Sūrat al-Tawbah

Sūrah No. 9. Revealed in Madīnah, 129 verses.  

This Sūrah talks a lot about repentance and hence is known al-Tawbah. It is also known as al-Barā’at, from the first word of the Sūrah. It is from among the last Sūrahs to be revealed to the Prophet a. It came down after the Muslims had established themselves and overcome their enemies. The threat to the Muslims was now mainly from the hypocrites, a topic the Sūrah discusses at length. There is no Bismillah at the beginning of this Sūrah because the beginning verses are a stern warning to the polytheists. Bismillāh is a sentence of mercy and compassion, and these qualities are not applicable to the enemies of Allah and His religion.

Merits of reciting the Sūrah

Imam Ja‘far al-Sādiq (a) has said; Whoever recites Sūrat al-Anfāl and Sūrat al-Tawbah, hypocrisy will never enter him, and he will be from the true followers of Amir al-Mu’minīn (Imam Ali) (a).

Note: This reward is for those who understand and follow the message of the Sūrahs in their lives.

General synopsis of contents

1) Announcement of disassociation with the polytheists (vv. 1-3)

2) War with the polytheists (vv. 4-17)

3) Ranks of service to Allah (vv. 18-22)

4) Loyalty to faith (vv. 23-24), 5) Help from Allah (vv. 25-27)

6) The polytheists and those of other faiths (vv. 28-37)

7) Excuses of the hypocrites (vv. 38-49)

8) Attitude of the hypocrites (vv. 50-66)

9) Signs of hypocrisy (vv. 67-70)

10) Qualities and reward of the believers (vv. 71-72)

11) The behaviour of the hypocrites (vv. 73-87)

12) Groups who differ from the hypocrites (vv. 88-92)

13) Excuses of the hypocrites (vv. 93-98)

14) Description of some virtuous groups (vv. 99-106)

15) Intention behind building a mosque (vv. 107-110)

16) Allah’s mercy on believers (vv. 111-123)

17) Reactions to the revelation of Sūrahs (vv. 124-129)

Selected Lessons

1) This Sūrah has some verses which are often used out of context to spread misconceptions about Islam. For a good discussion on understanding these and similar verses on war and fighting, see Book 2 (Peace and Jihad) in the Prophet Muhammad series in this link – https://al-m.ca/downloads/. Pages 8-9 of this book discuss verses from Sūrat al-Tawbah.

2) Go through verse 24. List the things that humans take as priority over Allah.

3) Almighty Allah talks about those who wish to put out the light of Allah and how His religion will prevail (vv. 32-33). Compare these verses with a similar promise made in 61:8-9 and 48:28.

4) A section of the Sūrah deals with hypocrisy. Study the following verses:

  1. a) Verse 42 – What excuse do the hypocrites give in this verse?
  2. b) Verse 45 – What is the root of the excuse of the hypocrites?
  3. c) Verse 50 – The changing colors of the hypocrites.
  4. d) Verses 56-57, 64. – Why is there fear in the heart of the hypocrites?

5) For a study of hypocrisy check:

https://www.al-islam.org/articles/diseases-soul-hypocrisy-nifaq; https://en.wikishia.net/view/Munafiq

6) on verse 92. Compare these people to the ones described in verse 93. What qualities set them apart?

7) Verses 81-82 condemns the hypocrites for their excuses and their attitude. Study these verses. How does it apply to the hypocrites today, both with the Muslim society and outside? Also see the promise of Allah in verses 120-121 which they should have thought about.

8) What are the qualities of the Prophet a described in verse 128?

Suggested verses for reflection and memorization.

1) 9:13 – Do you fear them? But Allah is worthier of being feared by you if you are believers.

2) 9:28 – Should you fear poverty, Allah will enrich you out of His grace, if He wishes. Indeed, Allah is all-knowing, all-wise.

3) 9:32 – They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah is intent on perfecting His light though the disbelievers are averse.

4) 9:40 – Do not grieve; Allah is indeed with us.

5) 9:51 – Say, ‘Nothing will befall us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our master, and in Allah let all the faithful put their trust.’

6) 9:66 – Do not make excuses. You have disbelieved after your faith.

7) 9:104- Do they not know that it is Allah who accepts the repentance of His servants and receives the charities, and that it is Allah who is the Oft-Returning, the All-merciful?

8) 9:108 – A mosque founded on God consciousness from the first day is worthier that you stand in it [for prayer].

9) 9:128 – There has certainly come to you an apostle from among yourselves. Grievous to him is your distress; he has deep concern for you and is most kind and merciful to the faithful.