Surah 9. At-Taubah – The Repentance
9:1 (O You who have attained belief! The treaties that you had signed with the idolaters of the Arabian Peninsula, no longer remain valid, for they have repeatedly violated them (9:4). Freedom from obligation in this matter is proclaimed from God and His Messenger towards those of the Pagans with whom you had made a treaty.
9:2 [O Idolaters, who have repeatedly violated the peace treaties] Travel freely in the land four months, and know that you cannot escape God, and that God will bring disgrace to the rejecters of the Truth. (If you persist in rebellion, you will be overpowered and the Central Authority will subdue you.)
9:3 And a proclamation from God and His Messenger is herewith made to all mankind on this day of the Greatest Pilgrimage (9th day of the 12th lunar month, Zil-Hajjah). God disowns the idolaters, and so does His Messenger. So, if you repent, it will be better for you. But if you turn away from repentance, then know that you cannot escape God. (O Messenger) Give tiding of an awful retribution to those who are bent upon denying the Truth.
9:4 Except those idolaters with whom you have a treaty and they have not subsequently failed you, nor have they helped others against you. You shall fulfill your treaty with them till their term. Surely, God loves those who are mindful of His Laws.
9:5 When the four Sacred Months are over and if the idolaters are still aggressing, (neither becoming law-abiding citizens of the State, nor emigrating), subdue them whichever tribe they may belong to, take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them ambush. But if they repent from aggression, and help in the consolidation of the Divine System and in setting up the Just Economic Order of Zakaat, then leave their way free. Surely, God is Forgiving Merciful (so shall you be).
[The four Sacred Months forbidden for any warfare: From the 12th month, Zil-Hajjah up to the 3rd month, Rabi'ul Awwal 2:194, 9:36]
9:6 (O Messenger) If anyone of the idolaters seeks your protection or a safe passage, grant him protection from the State. Convey to him the Word of God, and then send him to a place where he feels safe and secure. This kindness on your part is mandatory because they are people who have not yet seen the beauty of the Divine System.
9:7 How can there be a treaty with God and His Messenger for the idolaters (when they have repeatedly violated it?) Exempted are those with whom you make a treaty at the Sacred Masjid. If they honor and uphold such a treaty, so shall you. God loves those who live upright.
9:8 How can there be a treaty seeing that if they get the upper hand against you, they would respect no ties and no pacts with you? They pleased you with their speech but their hearts opposed you. Most of them defy their pledges. [Fasiqeen = Those who drift away]
9:9 They trade away God’s revelations for petty gains and hinder people from His Path. Their deeds spread inequity and confusion in the society. [This trade, frequently mentioned in the Qur’an, indicates: Fulfilling selfish desire for instant gains at the cost of disregarding Permanent Moral Values]
9:10 They respect no tie and no pact regarding a believer. They are the ones given to excesses.
9:11 If they mend their ways, (and as law-abiding citizens), help consolidate the Divine System, and the Just Economic Order of Zakaat, then they are your brothers in the System of Life. We explain Our messages for those who wish to learn.
[The usual translation of this verse conveys the meaning that if they start praying five times a day and give 2.5% poor-due per year, then they are your brothers in religion. This interpretation goes directly against the all-encompassing Ordinance of God that there is no compulsion or coercion in Deen Islam 2:256]
Surah Taubah is explained by Dr Shabbir in the above translation. When apprehending enemies of the Islamic State they are traditionally understood to have to perform prayers and pay Zakaat, which the Mullahs say means conversion to Islam, or else expulsion from the land (a place of safety).
“But if they repent from aggression, and help in the consolidation of the Divine System and in setting up the Just Economic Order of Zakaat, then leave their way free.”
One of the meanings of Salat is to adhere to the laws of Allah, hence a just Social System, so anyone that was fighting against this must promise to live in peace within this system or else take a permanent leave of absence, it is not a “if you cannot beat them, you are forced to join them”, since there is “no compulsion”. The Compulsion is solely in agreeing to live under the rule of Islam, even though you are not a Muslim.
Similarly, Zakaat means to give up part of your wealth to help support the just Social System, hence even non-Muslims are asked to contribute ‘taxes’.
The Messenger of Allah sent letters to foreign lands in order to ask them to stop abusing their people, uphold justice, stop terrorism, honour every life etc. This was not a demand for conversion to Islam but a request, backed by force, to stop their inhumanity to man, similar to the way the United Nations (in part) has Peace keeping troops and bodies set up to resolve disputes (it is not perfect, but at least they try). Islam was spread by the sword of intellect and not the bloody sword, but wars have to be fought for peace and freedom to exist. The rulers were replaced by Muslims, while the ruled remained in their original, but happier states (which led many to convert intellectually). 14 million Coptic Christians in Arabia prove that forced conversion was never the norm under Muslim rule.
All of this leaves no doubt that forced conversion was never the intention of Surah 9. Any hadith that says otherwise should be rejected as forged.