The Quran

Commentaries for 9.91

Al Tawba (Immunity) - التوبة

9.91 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Not unto the weak) among the elderly or the chronically ill (nor unto the sick) among the youth (nor unto those who can find naught to spend) in jihad (is any fault (to be imputed though they stay at home) if they are true to Allah) in relation to His religion (and His messenger) regarding his practice. (Not unto the good) in their works and words (is there any road (of blame). Allah is Forgiving) of those who repent, (Merciful) towards he who dies in a state of repentance.
9.91 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
As for the weak, such as the old, and the sick, the blind and the chronically ill, and those who find nothing to expend, for the struggle, no blame, no sin, falls upon them, should they stay away from it, if they remain true to God and to His Messenger, when they stay behind, by not spreading false rumours or impeding [others from joining the struggle], but by [adhering to] obedience. There is no way [of blame], no way of reproach, against those who are virtuous, through such [behaviour]. And God is Forgiving, Merciful, to them, by granting them such leeway [in this matter].
9.91-93 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Legitimate Excuses for staying away from Jihad
Allah mentions here the valid excuses that permit one to stay away from fighting. He first mentions the excuses that remain with a person, the weakness in the body that disallows one from Jihad, such as blindness, limping, and so forth. He then mentions the excuses that are not permanent, such as an illness that would prevent one from fighting in the cause of Allah, or poverty that prevents preparing for Jihad. There is no sin in these cases if they remain behind, providing that when they remain behind, they do not spread malice or try to discourage Muslims from fighting, but all the while observing good behavior in this state, just as Allah said,
مَا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ مِن سَبِيلٍ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(No means (of complaint) can there be against the doers of good. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) Al-Awza`i said, "The people went out for the Istisqa' (rain) prayer. Bilal bin Sa`d stood up, praised Allah and thanked Him then said, `O those who are present! Do you concur that wrong has been done' They said, `Yes, by Allah!' He said, `O Allah! We hear your statement,
مَا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ مِن سَبِيلٍ
(No means (of complaint) can there be against the doers of good.) O Allah! We admit our errors, so forgive us and give us mercy and rain.' He then raised his hands and the people also raised their hands, and rain was sent down on them.'' Mujahid said about Allah's statement,
وَلاَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ إِذَا مَآ أَتَوْكَ لِتَحْمِلَهُمْ
(Nor (is there blame) on those who came to you to be provided with mounts) Mujahid said; "It was revealed about Bani Muqarrin from the tribe of Muzaynah. '' Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Al-Hasan said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«لَقَدْ خَلَّفْتُمْ بِالْمَدِينَةِ أَقْوَامًا مَا أَنْفَقْتُمْ مِنْ نَفَقَةٍ وَلَا قَطَعْتُمْ وَادِيًا وَلَا نِلْتُمْ مِنْ عَدُوَ نَيْلًا إِلَّا وَقَدْ شَرَكُوكُمْ فِي الْأَجْر»
(Some people have remained behind you in Al-Madinah; and you never spent anything, crossed a valley, or afflicted hardship on an enemy, but they were sharing the reward with you.) He then recited the Ayah,
وَلاَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ إِذَا مَآ أَتَوْكَ لِتَحْمِلَهُمْ قُلْتَ لاَ أَجِدُ مَآ أَحْمِلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ
(Nor (is there blame) on those who came to you to be provided with mounts, when you said: "I can find no mounts for you.'') This Hadith has a basis in the Two Sahihs from Anas, the Messenger of Allah said,
«إِنَّ بِالْمَدِينَةِ أَقْوَامًا مَا قَطَعْتُمْ وَادِيًا وَلَا سِرْتُمْ سَيْرًا إِلَّا وَهُمْ مَعَكُم»
(Some people have remained behind in Al-Madinah and you never crossed a valley or marched forth, but they were with you.) They said, "While they are still at Al-Madinah'' He said,
«نَعَمْ حَبَسَهُمُ الْعُذْر»
(Yes, as they have been held back by a (legal) excuse.) Then, Allah criticized those who seek permission to remain behind while they are rich, admonishing them for wanting to stay behind with women who remained in their homes,
وَطَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ فَهُمْ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ
(and Allah has sealed up their hearts, so that they know not (what they are losing).)
9.91-93 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This implies that even those people who are otherwise excusable because of disability, sickness or indigence will be pardoned only if they are sincerely and truly faithful to Allah and His Messenger. Without this fidelity, no one shall be pardoned merely because he was sick or indigent at the time when he was called upon to go forth for Jihad. For Allah does not judge merely by appearances and treat alike and forgive all those who present "medical certificates" of their disability because of sickness, old age or some other physical defect. On the Day of Judgment, He will examine minutely the heart of each and everyone, and take into account his whole conduct, open and hidden, and will consider whether his excuse was of a faithful servant or of a traitor and rebel. It is obvious that each and every case, in spite of apparent similarity, requires a separate and different judgment. For instance, let us take the case of two men who suddenly fell ill on the eve of Jihad. One of them thanked his lucky stars for the timely disease, as if to say, "How lucky it is that I have fallen ill on the opportune moment! Otherwise, this calamity of Jihad could not have been avoided and I would have had to suffer it anyhow." On the contrary, the other man was filled with sorrow at his illness, and he cried in anguish, "Ah! what a bad luck! I have been attacked by this sudden disease at the time when I ought to have been in the battle-field instead of lying down here in bed!" One of them made his illness not only an excuse for exemption from Jihad but also tried to dissuade others from it. On the contrary, the other one, though lying in the sick-bed, went on urging his own dear relatives, friends and others to go forth to Jihad; nay, he entreated even those who were attending him, saying, "Leave me in the care of the Real Master, and go forth to Jihad. I am sure that the arrangements for my nursing will be made somehow or other: therefore you should not waste your precious chance for my sake but go forth and serve the Right Way." But the other, who stayed at home, spent all this time in spreading discontent and bad news and in damaging war efforts and in disrupting the affairs of the families of the fighters. The other man in similar circumstances did his very best to make the home front as strong as he could. Though these two men had similar excuses for exemption, they cannot be considered as equal in the sight of Allah: the second one only may expect Allah's pardon, and not the first man who was a traitor and rebel against Allah, though he might have had a genuine excuse for exemption.
Such people as felt a strong urge for Jihad but could not join it because of some really genuine excuse, will be counted by Allah among those who actually took part in it, even though they could not join it in person and do anything practically for it. This is because they were sincerely grieved at their absence from Jihad for no fault of theirs, just as a man of the world would be grieved if he were deprived of some lucrative business or of some high profit. Allah considers such a one as on duty, because his heart was serving in the Way of Allah, though he had been deprived of active service on account of some genuine excuse. The Holy Prophet, while returning from Tabuk, stated the same thing like this: "There are some people at Al-Madinah (at this time) who have been traveling and marching all along with you through every valley. Naturally the Companions to whom he was speaking were wonder struck at this. So they asked, "While staying at Al-Madinah?" He replied, "Yes, while staying at AI-Madinah! This is because they were compelled by the circumstances to stay behind at AI-Madinah: otherwise they would certainly have accompanied you. "