And He will admit them into Paradise, which He has made known, [which] He has pointed out, to them, so that they are guided to their dwellings in it, and to their spouses and servants without asking to be shown the way.
(So, when you meet those who disbelieve (in battle), smite their necks) which means, `when you fight against them, cut them down totally with your swords.'
حَتَّى إِذَآ أَثْخَنتُمُوهُمْ
(until you have fully defeated them,) meaning, `you have killed and utterly destroyed them.'
(tighten their bonds.) `This is referring to the prisoners of war whom you have captured. Later on, after the war ends and the conflict has ceased, you have a choice in regard to the captives: You may either act graciously toward them by setting them free without charge, or free them for a ransom that you require from them.' It appears that this Ayah was revealed after the battle of Badr. At that time, Allah reproached the believers for sparing many of the enemy's soldiers, and holding too many captives in order to take ransom from them. So He said then:
(It is not for a Prophet to have captives of war until he had made a great slaughter (among the enemies) in the land. You desire the commodities of this world, but Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter. Allah is Mighty and Wise. Were it not for a prior decree from Allah, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took.) (8:67-68) Allah's saying,
حَتَّى تَضَعَ الْحَرْبُ أَوْزَارَهَا
(...until the war lays down its burden.) Mujahid said: "Until `Isa bin Maryam (peace be upon him) descends.'' It seems as if he derived this opinion from the Prophet's saying,
(There will always be a group of my Ummah victorious upon the truth, until the last of them fight against Ad-Dajjal.) Imam Ahmad recorded from Jubayr bin Nufayr who reported from Salamah bin Nufayl that he went to the Messenger of Allah and said, "I have let my horse go, and thrown down my weapon, for the war has ended. There is no more fighting.'' Then the Prophet said to him,
(Now the time of fighting has come. There will always be a group of my Ummah dominant over others. Allah will turn the hearts of some people away (from the truth), so they (that group) will fight against them, and Allah will bestow on them (war spoils) from them (the enemies) -- until Allah's command comes to pass while they are in that state. Verily, the center of the believers' abode is Ash-Sham. And goodness is tied around the horses' foreheads till the Day of Resurrection.) An-Nasa'i also recorded this narration. Allah then says,
(Thus, and had Allah so willed, He could have taken vengeance against them;) which means that had He so willed, He could have taken immediate vengeance against the disbelievers with a chastisement or exemplary punishment directly from Him.
وَلَـكِن لِّيَبْلُوَ بَعْضَكُمْ بِبَعْضٍ
(but (He lets you struggle) so as to test with one another.) meaning, He has ordered Jihad and fighting against the enemies in order to try you and test your affairs. Allah also expresses His wisdom by the legislation of Jihad in the following two Surahs, Al `Iman and At-Tawbah, in which He says,
(Fight them; Allah will then punish them by your hands, disgrace them, grant you victory over them, satisfy the breasts of a believing people, and remove the fury of their (the believers') hearts. Allah turns in forgiveness to whom He wills; Allah is Knowing and Wise.) ( 9:14-15)
Merit of the Martyrs
Since it is customary during wars that many of the believers die, Allah says:
(But those who are killed in the way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost.) which means that He would not let their good deeds go to waste, but would rather multiply and increase them. Some of them will continue being rewarded for their good deeds for the entire length of their stay in Al-Barzakh. This has been mentioned in a Hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad on the authority of Kathir bin Murrah, who reported from Qays Al-Judhami, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah's Messenger said,
(As the first drop of his blood gushes forth, a martyr is granted six merits: all of his sins are forgiven, he is shown his place in Paradise, he is married to wide-eyed Huris, he is secured from the great fear (on Judgement Day) and the torment of the grave, and he is adorned with the adornments of Iman.) Ahmad was alone in recording this Hadith. Abu Ad-Darda', may Allah be pleased with him, reported that Allah's Messenger said,
(A martyr is allowed to intercede for seventy members of his household. ) This was recorded by Abu Dawud, and there are numerous other Hadiths mentioning the merits of the martyrs. As for Allah's saying,
(He will guide them) meaning, He will guide them to Jannah. This is similar to Allah's saying,
(Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous good deeds, their Lord will guide them because of their Faith: beneath them rivers will flow in the Gardens of Pleasure.) (10:9) Allah says,
(and amend their condition.) meaning, their situation and affairs.
وَيُدْخِلُهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ عَرَّفَهَا لَهُمْ
(And (He will) admit them to Paradise, which He has made known to them.) It means that He has acquainted them with Paradise and guided them to it. Mujahid said: "The people of Paradise will be guided to their houses and dwellings and whatever sections Allah has ordained for them in it. They will not make mistakes in this, nor will they ask anyone for directions to their dwellings -- as if they had dwelt in it from the time they were first created.'' Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah's Messenger said,
(After the believers securely pass the Fire (on the Day of Judgement), they will be held back upon a bridge between Paradise and the Fire. There, they will have any acts of injustice that they committed against one another in the life of this world rectified. After they are completely purified and cleansed (from injustice), they will be admitted into Paradise. By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, each one of them will find his way to his dwelling in Paradise better than he found his way to his dwelling in the worldly life.)
(O you who believe! If you support (the cause of) Allah, He will support you and make your foothold firm.) This is similar to His saying,
وَلَيَنصُرَنَّ اللَّهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ
(Indeed, Allah will surely support those who support Him (His cause).) (22:40) That is because the reward is comparable to the type of deed that is performed. Thus, Allah says here,
(and make your foothold firm.) Allah then says,
وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ فَتَعْساً لَّهُمْ
(But as for those who disbelieve -- misery awaits them) This misery is the opposite of making firm the footholds of the believers who support the cause of Allah and His Messenger. It has been confirmed in a Hadith that Allah's Messenger said,
(Misery awaits the servant of the Dinar; misery awaits the servant of the Dirham; misery awaits the servant of velvet. Misery awaits him, and degeneracy; and if he is pricked by a thorn, may he not find anyone to pull it for him.) This means may Allah not cure him. Then Allah says,
(and (Allah) will make their deeds vain.) meaning, He will nullify them and make them fruitless. Thus, Allah says,
ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَرِهُواْ مَآ أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ
(That is because they hate that which Allah has sent down;) which means that they did not want or like what Allah revealed.
(so He made their deeds fruitless.)
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The words of this verse as well as the context in which it occurs clearly show that it was sent down after the revelation of the command for fighting and before the actual fighting began. The words, "When you meet the disbelievers in the battlefield...", indicate that the fighting has not yet taken place and the Muslims are being instructed that when it does take place, what they should do.
The words of verse 20 below testify that this Surah was sent down at a time when the command for fighting had already been given in Surah AI-Hajj: 39 and AI-Baqarah: 190, and the hypocrites of Madinah and the people of the weak faith had been so upset that it seemed as if they were actually facing death.
Besides, vv. 67-69 of the Surah AI-Anfal also testify that this verse had been sent down before the Battle of Badr. There it has been said:
"lt does not behoove a Prophet to have captives until he has crushed down the enemies in the land. You desire the gains of this world, but Allah desires the Hereafter, and Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise. Had not a decree already been issued by Allah, you would have incurred a severe chastisement in consequence of what you have done. So eat of what you have taken as spoils because it is lawful and pure. "
A careful study of this passage, especially of its italicized portions, shows that what had displeased Allah on this occasion was that before crushing down the enemy completely in the Battle of Badr, the Muslims had started taking the enemy soldiers as captives, whereas the instruction given them in Surah Muhammad before the actual fighting was this: "When you have crushed them completely, then bind the captives tight. " However, as the Muslims had been permitted, among other things in Surah Muhammad, to accept ransom from the prisoners, Allah declared the money taken from the captives of Badr as lawful and did not punish them for that. The words "Had not the decree already been issued by Allah." are clearly pointing to the fact that the command for permission to accept ransom had already been given in the Qur'an before this event, and obviously, there is no other verse in the Qur'an beside this verse of Surah Muhammad, which contains this command. Therefore, it will have to be admitted that this verse had been sent down before the above-cited verse of the Surah AI-Anfal. (For explanation, see E. N 49 on AI-Anfal).
This is the first verse of the Qur'an in which preliminary instructions have been given about the laws of war. Below is given a resume of the injunctions that are derived from this verse and the Holy Prophet's and his Companions' practice according to it and the juristic inferences as based on this verse and the Sunnah:
(1) The real aim of the Muslim army in war is to break the fighting power of the enemy till it is crushed and the war lays down its arms. Under no circumstances, should the Muslim's lose sight of this aim and start taking the enemy soldiers as captives. Captives should be taken after the enemy has been completely crushed and its numbers thinned down. The Arabs have been so instructed at the outset lest in the greed for ransom and taking slaves they should forget and overlook the real aim of the war.
(2) About the prisoners taken in war it has been said: "You have the option whether you show them favor or accept ransom from them. " This gives the general law that the prisoners of war should not be put to death. Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Umar, Hasan Basri, `Ata' and Hammad bin Abi Sulaiman favour this view, which is quite valid. They say that a man can be killed only during the war. When the war is over and one has been made a prisoner, it is not lawful to kill him, Ibn Jarir and Abu Bakr alJassas have related that Hajjaj; bin Yusuf handed over one of the prisoners of war to Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Umar and commanded him to put him to death. He refused to obey and cited this verse and said: "We are not allowed to kill a man when he is a prisoner." Imam Muhammad in As-SiyaT al-Kabir also has related that `Abdullah bin 'Amir had commanded Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Umar to kill a prisoner of war, and he had refused to obey the command for this reason.
(3) But since in this verse it has neither been clearly forbidden to kill the prisoner the -Holy Prophet understood this intention of Allah's Command, and also acted accordingly, that if there was a special reason for which the ruler of an Islamic government regarded it as necessary to kill a particular prisoner (or prisoners), he could do so. This is not the general law, but an exception to it, which would be applied only when necessary. Thus, the Holy Prophet put to death only `Uqbah bin Abi Mu'ait and Nadr bin al-Harith from among the 70 prisoners taken at Badr, and only the poet Abu `Azzah from the prisoners taken at Uhud. Since the Bani Quraizah had surrendered on the condition that they would accept whatever decision Hadrat Sa`d bin Mu'adh would give in their regard, and he had decreed that all the males of the Quraizah should be killed, the Holy Prophet had them executed. From among the prisoners taken at Khaiber only Kinanah bin Abi al-Huqaiq was put to death because of his violating the agreement. At the conquest of Makkah, the Holy Prophet commanded in respect of only a few particular persons from among all the inhabitants of Makkah that any one of them who was captured should be put to death. Apart from these exceptions, the Holy Prophet never killed prisoners of war, and the same also continued to be the practice of the righteous Caliphs. During their times also killing of prisoners of war was rare, which was resorted to only for a special reason. Hadrat, `Umar bin `Abdul `Aziz also during his caliphate put to death only one prisoner of war for the reason that he had persecuted the Muslims very cruelly. On this very basis the majority of the jurists have held the view that the Islamic government can put a prisoner to death if necessary. But it is for the government to take such a decision; every soldier is not permitted to kill any prisoner he likes. However, if there is the danger of a prisoner's running away or of his committing a dangerous mischief, the guard can kill him. In this connection, the jurists of Islam have also made three other points: (a) That if a prisoner accepts Islam, he cannot be killed; (b) that the prisoner can be killed only as long as he is in the government's custody; if he has been allotted to, or given in somebody else's possession by sale, he cannot be killed; and (c) that if the prisoner has to be killed, he should be killed in a straightforward way; he should not be tortured to death
(4) The general command that has been given about the prisoners of war is: "Show them favor, or accept ransom from them. " Favor includes four things: (a) That they should be treated well as prisoners; (b) that instead of killing them or keeping them in captivity for lifetime, they should be handed over to the individual Muslims as slaves; (c) that they should be put under jizyah and trade dhimmis; and (d) that they should be set free without ransom.
There are three ways of ransoming them: (a) That they should be set free on payment of a ransom; (b) that they should be set free after taking some special service from them; and (c) that they should be exchanged for the Muslim prisoners of war who are in the possession of the enemy. The Holy Prophet and the Companions at different times acted in one or the other way as the occasion demanded. The Divine Law has not bound the Islamic government to act in only one particular way. The government can take any action it deems appropriate on a particular occasion.
(5) The practice of the Holy Prophet and the Companions confirms that as long as a prisoner of war is in the government's custody, the government will be responsible for his food and clothing,. and his treatment if he is ill or wounded. Islamic Law does not permit prisoners to be kept without food or clothing, or be subjected to torture. On the contrary, instructions also have been given to treat them well and generously, and precedents of this very practice are found in the Sunnah. The Holy Prophet distributed the prisoners of Badr in the houses of different Companions and gave the instruction: "Teat these prisoners well." One of those prisoners, Abu 'Aziz, has reported: "The Ansar Muslims, in whose house I was kept, gave me bread morning and evening, but as for themselves they had only dates to eat. " About another prisoner; Suhail bin 'Amr, the Holy Prophet was told: "He is a fiery speaker, and has been making speeches against you: please have his teeth broken. " The Holy Prophet replied: "If I have his teeth broken, Allah will break my teeth, although I am a Prophet." (Ibn Hisham). When Thumamah bin Uthal, the chief of Yamamah, was brought as a prisoner, he was provided with good food and milk on the Holy Prophet's orders as long as he remained a captive. (Ibn Hisham). The same was the practice in the time of the Companions. No precedent is found when a prisoner might have been mistreated in their time.
(6) Islam has not permitted that the prisoners be kept in captivity for ever so that the government may subject them to forced labor as long as it likes. If they are not exchanged for other prisoners of war, or ransomed, the method enjoined of doing them favor is that they should be made slaves and given in possession of individuals, and their masters instructed to treat them well This method was acted upon during the time of the Holy Prophet as well as of the Companions, and the jurists of Islam have unanimously upheld it as permissible. In this regard, it should be borne in mind that a person who might have accepted Islam before being taken as prisoner, and then is somehow made a prisoner, will be set free, but the acceptance of Islam by a person who accepts it after being taken prisoner, or after being given in possession of somebody, will not gain him freedom automatically. A tradition has been related in Musnad Ahmad. Muslim and Tirmidhi on the authority of Hadrat `Imran bin Husain that a person from among the Bani 'Uqail was brought as a prisoner and he said: "I have accepted Islam. " Thereupon the Holy Prophet said: "If you had said this when you were free, you would certainly have attained to success. The same thing was said by Hadrat `Umar: "When a prisoner becomes a Muslim after falling into the hands of the Muslims as a captive, he will not be killed, but will remain a slave." Oh this very point. the jurists of Islam have unanimously ruled that the prisoner who becomes a Muslim after being taken captive cannot escape slavery. (Imam Muhammad, As-Siyar al-Kabir). And this also is quite reasonable. If our law had been that anyone who embraced Islam after being taken a captive, would be set free, no prisoner would be so foolish as not to win his freedom by pronouncing the Kalimah.
(8) The fourth favor is that the prisoner be set free without ransom. This is a special concession that the Islamic government can give only in case the special conditions of a prisoner demand it, or when it is expected that the concession will win the prisoner's gratitude for ever, and help turn him a friend from an enemy, or a believer from a disbeliever; otherwise, obviously it would in no way be a wise thing to set free a person of the enemy camp, who could again return to fight the Muslims. This is why the Muslim jurists generally have opposed it, and imposed the condition: "If the ruler of the Muslims finds it expedient to set the prisoners, or some of them, free as a favor, there is no harm in doing so." (As-SiyaT al-Kabir). Many precedents of this are found in the time of the Holy Prophet, and in almost every case expediency seems to be the reason.
About the prisoners taken at Badr, he said: "If Mut'im bin `Adi were alive, and had spoken to me in respect of these treacherous people, I would have Iet them go for his sake." (Bukhari, Abu Da'ud, Musnad Ahmad). The Holy Prophet said this because when he had returned from Ta'if to Makkah, Mut'im at that time had given him refuge, and his armed sons had escorted him to the Ka`bah. Therefore, he wanted to repay his debt of gratitude in this way.
According to Bukhari, Muslim and Musnad Ahmad, when Thumamah bin Uthal, the chief of Yamamah, was brought as a prisnoner, the Holy Prophet asked him: "Thumamah, what do you say?" He replied: "If I am killed, then such a one would be killed, whose blood has some value: if I am shown favor, then favor would be shown to a person, who appreciates favor; and if you want wealth, ask for it, you will be given it." For three days the Holy Prophet asked him the same thing and he gave the same reply. At last, the Holy Prophet ordered that Thumamah be set free. On attaining freedom, he went to a nearby oasis, washed himself and came back, pronounced the kalimah and became a Muslim, saying: Before this day nobody was more detestable than you and no religion more odious than your religion in my sight, but now for me no man is more lovable than you and no religion more lovable than your religion." Then he went to Makkah for 'Umrah and gave the people of Quraish a notice to the effect: "After this no grain will reach you from Yamamah unless Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) permits it." So, he stopped the grain supply and the people of Makkah had to request the Holy Prophet that he should not stop the supply of grain for them from Yamamah.
From among the prisoners of the Bani Quraizah, the Holy Prophet forgave Zabir bin Bata and 'Amr bin Sa'd (or Ibn Su'da), the former because he had given refuge to Hadrat Thabit bin Qais Ansari in the Battle of Bu'ath, in the pre-Islamic days of ignorance; therefore, he handed him over to Hadrat Thabit that he may repay him for his favor. And he forgave 'Amr bin Sa`d because it was he who was exhorting his tribe not to be treacherous when the Bani Quraizah were committing breach of the trust with the Holy Prophet.
After the Battle of Bani al-Mustaliq, when the prisoners were brought and distributed among the people, the Holy Prophet paid Hadrat Juwairiyah's ransom to the person to whom she was allotted to secure her freedom and then married her himself. At this all the Muslims set their own prisoners free, saying: "Now they have become the Holy Prophet's relatives. " Thus, the prisoners of a hundred families became free. (Musnad Ahmad, Tabaqat Ibn Sa`d, Ibn Hisham).
On the occasion of the treaty of Hudaibiyah, at about dawn, 80 men came from the direction of Tan'im with the intention of launching a sudden attack on the Muslim camp, but were all captured, and the Holy Prophet set all of them free lest it became a cause of war on that critical occasion. (Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i, Tirmidhi, Musnad Ahmad).
At the conquest of Makkah, the Holy Prophet forgave all the people of Makkah except only a few men, and did not kill more than three or four of even those who had been made an exception. The whole of Arabia was well aware of what atrocities the people of Makkah had committed against the Holy Prophet and the Muslims; yet the large-heartedness with which he forgave them after attaining complete victory over them, gave the Arabs the satisfaction that they had not been overpowered by a tyrant but by a merciful, affectionate and generous leader. That is why after the conquest of Makkah the Arabian peninsula did not take longer than two years to be completely subdued.
After the Battle of Hunain, when the Hawazin deputation came to secure the freedom of their prisoners, the prisoners had already been distributed. The Holy Prophet called the Muslims together and said: "These people have come with repentance, and I am of the opinion that their men should be rearmed to them. The one who would like to set the prisoner allotted to him free willingly without ransom, should set him free, and the one who would like to take ransom, shall be paid it out of the first income that is received in the Public Treasury." Thus, six thousand prisoners were set free, and those who wanted to take ransom, were given it by the government. (Bukhari, Abu Da'ud, Musnad Ahmad, Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd). This also shows that the government is not authorized to set the prisoners free after they have been distributed; this can be done by the willing approval of those in whose possession the prisoners have been given, or by paying them the ransom.
After the Holy Prophet, precedents of setting the prisoners free as a favor continue to be found throughout the period of the Companions also. Hadrat Abu Bakr set fret Ash'ath bin Qais al-Kindi and Hadrat 'Umar granted freedom to Hurmuzan and the prisoners of Manadhir and Maisan. (Abu 'Ubaid, Kitab alAmwal).
(9) The precedent of setting the prisoners free on payment of the ransom in the time of the Holy Prophet is found only on the occasion of Badr, when the prisoners were set free on payment of one thousand to four thousand dirhams each. (Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-Amwal). No precedent of this is found in the time of the Companions; and the jurists of Islam have generally disapproved it, for it means that we should take money and set a man free so that he may again rise against us with the sword. But since taking of ransom has been permitted in the Qur'an, and the Holy Prophet also acted according to it once, it is not absoluutely forbidden. Imam Muhammad writes in his As-Siyar al-Kabir that if the need arises the Muslims can free their prisoners on payment of the ransom.
(10) The criterion of freeing a prisoner for a service rendered is also found in connection with the Battle. of Badr. For those of the Quraish prisoners who had no ransom the Holy Prophet imposed the condition that they should teach reading and writing to ten Ansar children each to win their freedom. (Musnad Ahmad, Tabaqat Ibn Sa`d, Kitab al-Amwal.
(11) Several instances of the exchange of prisoners are found in the time of the Holy Prophet. Once he dispatched Hadrat Abu Bakr on an expedition and he brought some captives, including a beautiful woman, who fell to the lot of Hadrat Salamah bin Akwa'. The Holy Prophet urged him to give her back, then sent her to Makkah and had several ' Muslim prisoners released, in exchange for her. (Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tahawi Kitab al-Amwal of Abi `Ubaid, Tabaqat Ibn Sa`d). Hadrat 'Imran bin Husain relates that once the tribe of Thaqif arrested two men of the Muslims. Some time later, a man of the Bani 'Uqail, who were allies of the Thaqif, was arrested by the Muslims. The Holy Prophet sent him to Ta'if and got both the Muslims released in exchange for him. (Muslim, Tirmidhi, Musnad Ahmad). From among the jurists Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad, Imam Shafe`i, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad hold. the exchange of the prisoners as permissible. A ruling of Imam Abu Hanifah is that exchange should not be practiced, but according to another ruling of his exchange can be practiced. However, there is a consensus that the prisoner who becomes a Muslim should not be handed over to the disbelievers for the purpose of exchange.
This explanation makes it abundantly clear that Islam has formulated a comprehensive code in respect of the prisoners of war, which contains provision for this problem in every age under all sorts of conditions. Those people who take this Qur'anic verse in its simple meaning that the prisoners of war should "either be shown favor and set free or freed for ransom", do not know what different aspects the question of the, prisoners of war has, and what problems it has been creating in different ages and can create in the future.
That is, "If Allah had only wanted to crush the worshipers of falsehood, He did not stand in need of your help for this. He could have done this through an earthquake or a tempest in no time, But what he wills is that the followers of the Truth among the people should enter into a conflict with the worshipers of falsehood and fight them so that the qualities and characteristics of each are brought out clearly by means of the test and each is given the place and rank that he deserves according to his conduct. "
It means this: "A person's being slain in the way of Allah does not mean that he lost his life and as far as his person was concerned all his lifework was wasted. It is wrong to think that the sacrifices of the martyrs are not beneficial for themselves but only for those who live after them in the world, and take advantage of their sacrifices. The fact is that even for the martyrs themselves it is a bargain of profit, not of loss at all. "
This is the profit that the martyrs falling in the way of Allah will gain. Its three grades have been stated:
(1) That Allah will guide them;
(2) that He will set their condition right; and
(3) that He will admit them to the Paradise with which He has acquainted them beforehand.
Guidance here obviously implies guiding to Paradise; setting the condition right implies that before their entry into Paradise, Allah will adorn them with robes of honor and remove every filth which had polluted them in the life of the world; and the third stage means that even in this world they have been told through the Qur'an and the Holy Prophet what kind of Paradise it is that has been prepared for them; when they enter that Paradise they will enter a place with which they will already be familiar and they will come to know that they have been blessed precisely with the same that had been promised to them in the world. "