Surah Muhammad Ayat 4 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 4
So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah – never will He waste their deeds.
Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah’s Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.
When you meet the unbelievers (in battle), smite their necks until you have crushed them, then bind your captives firmly; thereafter (you are entitled to) set them free, either by an act of grace, or against ransom, until the war ends. That is for you to do. If Allah had so willed, He would have Himself exacted retribution from them. (But He did not do so) that He may test some of you by means of others. As for those who are slain in the way of Allah, He shall never let their works go to waste.
So, when you meet (in fight Jihad in Allah’s Cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islam), until the war lays down its burden. Thus [you are ordered by Allah to continue in carrying out Jihad against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam (i.e. are saved from the punishment in the Hell-fire) or at least come under your protection], but if it had been Allah’s Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost,
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain.
So when you meet the ones who have disbelieved, then it is striking of the necks until, when you have subjugated (Wrongly understood by Arberry and others to mean “slaughter”) them, then uphold the bonds; (i.e., take them captives) then (it is) either being bounteous (i.e., “showing” bounty by setting them free) hereafter (to them), or (exacting) ransom, until the war lays down its encumbrances. So it shall be; and if Allah had (so) decided, He would have vindicated Himself upon them; but that He may try some of you by means of others (Literally: by means of some “others”). And the ones who have been killed in the way of Allah, then He will never send their deeds into error.
When you meet the disbelievers in battle, strike them in the neck, and once they are defeated, bind any captives firmly––later you can release them by grace or by ransom––until the toils of war have ended. That [is the way]. God could have defeated them Himself if He had willed, but His purpose is to test some of you by means of others. He will not let the deeds of those who are killed for His cause come to nothing;
Quran 47 Verse 4 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Muhammad ayat 4, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(47:4) When you meet the unbelievers (in battle), smite their necks until you have crushed them, then bind your captives firmly; thereafter (you are entitled to) set them free, either by an act of grace, or against ransom, until the war ends. That is for you to do. If Allah had so willed, He would have Himself exacted retribution from them. (But He did not do so) that He may test some of you by means of others. As for those who are slain in the way of Allah, He shall never let their works go to waste.
8. The words of this verse as well as the context in which it occurs clearly show that it was sent down after the revelation of the command for fighting and before the actual fighting began. The words, “So when you meet (in battle) those who disbelieve”, indicate that the fighting has not yet taken place and the Muslims are being instructed that when it does take place, what they should do.
The words of (verse 20)below testify that this Surah was sent down at a time when the command for fighting had already been given in (Surah Al-Hajj, Ayat 39) and (Surah Al- Baqarah Ayat 190), and the hypocrites of Madinah and the people of the weak faith had been so upset that it seemed as if they were actually facing death.
Besides,(verses 67-69 of Surah Al-Anfal) also testify that this verse had been sent down before the Battle of Badr. There it has been said:
It does not behoove a Prophet to have captives until he has crushed down the enemies in the land. You desire the gains of this world, but Allah desires the Hereafter, and Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise. Had not a decree already been issued by Allah, you would have incurred a severe chastisement in consequence of what you have done. So eat of what you have taken as spoils because it is lawful and pure.
A careful study of this passage shows that what had displeased Allah on this occasion was that before crushing down the enemy completely in the Battle of Badr, the Muslims had started taking the enemy soldiers as captives, whereas the instruction given to them in Surah Muhammad before the actual fighting was this: When you have crushed them completely, then bind the captives tight. However, as the Muslims had been permitted, among other things in Surah Muhammad, to accept ransom from the prisoners, Allah declared the money taken from the captives of Badr as lawful and did not punish them for that. The words: Had not the decree already been issued by Allah, are clearly pointing to the fact that the command for permission to accept ransom had already been given in the Quran before this event, and obviously, there is no other verse in the Quran beside this verse of Surah Muhammad, which contains this command. Therefore, it will have to be admitted that this verse had been sent down before the above cited verse of the Surah Al-Anfal (For explanation, see (E.N. 49 on Surah Al-Anfal).
This is the first verse of the Quran in which preliminary instructions have been given about the laws of war. Below is given a resume of the injunctions that are derived from this verse and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) and his companions’ practice according to it and the juristic inferences as based on this verse and the Sunnah:
(1) The real aim of the Muslim army in war is to break the fighting power of the enemy until it is crushed and the war lays down its arms. Under no circumstances, should the Muslim’s lose sight of this aim and start taking the enemy soldiers as captives. Captives should be taken after the enemy has been completely crushed and its numbers thinned down. The Arabs have been so instructed at the outset lest in the greed for ransom and taking slaves they should forget and overlook the real aim of the war.
(2) About the prisoners taken in war it has been said: You have the option whether you show them favor or accept ransom from them. This gives the general law that the prisoners of war should not be put to death. Abdullah bin Umar, Hasan Basri, Ata and Hammad bin Abi Sulaiman favor this view, which is quite valid. They say that a man can be killed only during the war. When the war is over and one has been made a prisoner, it is not lawful to kill him, Ibn Jarir and Abu Bakr alJassas have related that Hajjaj bin Yousuf handed over one of the prisoners of war to Abdullah bin Umar and commanded him to put him to death. He refused to obey and cited this verse and said: We are not allowed to kill a man when he is a prisoner. Imam Muhammad in As-Siyat al-Kabir also has related that Abdullah bin Amir had commanded Abdullah bin Umar to kill a prisoner of war, and he had refused to obey the command for this reason.
(3) But since in this verse it has neither been clearly forbidden to kill the prisoner, the Prophet (peace be upon him) understood this intention of Allah’s command, and also acted accordingly, that if there was a special reason for which the ruler of an Islamic government regarded it as necessary to kill a particular prisoner (or prisoners), he could do so. This is not the general law, but an exception to it, which would be applied only when necessary. Thus, the Prophet (peace be upon him) put to death only Uqbah bin Abi Muait and Nadr bin al-Harith from among the 70 prisoners taken at Badr, and only the poet Abu Azzah from the prisoners taken at Uhud. Since the Bani Quraizah had surrendered on the condition that they would accept whatever decision Hadrat Saad bin Muadh would give in their regard, and he had decreed that all the males of the Quraizah should be killed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) had them executed. From among the prisoners taken at Khaiber only Kinanah bin Abi al-Huqaiq was put to death because of his violating the agreement. At the conquest of Makkah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded in respect of only a few particular persons from among all the inhabitants of Makkah that any one of them who was captured should be put to death. Apart from these exceptions, the Prophet (peace be upon him) never killed prisoners of war, and the same also continued to be the practice of the righteous Caliphs. During their times also killing of prisoners of war was rare, which was resorted to only for a special reason. Umar bin Abdul Aziz also during his caliphate put to death only one prisoner of war for the reason that he had persecuted the Muslims very cruelly. On this very basis the majority of the jurists have held the view that the Islamic government can put a prisoner to death if necessary. But it is for the government to take such a decision; a soldier is not permitted to kill any prisoner he likes. However, if there is the danger of a prisoner’s running away or of his committing a dangerous mischief, the guard can kill him. In this connection, the jurists of Islam have also made three other points: (a) That if a prisoner accepts Islam, he cannot be killed; (b) that the prisoner can be killed only as long as he is in the government’s custody; if he has been allotted to, or given in somebody else’s possession by sale, he cannot be killed; and (c) that if the prisoner has to be killed, he should be killed in a straightforward way; he should not be tortured to death.
(4) The general command that has been given about the prisoners of war is: Show them favor, or accept ransom from them. Favor includes four things: (a) That they should be treated well as prisoners; (b) that instead of killing them or keeping them in captivity for lifetime, they should be handed over to the individual Muslims as slaves; (c) that they should be put under jizyah and made dhimmis; and (d) that they should be set free without ransom.
There are three ways of ransoming them: (a) That they should be set free on payment of a ransom; (b) that they should be set free after taking some special service from them; and (c) that they should be exchanged for the Muslim prisoners of war who are in the possession of the enemy. The Prophet (peace be upon him) and the companions at different times acted in one or the other way as the occasion demanded. The divine law has
4. So, when you meet those who disbelieve (in battle), smite (their) necks until you have fully defeated them, then tighten their bonds. Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity or ransom, until the war lays down its burden. Thus, and had Allah so willed, He could have taken vengeance against them;–but (He lets you struggle) so as to test with one another. But those who are killed in the way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost. 5. He will guide them and amend their condition. 6. And admit them to Paradise, which He has made known to them. 7. O you who believe! If you support (in the cause of) Allah, He will support you, and make your foothold firm. 8. But as for those who disbelieve, misery awaits them, and (Allah) will make their deeds vain. 9. That is because they hate that which Allah has sent down; so He has made their deeds fruitless.
Guiding the believers to what they should employ in their fights against the idolators, Allah says,
(So, when you meet those who disbelieve (in battle), smite their necks) which means, `when you fight against them, cut them down totally with your swords.’
(until you have fully defeated them,) meaning, `you have killed and utterly destroyed them.’
(tighten their bonds.) `This is referring to the prisoners of war whom you have captured. Later on, after the war ends and the conflict has ceased, you have a choice in regard to the captives: You may either act graciously toward them by setting them free without charge, or free them for a ransom that you require from them.’ It appears that this Ayah was revealed after the battle of Badr. At that time, Allah reproached the believers for sparing many of the enemy’s soldiers, and holding too many captives in order to take ransom from them. So He said then:
(It is not for a Prophet to have captives of war until he had made a great slaughter (among the enemies) in the land. You desire the commodities of this world, but Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter. Allah is Mighty and Wise. Were it not for a prior decree from Allah, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took.) (8:67-68) Allah’s saying,
(…until the war lays down its burden.) Mujahid said: “Until `Isa bin Maryam (peace be upon him) descends.” It seems as if he derived this opinion from the Prophet’s saying,
(There will always be a group of my Ummah victorious upon the truth, until the last of them fight against Ad-Dajjal.) Imam Ahmad recorded from Jubayr bin Nufayr who reported from Salamah bin Nufayl that he went to the Messenger of Allah and said, “I have let my horse go, and thrown down my weapon, for the war has ended. There is no more fighting.” Then the Prophet said to him,
(Now the time of fighting has come. There will always be a group of my Ummah dominant over others. Allah will turn the hearts of some people away (from the truth), so they (that group) will fight against them, and Allah will bestow on them (war spoils) from them (the enemies) — until Allah’s command comes to pass while they are in that state. Verily, the center of the believers’ abode is Ash-Sham. And goodness is tied around the horses’ foreheads till the Day of Resurrection.) An-Nasa’i also recorded this narration. Allah then says,
(Thus, and had Allah so willed, He could have taken vengeance against them;) which means that had He so willed, He could have taken immediate vengeance against the disbelievers with a chastisement or exemplary punishment directly from Him.
(but (He lets you struggle) so as to test with one another.) meaning, He has ordered Jihad and fighting against the enemies in order to try you and test your affairs. Allah also expresses His wisdom by the legislation of Jihad in the following two Surahs, Al `Iman and At-Tawbah, in which He says,
(Or did you think that you would enter the Paradise before Allah had made evident those of you who fight in His cause and made evident those who are steadfast) (3:142)
(Fight them; Allah will then punish them by your hands, disgrace them, grant you victory over them, satisfy the breasts of a believing people, and remove the fury of their (the believers’) hearts. Allah turns in forgiveness to whom He wills; Allah is Knowing and Wise.) ( 9:14-15)
Since it is customary during wars that many of the believers die, Allah says:
(But those who are killed in the way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost.) which means that He would not let their good deeds go to waste, but would rather multiply and increase them. Some of them will continue being rewarded for their good deeds for the entire length of their stay in Al-Barzakh. This has been mentioned in a Hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad on the authority of Kathir bin Murrah, who reported from Qays Al-Judhami, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah’s Messenger said,
(As the first drop of his blood gushes forth, a martyr is granted six merits: all of his sins are forgiven, he is shown his place in Paradise, he is married to wide-eyed Huris, he is secured from the great fear (on Judgement Day) and the torment of the grave, and he is adorned with the adornments of Iman.) Ahmad was alone in recording this Hadith. Abu Ad-Darda’, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that Allah’s Messenger said,
(A martyr is allowed to intercede for seventy members of his household. ) This was recorded by Abu Dawud, and there are numerous other Hadiths mentioning the merits of the martyrs. As for Allah’s saying,
(He will guide them) meaning, He will guide them to Jannah. This is similar to Allah’s saying,
(Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous good deeds, their Lord will guide them because of their Faith: beneath them rivers will flow in the Gardens of Pleasure.) (10:9) Allah says,
(and amend their condition.) meaning, their situation and affairs.
(And (He will) admit them to Paradise, which He has made known to them.) It means that He has acquainted them with Paradise and guided them to it. Mujahid said: “The people of Paradise will be guided to their houses and dwellings and whatever sections Allah has ordained for them in it. They will not make mistakes in this, nor will they ask anyone for directions to their dwellings — as if they had dwelt in it from the time they were first created.” Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah’s Messenger said,
(After the believers securely pass the Fire (on the Day of Judgement), they will be held back upon a bridge between Paradise and the Fire. There, they will have any acts of injustice that they committed against one another in the life of this world rectified. After they are completely purified and cleansed (from injustice), they will be admitted into Paradise. By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, each one of them will find his way to his dwelling in Paradise better than he found his way to his dwelling in the worldly life.)
Allah then says:
(O you who believe! If you support (the cause of) Allah, He will support you and make your foothold firm.) This is similar to His saying,
(Indeed, Allah will surely support those who support Him (His cause).) (22:40) That is because the reward is comparable to the type of deed that is performed. Thus, Allah says here,
(and make your foothold firm.) Allah then says,
(But as for those who disbelieve — misery awaits them) This misery is the opposite of making firm the footholds of the believers who support the cause of Allah and His Messenger . It has been confirmed in a Hadith that Allah’s Messenger said,
(Misery awaits the servant of the Dinar; misery awaits the servant of the Dirham; misery awaits the servant of velvet. Misery awaits him, and degeneracy; and if he is pricked by a thorn, may he not find anyone to pull it for him.) This means may Allah not cure him. Then Allah says,
(and (Allah) will make their deeds vain.) meaning, He will nullify them and make them fruitless. Thus, Allah says,
(That is because they hate that which Allah has sent down;) which means that they did not want or like what Allah revealed.
(so He made their deeds fruitless.)
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