Period of Revelation: This Surah was revealed in 2 A. H. after the battle of Badr, the first battle between Islam and Kufr. Since it contains a detailed and comprehensive review of the battle, it appears that the whole Surah was revealed at the same time.Major Issues, Divine Laws and Guidance:
- Battle of truth and falsehood.
- Truth should not fear to be cowed down by odds against it.
- Fighting should not be for spoils or gains but for a just cause.
- Laws relating to peace and war.
- Relation of an Islamic state with Muslims living in non-Muslim countries.
- That the victory was due to the help of Allah rather than to their own valor and bravery has been stressed so that the Muslims should learn to rely on Him and obey Allah and His Rasool.
- The moral lesson to be learned from the conflict between the truth and falsehood have been explained.
- The mushrikeen, the hypocrites, the Jews, and the prisoners of war are addressed in a very impressive manner advising them to learn a lesson.
- Instructions are given in regard to the spoils of war. The Muslims have been 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 aside for His cause, for His Rasool, and for the help of the needy.
- It gives instructions concerning the laws of peace and war, for these were urgently needed at the stage, in which the Islamic movement had entered. It enjoined the Muslims to refrain from the ways of ignorance whether they are in peace or at war, and thus establish their moral superiority in the world.
- This Surah also states some articles of the Islamic Constitution which differentiate the status of Muslims living within the limits of Dar-al-Islam (the Abode of Islam) from that of the Muslims living beyond its limits.
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the muslims’ defeat at the battle of U^ud in 625 ac, like their victory a year earlier at Badr in 624 ac, was not expected. Neverthe- less, unexpected events are often the best means to test the caliber and tenacity of people. This surah was revealed in the wake of the Muslims’ triumph at Badr to explain and identify the inﬂuence of God and the role of people in the victory achieved in that battle. It makes it clear that the victory awarded to the Muslims on that occa- sion was God-sent, in return for their steadfastness and perseverance all through the previous years. It further afﬁrms that those valiant men who fought so hard were an instrument of God in fulﬁllment of the Qur’anic prophecy: “God has decreed, ‘I and My messengers will surely triumph.’ God is Powerful and Mighty” (al-Muj¥dilah: 21). The surah conﬁrms that in this battle God sought, “to establish, through His words, the truth, and to rout the inﬁdels” (7).The surah therefore opens with a statement afﬁrming that the spoils of the war are not the property of individual ﬁghters, and that their distribution is up to God and His Messenger. This immediately overrules the need for any dispute or disagreement over how they are to be used or distributed. The battle’s foremost objective was to establish that there were brave and selﬂess men among the Muslims willing to stand up for the truth.The true believers are those whose hearts ﬁll with awe at the men- tion of God, and whose faith grows stronger as His revelations aresurah 8 • Al-Anf¥lrecited to them, and those who put their trust in their Lord. They observe prayer and give of what We have bestowed upon them. Such are the true believers. (2–4)These, then, are some of the features of true faith: remembering God, fearing Him, reciting His words, trusting Him, giving of one’s wealth. But, towards the end of the surah, we are informed of yet more of these features. The faithful are alsothose who have believed, emigrated [from Makkah to Madinah] and fought for the cause of God, and those who have sheltered and supported them—they are all true believers. (74)True faith, therefore, also entails protecting one’s religion by escap- ing to safety if and when necessary, ﬁghting for the cause of God, and giving shelter and support to fellow believers. Elsewhere in the Qur’an, God says:True believers are those who believed in God and His Messenger and never wavered, and those who fought with their wealth and their lives for the cause of God. Such are the truthful. (al-¤ujur¥t: 15)It is deep-seated sincerity, ﬁrm unshakable trust, and boundless generosity and sacriﬁce, giving up the dearest things any person can possess and cherish: wealth and life. In yet another surah, God says:The true believers are those who believed in God and His Messenger, and who, when gathered with him [Muhammad] over an important matter, would not leave without his permission. (al- N‰r: 62)These verses collectively indicate clearly that true faith has many manifestations. It has no rigidly ﬁxed deﬁnition, but is displayed inA Thematic Commentary on the Qur’anvarious actions and traits that are determined or dictated by circum- stance. To prove their true faith, believers are accordingly required to rise to each occasion as it occurs. Thus, when the Muslims were told to leave aside the spoils they gained in the battle and await God’s decision, they accepted and obeyed. They knew for certain that whatever God was to decide would be in their best interest.When the Muslim expedition arrived at Badr, the Prophet issued his orders to the Muslims to prepare for battle against the unbelie- vers. The original purpose of the expedition was to intercept the Arab trade caravan, but now they found themselves preparing for a confrontation that was not of their own making. The reaction he received was mixed. Some thought that armed conﬂict would not be advisable since the Muslims had not been adequately prepared for it. They recommended waiting until other Muslims in Madinah had been mobilized and were able to join them at Badr, several kilome- ters south of Madinah. But the Prophet’s opinion was that to decline the challenge of the Makkan Arabs at that particular moment would undermine the Muslim standing and demoralize their young com- munity. He felt that God would not let him down at such a critical moment in the history of Islam, and so he consulted his Compa- nions and his ﬁnal decision was to go ahead and ﬁght. We read in the surah:As when your Lord rightly brought you out of your home to ﬁght, but some of the believers were reluctant [to join you], arguing with you about the truth after it had become manifest, as though they were being led to death with their eyes wide open. (5–6)The Prophet’s hope for victory was justiﬁed by the words:God promised you victory over one of the two groups [the Makkan trade caravan or the non-Muslim ﬁghters], but your wish was to take possession of the one that was unarmed [the trade caravan]. (7)surah 8 • Al-Anf¥lThe Muslims obviously wished for the easy prey, the soft target. But God had other plans for them, which became clear only after the battle was over and victory was secured. God’s aim was to “establish the truth and demolish falsehood, in spite of the evil-doers” (8). The normal human reaction of believers in such critical circumstances would be to resort to calling on God for help and support. As the Muslims came to realize the strength and superiority of their enemy they turned to God: “When you [the Muslims] pleaded with your Lord to help you and He responded to your call, saying, ‘I am send- ing you a thousand angels, one after the other’” (9). Although one angel would have been enough to rout the unbelievers, God wanted to reassure the Muslims by mentioning the number: “God made it so to give you good tidings, and so that your hearts are assured by it, for victory comes only from God. God is Mighty and Wise” (10).Just before the ﬁghting commenced, the Prophet is reported to have prayed long and hard, entreating God to grant him and the Muslims the victory he had been promised. He is said to have gone as far as saying: “If this group of Muslims [at Badr] are defeated You shall never be worshiped again on this earth.”17 With arms stretched high in the air and eyes ﬁxed at the inﬁnite skies, the Prophet was engrossed in earnest prayer. He saw Badr as a decisive battle, a lastchance for Islam to triumph and spread. Ab‰ Bakr, Muhammad’s close conﬁdant and a senior Companion, was stan-ding behind him, allaying his fears and assuring him of God’s certain victory. How- ever, the Prophet persisted with his pleadings until God’s words were revealed informing him of the outcome of the battle before it had even begun. In passing one may note that scholars have been intrigued by the contrast in Ab‰ Bakr’s conﬁdent attitude at Badr, reassuring the Prophet and calming him, and his anxiety when they were together inside a cave just outside Makkah, being pursued by Arabs who were trying to prevent them escaping to Madinah. The
- Narrated by al-Bukh¥rÏ and Muslim.
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَنفَالِ ۖ قُلِ الْأَنفَالُ لِلَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ ۖ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَصْلِحُوا ذَاتَ بَيْنِكُمْ ۖ وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ
أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ حَقًّا ۚ لَّهُمْ دَرَجَاتٌ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ وَرِزْقٌ كَرِيمٌ
كَمَا أَخْرَجَكَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَيْتِكَ بِالْحَقِّ وَإِنَّ فَرِيقًا مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ لَكَارِهُونَ
يُجَادِلُونَكَ فِي الْحَقِّ بَعْدَمَا تَبَيَّنَ كَأَنَّمَا يُسَاقُونَ إِلَى الْمَوْتِ وَهُمْ يَنظُرُونَ
وَإِذْ يَعِدُكُمُ اللَّهُ إِحْدَى الطَّائِفَتَيْنِ أَنَّهَا لَكُمْ وَتَوَدُّونَ أَنَّ غَيْرَ ذَاتِ الشَّوْكَةِ تَكُونُ لَكُمْ وَيُرِيدُ اللَّهُ أَن يُحِقَّ الْحَقَّ بِكَلِمَاتِهِ وَيَقْطَعَ دَابِرَ الْكَافِرِينَ
لِيُحِقَّ الْحَقَّ وَيُبْطِلَ الْبَاطِلَ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُجْرِمُونَ
إِذْ تَسْتَغِيثُونَ رَبَّكُمْ فَاسْتَجَابَ لَكُمْ أَنِّي مُمِدُّكُم بِأَلْفٍ مِّنَ الْمَلَائِكَةِ مُرْدِفِينَ