Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Allah said to them (Travel freely in the land) move about in the land beginning from the day of immolation for (four months) safe from being killed because of the treaty, (and know) O disbelievers (that ye cannot escape Allah) that you cannot escape Allah's punishment, by being killed, after the lapse of a the four months (and that Allah will confound the disbelievers) He will punish the disbelievers after four months by subjecting them to death.
‘Journey freely, travel in security, O idolaters, in the land for four months — beginning with [the month of] Shawwāl, on the basis of what will come shortly — after which there will be no security for you, and know that you cannot escape God, that is, you shall [not] elude His punishment, and that God degrades the disbelievers’, humiliating them in this world by having them killed, and in the Hereafter, by [sending them to] the Fire.
'Journey freely in the land for four months: commensurate with the number of their halting places in this world and in the Hereafter, by way of a warning for them. For since they halted in this world with the other in idolatrous association, they were veiled from religion and from the acts, the attributes and the Essence at the interstice of the human realm (nāsūt), and so it became necessary for them to make them halt in the Hereafter before God, then before the realm of divine power, then before the angelic realm, then before the Fire in the blazing furnace of vestiges, as has already been alluded to in [sūrat] al-Anʿām, where they are chastised with all manner of chastisements; and know that you cannot escape God, by virtue of the fact that you must necessarily be detained at these halting places because you halted with the other in idolatrous association: how then can you escape Himḍ and that God degrades the disbelievers', those who are veiled from the Truth by being disgracefully exposed upon the manifestation of the level of that which they used to worship besides God and its halting alongside [the disbeliever] before the Fire.
(They ask you for a legal verdict. Say: "Allah directs (thus) about Al-Kalalah.'') 4:176, while the last Surah to be revealed was Bara'ah.''
The Basmalah was not mentioned in the beginning of this Surah because the Companions did not write it in the complete copy of the Qur'an (Mushaf) they collected, following the Commander of the faithful, `Uthman bin `Affan, may Allah be pleased with him. The first part of this honorable Surah was revealed to the Messenger of Allah when he returned from the battle of Tabuk, during the Hajj season, which the Prophet thought about attending. But he remembered that the idolators would still attend that Hajj, as was usual in past years, and that they perform Tawaf around the House while naked. He disliked to associate with them and sent Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, to lead Hajj that year and show the people their rituals, commanding him to inform the idolators that they would not be allowed to participate in Hajj after that season. He commanded him to proclaim,
بَرَآءَةٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ
(Freedom from (all) obligations (is declared) from Allah and His Messenger...), to the people. When Abu Bakr had left, the Messenger sent `Ali bin Abu Talib to be the one to deliver this news to the idolators on behalf of the Messenger, for he was the Messenger's cousin. We will mention this story later.
Publicizing the Disavowal of the Idolators
بَرَآءَةٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ
(Freedom from obligations from Allah and His Messenger ), is a declaration of freedom from all obligations from Allah and His Messenger,
(to those of the Mushrikin, with whom you made a treaty. So travel freely (Mushrikin) for four months (as you will) throughout the land) 9:1-2. This Ayah refers to idolators who had indefinite treaties and those, whose treaties with Muslims ended in less than four months. The terms of these treaties were restricted to four months only. As for those whose term of peace ended at a specific date later (than the four months), then their treaties would end when their terms ended, no matter how long afterwards, for Allah said,
(So fulfill their treaty for them until the end of their term)9:4. So whoever had a coventant with Allah's Messenger then it would last until its period expired, this was reported from Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi and others. We will also mention a Hadith on this matter. Abu Ma`shar Al-Madani said that Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi and several others said, "The Messenger of Allah sent Abu Bakr to lead the Hajj rituals on the ninth year (of Hijrah). He also sent `Ali bin Abi Talib with thirty or forty Ayat from Bara'ah (At-Tawbah), and he recited them to the people, giving the idolators four months during which they freely move about in the land. He recited these Ayat on the day of `Arafah (ninth of Dhul-Hijjah). The idolators were given twenty more days (till the end) of Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, Safar, Rabi` Al-Awwal and ten days from Rabi` Ath-Thani. He proclaimed to them in their camping areas, `No Mushrik will be allowed to perform Hajj after this year, nor a naked person to perform Tawaf around the House.''' So Allah said,
Maududi - 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.