(1. Freedom from (all) obligations (is declared) from Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) to those of the Mushrikin (idolaters), with whom you made a treaty.) (2. So travel freely (O Mushrikin) for four months (as you will) throughout the land, but know that you cannot escape (from the punishment of) Allah; and Allah will disgrace the disbelievers.)
This honorable Surah (chapter 9) was one of the last Surahs to be revealed to the Messenger of Allah . Al-Bukhari recorded that Al-Bara' said, "The last Ayah to be revealed was,
(They ask you for a legal verdict. Say: "Allah directs (thus) about Al-Kalalah.'') (4:176), while the last Surah to be revealed was Bara'ah.'' The Basmalah was not mentioned in the beginning of this Surah because the Companions did not write it in the complete copy of the Qur'an (Mushaf) they collected, following the Commander of the faithful, `Uthman bin `Affan, may Allah be pleased with him. The first part of this honorable Surah was revealed to the Messenger of Allah when he returned from the battle of Tabuk, during the Hajj season, which the Prophet thought about attending. But he remembered that the idolators would still attend that Hajj, as was usual in past years, and that they perform Tawaf around the House while naked. He disliked to associate with them and sent Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, to lead Hajj that year and show the people their rituals, commanding him to inform the idolators that they would not be allowed to participate in Hajj after that season. He commanded him to proclaim,
(Freedom from (all) obligations (is declared) from Allah and His Messenger...), to the people. When Abu Bakr had left, the Messenger sent `Ali bin Abu Talib to be the one to deliver this news to the idolators on behalf of the Messenger , for he was the Messenger's cousin. We will mention this story later.
(Freedom from obligations from Allah and His Messenger), is a declaration of freedom from all obligations from Allah and His Messenger,
(to those of the Mushrikin, with whom you made a treaty. So travel freely (Mushrikin) for four months (as you will) throughout the land) (9:1-2). This Ayah refers to idolators who had indefinite treaties and those, whose treaties with Muslims ended in less than four months. The terms of these treaties were restricted to four months only. As for those whose term of peace ended at a specific date later (than the four months), then their treaties would end when their terms ended, no matter how long afterwards, for Allah said,
(So fulfill their treaty for them until the end of their term) (9:4). So whoever had a covenant with Allah's Messenger then it would last until its period expired, this was reported from Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi and others. We will also mention a Hadith on this matter. Abu Ma`shar Al-Madani said that Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi and several others said, "The Messenger of Allah sent Abu Bakr to lead the Hajj rituals on the ninth year (of Hijrah). He also sent `Ali bin Abi Talib with thirty or forty Ayat from Bara'ah (At-Tawbah), and he recited them to the people, giving the idolators four months during which they freely move about in the land. He recited these Ayat on the day of `Arafah (ninth of Dhul-Hijjah). The idolators were given twenty more days (till the end) of Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, Safar, Rabi` Al-Awwal and ten days from Rabi` Ath-Thani. He proclaimed to them in their camping areas, `No Mushrik will be allowed to perform Hajj after this year, nor a naked person to perform Tawaf around the House.''' So Allah said,
(3. And a declaration from Allah and His Messenger to mankind on the greatest day of Hajj that Allah is free from obligations to the Mushrikin and so is His Messenger. So if you repent, it is better for you, but if you turn away, then know that you cannot escape Allah. And give tidings of a painful torment for those who disbelieve.)
(from Allah and His Messenger), and a preface warning to the people,
(on the greatest day of Hajj), the day of Sacrifice, the best and most apparent day of the Hajj rituals, during which the largest gathering confers.
(that Allah is free from (all) obligations to the Mushrikin and so is His Messenger.) also free from all obligations to them. Allah next invites the idolators to repent,
(So if you repent), from the misguidance and Shirk you indulge in,
(it is better for you, but if you turn away), and persist on your ways,
(then know that you cannot escape Allah) Rather, Allah is capable over you, and you are all in His grasp, under His power and will,
(And give tidings of a painful torment for those who disbelieve) earning them disgrace and affliction in this life and the torment of chains and barbed iron bars in the Hereafter. Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, "Abu Bakr sent me during that Hajj with those dispatched on the day of Sacrifice to declare in Mina that no Mushrik will be allowed to attend Hajj after that year, nor will a naked person be allowed to perform Tawaf.'' Humayd said, "The Prophet then sent `Ali bin Abi Talib and commanded him to announce Bara'ah.'' Abu Hurayrah said, "Ali publicized Bara'ah with us to the gathering in Mina on the day of Sacrifice, declaring that no Mushrik shall perform Hajj after that year, nor shall a naked person perform Tawaf around the House.'' Al-Bukhari also collected this Hadith the this narration of which, Abu Hurayrah said, "On the day of Nahr, Abu Bakr sent me along with other announcers to Mina to make a public announcement that `No pagan is allowed to perform Hajj after this year, and no naked person is allowed to perform the Tawaf around the Ka`bah.' Abu Bakr was leading the people in that Hajj season, and in the year of `The Farewell Hajj' when the Prophet performed Hajj, no Mushrik performed Hajj.''' This is the narration that Al-Bukhari recorded in the Book on Jihad. Muhammad bin Ishaq reported a narration from Abu Ja`far Muhammad bin `Ali bin Al-Husayn who said, "When Bara'ah was revealed to Allah's Messenger , and he had sent Abu Bakr to oversee the Hajj rites for the people, he was asked, `O Messenger of Allah! Why not send this (message) to Abu Bakr' So he said,
(It will not be accepted to have been from me if it is not from a man from my family.) Then he called for `Ali and said to him,
(Take this section from the beginning of Bara'ah and proclaim to the people on the day of the Sacrifice while they are gathered at Mina that no disbeliever will enter Paradise, no idolator will be permitted to perform Hajj after the year, there will be no Tawaf while naked, and whoever has a covenant with Allah's Messenger, then it shall be valid until the time of its expiration.) `Ali rode the camel of Allah's Messenger named Al-`Adba' until he caught up with Abu Bakr in route. When Abu Bakr saw him he said, `Are you here as a commander or a follower.' `Ali replied, `A follower.' They continued on. Abu Bakr lead the people in Hajj while the Arabs were camping in their normal locations from Jahiliyyah. On the day of Sacrifice, `Ali bin Abi Talib stood and proclaimed, `O people! No disbeliever will be admitted into Paradise, no idolator will be permitted to perform Hajj next year, there shall be no Tawaf while naked, and whoever has a covenant with Allah's Messenger , then it shall be valid until its time of expiration.' So no idolator performed Hajj after that year, Tawaf around the House while naked ceased. Then they returned to Allah's Messenger . So this was the declaration of innocence, whoever among the idolators had no treaty, then he had a treaty of peace for one year, if he had a particular treaty, then it was valid until its date of expiration.''
(4. Except those of the Mushrikin with whom you have a treaty, and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor have supported anyone against you. So fulfill their treaty for them until the end of their term. Surely, Allah loves those who have Taqwa.)
This is an exception regulating the longest extent of time for those who have a general treaty - with out time mentioned - to four months. They would have four months to travel the lands in search of sanctuary for themselves wherever they wish. Those whose treaty mentioned a specific limited term, then the longest it would extend was to the point of its agreed upon termination date. Hadiths in this regard preceded. So anyone who had a treaty with Allah's Messenger , it lasted until its specific termination date. However, those in this category were required to refrain from breaking the terms of the agreement with Muslims and from helping non-Muslims against Muslims. This is the type whose peace agreement with Muslims was carried out to its end. Allah encouraged honoring such peace treaties, saying,
(Surely, Allah loves those who have Taqwa) (9:4), who keep their promises.
(5. So when the Sacred Months have passed, then fight the Mushrikin wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform the Salah, and give the Zakah, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.)
Mujahid, `Amr bin Shu`ayb, Muhammad bin Ishaq, Qatadah, As-Suddi and `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said that the four months mentioned in this Ayah are the four-month grace period mentioned in the earlier Ayah,
(So travel freely for four months throughout the land.) Allah said next,
(So when the Sacred Months have passed...), meaning, `Upon the end of the four months during which We prohibited you from fighting the idolators, and which is the grace period We gave them, then fight and kill the idolators wherever you may find them.' Allah's statement next,
(then fight the Mushrikin wherever you find them), means, on the earth in general, except for the Sacred Area, for Allah said,
(And fight not with them at Al-Masjid Al-Haram, unless they fight you there. But if they attack you, then fight them. ) (2:191) Allah said here,
(and capture them), executing some and keeping some as prisoners,
(and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush), do not wait until you find them. Rather, seek and besiege them in their areas and forts, gather intelligence about them in the various roads and fairways so that what is made wide looks ever smaller to them. This way, they will have no choice, but to die or embrace Islam,
(But if they repent and perform the Salah, and give the Zakah, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) Abu Bakr As-Siddiq used this and other honorable Ayat as proof for fighting those who refrained from paying the Zakah. These Ayat allowed fighting people unless, and until, they embrace Islam and implement its rulings and obligations. Allah mentioned the most important aspects of Islam here, including what is less important. Surely, the highest elements of Islam after the Two Testimonials, are the prayer, which is the right of Allah, the Exalted and Ever High, then the Zakah, which benefits the poor and needy. These are the most honorable acts that creatures perform, and this is why Allah often mentions the prayer and Zakah together. In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayer and pay the Zakah.) This honorable Ayah (9:5) was called the Ayah of the Sword, about which Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, "It abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolator, every treaty, and every term.'' Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas commented: "No idolator had any more treaty or promise of safety ever since Surah Bara'ah was revealed. The four months, in addition to, all peace treaties conducted before Bara'ah was revealed and announced had ended by the tenth of the month of Rabi` Al-Akhir.''
(6. And if anyone of the Mushrikin seeks your protection then grant him protection so that he may hear the Word of Allah (the Qur'an) and then escort him to where he can be secure, that is because they are men who know not.)