. The word ‘Qisas’ is from ‘Qasas’ which means to follow someone along his footsteps. From this meaning, it was used for the punishment in which the criminal is treated in the same way as he himself had treated the other person while committing the crime.
. Since this directive is related to the whole society, the addressee of the expression ‘كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُم’ (decreed for you) is the society. Consequently, it is incumbent on the state to find out the murderers of a person murdered under its jurisdiction, arrest them and as per the Islamic law implement the will of the heirs of the murdered person on the murderers.
. This is a statement of impartial justice and total equality that should be observed in taking Qisas. This directive of the Qur’an has virtually put an end to the injustice and oppression suffered by the family of the slain person whether of the modern age of ignorance or that of the olden times. The rich and the poor, the person of high rank and that of low rank, the master and his servant – all are put on the same pedestal since they are the progeny of the same man and woman: Adam and Eve. A person’s social status should never create an exception to this rule of equality nor should it be given any emphasis in this regard.
. The Qur’anic words used are: ‘فَمَنْ عُفِيَ لَهُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ شَيْءٌ’. The word ‘عُفِيَ’ means ‘to pardon’ and the correct grammatical construction in my opinion is ‘فَمَنْ عُفِيَ لَهُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ شَيْءٌ مِنَ العَفُوِّ’. The implication is that if some lenience is showed by the heirs of the murdered person. By this lenience is meant that the heirs instead of demanding the life of the murderer settle for accepting Diyat from him. The subsequent words ‘أَدَاء إِلَيْهِ بِإِحْسَانٍ’ (pay it to him with kindness) make this very evident. It is clear from this that according to the Shari‘ah, Qisas can be pardoned by the heirs of the murdered person. No doubt as far as exacting Qisas is concerned it is an obligation of the state; however, besides this it is bound by law to implement the will of the heirs of the slain person: they can either demand the life of the murderer or accept Diyat. Once, either of these two options is chosen by the heirs, the responsibility of the state to exact Qisas as per the words ‘كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِصَاصُ فِي الْقَتْلَى’ stands fulfilled. A little deliberation shows that it is this very principle which distinguishes the Islamic Law in this regard from other systems of law. It not only leaves the criminal’s fate to the people against whom the crime has been perpetrated in order to appease their spirit of revenge, but also goes a long way in ridding the society of such crimes. Writes thus Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:
In matters of Qisas, the importance which Islam has given to the will and intention of the heirs of the slain has many aspects of wisdom in it. Leaving the life of the killer directly at the mercy of the heirs of the murdered person compensates to some extent the tremendous loss caused. Furthermore, if the heirs of the slain person adopt a soft attitude at that moment, they do a big favour to the murderer and his family, which produces many useful results. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 4th ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1991), p. 433)
It is however apparent that in case the slain person has no heirs or if his heirs owing to some reason they have no interest in his affairs or if their interest resides with the slayer and his accomplices, the claimant shall, no doubt, be the government and shall have all the authority which the heirs of the slain person have.
. The Qur’anic words used are: ‘فَاتِّبَاعٌ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ’. The word ‘مَعْرُوف’ occurs in the Qur’an to connote ‘virtue’ and ‘good’ as well as to connote ‘customs’ and ‘conventions’. Here the subsequent words ‘أَدَاء إِلَيْهِ بِإِحْسَانٍ’ (pay it to him with kindness) clearly show that it is used in the latter connotation. It is thus evident from this usage that the Qur’an instead of fixing the amount of Diyat has directed the society to follow the custom in this regard. According to this directive of the Qur’an, every society is bound to follow its custom. In a society where no law about Diyat exists previously, those at the helm of state can either continue with the Arab custom according to which the Prophet (sws) settled cases of Qisas or re-legislate in this regard; whatever they do, if the society accepts the legislation, it will assume the status of Ma‘ruf for that society and the directive of the Qur’an to pay Diyat shall stand fulfilled.
. While elaborating on the reason that Diyat should be given with grace and kindness, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
The directive of paying Diyat with kindness has been given because in that period in Arabia Diyat was generally not given in the form of cash; it was paid in kind or in the form of animals. Therefore, if the payers of Diyat had any ill-intention in their hearts, they could defraud the receiving party. It is easily possible in case of camels and goats or dates and other grains to pay Diyat as far as the agreed quantity and weight is concerned, disregarding their quality and nature. This would amount to ignoring the favour done by the aggrieved party by forgiving the murderer. Someone whose life had been left at the mercy of a person by the Shari‘ah had been forgiven by him and he had agreed to accept some wealth instead. This favour should be answered by a favour only, ie, the payment of Diyat should be done with such magnanimity and munificence that the heirs of the slain person should not feel that by accepting camels and goats in place of the life of a beloved they had committed a mistake or done something dishonourable. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 4th ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1991), p. 434)
. The implication is that the sanctity a life possesses required that life be taken in place of life; however, the Almighty has mercifully shown clemency. So no one should try to misuse this rebate.
. While explaining this Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
Implied in it is a warning for the murderer and his family that it would be great disregard to the favour of the Almighty if a person after benefiting from this lenience plans to inflict some new oppression on the family of the murdered person. One of these plans could be that the murderer and his relatives scheme that for the moment they should save their lives by convincing the family of the murdered to forgive them and later they would inflict some loss on them. Likewise, there also exists in these words a warning for the heirs of the murdered person that they should not accept Diyat with the plan that this acceptance is for the moment and that later they would kill the murderer whenever they get the opportunity. Both parties should sincerely accept the agreement contracted on the basis of a concession given to them by the Almighty. He who commits a wrong after accepting this agreement will become worthy of the wrath of God. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 4th ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1991), p. 434)
. Here the Qur’an while specifically addressing people of intellect has stated the wisdom behind this law so that indifference, partiality, apathy and over-sympathy do not come in the way of implementing this law. Also, so that people being over-awed with emotions don’t become audacious enough to start philosophising and defending the criminal – what some people of current times have done. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi explains this in the following way:
If a murderer is executed because of his crime, it apparently seems as if a second life has been taken, but a little deliberation shows that this punishment actually guarantees the life of the whole society. If this punishment is not carried out, the mental disorder in which a person commits this crime is actually transmitted to the society. The extent of various diseases differ: diseases which result in such heinous crimes as murder, robbery, theft or fornication are like those diseases in which it is necessary to amputate some limb of the body to save the whole body. Amputating a limb may seem a callous act, yet a doctor has to be callous. If by showing sympathy to this limb he does not force himself to this cruelty, he may have to bear with the patient’s death.
A society in its collective capacity is like a body. At times, its limbs get infected to the extent that the only option is to cut them off from the body through an operation. If sympathy is shown by considering it to be the limb of a patient, there is all the chance that this would fatally affect the whole body. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 4th ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1991), p. 436)
. These two conditions on making a will have been imposed because people who normally make a will when they are hail and hearty sometimes face what they could not have anticipated and those who do not make a will in spite of possessing wealth many a time leave behind them great disputes. The first of these conditions begins with ‘إِذَا’ because everyone will one day face death and the second condition begins with ‘إِن’ because not everyone has wealth. Students of the Arabic language need to appreciate this subtle difference between the usage of these two particles. What further should be appreciated is the fact that for wealth the word ‘خَيْر’ is used in the verse which primarily implies something which is good and cherished. In this way, the Qur’an has indirectly referred to the fact that wealth in itself is not something condemnable. It is something good like knowledge and intellect and if an urge arises in a person to acquire it then this cannot be objected to.
. This directive of making a will does not relate to heirs which have been specified by the Almighty in the fourth verse of Surah Nisa. Firstly, because this verse states that the Almighty has Himself ascertained these shares because people themselves cannot decide who among their heirs is near to them in terms of benefit. Consequently, a person who makes a will in favour of these heirs claims that he is capable of not only making this decision but also making it better than the Almighty Himself. Secondly, because in the referred verses this will has been called the ‘will made by God’ after which if a person makes a will, then he does so by being bold enough to come parallel to the Almighty. Thirdly, because in the seventh verse of Surah Nisa these shares fixed by the Almighty are called ‘نَصِيْباً مَفْرُوْضاً’, which means that no will can abrogate them in any way. Consequently, this is absolutely certain that this directive has been abrogated by the verses of Surah Nisa as far as the shares of the heirs fixed by the Almighty are concerned. However, the purpose of this abrogated directive in the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi was:
The directive of making a will in favour of one’s parents and relatives mentioned in this verse was contingent upon the conventions of the society, and was given in the interim period when the Islamic society had not become stable enough to be given the directives which were later revealed in Surah Nisa. It was revealed as a temporary directive before circumstances became conducive for detailed directives in this regard. It had two basic objectives: first, to immediately safeguard the rights of those relatives which were being usurped by influential relatives and second to revive once again the conventions of the society in this regard which had existed in the nobility of Arabia but were engulfed in the dust of the age of ignorance (Jahiliyyah); this revival would pave the way for the detailed law that was to be revealed later. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 4th ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1991), p. 439)
. Parents and relatives are mentioned here because people generally considered only their children as the rightful heirs to their legacy and would not give parents and relatives any share from it.
. The Qur’anic words used are: ‘حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ’. Here ‘حَقًّا’ is a emphatic verbal noun (مصدر مؤكد) and the implied construction is: ‘حُقَّ ذَالِكَ حَقّاً’
. The Qur’anic word used is: ‘خَوْف’. In this verse, it means ‘to be apprehensive’. In the Arabic language, it primarily means ‘to expect’, ‘to think’ and ‘to be apprehensive’. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi has presented an example of this usage in his commentary on the Qur’an.
. The Qur’anic words used are: ‘جَنَفًا أَوْ إِثْمًا’. The word ‘جَنَف’ means ‘to tilt to’; however it is mostly used to mean ‘to deviate from the truth and tilt towards evil and oppression’. Here, in the verse, it is used to mean ‘partiality’. In contrast with this word, the word used is ‘إِثْم’ which means to lag behind in fulfilling rights.
. The Qur’anic words used are: ‘فَأَصْلَحَ بَيْنَهُمْ’. Their obvious meaning is ‘make peace between someone’ and not ‘to reform of one’s own accord’. Consequently, the objective of this guidance is if some partiality or usurpation of rights has taken place, then a reconciliation should be made between the parties to change the will.
. The Qur’anic word used is: ‘الصِّيَام’. As a term of the Islamic Shari‘ah, it refers to the state of a person in which he is required to abstain from eating and drinking and from marital relations with certain limits and conditions and has always been used in the Arabic language in this meaning the way the word ‘fast’ has been used in the English Language in this meaning.
. Our relationship with the Almighty generally manifests in the form of the following three: worship, obedience and support. Fasts are a symbolic expression of obedience. It is evident from this verse that in divine Shari‘ahs, the fast has remained a special ritual to discipline the desires of the soul.
. In order to remain within the limits and bounds set by the Almighty, it is essential that a person develop in him the ability to control his desires and emotions and a little deliberation shows that this ability only develops if a person is really fearful of the Almighty.
. These words are meant for assurance and consolation. The implication is that in order to train and discipline the soul thirty days in reality are very few in number and a person should not feel discomfort on this.
. The Qur’anic words used are: ‘وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ’. Although the antecedent of the accusative pronoun ‘هُ’ in ‘يُطِيقُونَه’ comes later, it is in fact found in earlier in one’s intention just as we say: ‘If you have the strength for this then you should embark on the journey’.
. The permission to feed the needy in place of missed fasts was later revoked as is evident from the subsequent verse. Making up missed fasts by fasting was regarded essential.
. The implication is that this is the minimum atonement of not fasting which people who have the capacity should offer. However, if a person feeds more than one needy person or does some other virtuous deed, then this is better for him.
. The implication is that this atonement is a lenience from the Almighty. It is better in the sight of God that a person should make up for the missed fasts by fasting in other days.
. It is evident from the succeeding verse in which the permission of feeding the needy for missed fasts has been revoked that it was revealed sometime after the first one.
. The Qur’anic word used is: ‘بَيِّنَات’. It refers to clear signs and arguments that remove all doubts and convince people. Undoubtedly, the Qur’an is a treasure of such signs and arguments which are enough to guide humankind forever.
. The Qur’anic words used are: ‘فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ’. As per the sentence construction, these words constitute the inchoative (khabr) of the above mentioned enunciative (mubtada) and the word ‘فَلْيَصُمْه’ means that fasts of the whole month should be kept and none should be missed.
. The implication is that one is in such a state that fasting becomes very strenuous. Consequently, the same directive shall apply to pregnant women or those who are suckling their offspring as well as to old people who are nearing death.
. Here the Almighty has suppressed the words of the previous verse beginning with ‘وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ’ and ending with ‘إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ’. It is obvious from this that the permission of feeding the needy for missed fasts has been revoked. The Almighty in the succeeding verses has referred to the reason for revoking this permission. However, the question arises: ‘Why was this permission given in the first place?’ In my opinion, the reason for this was that since it is difficult to fast in days other than Ramadan, the Almighty did not make it incumbent until people got used to it.
. A little deliberation shows that three things have been mentioned previously: firstly, the month of Ramadan has been reserved for fasting; secondly, the permission of feeding the needy for missed fasts has been revoked and thirdly, in case of travel and ill-health a person can defer his fasts to other months. Here the Almighty has referred to the wisdom behind each of these three things in ascending order.
. The implication is that it was worthy for the month in which the Qur’an was revealed that it be reserved for expressing gratitude to the Almighty and glorifying Him. The fast is nothing but this expression of gratitude and glorification. When a person, at the behest of His Lord, gives up things which are originally allowed to him in order to win the pleasure of his Lord, he shows through his intentions, deeds and practice and routine of life that there is nothing greater than the command of God. A little deliberation reveals that this state of a person in which he experiences and acknowledges the power, magnificence and exaltedness of the Almighty is a true expression of gratitude from him.
. The implication is that now when the Qur’an is being revealed and the Prophet (sws) is amongst his people, they can obtain guidance from the Almighty through him whenever they can. This is an encouragement for people to ask questions which are necessary for the explanation of the Shari‘ah. It does not imply unnecessary questions which the Qur’an at another place has stopped people from asking
. Although in general circumstances too, the Almighty answers the calls of the suppliant, however here it refers to the answers which people would immediately get from the Prophet (sws) during the time of revelation of the Qur’an. A number of similar questions have been mentioned further down in this surah.
. The implication is that when the Almighty is near them and is also answering their questions to appease their confusions, no one should adopt a hypocritical attitude with Him and neither should people object to and raise doubts against any of His directives; in fact, with faith they should fully obey them.
. This is the Tabyin verse (verses which explain a previously revealed directive). This verse is actually the fulfilment of the promise mentioned in the Qur’an thus: ‘ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ’ (Then upon Us is its explanation (75:19)). It is evident from this verse that the previous discussion was raised so that the confusion which arose in the minds of the people could be cleared. It will be evident from the succeeding verses that gaining confidence from this response of the Almighty, people started to ask more questions one after the other which the Qur’an answered at various places by pausing in its own discourse.
. The implication is that although this was always allowed but since people were hesitant about it, the Almighty in clear terms has stated that sexual relations can be established with the wives in the nights of Ramadan.
. The Qur’anic word used is ‘الرَّفَث’. It means ‘lewd talk’; however, the preposition ‘إِلَى’ after it incorporates in it the meaning of sexual intimacy with the wives.
. The implication is that a husband and wife are so close and so inseparable as per the nature on which the Almighty has created them that except in compelling circumstances they should not be kept separate from one another. A little deliberation would show that the metaphor of a husband and wife being each other’s garment is very subtle. A garment has three aspects: covering the body, protecting it and embellishing it. A husband and wife are one another’s garment in all these three aspects. They are a cover to one another’s sexual desires and instincts, are means of protection for one another from the onslaughts of Satan and with their mutual interaction give all the colour and exuberance to life which becomes evident in the elegance and grace of human culture and civilization.
. The implication is that in spite of being of the view that it was not permissible for them to go near their wives in the nights of Ramadan, they were defying their own view. One reason for this view could have been that among the Jews, the next fast would start right after one had broken his fast and they would consider eating and drinking and having sexual intercourse with the wife as prohibited. Muslims thought that they too would have to follow the Jews in this matter. However, some of the Muslims in spite of thinking so deviated from the view they held. This is something which the Qur’an called deceiving one’s conscience, which is a self evident reality. If a person considers something to be a requisite of religion and still does not act according to it regardless of the fact that it is actually a requisite or not, then this is not permissible to him and would be called deceiving one’s conscience.
. This deception could have earned them the wrath of God but the Almighty mercifully pardoned them.
. Since in such matters people want to be absolutely sure, they are instructed that they can also plan a child on such occasions. They should in no way be hesitant in this manner both as regards planning for a child in this period and what will be born to them ultimately as a result.
. It is evident from this that the permission to eat and to go near the wives is till Fajr; so because of a little delay or being before time one should not cast doubt on one’s own fasts or those of the others.
. Since the basic objective of this worship ritual is to devote one’s self to the Almighty by leaving aside the world, hence a person should be fully attentive to its requirements. It is also essential that a person should not leave the mosque except because of some compelling human need. For this very reason, he is also not allowed to go near his wife during it.
. This is a religious term which means that a person in order to remember and worship the Almighty secludes himself in a mosque or some place. It is an established Sunnah which has always remained a constituent of the religion brought by the Prophets of God. The addressees of this discourse were fully aware of it and furnishing its details was thus not required. What however is evident from the Qur’an is that this worship ritual has a special affinity for the month of Ramadan. This inference is also corroborated by the practice of the Prophet (sws) and by some narratives attributed to him
. One should distance one’s self considerably from the limits and bounds set by the Almighty so that one does not inadvertently cross them.
. These words normally occur after verses which are revealed to explain a directive. This is actually a fulfilment of the promise mentioned in Surah Qiyamah in the following words: ‘إنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَه ثُمَّ ُ’ (Then it is upon Us to explain it (75:19)). The basic reason for such an explanation is to remove any doubt and uncertainty so that a believer is able to become even more thorough in virtue.
. The Qur’anic word used is ‘بِالْبَاطِلِ’. It implies devouring other people’s wealth through means which are against justice, honesty, fairness and against the good conventions of a society. It is this directive of the Qur’an which forms the basis of all prohibitions in Islam that pertain to economic matters. Obtaining money through illegal gratification, theft, extortion, lying, co-operation with evil, embezzlement, misappropriation, consuming unclaimed items without publicizing them, all come under it.
. The sentence ‘وَتُدْلُواْ بِهَا إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ’ is co-ordinated the previous and since it is explaining it, ‘لاَ’, the particle of negation, does not need to be repeated in it.
. The Qur’anic words used are: ‘وَتُدْلُواْ بِهَا إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ’. The word ‘إِدْلَاء’ means ‘to put a bucket in a well’. It is through here the meaning of ‘gaining access to’ was incorporated in it. It means illegal gratification and the way the Qur’an has used these words clearly shows what the essence of such gratification is.
. The implication is that the fact that this is a sin and an act of suppressing rights is known to a person, his intellect and nature bear witness to it, the conventions of a society corroborate it and its prohibition is accepted in all religions. So it is such a manifest reality that everyone knows about it. No one is unaware of it.
. The Qur’anic words used are: ‘يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الأهِلَّةِ’. The word ‘أهِلَّة’ is the plural of ‘هِلَال’, which is used to signify the new moon and it also signifies a month. In the plural form especially, it is used to signify months. The article ‘ال’ appended to it shows that the question is regarding certain specific months and it is evident from the answer that the question was regarding the sacred months and the etiquette in conducting one’s self in these months. It is a very common style of the Qur’an that questions are stated very compactly and their real purport becomes evident through their answer. Here, the reason for this question, as will become evident from subsequent verses, is that once the Baytullah was declared the Qiblah people became anxious to offer its pilgrimage and since the Quraysh would have stopped them from offering it, the question arose in the mind of people that if the Quraysh would resist this pilgrimage then a battle could ensue and this would of course desecrate the sanctity of the sacred months. So should this sanctity be maintained or were they authorized to lift arms to combat the resistance of the Quraysh.
. The implication is that in the strife ridden society of Arabia the caravans of Hajj were able to make their way to offer it because of this sanctity of the sacred months and trade and business activities were also possible because of them. Consequently, this prohibition should remain the way it is.
. This question has been asked after halting the main discourse. Once the Qur’an gave an answer to this question it started to mention the directives regarding Jihad, Infaq, Hajj and ‘Umrah which were originally meant to be mentioned here. From among these, the matter of Jihad and Infaq are discussed originally, but this is not the case with Hajj and ‘Umrah. They are an established Sunnah that has been instituted before. No doubt, religious innovations had crept into them and their essence too had become alien to people but in spite of all this their rites and rituals were well known to people. That is why the Qur’an did not give us any details regarding them. It only revived certain aspects of these rituals and explained certain juristic issues regarding them.
. This was a religious innovation which people had invented in relation to Hajj. Probably the reason for this innovation was the superstition that one should not enter from the doors from which one exited with the burden of sins; after being cleansed of these sins, this would be against piety.
. The actual Qur’anic words uses are: ‘وَلَـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنِ اتَّقَى’. There is an ellipses of the governing noun in this expression. The implied construction is: ‘ بِرُّ مَنِ اتَّقَى وَلَـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ’.
. The implication is that the directive of armed warfare which is given here must neither be undertaken to gratify one’s whims nor to obtain wealth and riches. It must also not be undertaken to conquer territories and rule them or to acquire fame or to appease the emotions of communal support, partisanship and animosity. On the contrary, it should be undertaken only and only for the cause of Allah and such a sacred undertaking has no relation with personal and selfish motives. This is the war of the Almighty which His servants undertake at His behest and according to the guidelines provided by Him for His cause. They themselves act as mere agents and implementers of the will of God. They have no objective of their own before them in this undertaking; rather they have to fulfill the objectives of the Almighty. Consequently, they cannot deviate in the least from this capacity
. War cannot be waged in the way of Allah by disregarding ethical limits. Moral values have to be given priority over every thing in all circumstances, and even in circumstances of war the Almighty has not given any person the permission to breach ethical principles.
. The implication is that displacing Muslims from their homes was no less a crime but the Almighty gave them respite and now if they stop the Muslims from doing Hajj then they should displace them from Makkah in the very way they themselves had done so with the Muslims. Then Muslims should kill them wherever they find them because they deserve no lenience once they have deliberately denied the truth which has been unveiled to them by the Prophet (sws).
. This the basic reason for waging Jihad. The implication is that no doubt warfare near the Haram and in the sacred months is a grave thing but ‘فِتْنَة’ is graver. This word here means to force and coerce a person to give up his religion or stop him from following and practicing it. It means ‘persecution’. It is used in this meaning at a number of places in the Qur’an. No doubt, it is a crime greater than murder. The Almighty has created this world to test man by giving him the right to freely choose his religion and ideology. Consequently, any person who forces someone to give up his religion is in fact rebelling against the scheme of the Almighty.
. The implication is that Muslims should not initiate proceedings to violate any thing which is sacred. Consequently, war is permitted near the Baytullah and in sacred months only if the enemy takes the initiative. Muslims can in no case commence such proceedings.
. The implication is that such a grave punishment should be meted out to those who deliberately deny the truth revealed to them by the Prophet (sws) and then go as far as to dislodge him and his Companions (rta) and if these Muslims want to return to offer Hajj, these deliberate rejecters offer resistance by unsheathing their swords in the sacred months.
. To desist here does not mean that they desist from war, but that they desist from disbelief and rebellion whose punishment is stated earlier. Without this they can never be worthy of the mercy and compassion of the Almighty.
. The implication is that the war Muslims have been asked to wage is not merely to crush the resistance offered by the Quraysh to offer Hajj but to uproot ‘فتنه’ (persecution) so that only Islam reigns supreme in the Arabian peninsula. It is for these two objectives that the Qur’an directed the Prophet (sws) and has Companions (rta) to wage Jihad. The first objective which is referred to by the word ‘فتنه’ has already been explained earlier. No doubt, the age old tradition of forcing people to renounce their religion has almost been eliminated today; however, as long as human beings remain human beings, they may revert to it. Consequently, this is an eternal directive of the Qur’an. Ifpersecution surfaces at any place on this earth of God, it is imperative upon a Muslim state to root it out if it has the strength and power to do so and help the oppressed by waging war against it. This is an everlasting directive of the Qur’an for the Muslims and no law of this world can repeal it. As for the second objective, this purpose could only have been achieved in two ways: either the followers of all other religions be put to death or they be subdued and subjugated completely. Consequently, after many phases interspersed with periods of both war and peace, when the disbelievers were totally humiliated, both these ways were adopted. Muslims were directed to kill the Idolaters of Arabia if they did not accept faith and to let the Jews and Christians live on their own religions if they accepted to pay Jizyah and to live a life of total subjugation to the Islamic state established in Arabia. However, the active adversaries among them were put to death or exiled whenever it became possible.
The second type of Jihad, however, is no longer operational. It is specific to people whom the Almighty selects for delivering the truth as an obligation. They are called witnesses to the truth; the implication being that they bear witness to the truth before other people in such a complete and ultimate manner that no one is left with an excuse to deny the truth. Bearing witness to the truth in such a manner is called ‘شهادة’ (shahadah). In the history of mankind, for the very last time this status was conferred on the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his nation, the Ishmaelites. Once the process of shahadah is complete, the truth is unveiled to a people in its ultimate form, and if they now deny it in spite of being convinced about it, they are punished in this very world. At times, this punishment is through earthquakes, cyclones and other calamities and disasters, while, at others, it emanates from the swords of the believers. As a result, those who have denied the truth are totally vanquished in their land and the truth reigns supreme in it. In the case of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta), the divine scourge took this very form. Consequently, just as they were asked to wage war against oppression and injustice, they were also asked to wage war to punish the rejecters of the truth once it had become totally manifest to them. This was actually a divine plan that was executed through human beings. They themselves were not authorized to even think of such an undertaking. It is to this very fact which the following Qur’anic words allude: ‘بِأَيْدِيكُمْ قَاتِلُوهُمْ يُعَذِّبْهُمْ اللَّهُ (9 :14) (Fight them and God will punish them with your hands. (9:14)).
. The Qur’anic word used is ‘عُدْوَانَ’. It means ‘cruelty’ and tyranny’; however, here it means ‘an offensive’. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
In the Arabic language, words sometimes are used merely to depict the same genre and sort. Their meaning is determined by their context and placement. For example it is said: ‘دِنَّاهُمْ كَمَا دَانُوا’ (We paid them back in the same coins). Obviously the word ‘دَانُوا’ has been used because of its apparent similarity with ‘دِنَّا’ otherwise a word such as ‘فَعَلُوْا’ or some other word of similar meaning should have been used. Consider the Qur’anic expression: ‘جَزَا سَيِّئَةٍ سَيّئَةٌ مِثْلُهَا’ (The recompense of evil is a similar evil). Everyone knows that recompense of evil is not evil; however, in order to express harmony of genre with the previous word the punishment of a crime is also called ‘سَيّئَةٌ’ (evil). Similarly, later in the given verses it is said: ‘فَمَنِ اعْتَدَى عَلَيْكُمْ فَاعْتَدُواْ عَلَيْهِ’ (Whoever commits excesses against you, you can also pay him back in equal coins). In this verse, what is done in response to the excesses committed by some is also called ‘اعْتَدَى’ (to commit excesses), although it merely means ‘an action equal in measure to what was inflicted’. The only reason to use it was to make it in generic conformity with the first word. As per this common usage of Arabic, in the given verse also the word ‘عُدْوَانَ’ is used similarly and only connotes an action equal in measure to what was inflicted. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 479)
. The implication is that if they leave their animosity and embrace faith then they will not be punished for their former crimes. After this, any such punishment will only be permissible for those who adhere to their denial and do not reform themselves.
. The implication is that if they violate the sanctity of the sacred months then Muslims too have the right that they wage war against them disregarding this sanctity because such sanctities can only be maintained mutually and a single party cannot do so.
. This is the reason for the directives stated earlier. While explaining this verse, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, writes:
This verse implies that fighting in the forbidden months or fighting within the boundaries of Haram is a big sin. However, if the disbelievers disregard their sanctity, Muslims on account of Qisas also have the right to divest them of the protection that these sacred entities afford them. The life of every person carries great sanctity in the eyes of the Shari‘ah. However, when a person violates this sanctity and kills someone, then he himself will be deprived of the right of sanctity for his own life to avenge his own deed. Similarly, the sanctity of the forbidden months and of the Haram itself shall be upheld in all circumstances on the condition that the disbelievers also uphold it and do not oppress and tyrannize people in them. However, if they unsheathe their swords in the forbidden months and in the sacred land of Makkah, then on account of Qisas they themselves deserve to be divested of the protection these months and this land hold for them. The verse goes on to say that just as that taking of Qisas for the forbidden months is necessary, the Qisas of other sacred entities must also be taken. In other words, if the disbelievers deprive Muslims of the right of protection that certain sacred things hold for them, Muslims too have the right as a result of Qisas to pay them back in equal coins or measure. Consequently, whatever measures the disbelievers adopt in violation of the sanctity of the Haram and the forbidden months, Muslim too can retaliate – but they must fear God and retaliate on equal footings: neither should they initiate such violations nor exceed the limits while retaliating against any aggression in this regard. Only those people become worthy of Divine Help who are fearful of the Almighty in all circumstances. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), pp. 479-80)
. The Qur’anic words used are: ‘وَلاَ تُلْقُواْ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ’. The word ‘التَّهْلُكَة’ is a verbal noun and there is an ellipses of the word ‘أنْفُسَكُمْ’ before ‘ِأَيْدِيكُمْ’ as per the linguistic principles of Arabic. In 9:42, the words used to convey what has been said here are ‘يُهْلِكُوْنَ أنْفُسَكُم . In the opinion of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi these words paint the picture of a person who with outstretched hands is diving in a sea or a cave. The implication is that those who evade sacrificing their life and wealth on such occasions are in fact flinging themselves into destruction because what these people of greed regard as success is destruction in the view of God.
. The Qur’anic word used is: ‘أَحْسِنُوَاْ’. It is co-ordinated to the word ‘وَأَنفِقُواْ’. The implication is that one should spend one’s cherished wealth in the way of God with full fervour and inclination of the heart. Such spending only is dear to God. Certain other verses of the Qur’an allude to this aspect as well.