The Quran

Commentaries for 9.73

Al Tawba (Immunity) - التوبة

9.73 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers) with the sword (and the hypocrites) with words! (Be harsh) be tough (with them) with both parties with words and actions. (Their ultimate abode is hell) their destiny is hell, (a hapless journey's end) they shall come to.
9.73 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
O Prophet, struggle against the disbelievers, with the sword, and the hypocrites, with words and [definitive] arguments, and be harsh with them, through rebuke and aversion [towards them]; for their abode will be Hell, an evil journey’s end, [an evil] resort it is!
9.73-74 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Order for Jihad against the Disbelievers and Hypocrites
Allah commanded His Messenger to strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and to be harsh against them. Allah also commanded him to be merciful with the believers who followed him, informing him that the destination of the disbelievers and hypocrites is the Fire in the Hereafter. Ibn Mas`ud commented on Allah's statement,
جَـهِدِ الْكُفَّـرَ وَالْمُنَـفِقِينَ
(Strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites) "With the hand, or at least have a stern face with them.'' Ibn `Abbas said, "Allah commanded the Prophet to fight the disbelievers with the sword, to strive against the hypocrites with the tongue and annulled lenient treatment of them.'' Ad-Dahhak commented, "Perform Jihad against the disbelievers with the sword and be harsh with the hypocrites with words, and this is the Jihad performed against them.'' Similar was said by Muqatil and Ar-Rabi`. Al-Hasan and Qatadah said, "Striving against them includes establishing the (Islamic Penal) Law of equality against them.'' In combining these statements, we could say that Allah causes punishment of the disbelievers and hypocrites with all of these methods in various conditions and situations, and Allah knows best.
Reason behind revealing Ayah 9:74
Al-Amawi said in his Book on Battles, "Muhammad bin Ishaq narrated that Az-Zuhri said that `Abdur-Rahman bin `Abdullah bin Ka`b bin Malik narrated from his father, from his grandfather that he said, `Among the hypocrites who lagged behind from battle and concerning whom the Qur'an was revealed, was Al-Julas bin Suwayd bin As-Samit, who was married to the mother of `Umayr bin Sa`d. `Umayr was under the care of Al-Julas. When the Qur'an was revealed about the hypocrites, exposing their practices, Al-Julas said, `By Allah! If this man (Muhammad) is saying the truth, then we are worse than donkeys.' `Umayr bin Sa`d heard him and said, `By Allah, O Julas! You are the dearest person to me, has the most favor on me and I would hate that harm should touch you, more than I do concerning anyone else! You have uttered a statement that if I exposed, will expose you, but if I hide, it will destroy me. One of them is a lesser evil than the other.' So `Umayr went to the Messenger of Allah and told him what Al-Julas said. On realizing this, Al-Julas went to the Prophet and swore by Allah that he did not say what `Umayr bin Sa`d conveyed he said. `He lied on me,' Al-Julas said. Allah sent in his case this verse,
يَحْلِفُونَ بِاللَّهِ مَا قَالُواْ وَلَقَدْ قَالُواْ كَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ وَكَفَرُواْ بَعْدَ إِسْلَـمِهِمْ
(They swear by Allah that they said nothing (bad), but really they said the word of disbelief, and they disbelieved after accepting Islam) until the end of Ayah. The Messenger of Allah conveyed this Ayah to Al-Julas, who, they claim, repented and his repentance was sincere, prompting him to refrain from hypocrisy.''' Imam Abu Ja`far Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "The Messenger of Allah was sitting under the shade of a tree when he said,
«إِنَّهُ سَيَأْتِيكُمْ إِنْسَانٌ فَيَنْظُرُ إِلَيْكُمْ بِعَيْنَيِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَإِذَا جَاءَ فَلَا تُكَلِّمُوه»
(A man will now come and will look to you through the eyes of a devil. When he comes, do not talk to him.)' A man who looked as if he was blue (so dark) came and the Messenger of Allah summoned him and said,
«عَلَامَ تَشْتُمُنِي أَنْتَ وَأَصْحَابُك»
(Why do you curse me, you and your companions) That man went and brought his friends and they swore by Allah that they did nothing of the sort, and the Prophet pardoned them. Allah, the Exalted and Most Honored revealed this verse,
يَحْلِفُونَ بِاللَّهِ مَا قَالُواْ
(They swear by Allah that they said nothing (bad)...)
Hypocrites try to kill the Prophet
Allah said next,
وَهَمُّواْ بِمَا لَمْ يَنَالُواْ
(and they resolved that which they were unable to carry out) It was said that this Ayah was revealed about Al-Julas bin Suwayd, who tried to kill his wife's son when he said he would inform the Messenger of Allah about Al-Julas' statement we mentioned earlier. It was also said that it was revealed in the case of `Abdullah bin Ubayy who plotted to kill the Messenger of Allah. As-Suddi said, "This verse was revealed about some men who wanted to crown `Abdullah bin Ubayy even if the Messenger of Allah did not agree.,It was reported that some hypocrites plotted to kill the Prophet, while he was at the battle of Tabuk, riding one night. They were a group of more than ten men. Ad-Dahhak said, "This Ayah was revealed about them.'' In his book, Dala'il An-Nubuwah, Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bayhaqi recorded that Hudhayfah bin Al-Yaman said, "I was holding the bridle of the Messenger's camel while `Ammar was leading it, or vise versa. When we reached Al-`Aqabah, twelve riders intercepted the Prophet. When I alerted the Messenger, he shouted at them and they all ran away. The Messenger of Allah asked us,
«هَلْ عَرَفْتُمُ الْقَوْمَ؟»
(Did you know who they were) We said, `No, O Allah's Messenger! They had masks However, we know their horses.' He said,
«هؤُلَاءِ الْمُنَافِقُونَ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ وَهَلْ تَدْرُونَ مَا أَرَادُوا؟»
(They are the hypocrites until the Day of Resurrection. Do you know what they intended) We said, `No.' He said,
«أَرَادُوا أَنْ يُزَاحِمُوا رَسُولَ اِلله فِي الْعَقَبَةِ فَيَلْقُوهُ مِنْهَا»
(They wanted to mingle with the Messenger of Allah and throw him from the `Aqabah (to the valley).) We said, `O Allah's Messenger! Should you ask their tribes to send the head of each one of them to you' He said,
«لَا. أَكْرَهُ أَنْ تَتَحَدَّثَ الْعَرَبُ بَيْنَهَا أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا قَاتَلَ بِقَومٍ حَتَّى إِذَا أَظْهَرَهُ اللهُ بِهِمْ أَقْبَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ بِقَتْلِهِمْ ثُمَّ قَالَ اللّهُمَّ ارْمِهِمْ بِالدُّبَيْلَة»
(No, for I hate that the Arabs should say that Muhammad used some people in fighting and when Allah gave him victory with their help, he commanded that they be killed.) He then said, (O Allah! Throw the Dubaylah at them.) We asked, `What is the Dubaylah, O Allah's Messenger' He said,
«شِهَابٌ مِنْ نَارٍ يَقَعُ عَلَى نِيَاطِ قَلْبِ أَحَدِهِمْ فَيَهْلِك»
(A missile of fire that falls on the heart of one of them and brings about his demise.)'' Abu At-Tufayl said, "Once, there was a dispute between Hudhayfah and another man, who asked him, `I ask you by Allah, how many were the Companions of Al-`Aqabah' The people said to Hudhayfah, `Tell him, for he asked you.' Hudhayfah said, `We were told that they were fourteen men, unless you were one of them, then the number is fifteen! I testify by Allah that twelve of them are at war with Allah and His Messenger in this life and when the witness comes forth for witness. Three of them were pardoned, for they said, `We did not hear the person whom the Messenger sent to announce something, and we did not know what the people had plotted,' for the Prophet had been walking when he said,
«إِنَّ الْمَاءَ قَلِيلٌ فَلَا يَسْبِقْنِي إِلَيْهِ أَحَد»
(Water is scarce, so none among you should reach it before me.) When he found that some people had reached it before him, he cursed them.''' `Ammar bin Yasir narrated in a Hadith collected by Muslim, that Hudhayfah said to him that the Prophet said,
«فِي أَصْحَابِي اثْنَا عَشَرَ مُنَافِقًا لَا يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَا يَجِدُونَ رِيحَهَا حَتَّى يَلِجَ الْجَمَلُ فِي سَمِّ الْخِيَاطِ: ثَمَانِيَةٌ مِنْهُمْ تَكْفِيكَهُمُ الدُّبَيْلَةُ سِرَاجٌ مِنْ نَارٍ يَظْهَرُ بَيْنَ أَكْتَافِهِمْ حَتَّى يَنْجُمَ فِي صُدُورِهِم»
(Among my Companions are twelve hypocrites who will never enter Paradise or find its scent, until the camel enters the thread of the needle. Eight of them will be struck by the Dubaylah, which is a missile made of fire that appears between their shoulders and pierces their chest.) This is why Hudhayfah was called the holder of the secret, for he knew who these hypocrites were, since the Messenger of Allah gave their names to him and none else. Allah said next,
وَمَا نَقَمُواْ إِلاَ أَنْ أَغْنَاهُمُ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ
(and they could not find any cause to do so except that Allah and His Messenger had enriched them of His bounty.) This Ayah means, the Messenger did not commit an error against them, other than that Allah has enriched them on account of the Prophet's blessed and honorable mission! And had Allah guided them to what the Prophet came with, they would have experienced its delight completely. The Prophet once said to the Ansar,
«أَلَمْ أَجِدْكُمْ ضُلَّالًا فَهَدَاكُمُ اللهُ بِي، وَكُنْتُمْ مُتَفَرِقِينَ فَأَلَّفَكُمُ اللهُ بِي، وَعَالَةً فَأَغْنَاكُمُ اللهُ بِي»
(Have I not found you misguided and Allah guided you through me, divided and Allah united you through me, and poor and Allah enriched you through me) Whenever the Messenger asked them a question, they replied, "Allah and His Messenger have granted the favor.'' This type of statement,
وَمَا نَقَمُواْ مِنْهُمْ إِلاَّ أَن يُؤْمِنُواْ بِاللَّهِ
(And they had no fault except that they believed in Allah...), is uttered when there is no wrong committed. Allah called the hypocrites to repent,
فَإِن يَتُوبُواْ يَكُ خَيْراً لَّهُمْ وَإِن يَتَوَلَّوْا يُعَذِّبْهُمُ اللَّهُ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا فِى الدُّنْيَا وَالاٌّخِرَةِ
(If then they repent, it will be better for them, but if they turn away; Allah will punish them with a painful torment in this worldly life and in the Hereafter.) The Ayah says, if they persist on their ways, Allah will inflict a painful torment on them in this life, by killing, sadness and depression, and in the Hereafter with torment, punishment, disgrace and humiliation,
وَمَا لَهُمْ فِى الاٌّرْضِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلاَ نَصِيرٍ
(And there is none for them on earth as a protector or a helper.) who will bring happiness to them, aid them, bring about benefit or fend off harm.
9.73-74 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
From here begins !he third discourse that was sent down after the expedition to Tabuk.
This Command enunciated the change of policy towards the hypocrites. Up to this time, leniency was being shown to them for two reasons. First, the Muslims had not as yet become so powerful as to take the risk of an internal conflict in addition to the one with the external enemies. The other reason was to give trough respite to those people who were involved in doubts and suspicions so that they could get sufficient time for attaining to faith and belief. But now the time had come far a change of policy. The whole of Arabia had been subdued and a bitter conflict with the external enemies was about to start; therefore it was required that these internal enemies should be crushed down so that they should not be able to conspire with the external enemies to stir up any internal danger to the Muslims. And now it had become possible to crush them. As regards !he second reason, these hypocrites had been given respite for a period of nine years to observe, to consider and test the Right Way, and they could have availed of it, if they had any good in them. So there was no reason why any more leniency should be shown to them. Therefore, Allah enjoined the Muslims to treat the hypocrites on one and the same level with the disbelievers and start Jihad against them, and to give up the policy of leniency Grey had adopted towards them and adopt a fine and stern policy instead.
In this connection, it should also be noted that this verse does not enjoin the Muslims to fight with the hypocrites. It merely meant to end the policy of leniency that had hitherto been adopted towards them. This verse enjoined that they were no more to be considered a part and parcel of the Muslim community nor were they to be allowed to take part in the management of its affairs nor consulted about any matter, so that they might not be able to spread the poison of hypocrisy. This changed policy required that the true Believers should expose all those, who adopted a hypocritical attitude and conduct and showed in any way that they were not sincere allies to Allah, His Messenger and the true Muslims. Each and every one of such hypocrites should be openly criticized and reproved so that there should remain for them no more place of honor and trust in the Muslim society: they should be socially boycotted and kept away from the consultations of the Community: their evidence in the courts of law should be regarded as untrustworthy: the doors of offices and positrons of trust should be closed against them and they should be held in contempt in the social meetings. In short; every Muslim should show by his behavior to such a one that there was no place of honor or respect or trust for a hypocrite in the Muslim society. Besides this, if any one of them was found to be guilty of treachery, there should be no connivance at his crime, nor should he be pardoned but openly tried in a court of law and should be duly punished.
This Command was urgently needed at the time it came. It was obvious that in order to save the Muslim Community from fall and degradation, it was essential to purge it of all the internal dangers to its solidarity, because a Community, which nourishes hypocrites and traitors and allows the internal enemies to flourish with honor and security, wall inevitably be doomed to moral degradation and ultimate destruction. Hypocrisy is a plague and a hypocrite is the rat that carries and spreads its germs. Therefore to allow him the freedom of movement in the society is to expose the whole population to the danger of hypocrisy. Likewise, to give a place of honor and prestige to a hypocrite is to encourage many others in hypocrisy and treachery, for this shows that it is not sincerity, true faith and its welfare that count in it. One may flourish and prosper in it even if one verbally professes ;o be a Muslim and at the same time indulges in dishonesty and treachery. The Holy Prophet has expressed the same thing in a pithy saying. He said, "Whoso honors and respects the inventor of new practices which are un-Islamic, indeed helps to demolish the very structure of Islam."
We cannot say with certainty what that "word of unbelief" was which they had uttered. There are, however, traditions that mention several things of unbelief which were uttered by the hypocrites during that time. For instance, it is related that a hypocrite, while he was talking to a young Muslim, a near relative of his, said, "If all that this man (referring to the Holy Prophet) is saying be true, then we are worse than donkeys." Another tradition relates that when, during the expedition to Tabuk, one of the she-camels of the Holy Prophet went astray and the Muslims were moving about in search of it, a party of the hypocrites made a good deal of fun of this, saying to one another, "(Just consider the Prophethood of this man! ) He tells news of heavens but cannot tell where his she-camel is!'
This is a reference to the plots which the hypocrites had made during the Tabuk expedition. On the return journey they conspired to pus!' the Holy Prophet down into some ravine, while he would be passing over some hill at night. The Holy Prophet got wind of the plot and ordered that the army should take the longer route through the valley round the hills, while he himself along with 'Ammar-bin-Yasir and Huzaifah-bin-Yaman would make the short-cut over the hi". While they were on the way, suddenly they discovered that a dozen of the hypocrites, with covered faces, were following them. At this Hadrat Huzaifah tented towards them so that he may drive away their camels but they were terrified when they saw him coming towards them and took to flight lest they should be recognized.
The other plot was to declare `Abdullah bin Ubayy as king at Al-Madinah as soon as they should hear some 'bad news' about the Muslim army, because according to their expectations, the Holy Prophet and his faithful Companions could never fare well against tire armies of the Great Roman Empire.
This is an insinuation to put to shame by an indirect suggestion the hypocrites of AI-Madinah. This refereed to the prosperity of Al-Madinah and its peoples, for Al-Madinah was a small town before the migration of the Holy Prophet to it, and its two clans-Aus and Khazraj-did not hold any high position in regard to wealth or prestige. But within the short period of nine years or so, this small town became the capital of Arabia because of the residence of the Holy Prophet and the sacrifices of the Ansar, the true Muslims. As a result of this, the former peasants-Aus and Khazraj of AI-Madinah became the `Great Ones' of the Islamic State and wealth began to flow into this central city on account of spoils of war and increased commercial activity. The hypocrites were rebuked in this verse that, instead of being grateful to the Holy Prophet, they showed anger and spite against him for no other "sin" than that he had brought forth prosperity among them.
9.73 Tustari - Al-Tustari
O Prophet, struggle against the disbelievers and the hypocrites…He said:Struggle against your lower self with the sword of opposition! Place upon its [back] the burdensof remorse (nadam), and guide it through the desert plains of fear (khawf), so that you may turn it back to the path of repentance (tawba) and contrition (ināba). Repentance is not acceptable except from one who feels perplexed at his plight, grief-stricken at his situation, and confounded in his heart at what has happened to him. God, Exalted is He, has said: When the earth seemed straightened for them, for all its breadth [9:118]. His words: