Reading the Koran. 117

This is another excerpt from Bill Warner’s book Abridged Koran where the verses of Koran are arranged in their chronological order and provided with facts from prophet Muhammad’s life, giving context for them.



Mohammed decided to raid the Byzantines. Normally he never let his men actually know where he was headed. He would announce a destination, but after they were on the way, he would announce the actual place. But this raid was far away in very hot weather, so greater preparations would need to be made. The men began to prepare, but with no enthusiasm due to the heat, it was time for harvest to begin and they remembered the last combat with the Byzantines—they lost badly.

When Mohammed asked one of his best men if he wanted to go, the man replied, “Would you allow me to stay? You know how much I love women and when I see the Byzantine women, I don’t know if I will be able to control myself.” So Mohammed told him to stay. But the Koran had a comment:

9:45 The only ones who will ask leave of you are those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day, whose hearts are full of doubts, and who waver in their doubts. If they had intended to go to war, they would have prepared for war. But Allah was opposed to their marching forth and held them back. It was said, “Sit at home with those who sit.” If they had taken the field with you, they would not have added to your strength but would have hurried about among you, stirring up dissension. Some of you would have listened to them. Allah knows the evildoers. They had plotted dissension before and made plots against you again until the truth arrived. Then the decree of Allah prevailed, much to their disgust.

9:49 Some of them say to you, “Allow me to remain at home, and do not expose me to temptation.” Have they not already fallen into temptation? Hell will surround the unbelievers. If a success befalls you [Mohammed], it annoys them. If a misfortune befalls you, they say, “We took our precautions,” and they turn their backs and are glad.

There was much grumbling about the heat.

9:81 Those who were left behind were delighted at sitting behind Allah’s Messenger. They hated to strive and fight with their riches and their lives for Allah’s cause [jihad] and said, “Do not go out in the heat.” Say: The Fire of Hell is a fiercer heat.” If they would only understand. Let them laugh a little for they will weep much in payment for their deeds.

9:83 If Allah brings you back from the fight and they ask your permission to march out with you the next time, say, “You will never come out with me or fight an enemy with me. You were well pleased to sit at home at the first crisis, so sit at home with those who lag behind.”

So Mohammed set off, but there were many Muslims who were slow to leave or they came with misgivings. After the first camp some of the Muslims left and returned to Medina. These were called hypocrites.

9:51 Say: Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has destined for us. He is our protector. Let the faithful put their trust in Allah. Say: Can you expect for us anything other than one of the two best things — martyrdom, or victory? Allah will inflict a punishment Himself or at our hands. So wait, and we will wait with you.

9:53 Say: Pay your offerings willingly or unwillingly. It cannot be accepted from you because you are a wicked people. The only reasons their contributions are not accepted are because they reject Allah and His Messenger. They do not keep prayer but with sluggishness, and they do not make offerings willingly.

9:55 Do not let their riches or their children amaze you. Allah’s plan is to punish them by means of these in this present life and for their souls to depart while they are unbelievers. They swear by Allah that they are believers when they are unbelievers, but they are people who are afraid of you [Mohammed]. If they could find a place of refuge, or caves, or a hiding place, they surely would have turned towards it running in haste.

When they got to Tabuk, the people there paid the poll tax, jizya. By paying the poll tax, a per person tax, they would not be attacked, killed or robbed by the Muslims. Those who paid the jizya were under the protection of Islam.

The Battle of Tabuk was hard for Mohammed. The Muslims did not come out to be jihadists as they had before. But the Koran makes clear that jihad is an obligation.

9:85 Do not let their riches or their children astonish you. Through these Allah is inclined to punish them in this world and to let their souls depart while they are still unbelievers. When a sura [chapter] was sent down saying, “Believe in Allah and strive and go to war with His Messenger,” those of them who are possessed of riches demanded exemption saying, “Leave us behind that we may be with those who sit at home.” They are well contented to be with those who stay behind for their hearts are sealed. They do not understand.

9:88 The Messenger and those who share his faith strive hard for their faith with their with purses and lives. All good things await them. These are the ones who will prosper. Allah has made ready for them Gardens beneath which the rivers flow, where they will remain forever. This is the supreme felicity.

9:90 Some Arabs of the desert came with excuses to avoid fighting. They who had rejected Allah and His Messenger sat at home. A painful doom will fall on those who do not believe. It will be no crime in the weak, in the sick, or in those who find no resources to contribute to Allah’s cause [jihad] to stay at home provided they are sincere with Allah and His Messenger. There is no cause of blame against those who act virtuously. Allah is gracious and merciful. Nor is their blame against those who, when they came to you asking to be provided with mounts, were told, “I do not find mounts for you.” They turned their backs, their eyes shedding tears of grief, because they found no means to contribute.

9:93 The cause for blame is only against those who ask for exemption though they are rich. They are pleased to be with those who stay behind, and Allah has set a seal upon their hearts so they do not know. They will present their excuses to you when you return to them. Say: Do not present excuses. We cannot believe you. Allah has informed us about you. Allah and His Messenger will behold your doings. You will return to the knower of the seen and the unseen. He will tell you the truth of what you have done.


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