Surah Al-Tawbah was revealed allowing military confrontation

Q 2: Why Surah Al-Tawbah does not start with Basmalah (saying, “Bismillah Al-Rahman, Al-Rahim [In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful]”)?


A: Different opinions are held for the reason why there is no Basmalah in the beginning of this Surah. Al-Nasa'y reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said: I asked `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him), saying “What made you put Al-Anfal which is one of the Mathany (Surahs containing less than one hundred Ayahs), next to Bara’ah (Al-Tawbah), which is one of the Mi’in (Surahs containing one hundred Ayahs), without writing the line ‘Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim’ in between them and you put it with the rest of Al-Sab‘ Al-Tiwal (the long seven Surahs)? What made you do so?” `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) replied, “There was a time when the Surahs that have a large number of Ayahs were revealed to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) who used to call his scribes upon their revelation and tell them, ‘Put these Ayahs in the Surah where such-and-such is mentioned.’ And when an Ayah was revealed to him, he (peace be upon him) would also say, ‘Put this Ayah in the Surah where such-and-such is mentioned.’ Al-Anfal was one of the first Surahs that were revealed in Madinah, whereas Bara’ah (Al-Tawbah) was among the last revealed of the Qur’an. Its content was similar to that of Al-Anfal, therefore I thought that it was part of it. Moreover, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) died without clarifying for us whether it was indeed part of it; therefore, I put them next to one another, and I did not write the line ‘Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim’ between them, and I put it (Al-Tawbah) among Al-Sab‘ Al-Tiwal.” (Part No. 4; Page No. 224) It was also reported by Abu ‘Isa Al-Tirmidhy who classified it as Hasan (a Hadith whose chain of narration contains a narrator with weak exactitude, but is free from eccentricity or blemish.) `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: I asked `Aly ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him), “Why is not the Basmalah written in the beginning of Surah Bara’ah?” He replied, “Because ‘Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim [In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful]’ grants security, whereas Bara’ah was sent down with the command of fighting (the Mushrikin: those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity or worship), with no (longer) security (treaty).” Another narration is reported from Al-Mubarrid to the same effect. Al-Mubarrid remarks: “Basmalah was not written between the two Surahs because ‘Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim’ is mercy, whereas Surah Bara’ah was revealed denoting Allah’s Wrath (upon the hypocrites and disbelievers). The same view is attributed to Sufyan. Sufyan ibn `Uyaynah states: “Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim [In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful]’ is not written in the beginning of this Surah, because Tasmiyah (saying, ‘Bismillah [In the Name of Allah]’) is mercy and mercy is safety. This Surah was revealed regarding the hypocrites, with the command of fighting, and hypocrites should not be granted security.” (Part No. 4; Page No. 225) The correct view, however, is that Basmalah was not written because angel Jibril (Gabriel, peace be upon him) was not commissioned with revealing it in this Surah. This view is held by Al-Qushayry. The above elaboration is adapted from Tafsir Al-Qurtuby for the beginning of Surah Bara’ah (Al-Tawbah). For further elaboration, you may refer to Tafsir Ibn Kathir for Surah Bara’ah.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.

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