What is the meaning of the phrase in the verse: “But forgive and overlook, till Allaah brings His Command”?.
Allaah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Many of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their ownselves, even after the truth (that Muhammad is Allaah’s Messenger) has become manifest unto them. But forgive and overlook, till Allaah brings His Command. Verily, Allaah is Able to do all things”
In this verse Allaah states that many of the People of the Book wish that the Muslims would become disbelievers and apostates, out of hatred, resentment and envy, even though they know the truth and are certain of it. But despite that, Allaah commanded the believers to forgive and overlook. This was for many reasons, such as the desire that they might be guided and the truth might becomes clear to them, and because the Muslims were preoccupied with their war against Quraysh. Wisdom dictated that they should focus on confronting only one enemy. Allaah stated that this forgiveness and overlooking was for a certain length of time, until the command of Allaah came to the Muslims giving them permission to fight.
The word ya’ti (comes) here means: comes, is issued, is revealed – i.e., until the command of Allaah comes down to them.
The command came from Allaah after that to fight them, as Ibn ‘Abbaas, Qataadah, al-Rabee’ and others said.
Al-Tabari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his Tafseer (1/534): “forgive” means to let them off for bad treatment and the wrong things that they say about your religion, intending to divert you away from it and to make you apostatize after you have believed. And because of what they said to your Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) previously: “ ‘Hear and let you (O Muhammad) hear nothing.’ And Raa‘ina [Raa‘ina: means in Arabic “Be careful, listen to us, and we listen to you”, whereas in Hebrew, it means “an insult”] with a twist of their tongues and as a mockery of the religion (Islam)” [al-Nisa’ 4:46]. Overlook any ignorance on their part until the command of Allaah comes, for He may command you as He wills. Then the decree came and His command came. He said to His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and those who believed in him (interpretation of the meaning):
“Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allaah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allaah and His Messenger (Muhammad), (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued”
Then he narrated that al-Rabee’ said concerning the words “But forgive and overlook, till Allaah brings His Command”: Forgive the people of the Book until Allaah issues His command concerning them, then after that Allaah issued His command and said: “Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allaah, (2) nor in the Last Day, … until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued”
Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Zaad al-Maseer (1/132): With regard to the words of Allaah, “till Allaah brings His Command”, Ibn ‘Abbaas said: Allaah brought His command concerning al-Nadeer, that they be expelled, and concerning Qurayzah that they be killed and taken captive. End quote.
And Allaah knows best.