The Wish that the Order for Jihad be Delayed
In the beginning of Islam, Muslims in Makkah were commanded to perform the prayer and pay some charity, so as to comfort the poor among them. They were also commanded to be forgiving and forbearing with the idolators and to observe patience with them at the time. However, they were eager and anticipating the time when they would be allowed to fight, so that they could punish their enemies.
The situation at that time did not permit armed conflict for many reasons. For instance, Muslims were few at the time, compared to their numerous enemies. The Muslims’ city was a sacred one and the most honored area on the earth, and this is why the command to fight was not revealed in Makkah.
Later on when the Muslims controlled a town of their own, Madina, and had strength, power and support, Jihad was then legislated. Yet, when the command to fight was revealed, just as Muslims wished, some of them became weary and were very fearful of facing the idolators in battle.
وَقَالُواْ رَبَّنَا لِمَ كَتَبْتَ عَلَيْنَا الْقِتَالَ لَوْلا أَخَّرْتَنَا إِلَى أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ
“And they said, ‘Our Lord why have You ordained upon us fighting? If only You postponed (it for) us for a short period’.”
meaning, we wish that Jihad was delayed until a later time, because it means bloodshed, orphans and widows.
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn Abbas said that Abdur-Rahman bin Awf and several of his companions came to the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam while in Makkah and said, “O Allah’s Prophet! We were mighty when we were pagans, but when we embraced the faith, we became weak.” The Prophet said,
إِنِّي أُمِرْتُ بِالْعَفْوِ فَلَا تُقَاتِلُوا الْقَوْم
“I was commanded to pardon the people, so do not fight them.”
When Allah transferred the Prophet to Madina, He commanded him to fight (the idolators), but they (some Muslims) held back. So, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed ayah 77. This hadith was collected by An-Nasa’i and Al-Hakim.
قُلْ مَتَـعُ الدُّنْيَا قَلِيلٌ وَالاٌّخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِّمَنِ اتَّقَى
“Say, ‘The enjoyment of this world is little, and the Hereafter is better for those who fear Allah.”
means, the destination of the one who with Taqwa is better for him than this life.
وَلاَ تُظْلَمُونَ فَتِيلاً
“…And you will not be wronged (even as much as) a hair on a date seed’.”
for your good deeds. Rather, you will earn your full rewards for them. This promise directs the focus of believers away from this life and makes them eager for the Hereafter, all the while encouraging them to fight in Jihad.