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Sura 9
Aya 1

Chapter 9

Repentanceal-Tawbah ( التوبة )

129 verses • revealed at Medinan

»The surah that announces for all time that God granted to His prophet, to the Emigrant and Helping Companions, and to three errant believers Repentance; and that offers the same opportunity to the unbelievers and the hypocrites, provided they forever renounce hostility, idolatry, and duplicity; and which further demonstrates the faithfulness of this offer in God’s decree of amnesty for the truly repentant idolaters who fought the believers at a place called Ḥunayn. It is named after “repentance” (tawbah) mentioned in verse 3 and verse 5. The surah opens by giving notice of the severance of the treaty with the idolaters because they had broken it, but the bulk of the surah deals with preparations and recruitment for the expedition to Tabūk (year 9/631). The hypocrites and those who stayed behind and failed to support the Prophet Muḥammad are all censured. This is the only surah not to begin with the formula Basmalah.«

The surah is also known as Dispensation, Immunity

بَراءَةٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسولِهِ إِلَى الَّذينَ عاهَدتُم مِنَ المُشرِكينَ

Muhammad Asad

IN CONTRAST with every other surah of the Qur'an, At-Tawbah is not preceded by the invocation "In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Dispenser of Grace". This undoubtedly deliberate omission is responsible for the view held by many Companions of the Prophet that At-Tawbah is in reality a continuation of Al-Anfal, and that the two together constitute one single surah (Zamakhshari), notwithstanding the fact that an interval of about seven years separates the revelation of the one from that of the other. Although there is no evidence that the Prophet himself ever made a statement to this effect (Razi), the inner relationship between At-Tawbah and Al-Anfal is unmistakable. Both are largely devoted to problems of war between the believers and the deniers of the truth; towards the end of Al-Anfal there is a mention of treaties and of the possibility that these treaties might be treacherously violated by the unbelievers - a theme that is continued and developed at the beginning of At-Tawbah; and both Al-Anfal and At-Tawbah dwell, in the main, on the moral distinction between the believers, on the one hand, and their enemies and ill-wishers, on the other. A very large part of At-Tawbah is connected with the conditions prevailing at Medina before the Prophet's expedition to Tabuk in the year 9 H., and the vacillating spirit displayed by some of his nominal followers. There is hardly any doubt that almost the whole of the surah was revealed shortly before, during and immediately after the campaign, and most of it at the time of the long march from Medina to Tabuk. (Regarding the reasons for this campaign, see notes 59 and 142.) The title of the surah is based on the frequent references in it to the repentance (Tawbah) of the erring ones and to its acceptance by God. Some of the Companions called it Al-Bara'ah ("Disavowal") after the first word occurring in it; and Zamakhshari mentions also several other titles by which the surah was designated by the Prophet's Companions and their immediate successors. At-Tawbah concludes the so-called "seven long surahs" (that is, the distinct, almost self-contained group of chapters beginning with Al-Bagarah and ending with the combination of Al-Anfal and At-Tawbah); and it is significant that some of the last verses of this group (namely, 9:124-127) return to the theme which dominates the early part of Al-Bagarah (2:6-20): the problem of "those in whose hearts is disease" and who cannot attain to faith because they are "bent on denying the truth" whenever it conflicts with their preconceived notions and their personal likes and dislikes: the perennial problem of people whom no spiritual message can convince because they do not want to grasp the truth (9:127), and who thereby "deceive none but themselves, and perceive it not"(2:9).
DISAVOWAL by God and His Apostle [is herewith announced] unto those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God, [and] with whom you [O believers] have made a covenant.1
  • Sc., "which they (the unbelievers) have deliberately broken" (Tabari, Baghawi, Zamakhshari, Razi); see also verse 4, which relates to such of the unbelievers as remain faithful to their treaty obligations towards the believers. The above passage connects with verses 56-58 of the preceding surah (Al-Anfal). The noun bara'ah (derived from the verb bari'a, "he became free [of something]" or "quit of having any part [in something]") signifies a declaration of being free or quit of any bond, moral or contractual, with the person or persons concerned (see Lane I, 178); with reference to God - or the Apostle speaking in God's name - it is best rendered as "disavowal".