Running Away From The Battlefield, By Ibn Al-‘Arabi
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Regarding the statement of Allaah:
“O you who believe! When you meet those who disbelieve, in a battle-field, never turn your backs to them. And whoever turns his back to them on such a day – unless it be a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own), – he indeed has drawn upon himself wrath from Allah. And his abode is Hell, and worst indeed is that destination!” [8:15-16]
Ibn Al-‘Arabi said:
“People (i.e, the scholars) have disputed whether the running away in flight applies only to the Battle of Badr or to all battles Muslims may fight at any time until the day of judgement. Aboo Sa’eed Al-Khudree reports that this order applies only to the battle of Badr, when the Muslims had no other company or troop other than Allaah’s Messenger. This view is supported by Naafi’, al-Hasan, Qataadah, Yazeed Ibn Habeeb and Al-Dahhaak.
Ibn ‘Abbaas and all other scholars are of the view that this Quranic verse applies at all times until the day of judgement. Those who have taken a different view, saying that it applies to Badr only have misinterpreted the statement, “Anyone who turns his back on them that day,” [8:16] making the phrase ‘on that day’ a reference to the battle of Badr only. But this is not so. It refers to the day of battle whenever a battle takes place.
In evidence we take the fact that this Quranic verse was revealed after the battle of Badr was over with all that it involved. The Prophet is authentically quoted to list fleeing from battle as one of the worst major sins. In itself, this hadeeth should settle all disputes and make the ruling absolutely clear. We have clarified how the confusion arose that led some scholars to think that it applied to Badr only.”
[Ahkaam Al-Quraan, by Ibn Al-‘Arabi, 2/843-844]