Our fourth stop is with the largest chapter of the Qur’an, chapter 2. Its revelation began in the 1st year A.H. and lasted till the 10th year A.H. It includes the fourth group of verses that was revealed and speaks about fighting. Allah says:
“Fight in the cause of Allah against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression, verily, Allah does not love aggressors. Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, for [religious] persecution is worse than killing. Do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque unless they fight you there. If they do fight you, kill them, such is the retribution of those who deny the truth. But if they desist, then verily Allah is the Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. Fight them until there is no more religious persecution and religion belongs to Allah alone. If they desist, then let there be no hostility, except towards the aggressors. A sacred month for a sacred month: violation of sanctity calls for fair retribution. Thus you may exact retribution from whoever transgresses against you, in proportion to his transgression. Fear God and know that God is with those who are mindful of Him. Spend for Allah’s cause and do not cast yourselves into destruction by your own hands. Do good, Allah loves the doers of good.”
[The Qur’an (2:190-194)]
In the 6th year A.H., the prophet P.B.U.H. and 1400 of his companions were on their way to Makkah, seeking to perform minor pilgrimage at the sacred Mosque. Muslims had already fought several battles against the Makkan pagans at that time (3 battles, all of which were inside Madinah’s vicinity), they were victorious in all of them except the “Battle of ‘Uhud”. The situation was hazardous and many of the Bedouins who embraced Islam refused to accompany the prophet, they said that the prophet was leading the Muslims into a death trap. Many people said that the prophet and his companions would all be killed by the pagans before even reaching the sacred city.
This incident occurred in the sacred months that were still honored by some of the pagans. Ever since Prophet Abraham P.B.U.H. and his son Ishmael, Arabs have inherited the custom that any kind of fighting or bloodshed was forbidden in these 4 months, not even in the least sense. Muslims were counting on this, and thought that the pagans wouldn’t attack them. They assumed the state of Ihram (i.e. ritual consecration), and they were seeking to perform the minor pilgrimage in the sacred city without any trouble, like all other Arab tribes usually did. The prophet sent out scouts to bring him news about the pagans. When they returned, they told the prophet that the pagans had already prepared their army and camped in the way to Makkah at a place called Baldah. When Muslims learned about this, they were troubled for they didn’t come to fight, especially that they were in the sacred months.
Makkah was the homeland of the prophet and most of those who were accompanying him. Every one of them left init a home, relatives and friends, even the most precious memories. It was their land exactly like any of the Makkan pagans who have driven them out from it, and were at that moment lurking to prevent them from entering it. They had mustered enough power to kill them all in a few minutes. This was one of the hardest moments in the lives of these 1400 men, and a true test of faith. After the prophet consulted his companions, they all pledged their allegiance to fight under the prophet’s banner against the tyrant pagans till the last one of them. On the next day when the prophet and his companions resumed their journey towards Makkah, something very strange happened, the prophet’s she-camel kneeled down and refused to getup. When the companions tried to make it getup, it refused. The prophet then stopped them and said: “Let her be, she is ordered not to move.” He then ordered the Muslims to return to the place of their previous camp and he sent a deputy to the pagans informing them that they didn’t come to fight, and that they want to perform the minor pilgrimage and leave.
This entailed sending deputies from both sides several times until both parties agreed on signing a peace treaty known in the history books as “Al-Hudaibeyah treaty”. The treaty stipulated that Muslims should return to Madinah this year and perform the minor pilgrimage the next year at the same time. A peace period of 10 years was agreed upon by both parties and their allies from the Arab tribes. Without indulging into the huge details and incidents surrounding this treaty, in the 7th year A.H., when Muslims were going to perform the compensatory minor pilgrimage, the companions were afraid that the pagans might betray the treaty, seize the opportunity and attack them while being unprepared. They all resented the idea of fighting in the sacred months or fighting inside the sacred city. It was in this incident that the above verses were revealed to the prophet telling him and his companions what to do if they were attacked.
The above verses of chapter 2 hold the following injunctions:
- Fight in self defense those who attack you.
- Never transgress the limits and attack those who do not attack you, nor do they fight.
- Fight those who occupy your homeland and kill them wherever you find them until you drive them out and retrieve your homeland.
- Fight against aggressors until there is no more compulsion in religion.
- Never fight in or near the sacred mosque unless attacked there.
- Never fight during the 4 sacred months unless attacked during them.
- Spend part of your income in preparing your army or your enemy shall destroy you.
Written By: Ehab Shawky