English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 2: Al-Baqarah — The Cow (Revealed at Madinah: 40 sections, 286 verses)

Section 24 (Verses 2:189–2:196): Fighting in Defence



یَسۡـَٔلُوۡنَکَ عَنِ الۡاَہِلَّۃِ ؕ قُلۡ ہِیَ مَوَاقِیۡتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَ الۡحَجِّ ؕ وَ لَیۡسَ الۡبِرُّ بِاَنۡ تَاۡتُوا الۡبُیُوۡتَ مِنۡ ظُہُوۡرِہَا وَ لٰکِنَّ الۡبِرَّ مَنِ اتَّقٰیۚ وَ اۡتُوا الۡبُیُوۡتَ مِنۡ اَبۡوَابِہَا ۪ وَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تُفۡلِحُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸۹﴾

2:189 They ask you about the new moons. Say: They are times appointed for people, and (for) the pilgrimage.1 And it is not righteousness that you enter houses by their backs, but he is righteous who keeps his duty. And go into houses by their doors;2 and keep your duty to Allah, that you may be successful.

وَ قَاتِلُوۡا فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ الَّذِیۡنَ یُقَاتِلُوۡنَکُمۡ وَ لَا تَعۡتَدُوۡا ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ لَا یُحِبُّ الۡمُعۡتَدِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹۰﴾

2:190 And fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you but do not be aggressive. Surely Allah does not love the aggressors.3

وَ اقۡتُلُوۡہُمۡ حَیۡثُ ثَقِفۡتُمُوۡہُمۡ وَ اَخۡرِجُوۡہُمۡ مِّنۡ حَیۡثُ اَخۡرَجُوۡکُمۡ وَ الۡفِتۡنَۃُ اَشَدُّ مِنَ الۡقَتۡلِ ۚ وَ لَا تُقٰتِلُوۡہُمۡ عِنۡدَ الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَرَامِ حَتّٰی یُقٰتِلُوۡکُمۡ فِیۡہِ ۚ فَاِنۡ قٰتَلُوۡکُمۡ فَاقۡتُلُوۡہُمۡ ؕ کَذٰلِکَ جَزَآءُ الۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹۱﴾

2:191 And kill them wherever you find them,4 and drive them out from where they drove you out, and persecution is worse than slaughter.5 And do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it; so if they fight you (in it), kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

فَاِنِ انۡتَہَوۡا فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۹۲﴾

2:192 But if they cease, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.6

وَ قٰتِلُوۡہُمۡ حَتّٰی لَا تَکُوۡنَ فِتۡنَۃٌ وَّ یَکُوۡنَ الدِّیۡنُ لِلّٰہِ ؕ فَاِنِ انۡتَہَوۡا فَلَا عُدۡوَانَ اِلَّا عَلَی الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹۳﴾

2:193 And fight them until there is no persecution, and religion is only for Allah.7 But if they cease, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors.

اَلشَّہۡرُ الۡحَرَامُ بِالشَّہۡرِ الۡحَرَامِ وَ الۡحُرُمٰتُ قِصَاصٌ ؕ فَمَنِ اعۡتَدٰی عَلَیۡکُمۡ فَاعۡتَدُوۡا عَلَیۡہِ بِمِثۡلِ مَا اعۡتَدٰی عَلَیۡکُمۡ ۪ وَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ وَ اعۡلَمُوۡۤا اَنَّ اللّٰہَ مَعَ الۡمُتَّقِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹۴﴾

2:194 The sacred month for the sacred month, and retaliation (is allowed) in sacred things.8 Whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury he has inflicted on you and keep your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty.

وَ اَنۡفِقُوۡا فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ وَ لَا تُلۡقُوۡا بِاَیۡدِیۡکُمۡ اِلَی التَّہۡلُکَۃِ ۚۖۛ وَ اَحۡسِنُوۡا ۚۛ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یُحِبُّ الۡمُحۡسِنِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹۵﴾

2:195 And spend in the way of Allah and do not cast yourselves to destruction with your own hands and do good (to others). Surely Allah loves the doers of good.

وَ اَتِمُّوا الۡحَجَّ وَ الۡعُمۡرَۃَ لِلّٰہِ ؕ فَاِنۡ اُحۡصِرۡتُمۡ فَمَا اسۡتَیۡسَرَ مِنَ الۡہَدۡیِ ۚ وَ لَا تَحۡلِقُوۡا رُءُوۡسَکُمۡ حَتّٰی یَبۡلُغَ الۡہَدۡیُ مَحِلَّہٗ ؕ فَمَنۡ کَانَ مِنۡکُمۡ مَّرِیۡضًا اَوۡ بِہٖۤ اَذًی مِّنۡ رَّاۡسِہٖ فَفِدۡیَۃٌ مِّنۡ صِیَامٍ اَوۡ صَدَقَۃٍ اَوۡ نُسُکٍ ۚ فَاِذَاۤ اَمِنۡتُمۡ ٝ فَمَنۡ تَمَتَّعَ بِالۡعُمۡرَۃِ اِلَی الۡحَجِّ فَمَا اسۡتَیۡسَرَ مِنَ الۡہَدۡیِ ۚ فَمَنۡ لَّمۡ یَجِدۡ فَصِیَامُ ثَلٰثَۃِ اَیَّامٍ فِی الۡحَجِّ وَ سَبۡعَۃٍ اِذَا رَجَعۡتُمۡ ؕ تِلۡکَ عَشَرَۃٌ کَامِلَۃٌ ؕ ذٰلِکَ لِمَنۡ لَّمۡ یَکُنۡ اَہۡلُہٗ حَاضِرِی الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَرَامِ ؕ وَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ وَ اعۡلَمُوۡۤا اَنَّ اللّٰہَ شَدِیۡدُ الۡعِقَابِ ﴿۱۹۶﴾٪

2:196 And accomplish the pilgrimage and the visit for Allah. But if you are prevented, (send) whatever offering is easy to obtain; and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches its destination. Then whoever among you is sick or has an ailment of the head, (he may effect) a compensation by fasting or (giving in) charity or sacrificing. And when you are secure, whoever profits by combining the visit with the pilgrimage (should take) whatever offering is easy to obtain. But he who cannot find (an offering) should fast for three days during the pilgrimage and for seven days when you return. These are ten (days) complete. This is for him whose family is not present in the Sacred Mosque. And keep your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is Severe in retribution.9



  1. The reference in “new moons” is in particular to the four months of the year which the Arabs observed as sacred (the 11th, 12th, 1st and 7th). All hostilities ceased and peace was established throughout the land; thus trade was carried on without molestation. The pilgrimage to Makkah was also performed during these months.
  2. Entering by the back indicates turning aside from the right course, while entering by the doors signifies sticking to the right course. This also refers to a superstitious custom of pre-Islamic Arabs, whereby when one of them failed to attain his objective he would not enter his house by the door but by the back.
  3. This is one of the earliest revelations permitting Muslims to fight. It is remarkable that fighting in the way of Allah is here expressly limited to fighting in defence. Muslims were required to fight in the way of Allah, but they could fight only against those who waged war on them. Exactly the same limitation is placed on what was in all probability the first revelation permitting fighting: “Permission (to fight) is given to those on whom war is made because they are oppressed” (22:39). Muslims were allowed to take up the sword only as a measure of self-defence. The enemies of Islam, being unable to suppress Islam by per­se­cution, and seeing that Islam was now safe at Madinah and gaining strength, took up the sword to annihilate it. No course was left for the Muslims but either to be swept off the face of the earth or take up the sword in defence against an enemy which was immensely stronger.
  4. The words kill them refer to those with whom fighting is enjoined in the previous verse, who waged war upon the Muslims.
  5. The word translated as “persecution” is fitna. Ibn Umar explained the word fitna when he said: “And there were very few Muslims [in the begin­ning], so a man used to be persecuted on account of his religion: they either murdered him or subjected him to tortures until Islam became predominant, then there was no fitna ” (Bukhari, 65.2:30).
  6. Note the clemency of the Islamic fighting injunctions. Muslims were to sheathe their swords if the enemy desisted from fighting.
  7. When persecution ceases, and people are not forced to accept or renounce a religion, then there should be no more fighting. If they cease persecu­tion, Muslims are at once to stop fighting against them, and hostilities are not to be continued against any except the aggressors.
  8. This is similar to what is said in v. 191 regarding the Sacred Mosque. The pre-Islamic Arabs observed four months in the year as sacred, in which hostilities ceased and peace was established throughout the land. If the opponents violated the sacred months by attacking the Muslims first in those months, the Muslims were permitted to fight against them in the sacred months. And generally retaliation within the limits of the original act of aggression is permitted in the case of all sacred objects.
  9. The two subjects of war and pilgrimage are linked because Muslims were free at Madinah to perform all the religious ordinances required by Islam, but they were not free to perform the pilgrimage, their Spiritual Centre, Makkah, being in the possession of their enemies who were at war with them. The “visit” or ‘umrah may be performed at any time, whilst the “pilgrimage” or ḥajj can only be performed at a particular time of the year. The pilgrimage represents the last stage in the progress of the spiritual pilgrim. The first requirement of the pilgri­mage, iḥrām, represents the severance of all worldly connections for the love of God. All costly dresses in which the inner self is so often mistaken for the out­ward appearance, are cast off, and the pilgrim has only two seamless wrappers to cover himself. The other important requirement is making circuits round the Ka‘bah, called ṭawāf, and running between the Safa and the Marwah, called sa‘y, and both these are external manifestations of that fire of Divine love which has been kindled within the heart, so that like the true lover, the pilgrim makes circuits round the house of his beloved One.