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An Exchange on God’s Law relating to Messengers

By: admin

Question

I read your explanation of the God’s Law relating to the messengers. You wrote that once the Messengers make the Truth (of Islam) entirely clear to their addressee, the God’s law takes into effect.

According to your explanation of the God’s law relating to messengers, all the polytheists addressee are punished to death by the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions’ own hands if they don’t accept Islam after the complete manifestation of the Truth. This explanation makes several verses of the Qur’an stand contradicted. From the beginning of the mission of the Prophet (pbuh), Qur’an had repeatedly said:

-If they turn away, then it is thy duty only to convey the message (unto them). (Qur’an 3: 20)

-We have not sent thee (O Muhammad) as a warden over them.(Quran 17: 54)

-Will you (O Muhammad) then compel men till they are believers.(Quran 10: 99)

-There is no compulsion in religion(Quran 2: 256)

Suddenly how will the Quran say (according to your explanation) “If the polytheists don’t accept Islam, they will be put to death”?

To support your view point, you cited the fate of the Aad, Thamud people because of their rejection of messenger, they were punished to death. A neutral person (even a non-believer) can accept this end because they were destroyed by natural calamities. But how can the Prophet (pbuh) who is ordered to only convey the message will suddenly punish the people to death for not accepting Islam.

Also, your explanation implies that all the aforementioned verses are rendered inapplicable between the beginning of the punishment phase till the companions’ times. After this time, the verses becomes applicable to all Muslims. This explanation doesn’t seem to be feasible.

I understand Quran 9: 5 verse only refers to the polytheists who breached the treaty with the Prophet (pbuh). The verse does not refer to all the polytheists. The repetition of the command “…except those polytheists who were true to treaty” in two places before and after the verse 9:5 clearly substantiates this point.

Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfill their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him). (Quran 9:4)

How can there be a treaty with Allah and with His messenger for the idolaters save those with whom ye made a treaty at the Inviolable Place of Worship? So long as they are true to you, be true to them. (Quran 9:7)

Moreover, I understand “But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free” in the verse 9:5 seems to be a last chance for the polytheists to evade death, which is a punishment for them for breaching the treaty and not the God’s punishments. This implies that Quran never compelled the polytheists to accept Islam and the punishment for them is only for going against the treaty.

Regards

Reply

I do respect your opinion and consider it your right to differ with me, as long as you do not consider my opinion to be based on an accurate understanding of the Qur’an. Nevertheless, I present below my understanding of the points that you have mentioned:

The referred verses of Aal Imraan (3: 20), Yunus (10: 99) and Al-Israa (17: 54) relate to the duty of or the role assigned to the Messenger of God, not to the overall law relating to the Messengers of God. Each of the verses inform the Messenger that his responsibility and his role is restricted to the clear deliverance of the message revealed to him. This, incidentally, was the duty assigned to each of the pervious messengers of God, as well. However, these verses do not mention the results, which ensue from the proper fulfillment of the Messenger’s responsibilities.

As for Al-Baqarah 2: 256, it relates to the general law governing this world. God has made this world in such a way that people are given freewill to choose between right and wrong. God does not like to force people in choosing one path or in avoiding another. Nevertheless, when a person knowingly rejects the ‘right’ and opts for the ‘wrong’, God punishes that individual. The disaster, which befalls the people as a result of their rejecting the messenger of God is a part of their ‘punishment’ for rejecting ‘right’ and opting for ‘wrong’ and should, therefore, not be construed as ‘compulsion in religion’.

You write:

… But how can the Prophet (pbuh) who is ordered to only convey the message will suddenly punish the people to death for not accepting Islam.

In Surah Al-Taubah, the Prophet is not ordered to punish the rejecters. On the contrary, the Surah has ordained the Prophet and his companions to fight the rejecters, as a result of which God will punish them (Al-Taubah 9: 14). It is also explained in the same context why in the particular case of the Prophet (pbuh), God’s punishment is implemented through the Muslims, rather than directly through God’s angels, as was the case in punishment of Aad, Thamud etc.

You write:

Also, your explanation implies that all the aforementioned verses are rendered inapplicable between the beginning of the punishment phase till the companions’ times. After this time, the verses becomes applicable to all Muslims. This explanation doesn’t seem to be feasible.

Those verses, which clearly relate specifically to the Prophet (pbuh) or his companions cannot be expanded to others.

You write:

I understand Quran 9: 5 verse only refers to the polytheists who breached the treaty with the Prophet (pbuh).

This is not correct. As I understand it, on the contrary, Surah 9: 5 relates to the punishment of God (as has been clarified in 9: 14). However, because of the moral obligation entailed in the ongoing agreements with the polytheists of Arabia, this punishment would not have been implemented as long as the agreements were effective. The breach of contract on the part of some of the polytheists had dissolved all moral obligations entailed in these contracts for the Muslims. As for the other polytheist tribes, the Qur’an has not acquitted them from the Divine punishment, but has only directed the Muslims to honor all their contracts with all such tribes till their appointed terms. Till the expiry of this term, Muslims were obviously morally obliged to fulfill their contracts – in letter and spirit.

You write:

Moreover, I understand “But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free” in the verse 9:5 seems to be a last chance for the polytheists to evade death, which is a punishment for them for breaching the treaty and not the God’s punishments.

I do not understand this point. When the Qur’an has clearly mentioned that this is the punishment of God, which He is implementing through the Muslims (Al-Taubah 9: 14), then what is the hindrance in accepting this point? In my opinion, if the referred directive were merely a punishment for breach of contract, then only the culprits would have been subjected to this punishment. Women, children and all those men who were not directly involved in the breach of contract would not have been subjected to this punishment.

UIUK

 

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