Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat tackles the complex question on the verses of abrogation from a brother who feels he has lost faith in religion.
Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
I have much confusion. According to classical scholars, verses 9:5 and 9:29 of Sura al Tawba abrogated peaceful verses like “No compulsion in religion” (Sura al Baqara 2:256) and “Fight those who fight you but do not transgress. indeed Allah does not love transgressors.” (Sura al Baqara 2:190)
I read from this from [link to Islamic internet forum] and they say Muslims can compel people into Islam. Because of this I have lot of pain and I am losing my faith. I wish my confusion goes over and I want to come back to Islam.
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
I pray you are well.
There is no need to worry
My dear brother, you are not the only one who is confused about these verses. There is no need, however, to feel that you are losing your faith. Faith is surrendering yourself to Allah, and what He has commanded us to believe and do.
If you feel that there is something which is causing you doubts, do not let it affect your connection to your faith. We know for certain that Allah is infinitely wise. If something causes doubts within you, in the short term, tell yourself that Allah is wise, and He must have made things this was because this is the best way for them to be. Just because you may not grasp the wisdom at that moment, it does not mean that there is something wrong with Islam. Then seek the answer to your questions from a reliable source.
Sura al Tawba
This sura is misunderstood by many people. The biggest problem is that some people divorce the sura from its historical context. When decontextualized, any text can be twisted.
Firstly, these verses did not abrogate the verses which command patience, tolerance, good dealings, and equity with non-Muslims. Those rulings have a particular time and context, and the situation these verses were revealed in did not match that context.
The Context of the Sura
These verses were revealed after the Muslims has been patient with the harm of Quraysh and other idolaters for many years. They had been attacked, betrayed, blindsided many times – all whilst they maintained the highest standards of honor.
The idolaters had constantly tried to kill them, and the Jews and Christians had betrayed and provoked them on a number of occasions. The final straw was when a number of tribes who had treaties with the Muslims broke their treaties when the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, had lead a military expedition to Tabūk.
These tribes were then told that the treaties were over, and that they had four months before a declaration of war was to come into effect. The verses do not refer to all idolaters – let alone every disbeliever on the planet after them!!!
In verse four there is a clear exception made with regards to tribes who had upheld their treaties. This clearly shows that the sura is speaking in a particular context, and is not a mandate to attack anyone who is not a Muslims at all future times.
What is more, all of those tribes who were threatened actually surrendered and accepted Islam. This was part of the plan of Allah Almighty, which brought about the result most beneficial for all without bloodshed.
We have to remember that the world in which these events took place was very different to the world we live in today. Applying today’s standards to historical events is a mistake which even anthropologists frown upon.
Forcing People to Accept Islam?
No one has the right to force anyone into entering Islam. This is clearly established by Sura al Baqara 2:256, and clearly expounded by those scholars who were master-jurists and expert Qurʾanic-exegetes, like Abu al-Suʿud al-ʿImadi, al-Sayyid Mahmud al-Alusi, and others.
The above verse was not abrogated by Sura al Tawba. All Sura al Tawba did was address a particular historical situation which will not recur due to the absence of various factors.
I hope that helps.
May Allah grant us all complete certainty and firmness of faith. Amin.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.