Examination of Verses 89, 90 and 91 of Surat an-Nisa':
These verses refer to hypocrites. These are creatures who say they are Muslims, who live among Muslims and appear to be one of them, but who actually harbor a great hostility toward God and Islam, and seek to stab Muslims in the back. God reveals that those who die as hypocrites are cast into the lowest circle of hell. As can be seen, because of its two-faced and treacherous nature, hypocrisy is an especially dangerous and despicable human model, quite unlike the deniers or the polytheists.
It is forbidden in verse 89 of Surat an-Nisa’ to adopt as friends hypocrites, who abandon Muslims and who strive to make Muslims fall into the same perversions as themselves. What justifies fighting against them is the state in which the hypocrites in question engage in physical attacks on Muslims. We can see this from the verse that follows, verse 90. As is clear from the words “If they keep away from you and do not fight you and submit to you,” there is nothing to be held against a community that does not engage in attacks. The community the killing of which is permitted is quite clearly one that has declared war on Muslims first. Muslims are clearly given the right to defend themselves in the face of attacks here.
In addition, verse 90 of Surat an-Nisa’ is another manifestation of the just, forgiving and affectionate language, that always favors peace, of the Qur’an. Some hypocrites, who until then had always stabbed Muslims in the back and betrayed them but who later adopted a peaceful attitude toward Muslims are also immune, as we can see from the words; “Except for those who seek shelter with people with whom you have a treaty, or who come to you greatly perturbed at the prospect of fighting either you or their own people.” In the same verse God says, “If they keep away from you and do not fight you and submit to you, God has not given you any way against such people,” again emphasizing their immunity. This is the very definition of justice.
Verse 91 contains a situation described on the basis of the same conditions. Hypocrites who repent and who say they do not want to fight later return to fitna and begin attacking Muslims again. In that event, the provision regarding war is recalled in the Qur’an, saying that these people are not to be touched as long as they do not attack, but that if they do, then self-defense is legitimate.
We need to remember that the situation described in the verse was a specific one that came about during the Battle of Uhud and concerns those hypocrites who engaged in treachery on the battlefield.