Allah says, if the idolators with whom you conducted peace treaties for an appointed term break
(their oaths) meaning, terms of their treaties, and covenants
(and attack your religion...) with disapproval and criticism, it is because of this that one who curses the Messenger, peace be upon him, or attacks the religion of Islam by way of criticism and disapproval, they are to be fought. This is why Allah said afterwards,
(then fight (you) against the leaders of disbelief -- for surely, their oaths are nothing to them -- so that they may stop.) so that they may refrain from the disbelief, rebellion and the transgression they indulge in. Qatadah and others said that the leaders of disbelief were Abu Jahl, `Utbah and Shaybah, Umayyah bin Khalaf, and he went on to mention several others. Al-A`mash narrated from Zayd bin Wahb from Hudhayfah; "The people of this Ayah were never fought again.'' A similar statement was reported from `Ali bin Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him. However, this Ayah is general, even though the specific reason behind revealing it was the idolators of Quraysh. So this Ayah generally applies to them and others as well, Allah knows best. Al-Walid bin Muslim said that Safwan bin `Amr narrated that `Abdur-Rahman bin Jubayr bin Nufayr said that when Abu Bakr sent an army to Ash-Sham, he advised them, "You will find some people with shaved heads. Therefore, strike the swords upon the parts that contain the devil, for by Allah, it is better to me to kill one of these people than to kill seventy other men. This is because Allah said,
(then fight (you) against the leaders of disbelief.)'' Ibn Abi Hatim collected it.
(13. Will you not fight a people who have violated their oaths and intended to expel the Messenger while they did attack you first Do you fear them Allah has more right that you should fear Him if you are believers.) (14. Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands, and disgrace them and give you victory over them, and heal the breasts of a believing people,) (15. And remove the anger of their (believers') hearts. Allah accepts the repentance of whom He wills. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.)
These Ayat encourage, direct and recommend fighting against the idolators who break the terms of their covenants, those who tried to expel the Messenger from Makkah. Allah said in other Ayat,
(And (remember) when the disbelievers plotted against you to imprison you, or to kill you, or to expel you; they were plotting and Allah too was plotting; and Allah is the best of those who plot.) (8:30),
(...and have driven out the Messenger and yourselves (from your homeland) because you believe in Allah your Lord!) (60:1), and,
(And verily, they were about to frighten you so much as to drive you out from the land.) (17:76) Allah's statement,
(while they did attack you first), refers to the battle of Badr when the idolators marched to protect their caravan. When they knew that their caravan escaped safely, they still went ahead with their intent to fight Muslims out of arrogance, as we mentioned before. It was also said that these Ayat refer to the idolators breaking the peace agreement with Muslims and aiding Bani Bakr, their allies, against Khuza`ah, the ally of the Messenger of Allah . This is why the Messenger of Allah marched to Makkah in the year of the victory, thus conquering it, all thanks and praise is due to Allah. Allah said,
(Do you fear them Allah has more right that you should fear Him if you are believers.) Allah says here, `Do not fear idolators, but fear Me instead, for I am worthy of being feared by the servants due to My might and punishment. In My Hand lies the matter; whatever I will occurs, and whatever I do not will does not occur.' Allah next said, while ordering the believers and explaining the wisdom of ordaining Jihad against them, all the while able to destroy their enemies with a command from Him,
(Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands, and disgrace them and give you victory over them, and heal the breasts of a believing people.) This Ayah includes all believers, even though Mujahid, `Ikrimah and As-Suddi said that it refers to Khuza`ah. Concerning the believers, Allah said;
(and remove the anger of their hearts), then
(Allah accepts the repentance of whom He wills), from His servants,
(Allah is All-Knowing), in what benefits His servants,
(All-Wise), in His actions and statements, whether narrative or legislative. Allah does what He wills, decides what He wills, and He is the Just Who never wrongs any. Not even the weight of an atom of good or evil is ever neglected with Him, but rather, He compensates for it in this life and the Hereafter.
(16. Do you think that you shall be left alone while Allah has not yet tested those among you who have striven hard and fought, and have not taken Walijah besides Allah and His Messenger, and the believers. Allah is well-acquainted with what you do.)
(Do you think), O believers that We will leave you untested with matters that make apparent those who have pure, good intent from those who have false intent This is why Allah said next,
(while Allah has not yet tested those among you who have striven hard and fought and have not taken Walijah besides Allah and His Messenger, and the believers...), meaning, supporters and confidants. Rather, they are sincere for Allah and His Messenger inwardly and outwardly. Allah also said;
(Alif-Lam-Mim. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: "We believe,'' and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make known those who are true, and will certainly make known those who are liars...) (29:1-3),
(Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah tests those of you who fought (in His cause) and (also) tests those who are patient) (3: 142), and,
(Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good) (3:179). In summary, since Allah legislated Jihad for His servants, He explained that the wisdom behind doing so includes testing His servants, distinguishing between those who obey Him and those who disobey Him. Allah, the Exalted, is the All-Knower of what occurred, what will occur, and the true essence of what might occur had He decided it. Therefore, Allah knows everything before it occurs and how it will occur, there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, nor a Lord except Him. Truly, there is none who can avert Allah's judgment and decision.
(17. It is not for the Mushrikin, to maintain the Masjids of Allah, while they witness against themselves of disbelief. The works of such are in vain and in Fire shall they abide.) (18. The Masjids of Allah shall be maintained only by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day; perform the Salah, and give Zakah and fear none but Allah. It is they who are on true guidance.)
Allah says that it is not fitting that those who associate others with Allah in worship should maintain the Masjids of Allah that were built in His Name alone without partners. Those who read the Ayah, "Masjid Allah'', said that it refers to Al-Masjid Al-Haram, the most honored Masjid on the earth, which was built, from the first day, for the purpose of worshipping Allah alone without partners. It was built by Khalil Ar-Rahman (the Prophet Ibrahim) peace be upon him. The idolators do this while they themselves testify to their disbelief with their statements and actions. As-Suddi said, "If you ask a Christian, `What is your religion', He will tell you he is a Christian. If you ask a Jew about his religion, he will say he is a Jew, and the same for a Sabi' and a Mushrik!'''
(The works of such are in vain), because of their Shirk,
(and in Fire shall they abide.) Allah said in another Ayah,
(And why should not Allah punish them while they hinder (men) from Al-Masjid Al-Haram, and they are not its guardians None can be its guardians except those with Taqwa, but most of them know not.) (8:34).
(The Masjids of Allah shall be maintained only by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day.) Therefore, Allah testifies to the faith of those who maintain the Masjids. `Abdur-Razzaq narrated that `Amr bin Maymun Al-Awdi said, "I met the Companions of the Prophet and they were saying, `The Masjids are the Houses of Allah on the earth. It is a promise from Allah that He is generous to those who visit Him in the Masjids.,'' Allah said next,
(perform the Salah), one of the major acts of worship practiced by the body,
(and give the Zakah), which is the best act that benefits other people,
(and fear none but Allah), they fear only Allah, the Exalted, and none else,
(It is they who are on true guidance.) `Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn `Abbas said about Allah's statement,
(The Masjids of Allah shall be maintained only by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day;) "He who singles out Allah (in worship), has faith in the Last Day.'' (And he said); "He who believes in what Allah has revealed,
(perform the Salah), establishes the five daily prayers,
(and fear none but Allah.), worships Allah alone,
(it may be they who are on true guidance.) Allah says, `It is they who are the successful ones in truth.' Similarly, Allah said to His Prophet ,
(It may be that your Lord will raise you to Maqam Mahmud) (17:79). Allah says here, `Your Lord (O Muhammad) shall grant you a station of praise, that is, the intercession (on the Day of Resurrection).' Every `might' in the Qur'an means `shall'.''
(19. Do you consider the providing of drinking water to the pilgrims and the maintenance of Al-Masjid Al-Haram as equal to the worth of those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and strive hard and fight in the cause of Allah They are not equal before Allah. And Allah guides not those people who are the wrongdoers.) (20. Those who believed and emigrated and strove hard and fought in Allah's cause with their wealth and their lives, are far higher in degree with Allah. They are the successful.) (21. Their Lord gives them glad tidings of mercy from Him, and His being pleased (with them), and of Gardens (Paradise) for them wherein are everlasting delights.) (22. They will dwell therein forever. Verily, with Allah is a great reward.)