Punishment...The Verses

Verse (48:17)

The Holy verse says:
"There is not upon the blind any guilt or upon the lame any guilt or upon the ill any guilt [for remaining behind]. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger He will admit him to gardens beneath which rivers flow; but whoever turns away He will punish him with a painful punishment." (48:17)

Explanation
To understand the verse first let's put it in its right context:
"Those who remained behind of the Bedouins will say to you, "Our properties and our families occupied us, so ask forgiveness for us." They say with their tongues what is not within their hearts. Say, "Then who could prevent Allah at all if He intended for you harm or intended for you benefit? Rather, ever is Allah, with what you do, Acquainted.

But you thought that the Messenger and the believers would never return to their families, ever, and that was made pleasing in your hearts. And you assumed an assumption of evil and became a people ruined."

And whoever has not believed in Allah and His Messenger then indeed, We have prepared for the disbelievers a Blaze.

And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

Those who remained behind will say when you set out toward the war booty to take it, "Let us follow you." They wish to change the words of Allah. Say, "Never will you follow us. Thus did Allah say before." So they will say, "Rather, you envy us." But [in fact] they were not understanding except a little.

Say to those who remained behind of the Bedouins, "You will be called to [face] a people of great military might; you may fight them, or they will submit. So if you obey, Allah will give you a good reward; but if you turn away as you turned away before, He will punish you with a painful punishment."

There is not upon the blind any guilt or upon the lame any guilt or upon the ill any guilt [for remaining behind]. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger He will admit him to gardens beneath which rivers flow; but whoever turns away He will punish him with a painful punishment." (48:11-17)

The verses here are telling the story of a certain incident:
They refer to the people living in the suburbs of Al- Madinah whom the Prophet, peace be upon him, had called for to accompany him in his march out for Umrah, but they had not left their homes in spite of their claim to faith just because they were afraid of death. Traditions show that these were the people of the tribes of Aslam, Muzainah, Juhainah, Ghifar, Ashja, Dil and others.

When the Prophet, peace be upon him, returned they asked him to "ask for forgiveness" for them which means that they knew they made a big mistake. In fact they believed that people of Mecca and their surrounding tribes will unite force and attack the Muslims " But you thought that the Messenger and the believers would never return to their families, ever"

In a later verse it says: "Those who remained behind will say when you set out toward the war booty to take it, "Let us follow you." They wish to change the words of Allah. Say, "Never will you follow us. Thus did Allah say before." So they will say, "Rather, you envy us." But [in fact] they were not understanding except a little."

That is, the time is approaching when these very people who were shirking accompanying you on the dangerous journey, would see you going on an expedition in which there would be the possibility of attaining easy victory and much booty. Then they would come running and request you to take them along. Such a time came just three months after the truce of Hudaibiyah, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) marched to Khaiber and took it easily. At that time everyone could see that after the truce with the Quraish not only Khaiber but the Jewish settlements of Taima, Fadak, Wadi-al-Qura and also others from northern Arabia would not be able to withstand the might of the Muslims and would easily fall to the Islamic State. Therefore, Allah in these verses forewarned the Prophet, peace be upon him, that the opportunists of the suburbs of Al-Madinah would come up to take part in and receive their share when they would see easy victories being attained, and that he should tell them plainly: You will never be allowed to take part in these, because only those who had gone forth to offer their lives in the conflict at Hudaibiyah regardless of every danger would be entitled to them.

Then comes a later verse that says: " Say to those who remained behind of the Bedouins, "You will be called to [face] a people of great military might; you may fight them, or they will submit. So if you obey, Allah will give you a good reward; but if you turn away as you turned away before, He will punish you with a painful punishment."

Meaning tell those who refused to obey you and march with you to Mecca that they will be called to fight against a great army. Some scholars say that the great army is that of the Romans some say it is the Persian army while others says that it is the REDDA war (also known as Apostasy war). In this war they were called upon again to fight.

"submit" here can have two meanings and both are implied: (1) That they should accept Islam. (2) That they should submit to the Islamic rule.

Those people had previously let the prophet down and did not fight, they were given another chance in this verse, to fight in the coming war , the verse says "but if you turn away as you turned away before, He will punish you with a painful punishment".

The verse then says that some people are excused from war, namely the blind, the lame and the sick. Anyone else (adult males) MUST participate in the war. The verse here is giving a last chance for those who refused to fight out of cowardice. The first fight they refused to take part in was a war they expected to happen (it did not actually happen). They believed that if Muslims went to Mecca to perform Umrah (a small pilgrimage), they would be faced by Mecca and all its surrounding tribes so they refused to go with the Muslims for fear of such confrontation. It is not that the Muslims were going there to fight but they expected that they would be forced into fight by Mecca and tribes around it. So the verse is not a call for war, it actually ranges between :
- An incident in the past (Hudaubeya when they refused to march with the prophet to Mecca to perform Umrah)

- An incident in the future (a war that would happen years later), which would be considered their chance to prove that they are real Muslims not hypocrites. Nothing more was said about the war that would take place in the future that's why Muslims scholars have different opinions which war was meant in this verse. So it is not an open call for war, NO it is actually a prophecy that a war against a mighty military force will take place and if you want to prove to be Muslims not hypocrites then DO NOT even think about running away this time or you will be punished.

How can you conclude from such a verse that it was an open call for aggressive war against innocent people. How can anyone dare accuse the verse of waging vicious aggressive wars although the name of the war was not even mentioned. How do you know if it was an offensive or defensive war then. Besides, do not forget the war was against "a people of great military might; ", what leader can tell his troops to attack or wage unnecessary war on an army "of great military might;".

Again either complete ignorance or a mix of prejudice and the vicious will to accuse Islam can make a person dare accuse such a verse of violence because simple logic says "we do not know which war was it. maybe it was a war for self defense" because no one is stupid enough to wage war against a mighty military force for no reason.