We shall now examine the details of the punishment that the Almighty administered to the disbelievers in the era of Muhammad (sws) in the overall perspective of the various phases of his preaching mission.


i. The Propagation Phase

In the fortieth year of his life, Muhammad (sws) was summoned by the Almighty to serve Him. Makkah at the time was the social and cultural centre of Arabia. It was its central city. So, in accordance with the Almighty’s established practice of sending a messengerto the central city of a land, Muhammad (sws) was called upon to begin his endeavour in this city:

وَكَذَلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِتُنْذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَى وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا وَتُنْذِرَ يَوْمَ الْجَمْعِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ فَرِيقٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَفَرِيقٌ فِي السَّعِيرِ (42 :7)

And thus have We sent by inspiration to you an Arabic Qur’an that you may warn the Mother of Cities and all around her; – and warn [them] of the Day of Assembly of which there is no doubt [when] some will be in the Garden, and some in the Blazing Fire. (42:7)

In Makkah, where Muhammad (sws) spent about thirteen years of his preaching endeavour, his addressees were basically the Idolaters – the descendants of the Prophet’s great ancestor: the Prophet Ishmael (sws). However, the People of the Book were also addressed at various instances. Besides these two distinct pockets of opponents, there were the munafiqun (the Hypocrites) of whom only a few were in Makkah and who emerged as a sizeable faction in Madinah as the Islamic message started to gain momentum.

Muhammad (sws) bore witness to the truth before all these three groups and refuted their evil beliefs. In the terminology of the Qur’an (33:44-45), this is called shahadah. He revived various Abrahamic practices and rituals, cleansing them of various interpolations added by the polytheists, and delineating the basic truth of accountability in the Hereafter before God on the basis of a person’s deeds.

The real debate with the Idolaters concerned their polytheistic beliefs and religious innovations (bid‘at). They were repeatedly asked to give up their religion of Idolatry since it had no grounds. Only the Almighty could have told them that He had associated certain other deities with Himself. Without the sanction of the Almighty, they had no means to know such details for themselves. Consequently, when they claimed that polytheism was revealed to them by the Almighty Himself, the Qur’an called this a vicious lie:

إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءٌ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنْتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمْ مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَمَا تَهْوَى الْأَنْفُسُ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَهُمْ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ الْهُدَى (53 :23)

These are nothing but names which you have devised – you and your fathers – for which Allah has sent down no authority [whatsoever]. They follow nothing but conjecture and what their own souls desire! – even though there has already come to them guidance from their Lord! (53:23)

It is precisely for this reason that their denial of monotheism amounted to a deliberate rejection of the truth, as a result of which they would have to face the punishment of Hell in the Hereafter:

بَلَى قَدْ جَاءَتْكَ آيَاتِي فَكَذَّبْتَ بِهَا وَاسْتَكْبَرْتَ وَكُنْتَ مِنْ الْكَافِرِينَ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ تَرَى الَّذِينَ كَذَبُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ وُجُوهُهُمْ مُسْوَدَّةٌ أَلَيْسَ فِي جَهَنَّمَ مَثْوًى لِلْمُتَكَبِّرِينَ (39 :59-60)

Nay there came to you My signs and you rejected them and showed haughtiness and as a result became from among the disbelievers. On the Day of Judgement, you will see that faces of those who told lies against God will turn black. Is not in Hell an abode for the haughty? (39:59-60)

Similarly, the People of the Book were asked to desist from their attitude of hostility and antagonism and to honour the covenant they had made of professing belief in the final Messenger – someone whose name was mentioned in their very books:

وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ إِذَا عَاهَدْتُمْ وَلَا تَنقُضُوا الْأَيْمَانَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا وَقَدْ جَعَلْتُمْ اللَّهَ عَلَيْكُمْ كَفِيلًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّتِي نَقَضَتْ غَزْلَهَا مِنْ بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ أَنكَاثًا تَتَّخِذُونَ أَيْمَانَكُمْ دَخَلًا بَيْنَكُمْ أَنْ تَكُونَ أُمَّةٌ هِيَ أَرْبَى مِنْ أُمَّةٍ إِنَّمَا يَبْلُوكُمْ اللَّهُ بِهِ وَلَيُبَيِّنَنَّ لَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مَا كُنْتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ (16 : 91-92)

And fulfil the covenant of Allah when you have entered into it, and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them: indeed you have made Allah your witness; for Allah knows all that you do. And be not like a woman who breaks into untwisted strands the yarn she has spun after it has become strong. Nor take your oaths to practice deception between yourselves, lest one party should be more numerous than another: for Allah will test you by this; and on the Day of Judgement He will certainly make clear to you [the truth of] that wherein you disagree. (16:91-92)

قَالَ عَذَابِي أُصِيبُ بِهِ مَنْ أَشَاءُ وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَسَأَكْتُبُهَا لِلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ بِآيَاتِنَا يُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الْأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِنْدَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنْ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمْ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمْ الْخَبَائِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِهِ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا النُّورَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ مَعَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (7: 156-157)

He [–the Almighty–] said: “With My punishment I visit whom I will; but My Mercy extends to all things. That [mercy] I shall ordain for those who do right, and practice regular charity, and those who believe in Our Signs – those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own [Scriptures] in the Torah and in the Injil – for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good [and pure] and prohibits them from what is bad [and impure]; he releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that were upon them. So those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the Light which is sent down with him – it is they who shall prosper.” (7:156-157)

Like the Idolaters also, their real crime, according to the Qur’an, was deliberate denial:

أَفَغَيْرَ اللّهِ أَبْتَغِي حَكَمًا وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنَزَلَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكِتَابَ مُفَصَّلاً وَالَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ مُنَزَّلٌ مِّن رَّبِّكَ بِالْحَقِّ فَلاَ تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ (114:6)

Should I seek a judge other than God when it is He who has revealed the Book for you with all its precepts? Those to whom We gave the Book know that the Qur’an has been revealed by your Lord with truth. Therefore have no doubts. (6:114)

فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ مَا عَرَفُوا كَفَرُوا بِهِ فَلَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ  عَلَى الْكَافِرِين(2:89)

So when there came to them that which they recognized, they disbelieved in it. So let the curse of Allah be on the disbelievers. (2:89)

وَدَّ كَثِيرٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَوْ يَرُدُّونَكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ إِيمَانِكُمْ كُفَّارًا حَسَدًا مِنْ عِنْدِ أَنفُسِهِمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ الْحَقُّ (2 :109)

Many of the people of the Book wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed out of envy from their own selves even after the truth has become manifest to them. (2:109)

كَيْفَ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ قَوْمًا كَفَرُوا بَعْدَ إِيمَانِهِمْ وَشَهِدُوا أَنَّ الرَّسُولَ حَقٌّ وَجَاءَهُمْ الْبَيِّنَاتُ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ (3 :86)

How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief and after they bore witness that the Messenger [Muhammad (sws)] is true and after clear proofs had come unto them? And Allah guides not the people who are wrong-doers. (3:86)

Initially, Muhammad (sws) could muster very little support from his tribe in favour of his message. Most people of Makkah rejected his call and only a few youth of the city accepted it. The hostility shown by the chiefs of Makkah was so severe that most people reckoned that it would only be a matter of days before this newly founded faith would reach a disastrous end. Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) were put through severe physical torture and mental affliction. Such was the extent of the persecution suffered by the Prophet (sws) that for many years he had to confine his endeavour to his near relatives. However, after many years of persistent struggle, when it became evident that the people of Makkah were denying the Prophet (sws) due to sheer obstinacy, the Almighty asked him to dissociate himself from these people.


ii. The Acquittal Phase

After thirteen long years of calling people to the truth, the Almighty told Muhammad (sws) that the truth had been unveiled to the Idolaters of Makkah. They had deliberately denied it, and therefore were now liable for punishment. In the meantime, the city of Madinah had come under the influence of the Divine message and its chiefs readily accepted Islam. Muhammad (sws) was directed to migrate to Madinah and leave his people. Surah Kafirun records this declaration of acquittal in the following words:

قُلْ يَاأَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ وَلَا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ وَلَا أَنَا عَابِدٌ مَا عَبَدتُّمْ وَلَا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ (109 :1-6)

Declare [O Prophet!]: “O you Disbelievers! I shall worship not that which you worship. Nor will you ever worship [alone] that which I worship. Nor ever before this was I prepared to worship that which you worshipped. Nor were you ever prepared to worship that which I have been worshipping. [So, now] to you your religion and to me mine.” (109:1-6)

These words, it needs to be appreciated, are not meant to condemn or chide them; they actually convey their true behaviour. After thirteen long years of propagation and exhortation, the leaders of the Quraysh had refused the calls of sense and reason. Their denial was based on nothing but stubbornness in spite of the fact that the truth had been revealed to them in its purest form. The last verse of the surah, it must be appreciated, is not an expression of tolerance; it expresses renunciation on the part of the Prophet (sws) and a warning to the disbelievers that they must now get ready to face the consequences of their obdurate denial.

As far as the People of the Book were concerned, the migration did not end the propagation phase for them since many of them were based in Madinah. They were given more time to contemplate the consequences of denial until at a certain point in time in Madinah, their time for accepting faith expired too. In other words, the shahadah (bearing conclusive evidence to the truth) reached its completion for them in the Madinan period after which Judgement was pronounced upon them together with the Hypocrites and the Idolaters of Arabia.


iii. The Judgement Phase

Following are the details of the Judgement when it finally took place:

(1) The Reward

After Muhammad (sws) migrated to Madinah, the people of Arabia to whom the truth had already been unveiled were given a further chance to contemplate upon the consequences of their denial. Here in Madinah, the believers were prepared to launch a final assault on the disbelievers. They were told that their opponents would never be able to triumph over them:

وَلَوْ قَاتَلَكُمْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوَلَّوْا الْأَدْبَارَ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُونَ وَلِيًّا وَلَا نَصِيرًا سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَلَنْ تَجِدَ لِسُنَّةِ اللَّهِ تَبْدِيلًا (48 :22-23)

And if the disbelieversshould fight you, they would certainly turn their backs; then would they find neither a protector nor a helper. Such has been the practice approved of God already in the past: no change will you find in the practice approved of God. (48:22-23)

They are given glad tidings of success in the following words:

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمْ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا وَمَنْ كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْفَاسِقُونَ (55:24)

God has promised to those among you who professed belief and did righteous deeds that He will of surety grant you political authority in this land as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish their religion – the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change [their state] after the fear in which they [lived] to one of security and peace: “They will worship Me [alone] and not associate anyone with Me.” If any do reject faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked. (24:55)

The sincere among them who were guilty of some blemishes were forgiven after some punishment:

وَعَلَى الثَّلَاثَةِ الَّذِينَ خُلِّفُوا حَتَّى إِذَا ضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ الْأَرْضُ بِمَا رَحُبَتْ وَضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ أَنفُسُهُمْ وَظَنُّوا أَنْ لَا مَلْجَأَ مِنْ اللَّهِ إِلَّا إِلَيْهِ ثُمَّ تَابَ عَلَيْهِمْ لِيَتُوبُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ (9 :118)

And [He turned in mercy also] to the three whose matter was deferred to such a degree that the earth seemed constrained to them for all its spaciousness, and their souls seemed straitened to them – and they perceived that there is no fleeing from Allah but to Him. Then, He turned to them that they might repent: for Allah readily accepts repentance and is the Most-Merciful. (9:118)

The weak among them were told that if they repented and mended their ways and remained steadfast, then hopefully the Almighty would also forgive them:

وَآخَرُونَ اعْتَرَفُوا بِذُنُوبِهِمْ خَلَطُوا عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَآخَرَ سَيِّئًا عَسَى اللَّهُ أَنْ يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (9 :102)

And there are others who have acknowledged their wrong-doings: they have mixed an act that was good with another that was evil. Perhaps, God will turn unto them [in mercy]: for God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (9:102)


(2) The Punishment

It should be remembered that as per the divine practice discussed in the previous pages, after intentionally denying the truth, the Idolaters and the People of the Book had become culpable of punishment by death. However, the Almighty selectively awarded death to them. While the active adversaries of both denominations were put to death, the People of the Book were spared if they lived in subjugation to the Muslims, and the Idolaters were not given this option: they had to accept Islam or face death. The reason for this, as pointed out earlier, was that the People of the Book were primarily monotheists even though they were incriminated with certain blatant forms of polytheism and the Idolaters were avowed polytheists.


(i) For the Idolaters

Initially, the Idolaters were given an ultimatum of four months after which their humiliation would start:

بَرَاءَةٌ مِنْ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ إِلَى الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتُّمْ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ فَسِيحُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُمْ غَيْرُ مُعْجِزِي اللَّهِ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ مُخْزِي الْكَافِرِينَ (9 :1-2)

This is a declaration of acquittal from Allah and His Messenger from these Idolaters with whom you had made contracts. So move about in the land  for four months but you should know that you are not beyond the grasp of Allah and Allah shall indeed humiliate those who reject Him. (9:1-2)

Tribes who had honoured their contracts were provided immunity during the period of the contract. However, once the contract period ended, they would also be treated similarly:

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتُّمْ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَنقُصُوكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَمْ يُظَاهِرُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَحَدًا فَأَتِمُّوا إِلَيْهِمْ عَهْدَهُمْ إِلَى مُدَّتِهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ (9: 4)

But this action shall not be taken against those Idolaters with whom you have entered into alliance and who did not breach the contract nor aided anyone against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for Allah loves the pious. (9:4)

Later, this announcement was repeated for those people among these Idolaters who had not accepted faith until the day of hajj-i akbar (9th hijra). They were given a final extension by a proclamation made in the field of ‘Arafat on that day. According to the proclamation, this final extension would end with the last day of the month of Muharram. Before this period, they had to accept faith and demonstrate this acceptance by offering prayers and paying zakah; otherwise they would face execution at the end of that period. The Qur’an says:

فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ فَإِنْ تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (9 :5)

So when the forbidden months are over, slay the Idolaters wherever you find them. Seize them, surround them and everywhere lie in ambush for them. But if they repent from their wrong beliefs and diligently adhere to the prayer and pay zakah, then spare their lives. God is Oft-Forgiving and Ever-Merciful. (9:5)

However, if a person asked for asylum to understand the teachings of Islam, he was to be given this asylum and no action was to be taken against him until this period was over.

وَإِنْ أَحَدٌ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ اسْتَجَارَكَ فَأَجِرْهُ حَتَّى يَسْمَعَ كَلَامَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ أَبْلِغْهُ مَأْمَنَهُ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (9 :6)

And if anyone among the Idolaters asks you 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. (9:6)


(ii) For the People of the Book

A final charge sheet of the crimes of the People of the Book was presented to them in the following words:

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّهِ وَقَالَتْ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ قَوْلُهُمْ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ يُضَاهِئُونَ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ قَاتَلَهُمْ اللَّهُ أَنَّى يُؤْفَكُونَ اتَّخَذُوا أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا إِلَهًا وَاحِدًا لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ سُبْحَانَهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ  (9 :30-31)

And the Jews [of Arabia] call ‘Uzayr the son of God, and the Christians call Christ the son of God. That is a saying from their mouth; [In this] they but imitate what the disbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth. They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and [they take as their Lord] Christ, the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One God: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: [far is He] from having the partners they associate [with Him]. (9:30-31)

While delineating their fate, Ghamidi writes:[1]

After itmam al-hujjah,[2]it was the Jews who were subdued first. They had been granted amnesty because of various pacts. Those among them who violated these pacts were given the punishment of denying a rasul (messenger) of God. The Prophet (sws) exiled the tribe of Banu Qaynuqa‘ to Khaybar and that of Banu Nadir to Syria.[3] The power they wielded at Khaybar was crushed by an attack at their strongholds.[4] Prior to this, Abu Rafi‘ and Ka‘b ibn Ashraf were put to death in their houses.[5] The tribe of Banu Qurayzah was guilty of treachery and disloyalty in the battle of Ahzab.[6] When the clouds of war dispersed and the chances of an external attack no longer remained, the Prophet (sws) laid siege around them. When no hope remained, they asked the Prophet (sws) to appoint Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh (rta) as an arbitrator to decide their fate. Their request was accepted. Since, at that time, no specific punishment had been revealed in the Qur’an about the fate of the Jews, Sa‘d announced his verdict in accordance with the Torah. As per the Torah, the punishment for treason was that all men should be put to death; the women and children should be enslaved and the wealth of the whole nation should be distributed among the conquerors.[7] In accordance with this verdict pronounced, all men were executed.[8] No other incident worthy of note took place regarding the Jews until in Surah Tawbah the final judgement was declared against them:

قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلَا بِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَلَا يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلَا يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنْ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حَتَّى يُعْطُوا الْجِزْيَةَ عَنْ يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ (9: 29)

Fight those from among the People of the Book who believe not in Allah and the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor adopt the Religion of Truth as their own religion. [Fight them] until they pay the jizyah with willing submission and are subdued. (9:29)

This directive related to both the Jews and the Christians. The punishment mentioned in these verses was in fact a show of great lenience to them because of the fact that they were originally adherents to monotheism. In reality, they had become subject to death and destruction after deliberately denying Muhammad (sws). However, they did not benefit from this lenience because after the death of the Prophet (sws) they once again resorted to fraud and treachery.[9] Consequently, the Jews of Khaybar and the Christians of Najran were exiled once and for all from the Arabian peninsula by the Caliph ‘Umar (rta). This exile in fact thus fulfilled the following declaration of the Qur’an about them:

وَلَوْلَا أَنْ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ الْجَلَاءَ لَعَذَّبَهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَلَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابُ النَّارِ(3:59)

And had it not been that Allah had decreed exile for them, He would certainly have punished them in this world; and in the Hereafter theirs shall be the torment of the Fire. (59:3)


(iii) For the Hypocrites

In the third section of Surah Tawbah, the Hypocrites are taken to task and told that if they do not desist from this behaviour, they would meet their fate also:

يَحْلِفُونَ بِاللَّهِ مَا قَالُوا وَلَقَدْ قَالُوا كَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ وَكَفَرُوا بَعْدَ إِسْلَامِهِمْ وَهَمُّوا بِمَا لَمْ يَنَالُوا وَمَا نَقَمُوا إِلَّا أَنْ أَغْنَاهُمُ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ فَإِنْ يَتُوبُوا يَكُ خَيْرًا لَهُمْ وَإِنْ يَتَوَلَّوْا يُعَذِّبْهُمْ اللَّهُ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَمَا لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ (9 :74)

They swear by Allah that they said nothing [evil], but indeed they uttered blasphemy, and they did it after accepting Islam; and they hatched a plot which they were unable to carry out: this revenge of theirs was only because of the blessings with which Allah and His Messenger had enriched the Muslims. If they repent, it will be best for them; but if they turn back [to their evil ways], Allah will punish them with a grievous penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: they shall have none on earth to protect or help them. (9:74)

وَمِمَّنْ حَوْلَكُمْ مِنْ الْأَعْرَابِ مُنَافِقُونَ وَمِنْ أَهْلِ الْمَدِينَةِ مَرَدُوا عَلَى النِّفَاقِ لَا تَعْلَمُهُمْ نَحْنُ نَعْلَمُهُمْ سَنُعَذِّبُهُمْ مَرَّتَيْنِ ثُمَّ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَى عَذَابٍ عَظِيمٍ (9 :101)

And there are Hypocrites among the desert Arabs around you as well as among the Madinah folk: they are obstinate in hypocrisy: you do not know them: We know them: twice shall We punish them: and in addition shall they be sent to a grievous penalty. (9:101)

Ghamidi goes on to write:[10]

During this period [in Madinah], the Prophet (sws) presented his message to all the nearby nations outside Arabia.[11] By writing letters to the rulers of the nations,[12] he made it clear to them that from that time onwards Islam alone could guarantee existence for them.[13] This meant that just as the truth had been conclusively communicated through the Prophet (sws) to the Idolaters and the People of the Book of Arabia, it would also be conclusively communicated before his death to these nations. The obvious outcome of this was that these nations also would be punished in this world as per the divine law relating to deliberate rejection of the truth communicated to peoplebytheirrespectivemessengers.Consequently, this is what happened and after consolidating their rule in the Arabian peninsula, the Companions (rta) launched attacks against these countries giving them two options if they wanted to remain alive: to accept faith or to accept a life of subjugation by paying jizyah. None of these nations was an adherent to polytheism in the real sense; otherwise they would have been treated in the same way as the Idolaters of Arabia.

It is evident from these details that all these armed campaigns and offensives were not merely qital(war), but they were in reality a punishment of the Almighty. This punishment, which is meted out to those who deliberately deny the truth is an established practice of Allah. As a Divine scheme, it descended first upon the Idolaters and the People of the Book of Arabia and then to certain other nations outside it. Consequently, it is absolutely certain that fighting those who have deliberately rejected the truth and forcing the vanquished to lead a life of subjugation by imposing jizyah on them is no longer allowed.

In other words, the mere happening of shahadah by the Almighty through Prophet Muhammad (sws) in Arabia was enough to conclusively convey the truth to the rulers of neighbouring countries to whom the Prophet (sws) wrote these letters. The way this shahadah happened was that Makkah was conquered, the Quraysh were divested from their position of custodianship of the Baytullah and Islam became politically and religiously dominant in Arabia. In the wake of this, any evasion on the part of the rulers to whom these letters were sent amounted to a deliberate denial of the truth. As a result, they had to face the wrath of God in the form of attacks launched by the Companions (rta) after the departure of the Prophet (sws). The common masses of these countries were also observers of the divine judgement which took place in Arabia, and hence to them also the truth was conclusively conveyed. If they had any doubt in this matter, it stood removed when they observed their respective rulers being toppled by the Muslim armies. Moreover, an individual inquiry from them about the truth would of course have been treated in the same manner as it was in the case of Idolaters of Arabia.[14]

It is thus obvious that these attacks launched by the Companions (rta) were part of this divine scheme and after their departure, Muslims cannot wage war to punish people for not accepting Islam.[15]

[1]. Ghamidi, Mizan, 598-599.

[2]. Communication of the truth in such a conclusive manner that no one is left with any excuse to deny it.

[3]. Abu Muhammad‘Abd al-Malik ibn Hisham,Al-Sirah al-nabawiyyah, 2nd ed., vol. 3 (Beirut: Dar al-khayr, 1995), 40-42; Ibid. vol. 3, 151-160.

[4]. Ibid., 255-277.

[5]. Ibid., 43-48, 215-217; Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad ibn Sa‘d al-Zuhri, Al-Tabaqat al-kubra, vol. 2 (Beirut: Dar sadir, 1960), 28.

[6]. Ibn Hisham,Al-Sirah al-nabawiyyah, vol. 3, 180-182.

[7]. Deuteronomy, 20:10-14

[8]. Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad ibn Isma‘il al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 3rd ed., vol. 4 (Beirut: Dar Ibn Kathir, 1987), 1511, (nos. 3895, 3896); Abu al-Husayn Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj al-Qushayri, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih,vol. 3 (Beirut: Dar ihya’ al-turath al-‘arabi, n.d.), 1388, (nos. 1768, 1769).

[9]. Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, vol. 2, 973, (no. 2580); Abu Yusuf Ya‘qub ibn Ibrahim,Kitab al-khiraj, Fasl fi al-fay wa al-khiraj, (n.p.: 1302 AH), 42; Ahmad ibn Yahyaibn Jabiral-Baladhuri,Futuh al-buldan (Qum: Manshurat al-arummiyyah, 1404 AH), 73; Abu al-Hasan ‘Izz al-Din ibn Athir al-Jazari, Al-Kamil fi al-tarikh, 1st ed., vol. 2 (Beirut: Dar Beirut, 1965), 112.

[10]. Ghamidi, Mizan, 601.

[11]. This happened after the truce of Hudaybiyah, when after this pact of peace with the Quraysh, the situation arose in which the Prophet (sws) could extend his preaching endeavours.

[12]. The names of these heads of states are: 1. Negus of Abyssinia, 2. Maqawqas of Egypt, 3. Khusro Parvez of Persia, 4. Qaysar of Rome, 5. Mundhir ibn Sawiof Bahrain, 6. Hudhah ibn ‘Ali of Yamamah, 7. Harith ibn Abi Shamr of Damascus, 8. Jayfarof Amman. For details, see for example: Shams al-Din Muhammad ibn Abi bakr ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Zad al-ma‘ad fi hadyi khayr al-‘ibad, 14th ed. vol. 1 (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-risalah, 1986), 120-123.

[13]. Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, vol. 3, 1074-1076, (no. 2782); Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, vol. 3, 1393-1396, (no. 1773).

[14]. The words of the Qur’an, as quoted earlier, are:

وَإِنْ أَحَدٌ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ اسْتَجَارَكَ فَأَجِرْهُ حَتَّى يَسْمَعَ كَلَامَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ أَبْلِغْهُ مَأْمَنَهُ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (9 :6)

And if anyone among the Idolaters asks you 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. (9:6)

[15]. In this regard, it needs to be understood that, apart from self-defence, the only legitimate reason for an Islamic state to undertake jihad today is to curb oppression and persecution in some other state whether Muslim or Non-Muslim. The Qur’an (4:75) explicitly refers to this.