Fighting in the Sacred Months

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January 18, 2016 by Verse By Verse Quran Study Circle

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In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 193 – 194

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We learned in the previous ayaat that the word Fitnah can be translated in many ways. It can mean Shirk [associating partners with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala], kufr [disbelief] and also religious persecution. Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu is of the opinion that in the above ayah Fitnah means Shirk. This was also the opinion of Abu al-‘Aliya, Mujahid, al-Hasan, Qatadah, ar-Rabi’, Muqatil ibn Hayyan, as-Suddi and Zayd ibn Aslam.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “…and (until) worship is (acknowledged) for Allah.” The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! A man fights out of bravery, and another fights to show off, which of them fights in the cause of Allah?” The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied,  

مَنْ قَاتَلَ لِتَكُونَ كَلِمَةُ اللهِ هِيَ الْعُلْيا فَهُوَ فِي سَبِيلِ الله

“He who fights so that Allah’s Word is superior, then he fights in Allah’s cause.”

From this hadeeth we learn that the only acceptable fight in the Sight of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is the one done for His sake. One cannot overthrow government because one desires power. Likewise, one cannot attack another country to capture their resources or people. This is injustice.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “But if they cease, then there is to be no transgression except against the oppressors.” Ibn Katheer writes that it indicates that if they stop their Shirk and fighting the believers, then cease warfare against them. Whoever fights them afterwards will be committing an injustice. Verily aggression can only be started against the unjust. This is the meaning of Mujahid’s statement that only combatants should be fought. He also writes that it could means that if they abandon their injustice, which is Shirk, then do not start aggression against them afterward. The aggression here means retaliating and fighting them, as we will read in the next ayah.

In another ayah of the Qur’an, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

وَجَزَآءُ سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِّثْلُهَا

“And the retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it…” [ash-Suraa 42: 40]

He also said,

وَإِنْ عَاقَبْتُمْ فَعَاقِبُواْ بِمِثْلِ مَا عُوقِبْتُمْ بِهِ

“And if you punish [an enemy, O believers], punish with an equivalent of that with which you were harmed…” [an-Nahl 16: 126]

Ayah 194 – Fighting in the Sacred Months is Prohibited Except in Self-Defense

“The sacred month is for the sacred month, and for the prohibited things, there is the Law of Equality [Qisas].”

Hurrumaat [حُرُمَات] is the plural of hurum which is the plural of the word haram. Haram is anything, either time (such as sacred months) or place (such as mosques) that is considered sacred and is revered.

As mentioned earlier, the incident of preventing the Muslims from entering the Sacred House occurred in the month of Thul-Qa’dah – one of the four sacred months when it is forbidden to fight. The next year when the Muslims once more journeyed toward the Ka’abah, it was again the scared month of Thul-Qa’dah. The Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum worried about fighting in the sacred month. Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed this answer and cleared their doubts. It implies that the way it is permissible to fight in the precincts of Ka’abah when an enemy attacks, similarly, if an enemy fights in any of the sacred months then it is allowed for the Muslims to fight back. Therefore, it was said, “There is the Law of Equality [Qisas].”

[Prescribed for You is Qisas]

We notice that Islamic laws are not rigid, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala offers us solutions for exceptional situations.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said, “Allah’s Messenger would not engage in warfare during the sacred month unless he was first attacked, then he would march forth. He would otherwise remain idle until the end of the sacred months.”

Hence, when the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was told that ‘Uthman radhiAllahu ‘anhu has been killed (in Makkah), when he was sent as an emissary to the polytheists, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam accepted the pledge from his Companions to fight the polytheists. They were one thousand and four hundred people at that time. When the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was informed that it was a rumor and ‘Uthman radhiAllahu ‘anhu was not killed, he abandoned the fight and reverted to peace.

Lesson:

The sacred months are four Thul-Qa’dah, Thul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. It was forbidden to fight in these months even before the advent of Islam. The disbelievers too observed the sanctity of these months. Therefore, the Companions were perplexed. Later, as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed this ayah the matter became clear. It is still unlawful to fight in any sacred month, however, if the enemy initiates it then the Muslims can fight in retaliation.

[The Sacred Months]

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Then whoever transgresses the prohibition against you, you transgress likewise against him.” This ayah ordains justice even when fighting an enemy. If one is greater in strength then he must transgress the limits. Therefore, this command was followed by a reminder to fear Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is with those who fear Him and are conscious of Him.

Lessons:

From this ayah we learn that if we want the help of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then first we need to fill our hearts with taqwa [Allah-consciousness]. He who is conscious of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will not harm others. His heart will be free of deception, treachery, and injustice. Taqwa helps in attaining Allah’s help and success both in this world and in the Hereafter.

[The Letter of Ibn Taimiyyah to His Companions]

Today, Muslims are humiliated all over the world. We blame it on conspiracies and foreign policies, however, the truth is that we are not conscious of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The way Muslim majority countries are being run no one can say they are Islamic countries. If Muslims are not sincere to their Creator and living by His laws then how do they expect His help and respect in this world?

In our personal lives too, instead of blaming others we should look at our relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Are we abiding by His commands? Are we sincere to Him? Or do we make verbal declarations of faith, and our hearts are empty?

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala fill our hearts with His taqwa, aameen.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 193 – 194

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

 

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