Exposition of the Holy Quran – 08 Surah Al-Anfaal (G A Parwez)

Surah 8: Al-Anfaal

(The Bounty)

(1) O Rasool, they ask you what is to be done with anfaal (bounty). Tell them, “The anfaal will remain with the divine order so you should resolve your differences about it according to the laws of Allah. You should obey the divine order which will be an indication of your being (show that you are) believers.”

(2-4) They alone are momineen whose hearts are deeply moved when they hear the teachings of the Qur’an and whose faith is strengthened when its laws are communicated to them. They obey these laws with complete trust in what Allah has revealed. They are those who establish the Nizam-us-Sala and keep open for the use of all, the means of nurture provided to them. They are momineen indeed. They have their places of honour with their Rabb as well as His protection and respectable means of sustenance (8:62-64, 74, 9:100, 48:29, 57:10).

(5) (The following verses relate to the Battle of Badr.) The Rasool was of the opinion that the battle should be fought outside the city. Some of his followers were averse to this and believed that going outside the city to fight meant being led towards death.

(6-8) A caravan of the Quraish was passing close to Madinah and was unarmed. Some of the momineen were of the opinion that the caravan should be attacked to secure enormous spoils. However, it was Allah’s plan that the momineen should have an open confrontation with their enemies so that the truth of the divine system should be established and made manifest and the kafireen should be uprooted no matter how much they disliked it.

(9-10) At that stage you sought succour from your Rabb. He answered saying, “Surely I will aid you with a thousand malaika (celestial forces) coming rank in rank.” By this, Allah meant to offer you glad tidings and to put your hearts at rest. Succour comes only from Allah who is mighty and wise (9:26, 40, 33:9, 41:30).

(11)  Thus you secured peace of mind. In addition, there was rainfall which refreshed you and relieved you of the anxiety that the enemy might cause scarcity of water. All this strengthened your hearts and let your feet rest firmly on the ground.

(12-13) On that occasion Allah said to the malaika, “I have promised My succour to the momineen. I will be with you. You steady the hearts of the faithful and I will cast dread into the hearts of their enemies.” Therefore, O Jamat-ul-Momineen! Smite your enemies and crush them completely because they oppose the divine order – and those who do so should be completely devastated.”

(14) It will be said to them, “This is the recompense for your evil deeds. Taste it then.”

(15-16) O Jamat-ul-Momineen! Meet the marshalled host of your enemies. Do not turn your backs on them. He who shall turn his back on them in the battlefield, unless he turns aside to fight or to rally some other troops, shall face severe chastisement. Jahannam – a wretched destination – shall be his abode!

(17-18) You had slain your enemies but indeed it was Allah who slew them because you were fighting in His cause. When you sent forth a shaft of arrows it was not you who did it but Allah (Allah’s programme in the world of human beings is carried out through them) (9:14, 22:40). By this success Allah meant to bestow a special favour upon the momineen, He hears and knows all. By His strategy, He also weakened the opposing kafireen.

(19) O Rasool tell the people of Makkah, “You had sought to force a decision and that decision has now come to you. If you desist in the future, it will be better for you. But if you return to warfare we shall also return to it and your forces, though they may be greater in number, shall not be of any avail to you because Allah will be on the side of the momineen.”

(20-21) O Jamat-ul-Momineen! Obey the divine order and do not turn away from it. Now that you have heard the truth and seen its results, you should not be like those who say, “We are listening,” and yet do not listen.

(22-23) The worst of creatures in the sight of Allah are those human beings who do not utilize their faculties of hearing and speaking and refuse to understand (2:18, 7:179). If they had made use of their faculties, it would have been better for them. If Allah had compelled people who do not use their faculties to follow the right path, it would have been futile. They would have turned aside whenever they found an opportunity to do so.

(24) O Jamat-ul-Momineen! Respond to the call of the divine order when it beckons you to that which will give you life. Remember that it requires great courage and strength to respond to the call and you must be wary of those emotions which weaken your resolve. Bear in mind that the results of all your actions which are based upon emotions will be determined according to the Law of Mukafat.

(25) You should be particularly careful that your enemies’ devices are not successful because, when destruction comes to a nation, it is not confined only to the wrong-doers, it envelopes the entire nation because Allah’s laws are very severe in retribution!

(26) You have witnessed the life-giving consequences of adhering to Allah’s laws. You should remember the time when you were but few in numbers and were considered to be of little account in the land, and were constantly in dread of those who could forcibly expel you. It was under these circumstances that Allah found for you a place of refuge (Madinah) and strengthened you with His help and provided you good things so that your efforts may bring forth rich results.

(27) Do not betray the divine order or the trust reposed in you. You know what the results of such betrayal would be (4:58).

(28) Such betrayal is motivated by love of wealth and children but remember that in such a case these things become a fitna whereas the recompense bestowed by Allah is generous and more valuable (9:23-24, 25:74, 64:14-15).

(29) If you adhere to the laws of Allah, He will grant you a life of distinction, wipe out the ill-effects of your shortcomings and grant you protection. Allah is the giver of great blessings.

(30) O Rasool call to mind the occasion when the kafireen of Makkah plotted against you to detain you as a prisoner or to kill or banish you. They plotted thus but in His turn Allah made His own plans. Allah’s plans are the best.

(31) When our revelation is recited to them, they say, “We have heard it, and if we choose to do so, we can recite verses like these. After all, they are mere tales of ancient times.”

(32) They also say, “O Allah! If this revelation is really from you, rain down upon us stones from above, or inflict on us some other grievous chastisement.”

(33) But, O Rasool! Allah chose not to chastise them while you were in their midst, nor while they sought forgiveness.

(34) But now what plea can they advance why Allah should not chastise them when they have debarred the momineen from entering the Ka’bah? They are not fit to be the guardians of the Ka’bah which can be administered only by the muttaqeen. But most of them do not realize this.

(35) Leave aside the question of guardianship, the prayer of these mushrikeen at the Ka’bah is nothing more than whistling and clapping of hands. Therefore, let them taste the chastisement for their kufr (denial of the divine truth).

(36-37) These kafireen expend their wealth to turn people aside from Allah’s path. Let them continue to do so. But when they are eventually overcome, they will be full of woe at the loss of their wealth. They will all be driven towards jahannam in order that Allah might separate the worthless from the worthy; and of the worthless join everyone with his like, then collecting them all turn them towards jahannam. These are the people who will be the losers (3:178, 36:59, 55:41).

(38) O Rasool! Tell these opponents that if they desist from their ways, that which is past will be forgiven. But if they return to fighting, they will meet the same fate which befell those who had acted thus in the past.

(39-40) O Jamat-ul-Momineen! If they do not desist, you will have no alternative but to fight till fitna ceases and there is complete freedom of belief for all (2:193). If they desist, Allah will take note of what they do thereafter. (Therefore, you should seek no recourse against them.) If they violate their commitment then rest assured that Allah will protect you. He is indeed an excellent protector and helper.

(41) (Since ancient times,) Arabs lived mainly on spoils of war. The booty seized by an individual soldier belonged to him. The Qur’an brought about a fundamental change by declaring that the spoils of war belonged to the divine system and stated that a fifth part of the booty would be reserved by the State for administrative purposes and the remaining would go to those in need e.g., the dependents of those slain in war, orphans, those who have been incapacitated to earn or those whose running business has come to a standstill, and stranded wayfarers – 2:83, 2:177, 2:215, 4:8, 4:36). It is not so simple to part with money which comes to hand so easily, but if you have implicit faith in Allah and in the laws revealed to his devotee (the Rasool), (on the day when truth was distinguished from falsehood – the day when the two forces clashed on the battlefield of Badr), then it would not be difficult for you to accept the situation and Allah has devised measures for all things.

(42) On that day, you were camped on the near side of the valley and the enemy on the far side (8:4-5). The caravan was on ground lower than you. If it had been up to you to decide what to do, you would certainly have differed amongst yourselves. But Allah wanted His plan to be accomplished so He led you to action. This was necessary in order that it might become manifest that those who have the capacity to live should survive, whilst those who lack this capacity may perish after clear demonstration. Allah is the hearer and the knowing.

(43) Since you had full confidence in Allah’s laws and were thus assured of your victory, in your sight the enemy’s numbers seemed fewer than they were. If they had seemed greater, you would have faltered and disputed amongst yourselves about whether to fight or not. Allah saved you from this quandary since He was fully aware of what troubled your heart.

(44) When you confronted the enemy, its numbers appeared to you to be fewer than they actually were (3:12). You also appeared to the enemy to be fewer than you were because their overconfidence made them misjudge the situation. Thus Allah’s plans succeeded since everything is eventually decided according to His laws (3:172).

(45-47) O Jamat-ul-Momineen! When you confront the enemy, stand firm and focus upon Allah’s directives so that you might be successful. You should obey your order firmly and do not quarrel among yourselves lest you become disheartened and your strength fails you. You should endure the trial steadfastly for Allah is with those who endure steadfastly (sabireen). Be not like those who come to the battlefield to exhibit their false pride to people and to turn them away from Allah’s path. But you need not be anxious for Allah has hold over what they do.

(48) And then a leader of the opponents made their actions seem fair to them, assuring them that none could vanquish them and that he would be their protector. When the two armies stood face to face, he turned on his heels and said, “I am clear of you since I see what you do not see and I am fearful of Allah’s army. I can see what a severe chastisement is about to come to you.”

(49) The munafiqeen, whose hearts were diseased, said about the momineen that their deen had deluded them. They did not realize that it was not delusion but complete confidence in the validity of Allah’s law which had emboldened the momineen to fight.

(50-51) If you could only see what malaika do when they cause the munafiqeen to die! They smite their faces and their backs saying, “You taste this chastisement which will reduce you to ashes,” and Allah will say to them, “This is what your hands have sent before you, otherwise Allah does no zulm on His servants (6:94).”

(52) This is what was meted out to the people of the Pharaoh and to those before them who rejected Allah’s laws. Allah seized them for their crimes. Allah is mighty and very severe in chastisement.

(53) This is because Allah will not withdraw the favours bestowed upon a people until they bring about a change in their inner selves (13:11). Allah hears and knows.

(54) This is what happened to the people of the Pharaoh and to those before them. They denied the truth of Allah’s laws. They were destroyed for their crimes. The people of the Pharaoh were drowned. They were all zalimeen.

(55) Mark this! The worst of creatures in Allah’s sight are those who will never believe in His laws (7:179, 8:22).

(56) (Your opponents are similar to these people, O Rasool.) You had made a treaty with them which they have violated repeatedly without realizing what the result of this would be.

(57) If you come upon them in the war, deal with them in such a way that not only they but also their supporters are scattered and learn a lesson for the future.

(58) O Jamat-ul-Momineen! If you fear treachery at the hands of those with whom you have a treaty, do not break the treaty unilaterally but tell the other side that the treaty will not be binding on you any more. In this way, both parties will be on equal ground. Mind it! Allah does not like the treacherous.

(59) Let not your enemies fancy that they will escape from the grip of Allah’s laws. They will never make powerless those who adhere to Allah’s laws (4:141).

(60) O Jamat-ul-Momineen! Keep ready what force you can muster to meet your enemy, together with strong cavalry with which you can strike terror in the hearts of those who are enemy to Allah and to you; and those besides them whom you do not know but whom Allah knows. (To do so, huge expenses are involved) Hence financial help must be given. Remember, whatever you expend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid to you justly.

(61) If the enemy inclines towards peace, you should do likewise and repose your trust in the laws of Allah Who is the hearing and the knowing.

(62-64) If your enemy seeks to dupe you, do not be anxious for Allah is all-sufficient for you. O Rasool, it is He Who has strengthened you with His help and with the help of the momineen (6:52, 18:28, 48:29). Allah has instilled the feeling of oneness in the hearts of the momineen. You could not achieve such unity of heart even if you spent all the riches of the earth. It has become possible only through unity of faith and obedience to the laws of Allah Who is mighty and wise. Allah and the Jamat-ul-Momineen who follow you are sufficient for you.

(65) O Nabi! Prepare your followers for battle by proper training and tell them that twenty of them, who are firm and steadfast, should be able to overcome two hundred of the enemy and if there be a hundred of them, they should be able to overcome a thousand, for the latter are those who do not use their intellect in war.

(66) The ratio of one to ten would work if all other things were equal except numbers. But in the present situation there is inequality also in arms and equipment. Therefore, Allah made the burden lighter and reduced the ratio to one to two instead of one to ten. This is again subject to the condition that you are sabireen (steadfast).

(67) O Jamat-ul-Momineen! You wanted as many prisoners of war as you could have in order to secure their ransom. It does not behove your Rasool to do this since he is waging war in order to accomplish the divine purpose and not for the fleeting gains of the world – Allah looks to your future as well as your present for He is not only mighty but also wise.

(68) Had it not been for the provision of forgiveness in Allah’s laws, you would have received a mighty chastisement for taking prisoners of war for the purpose of worldly gains.

(69) The spoils of war are lawful and good for you so make use of them as you like and adhere to the laws of Allah who is protector and Raheem.

(70-71) O Rasool! The captives you already have are to be set free either by securing ransom or by an act of grace if the ransom cannot be paid by them (47:4). Tell these captives that if Allah finds anything good in their hearts, He will give them more than they have lost, and will forgive them. But if there is some treachery on their part, they have seen the result of such treachery – they have been subdued by the momineen. Allah knows and is wise.

(72) Those who believed, and left their homes and struggled hard with their lives and their wealth in the cause of Allah, and those who gave shelter and help to them – they shall be friends to each other. But those who believed, yet did not left their homes to join the divine order, though they had the possibility to do so – they shall have no right of protection from you until they too leave their homes. However, if they seek aid from you in the matter of deen, it will be obligatory for you to provide it except if the aid goes against those with whom you have a treaty. Remember that Allah watches your actions.

(73) Those who reject the divine order are friends to one another. If you do not act against them as directed by Allah, there will be fitna (chaos) and fasad (anarchy) in the land.

(74) Those who believed, and left their homes and struggled in the cause of Allah and those who gave shelter and help to them – both these groups are the true momineen. For them there is protection from Allah as well as respectable means of nurture.

(75) Those who believe thereafter, who leave their homes and join you in your struggle – they are also of you. But Allah’s laws which relate to blood relationships do not apply to them. Allah knows all things.

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