Challenge to Close Down Islam-watch: Debate on Quran 9:5, the 'Sword Verse'
03 Dec, 2008
Debate between editor MA Khan and Mr. Ahmed:
Dear readers, we received the following challenge from a Muslim brother, named Ahmed, to close down our site. We are very keen to close it down if the brother can prove us wrong; we have promised it and we will stand by it. Below is our exchange so far:
Subject: I challenge you
I am a Muslim, who is determined in destroying one of your silly concepts that Surah 9:5 advocates Terrorism. I would like to debate you regarding this Surah, as I already did to other Christians (knowing you’re all not), and refuted this claim. I challenge you for it, and if you ever did win me, I promise you, I am ready to leave Islam!!
- This is to show you my determination my friends, and hopefully realize your grave mistakes.
MA Khan’s reply:
To our understanding, this verse was designed for Idolaters/Polytheists, which defines their final status in Islam. It gives them the choice between death and Islam.
Please send your arguments and let the debate begin.
We look forward to be proved wrong and close the site.
Do you know this verse was brought in a war situation? The context is, the pagans and the Muslims had a peace treaty between them; the treaty was called the Treaty of Hudaiybiyah. But the Pagans have broken the treaty by attacking Muslim’s allies. Then, out of mercy, they were given three options:
1) To break the treaty
2) To break their relationship with Banu Bakr (the Pagans allies who attacked the Muslim allies - Banu Khuza)
3) To pay blood-money for the dead Khuza.
But the pagans, to show their non-interest in peace with Muslims, decided they have to break the treaty, they chose option one. After that, Mohammed (pbuh) and his army declared war with those pagans. Then they were given yet ANOTHER option, which is to either repent of their DEEDS, and become good citizens OR be killed to discontinue their filthy actions. So this was actually justified.
But as you can see, the whole thing was started by the pagans
(looking at the whole context through hadith, the Quran and tafsir).
Do you have an objection to this? If so, why?
MA Khan's response:
This verse has no relations with the breaking of the Hudaibiyah Treaty. This verse was revealed one after Muhammad conquered Mecca in the 8th year of Hijra. The early part of the Sura, verses 1–37, was revealed on the occasion of Hajj in the 9th year of Hijra. Maududi comments on the revelation of Sura that,
The first discourse (vv. 1-37), was revealed in Zil-Qa'adah A.H. 9 or thereabout. As the importance of the subject of the discourse required its declaration on the occasion of Haj the Holy Prophet despatched Hadrat Ali to follow Hadrat Abu Bakr, who had already left for Makkah as leader of the Pilgrims to the Ka'abah. He instructed Hadrat Ali to deliver the discourse before the representatives of the different clans of Arabia so as to inform them of the new policy towards the mushriks.
Ibn Kathir comments on the revelation of the verse that,
The first part of this honorable Surah was revealed to the Messenger of Allah when he returned from the battle of Tabuk, during the Hajj season, which the Prophet thought about attending. But he remembered that the idolators would still attend that Hajj, as was usual in past years, and that they perform Tawaf around the House while naked. He disliked to associate with them and sent Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, to lead Hajj that year and show the people their rituals, commanding him to inform the idolators that they would not be allowed to participate in Hajj after that season. He commanded him to proclaim,
﴿بَرَآءَةٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ﴾
Ibn Kathir adds:
Abu Ma’shar Al-Madani said that Muhammad bin Ka’b Al-Qurazi and several others said, "The Messenger of Allah sent Abu Bakr to lead the Hajj rituals on the ninth year (of Hijrah). He also sent ‘Ali bin Abi Talib with thirty or forty Ayat from Bara'ah (At-Tawbah), and he recited them to the people, giving the idolators four months during which they freely move about in the land. He recited these Ayat on the day of ‘Arafah (ninth of Dhul-Hijjah). The idolators were given twenty more days (till the end) of Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, Safar, Rabi’ Al-Awwal and ten days from Rabi` Ath-Thani. He proclaimed to them in their camping areas, ‘No Mushrik will be allowed to perform Hajj after this year, nor a naked person to perform Tawaf around the House.''' So Allah said,
Quran 9:5 says,
But when the forbidden months (i.e., 4-month grace-period given in verse 9:2) are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
On the significance of verse 9:5, the verse of the sword, Ibn Kathir writes:
(Caliph) Abu Bakr As-Siddiq used this and other honorable Ayat as proof for fighting those who refrained from paying the Zakah. These Ayat allowed fighting people unless, and until, they embrace Islam and implement its rulings and obligations. Allah mentioned the most important aspects of Islam here, including what is less important. Surely, the highest elements of Islam after the Two Testimonials, are the prayer, which is the right of Allah, the Exalted and Ever High, then the Zakah, which benefits the poor and needy. These are the most honorable acts that creatures perform, and this is why Allah often mentions the prayer and Zakah together. In the Two Sahihs (hadiths), it is recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أُقَاتِلَ النَّاسَ حَتَّى يَشْهَدُوا أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللهِ وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاة»
(I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayer and pay the Zakah.) This honorable Ayah (9:5) was called the Ayah of the Sword, about which Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, "It abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolator, every treaty, and every term.'' Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas commented: "No idolator had any more treaty or promise of safety ever since Surah Bara'ah was revealed. The four months, in addition to, all peace treaties conducted before Bara'ah was revealed and announced had ended by the tenth of the month of Rabi` Al-Akhir.''
Therefore, in the words of Islamic scholars whom you advise me to consult, this verse is the verse of the sword. It also defines the final status of Idolaters, Pagans, Animist Atheists etc. in Islam, which is conversion to Islam or the sword of Islam.
I hope you are convinced that you did not do your homework for the challenge you declared. We are still keen to shut down this side. We look forward to your next installment; but please do your homework before you send your next response. Otherwise, it’s waste of our time.
To the question of breaking the Hudaibiyah Treaty, it is Muhammad who broke the treaty, not the Quraysh. I have an article on Hudaibiyah Treaty for your reference: Tactics of Hamas and the Prophet's Treaty of Hudaibiyya.