Explain the first five verses of Chapter 9

It would be great help for me if you explain how to present these verses (9:1-5) to non-Muslims. I was talking with some non-muslim friends and based on tafsir (exegesis) of Quran I could not explain it well.

Muslims had non-aggression treaties with the polytheists of Mecca. Verses 9:1-15 were revealed to declare that after the expiration of the terms of the current treaties with the polytheist that those treaties will never again be renewed. The polytheist will have to live peacefully with Muslims. If they choose to fight, as they have done repeatedly before, then Muslims will fight them back and there will not be any more treaties.

Verse 9:4 makes it clear that the terms of the current treaties that have not yet expired have to be honored,

“Except those you have covenanted of the polytheists and they have not shorted you of anything nor supported anyone against you; so complete for them their treaty until the end of their term. Indeed, God loves the watchful [of Him].” (9:4)

Verse 9:5, called in the classic literature “the sword verse”, and often quoted by Islamophobes, is the most misunderstood verse in the Quran, even by Muslims. It simply says that after the expiration of the terms of the current treaties, aggression of the polytheists will not be tolerated. This is made clear by the next verse, 9:6, which makes it clear that aggression is only directed at the aggressors,

“And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of God. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.” (9:6)

The next verses explain the theme further and tell why God does not want Muslims to have more treaties with the polytheists by reminding Muslims of the past hostility and atrocities they committed against Muslims. Verse 9:7, however, makes it clear that peaceful co-existence can happen between Muslims and polytheists,

“How can there be for the polytheists a covenant with God and with His Messenger, except for those you covenanted at the Sacrosanct Mosque? So as long as they have been straight with you, be straight with them. Indeed, God loves the watchful [of Him].” (9:7)

Finally, verse 9:12, emphasizes again that betrayal and aggression from the polytheists must be met with a fight back. Verse 9:13 urges Muslims not to fear the polytheists and reminds them of the long history of injustice done by the polytheists to Muslims.

One Response to “Explain the first five verses of Chapter 9”

  1. tariq353 says:

    As salamu alykum,
    In short, these verses are like Islamic guidelines for war.
    *First, give them warning and time to come back to an agreement.
    *If they refuse and prefer to fight, don’t be afraid to fight them bravely.
    *(Here comes the mercy of Allah) Even in the battle field, if they repent and are ready to accept the truth, let them go. And if they don’t, but still come to you for protection, not only do you let them go, but you will have to escort them to safe place!

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