This Surah is known by two names -- At-Taubah and Al-Bara'at. It is called At-Taubah because it enunciates the nature of taubah (repentance) and mentions the conditions of its acceptance.(vv. 102. 118). The second name Bara'at (Release) is taken from the first word of the Surah.
Omission of Bismillah
This is the only Surah of the Quran to which Bismillah is not prefixed. Though the commentators have given different reasons for this, the correct one that which has been given by Imam Razi: namely,this is because the Holy Prophet himself did not dictate it at the beginning of the Surah. Therefore the Companions did not prefix it and their successors followed them., This is a further proof of the fact that utmost care has been taken to keep the Quran intact so that it should remain in its complete and original form.
Discourses and Periods of Revelation
This Surah comprises three discourses:-
The first discourse (vv. 1-37), was revealed in Zil-Qa'adah A.H. 9 or thereabout. As the importance of the subject of the discourse required its declaration on the occasion of Haj the Holy Prophet dispatched Hadrat Ali to follow Hadrat Abu Bakr, who had already left for Makkah as leader of the Pilgrims to the Ka'abah. He instructed Hadrat Ali to deliver the discourse before the representatives of the different clans of Arabia so as to inform them of the new policy towards the mushriks.
The second discourse (vv., 38-72) was sent down in Rajab A.H. 9 or a little before this, when the Holy Prophet was engaged in making preparations for the Campaign, of Tabuk. In this discourse, the Believers were urged to take active part in Jihad, and the shirkers were severely rebuked for holding back their wealth and for hesitation to sacrifice their lives in the way of Allah because of their hypocrisy, weak faith or negligence.
The third discourse (vv. 73-129) was revealed on his return from the Campaign of Tabuk. There are some pieces in this discourse that were sent down on different occasions during the same period and were afterwards consolidated by the Holy Prophet into the Surah in accordance with inspiration from Allah. But this caused no interruption in its continuity because they dealt with the same subject and formed part of the same series of events. This discourse warns the hypocrites of their evil deeds and rebukes those Believers who had stayed behind in the Campaign of Tabuk. Then after taking them to task, Allah pardons those true Believers who had not taken part in the Jihad in the Way of Allah for one reason or the other.
Chronologically, the first discourse should have come last; but being the most important of the three in regard to its subject matter, it was placed first in the order of compilation.
Now let us consider the historical background of the Surah. The series of events that have been discussed in this Surah took place after the Peace Treaty of Hudaibiyah. By that time, one-third of Arabia had come under the sway of Islam which had established itself as a powerful, well organized and civilized Islamic State. This Treaty afforded further opportunities to Islam to spread its influence in the comparatively peaceful atmosphere created by it.
English Translation: Noor International
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