Ayah

Word by Word
إِلَّا
Except
ٱلَّذِينَ
those who
تَابُواْ
repent
مِن
from
قَبۡلِ
before
أَن
that
تَقۡدِرُواْ
you overpower
عَلَيۡهِمۡۖ
[over] them
فَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ
then know
أَنَّ
that
ٱللَّهَ
Allah
غَفُورٞ
(is) Oft-Forgiving
رَّحِيمٞ
Most Merciful
إِلَّا
Except
ٱلَّذِينَ
those who
تَابُواْ
repent
مِن
from
قَبۡلِ
before
أَن
that
تَقۡدِرُواْ
you overpower
عَلَيۡهِمۡۖ
[over] them
فَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ
then know
أَنَّ
that
ٱللَّهَ
Allah
غَفُورٞ
(is) Oft-Forgiving
رَّحِيمٞ
Most Merciful

Translation

Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case, know that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

Tafsir

Except for such, warmongers and waylayers, as repent before you overpower them; for know that God is Forgiving, to them of what they have done, Merciful, to them. This [proviso] is expressed without any statement to the effect 'do not submit them to prescribed legal punishment', to point out that when such a person repents only God's prescribed punishments (hudood) - and not those deriving from the rights of human beings - are waived. This is how I see it. I do not know of any that have tackled this [topic], and God knows best. If, then, a person has killed and stolen property, he should be killed and have his limbs cut off [on opposite sides], but not crucified - this is the more sound of two opinions held by al-Shaafi'ee. However, his repentance is of no avail, once he has been overpowered [by the authorities] - this is also the more sound of two opinions held by him.

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