The first sixteen verses (9:11-16) mark the beginning of a chapter called Sūrah al-Tawba (‘Repentance’) or Sūrah al-Barāʾa (‘Repudiation’). However, commentators on the Qur’an have differed as to whether this actually marks the beginning of a new chapter, or whether this is a continuation of Sūrah al-Anfāl. Their disagreement stems from the disagreement of the Companions (ṣaḥāba) and the Successors (tābiʿūn) on the same question. The traditions of the Imāms appear similarly dissonant. However, based on the construction of their sayings, it seems most likely that they held these verses to be a continuation of Sūrah al-Anfāl.

When examining the themes and content of the verses in this chapter, it soon becomes apparent to the reader that they do not have a single purpose or goal in the same way that the verses of other chapters do. Other chapters of the Qur’an usually have an overarching idea that is introduced by their opening verses and summarized again in their concluding ones. Sūrah al-Tawba begins with a proclamation repudiating the idolaters. It also contains verses about fighting the idolaters and fighting the People of the Book (ahl al-kitāb). A large portion of it also discusses the threat posed by the hypocrites (munāfiqūn). Meanwhile, there are verses encouraging the Prophet’s followers to go forth and fight and rebuking those who hang back, and others that address the question of allying with the disbelievers or paying the zakāt (alms tax). However, the vast majority of the verses in this chapter are concerned with fighting the disbelievers and dealing with the hypocrites in the midst of the Muslims.


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