Quran 48:17 – “There is no blame for the blind, nor is there blame for the lame, nor is there blame for the sick (that they go not forth to war). And whoso obeyeth Allah and His messenger, He will make him enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow; and whoso turneth back, him will He punish with a painful doom.”
When the passage commands Muslims who are not capable of helping i.e., they’re blind, lame or sick, if the enemies of the Prophet Muhammad (p) were to attack the Muslim community, and those who are capable of helping didn’t help in order to fight oppression, Allah would punish them. There is nothing in the passage that commands the killing of innocent people. Moreover, when we read chapter 48 in its Historical Background, why it was revealed, it becomes more evident that the enemies of Prophet Muhammad were more than ever keen to start a war with him, when he never wanted that.
Two Quran translations for 48:17 below,
Muhammad Asad No blame attaches to the blind, nor does blame attach to the lame, nor does blame attach to the sick [for staying away from a war in God’s cause]; but whoever heeds [the call of] God and His Apostle [in deed or in heart], him will He admit into gardens through which running waters flow; whereas him who turns away will He chastise with grievous chastisement.
Ali Ünal There is no blame on the blind nor any blame on the lame nor any blame on the sick (for staying away from a war in God’s cause). Whoever obeys God and His Messenger (in the religious duties he is charged with and can carry out), God will admit him into Gardens through which rivers flow. But whoever turns away, He will punish him with a painful punishment.
To ‘fight in God’s cause’, does not mean to go to war against the innocent.
2:246 “Would you perhaps refrain from fighting if fighting was prescribed for you?” They said, “And why should we not fight in the cause of Allah when we have been driven out from our homes and from our children?” But when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. And Allah is Knowing of the wrongdoers.
When it says in verse 2:244 to fight in God’s cause, it means to fight oppression, as shown in verse 2:246, “And why should we not fight in the cause of Allah when we have been driven out from our homes and from our children?” In that context, Quran 48:17 encourages Muslims to fight oppression, persecution. Further verses below shows that ‘fighting in God’s cause’ means to defend oneself, to fight to be liberated.
Quran 2:190 Fight in the way of God those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. God does not like transgressors.
Quran 4:75 And what is [the matter] with you that you fight not in the cause of God and [for] the oppressed among men, women, and children who say, “Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper?”