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Quran Chapter 9 [part 1] - Repentance - Treaties and Rules, Take Action to Not Empower Evil-doings

The Medinan sura opens by giving notice of the severance of the treaty with the idolaters because they had broken it. The bulk of the sura deals with preparations and recruitment for the expedition to Tabuk, which took place in the heat of the summer of ah 9 (631 ce). The hypocrites and those who stayed behind and failed to support the Prophet are all censured. This is the only sura not to begin with the formula ‘In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy’; there is an opinion that suras 8 and 9 are in fact just one sura.

Treaties and Rules

1 A release by God and His Messenger from the treaty you [believers] made with the idolaters [is announced]–– 2 you [idolaters] may move freely about the land for four months, but you should bear in mind both that you will not escape God, and that God will disgrace those who defy [Him]. [a] 3 On the Day of the Great Pilgrimage [there will be] a proclamation from God and His Messenger to all people: ‘God and His Messenger are released from [treaty] obligations to the idolaters. It will be better for you [idolaters] if you repent; know that you cannot escape God if you turn away.’ [Prophet], warn those who ignore [God] that they will have a painful punishment. 4 As for those who have honored the treaty you made with them and who have not supported anyone against you: fulfil your agreement with them to the end of their term. God loves those who are mindful of Him.

5 When the [four] forbidden months are over, wherever [b] you encounter the idolaters, [c] kill them, seize them, besiege them, wait for them at every lookout post; but if they turn [to God], maintain the prayer, and pay the prescribed alms, let them go on their way, for God is most forgiving and merciful. 6 If any one of the idolaters should seek your protection [Prophet], grant it to him so that he may hear the word of God, then take him to a place safe for him, for they are people with no knowledge [of it]. 7 How could there be a treaty with God and His Messenger for such idolaters? But as for those with whom you made a treaty at the Sacred Mosque, so long as they remain true to you, be true to them; God loves those who are mindful of Him. 8 [How,] when, if they were to get the upper hand over you, they would not respect any tie with you, of kinship or of treaty? They please you with their tongues, but their hearts are against you and most of them are lawbreakers. 9 They have sold God’s message for a trifling gain, and barred others from His path. How evil their actions are! 10 Where believers are concerned, they respect no tie of kinship or treaty. They are the ones who are committing aggression. 11 If they turn to God, keep up the prayer, and pay the prescribed alms, then they are your brothers in faith: We make the messages clear for people who are willing to learn. 12 But if they break their oath after having made an agreement with you, if they revile your religion, then fight the leaders of disbelief– oaths mean nothing to them– so that they may stop.

Take Action to Not Empower Evil-doings

13 How could you not fight a people who have broken their oaths, who tried to drive the Messenger out, who attacked you first? Do you fear them? It is God you should fear if you are true believers. 14 Fight them: God will punish them at your hands, He will disgrace them, He will help you to conquer them, He will heal the believers’ feelings 15 and remove the rage from their hearts. God turns to whoever He will in His mercy; God is all knowing and wise. 16 Do you think that you will be left untested [d] without God identifying which of you will strive for His cause and take no supporters apart from God, His Messenger, and other believers? God is fully aware of all your actions.

17 It is not right for the idolaters to tend God’s places of worship while testifying to their own disbelief: the deeds of such people will come to nothing and they will abide in Hell. 18 The only ones who should tend God’s places of worship are those who believe in God and the Last Day, who keep up the prayer, who pay the prescribed alms, and who fear no one but God: such people may hope to be among the rightly guided. 19 Do you consider giving water to pilgrims and tending the Sacred Mosque to be equal to the deeds of those who believe in God and the Last Day and who strive in God’s path? They are not equal in God’s eyes. God does not guide such benighted people. 20 Those who believe, who migrated and strove hard in God’s way with their possessions and their persons, are in God’s eyes much higher in rank; it is they who will triumph; 21 and their Lord gives them the good news of His mercy and pleasure, Gardens where they will have lasting bliss 22 and where they will remain for ever: truly, there is a tremendous reward with God.

23 Believers, do not take your fathers and brothers as allies [e] if they prefer disbelief to faith: those of you who do so are doing wrong. 24 Say [Prophet], ‘If your fathers, sons, brothers, wives, tribes, the wealth you have acquired, the trade which you fear will decline, and the dwellings you love are dearer to you than God and His Messenger and the struggle in His cause, then wait until God brings about His punishment.’ God does not guide those who break away. 25 God has helped you [believers] on many battlefields, even on the day of the Battle of Hunayn. [f] You were well pleased with your large numbers, but they were of no use to you: the earth seemed to close in on you despite its spaciousness, and you turned tail and fled. 26 Then God sent His calm down to His Messenger and the believers, and He sent down invisible forces. He punished the disbelievers– this is what the disbelievers deserve– 27 but God turns in His mercy to whoever He will. God is most forgiving and merciful.

28 Believers, those who ascribe partners to God are truly unclean: do not let them come near the Sacred Mosque after this year. If you are afraid you may become poor, [bear in mind that] God will enrich you out of His bounty if He pleases: God is all knowing and wise. 29 Fight those of the People of the Book who do not [truly] [g] believe in God and the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden, who do not obey the rule of justice, [h] until they pay the tax [i] and agree to submit. [j] 30 The Jews said, ‘Ezra is the son of God,’ [k] and the Christians said, ‘The Messiah is the son of God’: they said this with their own mouths, repeating what earlier disbelievers had said. May God confound them! How far astray they have been led! 31 They take their rabbis and their monks as lords, as well as Christ, the son of Mary. But they were commanded to serve only one God: there is no god but Him; He is far above whatever they set up as His partners! 32 They try to extinguish God’s light with their mouths, but God insists on bringing His light to its fullness, even if the disbelievers hate it. 33 It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, to show that it is above all [other] religions, however much the idolaters may hate this. 34 Believers, many rabbis and monks wrongfully consume people’s possessions and turn people away from God’s path. [Prophet], tell those who hoard gold and silver instead of giving in God’s cause that they will have a grievous punishment: 35 on the Day it is heated up in Hell’s Fire and used to brand their foreheads, sides, and backs, they will be told, ‘This is what you hoarded up for yourselves! Now feel the pain of what you hoarded!’

36 God decrees that there are twelve months– ordained in God’s Book on the Day when He created the heavens and earth– four months of which are sacred: [l] this is the correct calculation. [m] Do not wrong your souls in these months– though you may fight the idolaters at any time, [n] if they first fight you– remember that God is with those who are mindful of Him. 37 Postponing sacred months is another act of disobedience by which those who disregard [God] are led astray: they will allow it one year and forbid it in another in order outwardly to conform with the number of God’s sacred months, but in doing so they permit what God has forbidden. Their evil deeds are made alluring to them: God does not guide those who disregard [Him].


a. Kafara bi (something)’ in Arabic can mean ‘disown (something)’ (al-Mujam al-Wasit), so kuffar here could also mean ‘those who disown [the treaty]’.

b. Inside or outside the Sanctuary in Mecca. See note d to 2: 191.

c. In this context, this definitely refers to the ones who broke the treaty. The article here is ahdiya (specific) referring to what has already been stated.

d. See also 29: 2.

e. Against the Muslims. Cf. 4: 144.

f. This took place in a valley between Mecca and Taif in the year ah 8/630 ce.

g. ‘Truly’ is implied, as it is in many other statements in the Quran, e.g. 2: 32; 8: 41; and 65: 3.

h. The main meaning of the Arabic dana is ‘he obeyed’. It also means ‘behave’, and ‘follow a way of life or religion’ (Qamus and Lane).

i. Etymologically, jizya means ‘payment in return’, related to jaza' meaning ‘reward’, i.e. in return for the protection of the Muslim state with all the accruing benefits and exemption from military service, and such taxes on Muslims as zakah. This tax was levied only on able-bodied free men who could afford it, and monks were exempted. The amount was generally low (e.g. one dinar per year).

j. Commentators in the past generally understood wa hum saghirun to mean they should be humiliated when paying. However, it is clear from the context that they were unwilling to pay, and the clause simply means they should submit to paying this tax.

k. Clearly this refers to a certain group who, possibly at the time of the Prophet or earlier, made this claim.

l. These are Rajab, Dhu ’l-Qada, Dhu ’l-Hijjah, and Muharram in the Muslim lunar calendar. Fighting was not allowed during these months (except in self-defence). Cf. 2: 194.

m. One of the meanings of din is ‘calculation’ or ‘reckoning’.

n. Another interpretation of kafatan is ‘all together’.

The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)

The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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