Al-Quran Surah 9. At-Tauba, Ayah 118

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وَعَلَى الثَّلَاثَةِ الَّذِينَ خُلِّفُوا حَتَّىٰ إِذَا ضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَرْضُ بِمَا رَحُبَتْ وَضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ أَنْفُسُهُمْ وَظَنُّوا أَنْ لَا مَلْجَأَ مِنَ اللَّهِ إِلَّا إِلَيْهِ ثُمَّ تَابَ عَلَيْهِمْ لِيَتُوبُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ


Asad : And [He turned in His mercy, too,] towards the three [groups of believers] who had fallen prey to corruption,155 until in the end - after the earth, despite all its vastness, had become [too] narrow for them and their souls had become [utterly] constricted - they came to know with certainty that there is no refuge from God other than [a return] unto Him; and thereupon He turned again unto them in His mercy, so that they might repent: for, verily, God alone is an acceptor of repentance, a dispenser of grace.156
Khattab :

And ˹Allah has also turned in mercy to˺ the three who had remained behind, ˹whose guilt distressed them˺ until the earth, despite its vastness, seemed to close in on them, and their souls were torn in anguish. They knew there was no refuge from Allah except in Him. Then He turned to them in mercy so that they might repent. Surely Allah ˹alone˺ is the Accepter of Repentance, Most Merciful.

Malik : He also turned in mercy to the three, the decision of whose case was deferred. So despondent were they that the earth, with all its vastness, and their own souls, seemed to close in upon them. They knew for certain that there was no refuge from Allah except in Him. Then He turned to them in mercy so that they could repent. Surely Allah is the One Who is Oft-Returning, the Merciful.
Pickthall : And to the three also (did He turn in mercy) who were left behind: when the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for them, and their own souls were straitened for them till they bethought them that there is no refuge from Allah save toward Him. Then turned He unto them in mercy that they (too) might turn (repentant unto Him). Lo! Allah! He is the Relenting, the Merciful.
Yusuf Ali : (He turned in mercy also) to the three who were left Behind: (they felt guilty) to such a degree that the earth seemed constrained to them for all its speciousness and their (very) souls seemed straitened to them and they perceived that there is no fleeing from Allah and no refuge but to Himself. Then He turned to them that they might repent: for Allah is Oft-Returning Most Merciful. 1370
Transliteration : WaAAala alththalathati allatheena khullifoo hatta itha daqat AAalayhimu alardu bima rahubat wadaqat AAalayhim anfusuhum wathannoo an la maljaa mina Allahi illa ilayhi thumma taba AAalayhim liyatooboo inna Allaha huwa alttawwabu alrraheemu
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Asad   
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Asad 155 Or: "had been left behind", i.e., at the time of the expedition to Tabuk. My rendering of alladhina khullifu as "those who had fallen prey to corruption" is based on the tropical meaning of the verb khalufa or khullifa, "he was [or "became"] altered [for the worse]", or "he became corrupt" in the moral sense (see Asas, Nihayah, Lisan al-'Arab, Qamus, Taj al-'Arus). This interpretation of alladhina khullifu - applying, in the above context, to those who remained behind under false pretences - has the support of some of the most outstanding Arab philologists, e.g., 'Abd al-Malik al-Asma'i (as quoted by Razi, in his commentary on verse {83} of this surah). - As regards "the three who had fallen prey to corruption", the clasical commentators assume that it is a reference to three persons - namely, Ka'b ibn Malik, Mararah ibn ar-Rabi' and Hilal ibn Umayyah (all of them from among the ansar) - who abstained from the campaign and were thereafter ostracized by the Prophet and his Companions until the revelation of the above verse. But while it is historically established that these three Companions were indeed among the believers who thus failed in their duty (the relevant Traditions will be found in extenso in Tabari's and Ibn Kathir's commentaries on this verse), it seems to me that the context does not warrant such a restriction of its meaning to three particular persons, and that by "the three" are meant three groups of erring believers: (1) those who had advanced equivocal excuses and were thereupon permitted by the Prophet to remain at home (as has been alluded to in verses {43-46} as well as in the first sentence of verse {90}); (2) those who absented themselves without permission, but afterwards spontaneously repented their sin (verses {102-105}); and (3) those whose cases were at first "deferred" (verse {106}), and who repented shortly after the Prophet's return from Tabuk (at which time verse {118} was revealed).
Asad   
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Asad 156 In its wider implication - as contrasted with a purely historical allusion - the above verse relates to all believers who temporarily deviate from the right path and then, after having realized - either spontaneously or in consequence of outside reprobation - that they had "fallen prey to corruption", sincerely repent their sin.

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Yusuf Ali   
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Yusuf Ali 1370 Left behind: i.e., the acceptance of their repentance was delayed. Among the Faithful, the largest number consisted of those who were perfectly staunch and ever ready to do their duty. They obtained the love and good pleasure of Allah. Next came a few who wavered because their will was weak and they were daunted by the dangers and difficulties that faced them; Allah's saving grace protected them and they conquered their weakness, and did not fail in their duty; Allah forgave them and accepted their repentance. Lastly, in the illustration taken from the Tabuk affair, there were some who actually failed in their duty, not from contumacy or ill-will, but from thoughtlessness, slackness, and human weakness: they actually failed to obey the Holy Prophet's summons, and were naturally called on to explain, and were excluded from the life of the Community. Their mental state is here described graphically. Though the earth is spacious, to them it was constrained. In their own souls they had a feeling of constraint. In worldly affluence they felt poor in spirit. They realised that they could not flee from Allah, but could only find solace and refuge in coming back to Him. They freely repented and showed it in their deeds, and Allah freely forgave them and took them to His grace. Though illustrated by the particular examples of Ka'b, Mararah and Hilal, the lesson is perfectly general and is good for all times.

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