This passage has been discussed by C. Cahen in Arabica, tome 9, fasc. I, Jan. 1962, pp. 76-79. It is the expression an yadin that poses the main difficulty in trying to achieve a satisfactory interpretation of the passage. Cahen mentions several of the explanations of the expression given by the Muslim commentators but finds none of them acceptable. His own conjecture is that the phrase indicates a "gesture of submission": " `compensation de main' (portee sur le vaincu pour le tuer, ou au besoin pour le reduire en esclavage, comme la manus latine)." He notes, however, that no evidence of the existence of such a rite "in the pre- and peri-Islamic Semitic Orient" has come to our knowledge so far.
It is clear that the meaning of an yadin must have a close relation to that of al-gizyah. Lane's explanation of gizyah, based on the explanation given by indigenous lexicographers, runs as follows: "The tax that is taken from the free non-Muslim subjects of a Muslim government whereby they ratify the compact that ensures them protection [from gaza]; as though it were a compensation for their not being slain." Cf. Lisdn al-Arab (ed. Bairut, 1955), 14, 147 a, 3 sqq. = Ibn al-Asir, al- Nihdyah, I, 190, 22 sqq.: al-gizyah:... wahiya `ibaratun `ani 1-mali lladi ya'qidu 1-kita-biyu `alaihi d-dimmata wahiya fi`latun mina l-gaza'i waka'annaha gazat an qatlihi. Among the various interpretations of the phrase an yadin suggested by the Muslim commentators there is one, not mentioned by Cahen, that deserves our attention. We refer to al- Baydawi's commentary (ed. Fleischer, p. 383, 24):... an in'amin 'alaihim fa'inna ibga'ahum bil-gizyati ni'matun `azi-matun "['an yadin is also explained as] `in exchange for a benefaction granted them'; for the sparing of their lifes In exchange for the reward (gizyah) is an enormous benefaction." That is, yad-"hand" is used here in its frequently occurring meaning of "benefaction." Accordingly, the passage should be interpreted as follows: "(Combat the unbelievers ... ) until they give the reward [due] for a benefaction, whilst they are ignominious." The circumstantial clause wa-hum sagiruna "whilst they are ignominious" refers to the unbelievers' failure to fight unto death.
We must assume that the clause "until they give the reward [due] for a benefaction" represents a euphemistical paraphrase of what is really meant: "(Combat the unbelievers ...) until they pay tribute as compensation for their not being killed."
Meir M. Bravmann
What seems to me the most important in the explanation of Professor Bravmann is not the meaning of yad = generosity-for whether we understand "reward for a benefaction" or "compensation in place of violence" comes to the same thing practically-but the interpretation of wahum saghiruna as referring to the humiliation in battle. It is certain that following this path leads to a logical and coherent ensemble. I only wonder if, according to the texts of capitulation and others to which I referred, it is really this limited sense that was felt by the Muslims of the conquest; but that, of course, is not an insurmountable objection. While congratulating myself for having furnished the occasion for Professor Bravmann's intervention, I believe that the discussion, even if it has made progress, remains open.