What’s all about the chapter Al-Tauba (9) verse 5 of the Holy Qur’an ?
First thing to keep in mind is that Quran is the guidance for all mankind. It is not restricted to only Muslim but its teachings are open for everyone. Whether he is believer or non-believer. It would be advisable to read the Quran with its historical context as well as to read with the explanation of Quran. Just picking up random verses of the Quran without knowledge might even create more misunderstanding, distance.
One of the objections raised against Islam by the critics is on the verse 5 of Surah Taubah (Chapter 9): Allah says in the glorious Quran;
“And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 9 : 5)
The allegation is that Quran says that kill the Non-Muslims wherever you find them. This is the verse which is often quoted to show that Islam is a ruthless religion and it teaches its followers extremism.
Let’s open our perception towards this verse, but before that let us perceive what the Quran actually is. The Quran is not an ordinary article or a command that can be casually considered and determined by a single instance or get done with. It is like water, which evolves and perpetually suffices all kinds of life through time. The Quran is a legislation, a constitution, a decree, a guide, a catalogue for the human being (like how a machine has a catalogue provided with), to repeat, a constitution for all Mankind (beyond their time and ages). It is a Divine Book that wraps on itself the whole existence, its purpose, its evidence and bends through time and worldly reality. It is the guide for the human intellects’ deepest realms. It is a clarification of all doings and activities of man be it abstract or physical, guiding as to what would be the best and most appropriate for this machine (human being) to reach its marvel in the noblest way.
A clear pure book which guides and repeatedly commands to peace, righteousness, forbids killing and corruption of any kind (even that of the mind and heart). Who repeatedly describes its author, God, as the most merciful, most affectionate. Which prefers its believers to be called as the ones who humble submit, a book which entitles its institution with the name (islam) that means “Peace”. Would such a book then not be contradicting, if it commanded to shed blood without right? While the book states that there can be no contradiction in it? How can such a book command to murder and kill humans without a justified right?
The first thing to keep in mind is that the word mentioned in the verse 5 is Mushrikeen (Pagan Arab) which means polytheists and thus it does not include all the Non-Muslims. Err is to Human. Islamic principles are designed keeping this behaviour in mind. A time to realise our fault, reconciliate or rectify our errors is always given. Be it between spouses or break the covenant. When mushrikeens (polytheist) of makkah broke the covenant, God gave them exclusive 4 months period to recognise their disloyalty and rectify their mistake. Despite they didn’t change their way.
“So travel freely, [O disbelievers], throughout the land [during] four months but know that you cannot cause failure to Allah and that Allah will disgrace the disbelievers”. (Quran 9 : 2)
There were two Arab tribes (Banu Bakr and Banu khuza’a) who used to fight each other a lot. Banu khuza’a joined the Muslims and Banu Bakr joined the Quraish in Makkah. After a while, there arose a conflict between these two tribes regarding a stream of water. The conflict was pre-planned by Banu Bakr and they used this excuse to carry out their plot. A lot of people from Banu khuza’a were killed in that conflict. The Quraish were not only aware of this plan of Banu Bakr, but they provided Banu Bakr with ammunition as well. So knowing that Quraish were on their side, Banu Bakr settled some of their previous scores with Banu Khuza’a.
When this news reached Prophet pbuh he conducted an investigation and when this incidence was confirmed, he sent a delegation to Quraish with the message that you have three options: the Quraish must pay compensation for the murders committed (hundred camels for one life), or the Quraish should clearly declare that they have broken their ties with Banu Bakr and then the Muslims will deal with them, or the Muslims should be allowed to kill same number of people from a sub tribe of Banu Bakr (i.e. Banu Nafaasa) on the principle of life for life. Quraish rejected this proposal and said if Muslims attack any of our allies we will take action against them with equal might. They further said that Muslims can do whatever they want with us (meaning we are not afraid of them and we will take care of them). Because of this act of Quraish, the treaty of Hudabiyyah was annulled (as the fourth condition of the treaty was not honoured).
When the treaty was null and void, Muslims conquered Makkah in eighth Hijri, and Prophet pbuh assured Banu Khuza’a that appropriate action will be taken. In ninth Hijri some Muslims went for pilgrimage and then these verses of Surah Taubah were revealed. Prophet pbuh sent Ali pbuh to Makkah to recite these verses to the Polytheists. It’s just like that if criminal is given sufficient time by the time he is just making mischief what do you think..will police leave him ? No… if judge gives verdict that this Muslim or Hindu to be punished, it can not be applicable for all or can’t be generalised same thing here “Arrest them, besiege them and lie in ambush for them” for what they have done not addressing all non Muslim.
Furthermore, one has to combine this verse with the next verse which says “And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know” [Al Quran 9:6]. Meaning that in the battlefield if someone asks for asylum, not only give them protection but also escort them to a place of security. The question here is that which army General in the battlefield can give this type of command? This clearly proves that the main emphasis of Islam is on peace.
May the Almighty guide us all to the path of His liking.