14. Here too, it has explicitly been stated that those who repent will not become your brethren in faith without the observance of Salat and Zakat.
“Then they are your brothers in religion”: This means that if they fulfill those conditions, then not only shall their lives and properties become unlawful for you but also they shall enjoy equal rights with you in the Islamic community. There shall be no distinction between them and the other Muslims in regard to social, cultural, legal and political rights, and nothing will stand in their way to the progress for which they are otherwise qualified.
15. In the context, the words, oaths, and compacts mean the compact of the acceptance of Islam. Therefore, the question of making a new compact with them does not arise. As regards the old pacts, they had already broken all of them. It is on account of this that the declaration of immunity (from obligations) by Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) has been clearly made. It has also been stated that such people are not worthy of any treaty and they can only be let off if they repent of their disbelief and shirk and establish Salat and pay Zakat dues. This verse states clearly how the renegades should be treated. As a matter of fact, this verse forestalled the mischief of apostasy that broke out a year and a half after its revelation and Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) followed the guidance given in this verse to crush it.
16. In this passage the addressees are the Muslims. They have been urged to fight perseveringly in the Way of Allah, without paying the least heed to their ties of blood and relationship and to their worldly interests. In order to understand fully the spirit of this passage, the reader should keep in view the state of affairs at the time, when the abrogation of the treaties was declared. Though Islam was reigning supreme in the greater part of Arabia and there was no greater power to challenge its supremacy, still superficial observers saw a number of dangers in the extreme step which was being taken at that time.
First, it was feared that the abrogating of the treaties with all the mushrik clans at one and the same time, and debarring them from Hajj and changing the guardianship of the Kaabah and abolishing all the rituals of ignorance, would so incite the mushriks and the hypocrites and kindle such fire of enmity that they would be ready to shed the last drop of their blood for safeguarding their interests and prejudices.
Secondly, it was feared that the mushriks would be greatly enraged by this declaration which granted freedom of movement to the Muslims to perform Hajj, whereas it forbade the non-Muslims. Obviously this would also affect adversely their economic condition, for Hajj played a very important part in the economic life of Arabia during that period of her history.
Lastly, it was feared that this would put to a hard trial those people who had embraced Islam recently after the peace treaty of Hudaibiyah and the conquest of Makkah. For many of their kith and kin were still mushriks. Some of whom had their interests closely bound up with those offices of ignorance which were abolished. Now it was obvious that the total war against the mushriks demanded that these new Muslims should not only kill their own near and dear ones but should also themselves abolish those ancient offices and distinctions which they had enjoyed for centuries.
Though, it is true that none of these dangers took any practical shape, there were good reasons for these apprehensions, for none could foresee the trends of events at the time of the abrogation of the treaties. And the dangers were averted because these commandments had prepared them beforehand to meet them. More than that: this preparedness produced other good results. The delegates from the remnants of the mushriks, their chiefs and rulers began to visit Al-Madinah and take the oath of allegiance to Islam and obedience to the prophet (peace be upon him), who let them retain their old positions and offices. These things proved that if the Muslims had not been in a state of readiness to take immediate action for enforcing the terms of the declaration with the sword, the events which followed might have taken a different direction. Therefore it was the need of the hour that the Muslims should have been vehemently urged for Jihad, and their apprehensions removed. That is why it was being enjoined that they should not let anything hinder them from doing the will of Allah. And this is the theme of this discourse.
17. This was a subtle reference to the possibility of what actually was going to happen afterwards. “And He will remove”: this was to remove the misunderstandings of the Muslims who apprehended a bloody war as a result of the declaration. They were told that it was also possible that some of the enemies might repent and embrace Islam. This was not made quite plain lest it should slacken the war preparations of the Muslims on one side and weaken the force of the warning to the mushriks on the other. The latter thing might have hindered the mushriks from giving a serious thought to the critical position they were in that finally led them to embrace Islam.
18. The addressees in Ayat 16 were those Muslims who had recently embraced Islam. It means to tell them plainly: “Now that you have embraced Islam, you shall have to give a genuine proof by a trial that you have accepted it because you believe in its truth and not because it has become supreme in the country by the exertions of the true believers. The trial is that you shall have to sacrifice your lives, wealth, and your near and dear ones for the sake of Allah and His Way. Then and only then, you will be regarded as true believers.