English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 9: Al-Taubah / Al-Baraat — The Immunity (Revealed at Madinah: 16 sections, 129 verses)

Section 6 (Verses 9:38–9:42): The Tabuk Expedition


یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا مَا لَکُمۡ اِذَا قِیۡلَ لَکُمُ انۡفِرُوۡا فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ اثَّاقَلۡتُمۡ اِلَی الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ اَرَضِیۡتُمۡ بِالۡحَیٰوۃِ الدُّنۡیَا مِنَ الۡاٰخِرَۃِ ۚ فَمَا مَتَاعُ الۡحَیٰوۃِ الدُّنۡیَا فِی الۡاٰخِرَۃِ اِلَّا قَلِیۡلٌ ﴿۳۸﴾

9:38 O you who believe, what (excuse) have you that when it is said to you, Go forth in Allah’s way, you should incline heavily to earth? Are you contented with this world’s life instead of the Hereafter? The provision of this world’s life is but little as compared with the Hereafter.1

اِلَّا تَنۡفِرُوۡا یُعَذِّبۡکُمۡ عَذَابًا اَلِیۡمًا ۬ۙ وَّ یَسۡتَبۡدِلۡ قَوۡمًا غَیۡرَکُمۡ وَ لَا تَضُرُّوۡہُ شَیۡئًا ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ عَلٰی کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ قَدِیۡرٌ ﴿۳۹﴾

9:39 If you do not go forth, He will punish you with a painful punishment, and bring in your place a people other than you, and you can do Him no harm.2 And Allah is Powerful over all things.

اِلَّا تَنۡصُرُوۡہُ فَقَدۡ نَصَرَہُ اللّٰہُ اِذۡ اَخۡرَجَہُ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا ثَانِیَ اثۡنَیۡنِ اِذۡ ہُمَا فِی الۡغَارِ اِذۡ یَقُوۡلُ لِصَاحِبِہٖ لَا تَحۡزَنۡ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ مَعَنَا ۚ فَاَنۡزَلَ اللّٰہُ سَکِیۡنَتَہٗ عَلَیۡہِ وَ اَیَّدَہٗ بِجُنُوۡدٍ لَّمۡ تَرَوۡہَا وَ جَعَلَ کَلِمَۃَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوا السُّفۡلٰی ؕ وَ کَلِمَۃُ اللّٰہِ ہِیَ الۡعُلۡیَا ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ عَزِیۡزٌ حَکِیۡمٌ ﴿۴۰﴾

9:40 If you do not help him, Allah certainly helped him when those who disbelieved expelled him — he being the second of the two; when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion: Do not grieve, surely Allah is with us.3 So Allah sent down His tranquillity on him and strengthened him with forces which you did not see, and made lowest the word of those who disbelieved. And the word of Allah, that is the uppermost. And Allah is Mighty, Wise.

اِنۡفِرُوۡا خِفَافًا وَّ ثِقَالًا وَّ جَاہِدُوۡا بِاَمۡوَالِکُمۡ وَ اَنۡفُسِکُمۡ فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ ؕ ذٰلِکُمۡ خَیۡرٌ لَّکُمۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۴۱﴾

9:41 Go forth, light and heavy,4 and strive hard in Allah’s way with your wealth and your lives. This is better for you, if you know.

لَوۡ کَانَ عَرَضًا قَرِیۡبًا وَّ سَفَرًا قَاصِدًا لَّاتَّبَعُوۡکَ وَ لٰکِنۡۢ بَعُدَتۡ عَلَیۡہِمُ الشُّقَّۃُ ؕ وَ سَیَحۡلِفُوۡنَ بِاللّٰہِ لَوِ اسۡتَطَعۡنَا لَخَرَجۡنَا مَعَکُمۡ ۚ یُہۡلِکُوۡنَ اَنۡفُسَہُمۡ ۚ وَ اللّٰہُ یَعۡلَمُ اِنَّہُمۡ لَکٰذِبُوۡنَ ﴿٪۴۲﴾

9:42 If it had been a near gain and a short journey, they would certainly have followed you, but the hard journey was too long for them.5 And they will swear by Allah: If we had been able, we would have gone forth with you. They cause their own souls to perish; and Allah knows that they are liars.


  1. This refers to the expedition of Tabūk, which was undertaken in the middle of 9 A.H. owing to the threatening attitude of the Roman Empire. There were many hindrances to the raising of an army sufficient to meet the strong forces of the Roman Empire, the main ones being: a great drought, the length of the journey to Syria, the ripening of the fruits which were now ready to be gathered, the heat, and the organization and power of the Roman army. In spite of all these difficulties 30,000 men gathered round the Holy Prophet’s banner.
  2. The reference here and in what follows is to certain men, who, while professing belief, hesitated to accept the Holy Prophet’s call to get ready for the expedition.
  3. This refers to the Holy Prophet’s flight from Makkah, when he was forced to hide himself in a cave called Thaur, about three miles from Makkah, with only one companion, Abu Bakr, “the second of the two”. The believers are told that Allah saved the Prophet from the hands of his enemies when he had just one companion amidst a whole nation of enemies, and that Allah would help him now.
  4. That is, whether it is easy or difficult for you to proceed or whether you are sufficiently armed or not.
  5. Tabūk was midway between Madinah and Damascus. The Arabs were accustomed to fighting near home; hence, the distance was one of the chief con­si­derations which held back those who were insincere.