At-Tawba 29

Verse 29 of chapter 9 of the Qur'an is notable as dealing with the imposition of tribute (ǧizya) on non-Muslims who have fallen under Muslim rule (the ahl al-ḏimma). Most Muslim commentators believe this verse was revealed at the time of the expedition to Tabuk.[1]:239-240


Different translations of the verse read as:[2]

Sahih International: Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

Reformist Translation: Fight those who do not acknowledge God nor the Last day among the people who received the book; they do not forbid what God and His messenger have forbidden, and they do not uphold the system of truth; until they pay the reparation, in humility.

Muhsin Khan: Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Pickthall: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

Yusuf Ali: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Dr. Ghali: Fight the ones who do not believe in Allah nor in the Last Day, and do not prohibit whatever Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, and do not practice (Literally: to have as a religion) the religion of Truth-from among the ones to whom the Book was brought-until they give the tax out of hand (i.e., by a ready money payment, or in token of submission) and have been belittled..


Broadly speaking this verse has been interpreted in multiple ways, differing primarily on the question of which group of non-Muslims are being commanded to be fought.[citation needed] One interpretation, supported by Maududi, includes generally all non-Muslims in this group.[3] Ibn Kathir writes, "Allah the Exalted encourages the believers to fight the polytheists, disbelieving Jews and Christians, who uttered this terrible statement [mentioned in Q9:30] and utter lies against Allah, the Exalted."[4] The second interpretation limits this verse to the context of the Tabuk expedition which was a self-defence army movement by the Muslims in response to rumours of a potential attack by the Byzantine Empire; therefore, only the belligerent Byzantines or others who act in similar aggression against the Muslims are the targets of this verse. Another interpretation, forwarded by Ghamidi in line with his general views on Islamic Jihad and Itmam al-Hujjah, limits the application of this verse to only the Muslim Prophet's non-Muslim addresses who lived in his time and region.[5]

After mentioning the diverse array of interpretations, the influential scholar Al-Rāzī (d. 606/1210) quotes an early exegetical authority, Abū Rawq (d. 140/757), who said that this verse was not a unilateral condemnation of all Jews and Christians, but those "who do not heed the prescriptions contained in the Torah and the Gospel, respectively", while the famous Andalusian scholar al-Qurṭubī (d. 671/1273) "did not read into Qur’ān 9:29 a wholesale denunciation of the People of the Book as an undifferentiated collectivity."[1]:278-279

The modern Salafi reformist scholar, Muḥammad ‘Abduh (d. 1323/1905), "notes that most commentators are agreed that it was revealed on the occasion of the military campaign in Tabuk, and this verse specifically deals with the People of the Book", and also that "the only kind of legitimate war on which there is unanimity among Muslim scholars is the defensive war when proclaimed by the Imām in the event of an attack upon Muslim territory".[1]:239-240 One of his disciples, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar from 1935 to 1945, Mustafa Al-Maraghi, explains that 9:29 means: "fight those mentioned when the conditions which necessitate fighting are present, namely, aggression against you or your country, oppression and persecution against you on account of your faith, or threatening your safety and security, as was committed against you by the Byzantines, which was what lead to Tabuk."[6]


Allameh Tabatabaei, a Shia scholar, commenting on a hadith that claims that the above verse has "abrogated" other verses asking for good behaviour toward dhimmis, states that "abrogation" could be understood either in its terminological sense or its literal sense. If "abrogation" is understood in its terminological sense, Muslims should deal with dhimmis strictly in a good and decent manner.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Asma Afsaruddin, Striving in the Path of God: Jihad and Martyrdom in Islamic Thought, OUP USA (2013)
  2. ^ at-Taubah 9:29.
  3. ^ Maududi, Sayyid Abul Ala. "9. Surah At Taubah (The Repentance)". Tafhim al-Qur'an.
  4. ^ Ibn Kathir, Alama Imad ud Din. "Surah Al Tawbah". Tafsir Ibn Kathir.
  5. ^ Ghamidi, Javed Ahmad. "9. Al-Tawbah". Al-Bayan.
  6. ^ Mustafa, al-Maraghi. Tafsir al-Maraghi. 10. p. 95.
  7. ^ Tafsir al-Mizan[failed verification] Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine on verses 2:83-88, Allameh Tabatabaei