Year of Jubilee – not a special tax on non-Muslims

Analysis and interpretation of 9:36-37

The Traditionalist is ever straining to gain seeming legitimacy for his non-Qur’anic material; one of the ways he achieves this is by asserting explanations for parts of the Qur’an which originate in his non-Qur’anic material and then claiming that one is unable to understand the text without accepting the conclusions which he assumes. He then insists everyone else assume his conclusions also and derides those who cannot find support for his conclusions within the text alone for not trusting to his non-Qur’anic sources. Along with particularising the general, this is one of his commonest strategies.

At the verses under discussion here, the Traditionalist attempts again to insert himself into the process since – according to him – there are four special months mentioned in the Qur’an, and without him and his extraneous set of histories created centuries after the fact, it is impossible to understand which months are meant.

The Qur’an poses many challenges. The muqaṭṭaʿāt is a extreme example; lesser examples are found at verses 89:1-5, chapter 97, and confirmation of the ḥūr ʿīn and kawāʿib. Given the progress made in this work in these cases, it is perhaps not unreasonable or presumptuous to apply ourselves to 9:36-37 also.

I am not going to argue against the Traditionalist’s claims per se. His foundations have no validity in my view; if one wishes to understand him and his reasoning, it is best to ask him directly.

The question which will be examined here is whether it is possible to gain a robust, sustainable understanding of these verses based upon Qur’anic data. It is then a question for the individual student to decide which argument he finds more convincing.

The Traditionalist’s understanding of 9:36-37 in summary

The Traditionalist’s understanding (given expression by Saheeh International) of 9:36-37 is found below:

Indeed, the number of months with Allāh is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allāh [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion [i.e., way], so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allāh is with the righteous [who fear Him]. (9:36)

Indeed, the postponing [of restriction within sacred months] is an increase in disbelief by which those who have disbelieved are led [further] astray. They make it lawful one year and unlawful another year to correspond to the number made unlawful by Allāh and [thus] make lawful what Allāh has made unlawful. Made pleasing to them is the evil of their deeds; and Allāh does not guide the disbelieving people. (9:37)

If one reads the Traditionalist’s commentaries at this point one finds material (all of which derives from the ḥadīth, naturally) along the lines of that which has been added – one presumes posthumously – to Abdul Yusuf Ali’s translation by an editor at verse 9:36:

This and the following verse must be read together. They condemn the arbitrary and selfish conduct of the Pagan Arabs, who, because there was a long-established custom of observing four months as those in which fighting was forbidden, changed the months about or added or deducted months when it suited them, to get an unfair advantage over the enemy. The four Prohibited Months were: Dhu al Qa’dah, Dhu al Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab. If it suited them they postponed one of these months, and so a prohibited month became an ordinary month: while their opponents might hesitate to fight, they got an undue advantage. It also upset the security of the Month of Pilgrimage. This very ancient usage made for fair dealing all round, and its infraction by the Pagans is condemned.

The question of a solar astronomical year as against the lunar Islamic year does not arise here. But it may be noted that the Arab year was roughly lunisolar like the Hindu year, the months being lunar and the intercalation of a month every three years brought the year nearly but not accurately up to the solar reckoning. From the year of the Farewell Pilgrimage (A.H. 10) the Islamic year was definitely fixed as a purely lunar year of roughly 354 days, the months being calculated by the actual appearance of the moon. After that, every month of the Islamic year came about 11 days earlier in the solar year, and thus the Islamic months travelled all round the seasons and the solar year.

The Muslims were at a disadvantage on account of their scruples about the Prohibited Months. They are told not to wrong themselves in this. If the Pagans fought in all months on one pretence or another, they were allowed to defend themselves in all months. But self-restraint was (as always) recommended as far as possible.

This, then, is a fair summary of the Traditionalist’s position. The central tenets of this position are useful to the Traditionalist since they presuppose a requirement for his offices as the arbiter and keeper of the details pursuant to this understanding (the religion known as Islam is wedded to a calendar which features the months cited above) the implication being that if we need him and his extraneous literature for thus much, then surely we must need him for more.

As ever, we need to work methodically and to present our evidence consistently. If the approach here seems perhaps fuller than the material merits, it is because the sheer number of years the Traditionalist’s interpretation of this segment has gone unchallenged puts the burden of evidence more heavily upon a rational approach than might otherwise be the case.

The process by which I demonstrate my case draws upon surrounding contexts, upon verses related to key terms, and upon derivative hermeneutical processes such as significant numbers of occurrences of particular words

Religious scholars

The context proper begins at 9:29 – and I recommend the student review the text from that point. In the interests of space, I will start at 9:34. My own translation (which differs little from the Traditionalist’s understanding here) reads:

O you who heed warning:
Many among the rabbis and the religious scholars consume the wealth of men in vanity
And forsake the path of God.
And those who amass gold and silver and spend it not for the cause of God:
Give thou them tidings of a painful punishment.
The day it will be heated in the fire of Hell
Then therewith will be branded their foreheads and their sides and their backs:
This is what you amassed for your souls:
Taste what you amassed! 
(9:34-35)

Thus, the backstory – or broader surrounding context – prior to the verses in question treats of stinginess and hoarding originating with the religious elite. This will prove significant later. By reviewing where the Arabic aḥbār (rendered in my work religious scholars) occurs at (5:44, 5:63, 9:31, 9:34), we gain a fuller understanding. These four instances are repeated below with their relevant contexts.

We sent down the Torah wherein is guidance and light.
The prophets who submitted judged thereby those who hold to Judaism
As did the men of God and the religious scholars with what they were given charge of from the law of God and were thereto witnesses.
Then fear not mankind but fear me
And sell not my proofs for a cheap price.
And whoso judges not by what God has sent down:
These are those who spurn guidance while claiming virtue. 
(5:44)

The next instance (5:63) requires its entire surrounding context to be understood:

Say thou: O doctors of the law:
Do you resent us save that we believe in God and what was sent down to us and what was sent down before
And that most of you are wantonly perfidious?
Say thou: Shall I inform you of worse than that as a recompense with God?
He whom God cursed and with whom he was wroth and made of them apes and swine
When he served idols
These are worse in standing and further astray from the evenness of the way.
And when they come to you they say: We believe.
But they entered in denial.
And they left in it.
And God knows best what they concealed.
And thou seest many of them compete in falsehood and enmity and their consumption of illicit gain.
Evil is what they did.
Oh that the rabbis and the religious scholars had but forbidden their speaking falsehood and their consumption of illicit gain!
Evil is what they wrought.
And the Rabbinic Jews say: The hand of God is fettered.
Fettered are their hands!
And cursed are they for what they say!
The truth is: his hands are spread wide.
He spends how he wills.
And there increases many of them in inordinacy and denial what was sent down to thee from thy lord.
And we have cast among them enmity and hatred until the Day of Resurrection.
Whenever they lit the fire of war God extinguished it.
And they strive in the land for corruption.
And God loves not the workers of corruption.
And had the doctors of the law believed and been in prudent fear
We would have removed their evil from them
And made them enter the gardens of bliss.
And had they upheld the Torah and the Gospel and what was sent down to them from their lord
They would have eaten from above them and from under their feet.
Among them is a prudent community.
But many of them, evil is what they do. 
(5:59-5:66)

Fight those who believe not in God or the Last Day
And make not unlawful what God and his messenger have made unlawful
And adhere not to the doctrine of truth
Among those in possession of the law
Until they make reparation under supervision when they are brought low.
And the Rabbinic Jews say:
ʿUzayr is the son of God.
And the Nazarenes say: The anointed one is the son of God.
That is the speech of their mouths.
They imitate the speech of those who were indifferent to warning before.
God damns them!
How are they deluded?
They take their rabbis and their religious scholars as lords rather than God
And the anointed one, son of Maryam
(And they are not commanded save to serve one god.
There is no god save he.
Glory be unto him above that to which they ascribe a partnership!)
Wishing to extinguish the light of God with their mouths.
And God refuses save that he perfect his light
Though those who spurn guidance while claiming virtue be averse.
He it is who sent his messenger with the guidance and the doctrine of truth
That he might make it manifest over every doctrine
Though the idolaters be averse.
O you who heed warning:
Many among the rabbis and the religious scholars consume the wealth of men in vanity
And forsake the path of God.
And those who amass gold and silver and spend it not for the cause of God:
Give thou them tidings of a painful punishment.
The day it will be heated in the fire of Hell
Then therewith will be branded their foreheads and their sides and their backs:
This is what you amassed for your souls:
Taste what you amassed! 
(9:29-35)

The topic in all cases is the responsibility of the ruling religious elite to implement the revelations they have from God and not to sell them ‘for a cheap price’ – a term which consistently treats of trading revelation for material gain – (2:41, 2:79, 2:174, 3:77, 3:187, 3:199, 5:44, 9:9, 16:95); the failure of that religious elite to implement the same (5:59-5:66) – again in a material regard; the responsibility of the believers to fight those among them who do not implement what ‘God and his messenger’ have made unlawful (the term ‘God and his messenger’ or ‘messengers’ cannot be claimed to refer exclusively to Muhammad – despite what the Traditionalist claims when it suits him – when reviewed on a pan-textual basis, but includes other prophets; cf. 2:279, 3:179, 4:13, 4:14, 4:100, 4:136, 4:150, 4:150, 4:152, 4:171, 5:33, 5:55, 5:56, 7:158, 8:1, 8:13, 8:13, 8:20, 8:27, 8:46, 9:1, 9:3, 9:16, 9:24, 9:29, 9:54, 9:59, 9:62, 9:63, 9:71, 9:74, 9:80, 9:84, 9:90, 9:91, 9:94, 9:107, 24:48, 24:50, 24:51, 24:52, 24:62, 24:62, 33:12, 33:22, 33:22, 33:29, 33:31, 33:33, 33:36, 33:36, 33:57, 33:71, 48:9, 48:13, 48:17, 49:1, 49:14, 49:15, 57:7, 57:19, 57:21, 58:4, 58:5, 58:13, 58:20, 58:22, 59:4, 59:7, 59:8, 61:11, 64:8, 72:23) until they make ‘reparation’ (Arabic: jizya) (9:29). This is followed by mention of the fact that the Rabbinic Jews and Nazarenes have usurped their respective revelations by means of their own inventions, taken their religious rulers in derogation to those revelations, and the ultimate futility of that policy (9:30-33). The segment closes with the statement that many among these same religious rulers ‘consume the wealth of men in vanity’ and a warning of the recompense in Hell for such people.

Thus, the subject matter throughout the set incontrovertibly treats of the wrong treatment of wealth vis-à-vis former revelations by the respective religious scholars of those former revelations.

We are now ready to look at the verses which form the primary topic under consideration.

My analysis of 9:36-37

We have summarised the Traditionalist’s assertions, and there is no need to rehearse them here. Suffice to say at this juncture that they bear no relationship to the immediate context other than in the mind of the Traditionalist – and only on a footing which assumes his conclusions and proceeds on that basis. Absent his assumptions and assertions, the facts on the page present a backstory which treats of the religious scholars of previous revelation.

Additionally, the verses under consideration contain the phrase ‘that is the right doctrine’. This expression occurs only three times in the Qur’an (9:36, 12:40, 30:30). In each case it is found either in close proximity to – and set in opposition to – ‘the idolaters’ (9:36, 30:30) or explicit mention of men serving other than God (12:40). Thus, the term ‘that is the right doctrine’ is found where it corrects doctrinal error.

But what doctrinal error pertaining to the religious scholars of previous revelation can the present text be correcting? The answer can only be: one pertaining to the count of time. We shall work through the segment methodically and explain our reasoning as we go.

Verse 9:36 opens:

The count of the moons is with God

The word ʿidda means count (in the sense of number) and is rendered typically by the Traditionalist thus (or by means of synonym) in this context.

The next word in Arabic is shuhūr and means moons (in the sense of months); the singular shuhr has two plurals (ashur and shuhūr); ashur is the plural form commonly found in the Qur’an; shuhūr found at 9:36 is the only instance of this form in the text. This suggests – to me at least – that we should pay particular attention at this point; when the Qur’an says ‘The count of the moons is with God’ using thereby a plural form of the word moon found nowhere else in the text, my sense is that one should begin counting – especially, given that what follows is a number:

Twelve moons were in the law of God the day he created the heavens and the earth.

I repeat: we are to anticipate that the segment is correcting a doctrinal point pertaining to the religious scholars of previous revelations; these facts give colour to the words ‘in the law of God’ (rendered commonly ‘in the book of God’ – Arabic: fī kitāb allah).

We will now work through the ‘count’ and see what it reveals.

The count: twelve moons

Pan-textual analysis of the word moon (i.e. shahr – moon, month) across the text reveals that it occurs precisely twelve times in the Qur’an in the singular noun form. The full list follows with plurals marked with asterisks and the dual marked with a D (2:185, 2:185, 2:194, 2:194, 2:197*, 2:217, 2:226*, 2:234*,4:92D, 5:2, 5:97, 9:2*, 9:5*, 9:36, 9:36, 34:12, 34:12, 46:15, 58:4D, 65:4*, 97:3).

I do not claim this observation to originate with myself; as with the count of day below, I read it so long ago that I regret that I do not remember the source.

The count: in the law of God

The collocation fī kitāb allah occurs four times: 8:75, 9:36, 30:56, 33:6.

The count: day

In all forms the word day occur a total of 405 times; however, if we discard all 30 non-singular forms – yawmayni (2:203, 41:9, 41:12), l ayamu (3:140), ayyamin (2:184, 2:185, 2:196, 2:203, 3:41, 5:89, 7:54, 10:3, 11:7, 11:65, 22:28, 25:59, 32:4, 41:10, 41:16, 50:38, 57:4, 69:7), ayyami (10:102), bi-ayyami (14:5), l-ayami (69:24), wa ayyaman (34:18), ayyaman (2:80), ayyama (45:14), ayyaman (2:184), ayyaman (3:24) – and all ten instances which have suffixes (e.g. ‘his day’, ‘their day’ etc.) – yawmaku (21:103), yawmikum (6:130, 32:14, 39:71, 45:34), yawmihim (7:51), yawmihimu (51:60), yawmahumu (43:83, 52:45, 70:42) – we find there are precisely 365 instances of the unadorned singular form of the word day in the Qur’an (1:4, 2:8, 2:48, 2:62, 2:123, 2:126, 2:177, 2:228, 2:232, 2:254, 2:259, 2:259, 2:264, 2:281, 3:9, 3:25, 3:55, 3:114, 3:161, 4:38:10, 4:39, 4:59, 4:87, 4:136, 4:162, 5:14, 5:36, 5:64, 5:69, 5:119, 6:12, 6:15, 7:14, 7:59, 7:167, 9:3, 9:18, 9:19, 9:25, 9:29, 9:35, 9:36, 9:44, 9:45, 9:77, 9:99, 9:108, 10:15, 10:28, 10:45, 10:60, 10:92, 10:93, 11:3, 11:8, 11:26, 11:43, 11:60, 11:77, 11:84, 11:98, 11:99, 11:103, 11:103, 11:105, 12:54, 12:92, 14:18, 14:31, 14:41, 14:42, 14:44, 14:48, 15:35, 15:36, 15:38, 16:25, 16:27, 16:27, 16:63, 16:80, 16:80, 16:84, 16:89, 16:92, 16:111, 16:124, 17:13, 17:14, 17:52, 17:58, 17:62, 17:71, 17:97, 18:19, 18:19, 18:47, 18:52, 18:105, 19:37, 19:85, 20:59, 20:102, 20:104, 21:47, 21:104, 22:2, 22:9, 22:17, 22:47, 22:55, 22:69, 23:16, 23:65, 23:100, 23:111, 23:113, 23:113, 24:2, 24:37, 24:64, 25:14, 25:17, 25:22, 25:25, 25:26, 25:27, 25:69, 26:38, 26:82, 26:87, 26:88, 26:135, 26:155, 26:156, 26:189, 26:189, 27:83, 27:87, 28:41, 28:42, 28:61, 28:62, 28:65, 28:71, 28:72, 28:74, 29:13, 29:25, 29:36, 29:55, 30:12, 30:14, 30:43, 30:55, 30:56, 30:56, 31:33, 32:5, 32:25, 32:29, 33:21, 33:44, 33:66, 34:30, 34:40, 34:42, 35:14, 36:54, 36:55, 36:59, 36:64, 36:65, 37:20, 37:21, 37:26, 37:144, 38:16, 38:26, 38:53, 38:78, 38:79, 38:81, 39:13, 39:15, 39:24, 39:31, 39:47, 39:60, 39:67, 40:15, 40:16, 40:16, 40:17, 40:17, 40:18, 40:27, 40:29, 40:30, 40:32, 40:33, 40:46, 40:49, 40:51, 40:52, 41:40, 41:47, 42:7, 42:45, 42:47, 43:39, 43:65, 43:68, 44:10, 44:16, 44:40, 44:41, 45:17, 45:26, 45:27, 45:28, 46:5, 46:20, 46:20:14 46:21, 46:34, 46:35, 50:20, 50:22, 50:30, 50:34, 50:41, 50:42, 50:42, 51:12, 51:13, 52:9, 52:13, 52:46, 54:8, 54:19, 54:48, 55:29, 56:50, 56:56, 57:12, 57:12, 57:13, 57:15, 58:6, 58:7, 58:18, 58:22, 60:6, 62:9, 64:9, 64:9, 65:2, 68:39, 70:4, 70:26, 70:43, 70:44, 73:17, 74:9, 74:46, 75:1, 75:6, 76:7, 76:10, 76:11, 76:27, 77:12, 77:13, 77:14, 77:35, 77:38, 78:17, 78:18, 78:39, 82:17, 82:18, 82:19, 83:5, 83:11, 85:2, 90:14, 2:85, 2:113, 2:174, 2:212, 2:249, 3:30, 3:77, 3:106, 3:155, 3:166, 3:180, 3:185, 3:194, 4:109, 4:141, 4:159, 5:3, 5:3, 5:5, 5:109, 6:22, 6:73, 6:73, 6:93, 6:128, 6:141, 6:158, 7:32, 7:51, 7:53, 7:163, 7:163, 7:172, 8:41, 8:41, 8:48, 19:15, 19:15, 19:15, 19:26, 19:33, 19:33, 19:33, 19:38, 19:38, 19:39, 19:95, 20:64, 20:100, 20:101, 20:124, 20:126, 24:24, 41:19, 45:34, 45:35, 50:44, 54:6, 60:3, 64:9, 66:7, 66:8, 68:24, 68:42, 69:35, 70:8, 73:14, 78:38, 78:40, 79:6, 79:35, 79:46, 80:34, 82:15, 83:6, 83:34, 86:9, 101:4).

The count: he created the heavens and the earth

The verse later states ‘from it are four inviolable’. The word inviolable (Arabic: ḥurum) indicates things protected, things set apart. Despite what the Traditionalist assumes and asserts, the object pronoun is in the feminine singular, and it makes more sense that it should relate to count (Arabic: ʿidda) than to anything else. Thus far, we have had three ‘counts’; we should expect one more.

All but one of the statements pertaining to the number of days in which God (he) ‘created the heavens and the earth’ are listed below:

  • One day: heavens and earth; (he) – 1 occurrence (9:36)
  • Two days: earth; seven heavens; (he) – 2 occurrences (41:9, 41:12)
  • Six days: heavens and earth; (he) – 6 occurrences (7:54, 10:3, 11:7, 25:59*, 32:4*, 57:4)

*Indicates the presence of the phrase ‘and what is between them’.

This is not the place to analyse the meanings of these statements; however, it is reasonable to regard the correlation between the incidence (or ‘count’) of each formula and the number it contains as significant.

However, there occurs one further statement of this kind; in single instance the verb is in the first person plural (we) form:

And we created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days
And there touched us no weariness 
(50:38)

Thus, there are six mentions of ‘six days’ plus one; and I assert that this formula both illustrates the six working days and Sabbath required of the recipients of the previous revelations and corrects the doctrine found in the Hebrew scriptures that God rested on the seventh day.

A summary of the four counts

We saw that the verse at 9:36 opens by telling us that ‘the count of moons is with God’. We saw also that it states later that ‘from it’ (i.e. from the count) ‘four are inviolable’.  Accordingly, we established a ‘count’ of four things which do indeed impress themselves upon the mind as protected and set apart within the text:

  • The count of months: 12 (there are 12 months in each year)
  • The count of in the law of God: 4 (there are four seasons in a year)
  • The count of days: 365 (there are 365 days in each year)
  • The count of created the heavens and the earth in six days: 6 plus 1 (there are 7 days in a week, one of which is rightly a Sabbath for the recipients of the former revelations)

The verse continues: ‘so wrong not your souls concerning them’. Here the feminine plural object pronoun (‘in them’) denotes – I would suggest – the counts which are now established.

We find that the count of ‘your souls’ (Arabic: anfusikum) occurs 50 times in the text (2:44, 2:54, 2:54, 2:84, 2:85, 2:87, 2:110, 2:187, 2:223, 2:235, 2:235, 2:272, 2:284, 3:61, 3:61, 3:165, 3:168, 3:186, 4:29, 4:66, 4:135, 5:105, 6:93, 9:35, 9:36, 9:41, 9:128, 10:23, 12:18, 12:83, 14:22, 16:72, 17:7, 24:61, 24:61, 30:21, 30:28, 30:28, 40:10, 41:31, 42:11, 49:11, 51:21, 53:32, 57:14, 57:22, 61:11, 64:16, 66:6, 73:20) and I believe this is significant for the following reasons:

  • It occurs in the concluding statement which treats of the religious scholars among those who are in receipt of a previous revelation at the end of 9:35 (while the Traditionalist’s understanding of 9:36-37 has been side-tracked into conclusions required by his extraneous literature, we are still focused on the Qur’anic narrative as it is)
  • The entire preceding context – as we have established above – treats of the wrong treatment of wealth vis-à-vis former revelations by the respective religious scholars of those former revelations
  • The means by which the count of 7 days accrued both divided the count into 6 and 1 and established the fact that God was not wearied by his creation. This division is suggestive of those people of former revelation who are required to rest on the Sabbath
  • When understood as a count of 50, the point of the campaign against those who ‘make not unlawful what God and his messenger have made unlawful’ among those in possession of the law makes sense as we shall see
  • When understood as a count of 50, the meaning of the reparation (Arabic: jizya) at the end of 9:29 (which those defeated among those possessed of previous revelation are to be forced to make) becomes clear also.

The meaning, then, is this: the count of 50 indicates the fifty-year cycle of the jubilee; the year in which – according to the scripture to which the religious scholars among the Jews claim to hold – all debts are to be forgiven:

And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.
10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
11 A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.
12 For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.
13 In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession.

Leviticus 25:8-13 (King James Version)

Thus, the believers are not being called to convert Jews or Nazarenes to a ‘religion of any kind or to extract a tax from them (9:29); rather, they are exhorted – when they have military mastery over the same – to enforce the jubilee; namely, that part of the scripture which the religious scholars are supposed to enforce but choose to ignore to their own damnation.

The verse continues:

(And fight the idolaters altogether
As they fight you altogether
And know that God is with those of prudent fear.)

The meaning of idolater is established in the context above at 9:30-34; it pertains to those who take their religious scholars, rabbis, or the son of Maryam in derogation of God. There is no other way to read the segment; thus, at 9:36 the idolaters mentioned simply must be the same as those mentioned in the lead-up to that point.

Verse 9:37 then introduces the question of ‘postponement’. As we have seen, for the Traditionalist, this treats of an extraneous matter related to his preferred literature. However, for us it is simply a continuation of the same subject; it relates to the jubilee.

Postponement is but an increase in denial
Whereby those who are indifferent to warning are led astray.
They make it lawful one year
And make it unlawful another year
That the count might agree with what God made unlawful.
So they make lawful what God made unlawful.
Made fair to them is the evil of their deeds.
And God guides not the people who spurn guidance while claiming virtue
. (9:37)

Given the understanding we have gained which shows that this relates to the Jews and the jubilee, the meaning of this verse is entirely clear.

Conclusions

Nowhere does the text at 9:36 say explicitly: make the Jews keep to their obligation to observe the jubilee. However, neither does it state explicitly what the Traditionalist claims for it.

The Traditionalist imports his understanding from an extraneous literature, thereby effectively insinuating himself into the process as the arbiter and expert, while at the same time breaking the narrative across 9:29-37 into a disjointed mishmash of unrelated subjects.

We, on the other hand, have – by disregarding the Traditionalist and concentrating on the text and the evidence based on the ‘count’ arising therein – presented an interpretation which is entirely limited to the Qur’an and the Torah; is consonant with the meaning across the broader context; in which the clause ‘that is the right doctrine’ makes sense; which integrates the meaning of the single occurrence of the word reparation (Arabic: jizya) into the narrative on a rational basis; which explains the purpose of the campaign against the Jews on a basis  consistent with the clear Qur’anic directives to allow others to follow their own religions; in which ‘postponement’ (9:36) makes intrinsic sense; and which makes 9:29-37 a single, coherent narrative.

About the Author Sam Gerrans

Sam Gerrans is an English writer and speaker with professional backgrounds in media, strategic communications, and technologies. He is driven by commitment to ultimate meaning, and focused on authentic approaches to revelation and Realpolitik. He is founder of Quranite.com and author of The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation where his consistent, Qur'an-centric hermeneutical methodology is applied to the text of the Qur’an in its entirety. Read more...

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