|THE STATUS OF NON-MUSLIMS IN THE ISLAMIC STATE
A Translation of Ibn al Qayyim’s AHKAM AHL AL-DHIMMAH
By Dr Sayed Karamathullah Bahmani
(Shams al-Din Abu Abdullah ibn al-Qayyim (d. 1350 AD) was an eminent Islamic scholar who made highly significant and wide-ranging contributions to Islamic law, Quranic exegesis and Islamic philosophy. He wrote more than 50 books, but most of them did not survive the vicissitudes of time. His well-known works include I’lam al-Muwaqqi’in, Ighathah al-lahfan, Zad al-ma’ad and Madarij al-salikin. One of his important works is Ahkam ahl al-dhimmah, which was discovered by the renowned Islamic scholar Professor Muhammad Hamidullah and was edited and published by Dr Sabhi Salih. An English translation of this book by Dr Syed Karamathullah Bahmani, former professor of Arabic, the New College, Chennai (India), is under preparation and will be published in installments in the IOS Minaret.)
THE BOOK OF JIZYAH
Praise be to the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and blessings be upon our Master Muhammad, his progeny and his Companions in abundance!
Shaykh al-Imam, the learned, Shams al-Din, (may Allah bestow abundant grace upon him), was asked about the manner in which the Jizyah was levied and collected from non-Muslim subjects (Ahl al-Dhimmah) in the Islamic state, the reasons for such a stipulation, and the value that was collected from the rich, the middle class and the poor among them, the specification of the limits (of Jizya) for the rich, the middle class and the poor among them. Will the Muslim rulers be rewarded (May Allah support them) for specifying the same on the basis of their (economic) condition or not? Whether it has to be collected from the rich, the poor and the middle class among them?
REASONS FOR LEVYING THE JIZYAH
He (the learned Shaykh) answered (the question) by saying: The reason for levying the Jizyah upon them has a basis in the following verse: 29
Fight those who do not believe in Allah and His messenger has forbidden, nor they practice the religion (way of life) the true religion, among those who have been given the Book, till they pay the Jizyah with their own hands out of humility – 9:29
FROM WHOM THE JIZYAH IS TO BE COLLECTED
As such, the Jurists have reached a consensus among themselves that the Jizyah is to be levied on the People of the Book as well as on the fire worshippers.
Umar bin al-Khattab had stopped collecting the Jizyah from the fire worshippers until Abd al-Rahman bin Auf vouchsafed that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) had been collecting the same from the Magians of Hajar, as mentioned by al-Bukhari.
Imam Shafii says that Umar bin al-Khattab had mentioned about the Magians and said that he did not know how to deal with them in this matter.
Abd al-Rahman bin Auf told him, “I bear witness that I indeed heard the Messenger of Allah saying, “Deal with them as in the case of Ahl al-Kitab (the People of the Book)”. This makes it clear that they were not counted among the People of the Book, as the following verse testifies: “That they say the book was only revealed on two groups of communities before us, even though we are ignorant of their details to realize ourselves” (6:156). Allah has narrated these details about them, and He has not denied their statement nor falsified them on this statement.
As far the Hadith reported by Ali he is reported to have said,”I am the most knowledgeable among the people on the Majoos, they had a source of knowledge which they used to teach and a book they used to study, their king got intoxicated and under its influence committed adultery with his daughter or his sister. Some people in his kingdom came to know about it. When he came to his senses, they wanted to carry out the punishment for the same upon him. Some among them prevented them from doing so. He called the people of his kingdom and said: “Do you know any religion (way of life) better than the religion of Adam. He had married his daughters to his sons. I am following the religion of Adam. A group of people came to his side following his command and fought with those who were opposed to him until they killed them. In the morning, they found that their scripture was carried away in the night and the knowledge they had in the mind was also taken away from their hearts. These are also the people of the book. The Messenger of Allah and Abu Bakr have taken Jizya from them and I see Umar also taking Jizyah from them”.
This is the Hadith reported by Imam Shafii in his Musnad, as did Sa’id bin Mansur and others. But a group of scholars of Hadith has described this Hadith as weak.
Abu Ubaid has said, “I don’t think what they had reported from Ali in this connection to be the protected one”.
Imam Bukhari has reported in his Sahih on the authority of Al Mughairah bin Shu’bah that he told the governor of the Persian king: ”our Prophet (peace be upon him) has ordered us to fight with you until you worship Allah alone or you pay the Jizyah to us”.
In the Musnad of Imam Ahmad and Tirmidhi, it is reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas that Abu Talib was sick and the Quraish came to see him, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) also came to see him. They complained to Abu Talib about him, so he said, ”O my brother’s son, what do you want from your people?” He said, “I want them to profess “one word”, which the whole of Arabia shall profess and the non-Arabs pay them the Jizyah. He said, one word? He said, one word, there is no god but Allah. They said, did he make god as one God. It is a strange thing! (p.5) we had not heard this in the other community. It is nothing but a disturbed thing. 38:7 (p.7)
He said, at that time this verse was revealed:
In the Sahihain (Sahih al Bukhari & Sahih Muslim), in the Hadith narrated by Amr bib Auf al Ansari, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) had sent Abu Ubaydah bin al-Jarrah to Bahrain and had appointed Al-A’la bin al-Hadhrami as a governor for them.
Abu Ubayd has mentioned in his book , Al-Amwal, on the authority of Al-Zuhri that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) had accepted Jizyah from the people of Bahrain, they were the Magians.
It is reported in the Sunan of Abu Dawud from the Hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik, that The Prophet (peace be upon him) has sent Khalid bin al-Walid to the Christian chief of Daumah Ukhaider, who has defeated and captured him and brought him. He was spared of his life/blood, he compromised for peace agreeing to pay the Jizyah.
Az-Zuhri has said that the first Jizyah that was collected was from the people of Najran, who were Christians.
In the Sahih of Al-Bukhari, it is reports from Ibn Al-Nujah to have said, ‘I told Mujahid: what was the matter with the people of Syria, who are liable to pay four dinars, the people of Yemen, they pay one dinar? He said that It was done on the basis of affluence.
The jurists have differences of opinion on the question, from whom the Jizyah is to be collected, having agreed on the point that it shall be collected from the People of the Book and the Majoos.
Imam Abu Hanifah has said, ‘it is collected from the People of the Book, the Majoos and the non-Arab idol worshippers. It will not be collected from the idol worshippers of Arabia.
Ahmad has recorded it in a Hadith narrated by him.
Those who hold the opinion argue, based on the arguments including the Hadith already mentioned, that “the non-Arabs shall pay to you the Jizyah”. They argue on the basis of the Hadith of Buraidah, in which it is reported by Muslim in his Sahih and says, “wherever the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has appointed a commander for the army or an expedition, he used to advise him to fear Allah with regard to his own self and those with him among the Muslims to remain good and then used to say. “Fight in the name of Allah, in the path of Allah, fight those who do not believe in Allah”.
Fight and don’t transgress the limits, don’t rebel, don’t mutilate, don’t kill infants, when you confront your enemy among the idolaters, then invite and offer them on of the three positions or possibilities: then whichever of them respond, ace[pt the same from them and keep off them and then invite them towards Islam. If they respond you accept from them and desist from anything against them, then invite them to move from their dwellings to the safer place for the immigrants. If they did, they shall be given what is given to the migrants, they will be subjected to what is applicable to the migrants.
If they refuse to move away from the territory, then inform them that they will be treated like the Bedouins among the Muslims, the law of Allah will be applicable upon them which is applicable to the believers and that they will not be eligible for anything from the war booty, nor the spoils of war unless they fight along with Muslims.
If they refuse to accept, then ask for the Jizyah from them, if they respond, accept from them and desist from them.
If they refuse, then seek the help of Allah and fight with them.
When you lay a siege on the people of a fortress, and if they wanted you to accord them the covenant of Allah and His Prophet, don’t give them the covenant of “Allah and His Prophet by name, instead give them the covenant of protection in your name and the names of your companions. It is indeed easier for you to maintain the covenant of protection in y our name than according them the protection under the covenant of Allah and His Messenger.
When you lay a siege on the people of a fortress, and if they wanted you to subject them to the Law of Allah, don’t subject them to the law of Allah, but you subject them under your authority, as you do not know whether you will be able to implement the Law of Allah upon them perfectly or not.
In this discussion, there are different types of juristic approaches, which are:
The Imam exercising his responsibility to advising his Nawabs, Amirs and governors to practice piety and the fear of Allah and also to be kind to the subjects. By these two basic things, the position assigned to the Amir will remain secure and it will ensure the comfort of his eyes and it will be a safety from the calamities and fateful things.
When he neglects these two things or one of them, necessarily Allah will deprive them of their dignity and will make him a source of lesson for the people. These bounties will not be taken away except when they abandon the fear of Allah and start ill treating the people.
In the same way, it is not allowed for the army to exploit and plunder the spoils of war, not resort to breach of trust and covenant, nor to mutilate the disbelievers, nor to kill those who have not attainted the age of puberty.
It also includes that the Muslims shall invite the non-believers – before waging a war on them – towards Islam. It becomes obligatory, in case, the invitation has not reached them (given to them) and it remains desirable, if the call towards embracing Islam has already been given to them.
This is only when Muslims have marched against the non-believers on their own. In case the non-believers have waged a war or marched against them on their own, then they are obliged to fight with them without extending an invitation to them, as they are only defending themselves and their families (womenfolk).
It also includes stipulating to them to move to the Islamic territory, if they were residing in the land of the infidels. If all of them in a territory embraced Islam and their land has become a Muslim land, then they will not be compelled to move away from it, but they will continue to stay in their own places. The land of migration during the time of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was the Islamic territory. But when the people of various cities accepted Islam, the countries of which the people have accepted Islam has become an Islamic country, where there was no need for the people to move out of it. Similarly, there was no share for the Arab Bedouins from the Fayy and the spoils of war unless they fight alongside with them in wars. If they participate in the war, they were eligible to get what anyone, who had participated in the war deserved. As for the Bedouins who do not fight the non-believers along with the Muslims. There was nothing for them either from the fayy1 or from the spoils of war.
This includes the Jizyah taken from the non-Muslims subjects, which is the clear indication of this Hadith, in which no non-believer is excepted from any non-believer whatsoever.
It cannot be said that this is exclusive with regard to the people of the Book, as the word has nothing to restrict the same to Ahl al Kitab (people of scriptures). It is also the fact that the expeditions sent by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his armies were mostly fighting with the idol worshippers among the Arabs.
It cannot also be said that the Qur’an gives any evidence towards restricting the same to the Ahl al Kitab, because, Allah has ordered that the Ahl al Kitab be fought with until they pay the Jizyah and the Prophet (Peace be upon him) has also ordered fighting with the idolaters till they agree to pay the Jizyah.
As such, it will be collected from the Ahl al Kitab on the basis of the Qur’anic injunction and from the non-believers in general based on the Sunnah. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has already collected it from the Majoos, who were the worshippers of fire, there is no difference between them and between the idol worshippers, it is not right to call them as Alh al Kitab and there was no book revealed unto them. If they were considered as the Ahl al Kitab by the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Umar (r) would not have stopped short of it with regard to them and the Prophet (peace be upon him) would not have told “deal with them as in the case of Ahl al Kitab”. On the contrary, this gives a clear proof that they were not the Ahl al Kitab.
1. in Arabic means the booty, the war booty coming to the control of the government
Allah has mentioned about the Ahl al Kitab in the Holy Qur’an in many places, has mentioned about the Prophets (on whom be Peace) to whom Books and great religious laws (scriptures) were revealed, but He has not mentioned anything about the Majoos (fire worshippers) although they were one among the great nations in terms of power, number and strength – to have revealed a Book or sent a Prophet, nor has given any reference to it. On the contrary, the Qur’an gives proof against it as mentioned already. When they are known to be the fire worship[ers, then what is the difference between them and between the worshipper of the idols?
It is said, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has not collected it from any of the idol worshippers, although he had been at war with them more than others.
It is said, yes, that was due to the fact that the verse mentioning about the Jizyah was revealed in the year of Tabuk in the ninth year of Hijrah, after the Arabi peninsula had already embraced Islam and none of the idol worshippers remained there. When the verse relating to the Jizyah was revealed the Prophet (Peace be upon him) has taken it from the remaining non-believers among the Christians and the Majoos (Magians).
It is for this reason that he did not collect (Jizyah) from the Jews of Madinah when he came to Madinah, nor from the Jews of Khaiber, as he had concluded a treaty with them before the revelation of the verse on Jizyah.
CLAIM OF THE JEWS OF KHAYBAR THAT THEY WERE EXEMPTED FROM THE JIZYAH AND IT’S REFUTATION
This is the confusion which had made the Jews and the people of Khaiber to believe that there was no Jizyah liable upon them and that they were a special group among all other Jews. They support their argument over it by distorting a letter that indicated that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) having removed the compulsory work, bondage and the Jizyah for which they have recorded the witness of Sa’ad bin Mu’adh (r) and Mu’awiyah bin Abu Sufyan (r) and others.
Besides this, none of the scholars and transmitters of SIrah, expeditions and wars have mentioned the same to have happened, in spite of the fact that they have carefully recorded many other lesser important events.
Secondly, the verse on the Jizyah was revealed after the conquest of Makkah, at a time when the people of Khaiber have already concluded peace and compromise, the verse on the Jizyah had not yet been revealed and hence there was no question of exempting them from the same.
Third, Mu’awiya bin Abu Sufyan had not yet accepted Islam, he had actually accepted Islam after the conquest of Khaiber.
Fourth, Sa’ad bin Muadh had died in the year of the war of Trench (Khandaq) before the conquest of Khaiber.
Fifth, during the period of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) the compulsory work and bondage was not imposed on the people of Khaiber so as to exempt them from the same.
Sixth, the people of Khaiber never had any respect or care for the rights of the Muslims which could have warranted such a concession to them. As they were the most staunch enemies of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions from among the non-believers. What good will they had for the Muslims, on the basis of which the Jizyah could have been removed exclusively for them leaving aside other non-believers.
Seventh, as for the letter which they have been showing as proof and claiming to have been written by Ali bin Abu Talib, it was an absolute lie, as the enmity of Ali towards the Jews was well-known. He is the one who has killed Marhaba, a Jew. And he is the one who had massacred the Jews during the Khaiber war which led to its conquest under his command.
Eighth, this has not come to be known except from the Jewish narratives, they were the people known for their slander and falsehood, the greatest liars upon Allah, His Prophets and Messengers among the whole mankind. How can they say the truth with regard to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) contradicting the facts mentioned in the Book of Allah?
Ninth, this letter, if it was really true, they would have placed it before the Righteous Caliphs, during the reign of Umar bin Abdul Aziz, during the reign of al Mansur and al-Rashid. The Imams and scholars of Islam would have excepted them and exempted them along with those on whom the Jizyah was removed or al least one of the Muslim Jurists of the time would have mentioned about it in their observations, it is not permissible for the ummah to have consensus against the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). How such a letter from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) can remain in the hands of the enemies of Allah, how is that they had not presented such an evidence every time to those who have been collecting Jizyah from them and how even one single scholar among the ulama of the Salaf have mentioned about it? Although some of those who have no idea about the sirah literature among the later generations have claimed about it, their own associates and fellow scholars have denounced such a claim and have cautioned about their mistaken understandings.
Tenth, the Imams of Hadith and transmissions have evidenced about the falsehood of this letter, and termed it as a falsehood and fabricated one, and a cooked up lie, when the jews have presented it as an evidence after 400 years during the time of al Hafiz Abu Bakr al Khatib al Baghdadi the Wazir ibn Muslamah called him to his place and explained about it to him, then al Hafiz has said, “This letter is a fabricated one”, the Wazir said, “Where from it was?” he said, it carries the witness of Sa’ad bin Muadh and Mu’awiya bin Abu Sufyan; Sa’ad died in the war of Trench (Khanduq) before the Khaiber war and Mu’awiya bin Abu Sufyan accepted Islam only on the day of conquest of Makkah, in the eighth year of Hijrah. The war of Khaiber was in the seventh year. The Wazir was surprised to know about it.
What is known is that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had not collected the Jizyah from any one among the idolaters among the Arabis, because, the verse on Jizyah was revealed after the year of Tabuk. The idol worshippers among the Arabs have entered into the fold of Islam, hence, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was collecting it from those who have not accepted Islam from among the Jews, the Christians and the Magians.
Those who specialize in the Jizyah levied on the people of scriptures say, sending of the Messengers, the revelation of the Scriptures (the Books) and removing disbelief (Kufr) and associating partners to god (shirk) with the objective of making the religion to that of Allah Alone, say that Allah has said: and in another verse it is said: and what was intended was that no disbeliever shall remain a disbeliever. But, the verse has allowed the people of the Book to remain an entity, if they pay Jizyah with their own hands as subjects, as such, we have confined them to their knowledge (that they are paying consciously) and we have dealt with all other non-believers on the basis of the verse which gives evidence for fighting with them till the religion remains only for Allah.
They have said, it is not correct to combine the idol worshippers with that of the people of the Book, because the disbelief of the mushrikin (those who associate partners to God) is serious than that of the disbelief of the Ahl al Kitab. As the Ahl al Kitab have the belief in the Tawhid (unity of God) and some of the teachings of the Prophets which is not found with the idol worshippers. They also believe in the hereafter, the reward and punishment, prophet hood unlike the idol worshippers.
The idol worshippers have fought with all the Messengers and their community of followers from the time of Nuh till the Seal of the Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon him).
Hence, this great difference has influence over the relationships between the two groups, in terms of the permissibility of the slaughtered meat, marriage relationships with the Ahl al Kitab unlike the idol worshippers.
This does not contradict in the case of the Magians because the Messenger of Allah has ordered that they be treated as practiced in the case of the Ahl al Kitab. This goes to prove that the Jizyah was only taken from the Ahl al Kitab and that it was initiated exclusively for them.
Else, if the Jizyah was to cover all the non-believers, the Ahl al Kitab would not have been different or preferable over others. He would have said, they are like other non-believers, they shall be fought with till they accept Islam or pay the Jizyah.
As for the prohibition of meat of animals slaughtered by them and the marriage relationship with them, it is based on the consensus of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). As such, Imam Ahmed and others have rejected the analogy of Abu Thawr and his fatwa on the permissibility (making halal) of their slaughtered meat and marriage relationship with them.
Imam Ahmed has called upon and come forward to oppose the opinion of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), although, the companions were more aware of the laws of the Shariah, more knowledgeable, more perfect in analogy and opinion, as they had better understanding of the same and hold the opinion of sparing the lives in accordance with the sayings and deeds of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) having learnt the same directly from him. They have learnt the rules relating to the marriages and the prohibition of the slaughtered animals as a precaution and to maintain its original form and to link them with those of the idol worshippers, as there was no difference between them and the worshippers of the idols and the worshippers of the fire. As for the basis for the sparing of the life and the marriage and the slaughtered animals, it is prohibition. So, they have preserved everything in its original form. This is the objective of the fiqh and the most perfect approach to it.
THE WISDOM BEHIN RETAINING THE CONCEPT OF AHL AL KITAB IN OUR MIDST
They have said that the wisdom behind retaining the concept of the people of scriptures or Ahl al Kitab in our midst is that in spite of their disbelief, they bear witness to the reality of prophecy and the unity of God (Tawhid), the day of Judgment, the Paradise and the Hell. Their books have the good tidings about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his description and attributes as well as the description about his Ummah (nation) who are the signs of his prophecy and the proof of his mission, which, in fact, is the proof of the first and the latter.
This wisdom exclusively concerns itself with the people of the Book rather than the idol worshippers. Their existence as an entity is one of the strongest proofs against wise who reject the prophecy, the hereafter and the unity of God. Allah has said about those who refuse to accept it as: (Surah An Nahl: 43) this has been mentioned after; (Surah An Nahl: 43). This means, ask the people of the book, whether we have sent before Muhammad (peace be upon him) men to whom revelations were made or Muhammad (peace be upon him) alone was an innovation among the messengers, has not a messenger come before him, as if his sending was something not reasonable to be refuted and the world has not seen any Messenger before?
Allah has said: (Surah Al Zukhruf: 45) what was intended by asking them such a question was to ask a question to their respective nations (communities) about what message they have carried to them, was there anything in it to say that Allah has enjoined that they worshipped some one other than the Merciful (Himself) as a god?
Al Fara has said. What is intended was asking the people of the Torah and the Bible, so that they inform about their scriptures and their prophets.
Ibn Qutaibah has said, it si evaluation; ask those whom we have sent Messengers to them before you, they are the people of the Book, Ahl al Kitab.
Ibn al Anbari has said, it is an evaluation; ask them about those whom we have sent before you (as Messengers).
By every evaluation, what was intended was to establish the fact before the idolaters among the Quraish and others who have been rejecting the prophecy and the Tawhid (unit\y of God), and the fact that Allah has sent a Messenger or revealed a Book (scripture) or had forbidden the worship of the idols.
The witness and vouchsafing of the people of the Book of this fact is an argument and proof against them and this is the most perfect form of evidence on the Truth of the prophecy of Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a Messenger, as he had come with the same objective as his predecessors among the prophets have come from among the Messengers of Allah Ta’ala and was not anything innovative among them, nor had come contradicting what they have brought. On the contrary, he had brought the message about the very same thing which they have already conveyed, without being either present nor being a contemporary sharing with them in the Age in which they had lived.
These are among the greatest signs of his truthfulness.
AN ISSUE OF CONTROVERSY AND ITS ANSWER
Allah has said: (Surah Younus: 94).
This verse has raised many questions in the minds of many people and the Jews and the Christians have produced before the Muslims a number of evidences and said that it was in doubt and hence it was ordered to ask us. But, there is no doubt in it, Praise be to Allah, it was only brought before like cattle due to their ill intention and lack of understanding. Else, the verse was of the clear proof of his prophecy, there is nothing in the verse which proves that there was any doubt with regard to it nor was there any question to be raised basically. Because, the condition is not a proof that what was stipulated has actually happened or its possibility. Allah Ta’ala has said:
(Surah al Zumar: 65). And similar verses. This, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) never had any doubt, nor had raised any question over it.
In the commentary of Said reporting from Qatadah, he says: it was told to us that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) has said: “I will not have any doubt nor will I ask any”. Ibn Juraij has reported from Ibn Abbas that he has said: if you are in any doubt that your mention has been recorded in their scriptures, you ask them” This is what Ibn Jarir prefers. He says, Allah Ta’ala says to His Prophet (peace be upon him): if you are O Muhammad (peace be upon him) in doubt about the Truth, which we have informed you, which have revealed unto you, that the Banu Israel (Israelites) did not have any doubt before I had sent you as the Messenger to the people, because they will find you mentioned/ recorded in their scriptures, they know you by the attributes with which you have been mentioned and described in their Books. So, ask those who read the scriptures (Books) before you like Abdulla bin Salam and others among the people of the Truth and the Belief in you from among them, rather that the liars and those who do not believe you or those who reject you. Ibn Zaid also said like this and he says: he was Abdulla bin Salam.
Dhahhak has said: ask the people of virtue, piety and belief from among the people of the scriptures (Ahl al Kitab). Neither these people nor others have got the meaning and come closer to the objective of this by any means. Where was Abdulla bin Salam at the time of the revelation of this verse? As the Surah was revealed in Makkah, when Abdulla bin Salam was following the religion of his community. How can the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) be commanded to seek the proof and evidence against those who reject his prophethood and on following him?
Many commentators have said, this was addressed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and its objective and meaning was something different. Because the Qur’an was revealed to him in the language of the Arabs and they used to address some one but intend something else, as one of their proverbs go to say: I mean you only, listen (to me) O neighbor! Similarly the word of Allah, although addressed to the Prophet (peace be upon him); it was intended for his followers at the same time by this address.
Ibn Ishaq says: Allah Ta’ala addresses the Prophet (peace be upon him), but the address includes all the people. The meaning would be, ‘if you are in doubt’, to substantiate it the verse at the end of the Surah may be taken as a proof which says:. (Surah Yunus: 104)
Ibn Qutaiba says, the people during the time of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) were of many kind, among them were those who rejected him and falsified him, others believed in him and called him the truthful, some others were doubtful on the issue itself and they did not know much about him. So they used to prefer a person and push aside another. Allah had addressed this kind of people and said, “if you have any doubt, O man, in what We have sent down for you of the guidance through Muhammad (peace be upon him), then ask…”
He further says, although (Allah) had mentioned in the singular, what was intended was the plural of it, as He has said in another verse: (Al-Infitar:6) similarly, (Al-Inshiqaq:6) also (Al-Zumar:8), And that is in fact – although there was some reason for it – the context seems to go against it, so by looking into it and looking into the verse (Al-Yunus:94) and the verse
(Al-Yunus:99) all these verses are addressed in singular in its condition and purpose, which are inter related with one another in the context.
As the scholars who are familiar with this have understood that this order was not directed except towards the Prophet (peace be upon him), they say that this is addressed to him, but what is intended was those who were that kind of people (who had doubt about him).
All these are to avoid something which is ambiguous although it is not really ambiguous or an assumption being a doubt about it and a question thereto. We have already explained that there was no such possibility, not to mention such a thing happening at all! If it is said that if such a thing has not happened and was not possible, what was the purpose of such an address and what was intended by it?
In this connection, it is being said that the purpose for which it was said was to establish a proof against those refuting the prophethood and the Tawhid (unity of God) and they were acknowledging and accepting the same, they never argued or rejected it. Allah has sent to them His Messengers, and revealed unto them His Books (Wahy) through them, has sent through the Angels His revelation and Divine Commands to His Prophets from time to time. So, whoever has doubt in it shall ask the people of the Books (scripture). This is what is intended in terms of its meaning in the most brief expression and the most authentic form on what was intended, that the address was directed towards His Messenger (Peace be upon him) who had no doubt in it whatsoever. He had never raised a question at all, nor had said anything which may seem to be so.
If you think over this address, what you can see on its face value of it, you can understand that whoever had doubt shall ask about it. As such, My Messenger did not have doubt, so he did not ask!. This objective was to mention something about the wisdom behind maintaining that the Ahl al Kitab shall pay Jizyah, which wisdom was not to applied with regard to others, so going to war with them remains open (if warranted) till the religion remains exclusively for Allah Alone!