An Introduction to Surat At-Tawbah (Repentance)
Names of the Surah
It is named so because it enunciates the nature of tawbah (repentance) and mentions the conditions of its acceptance.
2- Bara’ah (Release)
Al-Bara’ narrated: “The last Sura that was revealed was Bara’ah, and the last verse that was revealed was: “They ask you for a legal verdict, Say: Allah’s directs (thus) about those who leave no descendants or ascendants as heirs. (An-Nisa’ 4:176)” (Al-Bukhari)
3- Al-Fadiha (The Exposer)
The Surah exposed the conspiracies and plots of the hypocrites who used to practise acts of worship with the prophet (peace be upon him).
Omission of Basmalah
Sheikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The correct opinion is that there is no basmalah between it (Surat At-Tawbah) and Al-Anfal, because the basmalah is a verse of the Book of Allah and if the Messenger (peace be upon him) did not say to put the basmalah between the two surahs, they did not put it between them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is the one who decided and said: Put the basmalah, and he did not tell them to put the basmalah between Surat Al-Anfal and Surat At-Tawbah, so they did not write it. But it remains to be said: if he did not give instructions to this effect, why is there a separation between it and Surat al-Anfal? Why did they not make it one surah? We say: Yes, they did not make it one surah because they were uncertain as to whether it was the same surah as Al-Anfal or they were two separate surahs, so they said: Let us make a separation between the two surahs and not write the Basmalah. This is the correct opinion concerning the absence of the basmalah between Surat Al-Anfal and Surat At-Tawbah.
Is it Makki or Madani?
Surat At-Tawbah was the last surah to be revealed in Madinah. Hence, it contains final rulings on relations between the Muslim community and other people. It also includes the classification of the Muslim community itself, establishing its values together with a full description and outline of the status of each of its groups or classes.
Period of Revelation
This Surah comprises three discourses:
1- The first was revealed in Dhul-Qi`dah (A.H. 9) or thereabout. As the importance of the subject of the discourse required its declaration on the occasion of Hajj the Prophet (peace be upon him) dispatched `Ali to follow Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with them), who had already left for Makkah as leader of the pilgrims to the Ka`bah.
2- The second discourse was sent down in Rajab (A.H. 9) or a little before this, when the Prophet was engaged in making preparations for the Campaign of Tabuk.
3- The third discourse was revealed on his return from the Campaign of Tabuk.
Theme of the Surah
The Surah deals with the problems of peace and war, focusing on the Tabuk Expedition.
Topics of the Surah
1- The Surah deals with the sanctity of treaties and lays down principles, rules and regulations which must be kept in view before breaking them, in case the other party does not observe them sincerely.
2- The surah defines the final shape of relations between the Muslim community and the idolaters in the Arabian Peninsula, highlighting the practical, historical and ideological bases of these relations.
3- The Surah also deals with the problems of hypocrites and lays down rules and regulations governing the treatment that should be meted out to them and points out their distinctive marks from true Muslims.
3- The surah provides a clear definition of the nature of the Islamic pledge the believers give to God to strive for His cause. It also defines the nature of this struggle, or jihad, and the duty of the people of Madinah and the Bedouins living close to them.
4- The Surah mentions the case of those who remained behind and did not accompany the Prophet (peace be upon him) for Jihad to Tabuk. For this purpose they have been separated in different categories, that is, the disabled, the sick, the indigent, the hypocrites, the believers who realized their guilt and punished themselves before the return of the Prophet from Tabuk and those who confessed their error. Their cases have been dealt with in accordance with the nature and extent of their offense.
Sayyed Abu A`la Maududi’s Tafhim Al-Qur’an.
Sayyid Qutb’s Fi Zhilal Al-Qur’an.