Tafsir al-Qurtubi is also known as Al-Jami'li-Ahkam or Al-Jami' li Ahkam al-Qur'an or Tafsir al-Jami'. By Imam Abu 'Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Abu Bakr al-Ansari al-Qurtubi (D.1273/CE) “Al-Qurtubi's Tafsir represents a landmark in the history of commentaries on the Holy Qur'an in the English language. The appearance of this translation will give English-speaking readers access to one of the great classical commentaries and the wealth of knowledge that it contains. Authoritative exposition of the meanings of the Quranic text requires consideration of many different aspects incluDeeng the spiritual, linguistic, legal and historical ones. Imam al-Qurtubi's Tafsir is remarkable in many ways, but he was especially interested in the legal interpretation of the Scripture.” (Professor Jibril Amino)
Fight in the Way of Allah against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. Allah does not love those who go beyond the limits. (2:190)
“Fight In The Way Of Allah Against Those Who Fight You..”
This was the first Ayat to be revealed with the command to fight. There is no disagreement that fighting was forbidden before the Hijra by the words of Allah, "Repel the bad with something better"(41:34) and several other similar Ayats which were revealed in Makka. When the Prophet emigrated to Madina, he was commanded to fight and this Ayat was revealed. Ar-Rabi' ibn Anas and others said this. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, however, said that the first Ayat revealed about fighting was the Ayat in Surat al-Hajj: "Permission is given to those who are fought against because they have been wronged."(22:39). The one in this Sura is more frequently cited as being the first.
The Ayat for the permission to fight was revealed about fighting in general and the instruction is to fight not only those idolaters who fight the Muslims but also those who do not fight. The command refers to the time when the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, went out with his Companions to Makka for 'Umra. When he camped at al-Hudaybiyya near Makka, the idolaters prevented him from continuing on into Makka and he remained there for a month. They made a treaty stipulating that he could return the following year for three days and that there would be no fighting between them. After concluding this treaty, he returned to Madina. The following year he made preparations for Hajj and the Muslims feared the treachery of the unbelievers and did not like the idea of fighting in the sacred months and in the Haram.
Then this Ayat was revealed, meaning that it is lawful for you to fight if the unbelievers fight you. So the Ayat is connected to the prior mention of Hajj and entering houses by the back door. After this the Prophet fought those who fought him and refrained from those who refrained from fighting him until the Ayat in Surat at-Tawba (9:5) was revealed, "Fight the idolaters," and this Ayat was abrogated. This is the position of the majority of scholars.
Ibn Zayd and ar-Rabi', however, say that this Ayat was abrogated by Allah's words: "Fight the idolaters totally," (9:36) in which he was commanded to fight all the unbelievers. Ibn 'Abbas, 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-Azlz, and Mujahid said that it is an Ayat whose judgment remains operative and means: "Fight those who fight you and do not transgress by killing women, children, monks and the like," as will be explained. An-Nahhas said that this is the sounder position in terms of both the Sunna and in terms of logic. As for the Sunna, there is a Hadith reported by Ibn 'Umar that, during one of his expeditions the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, saw a woman who had been killed and he abhorred that and forbade the killing of women and children. As for logic, it applies to children and those like them, like monks, the chronically ill, old men and hirelings who clearly should not be killed. When Abu Bakr sent Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan to Syria, he commanded that he should not do harm to certain groups. Malik and others transmitted this. Scholars put those who should not be killed into six categories.
• WOMEN. But if they fight, they should be fought. Sahnun said, "In battle and out of it because of the general nature of Allah's words, 'Fight against those who fight you.' A woman can have an immense effect on the fighting, including supplying assistance and encouraging fighting. Women go out with their hair undone, shouting encouragement and censuring flight. So it is permitted to kill them. If they are captured, however, then enslavement is more beneficial since they more easily convert and it is difficult for them to run away."
• CHILDREN: should not be killed and that is a firm prohibition. If a child fights, however, then he can be killed.
• MONKS should be neither killed nor enslaved. They are left to live on the property which they own. This is when they live apart from the people of disbelief because of the command which Abu-Bakr gave to Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan, "You will find some people who claim that they have confined themselves for the sake of Allah. Leave them with what they claim." If, however, they are with the unbelievers in churches, they can be killed. As for nuns, Ashhab thinks that they should not be killed. Sahnun said, "Being a nun does not alter the basic judgement about her as a woman." Qadi Abu-Bakr ibn al'Arabi said, "I think that the sound view is that of Ashhab and nuns are included in the directive of Abu-Bakr."
• THE CHRONICALLY ILL: Sahnun says that they should be killed. Ibn Habib says that they should not be killed. The sound position is that we consider their states. If there is potential harm in them, they should be killed. Otherwise, they should be left alone.
• OLD MEN: Malik says that they should not be killed and that is the position of the majority of Fuqaha'. If an old man is senile and unable to fight and not consulted for his opinion or taking part in defence, he should not be killed. Malik and Abu-Hanifa say that. Ash-Shafi’i has two positions: one is that of the majority and the second is that old men and monks should be killed. The sound position is the first because of what Abu-Bakr said to Yazid. No one opposes it and there is a consensus to back it up. Also it is not permitted to kill anyone who does not fight or help the enemy, like women. As for those whose harm is feared in respect of planning, advice or monetary support, if they are captured, the ruler can choose between five options: killing, an act of good will, ransom, enslavement or agreeing to become a Dhimmi in return for the payment of Jizya.
• HIRELINGS AND AGRICULTURAL WORKERS: Malik says that they should not be killed. Ash-Shafi’i says that agricultural workers, hirelings, and old men should be killed unless they agree to pay the Jizya. The first is sounder because of what the Prophet said in the Hadith reported by Raba ibn ar-Rabi',"Join Khalid ibn al-Walid. He is not to kill children or hirelings." 'Umar ibn al-Khattab said, "Fear Allah regarding children and agricultural workers who do not fight you."
“But do not go beyond the limits.”
This is a firm judgment. As for the apostates, the only options available concerning them are execution or repentance. The same applies to people involved in deviation and misguidance: the only options afforded them are execution or repentance. If someone conceals a false belief and then it appears in him, such as a Zindiq, he should be killed and is not asked to repent. As for those who rebel against just rulers, they must be fought until they return to the truth.
Some people have said that this phrase means: "Do not go beyond the limits by fighting for other than the Face of Allah, for instance, out of fanaticism or to gain fame. Fight in the Way of Allah against those who fight you. Fight in support of the Deen so that Allah's Word is uppermost. It is said that it means: do not fight those who do not fight. In that case it would be abrogated by the command to fight all the unbelievers, and Allah knows best.
Kill them wherever you come across them and expel them from where they expelled you. Fitna is worse than killing. Do not fight them in the Masjid al-Haram until they fight you there. But if they do fight you, then kill them. That is how the unbelievers should be repaid. But if they cease, Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (2:191-192)
“Kill them wherever you come across them..”
This is evidence for killing captives, and that topic will be explained in Surat al-Anfal, Allah willing.
“and expel them from where they expelled you.”
According to at-Tabari this is addressed to the Muhajirun and "they" refers to the unbelievers of Quraysh.
“Fitna is worse than killing."
The Fitna to which they are subjecting you, trying to make you return to disbelief, is worse than killing. Mujahid said it is referring to the believers, so the meaning is that being killed is better for a believer than being subjected to Fitna. Others said that Fitna here means their association of others with Allah and their disbelief in Him and it is a great crime and worse than the killing which they criticise you for. There is evidence that the Ayat was revealed about 'Amr ibn al-Hadrami when he was killed by Waqid ibn 'Abdullah at-Tamimi at the end of the sacred month of Rajab, an incident which will be explained later.
“Do not fight them in the Masjid al-Haram until they fight you there.”
Scholars take two positions concerning this Ayat. One is that it is abrogated. The second is that it is an Ayat containing a firm judgment. Mujahid says that it is an Ayat of judgment and that it is not permitted to fight anyone in the Masjid al-Haram unless they fight you there. Tawus said that as well, and indeed it is what is intimated by the text of the Ayat. It is a sound position and Abu Hanifa and his people took it. In the Sahih Collection, Ibn 'Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said on the day when Makka was conquered, "This land was made sacred on the day Allah created the heavens and the earth and it will remain sacred as Allah has decreed until the Day of Rising. Fighting was not lawful in it for anyone before me and it was only lawful for me for one hour of one day and it will remain sacred until the Day of Rising."
Qatada said that the Ayat is abrogated by Allah's words, ''When the sacred months are over, kill the idolaters wherever you find them." (9:5). Muqatil said the same. So this means it is possible to initiate killing in the Haram and evidence for that position can be found in the fact that Surat at-Tawba, where this Ayat occurs, was revealed about two years after Surat al-Baqara and after the Prophet entered Makka and had lbn Khatal, who was clinging to the drapes of the Ka'ba, killed there. Some scholars say that this Ayat applies in the case of someone who rebels against the ruler but does not apply to unbelievers. Unbelievers are killed in every case when they fight. Rebels are only fought with defence in mind and should not be pursued if they retreat or finished off if they are wounded. This will be discussed in Surat al-Hujurat.
“But if they cease..”
If they stop fighting you because they believe and become Muslims, then Allah will forgive them all that they did before and show mercy to all of them by pardoning them.
Fight them until there is no more Fitna and the Deen belongs to Allah alone. If they cease, there should be no enmity towards any but wrongdoers.(2:193)
“Fight them until there is no more Fitna and the Deen belongs to Allah alone.”
This is a command to fight every idolater in every place according to those who say that it abrogates the previous Ayats. According to those who say that it does not abrogate other Ayats, it means: fight those about whom Allah says, "if they fight you". The former is the more likely meaning. It is an unqualified command to fight without any precondition of hostilities being initiated by the unbelievers. The evidence for that is in the words of Allah, "and the Deen belongs to Allah alone." The Prophet said, "I was commanded to fight people until they say, 'There is no god but Allah.' The Ayat and Hadith both indicate that the reason for fighting is disbelief because Allah says, "until there is no more Fitna," meaning disbelief in this case. So the goal is to abolish disbelief and that is clear.
Ibn 'Abbas, Qatada, ar-Rabi', as-Suddi and others said that Fitna here means Shirk and the subsequent injury to the believers caused by it. The root of Fitna is testing and trial, derived from the term for testing silver when it is put in the fire to separate the impurities from the pure metal.
“If They Cease, There Should Be No Enmity Towards Any But Wrongdoers.”
If they stop and become Muslim or submit by paying Jizya in the case of the people of the Book. Otherwise they should be fought and they are wrongdoers and only transgress against themselves. What is done to the wrongdoers is called enmity since it is the repayment of enmity. Wrongdoing and injustice involve enmity and the repayment of enmity is also called enmity. The wrongdoers are either those who initiate fighting or those who remain entrenched in disbelief and Fitna.
There is no compulsion where the Deen is concerned. Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false gods and believes in Allah has grasped the Firmest Handhold,which will never give way. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (2:256)
“there Is No Compulsion Where The Deen Is Concerned.”
The word "Deen" in this Ayat means what is believed and religion since it is followed by "Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error." Compulsion can take place in judgments regarding oaths, sales, gifts and other things. This will be explained in Surat an-Nahl (16:106), since this is not the place for it. To be rightly guided means to reach what is loved and to err is the opposite of that. An-Nahhas said that. The root of "ghayy" (error) refers to when someone is misguided in what he believes or thinks. One does not say that "error" (ghayy) is complete misguidance.
Scholars disagree and hold various positions regarding the legal status and meaning of this Ayat.
• It is said that it is abrogated because the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forced the Arabs to adopt the Deen of Islam and fought them and was only pleased with Islam for them. Sulayman Ibn Musa took that view, saying, "It is abrogated by 'O Prophet! Do Jihad against the unbelievers and the hypocrites.' (Q 9:73)" That is related from Ibn Masud and many commentators.
• It is not abrogated and was sent down about the people of the Book in particular and means that they are not forced to adopt Islam when they pay Jizya. Those who are forced are the idolaters. Only Islam is accepted from them, and they are the ones about whom 'O Prophet! Do jihad against the unbelievers and the hypocrites' (Q 9:73) was revealed. This is the position of ash-Sha'bi, Qatada, al-Hasan and ad-Dahhak. The evidence for this position is related by Zayd ibn Aslam from his father, "I heard 'Umar ibn al-Khattab say to an old Christian woman, 'Become Muslim, old woman, become Muslim. Allah sent Muhammad with the Truth.' She replied, 'I am an old woman and close to death.' 'Umar said, 'O Allah, witness!' and he recited, 'There is no compulsion where the Deen is concerned. '"
• Abu Dawud reported from Ibn 'Abbas that this was revealed about the Ansar. There was a woman, all of whose children had died. She made a vow that if she had a child who lived she would become a Jew. When the Banu Nasir were exiled, among them were many of the children of the Ansar. They said, "We will not leave our sons!" Then Allah revealed this. One variant has, "We did what we did and we think that their Deen is better than what we have." When Allah brought Islam, they denied it and this was revealed. Whoever wished remained with them and whoever wished, entered Islam. This is the position of Sa 'id ibn Jubayr, ash-Sha 'bi and Mujahid, but he added that the reason that they were with the Banu Nadir was through suckling. An-Nahhas said, "The position of Ibn 'Abbas regarding this Ayat is the best position since its Isnad is sound."
• As-Suddi said that the Ayat was revealed about a man of the Ansar called Abu Husayn who had two sons. Some merchants came from Syria to Madina with oil and when they wanted to leave, his sons went to them. They invited the two sons to become Christians and they did so and went back with them to Syria. Their father went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, to complain about this and asked the Messenger of Allah to send someone to bring them back. Then "There is no compulsion where the Deen is concerned" was revealed. He had not then been commanded to fight the People of the Book. He said, "Allah has put them far. They are the first to disbelieve." Abu Husayn felt annoyed that the Prophet did not send someone after them. Then Allah revealed, "No, by your Lord, they are not believers until they make you their judge in the disputes that break out between them" (4:65). Then "No compulsion" was abrogated and he was commanded to fight the People of the Book in Surat at-Tawba. The sound view for the reason behind the words, "No, by your Lord, they are not believers ... " is the Hadith of az-Zubayr with his Christian neighbour about water as will be dealt with in Sura at-Tawba, Allah willing.
• It is said that it means "do not call those who have submitted through the sword compelled and forced".
• It is said that it was related about captives who were People of the Book. They are not compelled when they are adults. If they are Magians, young or old, or idolaters, they are compelled to adopt Islam because their captivity does not help them when they are idolaters. Do you not see that their sacrifices are not eaten nor their women married. That is what Ibn al-Qasim reported from Malik. Ashhab said that children are considered to have the Deen of those who captured them. If they refuse that, they are compelled to become Muslim. Children have no Deen and that is why they are compelled to enter Islam so that they do not go to a false Deen. When other types of unbelievers pay the Jizya, they are forced to become Muslim, whether they are Arabs or non-Arabs, Quraysh or otherwise. This will be dealt with in Surat at-Tawba.
Source: Tafsir Al-Qurtubi, Translated By Aisha Bewley, Dar al-Taqwa