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Period of Revelation

The Surah was revealed after the treaty of Hudeybiyah and before the conquest of Makkah.

Major Issues, Divine Laws and Guidance
  1. Do not befriend with those who are the enemies of Allah and the Muslims.
  2. The Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) and his companions are an excellent example for the believers.
  3. Exception to the prohibition of friendship with unbelievers is made for those who had neither fought against the believers nor expelled them from their homes.
  4. For women that become believers, test their Iman, and if you find them truthful do not return them to their unbelieving husbands.
  5. Women's Bai'ah (oath of allegiance) in Islam is based on their commitment that they will not commit shirk, they will not steal, they will not commit adultery, they will not kill their children, they will not give any cause for scandal and that they will not disobey the Prophet.

The detail of three issues on which this Surah provided guidance:

  1. A strong exception is taken to the act of Sayyiduna Hatib bin Abi Balta'a who, a little before the conquest of Makkah, had sent a secret letter to the Qureysh chiefs informing them of the Prophet's intention to attack them. He had tried to inform the enemy of a very important war secret of the Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) only for the sake of safe guarding his family. This would have caused great bloodshed at the conquest of Makkah had it not been made ineffective in time. It would have cost the Muslims many precious lives; many of the Qureysh would have been killed, many of whom would have rendered great services to Islam afterward; the gains which were to accrue from conquering Makkah peacefully would have been lost. All of these serious losses would have resulted only because one of the Muslims had wanted to safeguard his family from the dangers of war. Administering a severe warning at this blunder Allah has taught the believers the lesson that no believer should, under any circumstances and for any motive, have relations of love and friendship with the disbelievers who are actively hostile to Islam, and a believer should refrain from everything which might be helpful to them in the conflict between Islam and disbelief. However, there is no harm in dealing kindly and justly with those disbelievers who may not be practically engaged in hostile activities against Islam and the persecution of the Muslims.
  2. A very serious social problem is addressed which was agitating the minds of the Muslims at that time. There were many Muslim women in Makkah, whose husbands were pagans, but they were emigrating and reaching Madinah somehow. The second relates to the Muslim women who had started emigrating from Makkah to Madinah after the conclusion of the Truce of Hudeybiyah. The problem arose whether they also were to be returned to the disbelievers, like the Muslim men, according to the conditions of the truce. Likewise, there were many Muslim men in Madinah whose wives were pagans and had been left behind in Makkah. The question arose whether the marriage bond between them continued to be valid or not. Allah settled this problem forever, saying that the pagan husband is not lawful for the Muslim woman, nor the pagan wife lawful for the Muslim husband.
  3. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) has been instructed to ask the women who accept Islam to pledge that they would refrain from the major evils that were prevalent among the womenfolk of the pre-Islamic Arab society, and to promise that they would henceforth follow the ways of goodness which the Rasool of Allah may enjoin.