Verse of al-Sayf or Verse of al-Qitāl (Arabic: آية السّيف أو آية القِتال), commands Muslims to kill polytheists or besiege and capture them after a four-month deadline unless they convert to Islam. According to Shi'a and Sunni exegetes, what is meant by polytheists in this verse is the polytheists who broke their covenant at the time of the Prophet (s). However, Salafi-Jihadist groups cite this verse for Initiatory Jihad.

Verse of al-Sayf
Verse's Information
SuraSura al-Tawba
Verse5
Juz'10
Content Information
Place of
Revelation
Medina
AboutDealing with polytheists
Related VersesQur'an 22:5, Qur'an 9:29, Qur'an 2:190-193

Some have considered the verse Sayf to be abrogating some verses on the subject of peace, "jizya" (tributary tax), and "fidya" (redemption, ransom). On the other hand, some believe that this verse does not abrogate any verse; instead, it has been specified by the following verse in which God instructs the Prophet (s) that "If any of the polytheists seeks asylum from you, grant him asylum until he hears the Word of Allah. Then convey him to his place of safety."

The Qur'an 9:29 and Qur'an 22:39 are also called verses Sayf and Qital.

Knowing the Verse

The verse Sayf or Qital is the fifth verse of Qur'an 9. According to this verse, it is said that in 9/631, Muslims were ordered, after a four-month deadline, to deal harshly with the polytheists, such as by killing, besieging, and capturing them.[1]

According to this verse, if the polytheists convert to Islam and perform Islamic rituals, the most important of which are daily prayer and "zakat", they will be safe and enjoy all that Muslims enjoy without any discrimination.[2] They have considered mentioning performing daily prayers and giving "zakat" in the verse as a sign of repentance and faith.[3] Makarim Shirazi, an exegete of the Qur'an, said that the appearance of the verse suggests that the four issues of "closing roads, besieging, capturing and killing" are not optional; rather, considering the conditions of time, place, and the people in question, each of these issues that is more appropriate should be implemented.[4]

The exegetes have different opinions about what months the given four months should be. Some considered the forbidden months to be the mentioned four months.[5] On the other hand, most exegetes have considered the four-month deadline to be other months, including the period from the 9th of Dhu al-Hijja in 9 AH (March 13, 631) to the 10th of Rabi' al-Thani in 10 AH (July 16, 631).[6]

Some exegetes have considered Qur'an 9:29[7] and Qur'an 22:39 to be the verses of Sayf and Qital.[8]

Text and Translation of the Verse

﴾فَإِذَا انْسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ فَإِنْ تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ﴿
Then, when the sacred months have passed, kill the polytheists wherever you find them, capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every ambush. But if they repent, and maintain the prayer and give the zakat, then let them alone. Indeed Allah is all-forgiving, all-merciful.



Quran 9:5


War with the Covenant-Breaking Polytheists

Exegetes consider the polytheists in this verse to be the polytheists who broke the covenant they had made with the Prophet (s) and the Muslims but broke it.[9] Some have said that the conspiring polytheists and fighting disbelievers are meant in this verse.[10]

It has been said that Rashid Rida (d. 1935), a Sunni exegete, in his interpretation of this verse and other verses related to qital (war), considers the mentioned polytheists to be exclusive to the Meccan polytheists, as in Qital verses, about whom God has several times emphasized breaking their covenant.[11] Muhammad 'Izzat Darwaza (d. 1984), an exegete of the Qur'an, believed that the rulings of the opening verses of Quran 9 are about those polytheists who broke their covenant and tried to conspire against Muslims when the Prophet (s) was busy in the battle of Tabuk.[12] According to him, applying and generalizing these verses to all polytheists is imposing a meaning that the context and meaning of the verses do not reflect.[13]

Some scholars have said that Qur'an 9:5 is cited by Salafi-Jihadist groups for the initiatory Jihad.[14] They have considered this verse to be abrogating all the verses of peace and forgiveness, and they have considered the polytheists in this verse to be the general disbelievers, both fighting and non-fighting ones.[15] On the other hand, misinterpretation of this verse has been considered to be imposing religion that would result in distortion of Islam's image and has harmed Muslims' beliefs.[16]

The Verse Being Abrogating or Abrogated

According to some exegetes, the verse Sayf abrogates 124 verses among the verses that refer to forgiveness, peace, and ransom against polytheists.[17] Some others have considered this verse abrogated by the verses of forgiveness and peace.[18] According to some others, verse Sayf and verse 4 of Qur'an 47, which refers to taking ransom from polytheists, do not abrogate each other, and both are clear verses because against the polytheists, the Prophet (s) both ordered war and also ordered pardoning them and taking ransom from them.[19]

Some exegetes have considered this verse to be related to the next verse.[20] In the next verse, God instructs the Prophet (s) that if one of the polytheists asks you for refuge to hear the words of God, allow him and then take him to a safe place.[21] Rashid Rida (d. 1935), a Sunni exegete, believed that this verse specifies the verse Sayf because some polytheists have not heard the word of God and have not received the call in its entirety. For this reason, God has left the way to reach the truth open for them and specified the ruling of verse Sayf.[22]

Some have said that it is impossible that the verse Sayf is abrogating because Qur'an 9:29, which has come after the verse Sayf, recognizes the freedom of the People of the Book if they pay "jizya".[23]

Notes

  1. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 9, p. 152.
  2. Mughnīya, Tafsīr al-Kāshif, vol. 4, p. 12.
  3. Bayḍāwi, Anwār al-tanzīl, vol. 3, p. 71.
  4. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 292.
  5. Ḥāshimī Rafsanjānī, Tafsīr-i Rāhnamā, vol. 7, p. 16; Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 21, p. 33.
  6. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 5, p. 12; Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 9, p. 151.
  7. Khoeī, al-Bayān, p. 286.
  8. Markaz-i Iṭṭilāʿāt wa Madārik-i Islāmī, Farhangnāma-yi ʿulūm-i Qurʾānī, vol. 1, p. 415.
  9. Kāshifī, Tafsīr Ḥusaynī, p. 398; Fayḍ al-Kāshānī, Tafsīr al-Ṣāfī, vol. 2, p. 322; Sharīf Lahījī, Tafsīr Sharīf lahījī, vol. 2, p. 227; Bayḍāwi, Anwār al-tanzīl, vol. 3, p. 71.
  10. Qurashī, Tafsīr-i aḥsan al-ḥadīth, vol. 4, p. 188.
  11. Ārmīn, Jaryān-hā-yi tafsīrī-yi muʿāṣir, p. 140.
  12. Ārmīn, Jaryān-hā-yi tafsīrī-yi muʿāṣir, p. 395.
  13. Ārmīn, Jaryān-hā-yi tafsīrī-yi muʿāṣir, p. 395.
  14. Luṭfī, Naqd-i dīdgāh-i Salafīyya-yi jahādī darbāra-yi jahād-i ibtidāʾī bā tikya bar āya-yi 5 sūra-yi Tawba, p. 35.
  15. Luṭfī, Naqd-i dīdgāh-i Salafīyya-yi jahādī darbāra-yi jahād-i ibtidāʾī bā tikya bar āya-yi 5 sūra-yi Tawba, p. 35.
  16. Shāyiq, Ḥall-i taʿāruḍ-i ẓāhirī bayn-i āyāt-i Sayf wa Nafy-i ikrāh wa taʾthīr-i ān dar masʾala-yi āzādī dar intikhāb-i dīn, p. 82.
  17. Suyūṭī, al-Itqān, vol. 2, p. 51; Jazāʾirī, ʿUqūd al-marjān, vol. 2, p. 288.
  18. Naḥḥās, al-Nāsikh wa l-mansūkh, p. 493.
  19. Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAẓīmī, Tafsīr ithnā asharī, vol. 5, p. 22.
  20. Rashīd Riḍā, Tafsīr al-manār, vol. 10, p. 159.
  21. Qur'an 9:6.
  22. Rashīd Riḍā, Tafsīr al-manār, vol. 10, p. 159.
  23. Shāyiq, Ḥall-i taʿāruḍ-i ẓāhirī bayn-i āyāt-i Sayf wa Nafy-i ikrāh wa taʾthīr-i ān dar masʾala-yi āzādī dar intikhāb-i dīn, p. 81.

References

  • Ārmīn, Muḥsin.Jaryān-hā-yi tafsīrī-yi muʿāṣir. Tehran: Nashr-i Ney, 1396 Sh.
  • Astarābādī, Mīrzā Muḥammad b. ʿAlī. Āyāt al-aḥkām. Tehran: Maktabat al-Miʿrājī, [n.d].
  • Bayḍāwi, ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿUmar. Anwār al-tanzīl wa asrār al-taʾwīl. 1st edition. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1418 AH.
  • Fayḍ al-Kāshānī, Muḥammad b. al-Murtaḍā al-. Tafsīr al-Ṣāfī. Edited by Ḥusayn Aʿlamī. Second edition. Tehran: Maktabat al-Ṣadr, 1415 AH.
  • Ḥāshimī Rafsanjānī, Akbar. Tafsīr-i Rāhnamā. Qom: Būstān-i Kitāb, 1386 Sh.
  • Jazāʾirī, Niʿmat Allāh b. Abd Allāh al-. ʿUqūd al-marjān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Qom: Nūr-i Waḥy, 1388 Sh.
  • Kāshifī, Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī. Tafsīr Ḥusaynī. Saravan: Kitābfurūshī-yi Nūr, [n.d].
  • Khoeī, Abū l-Qāsim. Al-Bayān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Qom: Muʾassisa-yi Iḥyā-yi Āthār-i Āyatullāh Khoeī, 1430 AH.
  • Luṭfī, ʿAlī Akbar. Naqd-i dīdgāh-i Salafīyya-yi jahādī darbāra-yi jahād-i ibtidāʾī bā tikya bar āya-yi 5 sūra-yi Tawba. In Sirāj-i Munīr 27 (1396 Sh).
  • Markaz-i Iṭṭilāʿāt wa Madārik-i Islāmī. Farhangnāma-yi ʿulūm-i Qurʾānī. Qom: Pazhūhishgāh-i ʿUlūm wa Farhang Islāmī, 1394 SH.
  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Tafsīr-i nimūna. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyya, 1371 Sh.
  • Mughnīya, Muḥammad Jawād al-. Tafsīr al-Kāshif, Qom: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyya, 1424 AH.
  • Naḥḥās, Abū Jaʿfar Aḥmad b. Muḥammad. Al-Nāsikh wa l-mansūkh. Kuweit: al-Falāḥ, 1408 AH.
  • Najafī, Muḥammad al-Ḥasan al-. Jawāhir al-kalām fī sharḥ sharāʾiʿ al-Islām. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1404 AH.
  • Qurashī, Sayyid ʿAlī Akbar. Tafsīr-i aḥsan al-ḥadīth. 3rd ed. Tehran: Bunyād-i Biʿthat, 1375 Sh.
  • Rashīd Riḍā, Muḥammad. Tafsīr al-manār. Egypt: al-Hayʾat al-Miṣrīyya al-ʿĀmma li l-Kitāb, 1990.
  • Shāh ʿAbd al-ʿAẓīmī, Ḥusayn. Tafsīr ithnā asharī. Tehran: Mīqāt, 1363 Sh.
  • Sharīf Lahījī, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī. Tafsīr Sharīf lahījī. Edited by Jalāl al-Dīn Ḥusayn Armawī. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Dād, 1373 Sh.
  • Shāyiq, Muḥammad Riḍā. Ḥall-i taʿāruḍ-i ẓāhirī bayn-i āyāt-i Sayf wa Nafy-i ikrāh wa taʾthīr-i ān dar masʾala-yi āzādī dar intikhāb-i dīn. In Pazhūhishnāma-yi Tafsīr-i Kalāmī-yi Qurʾān 9 (1395 Sh).
  • Suyūṭī, Jalāl al-Dīn al-. Al-Itqān fī ʿulūm al-Qurʾān. Egypt: al-Hayʾat al-Miṣrīyya al-ʿĀmma li l-Kitāb, 1415 AH.
  • Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-. Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Beirut: Muʾassisat al-Aʿlamī li-l-Maṭbūʿāt, 1390 AH.
  • Ṭabrisī, Faḍl b. al-Ḥasan al-. Majmaʿ al-bayān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Tehran: Naṣir Khusruw, 1372 Sh.