Surah Tawbah lays the groundwork of the ethics of battle and treaties and the steps to follow if the enemy breaks the treaty. It empowers Muslims who were very weak and in the minority at that time to abide by the guidelines of the Quran when dealing with the enemy, while reminding them of their duties towards Allah Subhanwataa’la.
The guidelines of the Quran for battle are very different from usual and customary and are based on justice rather than vengeance. These guidelines if followed also reign in the Lesser Self and ego -based oppression of the vanquished. These energizing the Muslim warrior against a strong enemy in doing what is right by Allah Subhanawataa’la.
During the process of teaching the Muslims via RasoolAllah (PBUH), Allah Subhanawataala in His revelations gives leeway for those people who may have a seed of emaan in their hearts or even an inclination to listen to Allah’s words which are for their own good.
The Muslims who were few and awed by the power of the Quraish are also encouraged and empowered in this Surah to fight for what is right and for the oppressed Muslims of Mecca and once again (as when Abraham built it) make the Kaaba a sanctuary of the pure and pious.
Several ayahs from this surah have been googled and quoted in isolation, by ignorant people. Ignorant by circumstance not choice.
It behooves the Muslims to read, review, understand and reflect on the Quran as a whole and this surah in particular so that they can explain its meaning in true essence and context to the ignoramus without being patronizing and to the best of their ability.
It is also important as mentioned elsewhere in the Quran that it is important not to be angered if the other person does not “buy” it our job is to give the message of Allah Subhanawataala, and it is in Allah’s hands and it is his will whom He chooses to guide.
These ayahs also outline what to do if the enemy asks for protection, in the heat of the battle. The Muslim is behooved to explain, recite and make dua to allow this enemy to hear the Quran. How many of us can recite the Quran and explain its meaning in a language other than Arabic?
My personal take would be to make dua, recite Kalima shahada and then explain so that whatever comes out of our mouth as Muslims is an accurate reflection of Allah Subhanwataala’s message.
THE PROCLAMATION OF THE AYAHS OF SURAH TAWBAH
These ayahs of surah Tauba (1-37) these ayahs cancel all previous pacts between Muslim and disbelievers and put the munafiqueen on notice.
PUTTING THE DISBELIEVERS & HYPOCRITES ON NOTICE
The Surah begins as:
This is a Baraa’et, which is a word that comes from: Al Burr ohu, which means “ to release oneself from a makkrooh act”.
This ayah proclaims that all relationships, pacts and treaties with the disbelievers are hereby invalided and this is a proclamation from Allah and His Rasool (PBUH) for those people whom Muslims made pacts with, now these pacts are invalidated publicly.
THE PROCLAMATION MADE AT HAJJ (9TH HIJRI) COMMANDED IN SURAH TAWBAH
Ali RA was asked later, “ What were you sent to announce?” He said I was asked to make four announcements:
1. No person will do tawaf in the state of nakedness
2. The Kafir with whom Rasool Allah PBUH made a pact of peace and those Kafirs have not broken their pact this pact stands for the period.
3. For those with whom Muslims have no pact they have four months to either take Shahada, become Muslims and go to jannah or leave Mecca.
4. After this year Muslims and Mushriks (disbelievers) will not be allowed to gather together in Mecca for Hajj as Arabia will be purified for the believers and thus no disbelievers will be allowed in Mecca.
GRACE PERIOD AND RESULTS OF DISOBEDIENCE TO ALLAH
Here the disbelievers are being addressed: You can walk around and visit everywhere in Arabia peacefully for four months (announced on 10 Zilhij) expires on 10 Rabi us Sani) this period is for you to reflect. You are being warned that you should know that you are not able to weaken Allah, or the Muslims and Allah SWT is going to openly punish the disbelievers. This period of grace is not because Muslims are weak, but to give you time to reflect and change your behavior. And Allah is capable of debasing disbelievers.
GRACE PERIOD GIVEN AND COMPARED TO THE OUTCOME OF PAST NATIONS
The past nations who were severely punished for their disobediences, Allah SWT dishonored them in dunya and destroyed them eventually.
After this reminder Allah Subhanawataala, the Arabs of Mecca were given four months to straighten up and accept and submit to the Unity and power of Allah.
Hajj Akbar is the actual Hajj, and Hajj Asghar is Ummrah.
PROCLAMATION FOR CHANGE
Ali RA announced this on Zilhij 10 in Mina near the Jamaraat” Allah SWT is tired of the mushriqeen and His Rasool (PBUH) is also tired of the mushriqeen, but if you repent (do tauba) return to Allah, then that is best for you and if you turn away then be warned that you cannot overcome Allah. And give the message to those who do Kuffar that there is a severe torment awaiting them.
WHO IS BEING ADDRESSED?
These announcements addressed two groups:
1. This one was for those who had broken the pacts
2. For the general public
The Arabs would make pacts between tribes to help each other out this was called becoming Haleefs comes from “Halaf” which mean taking an oath. This was essential for the survival of the tribes. However by embracing Islam one crossed all the borders of tribes, familial ties and nations
This announcement was to warn all to collect under one flag that of Islam.
ALL TREATIES DISSOLVED WITH THE FOLLOWING EXCEPTIONS
Translation 9:4: Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfill their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him).
Those who have abided by their pacts and have not made pacts behind your back against you. Complete the time of the pact and Allah loves those who are mutaqeen, here mutaqeen is one who abides by their pact.
9:3 all people were addressed.
9:4 those specific people were selected out of the above.
FOR ALL OTHERS A GRACE PERIOD: AFTER THE PERIOD OF GRACE IF THE WARNING IS NOT HEEDED THEN….
فَإِذَا ٱنسَلَخَ لأَشہُرُ لحُرُمُ فَٱقتُلُواْ ٱلمُشرِكِينَ حَيثُ وَجَدتُّمُوهُم وَخُذُوهُم وَٱحصُرُوهُم وَٱقعُدُواْ لَهُم لَّ مَرصَدٍ فَإِن تَابُواْ وَأَقَامُواْ ٱلصَّلَوةَ وَءَاتَوُاْ ٱلزَّوةَ فَخَلُّواْ سَبِيلَهُم إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (5)
Then those months (Haraam months: those months of grace period) pass, once this time passes then kill them wherever you find them, in the field (a) exception of in the Haram, b) unless they fight you in the Haram (two opinions from scholars)
Pursue them, lay siege on them and wait for them, to get them, then if they repent, and stand for prayers (salaat) and pay zakat i.e. they accept the submission to Allah by demonstrating it in their actions of salaat and giving charity out of their earnings, then leave them and open their path, Allah is Ghafoor ur Raheem.
PROTECTION AND EDUCATION IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE
وَإِن أَحَدٌ مِّنَ ٱلمُشرِكِينَ ٱستَجَارَكَ فَأَجِرهُ حَتَّى يَسمَعَ كَلَـمَ ٱللَّهِ ثُمَّ أَبلِغهُ مَأمَنَهُ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّہُم قَومٌ لَّا يَعلَمُونَ (٦)
And if anyone of the idolaters seeketh thy protection (O Muhammad), then protect him so that he may hear the Word of Allah, and afterward convey him to his place of safety. That is because they are a folk who know not. (6)
Then if one of the mushriqs in the heat of the battle when they are subdued, ask for protection during the battle then give them protection until they have listened to the words of Allah, and then take him to the place of peace (his home)
This is because they are ignorant and they do not have knowledge of Allah’s words.
The message of Allah has to be given to everyone, even in the heat of the battle
MY TAKE & SUMMARY:
Surah tawbah was revealed after 23years of struggle with the disbelievers. Even with the success of Islam, there were some ignorant people who continued to carry on in their merry way, dancing naked around the Kaaba and making and breaking pacts and overall being a thorn on the side of the believers. These people did not have the upright ethics of the Muslims, yet they continued to take undue advantage of the ethical behavior of the Muslims
This surah is when Allah Subhanawataala say “That’s it!” and yet unlike the treatment of the past nations He in his infinite mercy does not turn the nations of the Arabs upside down and does not crush them into the earth like the nation of Lot nor the nations of Ad and Thamud. However the idolaters of Arabia have been given 23 years of change and they continue to defy Allah Subhanawataala’s commands by breaking treaties, and going back on their word.
He (SWT) sends firm instructions to Prophet Muhammad PBUH that it is now time to make Mecca the centre of Purity for the believers.
In doing so He (SWT) instructs the Muslims:
He (SWT) erases all previous pacts and commands the following:
1. Muslims are to abide by the pacts that they have in place with the disbelievers and which the disbelievers have not been broken.
2. To give four months notice to the idolaters to either submit to Allah or leave Mecca
3. After the period of notice is over, if the idolaters persist with adversity then to kill the ones who fight the Muslims, and those who violently disobey the above mentioned commands BUT there is a caveat of mercy: if they repent, establish salaat and pay zakat then let them go because Allah is forgiving and merciful
4. In the heat of the battle, Muslims should hold their swords from killing if any idolater asks for protection, and to give them protection till they (the idolater) have heard the words of Allah, and then if they set up salaat, and zakaat then take them to the place of peace (their home). Their lack in faith is thus from their ignorance.
Allah knows best.
If there I made any mistakes they are from me and from my lesser Self and the whisperings of the Shaitan, if I wrote anything correct or rightly guided, it is from Allah Subhanawataala.
Dua: May Allah Subhanawataala forgive me my mistakes and guide me, such that my brain and pen only think and write what He has deemed as just and right.