Upon the occasion of revelation of this verse, it is cited that: a group of pagans came to Medina and then they became Muslim. They were tired and sick, therefore, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) ordered that they would be taken in a good climate rigion outside Medina where they were permitted to enjoy of the milk of the alms-tax camels therein. When they gained their health, they took the Muslim shepherds, who were living thereabout, and cut off their hands and feet, blinded their eyes, and plundered the camels. They left out Islam, too. The Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) ordered that they would be captured and be treated with the same manner as they had done upon the shepherds. Then, in this circumstance the above mentioned verse was revealed.
These retributions, which are mentioned in the verse under discussion, are counted ' rights of Allah ' and they are not forgiveable and changeable. (Atyab-ul-Bayan).(1)
However, in order to improve the society, not only admonishment and guidance are necessary, but weapon and severe revolutionary treatment are needed. (The words in the previous verse were some educational messages and warnings unto the murderer. Now, in this verse, the statement is upon the punishment of the one who fights against Allah and makes mischief.)
The noteable point here is that fighting against the servants of Allah is the same as fighting against Allah. So, the one who stands against people, is like that he has stood against Allah.
Therefore, there have been decreed several kinds of punishment for those who disturb the security of the society. These punishments are: execution, banishment, cutting off the hand and the foot, and to hang such wick persons.
In the meantime, Islamic punishments are accompanied with justice. Since corruptions and the qualifications of the mischief-makers are different, the retributions are not the same, either. If the mischief has been committed tragically, its punishment is slaughter. But, if it is superficial, its retribution is banishment. Concerning such punishments, this fact is understood from the Islamic traditions that: the retribution of homicide is execution; the retribution of terrorising is banishment, the retribution of larceny is cutting off the hand and the foot; the retribution of murder and orbbery (with arm) is cutting off the hand and the foot and being hanged. (At-Tafsir-us-Safi)
Also, it is cited in Usul-i-Kafi that one of the meanings of the phrase ' be banished from their land ' (mentioned in the verse) is throwing such a person in the sea. (Al-Kafi, vol. 7, p. 267)
1- The responsibility of the government and rulers is to protect the security of the society in cities, villages, roads, and so on.
2- Those opponents of the mastership of the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) whose intention is destruction and who fight against the godly system, should be dispersed.
3- Those who rise against the Muslims leader, or against the Islamic government, are among ' those who make war against Allah '. (At-Tafsir fi-Zilal-il-Qur'an)
4- Imam Rida (a.s.) said: " The length of the time of banishment for the mischief-maker is one year. The place of banishment should be announced to people in order that they break their communication with the banished person, and stop bargaining, holding familiar intercourse, and marriage with him." (Tafsir-i-Nur-uth-Thaqalayn)
5- According to a verse of the Qur'an,(2) a usurer is also counted among ' those who make war against Allah ', since such a person disturbs the economical security in the society.
Also, as some Islamic traditions indicate, disgracing a Muslim believer is considered as fighting against Allah.(3)
(1) It is cited in Al-Mizan that the choice of one retribution out of these four retributions is up to the leader of Muslims. So, even when the possessors of the blood of the slain remit, one of the retributions must be executed.
(2) Sura Al-Baqarah, No. 2, verse 279
(3) Bihar-ul-'Anwar, vol. 5, p. 283
(34) إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ تَابُواْ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَقْدِرُواْ عَلَيْهِمْ فَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
34. " Except those who repent before you have power over them. So know you that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
The repentance of a mischief-maker and a person who fights agains the command of Allah (s.w.t.) deserves only the retribution of threat and terrorising, not the retribution of murder and theft. That is, repentance is effective in ' the right of Allah ' not in ' the right of people ', because the right of people depends on the content of the possessor(s) of the right. Thus, the account of the person who fights against the command of Allah (muharib) is different from that of a murderer and thief.
In the meantime, the gate of repentance is open to everyone. Yet, that repentance is worthy when it is done before capturing the criminal and confronting the curt. It should also be done consciously and willfully, without any compulsion. (Also, pentance for other sins is accepted before death).(1)
However, the Divine punishment has the aspect of training and improving upon the individuals and the society, not as a revenge. Therefore, the repentance of a sinner is efficacious. The verse says:
" Except those who repent before you have power over them. So know you that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(1) The Qur'an, Sura An-Nisa', No. 4, verse 18
Penal Regulations against Offenders
To seek means to approach Allah - To strive in the way of Allah - Hypocrisy of the Jews.
(35) يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ وَابْتَغُواْ إِلَيهِ الْوَسِيلَةَ وَجَاهِدُواْ فِي سَبِيلِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
35. " O' you who have Faith! Be in awe of Allah, and seek the means (of nearness) to Him; and strive hard in His way, that you may be prospersous."
Imam Amir-ul-mu'mineen Ali (a.s.) has said that the best means by which seekers of nearness to Allah, seek nearness, is the faith in Allah and His Messenger, striving in His way, (to believe) in the expression of Divine purification, the establishment of performance of Hajj (pilgrimage) of the House (i.e. Ka'bah) and ' Umrah ' (lesser pilgrimage), regard for kinship, almsgiving secretly and openly, and extending benefits (to people).(1)
Therefore, in order to reach felicity, we must both stop committing sins and perform worships.
In the meantime, doing goodnesses are wholly the means toward felicity if we ourselves do not waste them through our own sins.
However, Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) are the very firm cord and means of nearness to Allah (s.w.t.).
In Islamic literatures, narrated from the Immaculate ones (a.s.), the term /wasilah/ (means), mentioned in this verse, has been rendered into Imam (a.s.) (At-Tafsir-us-Safi)..In this regard, it is also cited in some traditions: " They are firm the cord and the means to Allah (s.w.t)."(At-Tafsir-us-Safi).
Supplication is a subject about which there has been cited in the books of many Sunnite scholars, such as: Sawa'iq, by Ibn-Hajar; Sunan-i-Bihaqi; Sahih-i-Darmami; and also in Wafa'-ul-Wafa, vol. 3, p. 1371. Sura An-Nisa', No. 4, verse 64, Sura Yusuf, No. 12, verse 97, and Sura Taubah, No. 9, verse 114 can be taken as some authentique references for supplication, too.
(1) Nahjul-Balaqah, Sermon 110