يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ ۖ وَصَدٌّ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَكُفْرٌ بِهِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَإِخْرَاجُ أَهْلِهِ مِنْهُ أَكْبَرُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ ۚ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَكْبَرُ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ ۗ وَلَا يَزَالُونَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَرُدُّوكُمْ عَنْ دِينِكُمْ إِنِ اسْتَطَاعُوا ۚ وَمَنْ يَرْتَدِدْ مِنْكُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِ فَيَمُتْ وَهُوَ كَافِرٌ فَأُولَٰئِكَ حَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ
They ask you about the sacred month - about fighting therein. Say, "Fighting therein is great [sin], but averting [people] from the way of Allah and disbelief in Him and [preventing access to] al-Masjid al-Haram and the expulsion of its people therefrom are greater [evil] in the sight of Allah. And fitnah is greater than killing." And they will continue to fight you until they turn you back from your religion if they are able. And whoever of you reverts from his religion [to disbelief] and dies while he is a disbeliever - for those, their deeds have become worthless in this world and the Hereafter, and those are the companions of the Fire, they will abide therein eternally.
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(They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month…) [2:217]. Abu 'Abd AllahMuhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Shirazi informed us> Abu'l-Fadl Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah ibn Khimayruwayhal-Harawi> Abu'l-Hasan 'Ali ibn Muhammad al-Khuza'i> Abu'l-Yaman> al-Hakam ibn Nafi'> Shu'ayb ibn AbiHamzah> al-Zuhri who said: “'Urwah ibn al-Zubayr informed us that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless himand give him peace, sent a military expedition and appointed 'Abd Allah ibn Jahsh al-Asdi as its leader. Thisexpedition proceeded until they reached Nakhlah where they found 'Amr ibn al-Hadrami leading a tradecaravan for the Quraysh. That day was the last day of the sacred month. The Muslims were divided in theiropinion. Some of them said: 'We know for certain that today belongs to the sacred month, we are of theview that you should not violate it because of greed'. The opinion of those who desired the stuff of thisworld gained the upper hand; they attacked Ibn al-Hadrami, killed him and seized his camels. Ibn al-Hadrami was the first person to be killed in a fight between the Muslims and the disbelievers. Thedisbelievers of the Quraysh heard about the incident and sent a delegation to the Prophet, Allah bless himand give him peace. They said to him: 'Do you allow fighting in the sacred month?' As a response, Allah,exalted is He, revealed this verse (They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacredmonth…)”. Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Harithi informed us> 'Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Ja'far>'Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad al-Razi> Sahl ibn 'Uthman> Yahya ibn Abi Za'idah> Muhammad ibn Ishaq>al-Zuhri that he said: “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, sent 'Abd Allah ibn Jahshwith a group of Emigrants [in a military expedition]. One of the men who accompanied him, 'Abd Allah ibnWaqid al-Laythi, killed one of the disbelievers, 'Amr ibn al-Hadrami, in the last day of Rajab; they alsocaptured two prisoners and seized the camels of the disbelievers. When the Prophet, Allah bless him andgive him peace, found out, he told them: 'I did not command you to fight in the sacred month'. But theQuraysh said: 'Muhammad has violated the sacred month'. It was then that was revealed (They questionthee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month) up to His saying (for persecution is worsethan killing…), i.e. they were still persecuting you in Allah's Sacred Precinct after you had believed, and thisis greater in the sight of Allah than fighting the disbelievers during the sacred month while they stilldisbelieved in Allah”. Said al-Zuhri: “When this verse was revealed, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless himand give him peace, kept the camels and agreed to free the two prisoners in exchange of a ransom. OnceAllah, exalted is He, had removed the worry that had overcome those who had taken place in theaforementioned military expedition, they longed for Allah's reward. They said: 'O Prophet of Allah! Is itpossible that we take part in a military expedition and we do not get the reward that those who fight for thesake of Allah get?' Thereupon, Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Lo! those who believe, and those whoemigrate (to escape the persecution) and strive in the way of Allah…) [2:218]”. Some Qur'anic exegetessaid: “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, sent 'Abd Allah ibn Jahsh - the son of theProphet's paternal aunt - in the month of Jumada II, two months before the Battle of Badr, and a mere 17months after his arrival to Medina, [in a military expedition] along with eight men from the Emigrants,namely, Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas al-Zuhri, 'Ukkashah ibn Mahsan al-Asdi, 'Utbah ibn Ghazwan al-Salmi, AbuHudhayfah ibn 'Utbah ibn Rabi'ah, Suhayl ibn Bayda', 'Amir ibn Rabi'ah, Waqid ibn 'Abd Allah and Khalid ibnBukayr. He wrote for their leader, 'Abd Allah ibn Jahsh, some instructions and said to him: 'Go, by the nameof Allah! But do not read the instructions until you have traversed a distance of two days travel. Once youhave traveled for two days, open the letter and read it to your fellow companions, after which you canproceed to what I have commanded you to do. Do not coerce any of your fellow companions to follow you'.'Abd Allah traveled for two days, after which he dismounted and opened the letter. It read: 'In the Name ofAllah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. To proceed: Keep going with the grace of Allah, along with whoeverfollows you from among your fellow companions, until your reach the valley of Nakhlah. There, look out forthe caravan of Quraysh, that haply you may bring us some news about it'. When 'Abd Allah read the letter,he said: 'I hear and obey'. After informing his fellow companions about the content of the letter, he toldthem that the Prophet instructed him not to coerce any one of them to follow him. But when they reachedMa'din, above al-Furu', Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas and 'Utbah ibn Ghazwan lost a camel which they were trailing.They asked permission to stay behind to try to find their camel, and permission was granted to them. 'AbdAllah proceeded with the rest of his fellow companions until they reached the valley of Nakhlah, betweenMecca and Medina. As they were waiting there, the camels of Quraysh, which were carrying raisins, tannedskins and some of the merchandise of Ta'if, came their way. The Qurashites who accompanied the caravanincluded 'Amr ibn al-Hadrami, al-Hakam ibn Kaysan, 'Uthman ibn 'Abd Allah ibn al-Mughirah, Nawfal ibn 'AbdAllah, the latter two being from the Banu Makhzum. When these men saw the Companions of the Messengerof Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, they became scared. 'Abd Allah ibn Jahsh said: 'They arescared of you. Let one of you shave his head and then go to them. Once they see his shaved head, they willfeel safe, thinking that we are pilgrims'. They shaved the head of 'Ukashah who then went to them. Whenthey saw him, they said: 'These are pilgrims, no harm shall come to you', and felt therefore safe. This wason the last day of Jumada II. But they were not absolutely certain whether it was the last day of Jumada IIor the first day of Rajab. They deliberated with each other. Some of them said: 'If you let them go tonight,the sacred month will begin and then you will be safe from them'. They all agreed to attack those people.Waqid ibn 'Abd Allah al-Tamimi threw an arrow at 'Amr ibn al-Hadrami and killed him. He was the firstidolater to be killed by a Muslim. Al-Hakam and 'Uthman were taken prisoners. These were the firstprisoners in Islam. Nawfal, on the other hand, escaped and could not be captured by the Muslims. Thebelievers then led the camels and the two prisoners and went back to the Messenger of Allah, Allah blesshim and give him peace, in Medina. The Quraysh cried: 'Muhammad has violated the sacred month, a monthin which the one who is fearful is safe and the period when people spread for their livelihoods. He has shedblood and taken other people's properties as booty in this sacred month'. The people of Mecca heaved abuseat the Muslims who were still among them. They said: 'O apostates! You have violated the sacred month byyour engagement in fighting'. The Jews took this incident as a good omen. When the Messenger of Allah,Allah bless him and give him peace, heard of this, he said to 'Abd Allah ibn Jahsh and his fellow companions:'I did not command you to fight in the sacred month', and he suspended his judgement concerning thecaptured caravan and the two prisoners. Those who took part in this military expedition were mortified; theythought they were doomed and felt utterly helpless. They said: 'O Messenger of Allah! We killed Ibn al-Hadrami and in the evening we saw the moon of Rajab. We do not know therefore whether we had killedhim in the month of Jumada II or in Rajab'. People debated this matter a great deal, and then Allah, exaltedis He, revealed (They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month). At thatpoint, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, kept a fifth of the caravan - this was thefirst fifth ever taken in Islam - and divided the rest on those who took part in the military expedition, andthis became the first booty ever captured in Islam. The people of Mecca then sent for ransom for theirprisoners. But the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: 'No, we shall wait until Sa'd and 'Utbahcome back. If they fail to come back, we will kill the prisoners in retaliation'. When 'Utbah and Sa'd cameback, the two prisoners were ransomed”. As for al-Hakam ibn Kaysan, he later embraced Islam and stayedwith the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, in Medina. He was martyred in the Battleof Bi'r Ma'unah. 'Uthman ibn 'Abd Allah went back to Mecca and died there as a disbeliever. Nawfal hadforced his horse, at the Battle of the Ditch, to jump over the ditch. He fell with his horse in the ditch, causinghis death and the death of his horse. Allah, exalted is He, killed him there and when the idolaters requestedto retrieve his corpse in exchange for money, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give peace, said:“Take him! His corpse is vile and his blood money is vile too”. This is then the occasion of revelation of thesaying of Allah, exalted is He: (They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacredmonth…) as well as that of the subsequent verse.
يَسْـَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ وَصَدٌّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَكُفْرٌ بِهِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَإِخْرَاجُ أَهْلِهِ مِنْهُ أَكْبَرُ عِندَ اللَّهِ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَكْبَرُ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ وَلاَ يَزَالُونَ يُقَـتِلُونَكُمْ حَتَّى يَرُدُّوكُمْ عَن دِينِكُمْ إِنِ اسْتَطَاعُواْ وَمَن يَرْتَدِدْ مِنكُمْ عَن دِينِهِ فَيَمُتْ وَهُوَ كَافِرٌ فَأُوْلـئِكَ حَبِطَتْ أَعْمَـلُهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالاٌّخِرَةِ وَأُوْلـئِكَ أَصْحَـبُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَـلِدُونَ - إِنَّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُواْ وَجَـهَدُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أُوْلـئِكَ يَرْجُونَ رَحْمَةَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(217. They ask you concerning fighting in the Sacred Months. Say, "Fighting therein is a great (transgression) but a greater (transgression) with Allah is to prevent mankind from following the way of Allah, to disbelieve in Him, to prevent access to Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah), and to drive out its inhabitants, and Al-Fitnah is worse than killing.'' And they will never cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion (Islamic Monotheism) if they can. And whosoever of you turns back from his religion and dies as a disbeliever, then his deeds will be lost in this life and in the Hereafter, and they will be the dwellers of the Fire. They will abide therein forever.)
(218. Verily, those who have believed, and those who have emigrated (for Allah's religion) and have striven hard in the way of Allah, all these hope for Allah's mercy. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.)
Ibn Abu Hatim reported that Jundub bin `Abdullah said: Allah's Messenger assembled a group of men under the command of Abu `Ubaydah bin Jarrah. When he was about to march, he started crying for the thought of missing Allah's Messenger . Consequently, the Messenger relieved Abu `Ubaydah from command, appointed `Abdullah bin Jahsh instead, gave him some written instructions and commanded him not to read the instructions until he reached such and such area. He also said to `Abdullah:
«لَا تُكْرِهَنَّ أَحَدًا عَلَى السَّيْرِ مَعَكَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِك».
(Do not compel any of your men to continue marching with you thereafter.) When `Abdullah read the instructions, he recited Istirja` saying, `Truly! to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return'; and refer to (2:156) and said, "I hear and obey Allah and His Messenger.'' He then told his companions the story and read the instructions to them, and two men went back while the rest remained. Soon after, they found Ibn Hadrami (one of the disbelievers of Quraysh) and killed him not knowing that that day was in Rajab or Jumadi (where Rajab is the Sacred Month). The polytheists said to the Muslims, "You have committed murder in the Sacred Month.'' Allah then revealed:
يَسْـَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ
(They ask you concerning fighting in the Sacred Months. Say, "Fighting therein is a great (transgression)...'') Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, who compiled the Sirah (life story of the Prophet ), related that Ziyad bin `Abdullah Bakka'i said that Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar Al-Madani wrote in his book on the Sirah, "Allah's Messenger sent `Abdullah bin Jahsh bin Riyab Al-Asadi in Rajab, after he (the Prophet ) came back from the first battle of Badr. The Prophet sent eight people with him, all from among the Muhajirun and none from the Ansar. He also gave him some written instructions and ordered him not to read them until he marched for two days. `Abdullah should then read the instructions and march to implement them, but should not force any of those who were with him to accompany him. The companions of `Abdullah bin Jahsh were all from the Muhajirun, from the tribe of Banu `Abd Shams bin `Abd Manaf, there was Abu Hudhayfah bin `Utbah bin Rabi`ah bin `Abd Shams bin `Abd Manaf. From their allies, there was `Abdullah bin Jahsh, who was the commander of the army unit, and `Ukkashah bin Mihsan from the tribe of Banu Asad bin Khuzaymah. From the tribe of Banu Nawfal bin `Abd Manaf, there was `Utbah bin Ghazwan bin Jabir, one of their allies. From the tribe of Banu Zuhrah bin Kilab, there was Sa`d bin Abu Waqqas. From Banu Ka`b, there were their allies: `Adi bin `Amr bin Ar-Rabi`ah not from the tribe of Ibn Wa'il; Waqid bin `Abdullah bin `Abd Manaf bin `Arin bin Tha`labah bin Yarbu` from Banu Tamim; and Khalid bin Bukair from the tribe of Banu Sa`d bin Layth, Suhayl bin Bayda' from Banu Al-Harith bin Fihr was also among them. When `Abdullah bin Jahsh marched for two days, he opened and read the (Prophet's) instructions, "When you read these instructions, march until you set camp at Nakhlah between Makkah and At-Ta'if. There, watch the movements of the caravan of Quraysh and collect news about them for us.'' When `Abdullah bin Jahsh read the document, he said, "I hear and obey.'' He then said to his companions, "Allah's Messenger has commanded me to march forth to Nakhlah to watch the movements of the caravan of Quraysh and to inform him about their news. He has prohibited me from forcing any of you (to go with me). So, those who seek martyrdom, they should march with me. Those who dislike the idea of martyrdom, let them turn back. Surely, I will implement the command of Allah's Messenger .'' He and his companions continued without any of them turning back. `Abdullah entered the Hijaz area (western Arabia) until he reached an area called Buhran, close to Furu`. There, Sa`d bin Abu Waqqas and `Utbah bin Ghazwan lost the camel that they were riding in turns, and they went back to search for it while `Abdullah bin Jahsh and the rest of his companions continued until they reached Nakhlah. Then, a caravan belonging to the Quraysh passed by carrying raisins, food stuff and some trade items for the Quraysh. `Amr bin Hadrami, whose name was `Abdullah bin `Abbad, was in the caravan, as well as `Uthman bin `Abdullah bin Al-Mughirah and his brother Nawfal bin `Abdullah from the tribe of Makhzum, and Al-Hakam bin Kaysan, a freed slave of Hisham bin Al-Mughirah. When they saw the Companions they were frightened, but when they saw `Ukkashah bin Mihsan their fears subsided, since his head was shaved. They said, "These people seek the `Umrah, so there is no need to fear them.'' The Companions conferred among themselves. That day was the last day in the (sacred) month of Rajab. They said to each other, "By Allah! If you let them pass, they will soon enter the Sacred Area and take refuge in it from you. If you kill them, you will kill them during the Sacred Month.'' They at first hesitated and did not like to attack them. They then began encouraging themselves and decided to kill whomever they could among the disbelievers and to confiscate whatever they had. Hence, Waqid bin `Abdullah At-Tamimi shot an arrow at `Amr bin Al-Hadrami and killed him. `Uthman bin `Abdullah and Al-Hakam bin Kaysan gave themselves up, while Nawfal bin `Abdullah was able to outrun them in flight. Later on, `Abdullah bin Jahsh and his companions went back to Allah's Messenger in Al-Madinah with the caravan and the two prisoners. dIbn Ishaq went on: I was told that some members of the family of `Abdullah bin Jahsh said that `Abdullah said to his companions: "Allah's Messenger will have one-fifth of what we have confiscated.'' This occurred before Allah required one-fifth for His Messenger from the war booty. So, `Abdullah designated one-fifth of the caravan for Allah's Messenger and divided the rest among his companions. Ibn Ishaq also stated that at first, when the Sariyah came back to Allah's Messenger , he said to them:
«مَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِقِتَالٍ فِي الشَّهْرِ الْحَرَام»
(I have not commanded you to conduct warfare during the Sacred Month. ) He left the caravan and the two prisoners alone and did not take any share of the war booty. When Allah's Messenger did that, the soldiers from the attack were concerned and felt that they were destroyed, and their Muslim brethren criticized them for what they did. The Quraysh said that Muhammad and his Companions violated the sanctity of the Sacred Month and shed blood, confiscated property and took prisoners during it. Those who refuted them among the Muslims who remained in Makkah replied that the Muslims had done that during the month of Sha`ban (which is not a sacred month). Meanwhile, the Jews were pleased about what happened to Allah's Messenger . They said, ` Amr bin Hadrami was killed by Waqid bin `Abdullah: `Amr, means the war has started, Hadrami means the war has come, as for Waqid (bin `Abdullah): the war has raged (using some of the literal meanings of these names to support their fortune-telling!).'' But, Allah made all that turn against them. The people continued talking about this matter, then Allah revealed to His Messenger :
يَسْـَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ وَصَدٌّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَكُفْرٌ بِهِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَإِخْرَاجُ أَهْلِهِ مِنْهُ أَكْبَرُ عِندَ اللَّهِ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَكْبَرُ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ
(They ask you concerning fighting in the Sacred Months. Say, "Fighting therein is a great (transgression) but a greater (transgression) with Allah is to prevent mankind from following the way of Allah, to disbelieve in Him, to prevent access to Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah), and to drive out its inhabitants, and Al-Fitnah is worse than killing.) This Ayah means, `If you had killed during the Sacred Month, they (disbelievers of Quraysh) have hindered you from the path of Allah and disbelieved in it. They also prevented you from entering the Sacred Mosque, and expelled you from it, while you are its people,
أَكْبَرُ عِندَ اللَّهِ
(...a greater (transgression) with Allah) than killing whom you killed among them. Also:
وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَكْبَرُ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ
(...and Al-Fitnah is worse than killing.) means, trying to force the Muslims to revert from their religion and re-embrace Kufr after they had believed, is worse with Allah than killing.' Allah said:
وَلاَ يَزَالُونَ يُقَـتِلُونَكُمْ حَتَّى يَرُدُّوكُمْ عَن دِينِكُمْ إِنِ اسْتَطَاعُواْ
(And they will never cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion (Islamic Monotheism) if they can.) So, they will go on fighting you with unrelenting viciousness. Ibn Ishaq went on: When the Qur'an touched this subject and Allah brought relief to the Muslims instead of the sadness that had befallen them, Allah's Messenger took possession of the caravan and the two prisoners. The Quraysh offered to ransom the two prisoners, `Uthman bin `Abdullah and Hakam bin Kaysan. Allah's Messenger said:
«لَا نَفْدِيكُمُوهُمَا حَتَّى يَقْدَمَ صَاحِبَانَا»
(We will not accept your ransom until our two companions return safely. ) meaning Sa`d bin Abu Waqqas and `Utbah bin Ghazwan, "For we fear for their safety with you. If you kill them, we will kill your people.'' Later on, Sa`d and `Utbah returned safely and Allah's Messenger accepted the Quraysh's ransom for their prisoners. As for Al-Hakam bin Kaysan, he became Muslim and his Islam strengthened. He remained with Allah's Messenger until he was martyred during the incident at Bir Ma`unah (when the Prophet sent seventy Companions to Najd to teach them Islam, but Banu Sulaim killed them all except two). As for `Uthman bin `Abdullah, he went back to Makkah and died there as a disbeliever. Ibn Ishaq went on: When `Abdullah bin Jahsh and his companions were relieved from their depressing thoughts after the Qur'an was revealed about this subject, they sought the reward of the fighters (in Allah's way). They said, "O Messenger of Allah! We wish that this incident be considered a battle for us, so that we gain the rewards of the Mujahidin.'' Then, Allah revealed:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُواْ وَجَـهَدُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أُوْلـئِكَ يَرْجُونَ رَحْمَةَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(Verily, those who have believed, and those who have emigrated (for Allah's religion) and have striven hard in the way of Allah, all these hope for Allah's mercy. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) Hence, Allah has greatly elevated their hopes of gaining what they had wished for.