Surah Al-Anfaal
سورة الأنفال

Asbab An-Nuzul:
Surah Al-Anfaal – سورة الأنفال

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Sura Al-Anfaal (Arabic: سورة الأنفال‎, Sūratu al-Anfaal, “The Spoils of War”) is the eighth chapter of the Qur’an, with 75 verses. It is a Medinan sura, completed after the Battle of Badr. It forms a pair with the next sura, At-Tawba.

Al-Anfaal الأنفال

  • Classification: Madinan
  • Meaning of the name: The Spoils of War

Statistics

  • Sura number: 8
  • Number of verses: 75
  • Juz’ number: 9 to 10
  • Hizb number: 18 to 19
  • Number of Sajdahs: none
  • Previous Sura: Al-A’raf
  • Next Sura: At-Tawba

Badr

Badr is also the subject of Sura 8: Al-Anfal, which details military conduct and operations. Though the Sura does not name Badr, it describes the battle several times:

‘’Remember ye were on the hither side of the valley, and they on the farther side, and the caravan on lower ground than ye. Even if ye had made a mutual appointment to meet, ye would certainly have failed in the appointment: But (thus ye met), that Allah might accomplish a matter . For to Allah do all questions go back (for decision).’’ [Quran 8:42]

‘’And be not like those turned on his heels, and said: “Lo! I am clear of you; lo! I see what ye see not; Lo! I fear Allah. for Allah is strict in punishment.’’ [Quran 8:47]

These verses highlighted both the chance encounter of the battle (both sides had blundered into each other) as well as the underestimation of both the size of Meccan army by the Muslims and the fierceness of the Muslim army by the Meccans. The Meccan army was described in the second verses, and “Satan” may be referring to Amr ibn Hisham, who was hated by the Muslims and allegedly pushed for the battle repeatedly. [Quran 8:17]

One source states that Ubay ibn Khalaf was ransomed after Badr, but was killed by Muslims with a spear in the Battle of Uhud (625 CE). Verse [Quran 8:17] was revealed in this occasion.

Asbab An-Nuzul
Surah Al-Anfaal

By: Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wāhidī

8:1.| They ask thee (O Muhammad) of the spoils of war. Say: The spoils of war belong to Allah and the messenger…!

[8:1]. Abu Sa‘id al-Nasruyiyy informed us> Abu Bakr al-Qati‘i> ‘Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal> his father> Abu Mu‘awiyah> Abu Ishaq al-Shaybani> Muhammad ibn ‘Ubayd Allah al-Thaqafi> Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas who said: “On the day of Badr my brother ‘Umayr was killed and I killed Sa‘id ibn al-‘As and took his sword which was named al-Kifah. I went to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and he told me to go and put the sword with the captured booty which was still undivided.

I went back in a state which only Allah knew as a result of the killing of my brother and the loss of my spoil. I did not go very far when Surah al-Anfal was revealed. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, called me and said: ‘Go and take back your sword!’ ”.

‘Ikrimah reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “On the day of Badr, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘Whoever does such-and-such will get suchand-such’. And so the younger men went and the old remained under the banners. When it was time to divide the booty, those younger men came to ask for their share, but the old said: ‘Do not exclude us, for we were under the banners, and if you had been defeated, we would have been a shield for you’.

And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (They ask thee (O Muhammad) of the spoils of war. Say: The spoils of war belong to Allah and the messenger…), and the booty was divided on them in equal shares”. Abu Bakr ibn al-Harith informed us> ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Ja‘far> Abu Yahya> Sahl ibn ‘Uthman> Yahya ibn Abi Za’idah> Ibn Abi al-Zinad> ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Harith> Sulayman ibn Musa ibn al-Ashdaq> Makhul> Abu Salam al-Bahili> Abu Umamah al-Bahili> ‘Ubadah ibn al-Samit who said:

“When the enemy was defeated on the day of Badr, a group of men followed them to exterminate them, while one group surrounded the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, [to protect him] and another group seized the booty and spoils. When Allah banished the enemy and those who went after came back, they said: ‘The booty belongs to us, we have chased the enemy and it is through us that Allah has defeated and banished them’.

Those who surrounded the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘By Allah, you do not have more right to it than we do. We have surrounded the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, lest the enemy attack him by surprise. Therefore, the booty is ours’.

Those who had seized the spoils and booty said: ‘By Allah, you do not have more right to it than we do. We have seized, it is therefore ours’. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed (They ask thee (O Muhammad) of the spoils of war) and so the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, divided it on them in equal shares”.

8:17.| And thou (Muhammad) threwest not when thou didst throw, but Allah threw…!

[8:17]. ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ahmad al-‘Attar informed us> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad al-Bayya’> Isma’il ibn Muhammad ibn al-Fadl al-Sha’rani> his grandfather> Ibrahim ibn al-Mundhir al-Hizami> Muhammad ibn Fulayh> Musa ibn ‘Uqbah> Ibn Shihab> Sa’id ibn al-Musayyab> his father who said: “On the Day of the Battle of Uhud, Ubayy ibn Khalaf came looking for the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace but some believing men stopped him.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, ordered them to let him go and they did. He was then received by Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr, who belonged to the tribe of Banu ‘Abd al-Dar. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, saw Ubayy’s clavicle through a hole in the armour, and he stabbed him in it with his spear. No blood came out of his wound but Ubayy fell from his horse and broke a rib.

His companions came to him and found him mooing like a bull. They said to him: ‘How weak you are, this is nothing but a scratch!’ He said: ‘By Him in whose hand is my soul, if the pain from which I am suffering were to be inflicted on all the people of al-Majaz, they would all die’.

Ubayy then died to hell before reaching Mecca, away with the dwellers of the Fire! And Allah, exalted is He, revealed the verse (And thou (Muhammad) threwest not when thou didst throw, but Allah threw…)”.

Safwan ibn ‘Amr reported that ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Jubayr related that on the day of the conquest of Khaybar, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, asked for a bow, and so they brought a long bow. He said: “Bring me another one”, and so they brought him a bow whose handle fills one’s palm.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, threw an arrow toward the fortress which hit and killed Kinanah ibn Abi al-Huqayq while he was in his bed, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (And thou (Muhammad) threwest not when thou didst throw, but Allah threw…). However, most Qur’anic commentators are of the opinion that the above verse was revealed about the handful of valley dust that the Messenger of Allah threw on the idolaters on the Day of Badr.

In that occasion he threw the handful of dust and said: “Let the faces be distorted”, and some of this dust went into the eyes of every single idolater. Said Hakim ibn Hizam: “On the Day of Badr, we heard a noise coming down from heaven. It was like the noise made by dust when it falls into a basin. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, threw that dust and we were defeated. Hence the words of Allah, exalted is He (And thou (Muhammad) threwest not when thou didst throw, but Allah threw)”.

8:19.| ‘(O Quraysh!) If ye sought a judgment, now hath the judgment come unto you…!

[8:19]. Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Farisi informed us> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Fadl al-Tajir> Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Hafiz> Muhammad ibn Yahya> Ya’qub ibn Ibrahim ibn Sa’d> his father> Salih> Ibn Shihab> ‘Abd Allah ibn Tha’labah ibn Su’ayr who said:

“The person who sought judgment was Abu Jahl.

He said when the two armies met:

‘O Allah, destroy this day whoever amongst us has severed ties of kinship and brought that which we had never known..!’

This was the judgement that he sought. Allah, exalted is He, revealed regarding this ((O Quraysh!) If ye sought a judgment, now hath the judgment come unto you…) up to His words (Allah is with the believers)”.

This was narrated by al-Hakim Abu ‘Abd Allah in his Sahih from al-Qati’I from the son of Ibn Hanbal from Ahmad ibn Hanbal from Ya’qub. Said al-Suddi and al-Kalbi: “Before they set off to fight the Prophet, Allah bless him and give peace, in Uhud, the idolaters grabbed the covers of the Ka’bah and prayed:

‘O Allah, give victory to the greatest of the two armies, the most guided of the two camps, the noblest of the two parties and the best of the two religions’, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”. ‘Ikrimah said: “The idolaters said: ‘O Allah, we do not recognize that which Muhammad has brought, so judge between us with the truth’, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse (If ye sought a judgment…)”.

8:27.| ‘O ye who believe! Betray not Allah and His messenger…!

[8:27]. This verse was revealed about Abu Lubabah ibn ‘Abd al-Mundhir al-Ansari. What happened is that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, besieged the Jews of Banu Qurayzah for 21 nights when they requested peace from the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, on the same terms that their brothers from Banu’l-Nadir had secured before, i.e. that they join their brothers in Adhri‘at and Jericho in Syria.

But he refused to grant it to them and insisted that they submit to the judgment of Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh. They refused to do so and said: “Send us Abu Lubabah, instead”. Abu Lubabah was loyal to them, for his property, wife and children were with them.

When the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, sent him to them, they said to him: “O Abu Lubabah, what do you think we should do? Should we accept the judgment of Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh?” Abu Lubabah made a gesture to his throat, i.e. that they should not do it, for they will be slaughtered. Abu Lubabah said: “I straightaway realised that I had betrayed Allah and His Messenger”.

And then this verse was revealed about him. When the verse was revealed, Abu Lubabah tied himself to one of the columns of the mosques and said: “By Allah, I will not taste food or drink until Allah relents on me or I die”. He remained in this state for seven days, neither eating nor drinking, until Allah, exalted is He, relented on him.

When it was said to him: “O Abu Lubabah! You have been pardo ed”, he said: “By Allah, I will not untie myself; I want the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, to untie me”.

The Prophet went and untied him with his own hands. Abu Lubabah then said: “The completion of my repentance requires that I migrate from the abode of my people where I had committed the sin and that I let go of my property”. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said to him: “It is enough that you give a third of it to charity”.

8:32-33.| (And when they said: O Allah! If this be indeed the truth from Thee…!

[8:32-33]. The Commentators of the Qur’an said: “This was revealed about al-Nadr ibn al-Harith who said: ‘[O Allah!] If what Muhammad says is true, then rain down stones on us’ ”. Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Ja‘far informed us> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hakam> Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub al-Shaybani> Ahmad ibn al-Nadr ibn ‘Abd al- Wahhab> ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Mu‘adh> his father> Shu‘bah> ‘Abd al-Hamid, the companion of al-Ziyadi who heard Anas ibn Malik saying:

“Abu Jahl said: (If this be indeed the truth from Thee, then rain down stones on us or bring on us some painful doom!) and so this was revealed (But Allah would not punish them while thou wast with them)”. This was narrated by Bukhari from Ahmad ibn al-Nadr and by Muslim from ‘Abd Allah ibn Mu‘adh.

8:35.| (And their worship at the (holy) House is naught but whistling and hand-clapping…!

[8:35]. Abu Isma’il ibn ‘Amr al-Naysaburi informed us> Hamzah ibn Shabib al-Ma’mari> ‘Ubayd Allah in Ibrahim ibn Balawayh> Abu’l-Muthanna Mu’adh ibn al-Muthanna> ‘Amr>> his father> Qurrah> ‘Atiyyah> Ibn ‘Umar who said: “They [people in the pre-Islamic period] used to go round the Ka’bah clapping – and he described how they clapped – and whistling – and he described how they whistled – and they also put their cheeks on the ground. Then this verse was revealed”.

8:36.| (Lo! those who disbelieve spend their wealth in order that they may debar (men) from the way of Allah…!

[8:36]. Said Muqatil and al-Kalbi: “This was revealed, on the Day of Badr, about those who customarily fed the pilgrims in the season of Hajj.

They were twelve men:

  1. Abu Jahl ibn Hisham,
  2. ‘Utbah and
  3. Shaybah the sons of Rabi’ah,
  4. Nubayh and
  5. Munabbih the sons of Hajjaj,
  6. Abu’l-Bukhturi ibn Hisham,
  7. al-Nadr ibn al-Harith,
  8. Hakim ibn Hizam,
  9. Ubayy ibn Khalaf,
  10. Zam’ah ibn al-Aswad,
  11. al-Harith ibn ‘Amir ibn Nawfal,
  12. al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib.

All these men were from Quraysh and each one of them gave ten containers of food daily”.

Sa’id ibn Jubayr and Ibn Abza said:

“This verse was revealed about Abu Sufyan ibn Harb who had hired, on the day of Uhud, two thousand Abyssinian men to fight against the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, without counting those Arabs who answered his call to fight with him.

About them, Ka’b ibn Malik says:

We came to sea waves in the middle of which Were Abyssinians, some of whom were veiled and some with their heads uncovered. There were three thousand of them whereas we were a group of nobles: three hundred of us or four hundred at most. Al-Hakam ibn ‘Utaybah said: “Abu Sufyan spent 40 Uqiyyah of gold on the idolaters at the Battle of Uhud, and so this verse was revealed about him”.

Reporting from his sources, Muhammad ibn Ishaq said: “When the Quraysh returned t Mecca after their defeat at Badr and Abu Sufyan returned unharmed with their caravan, a group of men from the Quraysh whose fathers, sons and brothers were killed at this battle, including ‘Abd Allah ibn Abi Rabi’ah, ‘Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl, Safwan ibn Umayyah, went to see Abu Sufyan and those who had a share in that caravan and said to them:

‘O men of Quraysh, Muhammad has harmed you and killed the best among you, so help us with this property which escaped unscathed that haply we may take revenge on him for what was inflicted on us’. They did and Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”.

8:64.| ‘’O Prophet! Allah is Sufficient for thee and those who follow thee of the believers.’’

[8:64]. Abu Bakr ibn al-Harith informed us> Abu’l-Shaykh al-Hafiz> Ahmad ibn ‘Amr ibn ‘Abd al-Khaliq> Safwan ibn al-Mughlis> Ishaq ibn Bishr> Khalaf ibn Khalifah>> Anas ibn Hashim al-Rummani> Sa’id ibn Jubayr> Ibn ‘Abbas who said:

“First, there were thirty-nine people who had embraced Islam and then ‘Umar embraced Islam and they became forty. Gabriel, peace be upon him, brought down the words of Allah, exalted is He: (O Prophet! Allah is Sufficient for thee and those who follow thee of the believers)”.

8:67-69.| ‘’It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land…’’

[8:67-69]. Said Mujahid: “It happened that some of that which was revealed from heaven agreed with many of ‘Umar’s opinions. When the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, consulted the Muslims about the prisoners of Badr, they said:

‘O Messenger of Allah, they are your cousins, so free them in exchange for a ransom’. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said: ‘No, O Messenger of Allah, you should kill them’. Then this verse was revealed (It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land)”. Said Ibn ‘Umar: “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, consulted

Abu Bakr regarding the prisoners of Badr, and the latter said: ‘They are your people and clan, let them go!’ But when he consulted ‘Umar, the latter said: ‘Kill them’. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, freed them in exchange for a ransom. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed (It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land) up to his words (Now enjoy what ye have won, as lawful and good…)

[8:69]. When the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, met ‘Umar, he said to him: ‘We almost incurred a misfortune as a result of opposing your view!’ ”

Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Hiri informed us> Hajib ibn Ahmad> Muhammad ibn Hammad> Abu Mu’awiyah> al-A’mash> ‘Amr ibn Murrah> Abu ‘Ubaydah> ‘Abd Allah who said:

“When the prisoners were brought on the Day of Badr, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said:

‘What do you think we should do with these prisoners?’

Abu Bakr said:

‘O Messenger of Allah, these are your people and kin, spare them and wait that haply Allah, glorious and majestic is He, may relent on them’.

‘Umar, on the other hand said:

‘They have given you the lie and expelled you, bring them forward and chop their heads off’.

‘Abd Allah ibn Rawahah said:

‘Look for a valley with abundant wood and burn them there’, upon which al-‘Abbas commented: ‘You have severed your ties of kinship..!’

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, did not answer them and then went in.

Some people said: ‘He will act on Abu Bakr’s advice’, others said: ‘He will act on ‘Umar’s advice’, while some said: ‘He will act on ‘Abd Allah’s advice’.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, then came out to them and said: ‘Indeed, Allah, glorious and majestic is He, softens the hearts of some until they become softer than milk and hardens the hearts of some until they become harder than stones.

The like of you, ‘’O Abu Bakr, is the like of Abraham when he said (But whoso followeth me, he verily is of me. And whoso disobeyeth me – still Thou art Forgiving, Merciful) [14:36] .

And the like of you, O Abu Bakr, is the like of Jesus when he said (If Thou punish them, lo! They are Thy slaves, and if Thou forgive them, lo! Thou, only Thou art the Mighty, the Wise) [8:118].

And the like of you, O ‘Umar, is the like of Moses who said (Our Lord! Destroy their riches and harden their hearts…)’ [10:88]; and the like of you, O ‘Umar, is the like of Noah who said: (My Lord! Leave not one of the disbelievers in the land) [71:26].

Then, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘Today, you are dependent, you are today dependent; none of them shall be returned except in exchange for a ransom or he will be beheaded’.

Allah, glorious and majestic is He, then revealed (It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land) up to his words (Now enjoy what ye have won, as lawful and good) up to the end of the next three verses”.

‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Hamdan al-‘Adl informed us> Ahmad ibn Ja’far ibn Malik> ‘Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal> Ahmad ibn Hanbal> Abu Nuh Qurrad> ‘Ikrimah ibn ‘Ammar> Simak al-Hanafi Abu Zumayl> Ibn ‘Abbas> ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab who said:

“When the army of the believers met the army of the unbelievers at Badr and the idolaters were defeated (seventy men of them were killed and another seventy captured), the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, consulted Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Ali about what to do with the prisoners.

Abu Bakr said: ‘O Prophet of Allah, these are our brothers, cousins and sons of our clan and my opinion is that you accept a ransom from them, so that what we take from them will be an added strength for us against the unbelievers. And haply Allah will guide them to Islam and be a support to us’.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, then asked:

‘What do you think, ‘O son of al-Khattab..?’

He said: ‘By Allah, I do not agree with Abu Bakr. My opinion is that you give me so-and-so (a relative of ‘Umar) so that I behead him, and give ‘Aqil to ‘Ali so that he behead him and so-and-so (al-‘Abbas ) to Hamzah so that he beheads him.

In this way, Allah, glorious and majestic is He, will know that there is no complaisance in our hearts toward the idolaters. These are their notables, leaders and chiefs’.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, liked what Abu Bakr said and disliked what I said. And so, he accepted a ransom from them. The following day, ‘Umar said: I went to see the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and found him sitting with Abu Bakr.

They were both crying. I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is it that makes you and your companion weep..? If I can cry, I will cry with you, if not I will feign crying’.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “I am crying because of the suggestion of ransoming the prisoners which your fellow believers advised me to do. Your chastisement was closer to you than this tree (and he pointed to a near by tree).

Allah, exalted is He, had revealed (It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land) up to His words (… an awful doom had come upon you on account of what ye took) of ransom. This was narrated by Muslim in his Sahih from Hannad ibn al-Sariyy from Ibn al-Mubarak from ‘Ikrimah ibn ‘Ammar.

8:70.| ‘O Prophet! Say unto those captives who are in your hands…!

[8:70]. Said al-Kalbi: “This was revealed about al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, ‘Aqil ibn Abi Talib and Nawfal ibn al-Harith. Al-‘Abbas was imprisoned at Badr while he had with him twenty Uqiyyah of gold which he had taken with him to Badr to feed the idolaters.

He was one of ten men who had taken it upon themselves to feed the entire army of the unbelievers. His turn to finance the army of the unbelievers had not come yet when he fell prisoner, and so it was taken with him, and the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, then took the gold from him.

He said: ‘I spoke with the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, to take the twenty Uqiyyah of gold which he took from me as my ransom. He refused and said: ‘We will not accept as your ransom something with which you had left to use against us’.

The ransom of my nephew ‘Aqil ibn Abi Talib cost me twenty measures of silver, and so I said to him: ‘By Allah, you have left me begging Quraysh for the rest of my life’.

He said: ‘And where is the gold you gave to Umm Fadl before you headed toward Badr..?

You said to her: If anything were to happen to me, this is for you and for ‘Abd Allah, al-Fadl and Qutham’.

I said: Who informed you about this..?

He replied: Allah informed me about it.

I said: I bear witness that you are truthful.

I gave her the gold and none but Allah knew about it. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that you are the Messenger of Allah’.

Al-‘Abbas said: ‘And Allah gave me much better than he took from me, as He said. I had twenty slaves all of whom were tending abundant riches instead of the twenty Uqiyyah of gold, and I still hope to gain forgiveness from my Lord’