Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
How are you doing so far? What a challenge!
Yusuf Ali’s Translation of this Chapter.
Muhammad Asad’s Translation of this Chapter.
Their commentaries can only be read in verse by verse view.
PAGE 187: Click for Arabic Qur’an.
1. ‘Repentance,’ or ‘Tawba’ is the only Chapter in the Qur’an that does NOT start by the invocation, “In the ‘name of God, the Creator, the Unceasingly Compassionate ‘بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم’ The two reasons commonly offered for this omission are:
· Some commentators, seeing the very first verse in this Chapter as a REVOCATION from God and His Messenger of all treaties and agreements with Idolatrous Qureish, believe that such a chapter should not open with an invocation of compassion, as that would run contrary to the revocation, hence its omission.
· Others believe that this is NOT a new chapter, but is actually a continuation of Chapter 8, al Anfaal.
As Yusuf Ali tells us:
“This is the only Sura to which the the usual formula of Bismillah is not prefixed. It was the last among the Suras revealed, and though the Apostle had directed that it should follow Sura VIII, it was not clear whether it was to form a separate Sura or only a part of Sura VIII. It is now treated as a separate Sura but the word Bismillah is not prefixed to it, as there is no warrant for supposing that the Apostle used the ‘Bismillah’ before it in his recitation of the Qur-an.
As Muhammad Asad tells us:
“This undoubtedly deliberate omission is responsible for the view held by many Companions of the Prophet that At-Tawbah is in reality a continuation of Al-Anfal, and that the two together constitute one single surah (Zamakhshari), notwithstanding the fact that an interval of about seven years separates the revelation of the one from that of the other. Although there is no evidence that the Prophet himself ever made a statement to this effect (Razi), the inner relationship between At-Tawbah and Al-Anfal is unmistakable. Both are largely devoted to problems of war between the believers and the deniers of the truth; towards the end of Al-Anfal there is a mention of treaties and of the possibility that these treaties might be treacherously violated by the unbelievers - a theme that is continued and developed at the beginning of At-Tawbah; and both Al-Anfal and At-Tawbah dwell, in the main, on the moral distinction between the believers, on the one hand, and their enemies and ill-wishers, on the other.”
2. I am inclined towards the second opinion too, since God’s Compassion and Mercy indeed encompasses all, and these verses -when taken in context- are NOT a sweeping, indiscriminate revocation at all! As Readers can see, Verses 1-3 DO revoke previous treaties with the ‘Mushriks’ (those who Associate partners with God), giving them four months of reprieve, but THEN in Verse 4, the Believers are told that they should HONOR the treaties of any who had NOT failed in their obligations, and that God loves the Aware. This is what Ali calls, “..a cardinal feature of Muslim ethics.”
3. Then we notice the severity of verse 5 followed by the compassion of verse 6 and the Qur’anic command to upright treatment, in verse 7 which also ends with ‘God loves the Aware.’
As Asad says, “the above verse relates to warfare already in progress with people who have become guilty of a breach of treaty obligations and of aggression.”
NOTE: Despite all that, these are among the most famous ‘quoted out of context’ Qur’anic verses which people use to justify their so-called ‘Islamic’ actions or ‘Anti-Islamic’ reactions. Added to the absolute disregard to context, some have widened the label ‘Mushrik’ to include everyone whose faith is unlike theirs!
Adherence to Qur’anic linguistics AND context are crucial in our struggle for human advancement and lasting peace. No matter where we live- or what faith we belong to- we are all caught in the same ripple-effects as the world we share grows smaller day by day!
In other words: Understanding the Qur’an is to EVERYONE’S best interest.
PAGE 188: Click for Arabic Qur’an.
4. The contrast between Severity (verses 8-9-10) and Compassion (verse 11) continues, as these erstwhile enemies are given the chance to become “your brethren in Accountability!”
5. Verses 12 and 13 further describe the Mushriks of Qureish; it is interesting to note that the word ‘aymaan- أيمان’PLEDGES is mentioned 3 times in these two verses, related to their ‘breaking of pledges,’ which provides the main reason for the severity behind these verses. No one can trust a pledge-breaker!
We’ll conclude with another excerpt from Asad’s introduction to this Chapter:
“A very large part of At-Tawbah is connected with the conditions prevailing at Medina before the Prophet's expedition to Tabuk in the year 9 H., and the vacillating spirit displayed by some of his nominal followers. There is hardly any doubt that almost the whole of the surah was revealed shortly before, during and immediately after the campaign, and most of it at the time of the long march from Medina to Tabuk. (Regarding the reasons for this campaign, see notes 59 and 142.)
The title of the surah is based on the frequent references in it to the repentance (Tawbah) of the erring ones and to its acceptance by God. Some of the Companions called it Al-Bara'ah ("Disavowal") after the first word occurring in it; and Zamakhshari mentions also several other titles by which the surah was designated by the Prophet's Companions and their immediate successors.
At-Tawbah concludes the so-called "seven long surahs" (that is, the distinct, almost self-contained group of chapters beginning with Al-Baqarah and ending with the combination of Al-Anfal and At-Tawbah); and it is significant that some of the last verses of this group (namely, 9:124-127) return to the theme which dominates the early part of Al-Baqarah (2:6-20): the problem of "those in whose hearts is disease" and who cannot attain to faith because they are "bent on denying the truth" whenever it conflicts with their preconceived notions and their personal likes and dislikes: the perennial problem of people whom no spiritual message can convince because they do not want to grasp the truth (9:127), and who thereby "deceive none but themselves, and perceive it not"(2:9).”
Our next Reading is from HQ 9: 14-26.