Kill all non-Muslims ? – II

#277 by dost-mittar on June 30, 2003 7:04am PT

What confuses non-Muslims

I wish I were as certain about the meaning of these verses as you are and I hope it’s not entirely due to my preconceived notions and prejudices. I do not deny that I could have these prejudices. Who wouldn’t, given all that the world has been witnessing these past years and in my case, I also happen to be carrying the additional baggage of the personal victimhood of partition. So, if you want to ignore the rest of this post or take it with a grain of salt, I wont blame you.

In my opinion, all of the verses of the Al Tauba do not appear to be in the context of the treaty of Hudbaiya. Some of the verses relate to christians and jews who were not part of the quraishis. To me, the following verse (9.07) clearly defines the pagans who were to be spared:

“How can there be an agreement for the idolaters with Allah and with His Messenger; except those with whom you made an agreement at the Sacred Mosque? So as long as they are true to you, be true to them; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty).”

I am no fan of Maudoodi but he was no detractor of Islam and is acknowledged to be quite a scholar of quran. According to him, this sura was revealed in three stages and chronically, the first third came last. He has described the context of the verses in detail which can be accessed at:

Extracts from translation of Maududi

The first discourse (vv. 1-37), was revealed in Zil-Qa’adah A. H. 9 or thereabout. As the importance of the subject of the discourse required its declaration on the occasion of Haj the Holy Prophet despatched Hadrat Ali to follow Hadrat Abu Bakr, who had already left for Makkah as leader of the Pilgrims to the Ka’abah. He instructed Hadrat 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 mushriks.

The second discourse (vv., 38-72) was sent down in Rajab A. H. 9 or a little before this, when the Holy Prophet was engaged in making preparations for the Campaign, of Tabuk. In this discourse, the Believers were urged to take active part in Jihad, and the shirkers were severely rebuked for holding back their wealth and for hesitation to sacrifice their lives in the way of Allah because of their hypocrisy, weak faith or negligence.

The third discourse (vv. 73-I 29) 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 Holy Prophet into the Surah in accordance with inspiration from Allah. 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, Allah pardons those true Believers who had not taken part in the Jihad in the Way of Allah for one reason or the other.

If we keep in view the preceding background, we can easily find out the problems that were confronting the Community at that time. They were:

1. to make the whole of Arabia a perfect Dar-ul-Islam,
2. to extend the influence of Islam to the adjoining countries,
3. to crush the mischiefs of the hypocrites, and
4. to prepare the Muslims for Jihad against the non- Muslim world.

1. Now that the administration of the whole of Arabia had come in the hands of the Believers, and all the opposing powers had become helpless, it was necessary to make a clear declaration of that policy which was to be adopted to make her a perfect Dar-ul-Islam. Therefore the following measures were adopted:

a. A clear declaration was made that all the treaties with the mushriks were abolished and the Muslims would be released from the treaty obligations with them after a respite of four months.(vv. 1-3). This declaration was necessary for uprooting completely the system of life based on shirk and to make Arabia exclusively the center of Islam so that it should not in any way interfere with the spirit of Islam nor become an internal danger for it.

b. A decree was issued that the guardianship of the Ka’abah, which held central position in all the affairs of Arabia, should be wrested from the mushriks and placed permanently in the hands of the Believers, (vv. 12-18) that all the customs and practices of the shirk of the era of ‘ignorance’ should be forcibly abolished: that the mushriks should not be allowed even to come near the “House” (v. 28). This was to eradicate every trace of shirk from the “House” that was dedicated exclusively to the worship of Allah.

c. The evil practice of Nasi, by which they used to tamper with the sacred months in the days of ‘ignorance’, was forbidden as an act of kufr(v. 37). This was also to serve as an example to the Muslims for eradicating every vestige of the customs of ignorance from the life of Arabia (and afterwards from the lives of the Muslims everywhere).

2. In order to enable the Muslims to extend the influence of Islam outside Arabia, they were enjoined to crush with sword the non- Muslim powers and to force them to accept the sovereignty of the Islamic State. As the great Roman and Iranian Empires were the biggest hindrances in the way, a conflict with them was inevitable. The object of Jihad was not to coerce them to accept Islam they were free to accept or not to accept it-but to prevent them from thrusting forcibly their deviations upon others and the coming generations. The Muslims were enjoined to tolerate their misguidance only to the extent that they might have the freedom to remain misguided, if they chose to be so, provided that they paid Jizyah (v. 29) as a sign of their subjugation to the Islamic State.

3. The third important problem was to crush the mischiefs of the hypocrites, who had hitherto been tolerated in spite of their flagrant crimes. Now that there was practically no pressure upon them from outside, the Muslims were enjoined to treat them openly as disbelievers (v. 73). Accordingly, the Holy Prophet set on fire the house of Swailim, where the hypocrites used to gather for consultations in order to dissuade the people from joining the expedition to Tabuk. Likewise on his return from Tabuk, he ordered to pull down and burn the ‘Mosque’ that had been built to serve as a cover for the hypocrites for hatching plots against the true Believers.

4. In order to prepare the Muslims for Jihad against the whole non-Muslim world, it was necessary to cure them even of that slight weakness of faith from which they were still suffering. For there could be no greater internal danger to the Islamic Community than the weakness of faith, especially where it was going to engage itself single-handed in a’ conflict with the whole non-Muslim world. That is why those people who had lagged behind in the Campaign to Tabuk or had shown the least negligence were severely taken to task, and were considered as hypocrites if they had no plausible excuse for not fulfilling that obligation. Moreover, a clear declaration was made that in future the sole criterion of a Muslim’s faith shall be the exertions he makes for the uplift of the Word of Allah and the role he plays in the conflict between Islam and kufr.

Therefore, if anyone will show any hesitation in sacrificing his life, money, time and energies, his faith shall not be regarded as genuine. (vv. 81-96).

If the above-mentioned important points are kept in view during the study of this Surah, it will facilitate the understanding of its contents.

Topics and their Interconnection

1 – 12 This portion deals with the sanctity of treaties and lays down principles, rules and regulations which must be kept in view before breaking them, in case the other party does not observe them sincerely.

13 – 37 In this portion the Muslims have been urged to fight in the Way of Allah with the mushrik Arabs, the Jews and the Christians, who were duly warned of the consequences of their mischievous and inimical behaviour.

38 – 72 In this discourse, the Muslims have been told clearly and explicitly that they will inherit the rewards promised by Allah only if they take active part in the conflict with kufr, for that is the criterion which distinguishes true Muslims from hypocrites. Therefore true Muslims should take active part in Jihad, without minding dangers, obstacles, difficulties, temptations and the like.

73 – 90 This portion deals with the problems of hypocrites and lays down rules and regulations governing the treatment that should be meted out to them and points out their distinctive marks from true Muslims.

91 – 110 This portion deals with the case of those who remained behind and did not accompany the Holy Prophet for Jihad to Tabuk. For this purpose they have been separated in different categories, that is, the disabled, the sick, the indigent, the hypocrites, the believers who realized their guilt and punished themselves before the return of the Holy Prophet from Tabuk and those who confessed their error. Their cases have been dealt with in accordance with the nature and extent of their offence.

111 – 118 In order to make their noble qualities look all the more conspicuous and dignified by contrast, the characteristics of the Believers have been mentioned, and they have been reassured that Allah, the Sovereign of the Universe, is their helper and guardian. Accordingly, because of their sincerity, He has forgiven the Three Believers who did not take part in the expedition.

119 – 127 In the concluding portion, general instructions have been given to the Believers for their guidance.

128 – 12 This is the conclusion: “Follow the Messenger who is gentle and compassionate and your greatest well-wisher, and trust in Allah, the Lord of the Universe”.


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