English - Ma'ariful Qur'an - Mufti Shafi Usmani RA - Vol - 1
Surah Al-Baqarah - 2 : Verses 216 - 218
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The injunction relating to fighting in the 'sacred' months:
The second of the three verses under comment here proves that fighting is forbidden in Rajab, Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muhar-ram, the four 'sacred' months. In the same way, there are several verses of the Holy Qur'an where fighting has been very clearly forbidden during the sacred months, for instance: : 'Four of them are sacred. That is the right religion' (9:36). Then there is the saying of the Holy Prophet in the famous address of the Last Hajj: : 'Four (months) from among them are sacred, out of which three are consecutive and the (fourth) is Rajab of Mudar. These Qur'anic verses and hadith narrations prove that fighting is haram in the four months mentioned and this forbiddance is good for ever.
In this connection, 'Ata ibn Abi Rabah, a leading early exponent of Qur'anic exegesis declared on oath that this injunction is there to stay for ever. Several others among the respected Successors (Tabi'in) regard this injunction as provenly unabrogated, but in accordance with the ruling of the majority of Muslim jurists as stated by al-Jassas,this injunction is one of the abrogated ones as maintained by a consensus of jurists and fighting is no more forbidden in any month.
Now comes the question as to which verse of the Holy Qur'an abrogates this injunction. Jurists have taken different positions in this respect. Some say the verse : 'And fight the disbelievers, all of them' (9:36) abrogates it. Many others regard the verse : 'Slay the disbelievers wherever you find them' (9:5) as its abrogator. They have taken the word: here in the sense of 'anytime' meaning thereby that the disbelievers should be killed in whatever month or time they are found. Some have said that the abrogator of this injunction is the very conduct of the Holy Prophet since he himself besieged the city of Ta'if during the 'sacred months' and it was during the 'sacred months' that he sent the noble Companion 'Amir al-Ash'ari on the military expedition of Awtas. On these grounds, Jurists in general, regard this injunction as abrogated, al-Jassas calls it : 'This is what the majority of the jurists says'.
Ruh al-Ma'ani, under comments on this verse, and al-Baydawi, under the explanation of the first section of Surah al-Bara'ah have reported a consensus of the community on the abrogation of the forbiddance of fighting during the 'sacred months' (Bayan al-Qur'an). However, al-Tafsir al-Mazhar! answers all these arguments by saying that the sanctity of the 'sacred months' is clearly present in the verse known as Ayah al-sayf or the Verse of the Sword, that is:
'The number of months, with God, is twelve (mentioned) in the book of Allah, the day that he created the heavens and the earth; four of them are sacred' (9:36).
Of the verse relating to fighting, this verse was the last one to be revealed and the Address of the Last Hajj which was delivered only 80 days before the Holy Prophet passed away clearly indicates the sanctity of the 'sacred months'. For this reason, the verses quoted cannot be regarded as abrogative of this injunction. Moreover, the siege of Ta'if did not take place in the month of Dhul-Qa'dah. It was in Shawwal, therefore, this too cannot be regarded as its abrogator. But, it can certainly be conceded that the absolute forbiddance of fighting in the 'sacred months' which seems to reflect from the verse referred to holds an exception whereby it would become permissible for Muslims to defend themselves, or counter attack the aggressor if disbelievers themselves start the fighting during these months. This much, then, can be termed as abrogated, which finds a clarification in the verse : 'The holy month for the holy month' (2:194).
The gist of the discussion is that initiating a fight during these months is forbidden for ever, but in the event that disbelievers mount an attack on Muslims, then, Muslims are permitted to fight back in their defence. Al-Jassas has reported the narration of the blessed Companion Jabir ibn 'Abdullah who said that the Holy Prophet did not fight in any of the 'sacred months' until such time that the initial fighting was started by the disbelievers.
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