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I'm new to this forum and today while reading Al Muwatta i came upon this hadith.

Imam Malik's Muwatta Book 021 hadith n. 10 Can somebody explain to me the meaning of this hadith:

Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Said that Abu Bakr as-Siddiq was sending armies to ash-Sham. He went for a walk with Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan who was the commander of one of the battalions. It is claimed that Yazid said to Abu Bakr, "Will you ride or shall I get down?" Abu Bakrsaid, "I will not ride and you will not get down. I intend these steps of mine to be in the way of Allah." Then Abu Bakr advised Yazid, "You will find a people who claim to have totally given themselves to Allah. Leave them to what they claim to have given themselves. .You will find a people who have shaved the middle of their heads, strike what they have shaved with the sword "I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly."

I just can't understand the meaning of this part:

"You will find a people who have shaved the middle of their heads, strike what they have shaved with the sword"

I think it's related to monks, but i'm really not sure about it. As far as i know Abu Bakr commanded not to kill anyone and leave in peace women, children, aged men and people who retire in worship places, and so did the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) Can somebody explain that part to me? Maybe I'm just to tired and sleepy to understand it. Also notice that I'm not native arabic speaker.. i mean i speak arabic with my parents but it's a sort of dialect (north african who lives in Europe )

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As for the part:

"You will find a people who claim to have totally given themselves to Allah.

Abu Bakr here is referring to monks etc.: people who left the material life with the -pretended- intention to focus on the worship of Allah. This is due to the fact that they will and are not involved in the fight (even if their worship might not be of God only).

Al-Kandahlawi in his Awjaz al-Masalik أوجز المسالك (Volume 13, pages 70 ff see for example here) added some details from al-Baji's al-Muntaqa المنتقى (both commentaries of al-Muwatta') saying that it refers to monks who stopped interactions with the people, be it financial, by advise, by help in case of war, by sharing information (war) these kinds of people shouldn't be involved in the fight as even if they pretend to worship Allah (only which might be doubtful, if we take into account how the qur'an describes the Christian religion) they at least are neutral in the fight they neither support their brothers in faith nor the Muslims. While those monks who stay in Churches should be killed according to ibn habib, while imam a-Shafi'i allows to take monks (in general, even if they stay away from their people) as prisoners of war despite the clear statement of abu Bakr.

Further it is also known that killing children, women (see for example in Sahih al-Bukhari) and old men is not allowed for Muslims when they go out for Jihad, and further more they are not allowed to do any harm to many other things such as fruit-bearing trees etc. (on the whole ten prohibited actions)

As for the statement:

"You will find a people who have shaved the middle of their heads, strike what they have shaved with the sword"

Here abu Bakr is referring to the (religious) leaders of the Christians and he is clearly ordering to kill them if they were to be found. In the commentary of Az-Zurqani on Muwatta' Malik you may find (see for example here):
In the following I'll be translating from Arabic, be aware that I will restrict the translation on the necessary and will skip details about Arabic grammar and linguistics the author added. As these translations are of my own take them with the necessary care!

( وَسَتَجِدُ قَوْمًا فَحَصُوا) بفتح الفاء والمهملة وضم الصاد مهملة ( عَنْ أَوْسَاطِ رُءُوسِهِمْ مِنَ الشَّعَرِ) قال ابن حبيب يعني الشمامسة وهم رؤساء النصارى جمع شماس ( فَاضْرِبْ مَا فَحَصُوا عَنْهُ بِالسَّيْفِ) أي اقتلهم
(You will find a people who have shaved the middle of their heads) ibn Habib said that he was referring to the deacons -in transliterated Arabic Shamaasah plural of Shamaas- and they are the (religious) leaders of the Christians
(strike what they have shaved with the sword) means kill them!

here abu Bakr used a similar "figurative" wording as in (8:12)

... so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip."

And the meaning of this order goes ahead with (9:12)

...then fight the leaders of disbelief, for indeed, there are no oaths [sacred] to them; [fight them that] they might cease.

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