Tag Archives: Quran 9:29

Tafsir On Quran 9:29 – Byzantine’s Tabuk

This article was originally published on the following website: discover-the-truth.com


The site Religion Of Peace (TROP), the founder is Glen Roberts – this notorious Christian missionary has written an article in response to our piece on Quran 9:29 which can be see here: “Answering Jihad: ‘Fight Against Those Who Do Not Believe’ – Quran 9:29” https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/03/28/answering-jihad-fight-against-those-who-do-not-believe-quran-929/

This missionary has been publishing anti-Muslim and Islam articles for many years pretending to be an “expert” on Islam. In reality he has no expertise in any field let alone when it comes to Islam. He is a fraud masquerading as an “expert”. The supposed article he wrote in response to ours – he made a lot of claims without evidence. Usually when a person does a rebuttal to another person, one would attach a URL link for people to read what the author is actually rebutting in order for readers to make their own conclusions. In an unusual turn Glen Roberts did not link our article for his viewers to read.

This article is in response to some of the claims he made. We will link Glen Roberts’ piece in reference section, so people can compare what we have written to his and make their own conclusions up on this matter. [1]

Glen Roberts begins by claiming that nowhere in the Quran is there any hint that the verse is referred to the Byzantine’s. He then goes on to say that the verse commanded early believers to fight people based on their belief alone as result of them following the Christian or Jewish faith. Then he makes the mistake as other missionaries do usually and writes:

“This is extremely important because the Quran is claimed by Muslims to be perfect and complete. Why would Allah neglect to mention an opposing army if it is critical to interpreting the passage? What’s worse is that instead of laying out the case for self-defense, Allah explicitly curses Jews and Christians in the next verse (9:30).”

There are a number of issues with this approach. The Christian missionary makes the same mistake as his other friends by saying the Quran is complete then there is no need for other outside Prophetic statements. The Quran is indeed complete. His misunderstanding, the verse of the Quran he refers to indirectly is in regards to Laws in the Quran. The Laws laid out in the Quran are very clear. This is how scholars have understood the verse he inferred. It has nothing to do with the verse we are speaking about. The Quran speaks about prayer and other ritualistic matters, but we don’t know how to carry them out in our day to day lives unless we approach the Hadith, the Prophetic statements on this.

Furthermore, Glen Roberts cherry picks what we can believe in and what we can’t. You do not have the authority to dictate what Muslims have believed in for 1400 years, and all of sudden claim that those outside sources of the Quran shouldn’t be relied on when it conveniently goes against your article.

The very same Quran tells us that the Prophet Muhammed (p) came to explain, elucidate and these are recorded in the Hadith:

“with manifest signs and with scriptures; and we have sent down the Reminder to thee too, that thou mayest EXPLAIN to men what has been sent down to them, and haply they may reflect.” – Quran 16:44 (Edward Henry Palmer Translation)

As for the claim to connect Surah 9:29 and verse 30 together, these two have no connections whatsoever. Let us explain: you should be aware that just because straight after 9:29 comes the cursing of a group of people who exalted Ezra that does not mean that the verses were revealed on the same occasion. For example, Surah 9:1 all the way to verse 24 was revealed in connection with the Quraysh polytheists, which was revealed over a year before surah 9:29 was revealed.

The discussion surrounding 9:29 and 9:30 refer to two completely different groups. While 9:29 was revealed on the occasion of Tabuk, that is in relation to Byzantine as one of the earliest scholar’s of Islam who met Muhammed’s companions report’s this to us. He very clearly states that this verse was revealed in relation to Tabuk, the Byzantine’s. Whereas S. 9:30 as the companions of Muhammed have said, the latter verse refers to a group of People who called Ezra the son of God in Madinah. Ibn Abbas (619 – 687 CE) the Prophet Muhammed’s companion states the following in relation to 9:30,

“Ibn Abbas states: Sallam b. Mishkam, Nu’man b. Abi awfa, shas b. Qays, and Malik al-sayf [Jews] came to the Prophet Muhammad (p) and said: ‘How can we follow you if you renounce that which came before you. You do not think that Ezra is the son of God?’ So Allah revealed to him the verse.” (Ezra (Uzayr) The ‘Son Of God’, online source, https://discover-the-truth.com/2015/01/01/ezra-uzayr-the-son-of-god/ )

Now compare the above with Mujahid Ibn Jabr (645 – 722 CE) who met the companions of Prophet Muhammed, he states in his exegesis for 9:29 that the verse was revealed in connection to the Byzantine’s. The Tabuk expedition more specifically:

“Mujahid Said: ‘This was when Muhammad (p) ordered his companions for Ghazwah Tabook.’
حين أمر محمدٌ وأصحابه بغزوة تبوك (Tafsir al-Tabari, on Surah 9:29, online source, http://quran.ksu.edu.sa/tafseer/tabary/sura9-aya29.html )

Many other classical scholars have said that Surah 9:29 was revealed in connection with Tabuk. Their names are, Hud b. Muhakkam Huwwariyy (9th century) [2], al-Tabari (838 – 923 CE) [3], Baghawi (1044 – 1122 AD), Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373 AD), Al-Zurqani (1645 – 1710 CE).

When we look at the two verses in a historical perspective readers would be aware that the two verses have no connection to each other when they were revealed. Each verse dealt with separate incident’s on two different occasions. Missionaries like Glen and others make frequent mistakes in matters of the Quran, this is as a result of them never studying Islam in basic level or in University. This is one of the reasons why scholars dedicate years to study and learn the science of revelation i.e., occasions or circumstances of revelation (Asbab al-Nuzul). The Quran is not like any other scripture. Many verses were revealed on different occasions and therefore it is important to know when and why each verse was revealed. Without extensive studies of this field one will make mistakes and make up claims that is in not line with historical understanding of the verse(s).

As for the claim:

“The most obvious problem with this argument is that verse 9:29 bluntly says to fight Jews and Christians on the basis of their religious belief. … The enemy is defined simply as those who “believe not in Allah” nor acknowledge the superiority of Islam.”

Scholar Zakaria Bashier (b. 1940), who obtained his BA and M.litt. in Philosophy from the Universities of Khartoum, Sudan and Durham, UK respectively, and his PhD on Islamic Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh, USA, he has written an interesting and in-depth piece on the Arabic words used for Surah 9:29 alone. He states that the fact that they were called “Christians” and “Jews” and (1) did not believe in God (atheists), (2) they do not believe in the day of Judgement and (3) non-practicing – based on the Arabic words used he concludes that the verse cannot refer to all Christians and Jews in Arabia, because the Quran unequivocally states elsewhere that there are Christians who are believers in God and the Last Day. The scholar concludes and says based on the Arabic words used in the verse, that it refers to a specific group only, not all Christians and Jews. For a detailed analysis on the words, please see the following article by Scholar Zakaria Bashier: “Revisiting Quran 9:29 – Tabuk” https://discover-the-truth.com/2014/11/02/revisiting-quran-929-tabuk/

Roberts then makes a more outlandish and deceptive claim:

“Given that there is no textual context for self-defense in Sura 9, the next problem for apologists is that the historical record is not terribly cooperative either, even from Muslim sources. In the first place, there is no independent confirmation that there was ever a military advance at Tabuk on Muhammad’s tribe. In other words, there is not a shred of historical evidence that a Byzantine army had been assembled at that time, much less that it was attacking Muslims.”

You asserted that there is no independent outside non-Muslim sources on Tabuk and surrounding events. You may be right here. You should remember that as a Christian you don’t have one shred of independent evidence to corroborate that Jesus existed outside the New Testament. Have you got a source which says Jesus existed and did the things described in the New Testament by any contemporary person that lived at the time Jesus was alive? You don’t. You base your beliefs of Jesus on sources from within Christianity. Same goes with Islam, we base our evidence on our sources which have been accepted and authentic in Islam for over a 1000 years.

If you’re going with this line of thinking, then be consistent with your approach and accept also that there is no independent contemporary evidence that Jesus existed outside of the New Testament. Thus, you should reject your Christian beliefs because as per your logic, there is no “independent” source outside your NT. You won’t do that. So all we are asking of you is at least use the same measurement of approach to our scripture as you do to your own. Don’t be one-sided and biased.

You then moved on and claimed that there is no historical evidence, not even from Muslim sources of an impending army. Did you skip the number of early reports we cited in the article which clearly state that the Byzantine’s were trying to attack the Muslim community? Or did you wilfully make this claim up in order to deliberately mislead your readers not to see those facts presented? Is this why you didn’t provide a direct link to our article for your readers to read?

Let’s present some of the earliest sources on the Byzantine army’s attempt to attack the Muslim community. The following report from Sahih Muslim and other sources tell us that Byzantine army had already been encamped at Tabuk. The Hadith clearly mentions that the Prophet and the Muslims had to “confront a large army” of the Byzantine’s:

“…this is my story of remaining back from Allah’s Messenger on the occasion of the Battle of TABUK. Never did I possess means enough and (my circumstances) more favourable than at the occasion of this expedition. And, by Allah, I had never before this expedition simultaneously in my possession two rides. Allah’s Messenger set out for this expedition in extremely hot season; the journey was long and the land (which he and his army had to cover) was waterless and HE HAD TO CONFRONT A LARGE ARMY, so he informed the Muslims about the actual situation (they had to face), so that they should adequately equip themselves for this expedition, and he also told them the destination where he intended to go. …” (Sahih Muslim Book 37, Hadith 6670)

Riyad as-Salihin:

“…this is the account of my staying behind from the battle of TABUK. I never had better means and more favourable circumstances than at the time of this expedition. And by Allah, I had never before possessed two riding-camels as I did during the time of this expedition. Whenever Messenger of Allah decided to go on a campaign, he would not disclose his real destination till the last moment (of departure). But on this expedition, he set out in extremely hot weather; the journey was long and the terrain was waterless desert; and HE HAD TO FACE A STRONG ARMY, so he informed the Muslims about the actual position so that they should make full preparation for the campaign.” (Riyad as-Salihin Book 1, Hadith 21)

Mishkat Al-Masabih:

“To Tabuk. God’s messenger undertook it in extreme heat, facing a long journey, desert country and A NUMEROUS ENEMY. He made clear to the Muslims what they were about to do in order that they might get ready the equipment for their expedition, telling them where he was going.” (Mishkat Al-Masabih – English Translation With Explanatory Notes [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Publishers, Lahore, Pakistan., 1991] by James Robson, D. Litt., D.D. (Emeritus Professor Of Arabic, The University of Manchester), volume II (Vol. 2), page 836 (Chapter V))

One of the earliest sources on the Tabuk expedition is by Ibn Sa’d (784-845 CE), in his Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir he furnishes us with much detail surrounding this event. He states that reports had reached Prophet Muhammed (p) that the Byzantine (Romans) had “concentrated large forces” and Heracluis had sent some his military to ‘Balqa’. This is when the Muhammed (p) “summoned” his companions to Tabuk:

“They (narrators) saud: It (report) reached the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him, that the ROMANS HAD CONCENTRATED LARGE FORCES IN SYRIA had, that Heraclius had disbursed one year’s salary to his soldiers, and that tribes of Lakhm, Judham, ‘Amilah and Ghassan had joined hands with him. THEY SENT HAD SENT THEIR VANGUARDS TO AL-BALQA. THE MESSENGER of Allah, SUMMONED THE PEOPLE TO MARCH. He set out and informed them about the place which he intended, so that they could make necessary preparations. He sent (messengers) to Makkah and to the tribes of Arabia (asking them) to send help. This took place in the days of intense heat.” (Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, [Translated by S. Moinul Haq (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 2009)], by Ibn Sa’d, volume 2, page 203-204)

This is also reported by the 9th Century historian Aḥmad Ibn Yaḥya al-Baladhuri (D. 892 CE), in his book ‘Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan’, he states in clear words that the Prophet (p) learned that the Byzantine army “had assembled against him”:

“Tabuk make terms. When in the year 9 AH the Prophet marched to TABUK in Syria for the invasion of those of the Greeks, Amilah, Lakhm, Judham and others WHOM HE LEARNT HAD ASSEMBLED AGAINST HIM, he met no resistance. So he spent a few days in Tabuk, whose inhabitants made terms with him agreeing to pay poll-tax.” (The origins of the Islamic State, being a translation from the Arabic accompanied with annotations Geographic and historic notes of the Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan of al-Imam Abu’l Abbas Ahmad Ibn Jabir Al Baladhuri, [Translated by Phillip Khurti Hitti, PHD, 1916], volume 1, page 92)

In the version that is narrated by Mu’jam Tabarani (873 – 918 CE), he states that Christians said it is a “appropriate time to attack the Arabs” (Muslims):

“The Battle Of Tabuk
Rajab 9 A. H.
On the authority of Imran Ibn Husayn that the Christian Arabs wrote to Hercules, the King Of Rome that Muhammad passed away and that the people were dying because of the drought that they were experiencing. It was therefore a very appropriate TIME TO ATTACK THE ARABS (MUSLIMS). Hercules immediately issued the order for preparations. A fully equipped army of 40 000 was prepared.” (Mu’jam az-Zawa’id, volume 6, page 191) (Siratul Mustafa [Translated by Maulana Mahomed Mahomedy – Madrasah Arabia Islamia and Zam Zam Publishers – Fifth Authorized Edition, 2015] by Hadrat Maulana Idris Sahib Kandehlawi, volume 3, page 96)

Muhammad al-Zurqani (1645 – 1710 CE) also reports the above accounts:

“It is related that the Prophet (p) received reports of the Byzantine military crossing on the northern frontiers of Arabia with the intend of MOUNTING AN ATTACK ON THE MUSLIMS. The Prophet was informed by some Nabataeans and others that Heraclius was stocking one year’s provisions for his army and drafting the pro-Byzantine tribes of Lakhm, Judham, Amla and GHASSAN under his banner, INTENDING TO COME UPON HIM and that his advance columns had already reached Balqa.” (A Commentary On Al-Mawahib, by Muhammad al-Zurqani,  volume 3, page 63 – 64)

It should be noted also that the Pro-Byzantine Ghassasnide (Ghassan) tribe which Ibn Sa’d and Zurqani already mentioned [4], few months before Tabuk expedition were attempting to attack the Muslim community. But the Muslims did not initiate any fighting. The Muslims only took action when the reports were confirmed as shown in the above accounts in relation to Tabuk expedition.

These are the sources that mention that Pro-Byzantine Ghassan tribe intended to attack. Sahih al-Bukhari reports:

“… I left her (and went home). At that time I had a friend from the Ansar who used to bring news (from the Prophet) in case of my absence, and I used to bring him the news if he was absent. In those days we were afraid of one of the kings of GHASSANID TRIBE. We heard that he INTENDED TO MOVE AND ATTACK US, so fear filled our hearts because of that. (One day) my Ansari friend unexpectedly knocked at my door, and said, “Open Open!’ I said, ‘Has the king of Ghassan come?’ He said, ‘No, but something worse; God’s Messenger has isolated himself from his wives.’ …” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 6, Book 60, Hadith 435. Eng. Tran., https://sunnah.com/urn/45900 )

Sahih Muslim:

“I had a friend from the Ansar. When I had been absent (from the company of the Prophet) he used to bring me the news and when he had been absent I used to bring him the news, and at that time we dreaded a KING OF GHASSAN. It was mentioned to us that he INTENDED TO ATTACK US, AND OUR MINDS WERE HAUNTED BY HIM. My friend, the Ansari, came to me, and he knocked at the door and said: Open it, open it. I said: Has the Ghassanid come? He said: (The matter is) more serious than that. The Messenger of Allah has separated himself from his wives. …” (Sahih Muslim Book 9, Hadith 3508. Eng Tran., https://sunnah.com/muslim/18/41 )

Jami at-Tirmidhi:

“‘My house was in Al-Awali among those of Banu Umayya, and I had a neighbour among the Ansar, and he and I would take turns visiting the Messenger of God.’ He said: ‘One day I would visit him and bring the news of the Revelation, and one day he would visit him and bring the same. We heard that GHASSAN WERE PREPARING THEIR HORSES TO ATTACK US. He said: ‘One day he came to me in the evening and knocked on my door, so I went out to him. He said: “A horrible thing has happened.” I said: “Ghassan has come?” He said: “Worse than that. The Messenger of God has divorced his wives.’ … “(Jami at-Tirmidhi volume 5, Book 44, Hadith 3318. Eng. Tran., Sahih Darussalam, https://sunnah.com/urn/680290)

Roberts also claims that the expedition was set out based on “rumours” and not factual evidence, then why did the Muslims few months before Tabuk expedition not set out against the pro-Byzantine the Ghassan tribe when the Muslims heard that they were advancing against them but the Muslims did not do anything but stayed, as shown in the above Hadith reports? For more information on the Ghassan incident see the following article please: “Byzantine’s, Tabuk Expedition And The Rumor Claim” https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/11/27/byzantines-tabuk-expedition-and-the-rumor-claim/

The fact of the matter is the Muslims only advanced months later when there was clear evidence of Byzantne’s impending army. Readers should also be aware that a year before this event the Ghasanide’s assassinated an envoy, a Messenger of Muhammed which led to the battle of Mut’ah: “The Battle Of Mu’tah (Mutah)” https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/03/21/the-battle-of-mutah-mutah/

So far, based on the earliest sources of Islam, we get a clear picture that the Byzantine’s did indeed concentrate large forces in order to overthrow and murder innocent Muslims.

Then author moves away this time claiming that what we used are “weak” sources:

“Even the more questionable sources do not say that there was a real army at Tabuk, just a possible rumor that one was being put together. [Apologists such as “Discover the Truth” routinely interchange reliable and weaker sources to make it appear that Muslims at Medina were in imminent danger at the time.”

Roberts, you claimed that we used weak sources, could you show us what exactly is weak? It should be noted to our respected readers that the critic did not present a single evidence to back his outlandish assertion that we used “weak sources”. A simple Google search would inform readers that Sahih Muslim, Sahih Bukhari, Riyad as-Salihin and other sources we quoted are some of the most authentic sources of Islam.

Glen Roberts then claims that we quoted events that occurred “after Tabuk”:

“They also alter the wording from the original verse and introduce events that occurred after Tabuk as if they preceded it].”

Here he infers on some of the earliest reports from classical scholars who say that Abu Amir along with Byzantine leader prepared to assassinate Prophet Muhammed and murder Muslims. He deceptively claims that this event occurred after Tabuk. The event you misrepresented and inferred to did not happen after Tabuk. In fact the very sources you claim to have read clearly state that this happened just before the Prophet set out to Tabuk expedition. The sources mention that the Byzantine leader along with Abu Amir attempted to murder the Prophet. The very sources you deliberately misrepresented and not show your readers mention this fact.

The 14th-century respected scholar Abu l-Fidaʾ Ismail Ibn Umar Ibn Kathir (1301-1373 CE), mentions that Abu Amir got the backing of Heraclius to launch an attack on the Muslim community, notice he states “Before Tabuk”:

“Masjid Ad-Dirar and Masjid At-Taqwa
The reason behind revealing these honorable Ayat is that before the Messenger of Allah migrated to Al-Madinah, there was a man from Al-Khazraj called “Abu `Amir Ar-Rahib (the Monk).” This man embraced Christianity before Islam and read the Scriptures. During the time of Jahiliyyah, Abu Amir was known for being a worshipper and being a notable person among Al-Khazraj. When the Messenger of Allah arrived at Al-Madinah after the Hijrah, the Muslims gathered around him and the word of Islam was triumphant on the day of Badr, causing Abu `Amir, the cursed one, to choke on his own saliva and announce his enmity to Islam. He fled from Al-Madinah to the idolators of Quraysh in Makkah to support them in the WAR AGAINST THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH. The Quraysh united their forces and the bedouins who joined them for the battle of Uhud, during which Allah tested the Muslims, but the good end is always for the pious and righteous people. The rebellious Abu Amir dug many holes in the ground between the two camps, into one of which the Messenger fell, injuring his face and breaking one of his right lower teeth. He also sustained a head injury. Before the fighting started, Abu Amir approached his people among the Ansar and tried to convince them to support and agree with him. When they recognized him, they said, “May Allah never burden an eye by seeing you, O Fasiq one, O enemy of Allah!” They cursed him and he went back declaring, “By Allah! Evil has touched my people after I left.” The Messenger of Allah called Abu Amir to Allah and recited the Qur’an to him before his flight to Makkah, but he refused to embrace Islam and REBELLED. The Messenger invoked Allah that Abu Amir die as an outcast in an alien land, and his invocation came true. After the battle of Uhud was finished, ABU AMIR realized that the Messenger’s call was still rising and gaining momentum, so HE WENT TO HERACLIUS, THE EMPEROR OF ROME, ASKING FOR HIS AID AGAINST THE PROPHET. HERACLIUS GAVE HIM PROMISES AND ABU AMIR REMAINED WITH HIM. He also wrote to several of his people in Al-Madinah, who embraced hypocrisy, promising and insinuating to them THAT HE WILL LEAD AN ARMY TO FIGHT THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH TO DEFEAT HIM AND HIS CALL. He ordered them to establish a stronghold where he could send his emissaries and to serve as an outpost when he joins them later on. These hypocrites built a Masjid next to the Masjid in Quba’, and they finished building it BEFORE the Messenger went to TABUK. They went to the Messenger inviting him to pray in their Masjid so that it would be a proof that the Messenger approved of their Masjid.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, last accessed 27th February 2017, http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1590&Itemid=64 )

 

The plan of assassinating Prophet Muhammed (p) was in preparation long before the Prophet (p) set out to Tabuk. Another classical source, Ibn Juzzay mentions that this group wanted to lure the Prophet (p) into the mosque (Masjid al-Dirar) as a way for them to kill him. He also states that this event happened before Tabuk expedition. So preparation was made to murder the Prophet at Taif battle, this occurred many months before the Tabuk incident.

Tafsir Ibn Juzayy (1321 – 1357 AD) writes:

“… (to create division between the muminun) They meant to separate the believers from the Mosque of Quba’. (and in readiness for those who previously made war on Allah and His Messenger ) i.e. waiting for the one WHO FIGHTS ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER. He was Abu ‘Amir ar-Rahib who the Messenger of Allah called a fasiq. He was one of the people of Madina. When the Messenger of Allah came to Madina, he FOUGHT with rejection and hyprocrisy, and then left for Makka and FORMED THE PARTIES OF THE IDOLATERS. When Makka was conquered, he went to Ta’if. When the people of TA’IF became Muslim, he went to SYRIA AND SOUGHT THE HELP OF CAESAR. He died there. The people of the Mosque of Harm said, “When Abu ‘Amir came to Madina, he prayed in this mosque.” “Before” indicates what he did with the Parties.” (Tafsir Ibn Juzayy, last accessed 27th February 2017, online source, https://bewley.virtualave.net/tawba4.html )

For details surrounding the Ta’if incident, what led to it please see the following article: “The Siege Of Ta’if (Taif)” https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/03/23/the-siege-of-taif-taif/

So it is quite clear from the above early sources that the Byzantine leader long with Abu Amir were attempting to assassinate Prophet Muhammed before the Tabuk expedition was undertaken.

Glen Roberts then goes on to assert:

“Ibn Kathir is one of Islam’s most respected historians, which even the apologists admit. He worked at a time when Islamic scholars were far less concerned about spin than fact. His research determined that the expedition to Tabuk was about loot and tribute to compensate for the loss of pilgrimage revenue.”

In fact he is either blatantly lying, deliberately misleading people or does not understand the verse and just interprets it how he feels like as a way of attacking Islam. The verse 9:28 was revealed in connection with Hunayn incident which took place long before the expedition of Tabuk. No doubt they were going to get compensated, but this has no connection in relation to the said incident under discussion. Surah 9:28 did not trigger off the Muslims to fight for mere money. What started the war as we have seen from early sources is the aggression and hostility from the Byzantine’s.

Roberts then goes on to conclude on Ibn Kathir’s quotation:

“The Muslims were not under attack when verses 9:29 and 9:123 were narrated.”

They did attempt to attack the Muslim community. Ibn Kathir himself showed that the Byzantine leader along with Abu Amir attempted to murder the Prophet before Tabuk expedition. Besides this, Ibn Sa’d and Kitab Futuh al Buldan and others who lived long before Ibn Kathir also confirm the account that the Byzantine’s assembled an army to attack the Muslim community.

It is interesting, on one hand he chooses to disparage and attack our classical scholars and earliest sources we quoted on this incident but when it suits him he quotes Ibn Kathir. You can’t have it both ways. Ibn Kathir himself says very clearly that the Byzantine’s were attempting to Murder Prophet Muhammed before the Tabuk expedition was undertaken, as the above reports cited clearly showed.

He continues:

“’Discover the Truth’ adds a few other embellishments to the story, such as claiming that the opposing army had fled (supported by neither Muslim nor independent accounts)”

The Muslim sources show that an army was there. This is confirmed in Sahih Muslim, Ibn Sa’d, Kitab Futuh al-Buldan and Al-Zurqani as shown earlier. How does that negate the fact that they fled? They left the area they wanted to engage in fighting. When the confirmed reports show that they were there but when Muslims arrived, they went away, how does that not support our position that they fled? You are clearly clinging to straws here.

Glen Roberts continues:

“and also that “no harm was inflicted on any Christian or Jews” once Muhammad arrived at Tabuk. This is what is called a bald-faced lie. Here is the actual account of what Muhammad did…”

Our statement that no Christian or Jew was attacked was in relation to those who did not engage in fighting. The very source you quote actually hints to us that there was a fight from both sides hence one person got killed:

“When they came out, the cavalry of the Prophet ENGAGED them, capturing Ukaydir and killing his brother.” (Ibn Kathir volume 4, page 21)

Readers should be aware Khalid was sent to get the leader Ukaydir Ibn Abd al-Malik to the Prophet. Unfortunately the leader did not want to come and instead, it seems he engaged in war against Khalid. In which it resulted in a death of one person. Khalid was not sent to fight but rather to bring the leader Ukaydir to the Prophet and sort things out in words. If the critic claims that he was sent out to kill, then he needs to answer as to why others weren’t killed? Why was only one person harmed, but the rest were brought to the Prophet (p) and set free? Sunan Abi Dawud reports:

“Narrated Anas ibn Malik ; Uthman ibn Abu Sulayman: The Prophet sent Khalid ibn al-Walid to Ukaydir of Dumah. He was seized and they brought him to him (i.e. the Prophet). He SPARED HIS LIFE AND MADE PEACE WITH HIM on condition that he should pay jizyah (poll-tax). (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 19, Hadith 3031. Eng. Tran., Hasan Al-Albani, https://sunnah.com/abudawud/20/110 )

He concludes on this incident by saying:

“So there’s that. A Christian family going about their business is ruthlessly attacked and robbed on Muhammad’s order. At least one member is killed and the others save their lives. …”

Glen Roberts makes it out as if these people are a normal, law abiding family who have done nothing wrong other than look after their animals. This picture that is portrayed here is typical among missionaries to make the perpetrators that have done wrong as victims whilst Muhammed (p) defending himself and the community as the bad ones. Let’s explain why this picture is not in harmony with the historical sources we have available.

Some might ask what reason was there for Prophet Muhammed to send out Khalid to get Ukaydir Ibn Abd al-Malik? The leader of that region along with his people were on the side and pledged allegiance to the Byzantine’s. Hence, when the expedition of Tabuk was undertaken, these people were on the side of the Byzantine’s. They knew that the Byzantine’s were going to engage in warfare against the Muslim community but still pledged allegiance and supported them. Scholar Shaykh Allamah Shibli Nomani (1857 – 1914 CE) explains:

“Dumat al-Jandal (also pronounced as Daumat al-Jandal), which is five stages from Damascus, there was an Arab chief, UKAIDIR BY NAME, WHO OWED ALLEGIANCE TO THE ROMAN EMPEROR. Khalid Ibn Walid was despatched with four hundred and twenty men to subdue him. Khalid made captive, and later on released him on condition that he would personally appear before the Prophet (p) to settle terms. Accordingly, he arrived accompanied by his brother and was promised protection.” (Sirat -un- Nabi [Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam] by Shaykh Allamah Shibli Nomani, volume 2, page 238)

The people of that area and their leader of Dumat al-Jandal who was Ukaydir, before the Tabuk expedition took place they engaged in hostility and attempted to attack the Muslim community in Madinah as a number of sources confirm this. Kitab al-tabaqat al-Kabir – Ibn sa’d (784 – 845 CE):

“Then (occurred) the Ghazwah of the Apostle of Allah, to Dumat al-Jandal … They (narrators) said: (The news) reached the Apostle of Allah, that a large number of men had assembled at DUMAT AL-JANDAL and that they treated cruelly the camel-riders when they passed by them, and INTENDED TO ATTACK AL-MADINAH.” (Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, [Translated by S. Moinul Haq (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 2009)], by Ibn Sa’d, volume 2, page 76)

This is also reported by Abu Ja’far Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari (838-923 CE):

“In this year he mounted an expedition against Dumat al-Jandal in the month of Rabi’i. The reason for it was that word reached the Messenger of God that a host had ASSEMBLED THERE AND HAD APPROACHED HIS TERRITORIES…” (The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam: Muhammad at Medina (“Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l-Muluk”) – [Translated by Michael Fishbein – State University of New York Press, 1997], volume VIII (8), page 4 – 5)

It was in the interest of the Muslims to make a peace treaty with this group and to make sure they stop their hostilities against the Muslim community. In which after Khalid’s incident they agreed.

As for his claim,

“agreeing to pay jizya (ie. extortion)…”

Jizya was never “extortion” as the deceptive of an “expert” claims. What was Jizya? In modern times we would understand this as a tax that was used to pay for hospitals, schools, military defence of the country, helping the poor and needy. This tax (Jizyah) was needed for the Government to function, and adequate care for its citizens be met. The claim that the author seems to push that ‘Jizya’ was oppressive is only found by those who are pushing a certain agenda to paint Islam negatively. In fact, the same tax that was levied on non-Muslims was also imposed on to Muslims, called Zakat. It was compulsory for the Muslims to pay this as a way for the poor and needy Muslim and non-Muslim be fed and clothed. Odd that he conveniently leaves that out to his readers.

There is a remarkable story of the second Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab (586 – 644 CE, online source https://www.britannica.com/biography/Umar-I ). He was passing along a house when saw an old, blind man begging. Umar immediately touched the old man and asked him, whether he was a Christian or a Jew, the man said that he was from the Jewish faith. The old blind man then further told him that he begged in the day so he could provide himself the daily needs, for his food and pay the Jizya yearly. Umar Ibn Khattab upon hearing this story immediately summoned his people to feed him and allowed the man to longer pay any Jizya:

“To which of the people of the Book do you belong? I am a Jew, responded the blind man. Umar took him by the hand, led him to his own house, GAVE HIM SOMETHING FROM IT (i.e., food) and then sent him to the keeper of the treasure with this message, ‘See to this man and his like, for we have not done right if we devour their youth and neglect their old age. The religious tax is for the poor and needy. The poor are the Muslims; this man is one of the needy of the people of the Book (Christians and Jews). HE FREED THE MAN FROM THE OBLIGATION TO PAY THE JIZYAH.“ (Kitab al-Kharaj, by Abu Yusuf Yaqub (d. 798), page 71)

As Roberts was unable to find any credible evidence that concretely agrees with his claims on Q. 9:29, he then concludes by saying Islam spread to every community to Spain, and to the Indian sub-continent after Prophet Muhammed’s death by his companions. Therefore his assertions on Sura 9:29 is correct. This line of claims are not credible nor in accord with history. No doubt Islam spread to many of the places you mentioned, but you’re leaving out a major factor and that is, many of these countries did not allow Muslims to spread the religion of Islam freely with words and were very oppressive. Missionary activities were forbidden. Hence there was a suppression by the leaders at the time. These lands, their leaders were very oppressive. Hence, it led those countries being conquered. Nobody denies the fact that those countries were conquered.

To prove that conquering was based on there being no freedom of religion is the case of Abyssinia. Abyssinia allowed Muslims to practice their religion freely. To preach openly about their religion without there being suppression or any hostility. The Prophet nor any of the companions attacked Abyssinia. Nor did they pay any Jizya because the leader was faithful and a righteous Christian man who did not oppress Muslims. Where there was freedom for the Muslim community, the Prophet’s companions never initiated war against them. This is a historical fact. The Prophet’s statement on this matter confirms this:

Leave the Abyssinians alone, so long as they do not take the offensive (leave you at peace).
Transliteration: utruk al-habasha ma tarkukum.” (Al Sirah al Halabiyah, volume 3, page 294)

Sunan an-Nasa’i:

“The Messenger of Allah said at that point “Leave the Ethiopians alone so long as they leave you alone, and leave the Turks alone so long as they leave you alone.’” (Sunan an-Nasa’i volume 1, Book 25, Hadith 3178. Eng. Tran., Hasan Darussalam, https://www.sunnah.com/nasai/25/92 )

Sunan Abi Dawud:

“(1594) Chapter: Prohibition Of Agitating The Turks And Abyssinians
“Narrated from Abi Sukainah One of the Companions: The Prophet said: Let (leave) the Abyssinians alone as long as they let you alone, and let the Turks alone as long as they leave you alone.” (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 38, Hadith 4288. Eng. Tran., Hasan Al-Albani, https://www.sunnah.com/abudawud/39/12 )

The relationship between Abyssinia and the early Muslim government is an excellent example for rebutting the claims that have been made by Glen Roberts.

The mission of Prophet Muhammed’s entire life was always to spread the message of Islam and stand up for justice. And he only fought those who oppressed people, as the following prayer (Du’a) of the Prophet (p) demonstrates:

“(O Allah, apportion to us such fear as should serve as a barrier between us and acts of disobedience; and such obedience as will take us to Your Jannah; and such as will make easy for us to bear in the calamities of this world. O Allah! let us enjoy our hearing, our sight and our power as long as You keep us alive and make our heirs from our own offspring, and make our REVENGE RESTRICTED TO THOSE WHO OPPRESS US, and SUPPORT US AGAINST THOSE WHO ARE HOSTILE TO US let no misfortune afflict our Deen; let not worldly affairs be our principal concern, or the ultimate limit of our knowledge, and let not those rule over us who do not show mercy to us).” (Riyad as-Salihin Book 5, Hadith 834 Eng. Tran., https://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/5/21 )

Conclusion,

The claims being made against our article on 9:29 does not hold any weight when we examined them. The assertion of Glen Roberts that Surah 9:29 has no connection to Tabuk was not true. The earliest evidence shows that Sura 9:29 was revealed on the occasion of Tabuk is from Mujahid Ibn Jabr [5], a scholar who met the companions of Prophet Muhammed (p) as we showed earlier. Furthermore, the Arabic words used and the earliest historical sources showed that 9:29 was revealed on occasion to the Tabuk expedition. The verse targeted and referred to a specific group of people. In which we found that the Byzantine’s alongside other tribes formed an alliance to attack and murder Muslims. Therefore, the claims being made to discredit our article was nothing more than a deceptive piece to deliberately mislead innocent readers. This article thoroughly showed that Glen Roberts claims made on Sura 9:29 were untenable and thus should be rejected by sane light-minded people. [6]

Sadly the author of the article from TROP has a lot in common extremists right-wingers. They have created this atmosphere, a world of “us” vs “them” mentality, which contributes nothing more than hate and destruction in the world. The only way to win against these extremist bigots on all sides is to give the true message of scripture and bring communities together for a better and peaceful world.

Don’t forget to follow Discover The Truth on Facebook and Twitter. PLEASE help spread the word by sharing our articles on your favourite social networks.

Related articles:

(1) – “Social Conditions: Christians And Jews In Early Period Of Islam” https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/06/22/social-conditions-christians-and-jews-in-early-period-of-islam/

(2) – “The Relationship Of The Muslim With Non-Muslims” https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/02/12/the-relationship-of-the-muslim-with-non-muslims/

(3) – “Most Misinterpreted Verses Of The Quran?” https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/05/27/most-misinterpreted-verses-of-the-quran/

(4) – “The Hadith ‘…Fight Until They Say There Is No god But Allah’ Explained” https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/12/25/the-hadith-fight-until-they-say-there-is-no-god-but-allah-explained/

(5) – “Early Expeditions And Battles Of Islam” https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/03/25/early-expeditions-and-battles-of-islam/

(6) – “The Truth About Jizyah” https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/06/10/the-truth-about-jizyah/

References:

[1] This is the article that was written by Glen Roberts: “The Myth: Muhammad was Attacked by a Byzantine Army: The Tabuk Expedition and Verse 9:29” (Last accessed 28th February 2017 (*)), https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/muhammad/byzantine-9-29.aspx
[2] The 9th century scholar Hud b. Muhakkam Hawwari states that Surah 9:29 was revealed as a result of Tabuk, his statement is reported in the book, “Striving in the Path of God: Jihad and Martyrdom in Islamic Thought” by Asma Afsaruddin, page 75 – 76
[3] A summary on 9:29 from At-Tabari (838 – 923 CE):
“عَنْ مُجَاهِدٍ قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ لا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلا بِالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ… حِينَ أُمِرَ مُحَمَّدٌ وَأَصْحَابُهُ بِغَزْوَةِ تَبُوكَ
Mujahid reported concerning the verse, “Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day…” that it was revealed when Muhammad and his companions were commanded with the expedition of Tabuk. The expedition of Tabuk was preceded by the battle of Mu’tah which began when the emissary of the Prophet was assassinated while delivering a letter to a Roman ally. (Tafseer At-Tabari 9:29 Online source, http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=1&tTafsirNo=1&tSoraNo=1&tAyahNo=1&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=1 )
[4] The New Encyclopedia of Islam – Cyril Glasse on the Ghassan tribe:
“Ghassanis. A South Arabian tribe, the Banu Ghassan, who migrated to Syria from the Yemen between the 3rd and 4th century AD and settled in the region of Damascus. Many of them became monophysite Christians. Their leaders were accorded a Phylarcate, or status of vassal kingdom, under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (527 – 569). The Ghassanis protected the southern flank of the Byzantine Empire.” (The New Encyclopedia of Islam – Revised Edition Of The Concise Encyclopedia Of Islam [Introduction by Professor Huston Smith – Altamira Press – Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, INC, 2002], by Cyril Glasse, page 154)
[5] Mujahid Ibn Jabr (645-722 AD) clearly states in his exegesis that Surah 9:29 was revealed as a result of Tabuk expedition:
“Mujahid Said: ‘This was when Muhammad (p) ordered his companions for Ghazwah Tabook.’
حين أمر محمدٌ وأصحابه بغزوة تبوك (Tafsir al-Tabari, on Surah 9:29, online source, http://quran.ksu.edu.sa/tafseer/tabary/sura9-aya29.html )
[6] In Sahih al-Bukhari the Prophet (p) is reported to have said that he will not sit down while the enemy is out there trying to persecute him or his community:
“I saw the Messenger of God, on the day of the battle with the confederates while he was carrying so much earth for the trench that his abdomen was covered. The Prophet was saying, “O God, had you not guided us, we would not have given charity nor prayed. Send tranquility upon us and make our stance firm if we encounter the enemy. Verily, THEY WERE THE FIRST TO TRANSGRESS AGAINST US. IF THEY INTEND PERSECUTION, THEN WE HAVE REFUSED.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 9, Book 90, Hadith 34, Arabic Tran.)

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Quran 9:29, Tabuk, Jizyah

Surah 9:29 has been misunderstood and abused a lot by critics who have no knowledge why the verse was revealed. When was it revealed and for who? Historically speaking, we are certain with the evidences that this verse was revealed concerning the Tabuk expedition. We argued extensively in previous articles, which can be seen here, here and here, that the verse was revealed in relation too one group of people who were hell bent on destroying Islam and Muslims, 1400 years ago. The Byzantine’s intention were of mounting an attack on the Muslims.

This particular group as we showed, were preparing their troops to attack the Muslim community. Reports had reached Prophet Muhammed (p) that the army had reached southwards and were in Balqa. With this, the Prophet (p) and his companions (Sahaba) prepared to engage the enemy head on. The following new report illustrates the threat posed by the Byzantines, 1400 years ago:

“What was the genesis of this expedition? It is related that the Apostle got reports of Byzantine forces converging on the northern frontiers of Arabia with the intention of MOUNTING AN ATTACK ON THE MUSLIMS. … the Apostle was informed by the Nabataeans that Heraclius was, after stocking one year’s provisions for his army and drafting the pro-Byzantine tribes of the Lakhm, Judham, Amla and Ghassan under his banner, INTENDING TO COME UPON and that his advance columns had already reached Balqa.” (Al-Zurqani, commentary on Al-Mawahib, volume 3, page 63 – 64) [1]

Don’t forget to follow Discover The Truth on Facebook and Twitter. PLEASE help spread the word by sharing our articles on your favourite social networks.

Reference:

[1] Muhammad Rasulullah: The Apostle Of Mercy, [Translated by Mohiudin Ahmad, Academy of Islamic Research And Publications, Lucknow (India) – Series No. 126 – Edition English 2nd Lucknow, 1982]S. Abul Hasan Ali, page 349

Related Articles:

The Truth About Jizyah

Social Conditions: Christians And Jews In Early Period Of Islam

Examining Quran 9:29 – Does Islam sanction the killing of Christians and Jews?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Kaleef K. Karim

The answer is no! This verse (Q. 9:29) is by far the most problematic I have come across when reading the Quran. I say it’s ‘problematic’ because this verse is the only one that I know of which does not give context. When looking at any other verses in the Quran, reading the verses before and after have always happened to give an explanation. However, this passage (Q. 9:29) does not. Let’s read it below:

Quran 9:29 Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

Islamophobes happen to always come across this verse, and show it to people who know little about Islam. They give the impression that Islam sanctions the killing of Jews and Christians at all times. It is important to always get info from the most authentic sources i.e., by reading and collecting information from Muslims, rather than Islamophobes, since their job is to bash Islam and Muslims. For example, would someone go to a Nazi to learn about Judaism – or would you do so to a better source such as a Jew who practices their religion on a daily basis? The answer would be obvious, is that you would learn from a Jewish person about Judaism. Upon commenting on this particular verse, one of the staunchest critics of Islam, Reverend E.M. Wherry, writes:

Vers. 29-128 refer to the events connected with the expedition to Tabuq, which occurred in Rajab of A.H. 9. They were not, however, all enunciated at one time, but partly before the expedition, partly on the march, and partly after the return. Vers. 29-35 may be referred to the time of arrival at Tabuq, when the Christian prince, John of Aylah, tendered his submission to Muhammad, paying tribute (Jazya). [1]

When reading this passage in its historical context, it is clear that it was sent down by God to Prophet Muhammad (p) to fight against the Byzantine (Roman) empire, who mobilised troops in order to attack the Muslims. In one of our authentic early Islamic sources, ‘Sahih Muslim’, it says:

He (Hadrat ‘Umar further) said: I had a companion from the Ansar and, we used to remain in the company of the Messenger (ﷺ) turn by turn. He remained there for a day while I remained there on the other day, and he brought me the news about the revelation and other (matter), and I brought him (the news) like this. And we discussed that the Ghassanids were shoeing the horses in order to attack us. Id y companion once attended (the Apostle). And then came to me at night and knocked at my door and called me, and I came out to him, and he said: A matter of great importance has happened. I said: What is that? Have the Ghassanids come? He said: No, but even more serious and more significant than that: the Prophet (ﷺ) has divorced his wives. [2]

From the above narration, there is clear evidence that the Muslims were informed of an impending invasion by the Ghassanids, who were part of the Byzantine Empire. Additionally, Ibn Sa’d in his book Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir writes:

“They (narrators) saud: It (report) reached the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him, that the Romans had concentrated large forces in Syria, that Heraclius had disbursed one year’s salary to his soldiers, and that tribes of Lakhm, Judham, ‘Amilah and Ghassan had joined hands with him. They had sent their vanguards to al-Balqa. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him, summoned the people to march. He set out and informed them about the place which he intended, so that they could make necessary preparations. He sent (messengers) to Makkah and to the tribes of Arabia (asking them) to send help. This took place in the days of intense heat.” [3]

Again, we see clear evidence that it was the Byzantine (Roman) empire who started this war. What does one expect the Messenger Muhammad (p) to do? Sit back and do nothing while Muslim lives were going to get slaughtered? Of course, he had done the right thing, assembling the Muslim community to go out and fight against these aggressors. In another early Islamic source, Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan, written by the eminent 9th Century Imam, Aḥmad Ibn Yaḥyā al-Balādhurī, the author says:

“Tabuk make terms. When in the year 9 AH the Prophet marched to Tabuk in Syria for the invasion of those of the Greeks, Amilah, Lakhm, Judham and others whom he learnt had assembled against him, he met no resistance. So he spent a few days in Tabuk, whose inhabitants made terms with him agreeing to pay poll-tax.” [4]

So far, as we have read early Islamic sources, when one reads the passage (9:29) in its historical perspective, it is a fact that the Byzantines (Romans) were the ones who intended to wage war with the Muslims. Saifur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri in his work of Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar) writes:

The invasion and the conquest of Makkah was considered a decisive one between the truth and the error. As a result of which, the Arabs had no more doubt in Muhammad’s mission. Thus we see that things went contrary to the pagans’ expectations. People started to embrace Islam, the religion of Allah in great numbers. This is manifested clearly in the chapter. The delegations, of this book. It can also be deduced out of the enormous number of people who shared in the Hajjatul-Wad⦣145; (Farewell Pilgrimage). All domestic troubles came to an end. Muslims, eventually felt at ease and started setting up the teachings of All Laws and intensifying the Call to Islam.

THE UNDERLYING REASONS

The Byzantine power, which was considered the greatest military force on earth at that time, showed an unjustifiable opposition towards Muslims. As we have already mentioned, their opposition started at killing the ambassador of the Messenger of Allah [pbuh], Al-Harith bin, Umair Al-Azdi, by Sharhabeel bin, Amr Al-Ghassani. The ambassador was then carrying a message from the Prophet [pbuh] to the ruler of Busra. We have also stated that the Prophet consequently dispatched a brigade under the command of Zaid bin Haritha, who had a fierce fight against the Byzantines at Mu’tah. Although Muslim forces could not have revenge on those haughty over proud tyrants, the confrontation itself had a great impression on the Arabs, all over Arabia.
Caesar, who could neither ignore the great benefit that Mu’tah Battle had brought to Muslims, nor could he disregard the Arab tribes’ expectations of independence, and their hopes of getting free from his influence and reign, nor he could ignore their alliance to the Muslims, realizing all that, Caesar was aware of the progressive danger threatening his borders, especially Ash-Sham-fronts which were neighbouring Arab lands. So he concluded that demolition of the Muslims power had grown an urgent necessity. This decision of his should, in his opinion, be achieved before the Muslims become too powerful to conquer, and raise troubles and unrest in the adjacent Arab territories.
To meet these exigencies, Caesar mustered a huge army of the Byzantines and pro-Roman Ghassanide tribes to launch a decisive bloody battle against the Muslims.

GENERAL NEWS ABOUT THE BYZANTINES AND GHASSANIDE PREPARATIONS FOR WAR

No sooner news about the Byzantine’s preparations for a decisive invasion against Muslims reached Madinah than fear spread among them. They started to envisage the Byzantine invasion in the least sound they could hear. This could be clearly worked out of what had happened to, Umar bin Al-Khattab one day.
The Prophet [pbuh] had taken an oath to stay off his wives for a month in the ninth year of Al-Hijra. Therefore, he deserted them and kept off in a private place. At the beginning, the Companions of the Messenger of Allah were puzzled and could not work out the reason for such behaviour. They thought the Prophet [pbuh] had divorced them and that was why he was grieved, disturbed and upset. In Umar’s version of the very story he says: “I used to have a Helper friend who often informed me about what happened if I weren’t present, and in return I always informed him of what had taken place during his absence. They both lived in the high part of Madinah. Both of them used to call at the Prophet alternatively during that time of suspense. Then one day I heard my friend, knock at the door saying: “Open up! Open up!” I asked wondering, “What’s the matter? Has the Ghassanide come?” “No it is more serious than that. The Messenger of Allah [pbuh] has deserted his wives.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 2/730]
In another version, Umar said, “We talked about Ghassanide preparations to invade us. When it was his turn to convey the news to me, he went down and returned in the evening. He knocked at the door violently and said Is he sleeping?’ I was terrified but I went out to meet him. Something serious had taken place.’ He said. Has the Ghassaindes arrived?’ I Said ‘No,’ he said, it is greater and more serious. The Messenger of Allah [pbuh] has divorced his wives.’” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 1/334]
This state of too much alertness manifests clearly the seriousness of the situation that Muslims began to experience. The seriousness of the situation was confirmed to a large degree by the hypocrites’ behaviour, when news about the Byzantines’ preparations reached Madinah. The fact that the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] won all the battles he fought, and that no power on earth could make him terrified, and that he had always proved to be able to overcome all the obstacles that stood in his way – did not prevent the hypocrites, who concealed evil in their hearts, from expecting an affliction to fall upon the Muslims and Islam….

PARTICULAR NEWS ABOUT THE BYZANTINE AND GHASSANIDE PREPARATIONS FOR WAR

A magnified image of the prominent danger threatening the Muslims life was carried to them by the Nabateans who brought oil from Ash-Sham to Madinah. They carried news about Heraclius’ preparations and equipment of an enormous army counting over forty thousand fighters besides Lukham, Judham and other tribes allied to the Byzantines. They said that its vanguard had already reached Al-Balq. Thus was the grave situation standing in ambush for the Muslims. The general situation was aggravated seriously by other adverse factors of too much hot weather, drought and the rough and rugged distance they had to cover in case they decided to encounter the imminent danger.
The Messenger of Allah [pbuh] concept and estimation of the situation and its development was more precise and accurate than all others. He thought that if he tarried or dealt passively with the situation in such a way that might enable the Byzantines to paddle through the Islamic controlled provinces or to go as far as Madinah, this would, amid these circumstances, leave the most awful impression on Islam as well as on the Muslims’ military credibility.
The pre-Islamic beliefs and traditions (Al-Jahiliyah) which were at that time dying because of the strong decisive blow that they had already had at Hunain, could have had a way to come back to life once again in such an environment. The hypocrites who were conspiring against the Muslims so that they might stab them in the back whereas Byzantines would attack them from the front. If such a thing came to light and they succeeded in their evil attempts, the Prophet and his Companions’ efforts to spread Islam would collapse and their profits which were the consequences of successive and constant fights and invasions would be invalidated. The Messenger of Allah [pbuh] realised all that very well. So in spite of the hardships and drought that Muslims were suffering from the Prophet [pbuh] was determined that the Muslims should invade the Byzantines and fight a decisive battle at their own borders. He was determined not to tarry at all in order to thwart any Roman attempt to approach the land of Islam.
When the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] had made up his mind and took his final decision, he ordered his Companions to get ready for war and sent for the Makkans and the other Arab tribes asking for their assistance.
Contrary to his habit of concealing his real intention of the invasion by means of declaring a false one, he announced openly his intention of meeting the Byzantines and fighting them. He cleared the situation to his people so that they would get ready, and urged them to fight in the way of Allah. On this occasion a part of Surat Bara’a (Chapter 9 The Repentance) was sent down by Allah urging them to steadfastness and stamina.
On the other hand, the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] cherished them to pay charities and to spend the best of their fortunes in the way of Allah.
No sooner had the Muslims heard the voice of the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] calling them to fight the Byzantines than they rushed to comply with his orders. With great speed they started getting ready for war. Tribes and phratries from here and there began pouring in Madinah. Almost all the Muslims responded positively. Only those who had weakness at their hearts favoured to stay behind. They were only three people. Even the needy and the poor who could not afford a ride came to the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] asking for one so that they would be able to share in the fight against the Byzantines. But when he said:
“…I can find no mounts for you’ they turned back while their eyes overflowing with tears of grief that they could not find anything to spend (for Jihad).” [Al-Qur’an 9:92]
The Muslims raced to spend out money and to pay charities to provide this invasion. Uthman, for instance, who had already rigged two hundred, saddled camels to travel to Ash-Sham, presented them all with two hundred ounces (of gold) as charity. He also fetched a thousand dinars and cast them all into the lap of the Messenger of Allah[pbuh], who turned them over and said: “From this day on nothing will harm Uthman regardless of what he does.” [Jami’ At-Tirmidhi 2/211 (The virtues of ‘Uthman)] Again and again Uthman gave till his charity toped to nine hundred camels and a hundred horses, besides the money he paid.
Abdur Rahman bin Awf, on his side, paid two hundred silver ounces, whereas Abu Bakr paid the whole money he had and left nothing but Allah and His Messenger as a fortune for his family. Umar paid half his fortune. Abbas gifted a lot of money. Talhah, Sa’d bin Ubadah and Muhammad bin Maslamah, gave money for the welfare of the invasion. Asim bin Adi, on his turn, offered ninety camel-burdens of dates. People raced to pay little and much charities alike. One of them gave the only half bushel (or the only bushel) he owned. Women shared in this competition by giving the things they owned; such as musk, armlets, anklets, ear-rings and rings. No one abstained from spending out money, or was too mean to grant money or anything except the hypocrites:
“Those who defame such of the believers who give charity (in Allah’s cause) voluntarily, and those who could not find to give charity (in Allah’s cause) except what is available to them, so they mock at them (believers).” [Al-Qur’an 9:79]

THE MUSLIM ARMY IS LEAVING FOR TABUK

Upon accomplishing the equipment of the army, the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] ordained that Muhammad bin Maslamah Al-Ansari should be appointed over Madinah. In another version Siba bin Arftah. To Ali bin Abu Talib he entrusted his family’s safety and affairs and ordered him to stay with them. This move made the hypocrites undervalue Ali, so he followed the Messenger of Allah pbuh] and caught up with him. But the Prophet made Ali turn back to Madinah after saying: “Would it not suffice you to be my successor in the way that Aaron (Harun) was to Moses’?” Then he proceeded saying: “But no Prophet succeeds me.”
On Thursday, the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] marched northwards to Tabuk. The army that numbered thirty thousand fighters was a great one, when compared with the previous armies of Islam. Muslims had never marched with such a great number before.
Despite all the gifts of wealth and mounts the army was not perfectly equipped. The shortage of provisions and mounts was so serious that eighteen men mounted one camel alternatively. As for provisions, members of the army at times had to eat the leaves of trees till their lips got swollen. Some others had to slaughter camels, though they were so dear, so that they could drink the water of their stomach; that is why that army was called “The army of distress”.
On their way to Tabuk, the army of Islam passed by Al-Hijr, which was the native land of Thamud who cut out (huge) rocks in the valley; that is “Al-Qura Valley” of today. They watered from its well but later the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] told them not to drink of that water, nor perform the ablution with it. The dough they made, he asked them to feed their camels with. He forbade them to eat anything whatsoever of it. As an alternative he told them to water from that well which Prophet Salih’s she-camel used to water from.
On the authority of Ibn ?Umar: “Upon passing by Al-Hijr the Prophet [pbuh] said:
“Do not enter the houses of those who erred themselves lest what had happened to them would afflict you, but if you had to do such a thing let it be associated with weeping.”
Then he raised his head up and accelerated his strides till he passed the valley out.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 2/637]
Shortage of water and the army’s need to it made them complain to the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] about that. So he supplicated to Allah who sent a rainfall cloud. It rained and so all people drank and supplied themselves with their need of water.
When they drew near Tabuk, the Prophet said: “If Allah will, tomorrow you will arrive at Tabuk spring. You will not get there before daytime. So whoever reaches it should not touch its water; but wait till I come.” Muadh said: “When we reached the spring it used to gush forth some water. We found that two men had already preceded us to it. The Messenger of Allah [pbuh] asked them: Have you touched its water?’ They replied: ‘Yes’. He said what Allah inspired him to say, then he scooped up little water of that spring, thin stream which gathered together, he washed his face and hand with it and poured it back into it; consequently plenty of water spouted out of it so people watered. Muadh’, said the Messenger of Allah, if you were doomed to live long life you will see in here fields full of vegetation.’” [Sahih Muslim 2/246]
On the way to Tabuk, or as soon as they reached Tabuk, the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] said: Severe wind will blow tonight, so none of you should stand up. Whoever has a camel should tie it up.’ Later on when the strong wind blew, one of the men stood up and the wind carried him away to Tai’ Mountain. [ibid. Sahih Muslim 2/246]
All the way long the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] was intent on the performance of the combined prayer of noon and the afternoon; and so did he with sunset and evening prayers. His prayers for both were either pre-time or post-time prayers.

THE ARMY OF ISLAM AT TABUK

Arriving at Tabuk and camping there, the Muslim army was ready to face the enemy. There, the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] delivered an eloquent speech that included the most inclusive words. In that speech he urged the Muslims to seek the welfare of this world and the world to come. He warned and cherished them and gave them good tidings. By doing that he cherished those who were broken in spirits, and blocked up the gap of shortage and mess they were suffering from due to lack of supplies, food and other substances.
Upon learning of the Muslims’ march, the Byzantines and their allies were so terrified that none of them dared set out to fight. On the contrary they scattered inside their territory. It brought, in itself, a good credit to the Muslim forces. That had gained military reputation in the mid and remote lands of Arabian Peninsula. The great and serious political profits that the Muslim forces had obtained, were far better than the ones they could have acquired if the two armies had been engaged in military confrontation.
The Head of Ailah, Yahna bin Rawbah came to the Messenger of Allah [pbuh], made peace with him and paid him the tribute (Al-Jizya). Both of Jarba’ and Adhruh peoples paid him tribute, as well. So the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] gave each a guarantee letter, similar to Yahna’s, in which he says:
“In the Name of Allah the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
This is a guarantee of protection from Allah and Muhammad the Prophet, the Messenger of Allah to Yahna bin Rawbah and the people of Ailah, their ships, their caravans on land and sea shall have the custody of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, he and whosoever are with him of Ash-Sham people and those of the sea. Whosoever contravenes this treaty, his wealth shall not save him, it shall be the fair prize of him that takes it. Now it should not be lawful to hinder the men from any springs which they have been in the habit of frequenting, nor from any journeys they desire to make, whether by sea or by land.”
The Messenger of Allah [pbuh] dispatched Khalid bin Al-Waleed at the head of four hundred and fifty horsemen to Ukaidir Dumat Al-Jandal and said to him: “You will see him hunting onyxes.” So when Khalid drew near his castle and was as far as an eye-sight range, he saw the onyxes coming out rubbing their horns against the castle gate. As it was a moony night. Khalid could see Ukaidir come out to hunt them, so he captured him, though he was surrounded by his men, and brought him back to the Messenger of Allah [pbuh], who spared his life and made peace with him for the payment of two thousand camels, eight hundred heads of cattle, four hundred armours and four hundred lances. He obliged him to recognize the duty of paying tribute and charged him with collecting it from Dumat, Tabuk, Ailah and Taima’.
The tribes, who used to ally the Byzantines, became quite certain that their dependence on their former masters came to an end. Therefore they turned into being pro-Muslims. The Islamic state had therefore enlarged its borders to an extent that it, touched the Byzantines’ and their agents’ borders. So we see that the Byzantine agents’ role was over.
THE INVASION OF TABUK AND ITS FAR-REACHING RAMIFICATIONS
The effect of this invasion is great as regards extending and confirming the Muslims’ influence and domination on the Arabian Peninsula. It was quite obvious to everybody that no power but Islam’s would live long among the Arabs. The remainders of Jahiliyin and hypocrites, who used to conspire steadily against the Muslims and who perpetually relied on Byzantine power when they were in need of support or help, these people lost their expectations and desires of ever reclaiming their ex-influence. Realizing that there was no way out and that they were to submit to the fait accompli, they gave up their attempts.

THE QUR’ANIC VERSES RELATING TO THIS INVASION

Many verses of Bara’a (Tauba) Chapter handling the event of Tabuk were revealed. Some verses were revealed before the march, while others after setting out for Tabuk, i.e. in the context of the battle. Some other verses were also revealed on the Prophet’s arrival in Madinah. All of which covered the incidents that featured this invasion: the immanent circumstances of the battle, exposure of the hypocrites, the prerogatives and special rank earmarked for the strivers in the cause of Allah acceptance of the repentance of the truthful believers who slackened and those who hung back, etc. [5]

 

From that historical point, Quran 9:29 was a war of self-defence. If the Muslims had not done nothing and sat back, the Muslim community as a whole would have been wiped off in Arabia, by the Byzantine (Romans) and other enemies.

More Muslim and non-Muslim scholarly commentaries on Quran 9:29

Dr. Mustafa As-Sibaa’ie, ‘The life of Prophet Muhammad highlights and lessons’ writes,

The Battle of Tabook
This is also known as Ghazwat al-Usrah (the campaign of hardship). It took place in Rajab 9 AH.
Tabook is a place between Wadi al-Qura, in the Hijaz, and Syria. The reason for this battle was that the Byzantines had gathered a huge number of troops in Syria, including the tribes of Lakhm, Judhaam, ‘Aamilah and Ghassan, who were Christianized Arabs. They did so because Heraclius intended to attack Madeenah and put an end to the state that was developing in the Arabian Peninsula, as the news of this state and its victories had filled Heraclius with fear and terror. So theProphet ordered the people to prepare for a campaign. That was a time of great and intense heat. The sincere Muslims responded willingly, but three of them remained behind, even though their faith was sincere. The Prophet commanded the rich to provide equipment for the army, and they brought a huge amount of money. Abu Bakr brought all of his wealth, which was forty thousand dirhams. Umar brought half of his wealth, and Uthmaan gave a large amount in charity that day equiped one-third of the army. The prophet prayed for him and said, “Nothing that Uthmaan does can harm him after this day.” A number of the poor Sahaabah came to him who had no animals to ride, and the Messenger said, “ I do not have anything that I can give you to ride.” They turned away with tears streaming dwn their faces because they did not have the means to prepare themselves to join the army. Eighty-odd of the hypocrites stayed behind, and a number of Bedouin gave invalied excuses, but the Prophet accepted them.
The Messenger of Allah set out with the people. There were thirty thousand warriors with him, and ten thousand horses. This was the greatest army that the Arabs had seen at that time. He marched until he reached Tabook, where he stayed for twenty days, during which he did not engage in any fighting. [6]

Scholar Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi

What was the genesis of this expedition? It is related that the Apostle got reports of Byzantine forces converging in the northern frontiers of Arabia with the intention of mounting an attack on the Muslims. Ibn Sa’ad and Waqidi had reported that the Apostle was informed by the Nabataeans that Heraclius was intending to come upon him and that his advance party had already reached Balqa. This was after storing on year’s provision for his army and drafting the pro-Byzantine tribes of Lakhm, Jodham, Amla and Ghassan under his banner. [7]

Maulana Muhammad Ali in his book, ‘The Holy Quran, Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction’,

29a “The last word on the wars with the idolaters of Arabia having been said, this verse introduces the subject of fighting with the followers of the Book. Though the Jews had for a long time assisted the idolatrous Arabians in their struggle to uproot Islam, the great Christian power, the Roman Empire, had only just mobilized its forces for the subjection of the new religion, and the Tabuk expedition followed, which constitutes the subject-matter of a large portion of what follows in this chapter. As the object of this Christian power was simply the subjection of the Muslims, the words in which their final vanquishment by the Muslims is spoken of are different from those dealing with the final vanquishment of the idolatrous Arabians. The Qur’an neither required that the idolaters should be compelled to accept Islam, nor was it in any way its object to bring the Christians into subjection. On the other hand, the idolaters wanted to suppress Islam by the sword, and the Christians first moved themselves to bring Muslim Arabia under subjection. The fate of each was, therefore, according to what it intended for the Muslims. The word jizyah is derived from jaza, meaning he gave satisfaction, and means, according to LL, the tax that is taken from the free non-Muslim subjects of the Muslim Government whereby they ratify the compact that ensures them protection; or, according to AH, because it is a compensation for the protection which is guaranteed them, the non-Muslim subjects being free from military service.
The phrase ‘an yad-in has been explained variously. The word yad (lit., hand) stands for power or superiority, the use of the hand being the real source of the superiority of man over all other animals, and the apparent meaning of the phrase is in acknowledgement of your superiority in protecting their lives, etc. (AH). It may also be added that the permission to fight, as given to the Muslims, is subject to the condition that the enemy should first take up the sword, Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you (2:190). The Holy Prophet never overstepped this limit, nor did his followers. He fought against the Arabs when they took up the sword to destroy the Muslims, and he led an expedition against the Christians when the Roman Empire first mobilized its forces with the object of subjugating the Muslims. And so scrupulous was he that, when he found that the enemy had not yet taken the initiative, he did not attack the Roman Empire, but returned without fighting. Later on, however, the Roman Empire, like the Persians, helped the enemies of Islam and fomented trouble against the newly established Muslim Kingdom, as a result of which both these empires came into conflict with the Muslims and, notwithstanding the fact that both the Persians and the Romans were very powerful nations with unlimited resources and strong military organizations, and that they both tried at one and the same time to subjugate Islam, the result was what is predicted here in clear words — they were both reduced to a state of subjection by an insignificant nation like the Arabs.” [8]

Professor John Andrew Morrow

…..the early Muslims had to fend of all sorts of aggressive assaults of the unbelievers from the Quraysh and their allies among the bedioun and Jewish tribes, in such well-known Battles as those of Uhud, Al-Khandaq, Mu’tah and Tabuk[9]

Malik Ghulam Farid commentary on Quran 9:29

1175. The expression ‘An Yadin’ means (1) Willingly and in acknowledgement of the superior power of Muslims. (2) In ready money and not in the form of deferred payment.
* In this verse … is not translated. After the translation … will read as: ‘and Allah is most Forgivving, Merciful.’
(3) Considering it as a favour from Muslims; the practice ‘an meaning, on account of, and Yad denoting power and favour (Lane). The verse refers to those People of the Book who lived in Arabia. Like the idolaters they too had been actively hostile to Islam and had planned and plotted to exterminate it. Muslims were, therefore, ordered to fight them unless they agreed to live as loyal and peaceful subjects. The Jizyah was a tax which these non-Muslims had to pay as free subjects of the Muslim state in return for the protection they enjoined under it. It may be noted that as against Jizyah which was imposed on non-Muslims, a much heavier tax- Zakat was levied on the Muslims, and in addition to Zakat they had to perform military service from which non-Muslims were exempt. Thus the latter in a way fared better, for they had to pay a lighter tax and were also free from military duty. The word Saghirun expresses their subordinate political status; otherwise they enjoyed all social rights equally with Muslims. The idolaters of Arabia and Jews and Christians who lived in their neighbourhood were the principal adversaries of Islam. After having dealt with the believers relations with the People of the Book, especially with their religious beliefs and doctrines. [10]

Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali states in his commentary on surah nine,

Muslims are therefore basically opposed to war and are never the ones to start it. By the imperative of their own religion, they are taught not to impose their beliefs on others by force. Their mission is to impart and communicate God’s message, leaving people free to decide whether to believe or reject it. Those who refuse to believe are free to pursue their lives in peace as long as they do not pose any obstacle or threat to Islam and the Muslims, who perceive their faith as the strongest and most vital binding relationship between God and humankind and that it is their responsibility to make others aware of it and provide them with the opportunity to understand and appreciate it. This is the basis of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in Islamic society. God says elsewhere in the Qur’an: ‘Therefore if they (the unbelievers) do not trouble you and cease their hostility towards you and offer you peace, God gives you no authority over them’ [al-Nisa: 90]. Those who take up arms against a Muslim state or parts of it must be met by force, and if they are overcome, they should be disarmed. Once that is achieved, they are free to lead their own lives and practise their beliefs in peace and security under the protection of the Muslim authorities, in return for which they have to pay a levy.

This is the background against which prescription of the Jizyah, or exemption tax, came into being. It is not due from those who are neutral and have never taken arms against the Muslim state. The surah gives ample explanation for the reasons behind the establishment of this tax, for it stipulates who should pay it. They are those ‘who do not believe in God and the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden, and who do not follow the true religion, until they pay the exemption tax unreservedly and with humility. [11]

In the book ‘Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia’, Alexander Mikaberidze, commenting on 9:29 writes,

The following verses are widely acknowledged to be the first to grant Muslims permission to bear arms:
Permission [to fight] is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged, and indeed, God has the power to help them: those who have been driven from their homes against all right for no other reason than their saying, ‘Our Provider is God!’ For, if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques- in all of which God’s name is abundantly glorified- would surely have been destroyed. (22:39-40)
In these verses, the Koran asserts, if people were not allowed to defend themselves against aggressive wrongdoers, all the houses of worship- it is worthy of note here that Islam is not the only religion indicated here- would be destroyed and thus the word of God extinguished. Another verse states:
They ask you concerning fighting in the prohibited months. Answer them: ‘Fight therein is a serious offence. But to restrain men from following the cause of God, to deny God, to violate the sanctity of the sacred mosque, to expel its people from its environs is in the sight of God a greater wrong than fighting in the forbidden month. [For] discord and strife (fitna) are worse than killing.’ (2:217)
Wrongful expulsion of believers- Muslims and other monotheists- from their homes for no other reason than their avowal of belief in one God is one of the reasons- jus ad bellum- that justify recourse to fighting, according to these verses. Earlier revelations (Koran 42.40-43) had allowed only non-violent self-defence against wrongful conduct of the enemy. In another verse (2:291), the Koran acknowledges the enormity of fighting, and thus the potential taking of human life, but at the same time asserts the higher moral imperative of maintaining order and challenging wrongdoing. Therefore, when both just cause and righteous intention exist, war in self-defence becomes obligatory.
Fighting is prescribed for you, while you dislike it, but it is possible that you dislike. But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and that you love a thing which is bad for you. But God knows and you know not. (2:216)
The Koran further asserts that it is the duty of Muslims to defend those who are oppressed and cry out to them for help (4.75), except against a people with whom the Muslims have concluded a treaty (8.72)
With regard to initiation of hostilities, the Koran has specific injunctions. Koran 2.190 reads, ‘Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not commit aggression, for God loves not aggressors,’ which forbids Muslims from initiating hostilities. Recourse to armed combat must be in response to a prior act of aggression committed by the opposite side.
In the month of Ramadan in the third year of the Islamic calendar (624), full-fledged hostilities broke out between the Muslims and the pagan Meccans in what became known as the Battle of Badr. In this battle, the small army of Muslims decisively trounced a much larger, and more experienced, Meccan army. Two years later, the battle of Uhud was fought in which the Muslims suffered severe reverses, followed by the Battle of Khandaq in 627. Apart from these three major battles, a number of other minor campaigns were fought until the Prophet’s death in 632. Some of the most trenchant verses exhorting the Muslims to fight were revealed on the occasions of these military campaigns. One such verse is 9.5, which is one of what have been termed the ‘Sword verses’ (Ayat al-sayf), states,
And when the sacred months are over, slay the Polytheists wherever you find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every conceivable place.
Another verse that is often conjoined to the previous verse runs:
Fight against those who- despite having been given revelation before- do not believe in God nor in the Last Day, and do not consider forbidden that which God and His Messenger have forbidden, and do not follow the religion of the truth, until they pay Jizyah with willing hand, having been subdued. (9.29).
The first of the sword verse verses (9.5), with its internal reference to the polytheists who may be fought after the end of the sacred months, would circumscribe its applicability to only the pagan Arabs of Muhammad’s time; this is how in fact manu medieval jurists, such as al-Shafii (d. 820), understood the verse. The second of the sword verses is seemingly at the People of the Book, that is, Jews and Christians, but again, a careful reading of the verse clearly indicates that it does not intent all the people of the Book but only those from among them who do not, in contravention of their own laws, believe in God and the Last Day and, in a hostile manner, impede the propagation of Islam.
The Koran, in another verse (2.193), makes clear, however, that should hostile behaviour on the part of the foes of Islam cease, then the reasons for engaging them in battle also lapses. This verse states: ‘And fight them on until there is no more chaos (fitna) and religion is only for Gd, but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression.’ [12]

‘Debating the War of Ideas’, written by two Scholars, John Gallagher and Eric D. Patterson say that the Quran ‘forbids aggressive warfare’,

The Quran also developed a just war ideology. It forbids aggressive warfare and the pre-emptive strike, and makes it clear that self-defence was the only possible justification for hostilities. War was always a terrible evil, but it was sometimes necessary in order to preserve decent values, such as freedom of worship. Even here, the Quran did not abandon its pluralism: synagogues and churches as well as mosques should be protected. The Quran insists on the importance of mercy and forgiveness, even when during armed conflict. While engaged in hostilities, Muslims must fight steadfastly in order to bring the war to a speedy end, but the moment the enemy asked for peace, Muslims must lay down their arms. They must accept any truce, even if they suspect the enemy of double-dealing. And it is always better to sit DOWN AND solve a problem by rational, courteous discussion. True, retaliation was permitted as in the Jewish tradition- eye FOR EYE, tooth for tooth- but it must be strictly confined to those who had actually perpetrated the atrocities and ‘he who shall forgo it out of charity will atone better for some of his past sins.’ Later Islamic Law developed additional principles of humane warfare. It forbids war against a country where Muslims are permitted to practice their religion freely; it outlaws the killing of civilians, the deliberate destruction of property, and the use of fire in warfare.

Holy war was not one of the essential principles of Islam The word Jihad does not refer to armed conflict but to the ‘effort’ and ‘struggle’ required to implement God’s will in a flawed and violent world. Muslims are exhorted to strive in his endeavour on all fronts: intellectual, social, economic, spiritual, moral, and domestic. Sometimes they would have to fight, but this was not their chief duty. An oft-quoted tradition recalls Muhammad telling his companions after a battle: ‘We are returning from the lesser Jihad (the battle) and going to the Greater Jihad,’ the immeasurably more important and difficult struggle to reform their own society and they own hearts. It is true that Muslim rulers often engaged in wars for territorial aggrandizement and personal interest and dignified their military activities by calling it a Jihad, but, like other Kings and imperialists, they were motivated by political ambition rather than by religion. [13]

‘Out of darkness into light: Spiritual guidance in the Quran with reflections from Christian and Jewish sources’ written by Ann Holmes Redding, Jamal Rahman and Kathleen Schmitt Elias,

The Jihad that is so feared in Western society is known in Islam as the ‘lesser jihad’, and again, the fear is based on misinterpretation not only by non-Muslims but also by Muslim extremists who carry jihad lengths that were never sanctioned or condoned by the Quran. This lesser Jihad is about defending and protecting oneself and others when under attack- and only when under attack. “Fight in the way of God those who fight you,” says the Quran, “but begin not hostilities, for God loves not the aggressors” (2:190). This verse has also been interpreted to mean “do not transgress limits in the fight.” War is permitted only in self-defence, and the limits are well defined: no hostilities toward women, children, and the aged, no destruction of trees and crops, and no continuation of war once the enemy sues for peace. In the brutal world of the seventh century the terms of lesser Jihad were remarkably enlightened, but in any age there are those who ignore the words of scriptures and prophets, wreaking havoc on the earth by over-reaching their role as vice-regents of our compassionate and merciful God. Properly understood, the lesser Jihad of self-defence is entirely legitimate, but it will always be secondary to the greater Jihad of self-realization as a beautiful manifestation of the Divine. In Rumi’s metaphor, the Lion who breaks the enemy’s ranks is a minor hero compared with the lion who over-comes himself. [14]

In the book, ‘The History of Human Rights: From Ancient Times to the Globalization Era’, Professor Micheline R. Ishay,

The notion of specified limits on the use of violence is also embedded in Islamic teaching, as the Quran echoes the biblical standard of “life for life, eye for eye, ear for ear, tooth for tooth and wound for wound equal for equal.” Yet following the teaching of Jesus and Mohammad, one can still ‘remit retaliation by way of charity’ (Surah 5:45). While retaliation against an evil must be proportionate to that evil (Surah 42:40), there are instances in which retaliation by means of war, or Jihad (literally meaning ‘exertion’) is, as in the Christian notions of just war, legitimated. The Quran justifies wars for self-defence to protect Islamic communities against internal or external aggression by non-Islamic populations, and wars waged against those who ‘violate their oaths’ by breaking a treaty (Surah 9:12, 9:13, 42:40-43).
If God commands us to go to war, a better afterlife, exhorts the Quran, is promised to the true soldiers of faith: “And if ye are slain or die, in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are fare better than all they could amass [in wealth]” (Surah 3:157). If some modern Islamic religious zealots, such as Osama Bin laden, have found in the concept of the holy war a justification for terrorist activities, they have overlooked the fact that the same Quran, drawing from the Hebrew Bible, urges a soldier of faith “to protect the life of non-combatants, aged ones, children and women, as well as the life of imprisoned soldiers.” Temperance, the Quran states, I also mandated: ”Fight in the name of God those who fight you; but exceed not the limit. For God loves not those who exceed the limit…. Fight till there is no persecution, and the judgement be God’s. But if they desist, let there be no hostilities save against the unjust.” One should not forget, after all, that Islamic juridical writings urging tolerance and moderation in war, such as the Abbou Hassan of Baghdad (1036), the Hedaya (1196), and the Vikayat printed in Spain (1280) were composed five hundred years before Grotius and the Christian humanists. Those views live on in the contemporary Islamic writings of the Lebanese Sobhi Mahmassani. [15]

All the above evidence refutes the assertion made by Islamophobes, that the Muslims fought the Jews and Christians (Byzantines/Romans) for no reason. According to bigoted Isamophobes, Muslims are somehow bloodthirsty animals, and just want war with everyone who is not Muslim, but as shown above, these claims are false and expose their deceitful intentions. In conclusion, the Quranic verse 9:29 commanded Muslims to fight only those that were involved in aggression against them, as shown by its historical context. Muslims only fought the Byzantines in self-defence, to save the themselves from oppression and extinction.

 

References:

[1] A comprehensive commentary on the Quran By the Reverend E. M. Wherry volume 2 page 274
[2] Reference: Sahih Muslim 1479 e, 1475 b In-book reference : Book 18, Hadith 44. USC-MSA web (English) reference: Book 9, Hadith 3511http://sunnah.com/muslim/18/44
[3] Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Translated by S. Moinul Haq (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 2009) Vol.II, 203-204
[4] The origins of the Islamic State, being a translation from the Arabic accompanied with annotations Geographic and historic notes of the KITAB FUTUH AL-BULDAN of al-Imam Abu’l Abbas Ahmad Ibn Jabir Al Baladhuri, By Phillip Khurti Hitti, PHD, [1916], volume 1, page 92
[5] Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar) Memoirs of the Noble Prophet [pbuh] by Saifur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri page 272- 280
[6] The life of Prophet Muhammad highlights and lessons by Dr. Mustafa As-Sibaa’ie page 116 – 117
[7] Muhammad Rasulullah The Apostle of Mercy By S. Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, page 320
[8] The Holy Quran, Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction by Maulana Muhammad Ali, [Year 2002 Edition], Page 404
[9] Islamic Images and Ideas: Essays on Sacred Symbolism, by Professor John Andrew Morrow, page 31
[10] The Holy Qur’an Arabic Text with English Translation & Short Commentary, Malik Ghulam, Farid Page 383 – 384
[11] A Thematic Commentary on the Qurʼan, by Scholar, Shaykh Muḥammad Ghazālī page 182 – 183
[12] Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia [Copyright 2011] by Alexander Mikaberidze page Volume 1, 929 – 930
[13] Debating the War of Ideas by John Gallagher, Eric D. Patterson page 57
[14] Out of darkness into Light: Spiritual guidance in the Quran with reflections from Christian and Jewish sources Ann Holmes Redding, Jamal Rahman, Kathleen Schmitt Elias PAGE 53
[15] The History of Human Rights: From Ancient Times to the Globalization Era By Micheline R. Ishay page 45 – 47