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They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: “Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members.” Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you Turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.

According to Maariful Quran,

“The gist of the discussion is that initiating a fight during these
months is forbidden for ever, but in the event that disbelievers mount
an attack on Muslims, then, Muslims are permitted to fight back in
their defence. Al-Jassiis .. . has reported the narration of the blessed
Companion ~abir ibn ‘Abdulliih who said that the Holy Prophet .& did
not fight in any of the ‘sacred months’ until such time that the initial
fighting was started by the disbelievers.” (pg. 537)

For details, see Maariful Quran vol. 1 pg. 532-548

References:

Shafi, Muhammad (2008). Maariful Quran. (Vol .1 pg. 537) http://www.islamicweblibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/maarif-volum1-english.pdf

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