Category: Art & Culture

Surat Al-Anfal = The Spoils 8 – Medinian – Ayats 75 Section One – Ayats 1-19

 

They ask you [O’ Muhammad PPBUH] about/ concerning (things taken as) spoils of war. Say: “’such’ spoils are at the disposal of God and the Apostle; so fear God and adjust all matters of differences/keep straight the relations between yourselves: obey God and His Apostle; if you are believers”. (1)

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَنْفَالِ قُلِ الْأَنْفَالُ لِلَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَصْلِحُوا ذَاتَ بَيْنِكُمْ وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ (1)

For, the believers are ‘only’ those who –when God is mentioned- feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His Signs/Verse rehearsed/recited, find their faith increased and strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord. (2) 

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آَيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ (2)

Who establish regular prayers, and spend (freely) out of the gifts We have provided and given to them for sustenance. (3)

الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنْفِقُونَ (3)

Such in truth are the (true) Believers; they have grades of dignity with their Lord, and forgiveness, and generous sustenance/provision. (4)

أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ حَقًّا لَهُمْ دَرَجَاتٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ وَرِزْقٌ كَرِيمٌ (4)

Just as your Lord ordered/caused you [O’ Muhammad PPBUH] to go out from your house in truth, and verily, a party among the believers disliked it. (5) 

كَمَا أَخْرَجَكَ رَبُّكَ مِنْ بَيْتِكَ بِالْحَقِّ وَإِنَّ فَرِيقًا مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ لَكَارِهُونَ (5)

Disputing with you concerning the Truth, after it was made manifest, as if they were being driven to death, and they (actually) saw it. (6)

يُجَادِلُونَكَ فِي الْحَقِّ بَعْدَمَا تَبَيَّنَ كَأَنَّمَا يُسَاقُونَ إِلَى الْمَوْتِ وَهُمْ يَنْظُرُونَ (6)

Behold! (and remember) when God you (Muslims) one of the two (enemy) parties that it should be yours; you wished that the one unarmed should be yours, but God willed to justify the Truth according to His words, and to cut-off the roots of the Unbelievers. (7)

وَإِذْ يَعِدُكُمُ اللَّهُ إِحْدَى الطَّائِفَتَيْنِ أَنَّهَا لَكُمْ وَتَوَدُّونَ أَنَّ غَيْرَ ذَاتِ الشَّوْكَةِ تَكُونُ لَكُمْ وَيُرِيدُ اللَّهُ أَنْ يُحِقَّ الْحَقَّ بِكَلِمَاتِهِ وَيَقْطَعَ دَابِرَ الْكَافِرِينَ (7)

That He might justify Truth (triumphant), and prove Falsehood false; even though it is distasteful to those in guilt. (8)

لِيُحِقَّ الْحَقَّ وَيُبْطِلَ الْبَاطِلَ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُجْرِمُونَ (8)

Remember when you implored the assistance of your Lord, and He answered you (saying):”I Will assist with a thousand of the angels, ranks on ranks” (in succession). (9)

إِذْ تَسْتَغِيثُونَ رَبَّكُمْ فَاسْتَجَابَ لَكُمْ أَنِّي مُمِدُّكُمْ بِأَلْفٍ مِنَ الْمَلَائِكَةِ مُرْدِفِينَ (9)

God made it but a glad tidings/a message of hope and a assurance to your hearts: (in any case) there is no help or victory except from God. Verily, God is All-Mighty, All-Wise. (10) 

وَمَا جَعَلَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بُشْرَى وَلِتَطْمَئِنَّ بِهِ قُلُوبُكُمْ وَمَا النَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ (10)

Remember (when He) covered you with a sort of lethargy/slumber as a security to give you calmness as from Himself, and He caused water (rain) to descend on you from heaven, to clean/ purify you therewith; to remove from you the stain of Satan; to strengthen your hearts, and to plant your feet firmly therewith. (11) 

إِذْ يُغَشِّيكُمُ النُّعَاسَ أَمَنَةً مِنْهُ وَيُنَزِّلُ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ بِهِ وَيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمْ رِجْزَ الشَّيْطَانِ وَلِيَرْبِطَ عَلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتَ بِهِ الْأَقْدَامَ (11)

Remember when your Lord revealed/inspired the angels (with the message):”Verily, I am with you; so give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers; so strike/smite them above their necks, and strike/smite every finger-tip off them. (12)

إِذْ يُوحِي رَبُّكَ إِلَى الْمَلَائِكَةِ أَنِّي مَعَكُمْ فَثَبِّتُوا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا سَأُلْقِي فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا الرُّعْبَ فَاضْرِبُوا فَوْقَ الْأَعْنَاقِ وَاضْرِبُوا مِنْهُمْ كُلَّ بَنَانٍ (12)

This is because they contended against God/defied God and His Messenger [PPBUH]. And whoever contend against/defies and disobeys God and His Apostle/Messenger [PPBUH], God is strict and severs in punishment. (13) 

ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ شَاقُّوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَمَنْ يُشَاقِقِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ (13)

Thus is (the torment); so taste it: and surely, for the disbelievers who resist God is the penalty/ torment of the Fire. (14)  

ذَلِكُمْ فَذُوقُوهُ وَأَنَّ لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابَ النَّارِ (14)

O’ you who believe! When you meet the Unbelievers marching/advancing (in hostile array); never turn your backs to them. (15)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا زَحْفًا فَلَا تُوَلُّوهُمُ الْأَدْبَارَ (15)

And whoever turn his back to them on such a day –unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat  to a troop (of his own); he indeed, has drawn upon himself the wrath from God, and his abode in Hell, and worst indeed is that refuge and destination. (16)

وَمَنْ يُوَلِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ دُبُرَهُ إِلَّا مُتَحَرِّفًا لِقِتَالٍ أَوْ مُتَحَيِّزًا إِلَى فِئَةٍ فَقَدْ بَاءَ بِغَضَبٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَمَأْوَاهُ جَهَنَّمُ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ (16)

It is not you who slew/killed them, it was God who killed them. And you [O’ Muhammad PPBUH] threw not (a handful of dust) when you did threw (not your act), but God threw; in order that He might test the Believers by a gracious trial from Himself. Verily, God is All-Hearer – All-Knower. (17)   

فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَتَلَهُمْ وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ رَمَى وَلِيُبْلِيَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْهُ بَلَاءً حَسَنًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (17)

That (is the fact) and surety God weakens the deceitful plots of the disbelievers/makes feeble the plans and stratagems of the Unbelievers. (18)

ذَلِكُمْ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ مُوهِنُ كَيْدِ الْكَافِرِينَ (18)

(O’ Unbelievers!) If you prayed for victory and judgment (arbitration), now the judgment/arbitration has come you; if you desist/cease (to do wrong), it will be best for you, and if you return (to the attack), so we shall return, and your forces will not be the least good to you, even if they were multiplied; for verily, God is with those who believe (the Believers). (19)  

إِنْ تَسْتَفْتِحُوا فَقَدْ جَاءَكُمُ الْفَتْحُ وَإِنْ تَنْتَهُوا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ وَإِنْ تَعُودُوا نَعُدْ وَلَنْ تُغْنِيَ عَنْكُمْ فِئَتُكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَوْ كَثُرَتْ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (19)

 

INTRODUCTION TO SURAT AL-ANFAL=THE SPOILS – 8:

In the previous introductions to the Suras we have shown how each Sura is a step on gradation in the teaching of the Qur’an. The first seven Suras -comprising a little less than one-third of the Qur’an- form a gradation, sketching the early spiritual history of mankind and leading up to the formation of the new Ummatأمة=: or Community of the Holy Apostle [PPBUH]. Now we begin another gradation, consolidating that Ummat=أمة: and directing us as to various phases in our new collective life.

In this chapter we have the lessons of the Battle of Badr enforced in their larger aspects: (1) the question of war booty; (2) the true virtues necessary for fighting the good fight; (3)victory against odds; (4) clemency and consideration for one’s own, and for others in the hour of victory.

As regards booty taken in battle, the first point to note is that that should never be our aim in war. It is only an adventitious circumstance, a sort of windfall. Secondly, no soldier or troop has any inherent right to it. A righteous war is a community affair, and any accessions resulting from it belong to God, or the community or Cause. Thirdly, certain equitable principles of division should be laid down to check human greed and selfishness. A fifth share goes to the Commander, and he can use it at his discretion; for his own expenses, and for the relief of the poor and suffering, and the orphans and widows (verse 41). The remainder was divided –according to the Prophet’s practice- not only among those who were actually in the fight physically, but all who were in the enterprise, young and old, provided that they loyally did some duty assigned to them. Fourthly, there should be no disputes, as they interfere with internal discipline and harmony.

These principles are followed in the best modern practice of civilized nations. All acquisitions of war belong absolutely to the Sovereign as representing the commonwealth. In the distribution of booty not only the actual captors but also the “joint captors” and the “constructive captors” share. (See Sir R. Philimore’s International Law – 1885, volume 3 p. 209-210+221-24).

As regards the military virtues -which are the types of virtues throughout life- we are shown by an analysis of the incidents of Badr how –against the greatest odds- God’s help will give the victory in men are fighting not for themselves but for the sacred Cause of God. And directions are given for the treatment of prisoners and for maintaining the solidarity of the Muslim community.

The date of this Sura is shortly after the Battle of Badr, which was fought on Friday, the 17th of Ramadan in the second year of the Hijra. A short account of the battle is given in commentary on verse 13 from Surat Al-Imran 3.

Summary:-- all booty is really at the disposal of God’s Apostle under directions from God. Men of Faith accept and obey these directions with cheerfulness. Victory and the prize of victory come from God, as was proved at Badr {verses 1-19}.

Obedience and intelligent discipline, zeal, faith, and gratitude to God, are the true passports to success and protection from the assaults of evil. Evil will be piled up with evil and destroyed (See verses 20-37).

The Battle of Badr was a testing time, and showed how virtue and valour can conquer against odds. Steadfastness and obedience; faith, courage, and fearlessness; due preparation and free expenditure or resources and energy;- these are expected from you be God, and His help is all-sufficient (verses 38-64).

Even tenfold odds against you do not count if you are fighting for truth and faith against enemies of truth and faith; but remember clemency and consideration in the hour of victory (verses 65-75).             

(Verses 1-19)Fight the good fight, but dispute not about the prize: that is for God to give. Men of faith act and obey. It is nobler to fight for Truth than to seek worldly gain. To the pure in faith God will give the mind and the resources to conquer. They but fought, with no thought of ever returning back: the victory should be ascribed to God, not men.

(Verses 1-2)- A/ The occasion was the question of the division of the booty after the Battle of Badr. B/ Booty taken in a lawful and just war does not belong to any individual. If he fought for such accessory rewards, he fought from wrong motives. It belongs to the Cause, in this case the Cause of God, as administered by His Apostle. Any portion given out to individuals are accessory gifts, windfalls from the bounty of the Commander. The chief thing is to remain staunch to the Cause of God, and have no differences among those who stand for the Cause. Our internal relations must be kept straight; they must not be disturbed by cupidity or worldly consideration of gain, for any windfalls of this kind should be outside our calculations.

(Verses 3-4)- Sustenance: in both the literal and the metaphorical sense. The object is to warn off from the love of booty and worldly wealth. Why do we want these? To all true Believers God gives generous sustenance in any case -in both senses- but especially in the spiritual sense, for it is coupled with forgiveness and grades of dignity before God, as in the next verse.

(Verse 5)- Just as: the comparison takes us back to the first clause in verse 4:”such in truth are the Believers”- just as your Lord also is just and true in ordering you out to fight against heavy odds, when the alternative was to fight against the unarmed caravan which would have given you abundant booty almost without a fight. To appreciate the full meaning, remember that the word Haqq=حق : translated “truth” means also “right”, “just”, “what is becoming”. The true Believers believe in truth and do right in obedience to God’s command. So God also -in asking them to fight against odds- is not asking them to rush to destruction, but is providing them with a opportunity of vindicating the truth in scorn of worldly advantage. And He made good His promise by giving them victory.

(Verse 6)- In this verse we have again the word “truth”: some of the Believers disputed concerning “the truth”: they did not feel sure that the course recommended was the true and right course. They thought it would be certain destruction; they saw death almost staring them in the face.

(Verses 7-8)- Just before Badr there were two alternatives before the Muslims in Al-Medina, to save themselves from being overwhelmed by the Meccan Quraish with all their resources from the rich Syrian trade. One, which had least danger for the time being, and also promised much booty, was to fall upon the Quraish caravan returning from Syria to Mecca richly laden, and led by Abu-Sufyan with only 40 men unarmed. From a worldly point of view this was the safest and most lucrative course. The other alternative –which was actually adopted on the recommendations of the Apostle by guidance of God- was to leave the booty alone and march out boldly against the well-armed and well-equipped Quraish army of 1,000 men coming from Mecca. The Muslims had no more than 300 men, ill-armed, to oppose to this force. But if they could defeat it, it would shake the selfish autocracy which was in possession of Mecca. By God’s help they won a splendid victory, and the standard of Truth was established, never to be lowered again.

(Verse 9)- See Surat Al-Imran 3 verses 123, 125-126. The number of angels, a thousand at Badr and three thousand and five hundred at Uhud, is probably not to be taken literally, but to express a strength at least equal to that of the enemy.

(Verse 10)- All help comes ultimately from God. In special cases it may take special forms to put heart into us, and to fit in with our feelings and our psychology.

(Verse 11)- A/See Surat Al-Imran 3 verse 154 for Uhud. Calm (presence of mind) is essential in battle and in all posts of danger. If the mind is too much in a state of excitement, it cannot carry out a well-considered or well-concerted plan. This spirit of calm confidence on the part of the Muslims won against the blustering violence of the Quraish. B/The rain was welcome for many reasons: (1) water was scarce both for drinking and ablutions; (2) the Muslim band –without baggage or equipment or comforts- found that their thirst aggravated their fatigue; (3) the sand was loose, and the rain consolidated it and enabled them “to plant their feet firmly”. C/ “Stain of Satan”: both literally and figuratively. Dirt is physically a symbol of evil, and the Muslims were particular about ablutions before prayer. But the rain also refreshed their spirits and removed any lurking doubts in their minds (suggestions of the Evil One) that victory might be impossible in such adverse circumstances.

(Verses 12-13-14)- The vulnerable parts of an armed man are above the neck. A blow on the neck, face, or head, finishes him off. If he has armour it is difficult to get to his heart. But if his hands are put out of action, he is unable to wield his sword or lance or other weapon, and easily becomes a prisoner.

(Verses 15-16)- The laws of spiritual fight are exactly similar to those enforced by military virtue and discipline. Meet your enemy fairly and squarely, not rashly, but after due preparation. Zahfan= زحفا : in the text (meeting in hostile array) implies a slow and well-planned proceeding towards a hostile army. When once in combat, carry it through: there is no room for second thoughts. Death or victory should be in the motto of every soldier: it may be death for himself individually, but if he has faith, there is triumph in either case for his cause. Two exceptions are recognized: (1) to go back in order to jump forward; or to deceive the enemy by feint; (2) if an individual or body is – by the chances of battle- isolated from his own force, he can fall back on his force in order to fight the battle. There is no virtue in mere single-handedness. Each individual must use his life and his resources to the best advantage for the common cause.

(Verses 17-18)- A/ When the battle began, the Holy Apostle prayed, and threw a handful of dust or sand at the enemy, symbolical of their rushing blindly to their fate. This had a great psychological effect. Every act in the battle is ascribed to God, as it was in His Cause, and it was not undertaken except by His command. B/Numerically the odds against the Muslims were three to one. In other ways they were at a disadvantage: of arms and equipment they had but little, while the enemy were well-found: they were inexperienced, while the Quraish had brought their foremost warriors. In all this there was a test, but the test was accompanied by gracious favors of countless value: their Commander was one in whom they had perfect faith, and for whom they were ready to lay down their lives; the rain refreshed them; their spirit was unshaken; and they were fighting in God’s Cause. Thus the trial or test became itself a blessing.                 

(Verse 19)- Fat-h= فتح: victory, decision, judgment. The Quraish in Mecca had prayed for victory; they were confident that their superior numbers, equipment, and experience would be decisive. With a play on the word, they are told that the decision had come, and victory;- but not in the sense they had hoped for!

 

 

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