9 - Al Tawba (Immunity)

4 Tafsir(s) related to verse 9.1


This is: A declaration of immunity from God and His Messenger to, reach, the idolaters with whom you made a pact, a pact for an indefinite period of time, or one for [a period of] less than, or more than, four months; the annulment of the pact shall be as God mentions in His saying:


A declaration of immunity from God and His Messenger, [to the end of] the verse: when the Messenger was not able to sustain [his] uprightness because of the place of his variegation at times through the manifestation of his attributes and at other times because of the existence of remnants, as indicated by the QurÌān in those instances of [the Prophet receiving] rebuke and being made firm, such as [in] His saying he frowned and turned away [Q. 80:1]; and His saying And if We had not made you [stand] firm, certainly you might have inclined to them a little [Q. 17:74]; [and His saying] May God pardon you! Why do you give them leave"? [Q. 9:43]; It is not for any prophet to have prisoners [Q. 8:67]; and when his [the Prophet's] companions from among the believers had not yet arrived at the station of the unity of the Essence, at times because of their veiling themselves with [their] acts and at other times with [their] attributes, there then was between them and the idolaters a correspondence, propinquity in terms of genus and a treaty, and thus by virtue of that genus-correspondence they made a covenant with them given that there was [this] connection between them. But when the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, and the believers then obey His words, exalted be He, So be upright, as you have been commanded and those who repent with you [Q. 11:112], and when he had attained the utmost in fixity and the veils of the acts, thoe of the attributes and those of the essence had been removed from the faces of the wayfarers among his companions until they were able to reach the station of the unity of the Essence, that correspondence between them and the idolaters was [also] removed, and there no longer remained any sort of correspondence between them. Thereupon contrareity and opposition was realised [between them] and separation and enmity became justified and so was revealed: A declaration of immunity from God and His Messenger [Q. 9:1] to the idolaters with whom you made a pact: in other words, this state, the state of total separation and enmity between us and the declaration of true immunity from God, from the point of view of the union, and [from] His Messenger from the point of view of the differentiation given to him. Thus they declared themselves quit of them outwardly just as they were quit of them inwardly and they cast off their covenant [with them] formally just as they cast off the covenant with them in reality.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

As has already been stated in the Preface to this Surah, this discourse (vv. 1-37) was revealed in A.H. 9, when Hadrat Abu Bakr had left for Makkah as leader of the pilgrims to the Ka`abah. Therefore the Companions said to the Holy Prophet, "Sir, send it to Abu Bakr so that he may proclaim it on the occasion of Haj. " He replied, "The importance and nature of the Declaration demands that this should be proclaimed on my behalf by some one from my own family." Accordingly, he entrusted this duty to Hadrat 'Ali and instructed him to proclaim it openly before the pilgrims, and also make these four announcements: (1) "No one who rejects Islam shall enter Paradise. (2) No mushrik should perform Haj after this. (3) It is forbidden to move round the Ka`abah in a naked state. (4) The terms of the treaties which are still in force (i.e. with those who have not broken their treaties with the Messenger of Allah up to that time) would be faithfully observed till the expiry of the term of the treaties".

In this connection, it will be worthwhile to know that the first Haj of the Islamic period after the conquest of Makkah was performed in A.H. 8, according to the old customs. Then in A.H. 9 the second Haj was performed by the Muslims in the Islamic way, and by the mushriks in their own way. But the third Haj, known as "Hajja-tul-Wida a", was performed in A.H. 10 in the purely Islamic way under the guidance of the Holy Prophet himself. He did not perform Haj during the two previous years because up to that time the mushriks had not been forbidden from it, and so there were still some traces of shirk associated with it.

This declaration of the abrogation of the treaties with the mushriks was made in accordance with the law enjoined in VIII: 58 regarding the treacherous people, for it is treachery from the Islamic point of view to wage war against any people with whom a treaty of peace had been made, without openly declaring that the treaty had been terminated. That is why a proclamation of the abrogation of the treaties was necessitated against those clans who were always hatching plots against Islam in spice of the treaties of peace they had made. They would break the treaties and turn hostile on the first opportunity for treachery, and the same was true of all the mushrik clans with the exception of Bani Kananah, Bani Damrah and one or two other clans.

This proclamation practically reduced the mushriks of Arabia to the position of outlaws and no place of shelter was left for them, for the major part of the country had come under the sway of Islam. As this released the Muslims from the obligations of the treaties made with them and forestalled them, they were driven into a tight comer. For this smashed all their evil designs of creating trouble by inciting civil war at the time of a threat from the Roman and the Iranian Empires or after the death of the Holy Prophet. But Allah and His Messenger turned the tables on them before the opportune moment for which they were waiting. Now the only alternatives left with them were either to accept Islam that had become the state religion of Arabia, or to fight against it and be exterminated, or to emigrate from the country.

The wisdom of this grand plan became apparent when the mischief of apostasy broke out in different parts of Arabia a year and a half after this at the death of the Holy Prophet. This disturbance was so sudden and violent that it shook to its foundations, the newly created Islamic State, and would have done a far greater harm if the organized power of shirk had not been broken beforehand by this abrogation. It may be asserted that but for this timely action the mischief of apostasy, that rose at the very beginning of the Caliphate of Hadrat Abu Bakr, would have done ten-fold harm by rebellion and civil war, and might have changed the whole history of Islam.

The respite of four months from the tenth of Zil-Haj (the date of the proclamation) to the tenth of Rabi'-uth-thani; was granted to give time to the mushriks so that they should consider their position carefully and decide whether to make preparation for war or to emigrate from the country or to accept Islam.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas who said regarding Allah's saying: (Freedom from obligation): '(Freedom from obligation) this is freedom from obligation (from Allah and His messenger towards those of the idolaters with whom ye made a treaty) but then they broke that treaty; freedom from obligation is the breaking of treaties. Allah says: whosoever has a treaty with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) let him know that it is broken. Some of them had a treaty lasting four months, and some of more nine months, while others had treaties for longer or shorter periods. Others had no treaty with Allah's Messenger at all. All these treaties were broken except for the treaty with the Banu Kinanah which was for nine months. Whoever had a treaty for more or less than four months, their treaties were ratified to last four month beginning from the day of immolation; and whoever had a treaty of four months, that treaty was ratified to last four months beginning from the day of immolation. Those who had a treaty of nine months, their treaties were left as they were, while those who did not sign any treaty, were granted one of 50 days beginning from the day of immolation until the departure of the person who was in a state of ritual consecration: