Quran 9:3 ‘Dissolution Of Oaths’

Qur’an 9:3 – “…Allah and His Messenger are free from liability to the idolaters…”

Critics claim for the above verse that the pagan idolaters did nothing wrong and somehow Muhammed deceived them by breaking the ‘dissolution’. However, such baseless claims hold no weight when we read the verses before and after.

The verse in its historical context shows that there was a treaty between the Muslims and the pagans (v. 1) – two verses later (v. 3), the passage states that Allah and the Prophet are free from those who have broken the treaty i.e., there is no treaty with those who have broken it. There is nothing in the passage about deception. Actually, if we read the next verse (v. 4), it makes an exception for those pagans who kept to their treaty, meaning those who kept to their promise, Muslims must stay faithful to their treaty and leave them alone. Moreover, those who remained committed to their treaty are exempt from punishment (v. 5). For more on this verse, click on the following article which shows that it was the pagan Arabs who started hostilities against the Muslims.

Commentaries on Quran 9:3

The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Text With English Translation & Short Commentary – Malik Ghulam Farid

1153. Adhan means, notification, proclamation or call (Lane).
1153A. Greater Pilgrimage was so called because it was the first pilgrimage Performed under the control of the Muslims.
1154, Whereas in the preceding verse Bara’ah signifies a declaration of the vindication that the promises about the complete triumph of Islam had been fulfilled, in the present verse the word signifies ‘being clear of a person or a thing,’ i.e., having nothing to do with him or it(Lane). The declaration contained in this verse and the one that follows is different from that embodied in vv. 9:1, 2 relate to the vindication that the promises made to the idolaters by the Holy Prophet had been fulfilled, the present verse pertains to the severance of all connections with them. This severance of relations should not be taken to mean that the verse declares that Muslims were free from all treaty obligations; for, as the following verse makes it quite clear, treaties are to be respected in all cases and must not be violated.
On his return from Tabuk in the ninth year of the Hijrah, the Holy Prophet sent ‘Ali to Mecca, who, on the occasion of the Greater Pilgrimage, made, as his representive, a proclamation containing the announcement (1) ‘No idolater shall approach the Houses of God after this year. (2) Treaties and engagements made by the Holy Prophet with idolatrous tribes who had not made their submission shall stand and shall be faithfully respected till the end of their terms. But henceforth no idolater could stay in the Hijaz except those whom he had entered into a treaty or who had sought protection from him. The order was amply justified, not only by the persistently treacherous conduct of the idolatrous tribes and by repudiation on their part of solemn agreements, resorted to on a large scale when the Holy Prophet was absent from Medina on the Tabuk expedition (8:57), but also by other political and cultural considerations which demanded its promulgation. The Hijaz had now become the religious as well as the political centre of Islam, and its interests demanded that it should be purged of all foreign and harmful elements likely to endanger its integrity and prove dangerous to the nascent Muslims community. [1]

The Holy Quran – Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction – Maulana Muhammad Ali

1a. This verse is to be read along with v. 4, which makes a clear exception in favour of those who did not fail in their agreements. It is a fact that the idolatrous tribes of Arabia broke their agreements with the Muslims again and again (8:56), yet the Muslims were enjoined to accept peace if the disbelievers consented to it, even after repeated violations (8:61). But this state of things could not continue long, for it was soon found that it was impossible to trust such neighbours. This repudiation of agreements took place on a large scale when the Muslims were absent on the Tabuk expedition. The first thirteen verses of this chapter were publicly proclaimed by Ali, on the occasion of the pilgrimage in the ninth year of the Hijrah, and the following announcements made as a result: (1) that no idolater shall approach the Sacred House after this; (2) that no one shall go naked round the Ka’bah (B. 65: ix, 3). The attitude of the tribes to whom this ultimatum was given through Ali is well indicated in their reply: ‘O Ali deliver this message to thy cousin (i.e. the Prophet), that we have thrown the agreements behind our backs, and there is no agreement between him and us except smiting with spears and striking with swords’ (Rz).

4a. Only two tribes, the Bani Damrah, and the Bani Kananah, are related to have adhered to their treaties. The exception given here makes it clear that the Muslims were not fighting with idolaters on account of their faith, but on account of their having been untrue to their engagements. [2]

References:

[1] The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Text With English Translation & Short Commentary [2002] By Malik Ghulam Farid page 376 – 377
[2] The Holy Quran – Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction [Year 2002 Edition] by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Page 397 – 398

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