32. Here again the pledge taken from the companions at Hudaibiyah has been mentioned. This is called Baiat Ridwan. For, Allah in this verse has given the good news that he became well pleased with those who on this dangerous occasion did not show the least hesitation in offering their lives for the cause of Islam and gave an express proof of their being true in their faith by taking the pledge on the hand of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Muslims at this time were equipped only with a sword each, numbered only 1,400, were unprepared for warfare, but were donning the pilgrim garments, were away from their military headquarters (Al-Madinah), while the enemy’s stronghold (Makkah) where from it could get any kind of help was just 13 miles off. Had these people been lacking in their sincerity of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) and His religion in any degree, they would have abandoned the Messenger (peace be upon him) on this extremely dangerous occasion, and Islam would have been vanquished forever. Apart from their own sincerity there was no external pressure under which they might have been compelled to take the pledge. Their becoming ready at that time to fight in the cause of Allah’s religion regardless of the dangers, is a clear proof that they were true and sincere in their faith and loyal to the cause of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) in the highest degree. That is why Allah honored them with this certificate of His good pleasure. Now if someone becomes angry with them after they have been honored with this certificate of Allah’s good pleasure, or slanders and vilifies them, his enmity is with Allah, not with them. Those who say that at that time when Allah honored them with this certificate of His good pleasure, they were sincere, but afterwards they became disloyal to Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him), perhaps harbor a mistrust about Allah that while sending down this verse He was unaware of their future; therefore, He awarded them this warrant only in view of their state at that time, and probably due to the same unawareness inscribed this verse in His Holy Book as well so that afterwards also, when those people have turned disloyal, the world should continue reading this verse about them and praising the knowledge of the unseen of that Allah Who, God forbid, had granted these faithless and disloyal people the warrant of His good pleasure.
About the tree under which this pledge was taken, a tradition by Ibn Umar’s slave Nafi has generally been related, saying that the people had started visiting it and offering prayers by it, so that when Umar came to know of it, he rebuked and warned the people and ordered it to be cut down. (Tabaqat Ibn Saad, vol. II, p. l00). But there are several other traditions which contradict it. A tradition from Nafi himself has been reported in Tabaqat of Ibn Saad to the effect that many years after the Baiat Ridwan the companions looked for the tree but they could not recognize it and differed as to which tree it was. (p. 106). The second tradition has been reported in Bukhari, Muslim, and Tabaqat on the authority of Saeed bin alMusayyab. He says that his father was one of those who had participated in the Baiat Ridwan. He told him that when they had gone for Umrah al-Qada the following year, they had forgotten the tree, and they could not locate it even after looking for it. The third tradition is from lbn Jarir. He says that when Umar, during his caliphate, passed by Hudaibiyah, he inquired about the tree under which the pledge had been sworn. Someone pointed to one tree and another one to another tree. At this Umar told the people to forget it as there was no real need to bother about it.
33. Here, sakinat means that state of the heart on whose strength a man throws himself into dangers with complete calm and peace of mind for the sake of a great objective and resolves without fear and consternation to undertake it regardless of the consequences.
34. The reference is to the conquest of Khaiber and its rich spoils and this verse expressly points out that Allah had reserved this reward only for those people who had taken part in the Baiat Ridwan; apart from them no one else was entitled to take part in the victory and have a share in the spoils. That is why when the Prophet (peace be upon him) marched out to attack Khaiber in Safar, A.H. 7, he took only those people with him. No doubt afterwards, he gave some of the spoils of Khaiber to those emigrants also who returned from Habash and to some companions from the Dus and Ashar tribes as well, but this was given either from Khums (one fifth of the spoils of war given into the public treasury), or with the approval of the companions who had taken the pledge of Ridwan; no one else was given any share of it.
35. This refers to the other victories that the Muslim achieved successively after Khaiber.
36. This implies the treaty of Hudaibiyah which has been described as a manifest victory in the beginning of the Surah.
37. That is, He restrained the disbelieving Quraish from attacking you at Hudaibiyah although from all appearances they were in a much better position and yours was a much weaker side militarily. Furthermore, it also implies that no enemy power could muster courage to attack Al-Madinah in those days, whereas after the departure of 1,400 soldiers the Al-Madinah front had become very weak, and the Jews, the polytheists and hypocrites could take advantage of the situation.
38. Sign of this as to how Allah helps the one who remains steadfast on obedience to Allah and His Messenger and comes out to support and defend the truth and righteousness with his trust and faith in Allah.
39. To a straight path: To the path of greater insight and faith so that you may remain steadfast on obedience to Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) in the future and may go on marching on the way of truth with trust in Allah, and may learn this lesson from these experiences that the believer should take practical steps to do whatever is demanded by Allah’s religion with his trust in Him, and should not overestimate either his own strength or the strength of the unbelievers.
40. Most probably this is a reference to the conquest of Makkah. The same is the opinion of Qatadah and Ibn Jarir. It seems to mean this: Though Makkah has not yet fallen to you, Allah has encircled it, and as a result of this victory at Hudaibiyah, it will also fall to you.
41. That is, Allah did not prevent fighting at Hudaibiyah because there was a possibility of your being defeated there, but there were other reasons for it, which are being stated in the following verses. Had that factor not been there and Allah had allowed the war to take place, the disbelievers would surely have been routed and Makkah would have fallen to you at that very time.
42. Here, “the way of Allah” means: Allah disgraces the disbelievers who fight His Messenger (peace be upon him) and helps him.
43. That is, Allah was seeing the sincerity and the selfless devotion with which you had become ready to lay down your lives in the cause of the true faith and were obeying the Prophet (peace be upon him) without asking any question. Allah was also seeing that the disbelievers were being unfair. The demand of this situation was that they should have been punished there and then through you, but in spite of that, Allah restrained your hands from them and their hands from you.
44. This was the reason why Allah did not allow fighting to take place at Hudaibiyah. This has two aspects:
That at that time there were quite a number of the Muslim men and women living in Makkah, who were either hiding their faith, or were being persecuted because of their faith as they had no means to emigrate. Had there been fighting and the Muslims had pushed back the disbelievers and entered Makkah, these Muslims would also have been killed in ignorance along with the disbelievers. This would not only have grieved the Muslims but the Arab polytheists also would have gotten an opportunity to say that the Muslims did not even spare their own brethren in faith during wartime. Therefore, Allah took pity on the helpless Muslims and averted the war in order to save the companions from grief and infamy. The other aspect of the expedience was that Allah did not will that Makkah should fall to the Muslims as a result of the defeat of the Quraish after a bloody clash but He willed that they should be encircled from all sides so that within two years or so they should become absolutely helpless and subdued without offering any resistance, and then the whole tribe should accept Islam and enter Allah’s mercy as it actually happened on the conquest of Makkah.
Here the juristic dispute has arisen that if during a war between the Muslims and the disbelievers, the disbelievers should bring out some Muslim men and women, children and old men, in their possession and put them in the forefront as a shield for themselves, or if there is some Muslim population also in the non-Muslim city under attack by the Muslim forces, or if on a warship of the disbelievers, which is within gunfire, the disbelievers have also taken some Muslims on board, can the Muslim army open fire on it? In answer to it the rulings given by different jurists are as follows:
Imam Malik says that in such a case fire should not be opened, and for this he cites this very verse as an argument. He contends that Allah prevented the war at Hudaibiyah only in order to save the Muslims. (Ibn al-Arabi, Ahkam al Quran). But this in fact is a weak argument. There is no word in the verse which may support the view that launching an attack on the enemy in this case is unlawful and forbidden. At the most what one can say on the basis of this verse is that the launching of an attack in such a case should be avoided in order to save the Muslims, provided that it does not put the disbelievers in an advantageous position against the Muslims militarily, or does not diminish the Muslims’ chances of gaining an upper hand in the conflict.
Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Zufar and Imam Muhammad say that it is lawful to open fire in such a case; so much so that even if the disbelievers use the children of the Muslims as a shield by putting them in the forefront, there is no harm in shooting at them, and it is not obligatory for the Muslims to expiate and pay any bloodmoney for the Muslims thus killed, (Al-Jassas, Ahkam al- Quran; Imam Muhammad, Kitab as-Siyar).
Imam Sufyan Thauri also in this case regards opening of the fire as lawful, but he says that although the Muslims will not pay the blood-money of the Muslims thus killed, it is obligatory for them to expiate the sin. (Al-Jassas, Ahkam al-Quran).
Imam Auzai and Laith bin Saad say that if the disbelievers use the Muslims as a shield, fire should not be opened on them. Likewise, if it is known that in their warship our own prisoners also are on board, it should not be sunk. But if we attack a city of theirs and we know that there are also Muslims in the city, it is lawful to open fire on the city, for it is not certain that our shells will only hit the Muslims, and if a Muslim becomes a victim of this shelling, it will not be willful murder of a Muslim but an inadvertent accident. (Al-Jassas, Ahkam alQur an).
Imam Shafei holds the view that in such a case if it is not inevitable to open fire. It is better to try to save the Muslims from destruction; although it is not unlawful to open fire in this case, it is undesirable. But if it is really necessary and it is feared that in case fire is not opened it will put the disbelievers in a better position militarily against the Muslims, it is lawful to resort to shelling, but even then every effort should be made to save the Muslims as far as possible. Furthermore, Imam Shafei also says that if during a conflict the disbelievers put a Muslim in front as a shield and a Muslim kills him, there can be two possible alternatives: either the killer knew that the murdered person was a Muslim, or he did not know that he was a Muslim. In the first case, he will be under obligation to pay compensation for manslaughter as well as do expiation; in the second case he will only do expiation. (Mughni alMuhtaj).
45. The words hamiyyat al-jahiliyyah mean that a man should willfully do something unworthy and improper only for the sake of his honor and prestige. The disbelievers of Makkah themselves acknowledged and admitted that everybody had a right to visit the Kabah for performing Hajj and Umrah, and that they had no right to stop anyone from this duty. This was an ancient admitted law of Arabia. But in spite of knowing that they were absolutely in the wrong and the Muslims in the right. They prevented the Muslims from performing Umrah only for the sake of their prestige. The righteous, even among the polytheists, were also saying that preventing the people, who had come in the pilgrim garbs along with sacrificial camels, from performing pilgrimage was an improper act. Yet the Quraish leaders persisted in their resistance only with the idea that if Muhammad (peace be upon him) entered Makkah along with a large number of his followers, it would mean loss of prestige for them among the Arabs. This was their arrogance.
46. Here, sakinat means the patience and dignity with which the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Muslims resisted the disbelievers rancor and spirit of paganism. They did not get provoked at their stubborn and insolent behavior and did not do anything which might have violated the spirit of truth and righteousness, or which might have further complicated the situation instead of settling it amicably.