Explaining the War-related Quranic Verse:4:89-Part 3

WordForPeace.com

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi

Allah Almighty says in the verse 4:89:

“They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad peace be upon him). But if they turn back, take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them.”

In order to better understand this verse, it is essential to identify those people who have been referred to in this verse. Why the Quran commanded to kill those people? It is also as much necessary to know how come the holy Quran be unjust, while it asks the believers to accept the peace proposal of disbelievers [8:61], fight only against those who oppress people [42:42] uphold justice and kindness [16:90] prefer forgiveness as an option against retaliation [42:40/16:126-128] and which considers killing of one person tantamount to that of all mankind [5:32]? Such are the questions need to be taken into mind, prior to moving forward.

To understand the motif of the verse 4:89 in its entirety, let us now read it along with its both preceding and succeeding verses and we can then find out all answers to the above questions. Allah Almighty says,

4:88: “Then what is the matter with you that you are divided into two parties about the hypocrites? Allah has cast them back (to disbelief) because of what they have earned. Do you want to guide him whom Allah has made to go astray? And he whom Allah has made to go astray, you will never find for him any way (of guidance).”

4:89: “They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad peace be upon him). But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them.”

4:90: “Except those who join a group, between you and whom there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with their breasts restraining from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. Had Allah willed, indeed He would have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they withdraw from you, and fight not against you, and offer you peace, then Allah has opened no way for you against them.”

Reason for Revelation of the Verse 4:89

This verse is not difficult to understand, especially after reading its reason for revelation [Shan e Nuzul]. According to ‘Ruh ul Bayan’, a famous and widely-accepted classical book of Tafsir, this verse was revealed concerning those hypocrites who did not find the existing conditions in Madina to their liking but left with the holy Prophet (peace be upon him) to participate in the Battle of Badr. On the way they deserted Muslims and went to Makkah in order to join the ranks of the polytheists. There was a difference of opinion amongst the Muslims concerning this group, whether they are hypocrites or as clear infidels, and at an opportune moment, [that is, during fighting] should they be put to death for their treachery or not. In response to this question the above verse was revealed. Hence there is no inconsistency, with regard to the contents of this verse. (Tafsir Ruh ul Bayan)

According to the report mentioned in the book of Tafsir “Ruh ul Ma’ani”, this verse refers to those people who emigrated from Makkah to Madinah and then turned apostates. They requested the beloved prophet [peace be upon him] for permission to return to Makkah, so that they may gather their trading stock and resume business. The Muslims were divided about these people. Some called them hypocrites while others considered them to be Muslims. To resolve their division, Allah revealed the above verse, exposing their hypocrisy and ordering their execution.

According to Hadrat Dhahhak, the verse refers to those people who remained in Makkah. Although they claimed to be Muslims, they did not migrate. Consequently, the Muslims were divided about them. Some considered them to be hypocrites and severed all ties with them. Others maintained their relationship with them. The verse was then revealed to clear the dispute and instructed the Muslims not to associate with them until they migrate.

Having reported these two narrations, the author of ‘Ruh ul Ma’ani’ records the following narration of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasai and Ahmad. It is reported that when the Muslims were marching towards Uhud, a group of hypocrites [Munafiqin] turned back. The Muslims were divided about their condition. Some wanted them killed, while others did not. The above verse was revealed on this occasion, in which Allah says, “Then what is the matter with you that you are divided into two parties about the hypocrites? Allah has cast them back (to disbelief) because of what they have earned. Do you want to guide him whom Allah has made to go astray? And he whom Allah has made to go astray, you will never find for him any way (of guidance” (4:88)

Thereafter, Allah makes mention of the evil schemes of the hypocrites (Munafiqin). Allah says, “They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad peace be upon him). But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them.” (4:89)

….. “But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them….” When considering all the three verses together, it becomes clear that the verses referred to all three types of hypocrites mentioned in the above three narrations. However the execution order did not apply to all of them because the hypocrites of Madinah were not executed.

The order for execution and separation applied to all the hypocrites (Munafiqin) “Except those who join a group, between you and whom there is a treaty (of peace).” [Anwarul Bayan]

Excluded from the instruction of execution are also those who “approach you with their breasts restraining from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. Had Allah willed, indeed He would have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they withdraw from you, and fight not against you, and offer you peace, then Allah has opened no way for you against them.” This means that, in this case, the Muslims are not allowed to fight them.

The aforementioned three verses guided the Arabian Muslims of the early period of Islam not to be divided into two groups about the Arabian hypocrites. These verses signified that these hypocrites, because of their misdeeds, were deprived of blessing of guidance. They were those people who hypocritically pretended to be the followers of Islam and friends of Muslims, but inwardly hated and wanted the then Muslims to reject their faith. Some of these hypocrites used to support the Arabian oppressors in war and propaganda against the Muslims. It was therefore God Almighty commanded the Muslims to fight and kill such destructive hypocrites, if they were found in the state of war. Fighting was allowed against those hypocrites who turned oppressors by supporting the Makkan oppressors and not against those hypocrites who joined the group with peace-treaty and restrained from fighting.

In today’s context, when Muslims and non-Muslims including hypocrites are living peacefully, these verses (4:88-90) can’t be applied. It is not an individual’s duty to decide as to who are hypocrites. In the case of the early period of Islam, when the Muslims who were holy companions [Sahaba] were not all sure as to who were then hypocrites and who were not, how come today’s common Muslims categorically call others ‘hypocrites’?

Even if we hear some of today’s scholars calling someone ‘hypocrite’, how can one make justification for killing him, while he is living in the state of peace or peace-treaty? The first mistake of today’s radical groups is their applying the war-related verse 4:89 to today’s peaceful environment, in order to kill those who, according to them, are non-Muslims or ‘hypocrite Muslims’, while their second mistake is their intentionally ignoring the next verse 4:90 which says, “those who join a group, between you and whom there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with their breasts restraining from fighting you..” should not be killed. The last part of the same verse again and emphatically says, “So if they [hypocrites] withdraw from you, and fight not against you, and offer you peace, then Allah has opened no way for you against them.” [4:90] In short the misuse of war-related verse 4:89 by terrorist ideologues is categorically a great crime, for which they shall have to be accountable on the Day of Judgment.

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