Friday 24 April 2020

Overview: Surah At Tawbah (The Repentance) - 9th Chapter of Quran

Sūrat At Tawbah " ٱلتَّوْبَة " is the 9th surah / chapter of the Holy Qur'an with 129 ayahs with sixteen rukus / sections, part of the 10th-11th Juzʼ. This Surah is known by two names: At Tawbah and Al-Bara'at. It is called At Tawbah because it enunciates the nature of Tawbah (repentance) and mentions the conditions of its acceptance.(verses 102. 118). The second name Bara'at (Release) is taken from the first word of the Surah.

Logically this Sürah follows up the argument of the last Sürah VIII Al Anfal, and indeed may be considered a part of it, although chronologically the two are separated by an interval of seven years.

After reading Sürah VIII, we saw that it dealt with the large questions arising at the outset of the life of a new Ummat or organised nation: questions of defence under attack, distribution of war acquisitions after victory, the virtues needed for concerted action, and clemency and consideration for one's own and for enemies in the hour of victory. We pass on in this Sürah to deal with the question: what is to be dome if the enemy breaks faith and is guilty of treachery? No nation can go on with a treaty if the other party violates it at will; but it is laid down that a period of four months should be allowed by way of notice after denunciations of the treaty, that due protection should be accorded in the intervening period that there should always be open the door to repentance and reunion with the people of Allah; and that if all there fail, and war must be undertaken, it must be pushed with the utmost vigour.

In a continuum of Sürah VIII Al Anfal, this Sürah additionally manages the issues of harmony and war and puts together the subject with respect to the Tabuk Expedition.The Significant Issues, Divine Laws and pieces of Guidance incorporated in this surah are as follows
  • Policy guidelines for Muslims pertaining the mushriks.
  • Instructions to participate in Jihad.
  • Guidelines about hypocrisy, feeble faith, and carelessness.
  • Battle of Tabuk.
  • Foundation of a Dar-ul-Islam (an Islamic state).
  • Stretching out the impact of Islam to abutting nations.
  • Pulverizing the underhandedness of the hypocrites.
  • Setting up the Muslims for a battle in the reason for Islam.
These are the general principles deducible from the Sürah. The immediate occasion for their promulgation may be considered in connection with the chronological place of the Sürah.

The series of events that have been discussed in this Sürah took place after the Peace Treaty of Hudaibiyah. By that time, one-third of Arabia had come under the sway of Islam which had established itself as a powerful, well organized and civilized Islamic State. This Treaty afforded further opportunities to Islam to spread its influence in the comparatively peaceful atmosphere created by it. After this Treaty, two events took place, which led to very important results:
The first was the Conquest of Arabia. The Holy Prophet was able to send missions among different clans for the propagation of Islam. The result was that during the short period of two years, it became such a great power that it made the old order of ignorance' feel helpless before it. So much so that the zealous elements from among the Quraish were so exasperated that they broke the Treaty in order to encounter Islam in a decisive combat. But the Holy Prophet took prompt action after the breach so as not to allow them any opportunity to gather enough force for this. He made a sudden invasion on Makkah in the month of Ramadan in A. H. 8 and conquered it. Though this conquest broke the backbone of the order of ignorance, it made still another attack on Islam in the battle-field of Hunain, which proved to be its death-knell. The clans of Hawazin Thaqif, Naur, Jushm and others gathered their entire forces in the battle field in order to crush the reformative Revolution, but they utterly failed in their evil designs. The defeat of 'ignorance' at Hunain paved the way for making the whole of Arabia the 'Abode of Islam' (Dar-ul-Islam). The result was that hardly a year had Passed after the Battle of Hunain, when the major portion of Arabia came within the fold of Islam and only a few upholders of the old order remained scattered over some corners of the country.
The second event that contributed towards making Islam a formidable power was the Campaign of Tabuk
Tabük is a place near the frontier of Arabia, quite close to what was then Byzantine territory in the Province of Syria (which includes Palestine). It is on the Hijäz Railway, about 350 miles north-west of Madinah, and 150 miles south of Ma'an. It had a fort and a spring of sweet water. In consequence of strong and persistent rumours that the Byzantines (Romans) were preparing to invade Arabia and that the Byzantine Emperor himself had arrived near the frontier for the purpose, the Prophet collected as large a force as he could, and marched to Tabük. The Byzantine invasion did not come off. But the Prophet took the opportunity of consolidating the Muslim position in that direction and making treaties of alliance with certain Christian and Jewish tribes near the Gulf of Aqaba. On his return to Madinah he considered the situation. During his absence the Hypocrites had played, as always a double game and the policy hitherto followed, of free access to the sacred centre of Islam, to Muslims and Pagans alike, was now altered, as it had been abused by the enemies of Islam.
Chronologically, verses 1-29 were a notable declaration of State policy promulgated about the month of Shawwäl, A.H. 9, and read out by Hadhrat Ali at the Pilgrimage two months later in order to give the policy the widest publicity possible. The remainder of the Sürah, verses 30-129, was revealed a little earlier, say about the month of Ramadan, A.H. 9, and sums up the lessons of the Prophet's Tabük expedition in the late summer of A.H. 9 (say October 630).

This is the only Sürah to which the usual formula of Bismillah is not prefixed. It was among the last of the Sürahs revealed, and though the Prophet had directed that it should follow Sürah VIII, it was not clear whether it was a separate Sürah or only a part of Sürah VIII. It is now treated as a separate Sürah, but the Bismillah is not prefixed to it as there is no warrant for supposing that the Prophet used the Bismillah before it in his recitation of the Qur'an.  Therefore the Companions did not prefix it and their successors followed them. This is a further proof of the fact that utmost care has been taken to keep the Quran intact so that it should remain in its complete and original form.

This Surah comprises three discourses and has been accordingly partitioned into three parts:-
Part I: The first discourse (verses 1-37), was revealed in Zil-Qa'adah (11th month of Islamic calendar)  A.H. 9 or thereabout. As the importance of the subject of the discourse required its declaration on the occasion of Haj the Holy Prophet dispatched Hadrat Ali to follow Hadrat Abu Bakr, who had already left for Makkah as leader of the Pilgrims to the Ka'abah. He instructed Hadrat Ali to deliver the discourse before the representatives of the different clans of Arabia so as to inform them of the new policy towards the mushriks.
Part IIThe second discourse (verses 38-72) was sent down in Rajab (7th month of Islamic calendar) A.H. 9 or a little before this, when the Holy Prophet was engaged in making preparations for the Campaign, of Tabuk. In this discourse, the Believers were urged to take active part in Jihad, and the shirkers were severely rebuked for holding back their wealth and for hesitation to sacrifice their lives in the way of Allah because of their hypocrisy, weak faith or negligence.
Part IIIThe third discourse (verses 73-129) was revealed on his return from the Campaign of Tabuk. There are some pieces in this discourse that were sent down on different occasions during the same period and were afterwards consolidated by the Holy Prophet into the Surah in accordance with inspiration from Allah. But this caused no interruption in its continuity because they dealt with the same subject and formed part of the same series of events. This discourse warns the hypocrites of their evil deeds and rebukes those Believers who had stayed behind in the Campaign of Tabuk. Then after taking them to task, Allah pardons those true Believers who had not taken part in the Jihad in the Way of Allah for one reason or the other.
Please look up for our subsequent posts that deals with the exegesis / tafsir of the Sürah divided into three parts as mentioned above.

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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