties of Islam. We do not feel this verse is concerned with any such argument. Rather, it simply tackles a real situation involving the idolaters in Arabia at the time. None of these would have declared their repentance, prayed regularly and paid the zakāt without the full intention of submitting themselves to God and being Muslims in the full sense of the word. Hence the Qur’ānic verse specifies the declaration of repentance, regular prayers and zakāt payment as a mark of the acceptance of Islam in full with all its conditions and significance. The first of these is naturally the submission to God by declaring one’s belief that there is no deity other than God and belief in the Prophet Muĥammad’s message by declaring that Muĥammad is God’s Messenger. This verse is not, then, about making any rulings on legal matters, but it outlines practical steps to deal with a particular situation where certain circumstances applied.
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
4. Miscellaneous Information[ edit ]
5. Connected/Related Ayat[ edit ]
6. Frequency of the word[ edit ]
7. Period of Revelation[ edit ]
This Surah comprises three discourses. The first discourse (v. 1-37) was revealed in Dhul-Qa’adah 9 A.H. or thereabout. As the importance of the subject of the discourse required its declaration on the occasion of Hajj the Prophet dispatched Ali to follow Abu Bakr who had already left for Makkah as leader of the Pilgrims to the Ka’bah. He instructed Ali to deliver the discourse before the representatives of the different clans of Arabia so as to inform them of the new policy towards the polytheists.
The second discourse (v. 38-72) was sent down in Rajab 9 A.H. or a little before this when the Prophet was engaged in making preparations for the Campaign of Tabuk. In this discourse the Believers were urged to take active part in Jihad.
The third discourse (v. 73-129) was revealed on his return from the Campaign of Tabuk. There are some pieces in this discourse that were sent down on different occasions during the same period and were afterwards consolidated by the Prophet into the Surah in accordance with inspiration from God. But this caused no interruption in its continuity because they dealt with the same subject and formed part of the same series of events. This discourse warns the hypocrites of their evil deeds and rebukes those Believers who had stayed behind in the Campaign of Tabuk. Then after taking them to task, God pardons those true Believers who had not taken part in the Jihad in the Way of God for one reason or the other.
8. Reasons for Revelation[ edit ]
The series of events that have been discussed in this Surah took place after the Peace Treaty of Hudaibiyah. By that time one-third of Arabia had come under the sway of Islam which had established itself as a powerful well organised and civilized Islamic State. There were two important events that followed - the first was the Conquest of Arabia. The Prophet was able to send missions among different clans for the propagation of Islam. The result was that during the short period of two years it became such a great power that it made the old order of ignorance feel helpless before it. So much so that the zealous elements from among the Quraysh were so exasperated that they broke the Treaty in order to encounter Islam in a decisive combat. But the Prophet took prompt action after the breach so as not to allow them any opportunity to gather enough force for this. He made a sudden invasion on Makkah in the month of Ramadan in 8 A.H. and conquered it. Though this conquest broke the backbone of the order of ignorance it made still another attack on Islam in the battlefield of Hunain which proved to be its death-knell. The clans of Hawazin, Thaqif, Naur Jushm and others gathered their entire forces in the battlefield in order to crush the reformative Revolution but they utterly failed in their evil designs. The defeat of ‘ignorance’ at Hunain paved the way for making the whole of Arabia ‘The Abode of Islam’ (Dar-ul-Islam). The result was that hardly a year had passed after the Battle of Hunain when the major portion of Arabia came within the fold of Islam and only a few upholders of the old order remained scattered over some corners of the country.
The second event that contributed towards making Islam a formidable power was the Campaign of Tabuk which was necessitated by the provocative activities of the Christians living within or near the boundaries of the Roman Empire to the north of Arabia. Accordingly the Prophet with an army of thirty thousand marched boldly towards the Roman Empire but the Romans evaded the encounter. The result was that the power of the Prophet and Islam increased manifold and deputations from all corners of Arabia began to wait upon him on his return from Tabuk in order to offer their allegiance to Islam and obedience to him. The Qur’an has described this triumph in Surah 110: an-Nasr (Victory) “When the victory of God has come and the conquest, And you see the people entering into the religion of God in multitudes…”
Campaign to Tabuk
The Campaign to Tabuk was the result of conflict with the Roman Empire that had started even before the conquest of Makkah. One of the missions sent after the Treaty of Hudaibiyah to different parts of Arabia visited the clans which lived in the northern areas adjacent to Syria. The majority of these people were Christians who were under the influence of the Roman Empire. Contrary to all the principles of the commonly accepted international law they killed fifteen members of the delegation near a place known as Zat-u-Talah. Only Ka’ab bin Umair Ghifari, the head of the delegation, succeeded in escaping and reporting the sad incident. Besides this Shurahbil bin Amr, the Christian governor of Busra who was directly under the Roman Caesar had also put to death Haritli bin Umair the ambassador of the Prophet who had been sent to him on a similar mission.
These events convinced the Prophet that a strong action should be taken in order to make the territory adjacent to the Roman Empire safe and secure for the Muslims. Accordingly in the month of Jamadi-ul-Ula 8 A.H. he sent an army of three thousand towards the Syrian border. When this army reached near Ma’an the Muslims learnt that Shurahbil was marching with an army of one hundred thousand to fight-with them and that the Caesar who himself was at Hims had sent another army consisting of one hundred thousand soldiers under his brother Theodore. But in spite of such fearful news the brave small band of the Muslims marched on fearlessly and encountered the big army of Shurahbil at M’utah. The result of the encounter, in which the Muslims were fighting against fearful odds (the ratio of the two armies was 1:33) as very favourable for the enemy utterly failed to defeat them. This proved very helpful for the propagation of Islam. As a result those Arabs who were living in a state of semi-independence in Syria and near Syria and the clans of Najd near Iraq who were under the influence of the Persian Empire turned towards Islam and embraced it in thousands. For example the people of Bani Sulaim (whose chief was Abbas bin Mirdas Sulaimi) Ashja’a Ghatafan Zubyan Fazarah etc. came into the fold of Islam at the same time. Above all Farvah bin ‘Amral Juzami who was the commander of the Arab armies of the Roman Empire embraced Islam during that time and underwent the trial of his Faith in a way that filled the whole territory with wonder. When the Caesar came to know that Farvah had embraced Islam he ordered that he should be arrested and brought to his court. Then the Caesar said to him, ‘You will have to choose between one of two options; either give up your Islam and win your liberty and your former rank, or remain a Muslim and face death.’ He calmly chose Islam and sacrificed his life in the way of the Truth.
No wonder that such events as these made the Caesar realise the nature of the danger that was threatening his Empire from Arabia. Accordingly in 9 A.H. he began to make military preparations to avenge the insult he had suffered at M’utah. The Ghassanid and other Arab chiefs also began to muster armies under him. When the Prophet who always kept himself well-informed even of the minutest things that could affect the Islamic Movement favourably or adversely came to know of these preparations he at once understood their meaning. Therefore without the least hesitation he decided to fight against the great power of the Caesar. He knew that the show of the slightest weakness would result in the utter failure of the Movement which was facing three great dangers at that time. First the dying power of ‘ignorance’ that had almost been crushed in the battlefield of Hunain might revive again. Secondly the Hypocrites of Madinah who were always on the look-out for such an opportunity might make full use of this to do the greatest possible harm to it. For they had already made preparations for this and had through a monk called Abu Amir, sent secret messages of their evil designs to the Christian king of Ghassan and the Caesar himself. Besides this, they had also built a mosque near Madinah for holding secret meetings for this purpose. The third danger was of an attack by the Caesar himself, who had already defeated Persia, the other great power of that period, and filled with awe the adjacent territories. It is obvio