8) سورة الأنفال
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنْ الأَنْفَالِ قُلْ الأَنْفَالُ لِلَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَصْلِحُوا ذَاتَ بَيْنِكُمْ وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنْ كُنتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ (الأنفال: 1).
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آياتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إيماناً وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ (الأنفال: 2).
الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ (الأنفال: 3).
أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ حَقًّا لَهُمْ دَرَجَاتٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ وَرِزْقٌ كَرِيمٌ (الأنفال: 4).
كَمَا أَخْرَجَكَ رَبُّكَ مِنْ بَيْتِكَ بِالْحَقِّ وَإِنَّ فَرِيقًا مِنْ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ لَكَارِهُونَ (الأنفال: 5).
يُجَادِلُونَكَ فِي الْحَقِّ بَعْدَ مَا تَبَيَّنَ كَأَنَّمَا يُسَاقُونَ إِلَى الْمَوْتِ وَهُمْ يَنظُرُونَ (الأنفال: 6).
وَإِذْ يَعِدُكُمْ اللَّهُ إِحْدَى الطَّائِفَتَيْنِ أَنَّهَا لَكُمْ وَتَوَدُّونَ أَنَّ غَيْرَ ذَاتِ الشَّوْكَةِ تَكُونُ لَكُمْ وَيُرِيدُ اللَّهُ أَنْ يُحِقَّ الْحَقَّ بِكَلِمَاتِهِ وَيَقْطَعَ دَابِرَ الْكَافِرِينَ (الأنفال: 7).
لِيُحِقَّ الْحَقَّ وَيُبْطِلَ الْبَاطِلَ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُجْرِمُونَ (الأنفال: 8).
إِذْ تَسْتَغِيثُونَ رَبَّكُمْ فَاسْتَجَابَ لَكُمْ أَنِّي مُمِدُّكُمْ بِأَلْفٍ مِنْ الْمَلاَئِكَةِ مُرْدِفِينَ (الأنفال: 9).
وَمَا جَعَلَهُ اللَّهُ إِلاَّ بُشْرَى وَلِتَطْمَئِنَّ بِهِ قُلُوبُكُمْ وَمَا النَّصْرُ إِلاَّ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ (الأنفال: 10).
إِذْ يُغَشِّيكُمُ النُّعَاسَ أَمَنَةً مِنْهُ وَيُنَزِّلُ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ بِهِ وَيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمْ رِجْزَ الشَّيْطَانِ وَلِيَرْبِطَ عَلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتَ بِهِ الأَقْدَامَ (الأنفال: 11).
إِذْ يُوحِي رَبُّكَ إِلَى الْمَلاَئِكَةِ أَنِّي مَعَكُمْ فَثَبِّتُوا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا سَأُلْقِي فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا الرُّعْبَ فَاضْرِبُوا فَوْقَ الأَعْنَاقِ وَاضْرِبُوا مِنْهُمْ كُلَّ بَنَانٍ (الأنفال: 12).
ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ شَاقُّوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَمَنْ يُشَاقِقِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ (الأنفال: 13).
ذَلِكُمْ فَذُوقُوهُ وَأَنَّ لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابَ النَّارِ (الأنفال: 14).
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا زَحْفًا فَلاَ تُوَلُّوهُمْ الأَدْبَارَ (الأنفال: 15).
وَمَنْ يُوَلِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ دُبُرَهُ إِلاَّ مُتَحَرِّفًا لِقِتَالٍ أَوْ مُتَحَيِّزًا إِلَى فِئَةٍ فَقَدْ بَاءَ بِغَضَبٍ مِنْ اللَّهِ وَمَأْوَاهُ جَهَنَّمُ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ (الأنفال: 16).
فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَتَلَهُمْ وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ رَمَى وَلِيُبْلِيَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْهُ بَلاَءً حَسَنًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (الأنفال: 17).
ذَلِكُمْ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ مُوهِنُ كَيْدِ الْكَافِرِينَ (الأنفال: 18).
إِنْ تَسْتَفْتِحُوا فَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ الْفَتْحُ وَإِنْ تَنتَهُوا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ وَإِنْ تَعُودُوا نَعُدْ وَلَنْ تُغْنِيَ عَنكُمْ فِئَتُكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَوْ كَثُرَتْ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (الأنفال: 19).
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلاَ تَوَلَّوْا عَنْهُ وَأَنْتُمْ تَسْمَعُونَ (الأنفال: 20).
وَلاَ تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَهُمْ لاَ يَسْمَعُونَ (الأنفال: 21).
إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابِّ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الصُّمُّ الْبُكْمُ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَعْقِلُونَ (الأنفال: 22).
وَلَوْ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ فِيهِمْ خَيْرًا لَأَسْمَعَهُمْ وَلَوْ أَسْمَعَهُمْ لَتَوَلَّوا وَهُمْ مُعْرِضُونَ (الأنفال: 23).
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ (الأنفال: 24).
وَاتَّقُوا فِتْنَةً لاَ تُصِيبَنَّ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْكُمْ خَاصَّةً وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ (الأنفال: 25).
وَاذْكُرُوا إِذْ أَنْتُمْ قَلِيلٌ مُسْتَضْعَفُونَ فِي الأَرْضِ تَخَافُونَ أَنْ يَتَخَطَّفَكُمْ النَّاسُ فَآوَاكُمْ وَأَيَّدَكُمْ بِنَصْرِهِ وَرَزَقَكُمْ مِنْ الطَّيِّبَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ (الأنفال: 26).
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لاَ تَخُونُوا اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ وَتَخُونُوا أَمَانَاتِكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (الأنفال: 27).
وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلاَدُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ عِنْدَهُ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ (الأنفال: 28).
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ تَتَّقُوا اللَّهَ يَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ فُرْقَانًا وَيُكَفِّرْ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ (الأنفال: 29).
وَإِذْ يَمْكُرُ بِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِيُثْبِتُوكَ أَوْ يَقْتُلُوكَ أَوْ يُخْرِجُوكَ وَيَمْكُرُونَ وَيَمْكُرُ اللَّهُ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ (الأنفال: 30).
وَإِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُنَا قَالُوا قَدْ سَمِعْنَا لَوْ نَشَاءُ لَقُلْنَا مِثْلَ هَذَا إِنْ هَذَا إِلاَّ أَسَاطِيرُ الأَوَّلِينَ (الأنفال: 31).
8. Surah Al Anfal (The Spoils of War)
The Surah takes its name Al-Anfal (The Bounties) from the first verse.
The Period of Revelation It was revealed in 2 A. H. after the Battle of Badr, the first battle between Islam and kufr. As it contains a detailed and comprehensive review of the Battle, it appears that most probably
it was revealed at one and the same time. But it is also possible that some of the verses concerning the problems arising as a result of this Battle might have been revealed later and incorporated at the proper places to make it a continuous whole. At any rate, in the whole Surah there is nothing that might show that it is a collection of a couple of discourses, that have been patched up together.
Before reviewing the Surah, it is worthwhile to consider the events that led to the Battle of
During the first decade or so of the Prophethood at Makkah, the Message had proved its firmness, and stability. This was the result of two things. First, the Messenger, who possessed the highest qualities of character, was performing his Mission with wisdom, foresight and magnanimity. He had shown by his conduct that he had made up his mind to carry the movement to a successful end and, therefore, was ready to face all sorts of dangers and obstacles in the way. Secondly, the Message was so charming that it attracted the minds and hearts of the people irresistibly towards itself. So much so that all obstacles of ignorance, superstition and petty prejudices failed to check, its advance. That is why the Arab
upholders of the ways of “ignorance,| who looked down upon it in its initial stages, had’ begun to reckon it as a serious menace during the last period of the stay of the Holy Prophet at Makkah, and were bent on crushing it with all the force at their command. But in spite of
the above-mentioned strength, the movement still lacked certain things to lead it to victory:-
First, it had not yet been fully proved that it had gathered round it a sufficient number of such followers who not only believed in its truth, but also had such an intense devotion to its principles that they were ready to expend all their energies and all that they possessed in
the struggle for its success and establishment. So much so that they were ready to sacrifice their lives in the fight against the whole world itself even though they should be their own nearest relative. It is true that the followers of Islam had endured the severest persecutions
at the hands of the Quraish of Makkah and had given a good proof of the firmness of their faith and their strong relation with Islam, yet further trials were required to show that Islam had succeeded in acquiring such a band of followers which considered nothing dearer than its ideal and was ready to sacrifice life for it.
Secondly, though the voice of Islam had reached’ every part of the country, its effects were yet scattered and its acquired strength was spread here and there: it had not yet gathered sufficient force essential for a decisive conflict with the old established order of “ignorance”.
Thirdly, Islam had yet no home of its own and had not established itself firmly anywhere in the land where it could consolidate its power and make it a base for further action. For the Muslims were scattered all over the country and were living among the unbelievers as
aliens whom their bloodthirsty enemies wanted to uproot from their own homes.
Fourthly, the Muslims had not yet had an opportunity to demonstrate practically the blessings of the system of life based on Islam. There was neither any Islamic culture, nor any social, economic or political system ;nor were there any established principles of war and peace for their guidance. Therefore the Muslims had no opportunity for demonstrating those moral principles on which they intended to build their entire system of life; nor had it been proved on the touchstone of trial that the Muslims as a community were sincere in
their proclamation of the Message.
Allah created opportunities for making up these deficiencies.
During the last four years or so of the Prophet’s stay at Makkah, the voice of Islam had been proving effective at Yathrab and the people for various reasons had been accepting the message more readily than other clans of Arabia. So much so that in the twelfth year of Prophethood on the occasion of Haj a deputation of 75 people met the Holy Prophet in the darkness of night. These people not only accepted Islam, but also offered to give him and his followers a home. As this was a most epoch making opportunity provided by Allah, the
Holy Prophet took advantage of it.
The significance of this offer was quite clear to the people of Yathrab, and they fully realized that this was not an invitation to a mere fugitive, but to the Messenger of Allah so that he should become their leader and ruler. Likewise they knew that they were not inviting the
Muslim refugees to give them shelter from persecution but to assemble them from all over the country for their integration with themselves to form an organized community. Thus the offer of the people of Yathrab was to make Yathrab the “City of Islam.” Accordingly the Holy Prophet accepted their invitation and made it the first “City of Islam” in Arabia.
And the people of Yathrab were fully aware of the implications of this offer. It was indeed a declaration of war against the whole of Arabia, and an invitation to their own social and economic boycott as well. And when the Ansar from Yathrab declared their allegiance to the
Holy Prophet at Aqabah, they knew fully well its consequences. During the course of the formal declaration of allegiance, Asad-bin- Zurarah, the youngest of all the delegates from Yathrab, stood up and said, “0 people of Yathrab! Just listen to me and consider the matter
carefully in all its aspects. Though we have come to him, regarding him only as a Messenger of Allah, we should know that we shall be inviting the enmity of the whole of Arabia. For when we take him away to Yathrab, we shall be attacked and our children may be put to the
sword. Therefore if you have the courage in your hearts to face it, then and then only, you should declare your allegiance to him and Allah will give you its reward. But if you love your lives more than him and his Message, then leave this matter and frankly excuse yourselves, for at this time Allah may accept your excuses.”
Abbas bin Ubadah bin Naalah, another member of the delegation, reiterated the same thing, saying,
Do you understand the implication of the declaration of your allegiance to this person?” (Voices, “Yes, we know it.”) “You are challenging the whole world to war by your declaration of allegiance to him. There is every likelihood of a serious menace to your lives
and properties. Therefore consider it well. If you have any idea lurking in your minds that you will then hand him over to his enemies, it is much better to leave him alone now, because that conduct shall bring shame and disgrace to you in this world and the next. On the other hand, if you have sincerely resolved that you will endure all kinds of consequences that will follow as a result of this invitation, then it would be the best thing to take the oath of allegiance to him because, by God, this will surely bring good to you in this world as well
as in the next world.”
At this all the members of the delegation cried with one voice, “We are ready and prepared to risk all our wealth and our noble kith and kin for his sake.”
It was then that the famous oath of allegiance, which is known as the “Second Oath of Allegiance at Aqabah” was taken.
On the other side, the people of Makkah also understood fully well the implications of this matter from their own point of view. They realized that Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him), who, they knew well, had a great personality and possessed extraordinary abilities,
was going to gain a strong footing, by this allegiance. For this would help integrate his followers, whose constancy, determination, and unwavering fidelity to the Messenger had been tried, into a disciplined community under his wise leadership and guidance. And they
knew that this would spell death for their old ways of life. They also realized the strategic importance of. Al-Madinah to their trade, which was their chief means of livelihood.
Its geographical position was such that the Muslims could strike with advantage at the caravans traveling on the trade route between Yemen and Syria, and thus strike at the root of their economy and that of other pagan clans very effectively. The value of the trade done by the people of Makkah alone on this route, not to count that of Taif and other places, amounted to about two hundred thousand dinars annually.
As the Quraish were fully aware of the implications of the oath of allegiance at Aqabah, they were greatly perturbed when they got wind of it the same night. At first they tried to win over the people of Al-Madinah to their side. But when they saw that the Muslims were
migrating to Al- Madinah in small groups, they realized that the Holy Prophet was also going to emigrate soon from there. Then they decided to adopt an extreme measure to prevent this danger.
A few days before his migration, the Quraish held a council to consider the matter. After a good deal of argument; they decided that one person should be taken from each of the families of Quraish other than that of Banu Hashim to put an end to the life of the Holy Prophet. This was to make it difficult for the family of the Holy Prophet to fight alone with all the other families of the Quraish and thus to force them to accept blood-money for his murder-instead of taking revenge from them, but by the grace of Allah their plot against the life of the Holy Prophet failed because of his admirable foresight and full trust in Allah, and he reached Al- Madinah safe and sound. When they could not prevent his emigration, it occurred to them to exploit Abdullah bin Ub’ai who had begun to cherish a grievance against the Holy Prophet since his arrival at Al-Madinah. He was an influential chief of Madinah and the people had agreed to make him their king. But when the majority of Aus and Khazraj clan became Muslims and acknowledged the Holy Prophet as their leader, guide and ruler, all his hopes of becoming a king came to an end. Therefore the Quraish wrote to him, “As you have given shelter to our enemy, we tell you plainly that you should either fight with him yourself or exile him from your city otherwise we swear by God that we will invade your city, kill your males and make your females our slave girls.” This letter added fuel to the flames of his jealousy and he was inclined to do some mischief, but the Holy Prophet took timely precautions and defeated his evil designs.
The Quraish got another opportunity to hold out a threat. When Sa’ad bin Mu’az, another chief of Al-Madinah, went to Makkah to perform “Umrah, Abu Jahl interrupted him at the very door of the Kabah, saying “Do you think we will let you perform “Umrah in peace while you give shelter and help to renegades from us? Had you not been a guest of
Ummayyah bin Khalf, you would not have gone alive from here.” Sa’ad replied, “By Allah, if you prevent me from this, I will retaliate in a worse manner and block your route near Madinah.” This incident virtually led to a declaration from the people of Makkah that they would prevent the Muslims from a pilgrimage to the Kabah, and from the people of Al- Madinah that as a retaliation they would block their trade route to Syria against the opponents of Islam. As a matter of fact there was no other alternative for the Muslims than to keep a strong hold on this route so as to force the Quraish, and the other clans, whose interests were vitally bound with this route, to reconsider their inimical and antagonistic attitude towards them. That is why the Holy Prophet attached the greatest importance to this problem. As soon as he was free from making the preliminary arrangements for organizing the newly formed Muslim Community and settling peace terms with the
neighboring Jewish habitations, he adopted two measures in this connection:-
First, he entered into negotiations with those clans who lived between the Red Sea and this route so as to make alliances with them or at east to persuade them to make treaties of neutrality with the Muslims. He was successful in this, and he entered into a treaty of non-
alignment with Juhainah, which was a very important clan of the hilly tract near the sea coast. Then, at the end of the first year of Hijrah, he made a treaty of defensive alliance with Bani Damrah, who lived near Yanb’u and Zawal Ushairah. In 2 A. H. Bani Mudlij also joined the alliance, as they were the neighbors and allies of Bani Damrah. Then ii so happened that quite a large number of these people were converted to Islam as a result of the missionary work done by the Muslims.
Secondly, he successively sent small bands of his men on this route to serve as a warning to the Quraish, and himself accompanied some of them. In the first year of Hijrah, four expeditions were sent there, that is, the expedition under Hamzah, the expedition under Ubaidah bin Harith, the expedition under Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas and the Al-Abwa’
expedition under the Holy Prophet himself. In the first month of the second year two more incursions were made on the same route. These are known as Buwat Expedition and Zawal Ushairah Expedition. Two things about all these expeditions are noteworthy. First, no blood
was shed and no caravans were plundered in any of these expeditions. This proves that the real object of these expeditions was to show to the Quraish which way the wind was blowing. Secondly, not a single man from the people of Al-Madinah was sent by the Holy Prophet on any of these incursions. All the bands consisted purely of the immigrants from Makkah so that the conflict should remain between the people of the Quraish themselves and should not further spread by the involvement of other clans. On the other side, the Quraish of Makkah tried to involve others also in the conflict. When they sent bands towards Al-Madinah, they did not hesitate to plunder the people. For instance, an expedition under the leadership of Kurz bin Jabir al-Fihrl plundered the cattle of the people of Al-Madinah from the very vicinity of the city to show what their real intentions were.
This was the state of affairs when, in Sha’aban, (companions) 2 A. H. (February or March, 623 A. D.) a big trade caravan of the Quraish, carrying goods worth $50,000 or so, with only a guard of thirty to forty men, on its way back from Syria to Makkah, reached the territory from where it could be easily attacked from Al-Madinah. As the caravan was carrying trade goods worth thousands of pounds, and was scantily guarded, naturally Abu Sufyan, who was in charge of it, from his Past experience feared an attach from the Muslims. Accordingly, as soon as he entered the dangerous territory, he dispatched a camel rider to Makkah with a frantic appeal for help. When the rider reached Makkah, he, following an old custom of Arabia, tore open the ears of his camel, cut open his nose and overturned the saddle. Then rending his shirt from front and behind, he began to cry aloud at the top of his voice, “O people of Quraish dispatch help to protect your caravan from Syria under the charge of Abu Sufyan, for Muhammad with his followers is in pursuit of it; otherwise I don’t think you will ever get your goods. Run, run for help.” This caused great excitement and anger in the whole of Makkah and all the big chiefs of the Quraish got ready for war. An army, consisting of 600 armored soldiers and cavalry of 100 riders with great pomp and show marched out for a fight. They intended not only to rescue the caravan but also to put to an end, once for all, the new menace from the Muslims who had consolidated themselves at Al-Madinah. They wanted to crush that rising power and overawe the clans surrounding the route so as to make it absolutely secure for future trade.
Now the Holy Prophet, who always kept himself well informed of the state of affairs, felt that the decisive hour has come and that was the right time when he must take a bold step; otherwise the Islamic Movement would become lifeless for ever and no chance would be left
for it to rise again. For if the Quraish invaded Al-Madinah, the odds would be against the Muslims. The condition of the Muslim Community was still very shaky because the immigrants (Muhajirin) had not been able to stabilize their economy during the short period
(less than two years) of their stay at Al-Madinah; their helpers, (the Ansar) had not yet been tried; and the neighboring Jewish clans were antagonistic. Then there was a strong group of hypocrites and mushriks in Al- Madinah itself; above all, the surrounding clans lived in awe of the Quraish and had all their religious sympathies with them. The Holy Prophet, therefore, felt that the consequences of this possible invasion would not be favorable to the Muslims.
The second possibility was that they would not invade Al-Madinah but try only to escort their caravan safely and securely by a mere show of force. In that case, too, if the Muslim remained inactive, it would affect their reputation adversely. Obviously, this weak stand in the conflict would embolden the other Arabs also and make the position of the Muslims very insecure in the country and the surrounding clans would, at the instance of the Quraish, start hostilities against them, and the Jews, the hypocrites and the mushriks of Al- Madinah would openly rise against them and not only endanger their security of life, property and honor but make it difficult for them even to live there.
The Muslims would not be able to inspire the enemy with awe so as to keep safe from them their life, property and honor. A careful study of the situation led the Holy Prophet to make up his mind to take a decisive step and go into the battle with whatever little strength he
could muster, for thus and thus only could he show whether the Muslim Community had the right to survive or was doomed to perish.
When he arrived at this momentous decision, he called the Muhajirin and the Ansar together and placed the whole position before them, without any reservation. He said, “Allah has promised that you will confront one of the two, the trade caravan coming from the north or the army of the Quraish marching from the south. Now tell me which of the two you want to attack!” A large majority of the people replied that they wanted to attack the caravan. But the Holy Prophet who had something else before him, repeated the same question. At this Miqdad bin ‘Amr, a Muhajir, stood up and said, “0 Messenger of
Allah! Please march to the side to which your Lord commands you; we will accompany you wherever you go. We will not say like the Israelites, ‘Go and let you and your Lord fight we will wait’. In contrast to them we say, ‘Let you and your Lord fight; we will fight by your side to our last breath’.” Even then he did not announce any decision but waited for a reply from the Ansar who had not yet taken any part in any battle of Islam. As this was the first opportunity for them to prove that they were ready to fulfill their promise of fighting for the cause of Islam, he repeated the question without directly addressing them. At this, Sa’ad bin Mu’az, an Ansar, stood up and said, “Sir, it appears that you are putting the question to us.” When the Holy Prophet said, “Yes”, the Ansar replied, “We have believed in you and confirmed that what you have brought is the Truth, and have made a solemn pledge with
you that we will listen to you and obey you. Therefore, 0 Messenger of Allah, do whatever you intend to do. We swear by Allah Who has sent you with the Truth that we are ready to accompany you to the sea shore and if you enter it, we will plunge into it. We assure you
that not a single one of us will remain behind or forsake you, for we will not hesitate at all to go to fight, even if you should lead us to the battlefield tomorrow. We will remain steadfast in the battle and sacrifice our lives in the fight. We do hope that by the grace of Allah our behavior will gladden your heart. So, trusting in Allah’s blessing, take us to the battlefield.”
After these speeches it was decided that they should march towards the army of the Quraish and not towards the trade caravan. But it should be noted that the decision was of an ordinary nature. For the number of people, who came forward to go to the battlefield, was
only a little more than three hundred (86 Muhajirs, 62 from Aus and 170 from Khazra)).
Then the little army was ill-armed and hardly equipped for battle. Only a couple of them had horses to ride and the others had to take their turn in threes and fours on the back of a camel, out of the 70 they had in all. Above all, they had not got enough weapons for the battle; only 60 of them had armors. It is, therefore, no wonder that with the exception of those who were prepared to sacrifice their lives for the cause of Islam, the majority of those who had joined the expedition, were so filled with fear that they felt as if they were knowingly going into the jaws of death. Then there were people who always looked at
things from a selfish point of view. Though they had embraced Islam, they did not realize that their faith would demand the sacrifice of their lives and properties from them; they were of the opinion that it was a mad expedition prompted by irrational enthusiasm for religion. But the Holy Prophet and the true Believers had realized the urgency of that critical hour which required the risk of life: therefore they marched straight to the south-west,
wherefrom the army of the Quraish was coming. This is a clear proof of the fact that from the very beginning they had gone out to fight with the army and not to plunder the caravan.
For if they had aimed at plundering the caravan they would have taken the north- westerly direction and not the south- westerly one.
The two parties met in combat at Badr on the seventeenth of Ramadan. When the two armies confronted each other and the Holy Prophet noticed that the Quraish army outnumbered the Muslims by three to one and was much better equipped, he raised his hands up in supplication and made this earnest prayer with great humility: “O Allah! Here are the Quraish proud of their war material: they have come to prove that Thy Messenger is false. O Allah! now send that success that Thou hast promised to give me. O Allah! If this little army of Thy servants is destroyed, then there will be left none in the land to worship Thee.”
In this combat the emigrants from Makkah were put to the hardest test for they had to fight against their own near and dear relatives and put to the sword their fathers, their sons, their paternal and maternal uncles and their brothers. It is obvious that only such people could
have come out successful in this hardest of tests as had accepted the Truth sincerely and cut off all relations with falsehood. And in another way the test to which the Ansar were put was not less hard. So far they had only alienated the powerful Quraish and their allies by giving shelter to the Muslims against their wishes but now, for the first time, they were going to give fight to them and to sow the seeds of a long and bitter war with them. This was indeed a very hard test for it meant that a small town with a population of a few thousand inhabitants was going to wage a war with the whole of Arabia. It is obvious that only such people could take this bold step who believed in the Truth of Islam so firmly that they were ready to sacrifice every personal interest for its sake.
So Allah accepted the self-sacrifices of the Muhajirin and the Ansar because of their true faith, and rewarded them with His success. The proud, well- armed Quraish were routed by these ill-equipped devotees of Islam. Seventy men of their army were killed and seventy
captured as prisoners and their arms and equipment came into the hands of the Muslims as spoils of war. All their big chiefs, who were their best soldiers and who had led the opposition to Islam, were killed in this Battle. No wonder that this decisive victory made Islam a power to be reckoned with. A Western research scholar says that before the Battle of Badr, Islam was merely a religion and a state but after the Battle it became the state religion, nay, the state itself.
Topics of Discussion
It is this great Battle that has been reviewed in this Surah. But let it be noted that in some respects this review is quite different from the reviews that are usually made by the worldly commanders after a great victory.
1. Instead of gloating over the victory, the moral weaknesses that had come to the surface in that expedition have been pointed out so that the Muslims should try their best to reform themselves.
2. It has been impressed upon them that the victory was due to the success of Allah rather -than to their own valor and bravery so that the Muslims should learn to rely on Him and obey Allah and His Messenger alone.
3. The moral lesson of the conflict between the Truth and falsehood has been enunciated and the qualities which lead to success in a conflict have been explained.
4, Then the Surah addresses the mushriks, the hypocrites, the Jews and the prisoners of this war in a very impressive manner that should teach them a good lesson.
5. It also gives instructions in regard to the spoils of war. The Muslims have bean told not to regard these as their right but as a bounty from Allah. Therefore they should accept with gratitude the share that is granted to them out of it and willingly accede to the share which Allah sets apart for His cause and for the help of the needy.
6. Then it also gives normal instructions concerning the laws of peace and war for these were urgently needed to be explained at the stage which the Islamic Movement had entered. It enjoined that the Muslims should refrain from ways of “ignorance” in peace and war and thus should establish their moral superiority in the world. It also meant,
to demonstrate to the world in actual practical life the morality which it had been preaching to the world from the very beginning of Islam and had been enjoining that practical life should be based on the same.
7. It also states some articles of the Islamic Constitution which help differentiate the status of the Muslims living within the limits of Dar-ul-Islam (the Abode of Islam) from that of the Muslims living beyond its limits.
Subject: Problems of Jihad
This surah enunciates general principles of war (one aspect of Jihad) and peace while reviewing the Battle of Badr and uses them for the moral training of the Muslims.
Topics and their Interconnection
This portion deals with the problems of the “Spoils of War”. The Quran says that these are not the spoils of war but the “Bounties of Allah” and proves this by showing that the victory at Badr (and in all other battles, too,) was won by His succor and not by the efforts of the
Muslims. It also declares (in v. 40) that the war aim of the Muslims should be to eliminate all unfavorable conditions for the establishment of Islam and not to gain spoils. Moreover, the spoils, being the bounties of God, belong to Allah and His Messenger and they alone are entitled to allocate them. Then after conditioning the Muslims to accept these things, the different shares have been allocated in v. 41.1 – 41 The Battle of Badr was ordained by Allah so that Islam should triumph over “ignorance”.
The lesson from this is that the Muslims should trust in God and prepare themselves for war and should not be beguiled by Satan as the disbelievers were. 42 – 54 Sanctity of treaties has been enjoined and the Muslims commanded to observe them as long as the other party does not break them. 55 – 59 The Muslims should always be prepared for war on every front, but should be ready to make peace if the other party is inclined towards it. 60 – 66 In these verses, instructions about prisoners of war have been given. 67 – 71 In order to keep the Muslims joined together against their enemies, they have been taught to have cordial relations with one another. 72 – 75
(8:1) They ask you concerning the spoils of war? Tell them: ‘The spoils of war belong to Allah and the Messenger. So fear Allah, and set things right between you, and obey Allah and His Messenger if you are true believers. 1
1. The critique of the battle opens with this unusual note. Some disagreements had arisen among the Muslims with regard to sharing the spoils of war. As it was their first experience of fighting under the banner of Islam, the Muslim soldiers had scarcely any notion of the
regulations they were required to follow on the battlefield and for settling problems arising from warfare. Doubtlessly some preliminary instructions had been laid down for them in (Surah al-Bagarah 2 )and (Surah Muhammad 47), (See 2: 190 ff. and 47: 4 ff. – Ed.)However the full set of regulations that could contribute to civilizing the conduct of warfare had yet to be laid down. Hence, when it came to war as with several other societal matters, the Muslims were still under the influence of pre-Islamic ideas and concepts. Going by the age- old Arab customs, those who had seized the spoils of war considered themselves their sole and legitimate owners. On the other hand, the Muslims who had concentrated on driving away the enemy rather than on collecting the spoils, claimed that they deserved an equal
share of the spoils. They contended that had they slackened in their duty of pursuing the enemy, the latter might have struck back, turning the Muslim victory into a defeat. Similarly, another group of Muslims who had escorted the Prophet (peace he on him) on the battlefield, also laid claim to an equal share, For, they believed, it was they who had rendered an invaluable service insofar as neglect of duty on their part might have resulted in endangering the precious life of the Prophet (peace be on him), in which case the possibility of victory and its attendant spoils and their distribution would all have been totally out of the question. Nonetheless, the group of Muslims who already possessed the spoils saw no merit in these claims. Arguments and counter-arguments gave rise to bitterness and bad blood. (For disagreements among Muslims on the question of distribution of spoils of war see Ibn Hisham, vol. 1. pp. 641-2; al-Waqadi, vol. 1, p. 78. See also the comments on the verse in Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir – Ed.)
It was at this juncture that God revealed the present surah. The opening verse takes up this issue. ‘They ask you concerning Anfal’ is the query with which the surah opens. The very use of the word Anfal instead of ghana’im in the query implies the answer. For the word Anfal, which is the plural of nafl, stands for that which is extra, that which is over and above what is obligatory. If this extra is from the servant, it denotes that additional service which he voluntarily renders over and above what is obligatory. On the other hand, when this extra is from the master, it denotes the additional reward which the master awards his servant over and above what he is entitled to. What is being conveyed here by using the word anfal is, in fact, that all wrangling about spoils is out of place since it concerns not their rights, but the
additional rewards they might receive from God. Any and all heated discussion in which they engaged was irrelevant since it was entirely for God to decide whether He should grant any extra reward or not; and if He should grant it, then how much, and to whom. In short, it
was not for men to say who should and who should not receive any party of the spoils.
This was a major conceptual reform. The war that a Muslim wages is not in order to accumulate worldly benefits. He resorts to it for the moral and social reform of the world and does so when the opposing forces make it impossible to bring about reform by means of
persuasion and preaching. Being reformers, the Muslims should focus their attentions on their goal – the reform of the world – rather than on the material benefits which accrue to them incidental by way of God’s additional reward in lieu of their strivings. If the attention of Muslims is not diverted from material benefits to their true mission, it is likely that
material benefits would become an end in themselves.
Moreover, the concept introduced by the Qur’an (see the verse above) also brought about a major administrative reform pertaining to war and the spoils of war. Before the advent of Islam, a soldier used to appropriate all that he could lay his hands on, claiming to be its rightful owner, or else spoils were seized either by; the king or the commander of the army.
In the former case, mutual conflicts ensued among soldiers of the victorious army, with the frequent result that their victory turned into defeat. On the other hand, if the spoils were seized by the commander of the army or the ruler, soldiers often concealed and stole the spoils. By declaring that the spoils belong to God and His Messenger, the Qur’an made it obligatory on all soldiers to commit all the spoils of war to the custody of the commander, concealing not even something as trivial as a sewing needle. Subsequently the Qur’an laid down an elaborate set of laws to distribute the spoils of war. According to it, one-fifth of the spoils is to be deposited in the public treasury for public welfare and to provide support for the poor, while four-fifths is to be distributed among the soldiers. (al-Anfal 8: 41 – Ed.)It thus put an end to the evils inherent in the old system.
A subtle point implicit in the above verse should not he overlooked. In the opening verse of the Surah nothing has been said beyond affirming the principle that the spoils belong to God and His Messenger. The problem as to how the spoils should be distributed was not touched upon. The Qur’an does however subsequently treat the question of distribution see (verse 41) below. It is significant that in this second instance the word used is a verbal derivative of ghanimah (spoils, booty) see (verse 41 )below whereas in the opening verse the
word used is anfal.
(8:2) The true believers are those who, when Allah’s name is mentioned, their hearts quake, and when His verses are recited to them their faith grows,2 and who put their trust in their Lord;
2. A man’s faith grows as he is able to confirm and submit to the command of God which he comes across. This is especially so where he submits to commands which go against his own personal predilections. A man’s faith attains great heights if instead of trying to twist and distort the commands of God and the Prophet (peace he on him), he develops the habit of accepting and submitting to all the commands of God and the Prophet (peace be on him); if he strives to shape his conduct to the teachings which go against his personal opinions and conceptions, which are contrary to his habits, interests and convenience, which are not in
consonance with his loyalties and friendships. For if he hesitates to respond positively to God’s command, his faith is diminished. One thus learns that faith is not a static, immobile object. Nor is every, act of belief, or unbelief, of the same quality. An act of belief may be better or worse than another act of belief. Likewise, an act of unbelief may differ in quality from another act of unbelief. For both belief and unbelief, are capable of growth and decline.
All this concerns the essence of belief and unbelief. However, when belief and unbelief are mentioned as a basis for membership of the Muslim community or in connection with legal rights and responsibilities as necessary corollaries of that membership, a clear line of demarcation has to be drawn between those who believe and those who do not. In this respect the determination of who is a believer and who is not will depend on the basic minimum of belief regardless of quality of belief. In an Islamic society all those who believe will be entitled to the same legal rights and will be required to fulfil the same duties regardless of the differences in the quality of their faith. Likewise, all unbelievers – regardless of the differences in the quality of their unbelief – will be placed in the category of unbelievers disregarding the question whether their unbelief is of an ordinary quality or an extremely serious one.
(8:3) who Prayer and spend out of what We have pes them.
(8:4) Such people are indeed true believers. They have high ranks with their Lord, and forgiveness for their sins? and an honorable sustenance.
3. Even the best and the most devoted believers are liable to commit lapses. As long as man is man, it is impossible for his record to be filled exclusively with righteousness of the highest order and to be free from all lapses, shortcomings and weaknesses. Out of His infinite mercy, however, God overlooks man’s shortcomings as long as he fulfils the basic duties incumbent upon him as God’s servant, and favors him with a reward far greater than that warranted by his good works. Had it been a rule that man would be judged strictly on the basis of his deeds, that he would be punished for every evil deed and rewarded for every good deed, no man, howsoever righteous, would have escaped
(8:5) (Now with regard to the spoils the same situation exists as when) your Lord brought you forth from your home in a righteous cause while a party among the believers were much averse to it.
(8:6) They disputed with you about the truth after that had become evident, as if they were being driven to death with their eyes wide open.4
4. When the people in question were required to fight, they were disinclined to do so for they felt that they were being driven to death and destruction. Their condition is somewhat similar for they are now required not to contend about spoils of war and wait for God’s
command as to how the spoils of war should be distributed.
This verse could also mean that if Muslims obeyed God and followed the Prophet (peace be on him) rather than their own desires, they would witness as good a result as they witnessed on the occasion of the Battle of Badr. On this occasion too many were reluctant to
take on the Quraysh and considered it nothing short of suicide see(_verse 6). But when they obeyed the command of God and His Prophet (peace be on him), it proved to be a source of life and survival.
Incidentally, this statement in the Qur’in implicitly negates reports usually mentioned in the works of Sirah and Maghazi and which suggest that the Prophet (peace be on him) and his Companions had initially set out from Madina in order to raid the trading caravan of the
Quraysh, and that it was only when they came to know that the Quraysh army was advancing to provide protection to the trading caravan that the Muslims were faced with the option of either attacking the caravan or the Quraysh army. The Qur’anic version is quite contrary. Accordingly, from the moment when the Prophet (peace be on him) set out from his house, he was intent upon a decisive battle with the Quraish. In addition, the decision as to whether the Muslims should confront the trading caravan or the army was taken at the very beginning rather than later on. It is also evident that even though it was quite clear that it was essential to confront the Quraysh army, a group of Muslims tried to avoid it and kept
pleading for their viewpoint. Even when a firm decision had been taken that the Muslims would attack the Quraysh army rather than the caravan, this group set out for the encounter with the view that they were being driven to death and destruction.See (verses 5-8). Cf. al-
Wagidi. vol. 1, pp. 19-21; Ibn Sa’d, vol. 2. pp. 11-14 – Ed.)
(8:7) And recall when Allah promised you that one of the two hosts would fall to you, and you wished that the one without arms should fall into your hands. But Allah sought to prove by His words the truth to be true and to annihilate the unbelievers to the last remnant
5. God’s promise was that the Muslims would be able to overcome whichever of the two parties they wished to attack – the trading caravan or the Quraysh army.
6. This refers to the trading caravan which had some 30 to 40 armed guards for protection.
(8:8) that He might prove the truth to be true and the false to be false, however averse the evil-doers might be to it.2
7. This gives some idea of the prevalent situation at the time. As we have said earlier (see above, p. 128), the march of the Quraysh towards Madina meant that only one of the two would survive in Arabia – either Islam or the entrenched system of Jahiliyah (Ignorance).
Had the Muslims not taken up the challenge, the very survival of Islam would have been imperiled. But since the Muslims took the initiative and dealt a severe blow to the military strength of the Quraish it became possible for Islam to consolidate itself and subsequently
the forces of Ignorance suffered a succession of humiliating reverses.
(8:9) And recall when you implored your Lord for help and He responded to you: Your Lord ‘will — reinforce you with a thousand angels, coming host after host.’
(8:10) Allah meant this as glad tidings and that your hearts may be set at rest. For every help comes from Allah alone. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.
(8:11) And recall when Allah brought on you drowsiness,’ giving you a feeling of peace and security from Him, and He sent down rain upon you from the sky that He might cleanse you through it and take away from you the pollution of Satan and strengthen your hearts, and steady your feet through it.2
8. In the Battle of Uhud the Muslims passed through a similar experience see (Al’lmran 3:154) above. On both occasions, when prevalent conditions should have produced intense fear and panic among them, God filled their hearts with such peace and tranquility that they were overpowered with drowsiness.
9. This refers to the heavy downpour on the night preceding the Battle of Badr. It helped the Muslims in three ways. First, it provided them with an abundant water supply which they quickly stored in large reservoirs. Second, rain compacted the loose sand in the upper part
of the valley where the Muslims had pitched their tents. This helped the Muslims plant their feet firmly and facilitated their movement. Third, where the Quraish army was stationed in the lower part of the valley, the ground turned marshy.
The defilement caused by Satan which occurs in the verse refers to the fear and panic which initially, afflicted the Muslims.
(8:12) And recall when your Lord inspired the angels: ‘I am certainly with you. So make firm the feet of those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. So strike at their necks and strike at every pore and tip.”
10. In view of the general principle propounded in the Qur’an we presume that the angels did not take part in the actual fighting. What we may suggest is that the angels helped the Muslims and as a result their blows became more accurate and effective.
(8:13) This is because they defied Allah and His Messenger. Whoever defies Allah and His Messenger must know that Allah is severe in punishment.
11. In recounting the events of the Battle of Badr, the Qur’an aims to explain the significance of the word al-anfal (spoils of war). In the opening verse of the surah the Muslims were told that they should not deem the spoils to be a reward for their toil. Rather, the spoils should
constitute a special reward granted to the Muslims by God, to Whom the spoils rightfully belong. The events recounted here support this. The Muslims could reflect on the course of events and see for themselves to what extent the victory they had achieved was due to God’s favor, and to what extent it was due to their own efforts.
(8:14) That is your punishment (from Allah). So taste this punishment,!2 and know that for the unbelievers is the punishment of the Fire.
12. Here the discourse is suddenly directed to the unbelievers who we mentioned in(_verse 13) as deserving of God’s punishment.
(8:15) Believers, whenever you encounter a hostile force of unbelievers, do not turn your backs to them in flight.
(8:16) For he who turns his back on them on such ar occasion – except that it be for tactical reasons, or turning to join another company – he shall incur the wrath of Allah and Hell shall be his abode. It is an evil destination.
13. The Qur’an does not forbid orderly retreat under strong pressure from the enemy provided it is resorted to as a stratagem of war, for example seeking reinforcements or joining another party in the rear. What the Qur’an does forbid is disorderly flight produced by sheer cowardice and defeatism. Such a retreat takes place because the deserter holds his life dearer than his cause. Such cowardice has been characterized as one of those three major sins which, if committed, can be atoned for by no other good deed whatsoever. These three sins are: ascription of divinity to anyone or anything other than God, violation of the rights of parents, and flight from the battlefield during fighting in the way of God. (See al- Mundhiri, ‘Kitab al-Jihad’, ‘Bab al-Tarhib min al-Firar min al-Zahf’- Ed.) In another tradition the Prophet (peace be on him) has mentioned seven deadly sins which totally ruin a man’s Next Life. One of these is flight from the battlefield in an encounter between Islam and Unbelief. (Muslim, ‘K. al-lman’, ‘Bab al-Kabi’ir wa Akbaruha’; Bukhari, ‘K. al-Wasaya’, ‘bab – fi Qawl Allah – Tala: inna al-ladhina Ya’kuluna Amwal al-Yatami Zulman’ – Ed.) This has been declared a deadly sin because in addition to being an act of sheer cowardice, it
demoralizes others and can generate demoralization which can have disastrous consequences. An individual soldier’s desertion might cause a whole platoon, or even a whole regiment, and ultimately the whole army, to take flight. For once a soldier flees in panic, it is hard to control the others.
(8:17) So the fact is that it was not you, but it was Allah Who killed them; and it was not you when you threw [sand at them], but it was Allah Who threw it,4 (and the believers were employed for the task) that He might cause the believers to successfully pass through this test. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
14. This refers to the occasion when the armies of the Muslims and the unbelievers stood face to face in the Battle of Badr and were on the verge of actual fighting. At that moment, the Prophet (peace be on him) threw a handful of dust at the enemy saying: ‘May, their faces
be scorched.’ So saying the Prophet (peace be on him) made a gesture and the Muslims started their charge. (See Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 1, p. 368; Ibn Hisham, vol. 1, p. 668; Ibn Kathir, comments on the verse – Ed.)
(8:18) This is His manner of dealing with you. As for the unbelievers, Allah will surely undermine their designs.
(8:19) (Tell the unbelievers:) ‘If you have sought a judgement, then surely a judgement has come to you. 15 And if you desist from disobedience, it is all the better for you. But if you revert to your mischief, We will again chastise you; and your host, howsoever
numerous, will never be of any avail to you. Know well, Allah is with the believers.’
15. Before marching out from Makka the unbelievers held the covering of the Ka’bah and prayed: ‘O God! Grant victory to the better of the two parties.’ Abu Jahl, in particular invoked God’s judgement: ‘O God! Grant victory to the one who is in the right and cause humiliation to the wrong-doer.’ God answered these prayers fully and the outcome of the battle clearly pointed to the party which was in the right.
(8:20) Believers! Obey Allah and His Messenger and do not turn away from him after you hear his command.
(8:21) And do not be like those who say: ‘We hear’, though they do not hear but they don’t listen.16
16. In the present context, ‘hearing’ means taking heed with a view to obey’. The verse alludes to those hypocrites who professed to believe and yet were not willing to carry out the commands of God.
(8:22) Indeed the worst kind of all beasts in the sight of Allah are the people that are deaf and dumb,17 and do not understand.
17. These are the ones who neither hear nor speak the truth. So far as truth is concerned, their ears are deaf and their mouths dumb.
(8:23) And had Allah known in them any good He would surely, have made them hear; but (being as they, are) even if He made them hear, they would have surely turned away in aversion.18
18. Such people have neither any love for the truth nor any desire to strive for it. Hence even if they were enabled by God to go forth to the battlefield. they would have turned on their heels at the very first sight of danger. That such people should be a part of the Muslim army
might have led to greater harm than good.
(8:24) Believers! Respond to Allah, and respond to the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. Know well that Allah stands between a man and his heart, and it is to Him that all of you shall be mustered.2
19. The most effective means of preventing man from failing prey to hypocrisy is to implant two ideas in his mind. First, that he will have to face the reckoning and judgement of God Who knows what is in the deep recesses of his heart. Even man’s intentions and desires, the
purposes which he seeks to achieve, the ideas that he seeks to keep hidden in his heart, are all well known to God. Second, that ultimately every man will be mustered to God; that He is so powerful that none can escape His judgement. The deeper the roots of these convictions. the further is man removed from hypocrisy. Hence, while admonishing
Muslims against hypocrisy, the Qur’an frequently resorts to emphasizing these two articles of belief.
(8:25) And guard against the mischief that will not only bring punishment to the wrong-doers among you.22 Know well that Allah is severe in punishment.
20. This refers to those widespread social evils whose baneful effects are not confined only to those addicted to them, but which affect even those who, although they might not be addicted to those sins, are a part of that society. For example, if filth is found at just a few places in a locality it will possibly affect only those who have not kept themselves or their houses clean. However, if it becomes widespread and no one is concerned with removing uncleanliness and maintaining sanitary conditions, then everything including water and soil
will become contaminated. As a result, if epidemics break out, they will not only afflict those who were responsible for spreading filth and themselves lived in unsanitary conditions, but virtually all the residents of that locality.
What is true of unsanitary conditions in a physical sense, also holds true for filth and uncleanliness in a moral sense. If immoral practices remain confined to a few people here and there but the overall moral concern of the society prevents those practices from becoming widespread and public, their harmful effects remain limited. But when the collective conscience of the society is weakened to a point whereby immoral practices are not suppressed, when people indulge in evils without any sense of shame and even go around vaunting their immoral deeds, when good people adopt a passive attitude and are
content with being righteous merely in their own lives and are unconcerned with or silent about collective evils, then the entire society invites its doom. Such a society then becomes the victim of a scourge that does not distinguish between the grain and the chaff.
What God’s directive seeks to impress upon people is that the reformatory mission of the Prophet (peace be on him) and the cause he was inviting people to was the source of life and well-being for them both individually and collectively. People should bear in mind that if they fail to participate wholeheartedly in the task to which they were invited and remain silent spectators to rampant evils, that would invite a scourge that would embrace all. It would afflict even those individuals who neither themselves committed evils nor were
instrumental in spreading them and who might in fact have been righteous in their personal conduct. This point was emphasized earlier see (al-A’raf 7: 163-6)and was illustrated by reference to the Sabbath-breakers, and constitutes the underlying Islamic philosophy for
waging war for purposes of reform.
(8:26) And recall when you were few in numbers and deemed weak in the land, fearful lest people do away with you. Then He provided you refuge, strengthened you with His help, and provided you sustenance with good things that you may be grateful.21
21. The reference to gratefulness in the verse is worthy of reflection. Bearing in mind the subject under discussion, it appears that gratefulness does not simply mean that Muslims should acknowledge God’s favor to them insofar as He rescued them from their state of
abject weakness. God had not only salvaged them from an insecure life in Makkah and provided them with a haven of security in Madinah where they enjoyed an abundance of livelihood. Gratefulness does not simply require all that. Apart from acknowledging God’s favor, gratefulness also demands that Muslims should faithfully obey God and His Messenger out of a consciousness of God’s munificence, out of loyalty and devotion to the Prophet’s mission, and should cast aside all dangers, hardships and misfortunes that might confront them. In their struggle for God’s cause Muslims should have complete trust in God Who has helped them on earlier occasions and Who has delivered them from dangers. The Muslims should also have faith that if they work sincerely in God’s cause He will certainly help and protect them. Hence, the gratefulness expected of the Muslims does not simply
consist of a verbal acknowledgement of God’s benefaction. Gratefulness to God should manifest itself in actual deeds as well. If someone were to acknowledge the favor of his Lord, and yet is slack in seeking His good pleasure, lacks sincerity in serving Him, and entertains doubts that God’s benefaction will continue in the future, then that can hardly be characterized as gratitude.
(8:27) Believers! Do not be unfaithful to Allah and the Messenger, nor be knowingly unfaithful to your trusts.
22. “Trusts! embrace all the responsibilities which are imparted to someone because he is trusted. These might consist of obligations arising out of an agreement or collective covenant. It might also consist of the secrets of a group. It might also consist of personal or
collective property, or any office or position which might be bestowed upon a person by the group. (For further explanation see Towards Understandings the Quran, vol. 11. (al-Nisa’ 4
(8:28) Know well that your belongings and your children are but a trial,22 and that with Allah there is a mighty reward.
23. Excessive love of money and one’s children often impair the sincerity of a person’s faith and often lead man to hypocrisy, treachery and dishonesty. The Qur’an, therefore, clearly points out ihat since love of wealth or children drives people off the right path, it constitutes
a considerable test for them. One’s property, one’s business and one’s offspring constitute a test for man since they have been in his custody so as to judge to what extent he observes the limits of propriety laid down by God and adequately performs his responsibilities. What is tested is how far man is able to control his animal self which is strongly attached to worldly purposes – so that he is able to act as God’s servant and render all the rights of worldly life in the manner laid down by God.
(8:29) Believers! If you fear Allah He will grant you a criterion 24 and will cleanse you of your sins and forgive you. Allah is Lord of abounding bounty.
24. ‘Criterion’ signifies that which enables one to distinguish between true and false; between real and fake. This is the shade of meaning conveyed by the Qur’anic term ‘furqan’. If a man is God-fearing and tries his best to refrain from acts which displease God, God will create in him the ability to discern for himself at every step which actions are proper and which are not; which attitude conduces to God’s good pleasure and which is likely to incur His wrath. This inner light will serve as a pointer at every turn and crossing, at every up and
down in life, guiding him as to when he should proceed and when he should refrain, telling him which is the path of truth and leads to God, and which is false and leads to Satan.
(8:30) And recall how those who disbelieved schemed against you to take you captive, or kill you, or drive you away. They schemed and Allah did also scheme. Allah is the best of those who scheme.
25. Apprehending the Prophet’s migration to Madinah, the Quraish convened a high-level council attended by all the tribal chiefs at Dar al-Nadwah (Council House) to decide on a decisive course of action against the Prophet (peace be on him). They realized that once the
Prophet (peace be on him) left Makkah, he would be beyond their reach, rendering them helpless in face of a formidable threat. A group of them was of the view that the Prophet (peace be on him) should be imprisoned for life and kept in chains. This proposal was, however, turned down on the ground that the Prophet’s detention would not deter his followers from preaching Islam and that they would seize the first opportunity to release the Prophet (peace be on him) even at the risk to their own lives. Another group suggested that the Prophet (peace be on him) should be exiled, for this would remove the mischief and subversion far from Makkah, and it would not matter where he spent his days nor what he did, for Makkah would be immune from his influence. This proposal, too, was discarded for fear of the Prophet’s persuasiveness and eloquence, and his ability to win the hearts of the
people of other tribes and thus pose a greater threat in the future. Finally, Abu Jahl suggested that a band of young men drawn from all the different clans of the Quraysh should jointly pounce upon the Prophet (peace be on him) and kill him. In such a case the responsibility for his blood would rest upon all the clans of the Quraysh’s. It would thus become impossible for ‘Abd Manaf, the Prophet’s clan. to take revenge on any one particular clan. Such a move would compel the Prophet’s relatives to drop their claims for retaliation and force them to settle for blood-money. Accordingly, the young men charged with the execution of this plan were selected, and were advised of the exact place and time at which they were expected to carry out the crime. Not only that, the would-be assassins did indeed arrive at the appointed place at the appointed time. However, before they could harm him the Prophet (peace be on him) managed to escape safely. The Quraysh plot was thus frustrated at the eleventh hour. (See Ibn Hisham, vol. 1, pp. 480-2. See also Ibn Kathir’s comments on the verse – Ed.)