Al-Baqarah · Juz 2 · Qur'an Tafseer

The Punishment for Apostasy


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
wasted deeds
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 217 – 218

Fighting is forbidden in the months of Muharram, Rajab, Thul-Qa’dah and Thul Hijjah. In his farewell sermon of Hajj, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Four (months) from among them are sacred, out of which three are consecutive and the (fourth) is Rajab.” This, however, does not declare absolute forbiddance. Should the enemies start fighting during the sacred months then the Muslims are allowed to defend themselves or counter attack.


The word saddan [صَدٌّ] is from the root saad-dal-dal and it means to turn away, divert or hinder. The word yazalloon [يَزَالُون] is from the root zay-ya-laam and it means does not cease to continue. The word yaruddukum [يَرُدُّوكُمْ] is from the root ra-dal-dal and it means to send back, turn back, reject or refuse. The word ista-ta-u [اسْتَطَاعُوا] is from the root Ta-wau-ayn and it means to obey, permit or consent. The word fayamuth [فَيَمُتْ] is from the root meem-wau-ta and it means to die or to pass away. The word Habitath [حَبِطَتْ] is from the root Ha-ba-Ta and it means to go in vain or to be fruitless.

Ibn Abu Hatim reported that Jundub ibn ‘Abdullah said that Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam assembled a group of men under the command of Abu ‘Ubaydah ibn Jarrah radhiAllahu ‘anhu. When he was about to march, he started crying for the thought of missing Allah’s Messenger. The Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam relieved Abu ‘Ubaydah from command, appointed ‘Abdullah ibn Jahsh radhiAllahu ‘anhu 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, Do not compel any of your men to continue marching with you thereafter.”

When ‘Abdullah read the instructions, he recited, “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return, (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.” It was then that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed this ayah (2:217).

The ayah means that 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 were its residents. Therefore, transgression (or religious persecution), trying to force the Muslims to revert from their religion and re-embrace Kufr after they had believed is worse with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala than killing.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And they will continue to fight you until they turn you back from your religion if they are able.” They will go on fighting you with unrelenting viciousness.

Ibn Ishaq said that when the Qur’an touched this subject, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala brought relief to the Muslims from the sadness that had befallen them.

[Fighting in the Sacred Months]

Ayah 218 – The Punishment for Apostasy

Toward the end of the ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala warns all of us about the evil consequences of apostasy. He says, “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.” All one’s deeds will be wasted and their permanent abode will be Hellfire. We seek refuge with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala from such an end.

[Threat to Replace the Believers with Another People if They Revert from Islam]

Protect Your Families from Destruction

If this is the end of apostates shouldn’t it concern us? We are living in the times where people from Muslim families are declaring disbelief. They casually call religion a myth and God – an imaginary figure (may Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us). They neither pray, give Zakah nor encourage others to do so. Rather, they argue with those Muslims who are following the Deen and tell them to stop believing in the imaginary stories. Some say the commands of the Qur’an were for the pre-Islamic Arabs only and do not apply to us. How can such people call themselves Muslims? More importantly, how can we sit on the fence and watch these Muslims go toward a destructive end?

How do people end up with such beliefs? It is because they have been long distanced from the religion and when they were straying there was no one to guide them. We need to protect our families and loved ones from ending into Hellfire. We must have concern for other Muslims and not be selfish.

[Man chooses for His Offspring what He likes for Himself]

If our friend, sibling or any other Muslim does not offer prayer we should reach out to them and encourage them to go accompany us to Masjid. We should do da’wah to them in the most loving way, connect with them and do not be harsh. Also, remember to make lots of du’as for them because guidance is in the Hands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

[We have shared in this post how Shaytan takes over our hearts and how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones.]

Some Injunctions relating to the Apostates:

1.Some examples of deeds going waste in this world are that the wife of an apostate goes out of the bond of marriage; if a relative of an apostate dies a Muslim, he gets no share in the inheritance; all obligations such as prayers and fasting fulfilled in one’s state of Islam are reduced to nothing; for such a person funeral prayers are not offered and he or she is not buried in the graveyard meant for Muslims.

Deeds being wasted means that one gets no reward for acts of worship and enters the Hell to stay there forever. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us, aameen.

[A Muslim cannot Inherit from a Kafir]

2. Should an apostate become a Muslim once again, there is hope to salvage himself away from Hell in the Hereafter. He will be obligated to live his life as a Muslim and follow the commands of Islam.

But, there is a difference of opinion among jurists about what would happen to a person who has already done his Hajj – would it be obligatory on him, given the capability, to do it all over again, or would it not? Similarly, in the Hereafter, would the reward for his previous religious performances, such as prayers and fasting, revert back to him, or would they not? Imam Abu Hanifah says that it is obligatory on him to do his Hajj again and he does not subscribe to the opinion that he will be rewarded for his previous prayers and fasts while Imam Shafa’i differs on both issues.

3. For one who is a disbeliever, the position is that the reward for his good deeds in a state of disbelief is held in abeyance. If there comes the time when he embraces Islam, he gets a matching reward for all such deeds, but in the event that he dies an infidel, everything goes wasted.

4. In short, the fate of an apostate is worse than that of an original disbeliever.

[Some of the rulings on apostasy and apostates]

When ‘Abdullah bin Jahsh radhiAllahu ‘anhu 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 Mujahideen.” It was then that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed, “Indeed, those who have believed and those who have emigrated and fought in the cause of Allah – those expect the mercy of Allah. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for His Forgiveness and Mercy and to protect us and our families from having their deeds wasted. We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for a good end, aameen.

DOWNLOAD PDF:  Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 217 – 218

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

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