9. Tauba


This Sura is known by two names AT-TAUBAH and AL-BARA'AT. It is called AT-TAUBAH because it enunciates the nature of taubah (repentance) and mentions the conditions of its acceptance.(vv. 102. 118). The second name BARA' AT (Release) is taken from the first word of the Sura. Why Omission of Bismillah

This is the only Sura of the Quran to which Bismillah is not prefixed. Though the commentators have given different reasons for this the correct one that which has been given by Imam Razi: namely this is because the Holy Prophet himself did not dictate it at the beginning of the Sura. Therefore the Companions did not prefix it and their successors followed them. This is a further proof of the fact that utmost care has been taken to keep the Qurّan intact so that it should remain in its complete and original form.

Discourses and Periods of Revelation

This Sura comprises three discourses The first discourse (vv. 1-37) was revealed in Zil-Qa'adah A. H. 9 or thereabout. As the importance of the subject of the discourse required its declaration on the occasion of Hajj the Holy Prophet despatched Hadrat Ali to follow Hadrat Abu Bakr who had already left for Makkah as leader of the Pilgrims to the Ka'abah. He instructed Hadrat Ali to deliver the discourse before the representatives of the different clans of Arabia so as to inform them of the new policy towards the mushriks. The second discourse (vv. 38-72) was sent down in Rajab A. H. 9 or a little before this when the Holy Prophet was engaged in making preparations for the Campaign of Tabuk. In this discourse the Believers were urged to take active part in jihad and the shirkers were severely rebuked for holding back their wealth and for hesitation to sacrifice their lives in the way of Allah because of their hypocrisy weak faith or negligence. The third discourse (vv. 73-I 29) was revealed on his return from the Campaign of Tabuk. There are some pieces in this discourse that were sent down on different occasions during the same period and were afterwards consolidated by the Holy Prophet into the Sura in accordance with inspiration from Allah. But this caused no interruption in its continuity because they dealt with the same subject and formed part of the same series of events. This discourse warns the hypocrites of their evil deeds and rebukes those Believers who had stayed behind in the Campaign of Tabuk. Then after taking them to task Allah pardons those true Believers who had not taken part in the Jihad in the Way of Allah for one reason or the other. Chronologically the first discourse should have come last; but being the most important of the three in regard to its subject-matter it was placed first in the order of compilation.

Historical Background

Now let us consider the historical background of the Sura. The series of events that have been discussed in this Sura took place after the Peace Treaty of Hudaibiyah. By that time one-third of Arabia had come under the sway of Islam which had established itself as a powerful well organized and civilized Islamic State. This Treaty afforded further opportunities to Islam to spread its influence in the comparatively peaceful atmosphere created by it. After this Treaty two events took place which led to very important results.

Conquest of Arabia

The first was the Conquest of Arabia. The Holy Prophet was able to send missions among different clans for the propagation of Islam. The result was that during the short period of two years it became such a great power that it made the old order of ignorance' feel helpless before it. So much so that the zealous elements from among the Quraish were so exasperated that they broke the Treaty in order to encounter Islam in a decisive combat. But the Holy Prophet took prompt action after the breach so as not to allow them any opportunity to gather enough force for this. He made a sudden invasion on Makkah in the month of Ramadan in A. H. 8 and conquered it. Though this conquest broke the backbone of the order of ignorance it made still another attack on Islam in the battle-field of Hunain which proved to be its death-knell. The clans of Hawazin Thaqif Naur Jushm and others gathered their entire forces in the battle field in order to crush the reformative Revolution but they utterly failed in their evil designs. The defeat of 'ignorance' at Hunain paved the way for making the whole of Arabia the 'Abode of Islam' (Dar-ul-Islam). The result was that hardly a year had Passed after the Battle of Hunain when the major portion of Arabia came within the fold of Islam and only a few upholders of the old order remained scattered over some corners of the country. The second event that contributed towards making Islam a formidable power was the Campaign of Tabuk which was necessitated by the provocative activities of the Christians living within or near the boundaries of the Roman Empire to the north of Arabia. Accordingly the Holy Prophet with an army of thirty thousand marched boldly towards the Roman Empire but the Romans evaded the encounter. The result was that the power of the Holy Prophet and Islam increased manifold and deputations from all corners of Arabia began to wait upon him on his return from Tabuk in order to offer their allegiance to Islam and obedience to him. The Holy Quran has described this triumph in Sura An-Nisa: "When the success of Allah came and victory was attained and you saw people entering the fold of Islam in large numbers...

Campaign to Tabuk

The Campaign to Tabuk was the result of conflict with the Roman Empire that had started even before the conquest of Makkah. One of the missions sent after the Treaty of Hudaibiyah to different parts of Arabia visited the clans which lived in the northern areas adjacent to Syria. The majority of these people were Christians who were under the influence of the Roman Empire. Contrary to all the principles of the commonly accepted international law they killed fifteen members of the delegation near a place known as Zat-u-Talah (or Zat-i-Itlah). Only Ka'ab bin Umair Ghifari the head of the delegation succeeded in escaping and reporting the sad incident. Besides this Shurahbll bin Amr the Christian governor of Busra who was directly under the Roman Caesar had also put to death Haritli bin Umair the ambassador of the Holy Prophet who had been sent to him on a similar minion. These events convinced the Holy Prophet that a strong action should be taken in order to make the territory adjacent to the Roman Empire safe and secure for the Muslims. Accordingly in the month of Jamadi-ul-Ula A. H. 8 he sent an army of three thousand towards the Syrian border. When this army reached near Ma'an the Muslims learnt that Shurahbil was marching with an army of one hundred thousand to fight-with them and that the Caesar who himself was at Hims had sent another army consisting of one hundred thousand soldiers under his brother Theodore. But in spite of such fearful news the brave small band of the Muslims marched on fearlessly and encountered the big army of Shurahbil at M'utah. And the result of the encounter in which the Muslirns were fighting against fearful odds (the ratio of the two armies was 1:33) as very favorable for the enemy utterly failed to defeat them. This proved very helpful for the propagation of Islam. As a result those Arabs who were living in a state of semi. independence in Syria and near Syria and the clans of Najd near Iraq who were under the influence of the Iranian Empire turned towards Islam and embraced it in thousands. For example the people of Bani Sulaim (whose chief was Abbas bin Mirdas Sulaimi) Ashja'a Ghatafan Zubyan Fazarah etc. came into the fold of Islam at the same time. Above all Farvah bin 'Amral Juzami who was the commander of the Arab armies of the Roman Empire embraced Islam during that time and underwent the trial of his Faith in a way that filled the whole territory with wonder. When the Caesar came to know that Farvah had embraced Islam he ordered that he should be arrested and brought to his court. Then the Caesar said to him You will have to choose one of the two things. Either give up your Islam and win your liberty and your former rank or remain a Muslim and face death. He calmly chose Islam and sacrificed his life in the way of the Truth. No wonder that such events as these made the Caesar realize the nature of the danger that was threatening his Empire from Arabia. Accordingly in 9 A. H. he began to make military preparations to avenge the insult he had suffered at M'utah. The Ghassanid and other Arab chiefs also began to muster armies under him. When the Holy Prophet who always kept himself well-informed even of the minutest things that could affect the Islamic Movement favorably or adversely came to know of these preparations he at once under- stood their meaning. Therefore without the least hesitation he decided to fight against the great power of the Caesar. He knew that the show of the slightest weakness would result in the utter failure of the Movement which was facing three great dangers at that time. First the dying power of 'ignorance' that had almost been crushed in the battle-field of Hunain might revive again. Secondly the Hypocrites of Al: Madinah who were always on the look-out for such an opportunity might make full use of this to do the greatest possible harm to it. For they had already made preparations for this and had through a monk c

Problems of the Period

If we keep in view the preceding background we can easily find out the problems that were confronting the Community at that time. They were: (1)to make the whole of Arabia a perfect Dar-ul-Islam (2)to extend the influence of Islam to the adjoining countries (3)to crush the mischiefs of the hypocrites and (4)to prepare the Muslims for Jihad against the non- Muslim world. Now that the administration of the whole of Arabia had come in the hands of the Believers and all the opposing powers had become helpless it was necessary to make a clear declaration of that policy which was to be adopted to make her a perfect Dar-ul-Islam Therefore the following measures were adopted. A clear declaration was made that all the treaties with the mushriks were abolished and the Muslims would be released from the treaty obligations with them after a respite of four months.(vv. 1-3). This declaration was necessary for uprooting completely the system of life based on shirk and to make Arabia exclusively the center of Islam so that it should not in any way interfere with the spirit of Islam nor become an internal danger for it. A decree was issued that the guardianship of the Kaabah which held central position in all the affairs of Arabia should be wrested from the mushriks and placed permanently in the hands of the Believers (vv. 12-18) that all the customs and practices of the shirk of the era of 'ignorance' should be forcibly abolished: that the mushriks should not be allowed even to come near the "House" (v. 28). This was to eradicate every trace of shirk from the "House" that was dedicated exclusively to the worship of Allah. The evil practice of Nasi by which they used to tamper with the sacred months in the days of 'ignorance' was forbidden as an act of kufr(v. 37). This was also to serve as an example to the Muslims for eradicating every vestige of the customs of ignorance from the life of Arabia (and afterwards from the lives of the Muslims everywhere). In order to enable the Muslims to extend the influence of Islam outside Arabia they were enjoined to crush with sword the non- Muslim powers and to force them to accept the sovereignty of the Islamic State. As the great Roman and Iranian Empires were the biggest hindrances in the way a conflict with them was inevitable. The object of Jihad was not to coerce them to accept Islam they were free to accept or not to accept it-but to prevent them from thrusting forcibly their deviations upon others and the coming generations. The Muslims were enjoined to tolerate their misguidance only to the extent that they might have the freedom to remain misguided if they chose to be so provided that they paid Jizyah(v. 29) as a sign of their subjugation to the Islamic State. The third important problem was to crush the mischiefs of the hypocrites who had hitherto been tolerated in spite of their flagrant crimes. Now that there was practically no pressure upon them from outside the Muslims were enjoined to treat them openly as disbelievers (v. 73). Accordingly the Holy Prophet set on fire the house of Swailim where the hypocrites used to gather for consultations in order to dissuade the people from joining the expedition to Tabuk. Likewise on his return from Tabuk he ordered to pull down and burn the 'Mosque' that had been built to serve as a cover for the hypocrites for hatching plots against the true Believers. In order to prepare the Muslims for Jihad against the whole non-Muslim world it was necessary to cure them even of that slight weakness of faith from which they were still suffering. For there could be no greater internal danger to the Islamic Community than the weakness of faith especially where it was going to engage itself single-handed in a' conflict with the whole non-Muslim world. That is why those people who had lagged behind in the Campaign to Tabuk or had shown the least negligence were severely taken to task and were considered as hypocrites if they had no plausible e