Fulfilling Your Covenant With Allah, Muslims & All of Society

The sacred duty of fulfilling all obligations of every kind, to Muslims and non Muslims, in public as well as private life, is a cardinal feature of Muslim ethics. The question of what is to be done with those who abuse this principle by failing in their duty but expect the Muslims to do their part is not to be solved (in the case of treaties) by a general denunciation of treaties but by a careful consideration of the cases where there has been fidelity and not treachery.

There we are enjoined to give the strictest fidelity, as it is a part of righteousness and our duty to Allah, let us consider Surah At-Tauba, Surah 9, Ayahs 1-6.

1 A (declaration) of immunity from Allah and His apostle to those of the pagans with whom ye have contracted mutual alliances. 1246

2 Go ye then for four months backwards and forwards (as ye will) throughout the land but know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah (by your falsehood) but that Allah will cover with shame those who reject him. 1247

3 And an announcement from Allah and His apostle to the people (assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage that Allah and His apostle dissolve (treaty) obligations with the pagans. If then ye repent it were best for you; but if ye turn away know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah. And proclaim a grievous penalty to those who reject faith. 1248

4 (But the treaties are) not dissolved with those pagans with whom Ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught nor aided anyone against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for Allah loveth the righteous. 1249

5 But when the forbidden months are past then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them and seize them beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. 1250 1251 1252

6 If one amongst the pagans ask thee for asylum grant it to him so that he may hear the word of Allah and then escort him to where he can be secure: that is because they are men without knowledge. 1253 1254

Interpretation:

1246 Baraat: usually translated “immunity”. I do not think that word correctly represents the Arabic word in this context. I retain it as I cannot think of any single English word as an equivalent. The general sense is explained in the introduction to this Sura. In verse 3 below I use the periphrasis “dissolve treaty obligations,” which goes some way to explain the meaning. The Pagans and enemies of Islam frequently made treaties of mutual alliance with the Muslims. The Muslims scrupulously observed their part, but the Pagans violated their part again and again when it suited them. After some years, experience it became imperative to denounce such treaties altogether. This was done in due form, with four months’ notice, and a chance was given to those who faithfully observed their pledges, to continue their alliance. (9.1)

1247 Four Months: Some Commentators understand by this the four forbidden months in which warfare by ancient Arabian custom was unlawful, viz., Rajab, Zul-qa’dah, Zul-hijjah, and Muharram: See ii. 194 n. But it is better to take the signification of the four months immediately following the Declaration. Assuming that the Sura was promulgated early in Shawwal (see Introduction), the four months would be Shawwal, Zul-qa’dah, Zul-hijjah, and Muharram, of which the last three would also be the customary Prohibited Months. (9.2)

1248 The great day of Hajj is either the 9th of Zul-hijjah (‘Arafa), or the 10th (the Day of Sacrifice). (9.3)

1249 The sacred duty of fulfilling all obligations of every kind, to Muslims and non Muslims, in public as well as private life, is a cardinal feature of Muslim ethics. The question what is to be done with those who abuse this principle by failing in their duty but expect the Muslims to do their part is not to be solved (in the case of treaties) by a general denunciation of treaties but by a careful consideration of the cases where there has been fidelity and not treachery. There we are enjoined to give the strictest fidelity, as it is a part of righteousness and our duty to Allah. (9.4)

1250 The emphasis is on the first clause; it is only when the four months of grace are past, and the other party show no signs of desisting from their treacherous designs by right conduct, that the state of war supervenes-between Faith and Unfaith. (9.5)

1251 When war becomes inevitable, it must be prosecuted with vigour. According to the English phrase, you cannot fight with kid gloves. The fighting may take the form of killing, capture, or siege, or ambush and other stratagems. But even then there is room for repentance and amendment on the part of the guilty party, and if that takes place, our duty is forgiveness and the establishment of peace. (9.5)

1252 The repentance must be sincere, and that is shown by conduct-a religious spirit of true prayer and charity. In that case we are not to bar the gate against the repentant. On the contrary we must do all we can to make their way easy, remembering that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (9.5)

1253 Even among the enemies of Islam, actively fighting against Islam, there may be individuals who may be in a position to require protection. Full asylum is to be given to them, and opportunities provided for hearing the Word of Allah. If they accept the Word, they become Muslims and brethren, and no further question arises. If they do not see their way to accept Islam, they will require double protection: (1) from the Islamic forces openly fighting against their people, and (2) from their own people, as they detached themselves from them. Both kinds of protection should be ensured for them, and they should be safely escorted to a place where they can be safe. Such persons only err through ignorance, and there may be much good in them. (9.6)

1254 Maaman: place or opportunity of being secure from all harm. (9.6)

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Filed under Islam, Jumma Reminder, Morals & Ethics, Positive Relations Islam & West, Quran Hadith Sunnah

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