Verses of Bara'a

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Verses of Bara'a
Verse's Information
NameVerses of Bara'a
SuraQur'an 9
VerseThe opening verses
Juz'10 and 11
Content Information
Place of
TopicTheological and Jurisprudential
AboutDeclaring aversion to the alliances or treaties with the polytheists

Verses of Barāʾa (Arabic:آیات البرائة) (disavowal, dissociation, or repudiation) are the opening verses of the Qur'an 9, which establish the definitive guidelines for the interactions between Muslims and polytheists. These verses instruct the Prophet (s) and Muslims to openly disassociate themselves from the polytheists, terminate any alliances or treaties with them, and engage in combat unless they embrace Islam. On the occasion of Eid al-Adha, Imam Ali (a) conveyed these verses to the polytheists.

According to Quranic exegetes, it is important to note that the decision to terminate the treaties with the polytheists was not a sudden action, but rather a response to their violations. This is why the Verses of Bara'a also acknowledge and respect the treaties that were not breached by the polytheists until their agreed-upon duration. Furthermore, it is believed that these treaties were initially intended to be temporary.

According to Muhammad Jawad Mughniyya, it is important to note that the directive in these verses, stating that Arabian polytheists must either embrace Islam or be prepared for conflict, does not contradict the principle of non-coercion in embracing Islam, as emphasized in other Quranic verses. This is because the Arabian polytheists repeatedly violated their treaties and posed a threat to the newly established Islamic community. This is in fact the reason why the ruling specifically applied to the Arabian polytheists.

Text and Translation

The opening verses of Sura al-Tawba are known as Verses of Bara'a, Dissociation, or Disavowal.[1]

Story of the Verses being Revealed and Conveyed

The Verses of Dissociation were revealed during the ninth year after the Hijra (631 CE), following the Muslims' return from the Battle of Tabuk.[2] In the month of Dhu al-Hijja of that same year, the Prophet Muhammad (s) was tasked with conveying these verses to the polytheists gathered in Mecca.[3]

Regarding the reason for the revelation of the Verses of Dissociation, it is believed that even after the Conquest of Mecca by the Muslims in 8/630,[4] certain tribes and polytheists continued to resist Islam.[5] Furthermore, those polytheists who had previously made treaties with the Prophet (s) frequently violated their agreements.[6] As the circumstances changed and Islam continued to spread,[7] these verses were revealed, emphasizing the intolerability of polytheism.[8]

Both Shi'a and Sunni sources of history and hadith recount the following story regarding the conveyance of these verses to the polytheists. When the first verses of the Qur'an 9 were revealed, the Prophet (s) initially appointed Abu Bakr to convey the verses to the people of Mecca. However, after Abu Bakr had departed from Medina, Gabriel appeared to the Prophet (s) and emphasized that it was necessary for the verses to be communicated either by the Prophet (s) himself or by a member of his household. In accordance with this divine command, the Prophet (s) then sent Imam Ali (a) to Mecca instead of Abu Bakr.[9]

According to Ahmad b. Abi Ya'qub in his Tarikh al-Ya'qubi, Imam Ali (a) reportedly arrived in Mecca in the afternoon of Eid al-Adha. He then recited the Verses of Dissociation and conveyed the Prophet's (s) message to the people. Additionally, Imam Ali (a) emphasized that from that point onwards, no one would be allowed to circumambulate nakedly around the Kaaba, and no polytheist would be permitted to visit the Kaaba starting from the following year. According to al-Ya'qubi, after this, Imam Ali (a) granted a period of safety to the people. He stated that those polytheists who had made treaties with the Prophet (s) would have their agreements remain valid for four months, while those without treaties would only be granted a safety period of fifty nights.[10]


In his Quranic exegesis, al-Kashif, Muhammad Jawad Mughniyya argues that the Verses of Dissociation, which were revealed as part of the Qur'an 9, provide the ultimate rulings regarding the relationships between Muslims and polytheists.[11] According to Quranic scholars, the initial verses of the Qur'an 9 instruct the Prophet (s) and the Muslims to openly disassociate from the polytheists, terminate any treaties they had made with them, and declare war against them if they did not embrace Islam. This warning applied to all polytheists, including those who had previously entered into peace agreements or compromises with the Prophet (s). After a four-month period for contemplation, they were required to make a final decision: either embrace Islam or engage in war with the Muslims.[12]

Reason for the Unilateral Revocation of the Treaty

There have been inquiries regarding the rationale behind the Verses of Dissociation unilaterally revoking and rescinding the treaty with the polytheists, despite the emphasis in Islam on honoring promises and pledges.[13] 'Allama Tabataba'i suggests that the reason for the annulment of safety guarantees for the polytheists was their own violations of their agreements, which justified the Muslims in revoking their treaties with them.[14] According to al-Tabrisi in his Quranic exegesis, Majma' al-Bayan, the Prophet (s) unilaterally revoked the peace treaty for three reasons: the peace treaty with the polytheists was temporary, it was conditioned upon any new orders from God, and the violations committed by the polytheists.[15]

Makarim Shirazi argues that the revocation of the treaty by the Muslims was not sudden, as there is evidence to suggest that the polytheists were prepared to deliver a fatal blow to the Muslims as soon as they had the opportunity to violate the treaty. According to Makarim Shirazi, treaties imposed on a nation under certain circumstances can be breached once that nation becomes more powerful.[16]

Quranic scholars believe that the public announcement of the revocation of the treaty between Muslims and the polytheists during their gathering in Mecca on Eid al-Adha, and the subsequent four-month period of contemplation, demonstrate Islam's commitment to ethical principles.[17] According to 'Allama Tabataba'i, this command from God prohibits even the slightest form of breaking pledges for Muslims.[18]

Reason for Coercing the Polytheists to Embrace Islam

Regarding the question of why the polytheists were coerced to embrace Islam, despite other verses such as verse 256 of Qur'an 2 rejecting any coercion in matters of faith, it has been explained that Islam does not force anyone to embrace it. Islam invites people to it based on reason and contemplation, without coercion. However, in certain circumstances, the interests of the Islamic community may require that polytheists not be among the Muslims, as they may pose harm and corruption to the community. According to Muhammad Jawad Mughniyya, the ruling of coercion to embrace Islam was specific to the Arabian polytheists at that time because, despite the peace treaty with them, they frequently violated the treaty and posed a threat to the newly established Islamic community. Therefore, God ruled that they should either be killed or embrace Islam.[19]

Respecting the Covenants of Pledge Keepers

Citing the Qur'an 9:4, 'Allama Tabataba'i distinguishes between polytheists who broke their pledges and those who remained faithful to their treaties. He argues that those polytheists who fulfilled their covenants, both directly and indirectly, were not subject to the declaration of dissociation from the polytheists. The Muslims were obligated to honor their treaties with them until the agreed-upon period had elapsed.[20] However, he acknowledges that the majority of the polytheists had indeed violated their treaties, making it challenging to trust the remaining few.[21]


  1. Ṣādiqī Tihrānī, al-furqān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 7, p. 202; Ḥākim al-Ḥaskānī, Shawāhid al-tanzīl, vol. 1, p. 305; Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 69, p. 152.
  2. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 5, p. 3; ʿAyyāshī, Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshī, vol. 2, p. 73.
  3. Rajabī, Imām ʿAlī dar ʿahd-i payāmbar, p. 209; Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 5, p. 36-37.
  4. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 42.
  5. Rajabī, Imām ʿAlī dar ʿahd-i payāmbar, p. 209.
  6. Shubbar, Tafsīr al-Qur'ān al-karīm, vol. 1, p. 199; Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 272.
  7. Mughnīya, Tafsīr al-Kāshif, vol. 4, p. 9.
  8. Rajabī, Imām ʿAlī dar ʿahd-i payāmbar, p. 209.
  9. Ibn Ḥanbal, Musnad, vol. 2, p. 427; Ibn Ḥanbal, Faḍāʾīl al-ṣaḥāba, vol. 2, p. 703; Ibn ʿAsākir, Tārīkh madīnat Dimashq, vol. 42, p. 348; Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 168; Mufīd, Kitāb al-amālī, p. 56.
  10. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 76.
  11. Mughnīya, Tafsīr al-Kāshif, vol. 4, p. 8.
  12. Mughnīya, Tafsīr al-Kāshif, vol. 4, p. 8; Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 272.
  13. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 282.
  14. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 9, p. 147.
  15. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 5, p. 5.
  16. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 283.
  17. Riḍāʾī Iṣfahānī, Tafsīr-i Qurʾān-i mihr, vol. 8, p. 145; Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 284.
  18. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 9, p. 147.
  19. Mughnīya, Tafsīr al-Kāshif, vol. 4, p. 9-10.
  20. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 9, p. 150.
  21. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 9, p. 147.


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