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Related Categories: Tafseer

» 13th July 2011
Surah al-Baqarah, 216-218

"Fighting is enjoined upon you, while it is hard on you. And it could be that you dislike something, when it is good for you, and it could be that you like something when it is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know. They ask you about the sacred month, that is, about fighting in it.

Say, "Fighting in it is something grave but, in the sight of Allah it is far more grave to prevent from the path of Allah, to disbelieve in Him, and al-Masjid al-Haram, and to expel its people from there and Fitnah (to create disorder) is more grave than to kill." And they will go on fighting you until they turn you away from your faith if they could. And whoever of you turns away from his faith and dies infidel, then they are those whose deeds have gone waste in this world and in the Hereafter. And they are people of the Fire. They shall be there for ever.

As for those who believed and those who migrated and carried out jihad in the way of Allah, they do hope for Allah's mercy and Allah is Forgiving, Very-Merciful."

Explanation In Brief

Verse 216 establishes the obligatory nature of Jihad even though it may be burdensome for some temperaments. In this case, the truth is that it is Allah Almighty who knows the reality of everything while man does not possess the full range of that knowledge. Therefore, one should not decide on things being good or bad as prompted by personal desires, rather, one must say yes to the command of Allah and follow it consistently as the most expedient course of action.

Verse 217 begins with a question which was asked by some disbelievers from the tribe of Quraysh. It has been reported that some Companions of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him were by chance confronted by disbelievers while on a journey. During the engagement, one disbeliever got killed at their hands. The day this happened was the first of the month of Rajab which, according to the calculation of the Companions, was the 30th of the Jumada al-Ukhirah. It may be noted that Rajab is one of the 'sacred' months. So, the disbelievers taunted Muslims by saying that they did not even honour the sanctity of the 'sacred' month. The Muslims were worried and asked the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him about it. According to some narrations, as stated above, some disbelievers themselves came to the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him and raised the question as a matter of objection.

The answer given is that 'fighting in a sacred month, is something grave' (but, Muslims did not do so intentionally, instead, this came to pass inadvertantly because of a misunderstanding about the date). Moreover, what the disbelievers have committed is more grave than this, because the disbelief, the placing of idols in the Holy Mosque and the expelling of Muslims from there is a greater evil than killing a disbeliever in a state of war.

Injunctions And Related Considerations

1) The injunction declaring Jihad as obligatory appears in the first of the three verses under comment in the words: "Fighting is enjoined upon you..." which means that 'Jihad has been made obligatory on you'. These words apparently seem to say that Jihad is obligatory on every Muslim in every condition. Some other verses of the Qur'an and the sayings of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him, however, have clarified that this obligation is not absolute, that is, every Muslim is not charged to perform it as Fard 'Ayn, (absolute and mandatory obligation on every Muslim) instead, it is Fard 'ala al-Kifayah whereby, should a group of Muslims come forward to discharge this obligation, other Muslims would be considered absolved from it.

However, should there remain just no group ready to discharge the obligation of Jihad at any time or in any country, the result will be that all Muslims will fall into the sin of abandoning an obligation. The saying of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him in the hadith: means that it is necessary that there be, right upto the Day of Doom, a group of Muslims which keeps discharging the obligation of Jihad. Another verse of the Holy Qur'an says: "And Allah has given precedence to mujahidin, who carry out jihad with their properties and lives, over those who sit away, and Allah has promised good for both." (4:95)

Here, the promise of good has been extended to those also who may not be able to take part in Jihad because of some compulsive excuse or because of engagement in some other religious service. It is obvious that the promise of good would have never been made for those who are absent from Jihad, in the event that it were an absolute obligation on every individual Muslim. Similarly, this is what appears in another verse: "Why could a small group from every large community of yours not come forward so that they pursue understanding in religion?" (9:122)

Here, the Holy Qur'an itself suggests a division of work whereby some Muslims carry out Jihad and some keep serving the cause of religious education. This can be done only when Jihad is Fard 'ala al-Kifayah and not Fard 'Ayn.

In a hadith appearing in al-Bukhari and Muslim, it is said that a person sought the permission of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him to take part in Jihad. He asked him: 'Are your parents alive?' He said, 'Yes, they are alive.' He said: 'Then, go. Serve your parents and earn the reward of Jihad'. Incidentally, this also tells that Jihad is a Fard 'ala al-Kifayah. When a group from among the Muslims is staunchly discharging the obligation of Jihad, remaining Muslims can engage themselves in other services and duties. But, should there come a time when the 'Imam' or the leader of Muslims gives a general call under the compulsion of need and invites all Muslims to take part in Jihad, then, Jihad becomes an absolute obligation on everybody. In Surah al-Taubah, the Holy Qur'an says: "O those who believe, what has happened to you that, when you are asked to come out in the way of Allah, you become heavy?" (9:38)

This verse carries the injunction relating to the general call of Jihad mentioned above. In the same way, should it be that disbelievers, God forbid, invade an Islamic country and the group engaged in defence is not fully capable of it, being weak or insufficient in number, then, at that time as well, this obligation becomes 'contagious', passing on from that first group to all Muslims close by, as an equally effective obligation. And in case, they too are weak or incapable, the obligation will pass on to Muslims close to them. This situation may reach a point when Jihad becomes an absolute obligation on each and every individual Muslim all over the world. It is in view of these verses from the Holy Qur'an that the majority of Muslim jurists and scholars of hadith have set up the rule that Jihad is Fard 'ala al-Kifayah under normal conditions.

2) Therefore, as far as Jihad remains a Fard Kifayah, it is not permissible for the off-spring to go for Jihad without the permission of their parents.

3) It is not correct for one who has a debt to pay to take part in this Fard Kifayah until such time that he clears his debt off. But, should there come a time when, either due to a general call for Jihad or an aggressive encirclement of Muslims by the disbelievers, Jihad becomes Fard 'Ayn, an absolute obligation on all, then, no condition such as that of the permission of parents or of the husband or of the creditor remains operative. Towards the end of this verse, it is as a mode of persuasion that Jihad has been identified as something which may, temperamentally, appear 'hard' but one must remember that human intelligence and effort fails so many times when it comes to the outcome. It is not at all surprising that the most intelligent person around may take the beneficial to be harmful and vice versa. If everyone was to look back into the events of his or her life, it will be noticed right there that there was something they were going after as beneficial turned out ultimately to be very harmful, or there was something they were avoiding as harmful which later on proved to be very beneficial.

This scenario of human reasoning and planning failing time and again is a matter of repeated experience, therefore, it was said that fighting in the way of Allah may obviously appear to be a loss of life and property, yet the time will come when realities will be unveiled and we shall find out that this loss was no loss, instead, it was the ultimate in gain, and a source of eternal peace.

The Injunction Relating to Fighting in the 'Sacred' Months

The second of the three verses under comment here proves that fighting is forbidden in Rajab, Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muhar-ram, the four 'sacred' months. In the same way, there are several verses of the Holy Qur'an where fighting has been very clearly forbidden during the sacred months, for instance: 'Four of them are sacred. That is the right religion' (9:36). Then there is the saying of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him in the famous address of the Last Hajj: 'Four (months) from among them are sacred, out of which three are consecutive and the (fourth) is Rajab of Mudar.' These Qur'anic verses and hadith narrations prove that fight­ing is haram in the four months mentioned and this forbiddance is good for ever.

In this connection, 'Ata ibn Abi Rabah (A.R) , a leading early exponent of Qur'anic exegesis declared on oath that this injunction is there to stay for ever. Several others among the respected Successors (Tabi'in) regard this injunction as provenly unabrogated, but in accordance with the ruling of the majority of Muslim jurists as stated by al-Jassas,this injunction is one of the abrogated ones as maintained by a consensus of jurists and fighting is no more forbidden in any month.

Now comes the question as to which verse of the Holy Qur'an abrogates this injunction. Jurists have taken different positions in this respect. Some say the verse: 'And fight the disbelievers, all of them' (9:36) abrogates it. Many others regard the verse: 'Slay the disbelievers wherever you find them' (9:5) as its abrogator. They have taken the word: here in the sense of 'anytime' meaning thereby that the disbelievers should be killed in whatever month or time they are found. Some have said that the abrogator of this injunction is the very conduct of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him since he himself besieged the city of Ta'if during the 'sacred months' and it was during the 'sacred months' that he sent the noble Companion 'Amir al-Ash'ari on the military expedition of Awtas. On these grounds, Jurists in general, regard this injunction as abrogated, al-Jassas (A.R) calls it: 'This is what the majority of the jurists says'.

Ruh al-Ma'ani, under comments on this verse, and al-Baydawi, under the explanation of the first section of Surah al-Bara'ah have reported a consensus of the community on the abrogation of the forbiddance of fighting during the 'sacred months' (Bayan al-Qur'an).

However, al-Tafsir al-Mazhar! answers all these arguments by saying that the sanctity of the 'sacred months' is clearly present in the verse known as Ayah al-sayf or the Verse of the Sword, that is:

'The number of months, with God, is twelve (mentioned) in the book of Allah, the day that he created the heavens and the earth; four of them are sacred' (9:36).

Of the verse relating to fighting, this verse was the last one to be revealed and the Address of the Last Hajj which was delivered only 80 days before the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him passed away clearly indicates the sanctity of the 'sacred months'. For this reason, the verses quoted cannot be regarded as abrogative of this injunction. Moreover, the siege of Ta'if did not take place in the month of Dhul-Qa'dah. It was in Shawwal, therefore, this too cannot be regarded as its abrogator.

But, it can certainly be conceded that the absolute forbiddance of fighting in the 'sacred months' which seems to reflect from the verse referred to holds an exception whereby it would become permissible for Muslims to defend themselves, or counter attack the aggressor if disbelievers themselves start the fighting during these months. This much, then, can be termed as abrogated, which finds a clarification in the verse: 'The holy month for the holy month' (2:194).

The gist of the discussion is that initiating a fight during these months is forbidden for ever, but in the event that disbelievers mount an attack on Muslims, then, Muslims are permitted to fight back in their defence. Al-Jassas (A.R) has reported the narration of the blessed Companion Jabir ibn 'Abdullah Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him who said that the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him did not fight in any of the 'sacred months' until such time that the initial fighting was started by the disbelievers.

The Evil Consequences of Apostasy

Towards the end of the verse (217), it has been said that the act of turning into an apostate after having become a Muslim shall be dealt with under the injunction: that is, they shall be those whose deeds have gone waste in this world and in the Hereafter.

Here are some injunctions relating to the apostates:

1) Some examples of 'deeds going waste in this world' are that the wife of an apostate goes out of the bond of marriage; if a relative of an apostate dies a Muslim, he gets no share in the inheritance; all obligations such as prayers and fasting fulfilled in one's state of Islam are reduced to nothing; for such a person funeral prayers are not offered and he or she is not buried in the graveyard meant for Muslims. 'Deeds going waste in the Hereafter' means that one gets no reward for acts of worship and enters the Hell to stay there for ever.

2) Should an apostate become a Muslim once again, at least this much is certain that he could hope to salvage himself away from Hell in the Hereafter, while during the remaining tenure of his life in the mortal world, the injunctions of Islam will be operative for him. But, there is a difference of opinion among jurists about what would happen to a person who has already done his Hajj - would it be obligatory on him, given the capability, to do it all over again, or would it not? Similarly, in the Hereafter, would the reward for his previous religious performances, such as prayers and fasting, revert back to him, or would they not? Imam Abu Hanifah (A.R) says that it is obligatory on him to do his Hajj again and he does not subscribe to the opinion that he will be rewarded for his previous prayers and fastings while Imam Shafi'i (A.R) differs on both issues.

3) For one who is basically a disbeliever, the position is that the reward for his good deeds in a state of disbelief is held in abeyance. If there comes the time when he embraces Islam, he gets a matching reward for all such deeds, but in the event that he dies an infidel, everything goes waste. The Hadith statement: 'You have embraced Islam with all the good deeds which you have performed earlier' means just this.

4) In short, the fate of an apostate is worse than that of an original disbeliever. This is why Jizyah can be accepted from an original disbeliever while a male apostate who does not return to Islam is killed. If the apostate is a woman, she is imprisoned for life. The reason is that their conduct insults Islam and the insult of such a binding authority deserves no less a punishment. (Ma'aariful Qur'aan)

The evidence that the apostate is to be executed is the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Whoever changes his religion, execute him.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2794). What is meant by religion here is Islaam (i.e., whoever changes from Islam to another religion).

Al-Bukhaari (6922) narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever changes his religion, put him to death.”

Al-Bukhaari (6484) and Muslim (1676) narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “It is not permissible to shed the blood of a Muslim who bears witness that there is no god except Allaah and that I am the Messenger of Allaah, except in one of three cases: a soul for a soul (i.e., in the case of murder); a previously-married person who commits zina; and one who leaves his religion and separates from the main body of the Muslims.”

See also:

Definition and Ruling of Jihad -

Progression Of Jihad -

Jaish e Muhammad (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) -

The Shortest Path To Jannah -
» posted by Seifeddine-M on 13th July 2011 - 0 comments


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