232. This relates to a certain incident. In Rajab 2 A. H. the Prophet sent
an expedition of eight persons to Nakhlah (which lies between Makka and Ta'if).
He directed them to follow the movements of the Quraysh and gather information
about their plans, but not to engage in fighting. On their way they came across
a trade caravan belonging to the Quraysh and ambushed it. They killed one person
and captured the rest along with their belongings and took them to Madina. They
did this at a time when the month of Rajah was approaching its end and Sha'ban
was about to begin. It was, therefore, doubtful whether the attack was actually
carried out in one of the sacred months, that is, Rajab, or not. But the Quraysh,
and the Jews who were secretly in league with them, as well as the hypocrites
made great play of this and used it as a weapon in their propaganda campaign
against the Muslims. (For this expedition see Ibn Hisham, Sirah. vol. 1, pp.
601 ff; Ibn Ishaq, Life of Muhammad, tr. A. Guillaume. pp. 286 ff.) They pointed
out the contradiction between the claims of the Muslims to true religion on
the one hand, and their not hesitating to shed blood in a sacred month on the
This verse aims to answer these objections. The essence of what is said here is that fighting during the sacred months is without doubt an evil act. It points out that those people who had continually subjected their kith and kin to untold wrong for thirteen years merely because they believed in the One God were not competent to make such an objection. Not only had the Muslims been driven from their homes, they had had the way to the Holy Mosque closed to them, a bar which had not been imposed by anyone during the course of some two thousand years. With this record of mischief and misconduct it was not for them to raise such an outcry at a minor ambush, and especially so when the incident had taken place without the approval of the Prophet. The whole incident was in fact no more than an irresponsible act on the part of some members of the Islamic community.
It should be remembered that when on their return those people went, with captives and booty, to visit the Prophet, he expressly pointed out to them that he had not permitted them to fight. Not only that, he declined to receive the public exchequer's share of their booty, which indicated that their booty was considered unlawful. The Muslims, in general, also severely reproached the people responsible for the incident, and in fact nobody in Madina applauded what they had done.
233. A few simple-hearted Muslims, whose minds were seized by a mistaken
concept of righteousness and pacifism, were influenced by the above objections
which had been raised by the polytheists of Makka and the Jews. In this verse
the believers are being asked not to entertain the hope that they might clear
the air and promote understanding and goodwill by adopting an over-lenient stance
towards their opponents. The objections of the latter were not motivated by
the desire to find out the Truth; their true purpose was nothing but vilification.
What particularly irked the adversaries of the Muslims was that they believed
in a religion of their own and were inviting the whole world to accept it. Hence,
as long as the Muslims continued to believe in Islam and as long as their opponents
remained stubborn in their disbelief, the existing chasm between the two groups
was bound to remain.
Moreover, the enemies whom they confronted were not to be considered ordinary enemies. Those who wanted to deprive a person of his belongings or land were in fact enemies of a relatively much less dangerous kind than those who sought to turn him away from his faith; while the former sought to harm his worldly interests, the latter were bent upon hurling him into the eternal torment in the Hereafter.
234. Jihad denotes doing one's utmost to achieve something. It is not the equivalent of war, for which the Arabic word is qital. Jihad has a wider connotation and embraces every kind of striving in God's cause. A mujahid is a person who is single-mindedly devoted to his cause, who uses his mental capacity to reflect how best he can achieve it, propagates it by word of mouth and by the pen, uses his physical energy in striving to serve it, spends all the resources at his disposal to promote it, employs all the force he commands in confronting any power which might stand in its way, and, whenever necessary, does not shirk risking his very life for it. All this is Jihad. ' Jihad in the way of God' is that strife in which man engages exclusively to win God's good pleasure, to establish the supremacy of His religion and to make His word prevail.
235. This is the first injunction concerning intoxicating drinks and gambling, and here the matter has been left merely as an expression of disapproval. This was a preliminary step designed to prepare the minds of people for the acceptance of their prohibition. The injunction prohibiting the performance of Prayer when in a state of intoxication came later, and ultimately alcohol, gambling and the like were categorically prohibited see( 4: 43)and (5: 90).
236. Before this verse was revealed many severe injunctions had already been revealed regarding the protection of orphans' property. It had been ordained that ' people should not even draw near to the property of the orphan' (6: 152)v; (17: 34) and that 'those who wrongfully eat the properties of orphans only, fill their bellies with fire' (4: 10). Because of these severe injunctions the orphans' guardians were so over awed that they even separated the food and drink of the orphans from their own; they felt anxious lest anything belonging to the orphans became mixed with their own. It is for this reason that they enquired of the Prophet (peace he on him) what the proper form of their dealings with orphans should be.
237. This is the reason for, and the wisdom underlying the injunction mentioned above prohibiting marriage links with polytheists. Marriage does not consist merely of sexual relations between a man and a woman. It is a relationship which has deep social, moral and emotional implications. If established between a believer and a polytheist, this kind of relationship has many possible outcomes. On the one hand, it is possible that because of the influence of the believing spouse, the other partner, the family and the future generations may become receptive to Islamic beliefs and to the Islamic wav of life. On the other hand, it is also possible that the spouse who is a polytheist may influence the thinking and mode of living of the believing spouse, the family and the future generations. Moreover this relationship may promote in that family a hotchpotch of Islam, downright atheism, and polytheism which, however welcome to non-Muslims, is in no way acceptable to Islam. No true believer can run the risk that either the ideas and life-styles which are organically related to atheism and polytheism may flourish among the members of his family, or that some aspect of his own life may bear the impress of atheism or polytheism.