Question: Assalamu ‘alaykum. I have read tafsirs on Qur’an 9:73, and it says to kill infidels and be harsh upon them at the same time. According to Qurtubi, Ibn Abbas, and Ata, this verse(9:73) abrogated and cancelled out every single verse of peace and pardon, so Muslims are supposed to be harsh and rude to every disbeliever. So is this the correct interpretation? Is the isnad for Ibn Abbas’s statement and Ata’s authentic? This verse of the Quran is making me lose faith in Islam. Is Islam even a religion? Explain yourself!
Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.
I pray you are well.
Everything Has a Context
There is no need to be distressed about this verse. No, this verse does not call Muslims to be harsh to every disbeliever.
As you know, texts are connected to their historical context. In this situation, the disbelievers in question were those who had broken treaties that had with the Muslims, placing their very lives in danger. The same for the hypocrites; they had repeatedly tried to subvert the safety and security of the Muslim state.
Merely ignoring the problem, or pretending it did not exist would have placed the lives of many people in jeopardy, so the command came in this sura to be firm with them. A declaration was also made by God. In this, there is great wisdom, as all of the tribes who had been threatened because they broke their treaties ended up accepting Islam within a few months of the revelation of this verse.
This meant their salvation in the Next Life, and the safely of many people who could have suffered in a prolonged conflict. The long term safety of the Arabian peninsula was secured through this show of force.
Ata’s Position Must Also Be Contextualised
Therefore, the statements of ‘Ata and others were not meant to abrogate every verse calling to kindness and pardon. This is clear when the context is borne in mind in one’s reading of the Qur’an. The verse was meant for a specific group of people in a specific scenario which has passed.
Islam is a religion – and it is the only religion God will accept. Everything about it makes sense and it nourishes the intellect and the soul. However, it must be understood on its own terms, and not through an intellectual filter alien to it.
May Allah bless us with the clarity of certainty.
[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with many erudite scholars. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Quranic recital and he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Quranic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.