Surat Al-Anfal


Wahba Mahmoud Diyab

Surat Al-Anfal = The Spoils 8 – Medinian – Ayats 75 Section Two – Ayats 20-37

O’ you who believe! Obey God and His Apostle [PPBUH], and do not turn away from him when you hear (him speak). (20) يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلَا تَوَلَّوْا عَنْهُ وَأَنْتُمْ تَسْمَعُونَ (20)
Nor be like those who say:”we hear”, but they do not hear/listen not. (21) وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَهُمْ لَا يَسْمَعُونَ (21)
Verily, the worst of beasts/animals/creatures in the sight of God are the deaf and the dump, those who do not understand. (22) إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابِّ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الصُّمُّ الْبُكْمُ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ (22)
If God had found any good in them, He would indeed have made them listen; and even if He had made them listen (hear), they would turn away. (23) وَلَوْ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ فِيهِمْ خَيْرًا لَأَسْمَعَهُمْ وَلَوْ أَسْمَعَهُمْ لَتَوَلَّوْا وَهُمْ مُعْرِضُونَ (23)
O’ you who believe! Give your response to God and His Apostle, when he calls you to which will enlivens you; and know that God interposes/ intervenes/comes in between man and his heart, and verily, it is to Him you shall (all) be gathered. (24) يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ (24)
And fear (protect yourselves) from enticement/ infatuation/affliction which affects not in particular (only) those of you who transgressed/do wrong: and know that God is strict/sever in punishment. (25) وَاتَّقُوا فِتْنَةً لَا تُصِيبَنَّ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْكُمْ خَاصَّةً وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ (25)
And remember/call in mind when you were few and small (band), despised and reckoned weak through the land, and were afraid that men might despoil and kidnap you; but He provided a safe asylum for you; strengthened you with His aid/ help, and provided you with good things for sustenance: so that you might be grateful. (26) وَاذْكُرُوا إِذْ أَنْتُمْ قَلِيلٌ مُسْتَضْعَفُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ تَخَافُونَ أَنْ يَتَخَطَّفَكُمُ النَّاسُ فَآَوَاكُمْ وَأَيَّدَكُمْ بِنَصْرِهِ وَرَزَقَكُمْ مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ (26)
O’ you who believe! Do not betray –the Trust- of God and His Messenger, nor misappropriate/ betray –knowingly- things entrusted to you. (27) يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا لَا تَخُونُوا اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ وَتَخُونُوا أَمَانَاتِكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (27)
And know that your possessions and your progeny (children), are but a trial, and that surely it is God with Whom lies your highest reward. (28) وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلَادُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ عِنْدَهُ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ (28)
O’ you who believe! If you obey and fear God/be pious; He will grant you a -an all-distinctive- Criterion (to judge between right and wrong), and will expiate and remove from you (all) evils (that may affect you), and forgive you: for God is the Lord and Owner of the Great Bounty and Unbounded Grace. (29) يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا إِنْ تَتَّقُوا اللَّهَ يَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ فُرْقَانًا وَيُكَفِّرْ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ (29)
And remember how the Unbelievers plotted against you [O’ Muhammad PPBUH], to keep you in bonds/imprison you; or slay you; or get you out (of your home); they plot and plan, and God too plans; but the best of Planners is God. (30) وَإِذْ يَمْكُرُ بِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِيُثْبِتُوكَ أَوْ يَقْتُلُوكَ أَوْ يُخْرِجُوكَ وَيَمْكُرُونَ وَيَمْكُرُ اللَّهُ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ (30)
And when Our Verses/Signs are recited/rehearsed to them, they say:”We have heard this (before): If we wished, we could say (words) the like of these. This is nothing but the tales of the ancients”. (31) وَإِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ آَيَاتُنَا قَالُوا قَدْ سَمِعْنَا لَوْ نَشَاءُ لَقُلْنَا مِثْلَ هَذَا إِنْ هَذَا إِلَّا أَسَاطِيرُ الْأَوَّلِينَ (31)
And –remember- how they said:”O’ God! If this (the Qur’an) is indeed the Truth –revealed- from You, then rain down us a shower of stones from the sky, or give/send on us a grievous Penalty/ painful torment. (32) وَإِذْ قَالُوا اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كَانَ هَذَا هُوَ الْحَقَّ مِنْ عِنْدِكَ فَأَمْطِرْ عَلَيْنَا حِجَارَةً مِنَ السَّمَاءِ أَوِ ائْتِنَا بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ (32)
But God was not going to send them a Penalty whilst you [O’ Muhammad PPBUH] amongst them; nor was He going to send it (the Penalty) whilst they could as for pardon/forgiveness. (33) وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَأَنْتَ فِيهِمْ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ مُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَهُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ (33)
But what plea have they that God should not punish them; when they hinder/keep out (men) from the Sacred Mosque, and they are not its guardians? No men can be its guardians except the righteous pious; but most of them do not know or understand. (34) وَمَا لَهُمْ أَلَّا يُعَذِّبَهُمُ اللَّهُ وَهُمْ يَصُدُّونَ عَنِ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَمَا كَانُوا أَوْلِيَاءَهُ إِنْ أَوْلِيَاؤُهُ إِلَّا الْمُتَّقُونَ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (34)
Their prayer at the House (of God) is nothing but whistling and clapping of hands: (its only answer can be):”Taste the Penalty, because you have blasphemed and disbelieved. (35) وَمَا كَانَ صَلَاتُهُمْ عِنْدَ الْبَيْتِ إِلَّا مُكَاءً وَتَصْدِيَةً فَذُوقُوا الْعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَكْفُرُونَ (35)
Verily, those Unbelievers spend their wealth to hinder (men) from the path of God, and so they will continue to spend it; but in the end it will become an anguish and regrets and sighs for them. At length they will be overcome; and the Unbelievers will be gathered together to Hell. (36) إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُنْفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ لِيَصُدُّوا عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَسَيُنْفِقُونَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِمْ حَسْرَةً ثُمَّ يُغْلَبُونَ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَى جَهَنَّمَ يُحْشَرُونَ (36)
In order that God may separate/distinguish the impure from the pure, one on another, heap them together, and cast the into Hell. They will be the ones who have lost/the losers. (37) لِيَمِيزَ اللَّهُ الْخَبِيثَ مِنَ الطَّيِّبِ وَيَجْعَلَ الْخَبِيثَ بَعْضَهُ عَلَى بَعْضٍ فَيَرْكُمَهُ جَمِيعًا فَيَجْعَلَهُ فِي جَهَنَّمَ أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ (37)

COMMENTARY:
(Verses 20-37): Be ready to obey God’s call, and to hold all else as naught. He will give you the light, turn away all evil from you, and forgive you your sins and shortcomings. Ever keep in remembrance His mercies and grace. The godless may try to keep men from God, but they will not thrive; they will be hurled together to destruction.
(Verses 20-21-22-23)- See Surat Al-Bagara 2 – verse 18, and verse 93.
(Verse 24)- A/There are two points to note: (1) note that after God and His Apostle [PPBUH] are mentioned, the pronoun and verb in the next clause are singular; everything that God’s Apostle [PPBUH] put forward as an injunction came by inspiration from God: the Apostle [PPBUH] made his will coincide completely with God’s will. (2) we are asked actively to give our response in deed and life to the call of duty and conscience, for that call leads to real life, the life eternal, even though it may apparently mean in this world the loss of things that make life dear or the loss or the loss of life itself. If we refer this to Jihad i.e.. fighting in and for the Cause –both literally and metaphorically- the meaning become quite clear. B/If the human heart is refractory and refuses to obey the call of God, that is not the end of the matter. God has to be reckoned with. The refusal may because there was some pet human scheme which the heart of man was not willing to give up for God’s Cause. Will that scheme come to fruition by refusing to serve the higher Cause? By no means. Man proposes, but God disposes. If the scheme of motive was perfectly secret from men, it was not secret from God. The heart is the innermost seat of man’s affections and desires; but between this seat and man himself is the presence of the Omnipresent.
(Verse 25)- Fitnat=فتنة : has many meanings (temptation-trial-charmingness-enchantment-fascination-infatuation-intrigue-sedition): (1) the root meaning is trial or temptation, as in Surat Al-Bagara 2 verse 102, and in this Sura verse 28: (2) an analogous meaning is trial or punishment, as in Surat Al-Nisa’a 5 verse 74: (3) tumult or oppression, as in Surat Al-Bagara 2 verse 193; and here in this Sura, and in verse 39; (4) there here –in this verse- the further shade of meaning suggested discord, sedition, civil war. This warning against internal discord or tumult was very necessary in the Civil Wars of early Islam, and was never more necessary than it is now. For it affects innocent and guilty alike.
(Verse 26)- On the immediate occasion the Muslims were reminded that they were a small band in Mecca; despised and rejected; living in a state of insecurity for their persons, their lives, their property, and those of their dependant; persecuted and exiled and how by the grace of God they found a safe asylum in Al-Medina, how they found friends and helpers, how their many needs were cared for, and how at length they gathered strength and numbers enough to defeat the force of godlessness, injustice, and oppression. But every individual, in some form or other, the lesson applies. His spiritual life begins humbly; he is despised and laughed at, perhaps persecuted and shut out from ordinary privileges open to all; but God gives him strength; friends spring up for him; and he is sustained until his highest spiritual desires are gradually fulfilled.
(Verse 27)- Trusts may be of various kinds: (1) property, goods, credit, etc…: (2) plans, confidences, secrets, etc…: (3) knowledge, talents, opportunities, etc.., which we are expected to use for our fellow-men. Men may betray the trust of God and His Apostle [PPBUH] by misusing property, or abusing the confidence reposed in them, or the knowledge or talents given to them. On that special occasion –when the plans for the protection of God’s worshippers against annihilation were of special importance- the Apostle’s trust and confidence of our fellow-men occur every day in our life, and few of us can claim perfection in this respect. Hence the special distinction of the man of God –who earned the title of Al-Amin=Trust Worthy, the one who was true to every trust reposed to him.
(Verse 28)- A big family –many sons- was considered a source of power and strength (see Surat Al-Imran 3 verses 10, 116. So in English, a man with many children is said to have his “quiver full” {Psalms, 4) A young man’s sons are like the arrows in a soldier’s arrow bag. 5) A man that fills his arrow bag with sons will be very happy. 6)That man will never be defeated. His sons will defend him against his enemies in public places}. As arrows are in the hands of a mighty man, so are the children of your youth; “Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them, they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” . So with property and possessions; they will add to a man’s dignity, power, and influence. But both possessions and a large family are temptation and a trial. They may turn out to be a source of spiritual downfall, if they are mishandled, or if the love of them excludes the love of God.
(Verse 29)- See Surat Al-Bagara 2 verse 53 and 185. The Battle of Badr is called the Furqan (proof- convincing evidence) in Muslim theology, because it was the first trial of strength by battle –in Islam- between the powers of good and evil. Evil was defeated, and those who had real faith were tested and sorted out from those who had not faith enough to follow the banner of Faith. See verse 41 to come.
(Verse 30)- A/ The plots against Muslims in Mecca aimed at three things. They were not only foiled, but God’s wonderful working turned the tables, and brought good out of evil in each case: (1) They tried to hold the Apostle [PPBUH] in subjection in Mecca by putting pressure on his uncles, relatives, and friends. But the more they persecuted, the more the little Muslims community grew in faith and numbers. (2) They tried to injure or slay him. But the wonderful example of his humility, perseverance, and fearlessness furthered the cause of Islam. (3) They tried to get him -and his on followers- out of their homes. But they found a new home in Al-Medina, from which they eventually re-conquered –not only Mecca- but the whole Arabia and the world. B/ See Surat Al-Imran 3 – verse 54.
(Verse 31)- See Surat Al-An ‘am 6 verse 25.
(Verses 32-33-34-35-36)- This was actually a challenge thrown out by the infidels in Mecca, not seriously but as a taunt. The answer is in the two following verses (33-34). God punishes in His own good time, not according to the foolish and frivolous taunts of the Unbelievers. While the Holy Apostle [PPBUH] was with them, he –the Mercy of Worlds- conferred a certain amount of immunity to them. There were also other Muslims, just men who asked for forgiveness. And God keeps the door of repentance and forgiveness open to all as long as they make it possible. But let them not be puffed up with pride, or think that they have lasting immunity. What became of Abu-Jahl? He and some of his greatest warriors were slain at Badr. The little autocratic clique that prevented Muslims from access to the Sacred Mosque had their Nemesis not long afterwards. They pretended to be its guardians. But were they?! Could they be? Only the righteous could be true guardians to God’s places of worship, and particularly to the central House of the Ka’aba. It was to be a place of pure worship, while their idolatrous worship was mere mummery;- whistling and clapping of hands. All false worship advertises itself by noise and unseemly riot: it is said that the Pagans used to go naked round the Ka’aba.
(Verse 37)- It is only when matters are brought to an issue that evil is separated distinctly from the good. Then evil consorts with evil, and good with good. The evil will be piled into heap. When the cup is full, the punishment will come. There will be no mistake about it. The good should not be discouraged, because in fighting against them, all forces of evil join together and pool their resources together. The more they do so, the easier is the final arbitrement. It is all in God’s Plan.
(Verse 24= Hadeeth Sharif: i.e. One is a live,- a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) who is obedient to Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad PPBUH) and follows the Qur’an and Prophet’s Sunnah = Jurisprudence practically, and he goes out for Jihad in Allah’s Cause; in case he is martyred, that is not death but an eternal life –in Paradise forever, unlike to disbeliever who is dead (as regards Faith), and will be punished in Hell forever (neither alive nor dead).

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