¡ O Prophet! Reverence God and obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Truly God is Knowing, Wise.
1 The Prophet is commanded to not compromise with the disbelievers in a manner that would contravene the revealed law. Throughout the Quran, the Prophet is warned to avoid any such concessions, as in 45:18: Then We placed thee upon a clear path from the Command; so follow it, and follow not the caprices of those who know not (cf. 5:48-49; 42:1). The present verse was reportedly revealed with regard to some leaders of the Quraysh who had traveled to Madinah after the Battle of Uḥud (3/625) to see the Prophet. Muhammad had allowed them to come to speak with him with his assurance of protection. They requested that he cease rejecting their idols and recognize the idols’ ability to intercede on behalf of those who worship them. Upon hearing this, ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb said to the Prophet, “Let me kill them, O Messenger of God!” The Prophet replied, “I have given them my assurance of protection,” upon which ʿUmar said to them, “Leave with God’s Curse and Wrath upon you.” The Prophet then ordered ʿUmar to drive them out of Madinah (Ṭs, W). In this context, the command to reverence God, though general, can also be understood as a specific reminder to those who wanted to kill the delegation from the Quraysh that they must honor their agreement to grant them protection (Ṭs).