Prophet, Fight Against The Hypocrites…” – Surah 9:73

𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐡𝐞𝐭, 𝐅𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐀𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐇𝐲𝐩𝐨𝐜𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐬…” – 𝐒𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐡 𝟗:𝟕𝟑

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar



It is agreed among scholars that these verses were revealed in the year 9 Hijri to Tabuk, to face Byzantine (Roman) empire’s army. However, there is a slight disagreement among the scholars whether this incident took place during the expedition of Tabuk (Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi and Tafsir Ibn Kathir) or just after Tabuk returning (Ibn Juzayy).

Analysing Verses

“O Prophet, fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.” – Quran 9:73

“They swear by Allah that they did not say [anything against the Prophet] while they had said the word of disbelief and disbelieved after their [pretense of] Islam and planned that which they were not to attain.

And they were not resentful except [for the fact] that Allah and His Messenger had enriched them of His bounty. So if they repent, it is better for them; but if they turn away, Allah will punish them with a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And there will not be for them on earth any protector or helper.” – Quran 9:74

9:73 – As explained, this verse was revealed during the expedition to Tabuk (Mawdudi, Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Ibn Juzayy), in which the Byzantine Empire had assembled a large army in attacking the Muslims community. The hypocrites mentioned in this verse were a group who outwardly claimed to be Muslim, but at critical junctures they left the causes of Islam and showed insincerity to the faith. History is witness that under no circumstances were any hypocrite harmed. [1] [2]  

Unless they took arms up against the Muslims, siding with an enemy. The striving mentioned in the verse (Jahidu, ‘jihad’) against them means, in convincing the hypocrites of the message of Islam. To rebuke them when they do wrong. This is why many English translation of the Quran render the Arabic word ‘Jihad’ used in the verse, as ‘strive hard’, not as ‘fight’ or to ‘wage war’ (Zahid Aziz, Islam peace and tolerance, p. 45).

The principle from the life of Prophet Muhammed (p) was that he only fought those who actually were going to harm him or his community. He would never cause harm to anyone, be they Christians, Jews or no faith, unless they fought against him.

Furthermore, although fighting the hypocrites was with the tongue, the ‘disbelievers’ was with the sword as commentaries of the Quran have explained. These specific ‘disbelievers’ here refers to the Byzantine army who took up arms and marched to attack Madinah.

9:74 – In order to understand Surah 9:73 we have to also read the next verse (Q. 9:74) which highlights to us that these hypocrites were attempting to assassinate the Prophet (p) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas and Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi).

As explained before, the hypocrites were never killed in the life-time of Prophet Muhammed, as long as they did not take up arms against the Muslims – they were left alone. This fact is related to us in a number of early reports, some go back to the Companions of Prophet Mohammed (p). Who explain that the hypocrites were only rebuked i.e., the ‘Jihad’ mentioned in the verse(s) was meant with words not with the ‘sword’.

A report from Hudhayfah bin Al-Yaman, a companion of Prophet Muhammed. He relates to us this incident – that the hypocrites were trying to assassinate the Prophet.

Al-Bayhaqi reports:

“I was holding the bridle of the Messenger’s camel while `Ammar was leading it, or vise versa. When we reached Al-`Aqabah, twelve riders intercepted the Prophet. When I alerted the Messenger, he shouted at them and they all ran away. The Messenger of Allah asked us, ‘Did you know who they were’, We said, `No, O Allah’s Messenger! They had masks However, we know their horses.’ He said, ‘They are the hypocrites until the Day of Resurrection. Do you know what they intended’ We said, `No.’

He said, ‘THEY WANTED TO MINGLE WITH THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH AND THROW HIM FROM THE `AQABAH (TO THE VALLEY.’ We said, `O Allah’s Messenger! Should you ask their tribes to send the head of each one of them to you’ He said, ‘No, for I hate that the Arabs should say that Muhammad used some people in fighting and when Allah gave him victory with their help, he commanded that they be killed.’ He then said,

‘O Allah! Throw the Dubaylah at them.’ We asked, `What is the Dubaylah, O Allah’s Messenger’ He said, ‘A missile of fire that falls on the heart of one of them and brings about his demise.’” (Dala’il An-Nubuwah, Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bayhaqi – Online Source)



“…[he] has reported from Bayhaqi that Sayyidina Hudhaifa narrated,
‘When we were returning from Tabuk, I was leading the camel of the Holy Prophet while Ammar was walking behind. When we approached a valley, I noticed 12 people mounted on conveyances. They were blocking the path.

When I informed the Holy Prophet about them, he shouted them, whereupon they turned and fled.’ He continued, ‘The Holy Prophet asked us if we recognised them. We replied that we did not recognise them because their faces were covered. We added that we had recognised their conveyances.

The Holy Prophet said, ‘They are hypocrites and will remain as such until the day of judgement.’ He then asked us, ‘Do you know what they intended?’ When we replied in the negative, he said, ‘They intended to drop the Messenger of Allah to the bottom of this valley.’

‘We said, ‘why do you not command their tribes to behead each one of them?’ The Holy Prophet replied, ‘I do not want people to say the Muhammad takes people into battle and when Allah grants him victory, he kills the people who went with him. …’” (Ruhul Ma’ani volume 10, page 139[3]

This incident is also briefly mentioned by Ibn Abbas, a companion of Prophet Muhammed (p) – that 12 hypocrites attempted to murder the Prophet of God.

Abdullah Ibn Abbas:

“‘Shortly, a person will come who will see with the eyes of Devil (shaytan). Do not speak to him.’ After a little while a blue-eyed person appeared. The Holy Prophet called him and asked, ‘why do you and you friends speak ill of me?’ He immediately left to bring his friends and they all swore that they had never said anything nasty.

According to another narration, the Holy Prophet addressed the companions (Sahaba) in a sermon while they were on the Tabuk expedition. In the sermon, he recounted the evil ways of the hypocrites (munafiqun) and termed them to be ‘impure’. Upon hearing this, a person by the name of Jalas bin Suwaid,

‘If Muhammad says is true, then we are worse than donkeys.’ One of the Companions (Sahaba), sayyidina Amir bin Qais heard what was said and, when they returned to Madinah, he reported the statement to the Holy Prophet Jalas defended himself by swearing that he said no such thing. The Holy Prophet told the two of them to take oaths by the pulpit.

After Asr Salah, Jalas stood by the pulpit and swore, ‘by Allah I said no such thing and Amir has lied!’ Thereafter sayyidina Amir stood up and swore, ‘By Allah, he said it and I have not lied!’ He then raised his hands to the heavens and made the pray (du’a), ‘O Allah! Expose the truth of whoever of us is truthful by revealing a verse to your Prophet.’

Thereupon, the holy Prophet and all the Muslims present said, ‘Amin!’ The gathering had hardly dispersed when Allah revealed the verse, ‘They swear by Allah saying, ‘We never said!’ Certainly, they uttered the word of disbelief, disbelieved after being Muslims…’ i.e., after feigning to be Muslims. ‘…and resolved that which they could not attain.’ With regard to this part of the verse, the following incident is narrated. 

THERE WERE 12 HYPOCRITES (MUNAFIQUN) WHO DECIDED TO ATTACK AND ASSASSINATE THE HOLY PROPHET ON NIGHT WHILE ON THE WAY TO TABUK. Jibr’il informed the Holy Prophet of this and instructed him to send one of the Companions (Sahaba) ahead to distract their attention. The Holy Prophet sense Sayyidina Hudhaifa.” (Ma’alimut Tanzil volume 2, page 311 – 312[4]

Reading the above reports, we clearly see that these hypocrites that are mentioned in Surah 9:73-74 were attempting to kill the Prophet (p). The Prophet (p) knew exactly who the hypocrites were who attempted on his life. Even when the Companion suggested in killing them he disapproved of such action. [5]

Now we move on to classical commentaries for these verses.

Classical commentaries for 9:73

Ibn Abbas (619 – 687 AD) said:

“…jihad against the hypocrites is with the tongue.” (As-suyuti commentary on Surah 9:73)

Ibn kathir:

“Ibn `Abbas said, “Allah commanded the Prophet to fight the disbelievers with the sword, to strive against the hypocrites with the tongue and annulled lenient treatment of them.” Ad-Dahhak commented, “Perform Jihad against the disbelievers with the sword and be harsh with the hypocrites with words, and this is the Jihad performed against them.” Similar was said by Muqatil and Ar-Rabi`. …” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir On Surah 9:73 – Online source)


“i.e. not with the sword since they have uttered the shahada. Jihad against them is by expending effort to counsel them and alarm them. (As-sawi on Surah 9:73 – Online Source)

Tafsir al-Jalalayn (15/16th century commentary):

“O Prophet, struggle against the disbelievers, with the sword, and the hypocrites, with words and [definitive] arguments, and be harsh with them, through rebuke and aversion [towards them]; for their abode will be Hell, an evil journey’s end, [an evil] resort it is!” (Tafsir al-Jalalyn on Surah 9:73 – Online soure)

Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas:

“(O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers) with the sword (and the hypocrites) with words! (Be harsh) be tough (with them) with both parties with words and actions. (Their ultimate abode is hell) their destiny is hell, (a hapless journey’s end) they shall come to. (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas on Surah 9:73 – Online source)

Tafsir al-Tustari (818 – 896 AD):

“O Prophet, struggle against the disbelievers and the hypocrites…He said: Struggle against your lower self with the sword of opposition! Place upon its [back] the burdens of remorse (nadam), and guide it through the desert plains of fear (khawf), so that you may turn it back to the path of repentance (tawba) and contrition (inaba).

Repentance is not acceptable except from one who feels perplexed at his plight, grief-stricken at his situation, and confounded in his heart at what has happened to him. God, Exalted is He, has said: When the earth seemed straightened for them, for all its breadth [9:118]. …” (Tafsir al-Tustari on Surah 9:73 – Online source)

Classical commentaries for 9:74

Ibn Juzayy (1321 – 1357 AD):

“(They planned something which they did not achieve) Al-Jullas plotted to kill the one who had reported that he said this. It is said that he plotted to kill the Prophet, and it is said that the ayat was sent down about ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul. The word of disbelief is what he said, “Fatten your dog and it will eat you.” By it he meant what his words did not achieve, “If we return to Madina, the mightier will drive out the humbler.” (Ibn Juzayy on Surah 9:74 – Online source)

Tafsir al-Jalalayn (15/16th century commentary):

“(They swear) the hypocrites. (by Allah that they said nothing) of the abuse which reached you regarding them. (after their Islam) i.e. they displayed disbelief after they displayed Islam. (They planned something they did not achieve) which was to assassinate the Prophet on the night of ‘Aqaba when he returned from Tabuk. They numbered about ten men, but ‘Ammar ibn Yasir struck the faces of their camels when he shielded the Prophet and they retreated. …” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn on Surah 9:74 – Online source)

Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas:

“(They swear by Allah that they said nothing (wrong)) Jallas Ibn Suwayd swore by Allah that he did not say what ‘Amir Ibn Qays said he did, (yet they did say the word of disbelief) the word of the disbelievers because when the Prophet mentioned the defects of the hypocrites and their inward illnesses, Jallas Ibn Suwayd said: “by Allah, if Muhammad is true in what he says about our brothers, we are worse than asses”. When ‘Amir Ibn Qays informed the Prophet Jallas swore by Allah that he did not say this.

But Allah gave him the lie and said (yet they did say the word of disbelief, and did disbelieve after their Surrender (to Allah). And they purposed that which they could not attain) they wanted to expel and kill the Messenger without success, (and they sought revenge) they could not find anything wrong with the Prophet and his Companions (only that Allah by His messenger should enrich them of His bounty) through the spoils of war.

(If they repent) from disbelief and hypocrisy (it will be better for them) than disbelief and hypocrisy; (and if they turn away) from repentance, (Allah will afflict them with a painful doom in the world and the Hereafter, and they have no protecting friend) who will protect them (nor helper in the earth) to prevent them from that which is wanted with them. (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas on Surah 9:74 – Online source)

Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi (d. 1075 AD):

“(They swear by Allah that they said nothing (wrong)…) [9:74]. Said al-Dahhak: “The hypocrites set off with the Messenger of Allah for Tabuk. But whenever they met alone with each other, they insulted the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and his Companions and discredited the religion.

Then Hudhayfah reported what they said to the Messenger of Allah,. The Messenger of Allah, said to them: ‘O hypocrites, what is this that I hear you have said?’ They swore to him that they said nothing wrong, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this to give them the lie”. Said Qatadah:

“It was mentioned to us that a man from Juhaynah had a fight with another man from Ghifar and the latter had the upper hand. When he saw this, ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy cried: ‘O Banu Aws, help your brother for, by Allah, the like of us and the like of Muhammad is as it was said: fatten your dog and he will eat you. By Allah, once we enter Medina, the mighty among us will drive out the lowly’.

A Muslim man heard this and informed the Messenger of Allah. When he sent for ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, the latter swore by Allah that he did not say it. Allah, exalted is He, revealed this to give him the lie”. (And they purposed that which they could not attain…) [9:74]. Al-Dahhak said: “They were planning to push the Prophet, off his mount on the night of the steep road. These were men who agreed to kill the Messenger of Allah, while they were with him.

They waited for an opportunity to take him by surprise. Their chance came when the Prophet, was taking a steep road. Some of them came forward while others stayed behind. It was night-time. They said to each other: ‘Once he starts going down this steep road, we will push him off his mount into the ravine’. His guide that night was ‘Ammar ibn Yasir and his navigator was Hudhayfah.

When Hudhayfah heard the sound of camels’ hoofs, he looked behind and saw veiled men. He shouted: ‘Go away, go away, O enemies of Allah!’ They stopped and the Prophet, proceeded to his destination. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed (And they purposed that which they could not attain…)”. (Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi on Surah 9:74 – Online source)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373 AD):

“Hypocrites try to kill the Prophet
Allah said next, ‘and they resolved that which they were unable to carry out’, It was said that this Ayah was revealed about Al-Julas bin Suwayd, who tried to kill his wife’s son when he said he would inform the Messenger of Allah about Al-Julas’ statement we mentioned earlier.

It was also said that it was revealed in the case of `Abdullah bin Ubayy who plotted to kill the Messenger of Allah. As-Suddi said, “This verse was revealed about some men who wanted to crown `Abdullah bin Ubayy even if the Messenger of Allah did not agree. It was reported that some hypocrites plotted to kill the Prophet, while he was at the battle of Tabuk, riding one night. They were a group of more than ten men. Ad-Dahhak said, ‘This Ayah was revealed about them.’ …

Abu At-Tufayl said, “Once, there was a dispute between Hudhayfah and another man, who asked him, `I ask you by Allah, how many were the Companions of Al-`Aqabah’ The people said to Hudhayfah, `Tell him, for he asked you.’ Hudhayfah said, `We were told that they were fourteen men, unless you were one of them, then the number is fifteen! I testify by Allah that twelve of them are at war with Allah and His Messenger in this life and when the witness comes forth for witness.

Three of them were pardoned, for they said, `We did not hear the person whom the Messenger sent to announce something, and we did not know what the people had plotted,’ for the Prophet had been walking when he said, (Water is scarce, so none among you should reach it before me.) When he found that some people had reached it before him, he cursed them.”’

`Ammar bin Yasir narrated in a Hadith collected by Muslim, that Hudhayfah said to him that the Prophet said, (Among my Companions are twelve hypocrites who will never enter Paradise or find its scent, until the camel enters the thread of the needle. Eight of them will be struck by the Dubaylah, which is a missile made of fire that appears between their shoulders and pierces their chest.)

This is why Hudhayfah was called the holder of the secret, for he knew who these hypocrites were, since the Messenger of Allah gave their names to him and none else. Allah said next, (and they could not find any cause to do so except that Allah and His Messenger had enriched them of His bounty.)

This Ayah means, the Messenger did not commit an error against them, other than that Allah has enriched them on account of the Prophet’s blessed and honorable mission! And had Allah guided them to what the Prophet came with, they would have experienced its delight completely.

The Prophet once said to the Ansar, (Have I not found you misguided and Allah guided you through me, divided and Allah united you through me, and poor and Allah enriched you through me) Whenever the Messenger asked them a question, they replied, “Allah and His Messenger have granted the favor.”

This type of statement, (And they had no fault except that they believed in Allah…), is uttered when there is no wrong committed. Allah called the hypocrites to repent, (If then they repent, it will be better for them, but if they turn away; Allah will punish them with a painful torment in this worldly life and in the Hereafter.)

The Ayah says, if they persist on their ways, Allah will inflict a painful torment on them in this life, by killing, sadness and depression, and in the Hereafter with torment, punishment, disgrace and humiliation, (And there is none for them on earth as a protector or a helper.) who will bring happiness to them, aid them, bring about benefit or fend off harm.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir on Surah 9:74 – Online source)

20th Century Commentaries

Dr. Muhammad Asad: (1900 – 1992)

“101 I.e., “do not compromise with them in matters of principle”. Regarding the meaning of the verb jahada (“he strove hard”, i.e., in a righteous cause), see surah 4, note
122. The imperative jahid is obviously used here in its spiritual connotationimplying efforts at convincing both the outspoken unbelievers and the waverers, including the various types of hypocrites spoken of in the preceding passages. Although the imperative is addressed in the first instance to the Prophet, it is considered to be morally binding on all believers.

112 Lit., “rejoiced in their sitting [at home]” – a reference to those who, under one pretext or another, excused themselves from participating in the expedition to Tabuk (see notes 59 and 66 above).
113 Lit., “and let them weep a lot”.
114 Lit., “if God brings thee back [from the campaign] to group of them” – i.e., to those a hypocrites who remained at home under false pretences.
115 I.e., with the old men, the women, the children and the sick, who are not able or not expected to go to war (Manar X, 662).
119 Lit., “when a surah was bestowed from on high”: the word surah being here synonymous with “revealed message” (see note 25 on 47:20).
120 I.e., with those who were either not expected to go to war-like women and children – or were handicapped by old age or illness.” [6]

Maarif-ul-Quran – Tafhim – Mufti Mohammad Shafi Usmani (1897 – 1976):

“…This sentence seems to suggest that the verse is connected with some event when the hypocrites had hatched some conspiracy against the Holy Prophet and his Muslim followers in which they could not succeed. For example, there is a fairly well known incident that came to pass during the return from this very battle of Tabuk

Twelve men from among the hypocrites sat in ambush behind a mountain pass with the intention of taking the Holy Prophet by surprise and kill him. Angel Jibra’il informed him of their intention. He took a different route and their conspiracy went to dust.” [7]

Malik Ghulam Farid (1897 – 1977):

“1199. Jihad (infinitive noun from Jahada meaning, he strove hard or with the utmost of his power with an object) has been generally used in this sense in the Qur’an. How the Prophet should strive against the hypocrites is not mentioned. But there is nothing to indicate the sense of fighting with the swordIn fact, the Holy Prophet never waged war against the hypocrites.

1200. With the arrival of the Holy Prophet in Medina, prosperity of the town very much increased, its trade throve and its inhabitants grew rich. [8]

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi (1903 – 1979):

“81 From here begins !he third discourse that was sent down after the expedition to Tabuk.
82 This Command enunciated the change of policy towards the hypocrites. Up to this time, leniency was being shown to them for two reasons.

First, the Muslims had not as yet become so powerful as to take the risk of an internal conflict in addition to the one with the external enemies. The other reason was to give trough respite to those people who were involved in doubts and suspicions so that they could get sufficient time for attaining to faith and belief. But now the time had come far a change of policy.

The whole of Arabia had been subdued and a bitter conflict with the external enemies was about to start; therefore it was required that these internal enemies should be crushed down so that they should not be able to conspire with the external enemies to stir up any internal danger to the Muslims. And now it had become possible to crush them.

As regards the second reason, these hypocrites had been given respite for a period of nine years to observe, to consider and test the Right Way, and they could have availed of it, if they had any good in them. So there was no reason why any more leniency should be shown to them.

Therefore, Allah enjoined the Muslims to treat the hypocrites on one and the same level with the disbelievers and start Jihad against them, and to give up the policy of leniency Grey had adopted towards them and adopt a fine and stern policy instead.

In this connection, it should also be noted that this verse does NOT enjoin the Muslims to fight with the hypocrites. It merely meant to end the policy of leniency that had hitherto been adopted towards them. This verse enjoined that they were no more to be considered a part and parcel of the Muslim community nor were they to be allowed to take part in the management of its affairs nor consulted about any matter.

So that they might not be able to spread the poison of hypocrisy. This changed policy required that the true Believers should expose all those, who adopted a hypocritical attitude and conduct and showed in any way that they were not sincere allies to Allah, His Messenger and the true Muslims.

Each and every one of such hypocrites should be openly criticized and reproved so that there should remain for them no more place of honor and trust in the Muslim society: they should be socially boycotted and kept away from the consultations of the Community: their evidence in the courts of law should be regarded as untrustworthy:

the doors of offices and positrons of trust should be closed against them and they should be held in contempt in the social meetings.

In short; every Muslim should show by his behavior to such a one that there was no place of honor or respect or trust for a hypocrite in the Muslim society. Besides this, if any one of them was found to be guilty of treachery, there should be no connivance at his crime, nor should he be pardoned but openly tried in a court of law and should be duly punished.

This Command was urgently needed at the time it came. It was obvious that in order to save the Muslim Community from fall and degradation, it was essential to purge it of all the internal dangers to its solidarity, because a Community, which nourishes hypocrites and traitors and allows the internal enemies to flourish with honor and security, wall inevitably be doomed to moral degradation and ultimate destruction.

Hypocrisy is a plague and a hypocrite is the rat that carries and spreads its germs. Therefore to allow him the freedom of movement in the society is to expose the whole population to the danger of hypocrisy.

Likewise, to give a place of honor and prestige to a hypocrite is to encourage many others in hypocrisy and treachery, for this shows that it is not sincerity, true faith and its welfare that count in it. One may flourish and prosper in it even if one verbally professes; o be a Muslim and at the same time indulges in dishonesty and treachery.

The Holy Prophet has expressed the same thing in a pithy saying. He said, “Whoso honors and respects the inventor of new practices which are un-Islamic, indeed helps to demolish the very structure of Islam.”

83 We cannot say with certainty what that “word of unbelief” was which they had uttered. There are, however, traditions that mention several things of unbelief which were uttered by the hypocrites during that time. For instance, it is related that a hypocrite, while he was talking to a young Muslim, a near relative of his, said,

“If all that this man (referring to the Holy Prophet) is saying be true, then we are worse than donkeys.” Another tradition relates that when, during the expedition to Tabuk, one of the she-camels of the Holy Prophet went astray and the Muslims were moving about in search of it, a party of the hypocrites made a good deal of fun of this, saying to one another, “(Just consider the Prophethood of this man! ) He tells news of heavens but cannot tell where his she-camel is!’

84 This is a reference to the plots which the hypocrites had made during the Tabuk expedition. On the return journey they conspired to pushthe Holy Prophet down into some ravine, while he would be passing over some hill at night.

The Holy Prophet got wind of the plot and ordered that the army should take the longer route through the valley round the hills, while he himself along with ‘Ammar-bin-Yasir and Huzaifah-bin-Yaman would make the short-cut over the hill . 

While they were on the way, suddenly they discovered that a dozen of the hypocrites, with covered faces, were following them. At this Hadrat Huzaifah tented towards them so that he may drive away their camels but they were terrified when they saw him coming towards them and took to flight lest they should be recognized.

The other plot was to declare `Abdullah bin Ubayy as king at Al-Madinah as soon as they should hear some ‘bad news’ about the Muslim army, because according to their expectations, the Holy Prophet and his faithful Companions could never fare well against tire armies of the Great Roman Empire.” (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an – Online source)

Maulana Muhammad Ali (1878 – 1931):

“73a. Jahada signifies he strove or exerted himself, and jihad is the using one’s utmost power in contending with an object of disapprobation (LL). It is in a secondary sense that the word signifies fighting, and it is repeatedly used in the Holy Qur’an in its primary significance.

 It is a fact that those who professed Islam were never fought against, even though their professions were insincere — as on this occasion and on the occasion of the battle of Uhud. … The Prophet is commanded here to carry on a jihad against disbelievers as well as hypocrites. Hence the only significance that can be attached to these words is that he must continue to preach forcibly both to the disbelievers and the hypocrites.

74a. They were in secret alliance with the enemies of Islam and did their best to put an end to the life of the Prophet and bring about the extirpation of Islam.
74b. The advent of the Muslims in Madinah had enriched its inhabitants. Was it not, then, a matter for wonder that those men who had gained by Islam should turn against their very benefactors?

79a. When subscriptions were raised for the expedition to Tabuk, the wealthier members of the Muslim community gave large donations, while the poorer ones, the labourers, also paid their mite out of their hard earnings. The hypocrites taunted both, the former as making a show of their wealth, the latter as bringing in their small subscriptions only to be counted among the subscribers. For Allah’s paying them back their mockery, see 2:15a.” [9]


The conclusion that can be drawn from the textual context of the verses, historical reports and classical to contemporary commentaries – all agree that the hypocrites mentioned were those who used to harm the Prophet and tried to assassinate him.

The Arabic word ‘Jahid’ (‘Jihad’) used in the verse (9:73) was done against the hypocrites with the tongue, it was never with the sword. Moreover, the Prophet (p) never hurt or demanded any hypocrite be killed even though he knew each and every one of them. The only time hypocrites were dealt was when they openly took up arms against the Muslims, 1400 years ago.


[1] Jami` at-Tirmidhi:
“…We were in a battle” – Sufyan said: “They say it was the battle of Banu Mustaliq” – “A man from the Muhajirin kicked a man from the Ansar. The man from the Muhajirin said: ‘O Muhajirin!’ the man from the Ansar said: ‘O Ansar!’ The Prophet heard that and said: ‘What is this evil call of Jahliyyah?’ They said: ‘A man from the Muhajirin kicked a man from the Ansar.’

So the Prophet said: ‘Leave that, for it is offensive.’ Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul heard that and said: ‘Did they really do that? By Allah! If we return to Al-Madinah indeed the more honorable will expel therefrom the meaner.’ Umar said: ‘Allow me to chop off the head of this hypocrite, O Messenger of Allah!’

The Prophet said: ‘Leave him, I do not want the people to say that Muhammad kills his Companions.’” Someone other than Amr said: “So his son, Abdullah bin Abdullah, said: ‘By Allah! You shall not return until you say that you are the mean and that the Messenger of Allah is the honorable.’ So he did so.” (Jami at-Tirmidhi volume 5, Book 44, Hadith 3315)

Sahih al-Bukhari:
“We were in a Ghazwa (Sufyan once said, in an army) and a man from the emigrants kicked an Ansari man (on the buttocks with his foot). The Ansari man said, “O the Ansar! (Help!)” and the emigrant said. “O the emigrants! (Help!) Allah’s Messenger heard that and said,

“What is this call for, which is characteristic of the period of ignorance?” They said, “O Allah’s Messenger! A man from the emigrants kicked one of the Ansar (on the buttocks with his foot).” Allah’s Messenger said, “Leave it (that call) as is a detestable thing.” `Abdullah bin Ubai heard that and said, ‘Have the (the emigrants) done so?

By Allah, if we return Medina, surely, the more honorable will expel therefrom the meaner.” When this statement reached the Prophet. `Umar got up an, said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Let me chop off the head of this hypocrite (`Abdullah bin Ubai)!”

The Prophet said “Leave him, lest the people say that Muhammad kills his companions.” The Ansar were then more in number than the emigrants when the latter came to Medina, but later on the emigrant increased. (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 6, Book 60, Hadith 428)
[2] Sahih Muslim:

“Jabir b. Abdullah reported that a person came to the Messenger of Allah at Jirana on his way back from Hunain, and there was in the clothes of Bilal some silver. The Messenger of Allah took a handful out of that and bestowed it upon the people. He (the person who had met the Prophet at Ji’rana) said to him: Muhammad, do justice.

He (the Holy Prophet) said: Woe be upon thee, who would do justice if I do not do justice, and you would be very unfortunate and a loser if I do not do justice. Upon this Umar b. Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) said: Permit me to kill this hypocrite. Upon this he (the Holy Prophet) said: 

May there be protection of Allah! People would say that I kill my companions. This man and his companions would recite the Qur’an but it would not go beyond their throat, and they swerve from it just as the arrow goes through the prey.” (Sahih Muslim: Book 5, Hadith 2316)
[3] Illuminating Discourses on the Noble Quran – Tafseer Anwarul Bayan – by Shaykh Ashiq Ilahi Madni, volume 2, page 477 – 478
[4] Illuminating Discourses on the Noble Quran – Tafseer Anwarul Bayan – by Shaykh Ashiq Ilahi Madni, volume 2, 477
[5] Al-Waqidi:
“…They swear by God that they said nothing, but indeed they uttered blasphemy and they did so after accepting Islam (Q. 9:74): referring to Wadi’a b. Thabit. They mediated a plot, which they were unable to carry out: they said, We will crown Abdullah b. Ubayy when we return. It was said they plotted against Muhammad in al-Aqaba. …”
The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi [Translators: Rizwi Faizer, Amal Ismail and Abdul kader Tayob, 2011] volume 3, 523
[6] The Message of The Quran translated and explained by Dr. Muhammad Asad page 395 – 398

[7] Maarif-ul-Quran – Tafhim by Mufti Mohammad Shafi Usmani, volume 4, 431
[8] The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Text With English Translation & Short Commentary By Malik Ghulam Farid, page 394
[9] The Holy Quran, Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction [Year 2002 Edition] by Maulana Muhammad Ali, page 416 – 417

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