Saturday, September 5, 2020

Contextual, Not Eternal, Only Meant for Arabs Of Early Seventh Century: Six Most Misunderstood Verses of The Quran


By Dr Israr Ahmed, Tr. New Age Islam

(Audio Transcription from Urdu Speech by New Age Islam Edit Desk)

These six verses (the first six verses of Surah At-Tawbah) are the ones that are bothering people all over the world today. The west forcibly wants to remove these verses of Surah At-Tawbah from the Qur'an. They have expelled these verses from their curriculum because they think that the Muslims have been commanded forever to massacre the infidels and the polytheists. Making such an interpretation of these verses is wrong. This was a special case for the polytheists among the unlettered Arabs (umm literally means one who cannot read or write). The Prophet was specifically sent for the unlettered Arabs, for the polytheists of Arabia.

The Quran says, “It is He Who has sent among the unlettered people a Noble Messenger from among themselves” (62:2). The Prophet was from among the unlettered people, from the Children of Hazrat Ishmael.

So, the Prophet was primarily sent to the children of Ishmael. However, his advent was general for the entire world. Before the final Prophet (peace be upon him) came to the world, there was a rule of Allah that whenever He sent any messenger to any nation, and if its people, having been fully invited to the faith, disbelieved him, the entire nation had to suffer destruction. The people of Noah were destroyed according to the same rule. The nation of Saleh, the nation of Hud and the nation of Shoaib were destroyed. The people of Pharaoh were drowned as per the same rule.

However, when the final Prophet (peace be upon him) was specially sent to the Arabs, to the polytheistic Arabs and in the case of their disbelieving him, either Allah would have destroyed them by one torment or the other. But the believers were commanded to give the disbelievers respite for four months. If they believed within those four months, they would be forgiven, otherwise after the four months passed, the verse “kill them wherever you find them” had to be applied. This verse is one of the harshest verses of the Quran.

Allah says, “This is a declaration of disavowal by Allah and His Messenger to those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity and with whom you have made treaties” (9:1)

What was delivered in the previous lecture has come out more openly here. Now it is being said to the polytheists of the Arabia, "You may go about freely in the land, for four months, but know well that you will not be able to frustrate Allah, and that Allah will bring disgrace upon those who deny the Truth.” (9:2)

 “This is a public proclamation by Allah and His Messenger to all people on the day of the Great Pilgrimage: "Allah is free from all obligations to those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity; and so is His Messenger”

These verses were revealed in A.H.9, after the Prophet (peace be upon him) had sent Hazrat Abu Bakr to Makkah as leader of the pilgrims to the Kaaba. Then the companions requested the Prophet to send the message of these verses to Hazrat Abu Bakr so that he may proclaim it on the occasion of Hajj. The Prophet (peace be upon him) entrusted this duty to Hazrat Ali and instructed him to hasten with all speed to Makkah and to proclaim the new revelation there in the assembly of the pilgrims, Muslims and polytheists. 

Since the Arab custom demanded that a treaty be broken either by the contracting party – in this case the Prophet himself— or a near kinsman, Hazrat Ali was chosen to make the announcement of the repudiation as mentioned in the verses;

 “This is a public proclamation by Allah and His Messenger to all people on the day of the Great Pilgrimage: "Allah is free from all obligations to those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity; and so is His Messenger. If you repent, it shall be for your own good; but if you turn away, then know well that you will not be able to frustrate Allah. So give glad tidings of a painful chastisement to those who disbelieve. (9:3) In exception to those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity are those with whom you have made treaties and who have not violated their treaties nor have backed up anyone against you. Fulfil your treaties with them till the end of their term. Surely Allah loves the pious.” (9:3-4)

Meanwhile the polytheists with whom the Prophet had made unspecified treaty were given the respite of four months so that they may not blame for sudden repudiation of the treaty. Then there comes the severest verse on which the blood of the people boils. That verse is as follows;

  “But when the sacred months expire slay those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity wherever you find them; seize them, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them. But if they repent and establish the Prayer and pay Zakah, leave them alone. Surely Allah is All-Forgiving, Ever-Merciful.” (9:5)

After this warning and respite of four months was given to the Polytheists, some of them must have liked to know about the situation and the message of the Prophet (peace be upon him). So, Allah said to the Prophet, “And if any of those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity seeks asylum, grant him asylum that he may hear the Word of Allah, and then escort him to safety for they are a people who do not know. (9:6).

The Prophet and his companions were commanded to grant asylum to those polytheists who seek asylum so that they may hear the divine message. This verse does not mean that if such polytheists disbelieve even after hearing the divine message, they should be slain. On the contrary, the Prophet and his companions were commanded to escort such people to the place of safety because these are the people who are unaware.  

These are the harshest verses of the Holy Quran. It is worth noting that out of one hundred and fourteen Surahs of the Quran, it is the only Surah containing these verses, i.e. Surah Tawbah, which does not start with Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem (In the Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Most Beneficent). There are numerous opinions regarding the reason for this exception. According to a statement narrated by Hazrat Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) this Surah Tawbah was revealed for the reason of fighting with sword in hands. The Bismillah includes the names of Allah, Rahman (the Most Beneficent) and Raheem (The Most Merciful) whereas these verses refer to the revenge and wrath of Allah. Therefore, the Surah Tawbah does not begin with the (customary) Bismillah

But again, this should be noted that these verses were revealed in a particular context. Therefore, these verses are not permanent. They are not universal. They are not forever. The application of these verses was confined to the outward life of the Holy Prophet; which later came to an end. After that the usual rule is that if Muslims being in power and in the state of war attack any country, they will give you three options. First, if you believe, then you are our brother. You are equal to us. Then we will not say that we are senior and you are junior. No, you are equal to us. You are our brother in Islam. And what are its symbols? So they are Islam, prayer and Zakat. At least these are the three symbols. Well, if this is not acceptable to you, then stay with humility and pay the Jizyah, because the highest order will be that of Allah.

Allah says “Those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day - even though they were given the scriptures, and who do not hold as unlawful that which Allah and His Messenger have declared to be unlawful, and who do not follow the true religion - fight against them until they pay tribute (Jizya) out of their hand and are utterly subdued.” (9:29)

The Jews, Magians, Hindus, Iranians, Christians, all will be treated in the same manner. But if you agree to obey the rules, then you can live as a Hindu, a Jew, a Magian, or whatever you want. However, there is the condition that there will be the rule and sovereignty of Allah. He Almighty is the Ruler of the whole universe. Well, if this is not acceptable to you, then let the sword decide between you and us. It was not there in the battlefield that you must believe or you will be killed. This was only for the polytheists of the Arabs, for whom the Prophet was specially sent. A choice was also given that if you do not want to believe and avoid killing, then migrate from here.

So, after the conquest of Makkah, Ikrimah, the son of the staunchest opponent of Islam, Abu Jahal, migrated along with his companions in a ship towards Abyssinia at night. During their travel, they met with a severe storm. All the polytheists started calling the goddesses of Al-Uzza, Al-Lat, Manat, for help but the storm did not calm down. But when they called Allah for help, the storm calmed down. Thereupon all of them decided to come back to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and embraced Islam. Later on they showed great bravery in defending Islam.

So, these verses were specific for a particular context. It should be made clear to the common people. They are not permanent, nor forever or eternal. They were meant only for the polytheistic Arabs (of early seventh century Arabia) when the situation had reached its last stage where there was no other option left except for fighting. Now either they would be wiped out by a celestial calamity, or earthquake or something else. But Allah Almighty gave the option of fighting. And the fact is that not a single polytheist was killed. All of them embraced Islam, as the Quran says, “And you see people entering Allah’s religion in multitudes” (110:2). Some of the people who remained stubborn left the country.


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