Kitaab At-Tawheed, Chapter: 60
What Has Been Said About Allah's Covenant and the Covenant of His Prophet (saas )
Allah (swt ), says:
" And fulfill the Covenant of Allah when you have entered into it, and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them: Indeed you have made Allah your surety for Allah knows all that you do" (Qur'an16:91)
In this verse, Allah (swt ), Most High, commands the Muslims to keep their promises when they promise someone because breaking one's promise is despicable and contrary to the spirit of Islam. Then Allah (swt ) reinforces this by forbidding us from breaking especially those promises which we have already confirmed, informing us that those who make promises have made Him their guarantor and that He is well acquainted with all that they do and He will reward good with its like and evil with its equivalent.
Benefits Derived From This Verse
1. The obligation to keep one's promises.
2. The forbiddance of breaking promises without reason or excuse.
3. The all-encompassing nature of Allah's Knowledge.
Relevance of This Verse to the Subject of the Chapter
That the verse proves the obligation to keep one's promises.
Relevance of This Verse to the Subject of Tawheed
That the verse proves the forbiddance of breaking one's promise because breaking promises indicates a lack of respect for Allah (swt ) and this invalidates correct Tawheed.
There is no contradiction between this verse and the words of the Prophet (saas ): "Whoever swore an oath then saw something better than it, he should do that which is better and make expiation for not fulfilling his oath," for the verse is a general commandment, while the Hadith provides an exception to it when there is the possibility of doing something better than it; however, it is incumbent upon the Believer in this case to perform an act of atonement for breaking his promise.
It is reported on the authority of Buraidah (ra ) that he said: "Whenever Allah's Messenger (saas ) charged someone with leadership in the army or sent someone on an expedition, he would admonish him to fear Allah (swt ) and be good to the Muslims who were with him: He would say: "Fight in the Name of Allah (swt ) and in Allah's cause and fight those who disbelieve in Allah (swt ). Do not take excessive booty and do not break treaties and do not mutilate (the enemies' dead) and do not kill children. When you meet your enemies from among the polytheists, call them to three virtues - if they respond (in a positive manner), respond them in like fashion and accept it from them and cease making war upon them: (i) Invite them to Islam and if they respond positively, accept it from them and (ii) ask them to leave their land and migrate to the land of the Muhajirun.1
Inform them that after migrating, they will be entitled to everything to which the Muhajirun are entitled and they will be under the same obligations as the Muhajirun. If they refuse to migrate, then tell them that they will have the same status as the bedouin Muslims, subject to the Commands of Allah (swt ), like other Muslims, but they will not receive any share of the booty or returns of war unless they fight jihad with the Muslims. If they refuse to embrace Islam, then impose the jizyah upon them and if they agree to this, then accept it from them and cease fighting them. But if they refuse, then seek Allah's Help and fight them. When you besiege a people in their fort, and they beseech you for protection in Allah's Name and His Prophet, do not grant them the Covenant of Allah (swt ) and His Prophet (saas ), but grant them your covenant and that of your companions, for it is a lesser sin if the covenant of you and your companions is broken than if the Covenant of Allah (swt ) and His Prophet (saas ) is broken. When you besiege a fort and they request you to let them out in accordance with Allah's Command, do not let them out in accordance with His Command, but do so at your own command, for you know not whether you will be able to carry out Allah's Command with regard to them." (Narrated by Muslim)
Buraidah (ra ) informs us in this Hadith that whenever the Prophet entrusted anyone with the command of an army or sent anyone in charge of a punitive expedition against the disbelievers, he would order him to adhere to a number of guidelines: (i) That he be pious and God-fearing in the treatment of his troops and treat them well; (ii) that the army must refrain from excesses, such as taking too much war booty, breaking treaties, mutilating the enemies' dead or killing non-combatants; (iii) that he must call the enemy to Islam before making war on them and that if they accept Islam, he must make peace with them and request them to migrate from the land of disbelief to the city of Madinah, where they will enjoy all the rights and obligations of the Muhajirun. They are under no obligation to migrate, but should they not do so, they will be treated like the nomadic desert Arabs who have embraced Islam: They will receive no share of the spoils of war, unless they join the Muslims in battle; (iv) that in the event of their refusing to accept Islam, they must pay the jizyah; (v) that should they refuse to pay the jizyah, he must seek Allah's Help and declare war on them; (vi) that should he and his troops besiege the enemy in their fort, they should not grant them Allah's Covenant and that of His Prophet (saas ), but instead they should grant them their own covenant because if their covenant is broken, it will be a lesser sin than if Allah (swt ) and His Prophet's Covenant were broken. Likewise, he should not allow them safe passage from the fort by Allah's Command, but by his own command and that of his troops.
Benefits Derived From This Hadith
1. The lawfulness of a Commander and of guiding him towards correct behaviour.
2. The forbiddance of excessive seizure of war booty, breaking treaties, mutilating the war dead and killing no-combatants, especially children.
3. The obligation to call the enemy to Islam before declaring war on them, if the call to Islam has not previously reached them and the preferability of doing so if they have been called to Islam previously but refused the call.
4. That if the disbelievers refuse the call of the Commander of the Mujahideen to Islam, he must order them to pay the jizyah or else fight. 2
5. The preferability of emigrating from the land of disbelief to the land of Islam and of calling the people to that.
6. That the spoils of war are only for the Muhaajirun and not for the nomadic Arabs, unless they participate in Jihad.
7. That it is not permissible to grant a covenant in Allah's Name or that of His Prophet (saas ).
8. The forbiddance of breaking treaties.
9. That not everyone who resorts to ijtihad 3 reaches the correct conclusion; the one who does so is he who has sufficient knowledge of fiqh, tafseer, Hadith and related Islamic subjects and uses his knowledge in accordance with the Commands of Allah (swt ) and His Prophet (saas ) and with the rules of usool al-fiqh. 4
Relevance of This Hadith to the Subject of the Chapter
That the Hadith proves the obligation to take care of Allah's Covenant and that of His Prophet (saas ) and protect it from being broken.
Relevance of This Hadith to the Subject of Tawheed
That the Hadith proves the obligation to take care of Allah's Covenant and that of His Prophet (saas ) and to protect it from being broken because to betray Allah's Covenant is to demean Him, Most High, and this conflicts with pure Islamic Tawheed.
It is obligatory for the one who embraces Islam in a land of disbelievers but is unable to declare his faith due to fear of the consequences, to migrate to a Muslim land if he is able to do so and it is preferred for those who are not in fear to do so.