Surah Al-Ma’idah Part 4 Ayat 20-34

{20. And (remember) when Musa said to his people: “O my people! Remember the favour of Allah to you: when He made Prophets among you, made you kings and gave you what He had not given to any other among the nations (Al-Alamin).”

21. “O my people! Enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and turn not back; for then you will be returned as losers.”

22. They said: “O Musa! In it are a people of great strength, and we shall never enter it, till they leave it; when they leave, then we will enter.”

23. Two men of those who feared (Allah and) on whom Allah had bestowed His grace said: “Assault them through the gate; for when you are in, victory will be yours. And put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed.”

24. They said: “O Musa! We shall never enter it as long as they are there. So go, you and your Lord, and fight you two, we are sitting right here.”

25. He [Musa] said: “O my Lord! I have power only over myself and my brother, so Ifruq us from the rebellious people!”

26. (Allah) said: “Therefore it is forbidden to them for forty years; in distraction they will wander through the land. So do not greive for the rebellious people.”}

Musa Reminds His People of Allah’s favours on Them; The Jews Refuse to Enter the Holy Land

Allah states that His servant, Messenger, to whom He spoke directly, Musa, the son of  Imran, reminded his people that among the favors Allah granted them, is that He will give them all of the good of this life and the Hereafter, if they remain on the righteous and straight path. Allah said, ”And (remember) when Musa said to his people: “O my people! Remember the favor of Allah to you, when He made Prophets among you” for whenever a Prophet died, another rose among them, from the time of their father Ibrahim and thereafter. There were many Prophets among the Children of Israel calling to Allah and warning against His torment, until Isa was sent as the final Prophet from the Children of Israel. Allah then sent down the revelation to the Final Prophet and Messenger, Muhammad, the son of Abdullah, from the offspring of Ismail, the son of Ibrahim, peace be upon them. Muhammad is the most honorable Prophet of all times.

Allah said next, ”made you kings” Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Ibn Abbas commented: “Having a servant, a wife and a house.” (Abdur Razzaq 1:187) In his Mustadrak, Al-Hakim recorded that Ibn Abbas said, “A wife and a servant, and, a ”and gave you what He had not given to any other among the nations (Alamin).” means, during their time.” (Al-Hakim 2:312) Al-Hakim said, “Sahih according to the criteria of the Two Sahihs, but they did not collect it.” Qatadah said, “They were the first people to take servants.” (At-Tabari 10:163)

A Hadith states,

”He among you who wakes up while healthy in body, safe in his family and having the provision for that very day, is as if the world and all that was in it were collected for him.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 7:11)

Allah’s statement, “and gave you what He had not given to any other among the nations (Al-Alamin).” means, during your time, as we stated. The Children of Israel were the most honorable among the people of their time, compared to the Greek, Copts and the rest of mankind. Allah said in another Ayah, ”And indeed We gave the Children of Israel the Scripture, and the understanding of the Scripture and its laws, and the Prophethood; and provided them with good things, and preferred them above the nations (Al-Alamin).”

Allah said, ”They said: “O Musa! Make for us a god as they have gods.” He said: “Verily, you are an ignorant people.” [Musa added] “Verily, these people will be destroyed for that which they are engaged in (idol worship). And all that they are doing is in vain. He said: “Shall I seek for you a god other than Allah, while He has given you superiority over the nations.” Therefore, they were the best among the people of their time. The Muslim Ummah is more respected and honoured before Allah, and has a more perfect legislative code and system of life, it has the most honorable Prophet, the larger kingdom, more provisions, wealth and children, a larger domain and more lasting glory than the Children of Israel. Allah said, ”Thus We have made you, a just (the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind.”

We mentioned the Mutawatir Hadiths about the honor of this Ummah and its status and honor with Allah, when we explained Allah’s statement in Surah Al-Imran (3), ”You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind…” Allah states next that Musa encouraged the Children of Israel to perform Jihad and enter Jerusalem, which was under their control during the time of their father Yaqub. Yaqub and his children later moved with his children and household to Egypt during the time of Prophet Yusuf. His offspring remained in Egypt until their exodus with Musa. They found a mighty, strong people in Jerusalem who had previously taken it over. Musa, Allah’s Messenger, ordered the Children of Israel to enter Jerusalem and fight their enemy, and he promised them victory and triumph over the mighty people if they did so. They declined, rebelled and defied his order and were punished for forty years by being lost, wandering in the land uncertain of where they should go. This was their punishment for defying Allah’s command.

Allah said that Musa ordered them to enter the Holy Land, ”which Allah has assigned to you” meaning, which Allah has promised to you by the words of your father Isra’il, that it is the inheritance of those among you who believe. ”and turn not back” in flight from Jihad. “. ..for then you will be returned as losers. They said, “O Musa! In it are a people of great strength, and we shall never enter it, till they leave it; when they leave, then we will enter.” Their excuse was this, in this very town you commanded us to enter and fight its people, there is a mighty, strong, vicious people who have tremendous physique and physical ability. We are unable to stand against these people or fight them. Therefore, they said, we are incapable of entering this city as long as they are still in it, but if they leave it, we will enter it. Otherwise, we cannot stand against them.

The Speeches of Yuwsha (Joshua) and Kalib (Caleb)

Allah said, ”Two men of those who feared (Allah and) on whom Allah had bestowed His grace said…” When the Children of Israel declined to obey Allah and follow His Messenger Musa, two righteous men among them, on whom Allah had bestowed a great bounty and who were afraid of Allah and His punishment, encouraged them to go forward. It was also said that the Ayah reads in a way that means that these men were respected and honored by their people. These two men were Yuwsha, the son of Nun, and Kalib, the son of Yufna, as Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ikrimah, Atiyyah, As-Suddi, Ar-Rabi bin Anas and several other Salaf and latter scholars stated. (At-Tabari 10:176-178) These two men said to their people, “Assault them through the gate, for when you are in, victory will be yours. And put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed.” Therefore, they said, if you rely on and trust in Allah, follow His command and obey His Messenger, then Allah will give you victory over your enemies and will give you triumph and dominance over them. Thus, you will conquer the city that Allah has promised you. This advice did not benefit them in the least, ”They said, “O Musa! We shall never enter it as long as they are there. So go, you and your Lord, and fight you two, we are sitting right here.” This is how they declined to join Jihad, defied their Messenger, and refused to fight their enemy.

The Righteous Response of the Companions During the Battle of Badr

Compare this to the better response the Companions gave to the Messenger of Allah during the battle of Badr, when he asked for their advice about fighting the Quraysh army that came to protect the caravan led by Abu Sufyan. When the Muslim army missed the caravan and the Quraysh army, between nine hundred and one thousand strong, helmeted and drawing closer, Abu Bakr stood up and said something good. Several more Muhajirin also spoke, all the while the Messenger of Allah saying, ”Advise me, O Muslims!” inquiring of what the Ansar, the majority then, had to say. Sad bin Muadh said, “It looks like you mean us, O Messenger of Allah! By He Who has sent you with the Truth! If you seek to cross this sea and went in it, we will follow you and none among us will remain behind. We would not hate for you to lead us to meet our enemy tomorrow. We are patient in war, vicious in battle. May Allah allow you to witness from our efforts what comforts your eyes. Therefore, march forward with the blessing of Allah.” The Messenger of Allah was pleased with the words of Sad and was encouraged to march on. (At-Tabari 13:399)

In the Book of Al- Maghazi and At-Tafsir, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abdullah bin Masud said, “On the day of Badr, Al-Miqdad said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! We will never say to you what the Children of Israel said to Musa, ”So go, you and your Lord, and fight you two, we are sitting right here.” Rather, march on and we will be with you.’ The Messenger of Allah was satisfied after hearing this statement.” (Al-Bukhari no.4609)

Musa Supplicates to Allah Against the Jews

Musa said, “O my Lord! I have power only over myself and my brother, so separate us from the rebellious people!” When the Children of Israel refused to fight, Musa became very angry with them and supplicated to Allah against them, ”O my Lord! I have power only over myself and my brother” meaning, only I and my brother Harun among them will obey, implement Allah’s command and accept the call, ”So Ifruq us from the rebellious people!” Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said, “Meaning, judge between us and them.” (At-Tabari 10:188)  Ad-Dahhak said that the Ayah means, “Judge and decide between us and them.” Other scholars said that the Ayah means, “Separate between us and them.”

Forbidding the Jews from Entering the Holy Land for Forty Years

Allah said, ”Therefore it is forbidden to them for forty years; in distraction they will wander through the land.” When Musa supplicated against the Jews for refusing to fight in Jihad, Allah forbade them from entering the land for forty years. They wandered about lost in the land of At-Tih, unable to find their way out. During this time, tremendous miracles occurred, such as the clouds that shaded them and the manna and quails Allah sent down for them. Allah brought forth water springs from solid rock, and the other miracles that He aided Musa bin Imran with. During this time, the Tawrah was revealed and the Law was established for the Children of Israel and the Tabernacle of the Covenant was erected.

Conquering Jerusalem

Allah’s statement, ”for forty years” defines, ”in distraction they will wander through the land.”

When these years ended, Yuwsha bin Nun led those who remained among them and the second generation, and laid siege to Jerusalem, conquering it on a Friday afternoon. When the sun was about to set and Yuwsha feared that the Sabbath would begin, he said (to the sun), “You are commanded and I am commanded, as well. O Allah! Make it stop setting for me.” Allah made the sun stop setting until Yuwsha bin Nun conquered Jerusalem. Next, Allah commanded Yuwsha to order the Children of Israel to enter Jerusalem from its gate while bowing and saying Hittah, meaning, ‘remove our sins.’ Yet, they changed what they were commanded and entered it while dragging themselves on their behinds and saying, ‘Habbah (a seed) in Sharah (a hair).” We mentioned all of this in the Tafsir of Surat Al-Baqarah.

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn Abbas commented, ”Therefore it is forbidden to them for forty years; in distraction they will wander through the land.” “They wandered in the land for forty years, during which Musa and Harun died, as well as everyone above forty years of age. When the forty years ended, Yuwsha son of Nun assumed their leadership and later conquered Jerusalem. When Yuwsha was reminded that the day was Friday and the sun was about to set, while they were still attacking Jerusalem, he feared that the Sabbath might begin. Therefore, he said to the sun, ‘I am commanded and you are commanded.’ Allah made the sun stop setting and the Jews conquered Jerusalem and found wealth unseen before. They wanted to let the fire consume the booty, but the fire would not do that. Yuwsha said,’Some of you have committed theft from the booty.’ So he summoned the twelve leaders of the twelve tribes and took the pledge from them. Then, the hand of one of them became stuck to the hand of Yuwsha and Yuwsha said, ‘You committed the theft, so bring it forth.’ So, that man brought a cow’s head made of gold with two eyes made of precious stones and a set of teeth made of pearls. When Yuwsha added it to the booty, the fire consumed it, as they were prohibited to keep the booty.” There is evidence supporting all of this in the Sahih.

Allah Comforts Musa

Comforting Musa, Allah said ”So do not grieve for the rebellious people.” Allah said: Do not feel sorrow or sadness over My judgment against them, for they deserve such judgment. This story chastises the Jews, exposes their defiance of Allah and His Messenger, and their refusal to obey the order for Jihad. They were weak and could not bear the thought of fighting their enemy, being patient, and enduring this way. This occurred although they had the Messenger of Allah and the one whom He spoke to among them, the best of Allah’s creation that time. Their Prophet promised them triumph and victory against their enemies. They also witnessed the torment and punishment of drowning with which Allah punished their enemy Firawn and his soldiers, so that their eyes were pleased and comforted. All this did not happen too long ago, yet they refused to perform Jihad against people who had less than a tenth of the power and strength than the people of Egypt had. Therefore, the evil works of the Jews were exposed to everyone, and the exposure was such an enormous one that the night, or the tail, can never cover its tracks. They were also blinded by their ignorance and transgression. Thus, they became hated by Allah, and they became His enemies. Yet, they claim that they are Allah’s children and His loved ones! May Allah curse their faces that were transformed to the shape of swine and apes, and may Allah’s curse accompany them to the raging Fire. May Allah make them abide in the Fire for eternity, and He did; all thanks are due to Him.

{27. And recite to them the story of the two sons of Adam in truth; when each offered a sacrifice, it was accepted from the one but not from the other. The latter said to the former: “I will surely, kill you.” The former said: “Verily, Allah accepts only from those who have Taqwa.

28. “If you do stretch your hand against me to kill me, I shall never stretch my hand against you to kill you, for I fear Allah; the Lord of all that exists.”

29. “Verily, I intend to let you draw my sin on yourself as well as yours, then you will be one of the dwellers of the Fire, and that is the recompense of the wrongdoers.”

30. So the soul of the other encouraged him and made fair-seeming to him the murder of his brother; he murdered him and became one of the losers.

31. Then Allah sent a crow who scratched the ground to show him how to hide the dead body of his brother. He said: “Woe to me! Am I not even able to be as this crow and to hide the dead body of my brother” Then he became one of those who regretted.}

The Story of Habil (Abel) and Qabil (Cain)

Allah describes the evil end and consequence of transgression, envy and injustice in the story of the two sons of Adam, Habil and Qabil. One of them fought against the other and killed him out of envy and transgression, because of the bounty that Allah gave his brother and because the sacrifice that he sincerely offered to Allah was accepted. The murdered brother earned forgiveness for his sins and was admitted into Paradise, while the murderer failed and earned a losing deal in both the lives. Allah said, ”And recite to them the story of the two sons of Adam in truth” meaning, tell these envious, unjust people, the brothers of swine and apes from the Jews and their likes among mankind, the story of the two sons of Adam, Habil and Qabil, as many scholars among the Salaf and later generations said.

Allah’s statement, ”in truth” means, clearly and without ambiguity, alteration, confusion, change, addition or deletion. Allah said in other Ayat, ”Verily, this is the true narrative [about the story of Isa]” ”We narrate unto you their story with truth” and, ”Such is Isa, son of Maryam. (It is) a statement of truth.”

Several scholars among the Salaf and the later generations said that Allah allowed Adam to marry his daughters to his sons because of the necessity of such action. They also said that in every pregnancy, Adam was given a twin, a male and a female, and he used to give the female of one twin, to the male of the other twin, in marriage. Habil’s sister was not beautiful while Qabil’s sister was beautiful, resulting in Qabil wanting her for himself, instead of his brother. Adam refused unless they both offer a sacrifice, and he whose sacrifice was accepted, would marry Qabil’s sister. Habil’s sacrifice was accepted, while Qabil’s sacrifice was rejected, and thus what Allah told us about them occurred.

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn Abbas said – that during the time of Adam – “The woman was not allowed in marriage for her male twin, but Adam was commanded to marry her to any of her other brothers. In each pregnancy, Adam was given a twin, a male and a female. A beautiful daughter was once born for Adam and another one that was not beautiful. So the twin brother of the ugly daughter said, ‘Marry your sister to me and I will marry my sister to you.’ He said, ‘No, for I have more right to my sister.’ So they both offered a sacrifice. The sacrifice of the one who offered the sheep was accepted while the sacrifice of the other [the twin brother of the beautiful daughter], which consisted of some produce, was not accepted. So the latter killed his brother.” This story has a better than good chain of narration. (At-Tabari 10:223)

The statement, “Verily, Allah accepts only from those who have Taqwa.” who fear Allah in their actions. Ibn Abi Hat im recorded that Abu Ad-Darda’ said, “If I become certain that Allah has accepted even one prayer from me, it will be better for me than this life and all that in it. This is because Allah says, ”Verily, Allah accepts only from the those who have Taqwa.”

The statement, “If you do stretch your hand against me to kill me, I shall never stretch my hand against you to kill you, for I fear Allah; the Lord of all that exists.” Qabil’s brother, the pious man whose sacrifice was accepted because of his piety, said to his brother, who threatened to kill him without justification, ”If you do stretch your hand against me to kill me, I shall never stretch my hand against you to kill you” I will not commit the same evil act that you threaten to commit, so that I will not earn the same sin as you, ”for I fear Allah; the Lord of the all that exists” and, as a result, I will not commit the error that you threaten to commit. Rather, I will observe patience and endurance. Abdullah bin Amr said, “By Allah! Habil was the stronger of the two men. But, fear of Allah restricted his hand.” The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said in a Hadith recorded in the Two Sahihs,

 ”When two Muslims fight (meet) each other with their swords, both the murderer as well as the murdered will go to the Hellfire.”

They said, “O Allah’s Messenger! It is all right for the murderer, but what about the victim?” Allah’s Messenger replied,

‘He surely had the intention to kill his comrade.” (Fath Al-Bari 13:35)

Imam Ahmad recorded that, at the beginning of the calamity that Uthman suffered from, Sad bin Abi Waqqas said, “I bear witness that the Messenger of Allah said,

“There will be a Fitnah, and he who sits idle during it is better than he who stands up, and he who stands up in it is better than he who walks, and he who walks is better than he who is walking at a fast pace.”

When he was asked, ‘What if someone enters my home and stretched his hand to kill me?’ He said,

“Be just like (the pious) son of Adam.” (Ahmad 1:185)

The Qur’an continues, “Verily, I intend to let you draw my sin on yourself as well as yours, then you will be one of the dwellers of the Fire, and that is the recompense of the wrongdoers.” Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ad- Dahhak, As-Suddi and Qatadah said that, “Verily, I intend to let you draw my sin on yourself as well as yours…” means, the sin of murdering me, in addition to your previous sins. Allah’s statement, ”So the soul of the other encouraged him and made fair-seeming to him the murder of his brother; he murdered him and became one of the losers.” means, his conscience encouraged him to kill his brother by making it seem like a sensible thing to do, so he killed him, even after his brother admonished him. Ibn Jarir said, “When he wanted to kill his brother, he started to twist his neck. So Shaytan took an animal and placed its head on a rock, then he took another rock, and smashed its head with it until he killed it while the son of Adam was looking. So he did the same thing to his brother.” (At-Tabari 4:536)

Abdullah bin Wahb said that Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said that his father said, “Qabil held Habil by the head to kill him, so Habil laid down for him and Qabil started twisting Habil’s head, not knowing how to kill him. Shaytan came to Qabil and said, ‘Do you want to kill him?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ Shaytan said, ‘Take that stone and throw it on his head.’ So Qabil took the stone and threw it at his brother’s head and smashed his head. Shaytan then went to Hawwa in a hurry and said to her, ‘O Hawwa’! Qabil killed Habil.’ She asked him, ‘Woe to you! What does ‘kill’ mean?’ He said, ‘He will no longer eat, drink or move.’ She said, ‘And that is death?’ He said, ‘Yes it is.’ So she started to weep until Adam came to her while she was weeping and said, ‘What is the matter with you’ She did not answer him. He asked her two more times, but she did not answer him. So he said, ‘You and your daughters will inherit the practice of weeping, while I and my sons are free of it.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded it.

Allah’s statement, ”And became one of the losers.” in this life and the Hereafter, and which loss is worse than this Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdullah bin Masud said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”Any soul that is unjustly killed, then the first son of Adam will carry a burden of its shedding, for he was the first to practice the crime of murder.” (Ahmad 1:383)

Ibn Jarir recorded that Abdullah bin Amr used to say, “The son of Adam, who killed his brother, will be the most miserable among men. There is no blood shed on earth since he killed his brother, until the Day of Resurrection, but he will carry a burden from it, for he was the first person to establish murder.” (At-Tabari 10:219)

Allah said, ”Then Allah sent a crow who scratched the ground to show him how to hide the dead body of his brother. He (the murderer) said, “Woe to me! Am I not even able to be as this crow and to hide the dead body of my brother” Then he became one of those who regretted.” As-Suddi said that the Companions said, “When his brother died, Qabil left him on the bare ground and did not know how to bury him. Allah sent two crows, which fought with each other until one of them killed the other. So it dug a hole and threw sand over the dead corpse (which it placed in the hole). When Qabil saw that, he said, “Woe to me! Am I not even able to be as this crow and to hide the dead body of my brother” Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said, “A crow came to the dead corpse of another crow and threw sand over it, until it hid it in the ground. He who killed his brother said, ”Woe to me! Am I not even able to be as this crow and to hide the dead body of my brother” Al-Hasan Al-Basri commented on the statement, ”Then he became one of those who regretted.” “Allah made him feel sorrow after the loss that he earned.”

The Swift Punishment for Transgression and Cutting the Relations of the Womb

A Hadith states that the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him said,

”There is no sin that is more worthy of Allah hastening its punishment in this life, in addition to what He has in store for its offender in the Hereafter, more than transgression and cutting the relations of the womb.” (Abu Dawud 5:208)

The act of Qabil included both of these. We are Allah’s and to Him is our return.

{32. Because of that, We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. And indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with Al-Bayyinat, even then after that many of them continued to exceed the limits in the land!

33. The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified, or their hands and their feet be cut off on opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter.

34. Except for those who (having fled away and then) came back (as Muslims) with repentance before they fall into your power; in that case, know that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.}

Human Beings Should Respect the Sanctity of Other Human Beings

Allah says, because the son of Adam killed his brother in transgression and aggression, ”We ordained for the Children of Israel…” meaning, We legislated for them and informed them, ”that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” The Ayah states, whoever kills a soul without justification – such as in retaliation for murder or for causing mischief on earth – will be as if he has killed all mankind, because there is no difference between one life and another. ”and if anyone saved a life…” by preventing its blood from being shed and believing in its sanctity, then all people will have been saved from him, so, ”it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” Al-Amash and others said that Abu Salih said that Abu Hurayrah said, “I entered on Uthman when he was under siege in his house and said, ‘I came to give you my support. Now, it is good to fight (defending you) O Leader of the Faithful!’ He said, ‘O Abu Hurayrah! Does it please you that you kill all people, including me?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘If you kill one man, it is as if you killed all people. Therefore, go back with my permission for you to leave. May you receive your reward and be saved from burden.’ So I went back and did not fight.” Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said, “It is as Allah has stated, ‘‘if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.”

Saving life in this case occurs by not killing a soul that Allah has forbidden. So this is the meaning of saving the life of all mankind, for whoever forbids killing a soul without justification, the lives of all people will be saved from him.” (At-Tabari 10:235) Similar was said by Mujahid; ”And if anyone saved a life…” means, he refrains from killing a soul. (At-Tabari 10:236)

Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said that Allah’s statement, ”it would be as if he killed all mankind.” means, “Whoever kills one soul that Allah has forbidden killing, is just like he who kills all mankind.” (At-Tabari 10:233) Said bin Jubayr said, “He who allows himself to shed the blood of a Muslim, is like he who allows shedding the blood of all people. He who forbids shedding the blood of one Muslim, is like he who forbids shedding the blood of all people.” In addition, Ibn Jurayj said that Al-Araj said that Mujahid commented on the Ayah, ”it would be as if he killed all mankind” “He who kills a believing soul intentionally, Allah makes the Fire of Hell his abode, He will become angry with him, and curse him, and has prepared a tremendous punishment for him, equal to if he had killed all people, his punishment will still be the same.” Ibn Jurayj said that Mujahid said that the Ayah, ”and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” means, “He who does not kill anyone, then the lives of people are safe from him.”

Warning Those who Commit Mischief

Allah said, ”And indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with Al-Bayyinat” meaning, clear evidences, signs and proofs, ”even then after that many of them continued to exceed the limits in the land!” This Ayah chastises and criticizes those who commit the prohibitions, after knowing that they are prohibited from indulging in them. The Jews of Al-Madinah, such as Banu Qurayzah, An-Nadir and Qaynuqa, used to fight along with either Khazraj or Aws, when war would erupt between them during the time of Jahiliyyah. When these wars would end, the Jews would ransom those who were captured and pay the blood money for those who were killed. Allah criticized them for this practice in Surat Al-Baqarah,

”And (remember) when We took your covenant (saying): Shed not your (people’s) blood, nor turn out your own people from their dwellings. Then, (this) you ratified and (to this) you bear witness. After this, it is you who kill one another and drive out a party of your own from their homes, assist (their enemies) against them, in sin and transgression. And if they come to you as captives, you ransom them, although their expulsion was forbidden to you. Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.” (2:84- 85)

The Punishment of those Who Cause Mischief in the Land

Allah said next, ”The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land.” ‘Wage war’ mentioned here means, oppose and contradict, and it includes disbelief, blocking roads and spreading fear in the fairways. Mischief in the land refers to various types of evil. Ibn Jarir recorded that Ikrimah and Al-Hasan Al- Basri said that the Ayat, ”The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger” until, ”Allah is Of-Forgiving, Most Merciful” “Were revealed about the idolators. Therefore, the Ayah decrees that, whoever among them repents before you apprehend them, then you have no right to punish them. This Ayah does not save a Muslim from punishment if he kills, causes mischief in the land or wages war against Allah and His Messenger and then joins rank with the disbelievers, before the Muslims are able to catch him. He will still be liable for punishment for the crimes he committed.”  (At-Tabari 10:244) Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i recorded that Ikrimah said that Ibn Abbas said that the Ayah, ”The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land…” “Was revealed concerning the idolators, those among them who repent before being apprehended, they will still be liable for punishment for the crimes they committed.”

The correct opinion is that this Ayah is general in meaning and includes the idolators and all others who commit the types of crimes the Ayah mentioned. Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded that Abu Qilabah Abdullah bin Zayd Al-Jarmi, said that Anas bin Malik said, “Eight people of the Ukl tribe came to the Messenger of Allah and gave him their pledge to follow Islam. Al-Madinah’s climate did not suit them and they became sick and complained to Allah’s Messenger. So he said,

”Go with our shephard to be treated by the milk and urine of his camels.”

So they went as directed, and after they drank from the camels’ milk and urine, they became healthy, and they killed the shepherd and drove away all the camels. The news reached the Prophet and he sent (men) in their pursuit and they were captured. He then ordered that their hands and feet be cut off (and it was done), and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron. Next, they were put in the sun until they died.” This is the wording of Muslim. In another narration for this Hadith, it was mentioned that these people were from the tribes of Ukl or Uraynah. Another narration reported that these people were put in the Harrah area (of Al-Madinah), and when they asked for water, no water was given to them. (Fath Al-Bari 12:114)

Allah said, ”they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land.” Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn Abbas said about this Ayah, ‘He who takes up arms in Muslim land and spreads fear in the fairways and is captured, the Muslim Leader has the choice to either have him killed, crucified or cut off his hands and feet.” Similar was said by Said bin Al-Musayyib, Mujahid, Ata’, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Ibrahim An-Nakhai and Ad-Dahhak, as Abu Jafar Ibn Jarir recorded. (At-Tabari 10:262-263) This view is supported by the fact that the word Aw (or), indicates a choice. As Allah said, ”The penalty is an offering, brought to the Kabah, of an eatable animal equivalent to the one he killed, as adjudged by two just men among you; or, for expiation, he should feed the poor, or its equivalent in fasting.” (5:95)

Allah said, ‘‘And whosoever of you is ill or has an ailment in his scalp (necessitating shaving), he must pay a ransom of either fasting or giving charity or offering a sacrifice.” and, ”…for its expiation feed ten of the poor, on a scale of the average of that with which you feed your own families, or clothe them, or free a slave.” All of these Ayat offer a choice, just as the Ayah above.

As for Allah’s statement, ”or be exiled from the land.” some said that it means, he is actively pursued until he is captured, and thus receives his prescribed punishment, or otherwise he escapes from the land of Islam, as Ibn Jarir recorded from Ibn Abbas, Anas bin Malik, Said bin Jubayr, Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi bin Anas, Az-Zuhri, Al-Layth bin Sad and Malik bin Anas. Some said that the Ayah means these people are expelled to another land, or to another state by the Muslims authorities. (At-Tabari 10:268-270) Said bin Jubayr, Abu Ash-Shatha, Al-Hasan, Az-Zuhri, Ad-Dahhak and Muqatil bin Hayyan said that he is expelled, but not outside of the land of Islam, while others said that he is to be imprisoned.

Allah’s statement, ”That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter.” means, the punishment We prescribed, killing these aggressors, crucifying them, cutting off their hands and feet on opposite sides, or expelling them from the land is a disgrace for them among mankind in this life, along with the tremendous torment Allah has prepared for them in the Hereafter. This view supports the opinion that these Ayat were revealed about the idolators. As for Muslims, in his Sahih, Muslim recorded that Ubadah bin As-Samit said, “The Messenger of Allah took the same pledge from us that he also took from women: That we do not associate anything with Allah in worship, we do not steal, commit adultery, or kill our children, and that we do not spread falsehood about each other. He said that he who keeps this pledge, then his reward will be with Allah. He who falls into shortcomings and was punished, then this will be his expiation. And those whose errors were covered by Allah, then their matter is for Allah: If He wills, He will punish them and If He wills, He will pardon them.” (Muslim 3:1333)

Ali narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

”He who sins in this life and was punished for it, then Allah is far more just than to combine two punishments on His servant. He who commits an error in this life and Allah hides this error and pardons him, then Allah is far more generous than to punish the servant for something that He has already pardoned.” (Ahmad 1:159)

Al-Hafiz Ad-Daraqutni was asked about this Hadith, and he said that it was related to the Prophet in some narrations, and it was related to the Companions in others, and that this narration from the Prophet is Sahih. (Ad-Daraqutni 3:215)

Ibn Jarir commented on Allah’s statement, ”That is their disgrace in this world” “Meaning, shame, humiliation, punishment, contempt and torment in this life, before the Hereafter, ”and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter.” if they do not repent from these errors until death overcomes them. In this case, they will be stricken by the punishment that We prescribed for them in this life and the torment that We prepared for them therein, ”a great torment” in the Fire of Jahannam.” (At-Tabari 10:276)

The Punishment of those who Wage War Against Allah and His Messenger is Annulled if They Repent Before their Apprehension

Allah said, ”Except for those who (having fled away and then) came back (as Muslims) with repentance before they fall into your power; in that case, know that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” This Ayah is clear in its indication that it applies to the idolators. As for the Muslims who commit this crime and repent before they are apprehended, the punishment of killing, crucifixion and cutting the limbs will be waved. The practice of the Companions in this regard is that all of the punishments prescribed in this case will be waved, as is apparent from the wording of the Ayah. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ash-Shabi said, “Harithah bin Badr At-Tamimi was living in Al-Basrah, and he committed the crime of mischief in the land. So he talked to some men from Quraysh, such as Al-Hasan bin Ali, Ibn Abbas and Abdullah bin Jafar, and they talked to Ali about him so that he would grant him safety, but Ali refused. So Harithah went to Said bin Qays Al-Hamadani who kept him in his house and went to Ali, saying, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! What about those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and cause mischief in the land?’ So he recited the Ayah until he reached, ”Except for those who (having fled away and them) came back cas Muslims) with repentance before they fall into your power.” So Ali wrote a document that granted safety, and Said bin Qays said, ‘This is for Harithah bin Badr.”’ Ibn Jarir recorded this Hadith. (At-Tabari 10:280)

Ibn Jarir recorded that Amir Ash-Shabi said, “A man from Murad came to Abu Musa, while he was the governor of Al-Kufah during the reign of Uthman, and said to him after he offered the obligatory prayer, ‘O Abu Musa! I seek your help. I am so-and-so from Murad and I waged war against Allah and His Messenger and caused mischief in the land. I repented before you had any authority over me.’ Abu Musa proclaimed, ‘This is so-and-so, who had waged war against Allah and His Messenger and caused mischief in the land, and he repented before we had authority over him. Therefore, anyone who meets him, should deal with him in a better way. If he is saying the truth, then this is the path of those who say the truth. If he is saying a lie, his sins will destroy him. So the man remained idle for as long as Allah willed, but he later rose against the leaders, and Allah punished him for his sins and he was killed.” Ibn Jarir recorded that Musa bin Ishaq Al-Madani said that Ali Al-Asadi waged war, blocked the roads, shed blood and plundered wealth. The leaders and the people alike, sought to capture him, but they could not do that until he came after he repented, after he heard a man reciting the Ayah, ”O My servants who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” So he said to that man, “O servant of Allah! Recite it again.” So he recited it again, and Ali put down his sword and went to Al-Madinah in repentance, arriving during the night. He washed up and went to the Masjid of the Messenger of Allah and prayed the dawn prayer. He sat next to Abu Hurayrah amidst his companions. In the morning, the people recognized him and went after him. He said, “You have no way against me. I came in repentance before you had any authority over me.” Abu Hurayrah said, “He has said the truth,” and he held his hand and went to Marwan bin Al-Hakam, who was the governor of Al-Madinah during the reign of Muawiyah. Abu Hurayrah said, “This is Ali and he came in repentance and you do not have a way against him, nor can you have him killed.” So Ali was absolved of punishment and remained on his repentance and went to the sea to perform Jihad in Allah’s cause. The Muslims met the Romans in battle, and the Muslims brought the ship Ali was in to one of the Roman ships, and Ali crossed to that ship and the Romans escaped from him to the other side of the ship, and the ship capsized and they all drowned.” (At-Tabari 10:284)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 3 Pages 140-168

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