(5) (59:5) The palm-trees that you cut down or those that you left standing on their roots, it was by Allah's leave that you did so. *9 (Allah granted you this leave) in order that He might humiliate the evil-doers. *10
*9) The reference is to the fact that the Muslims cut down or burnt many of the palm-trees that stood in the oases around the settlement of the Bani an Nadir in order to facilitate the siege, However, they left those trees standing which did not obstruct the military operations. At this the hypocrites of Madinah and the Bani Quraizah, and the Bani an-Nadir themselves, raised a clamour, saying that, on the one hand, Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) prohibited spreading disorder in the world, but, on the other, fruit trees were being cut down by his command, which amounted to spreading disorder in the world. At this AI-Hashr AIIah ,sent down the Command: 'Whatever trees you cut down, or whatever you left standing, your neither act was unlawful, but it had Allah's permission." The legal injunction that is derived from this verse is that the destruction caused for the sake of military operations does not come under "spreading disorder in the world. " But spreading disorder in the world is that an army under the fit of war hysteria .should intrude into the enemy territory and start destroying the crops, cattle. gardens, houses and everything in its way without any reason. In this matter. the general instruction is the same which Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddiq gave while despatching the Muslim army to Syria: "Do not cut down friut trees; do not destroy crops; do not ravage the settlements." This was precisely in accordance with the Qur'anic teaching, which condemns those who spread chaos; 'When they get power they direct aII their efforts towards spreading corruption in the land, destroying harvests and killing people."(AI-Baqarah: 205). But the specific command in respect of the war exigencies is that if destruction is necessary for military operations against the enemy, it is lawful. Thus, Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud has given this explanation in the commentary of this verse: 'The Muslims had cut down only those trees of the Bani an-Nadir that stood on the battlefield. " (Tafsir Nisaburi). Some of the Muslim jurists have overlooked this aspect of the matter and expressed the opinion that the permissibility of cutting the trees of the Bani an-Nadir was confined only to that particular event. It does not make it generally permissible that whenever war necessitates trees of the enemy be cut down and burnt. Imam Auza'i, Laith and Abu Thaur hold this same opinion. But the majority of the jurists hold the view that for the sake of important military operations it is permissible. However, this is not permissible for the purpose of mere destruction and pillage. One may ask: This verse of the Qur'an could satisfy the Muslims, but how could those who did not accept the Qur'an as Divine Word be satisfied at this reply to their objection that both acts were permissible as they had Allah's permission for it? The answer is: This verse of the Qur'an was sent down to satisfy only the Muslims; it was not sent down to satisfy the disbelievers. Since due to the objection of the Jews and the hypocrites, or due to their own thinking, they had been involved in the misgiving whether they were guilty of spreading disorder in the earth, AIIah gave them the satisfaction that both the acts, cutting down some trees to facilitate the siege and leaving some other trees standing which did not obstruct the siege, were in accordance with Divine Law. The traditionists in their traditions have disputed the point whether the order to cut and burn the trees had been given by the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace himself, or whether the Muslims had done it of their own accord, and then later asked the Holy Prophet about its legal aspect. Hadrat Abdullah bin 'Umar has reported that the Holy Prophet himself had ordered it. (Bukhari, Muslim , Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Jarir). The same also has been reported by Yazid bin. Ruman (Ibn Jarir). On the contrary, Mujahid and Qatadah say that the Muslims had on their own cut down the trees; then a dispute arose among them whether what they had done was permissible or not. Some said it was permissible and some said it was not. At last Allah sent down this verse and approved the act of both. (Ibn Jarir). The same thing is supported by a tradition of Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas: 'The Muslims were confused because Some of them had cut the trees and others had not; therefore, they wanted to ask the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) as to who would be rewarded for the act and who would be punished.' (Nasa i). Those of the jurists who have preferred the first tradition give the argument that this was the Holy Prophet's personal judgement, which was later ratified by revelation from AIlah, and this a proof of the fact that in matters where no Divine Command existed, the Holy Prophet used to follow his personal judgement. On the other hand, those jurists who have preferred the second tradition, argue that the two groups of the Muslims had adopted two different views on the basis of their own personal judgements and AIIah ratified both. Therefore, if the learned men arrive at different conclusions by judicious exercise of their personal judgement, then although their opinions might differ, they would all be correct in the Divine Shari ah. *10) That is, "Allah willed that they should be disgraced if you cut down the trees and also if you left them standing." In the first case, they were disgraced when they saw that the trees of the gardens which they had planted with their own hands and which they had owned since ages, were being cut down before their very eyes and they were watching it helplessly. Even an ordinary peasant and gardener cannot tolerate another's misappropriation or intrusion into his field or garden. He would protect his field or garden at the risk of his life if somebody tried to destroy it in his presence. For if he cannot prevent destruction-n of his property, it would be a sign of his extreme humiliation and weakness. But here a whole tribe, which had been living at this place fearlessly and boldly for centuries, was watching helplessly that its neighbours had invaded its gardens and were destroying the trees while it could do nothing. After this even if they stayed on in Madinah they would have lived in disgrace and humility. In the second case, they were disgraced when on leaving Madinah they saw that the lush green gardens which had been in their possession till the previous day were now passing into the possession of the Muslims. Had they the power they would have laid waste the entire gardens by their own hands SO that not a single whole.tree passed into the hands of the Muslims. But in their helplessness they left the city, despaired and grief-stricken, leaving everything intact behind.