Surah al-Anfal (41-75) (1/2)

وَاِنۡجَنَحُوۡا لِلسَّلۡمِ فَاجۡنَحۡ لَہَا وَتَوَکَّلۡ عَلَی اللّٰہِؕاِنَّہٗہُوَ السَّمِیۡعُ الۡعَلِیۡمُ﴿۶۱﴾وَاِنۡ یُّرِیۡدُوۡۤا اَنۡیَّخۡدَعُوۡکَ فَاِنَّ حَسۡبَکَ اللّٰہُؕہُوَ الَّذِیۡۤ اَیَّدَکَ بِنَصۡرِہٖوَ بِالۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ﴿ۙ۶۲﴾وَ اَلَّفَ بَیۡنَ قُلُوۡبِہِمۡؕلَوۡ اَنۡفَقۡتَ مَا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ جَمِیۡعًا مَّاۤ اَلَّفۡتَ بَیۡنَ قُلُوۡبِہِمۡ وَ لٰکِنَّ اللّٰہَ اَلَّفَ بَیۡنَہُمۡؕاِنَّہٗ عَزِیۡزٌ حَکِیۡمٌ﴿۶۳﴾

If these people tilt towards peace, you also tilt for it[34]and trust God. Indeed, He knows and hears all. [Rest assured;] if they want to deceive you, God is sufficient for you.[35] It is He who aided you through His help and through the believers and joined their hearts with one another. Had you even spent whatever is in the earth, you would not have been able to join their hearts; but God joined them.[36] Indeed, God is mighty and very wise. (61-63)

یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّبِیُّحَسۡبُکَ اللّٰہُ وَ مَنِ اتَّبَعَکَ مِنَ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ﴿۶۴﴾یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّبِیُّحَرِّضِ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ عَلَی الۡقِتَالِؕاِنۡیَّکُنۡمِّنۡکُمۡ عِشۡرُوۡنَ صٰبِرُوۡنَ یَغۡلِبُوۡا مِائَتَیۡنِۚوَ اِنۡ یَّکُنۡمِّنۡکُمۡ مِّائَۃٌ یَّغۡلِبُوۡۤا اَلۡفًا مِّنَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا بِاَنَّہُمۡ قَوۡمٌ لَّا یَفۡقَہُوۡنَ﴿۶۵﴾

[O Prophet!] Sufficient is God for you and sufficient are these believers who chose to follow you.[37] O Prophet! Rouse these believers to the war [you had been directed earlier]. If there are twenty amongst you who are steadfast, they will subdue two hundred: if a hundred, they will subdue a thousand of the disbelievers. This is because these are a people without insight.[38](64-65)

اَلۡـٰٔنَ خَفَّفَ اللّٰہُ عَنۡکُمۡ وَ عَلِمَ اَنَّ فِیۡکُمۡ ضَعۡفًاؕفَاِنۡیَّکُنۡمِّنۡکُمۡمِّائَۃٌصَابِرَۃٌ یَّغۡلِبُوۡا مِائَتَیۡنِۚوَاِنۡیَّکُنۡمِّنۡکُمۡ اَلۡفٌ یَّغۡلِبُوۡۤا اَلۡفَیۡنِ بِاِذۡنِ اللّٰہِؕوَ اللّٰہُ مَعَ الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ﴿۶۶﴾

At this time, however, God has lightened your burden because He knew that some weakness has come into you: So, if there are a hundred of you who are steadfast, they will subdue two hundred, and if a thousand, they will subdue two thousand, with the directive of God. And God is with those who remain steadfast [in His cause].[39](66)

مَا کَانَ لِنَبِیٍّ اَنۡ یَّکُوۡنَ لَہٗۤ اَسۡرٰی حَتّٰی یُثۡخِنَ فِی الۡاَرۡضِؕتُرِیۡدُوۡنَ عَرَضَ الدُّنۡیَا٭ۖوَ اللّٰہُ یُرِیۡدُ الۡاٰخِرَۃَ ؕوَ اللّٰہُ عَزِیۡزٌ حَکِیۡمٌ﴿۶۷﴾لَوۡ لَا کِتٰبٌ مِّنَ اللّٰہِ سَبَقَ لَمَسَّکُمۡ فِیۡمَاۤ اَخَذۡتُمۡ عَذَابٌ عَظِیۡمٌ﴿۶۸﴾

[These people object that you have launched this offensive to capture prisoners and take ransom from them. In reality,] it is not befitting for any prophet that he capture prisoners so that he even causes bloodshed in the land [for it].[40] [People of the Quraysh!] It is you who want the goods of this world; God only wants the Hereafter. And God is powerful and very wise.[41] Had God's verdict not been written down before [that you should be given some more respite,] a great torment would have visited you because of the attitude you have adopted.[42] (67-68)

فَکُلُوۡا مِمَّا غَنِمۡتُمۡ حَلٰلًا طَیِّبًا۫ۖوَّ اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَؕاِنَّ اللّٰہَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ﴿۶۹﴾

So, [Muslims do not pay heed to their objections] and the spoils of war you have obtained [as ransom], consume them while regarding them to be lawful and pure. And fear God. Indeed God is forgiving and ever-merciful.[43] (69)

یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّبِیُّ قُلۡ لِّمَنۡفِیۡۤ اَیۡدِیۡکُمۡ مِّنَ الۡاَسۡرٰۤیۙاِنۡیَّعۡلَمِ اللّٰہُ فِیۡ قُلُوۡبِکُمۡ خَیۡرًا یُّؤۡتِکُمۡ خَیۡرًا مِّمَّاۤ اُخِذَمِنۡکُمۡ وَ یَغۡفِرۡ لَکُمۡؕوَ اللّٰہُ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ﴿۷۰﴾وَاِنۡیُّرِیۡدُوۡا خِیَانَتَکَ فَقَدۡ خَانُوا اللّٰہَ مِنۡقَبۡلُ فَاَمۡکَنَ مِنۡہُمۡؕوَ اللّٰہُ عَلِیۡمٌ حَکِیۡمٌ﴿۷۱﴾

O Prophet! Inform the captives in your possession: "If God sees something good in their hearts, He will grant you that which is better than what has been taken from you[44] and will forgive your sins." In reality, God is merciful and ever-forgiving. And if they seek to betray you, [then this is quite expected from them.] This is because before this they betrayed God as well.[45] Thus [the consequence of this was that] God made you overpower them and God knows everything and He is very wise.[46] (70-71)

اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ ہَاجَرُوۡا وَجٰہَدُوۡا بِاَمۡوَالِہِمۡ وَ اَنۡفُسِہِمۡ فِیۡسَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰوَوۡا وَّ نَصَرُوۡۤا اُولٰٓئِکَ بَعۡضُہُمۡ اَوۡلِیَآءُبَعۡضٍؕوَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ لَمۡ یُہَاجِرُوۡا مَا لَکُمۡمِّنۡوَّلَایَتِہِمۡمِّنۡشَیۡءٍ حَتّٰی یُہَاجِرُوۡاۚوَاِنِ اسۡتَنۡصَرُوۡکُمۡ فِی الدِّیۡنِ فَعَلَیۡکُمُ النَّصۡرُ اِلَّا عَلٰی قَوۡمٍۭبَیۡنَکُمۡ وَ بَیۡنَہُمۡ مِّیۡثَاقٌؕ وَ اللّٰہُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ بَصِیۡرٌ﴿۷۲﴾وَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا بَعۡضُہُمۡ اَوۡلِیَآءُ بَعۡضٍ ؕ اِلَّا تَفۡعَلُوۡہُ تَکُنۡ فِتۡنَۃٌ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ وَ فَسَادٌ کَبِیۡرٌ ﴿ؕ۷۳﴾وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ ہَاجَرُوۡا وَ جٰہَدُوۡا فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰوَوۡا وَّ نَصَرُوۡۤا اُولٰٓئِکَ ہُمُ الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ حَقًّا ؕ لَہُمۡ مَّغۡفِرَۃٌ وَّ رِزۡقٌ کَرِیۡمٌ ﴿۷۴﴾وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا مِنۡۢ بَعۡدُ وَ ہَاجَرُوۡا وَ جٰہَدُوۡا مَعَکُمۡ فَاُولٰٓئِکَ مِنۡکُمۡ ؕ وَ اُولُوا الۡاَرۡحَامِ بَعۡضُہُمۡ اَوۡلٰی بِبَعۡضٍ فِیۡ کِتٰبِ اللّٰہِ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ بِکُلِّ شَیۡءٍ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۷۵﴾

[Believers! If in this situation, a Muslim seeks help and support, tell him to come to Madinah. This is because] those who accepted faith and migrated and have fought with their persons and wealth for the cause of God and those who have given refuge [to the immigrants] and helped [them], they are the ones who are helpers to one another. As for those who accepted faith, but did not migrate [to Madinah], you can have no relationship of help and support with them until they migrate.[47] However, if they seek your help in the matter of religion, then helping them is mandatory upon you;[48] but not against a nation with whom you have a treaty. [Remember] God is watching whatever you do.[49] Those who are deniers of the truth are helpers and supporters of one another. [Therefore O Believers! If you do not do this [for your oppressed brethren] there will be trouble in the land and great disorder.[50] [Every one of you should now understand that] those who accepted faith and migrated and fought for the cause of God, and those who gave refuge [to the immigrants] and helped [them], they are the true believers. For them is forgiveness and an honourable sustenance.[51] And those who accept faith after this and migrate and participate with you in holy war, they too will be among you.[52] Blood relations however are closer to one another in the law of God. Undoubtedly, God knows everything.[53] (72-75)

(Translated by Dr Shehzad Saleem)

[34].Before the final command of extirminating the Quraysh was revealed in Surah al-Tawbah, the directive about them was that if the Quraysh want to wage war, then this confrontation shall be continued with them until the religion of God prevails in Arabia. However, if they want to strike a peace accord, then it can be done so that this very purpose can be achieved in a peaceful atmosphere and through preaching and persuasion. The agreement of Hudaybiyyah was concluded on this very basis. However, once the Quraysh broke it, Muslims were told that no reconciliation can now take place with them: they will have to accept faith. Though this directive was specifically meant for people to whom the Muhammad (sws) had conclusively communicated the truth, yet the guidance that can surely be derived from it for later times is that if the purpose of a war can be achieved through peace, then the latter should be given priority and any proposal of peace must not be turned down merely on the basis that the enemy has an evil intention in this and wants to be treacherous.

[35].What is concealed in these rather concise words is beyond expression in words.

[36].Earlier it had been stated that God helped the Prophet (sws) through the believers. This is a further explanation: it must not be regarded as something ordinary; it only became possible because of divine help. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... It is not difficult to gather people for a satanic purpose. Every ardent advocate can do this. However, to gather some selfless people purely for God's cause in which the purpose is none else but to please Him and to maintain the priority of the Hereafter is not possible without divine help and blessings. People who had gathered around the Prophet (sws) had been incriminated with all sorts of evils in their previous life before they accepted faith. They had separate tribes; they were severely biased; each tribe had its own deities and these people would blindly worship them; their interests mutually clashed and to realize them they would use all sorts of illegal means and defy the norms of justice. To cleanse such a people from all their prejudices and vested interests and from all their customs and traditions was not possible without divine help. This help transformed them into individuals with a new outlook and also instilled in them the love of this outlook to the extent that they were ready to sacrifice their wives, children, assets, families, tribes, country and nation. No human being can accomplish this task even if he spends all the wealth of the world for this purpose. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 499)

[37].Ie., for help, God and for companionship, these few Muslims are sufficient. Hence, he should not be worried to see the large number of disbelievers and the small number of believers. In other words, what was stated earlier in the words ہُوَ الَّذِیۡۤ اَیَّدَکَ بِنَصۡرِہٖوَ بِالۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ (62:8) (it is He who aided you through His help and through the believers, (8:62)) is stated here.

[38].Stated here is the condition for the jihad mentioned earlier by in verse 39 by the words حَتّٰی لَا تَکُوۡنَ فِتۡنَۃٌ وَّ یَکُوۡنَ الدِّیۡنُ کُلُّہٗ لِلّٰہِ(until no persecution remains and all religion purely belongs to God) Here the Prophet (sws) is asked to urge the believers to undertake this jihad. Since, at that time, Muslims generally consisted of the سٰبِقُوۡنَ الۡاَوَّلُوۡنَ (the pioneer converts)from among the Muhajirun and the Ansar and there was no weakness in them with regard to faith and morality, they were bound to fulfill this responsibility even if they were outnumbered in the proportion 1:10. The strength of faith and morality is referred to here by the word: فقه. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi has explained this. He writes:

فقه refers to the insight of faith. It is this insight which is man's real quality. When a believer who is equipped with it sets foot in the battlefield, he finds within his solitary soul the power of a whole army. He experiences Divine help around him and death becomes dearer to him than life. The reason is that his insight illuminates before him the exalted destination in Paradise reserved for martyrs. It is this very insight which produces in him the perseverance and strength that make him equal in might to ten people who are devoid of it. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 506)

[39].Ie., the real directive was the one mentioned earlier but now many people have entered in the fold of Islam. Though Muslims greatly increased in numbers as a result of these conversions, yet the extent of their insight of faith is not as much as the سٰبِقُوۡنَ الۡاَوَّلُوۡنَ(the pioneer converts). Consequently, the Almighty Himself informed the Muslims that now this ratio had decreased to 1:2 from the original 1:10.

Deliberation shows that just as these verses of Surah Anfal indicate the extent of the obligation of jihad, they also highlight the principle on which Divine Help descends on believers in an armed struggle. They unequivocally state that Divine Help in this matter is governed by a specific law and is not subject to the whims and desires of people. The Almighty has fixed a principle according to which He helps people who set out for jihad and always abides by this principle. A reflection on these verses shows that Divine Help in a war is based on the following three statutes:

Firstly, the basic thing that entitles people to Divine Help is perseverance and resolution. No group of Muslims becomes entitled to it unless it has this quality in it. A battalion of Muslims devoid of this quality should not expect Divine Help when it faces the enemy. The words صٰبِرُوۡنَ (sabirun) and صَابِرَةٌ(sabirah) of the above quoted verses allude to this reality. Moreover, the words وَ اللّٰہُ مَعَ الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ (God is with those who persevere) at the end of the verse also bear evidence to this fact.

Secondly, an army must be equipped with proper military strength if it is to wage war. No doubt, whatever happens, happens because of God's will and one must fully repose one's trust in Him, but this is also a reality that the Almighty has created this world on certain laws. The scheme behind these laws dictates that whatever measures are adopted for doing good and virtuous deeds, must have the backing of necessary resources. What are these means and resources? A ratio between Muslim and enemy forces has been put forth in these verses by the Almighty. If this has not been achieved, then efforts should be made by the Muslims to achieve it. If they wage jihad by ignoring this ratio by succumbing to emotions, they themselves would be responsible for such a rash step. Such a step would, of course, not be entitled to any Divine Help.

Thirdly, it is the force of faith that compensates for any lack of material force. The words عَلِمَ اَنَّ فِیۡکُمۡ ضَعۡفًا (He knows that there is now weakness among you) and بِاَنَّہُمۡ قَوۡمٌ لَّا یَفۡقَہُوۡنَ (for these are a people without insight) bear reference to this inference. The word ضَعْف(da'f) in Arabic is not only used for material and physical weakness but also for weakness in faith and belief. Similarly, the meaning of the words لَا یَفۡقَہُوۡنَ used in contrast to the strength of faith imply a weakness in faith and belief. The verse, consequently, says that since the disbelievers are devoid of true faith and belief while, on the other hand, the believers possess them, the believers will be the victors even if outnumbered by 1:10.

Finally, it needs to be appreciated that the ratios stated in these verses for Divine Help are about the Companions of the Prophet (sws) – who were a group of noble souls who waged jihad alongside the Prophet (sws), and as a result of a direct command of the Almighty. In later times, it can be estimated whether this ratio has increased or decreased keeping in view the extent of faith Muslims have.

[40].The verse begins with the words مَا كَانَ. This style can be adopted to blame as well as to dispel blame. Here it is used in the latter sense. The Quraysh had attacked Madinah on the excuse that Muslims wanted to plunder their trade caravan. When they lost the battle of Badr, then in order to protect their people from its evil effect they stirred the propaganda that their fear was true: when these Muslims were not able to loot the caravan, they captured prisoners and demanding ransom from them; slaves of this world have always stuck to these ways while prophets of God never do such things. Here the Qur'an has answered this propaganda: prophets of God never wage war to capture prisoners and to obtain money from them; it is only when they are compelled to wage war for a justified objective do they do so to capture prisoners and get hold of spoils of war in order to punish criminals against whom they were compelled to wage war. Thus, at this instance too, if bloodshed ensued it was not to capture prisoners on ransom but to punish the leaders of the Quraysh for their rebelliousness and this will continue until the persecution they were guilty of is eliminated and only God's religion reigns supreme in Arabia. It is this fate that they have now become worthy of once a messenger of God has conclusively conveyed the truth to them.

[41].It is not stated that the Prophet (sws) and his followers who are believers seek the Hereafter. On the contrary, what is stated is that God wants the Hereafter. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining this, writes:

… The purpose of this is to express the fact that whatever is happening through the hands of the Messenger of God and the believers is not happening because of their will and intention; they are mere means in this whole undertaking. Whatever they are doing is precisely the will and intention of God. It is the will of God for His people that if they do everything while keeping in mind that their real objective is the Hereafter, then no step taken by God's messenger and his companions is against the will of God. In other words, God has taken upon Himself the responsibility of the battle of Badr and all other undertakings of similar nature. In the end, it is said that God is powerful and wise. No one can stop Him if He decides to do something and whatever He intends to do is based on justice and wisdom. Whatever frivolous talk they are indulging in, they should continue with it. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 511)

[42].Reference is to the way adopted by the Quraysh to dislocate the Prophet (sws) and his companions from their houses, subjecting them to torment and following them into Madinah and trying to eliminate them from this world. The actual word to convey this meaning is اَخَذَ. It comes in the meanings of "to take, to get hold of, to adopt, to take up." The implication is that they should show gratitude to God that though their prisoners were captured, they were released on ransom. Otherwise, it was fully justified if they had been subjected to a decisive punishment which is generally meted out to those who deny the prophets of God and as a result if their nation had been totally wiped out from the face of the earth.

[43].Ie., they should eat without any hesitation whatever is pure and wholesome but they should fear getting entangled in something prohibited by God. If, even in spite of this, if they are guilty of some minor blemishes, they should rest assured that God is gracious and merciful.

[44].Ie., if the Almighty sees in them a proclivity towards justice in view of this whole matter and also the inclination to accept the truth, His grace and mercy will turn towards them and will bless them with the gift of faith – something which is far greater in extent to the ransom extracted from them. And surely the reward of this gift is eternal Paradise.

[45].This is a referenceto the betrayal the Quraysh were guilty of in case of Abraham (sws), the House of God he built and the religion that was revealed to him. They were made the custodians of this House and advocates of this religion. Yet they adopted polytheism instead of adhering to monotheism and transformed this place of worship that was made a centre of monotheism for mankind into place of idol worship in order to achieve their vested interests.

[46].This is an assurance sounded by the Prophet (sws) and a threat to prisoners of the battle of Badr: if they commit any breach of trust God will again give these people in his control and they will then be given a greater punishment than the one they have now been given.

[47].In those times, it was very difficult for a person to survive in Arabia without the help and assistance of others. Before Islam, this support was provided to a person through his family and tribe. If a person faced any danger or difficulty, the people of his family and tribe would selflessly support him. After accepting Islam, Muslims began to be deprived in this aspect from everywhere. The continuous state of war made matters even worse. The question then arose: what should be done with people who are living among disbelievers and have been left stranded without any help? Here at the end of the surah, the Qur'an has answered this question: this help and support will only be possible when when these people show strength and take one further step by migrating to Madinah. The relationship of mutual support and help which has been established between the Ansar and the Muhajirun on the basis of faith and religion can only materialize afer migration. It is this very relationship which has made them a strongly bonded unit in waging jihad for the cause of God. People who have newly converted should also come forward and in order to fulfil the requisites of their faith participate in this jihad. This will automatically earn them the help and support they are seeking.

[48].Ie., what has been prohibited is the responsibility of helping them in the absolute sense come what may. As for people who are harassed in the name of religion and they ask for help, then Muslims are bound to help them. This has been stated because at that time an organized Muslim government had been set up in Madinah and they were in a position to take up this responsibility keeping in view their military might.

[49].This is a very strong warning: ethical conduct must reign supreme in all circumstances; even in times of war it has to be followed. In this regard, the most important thing is fulfilling promises and treaties. Thus if a nation with whom a Muslim state has a peace treaty and that nation is guilty of oppressing Muslims, then the oppressed cannot be helped in the presence of such a treaty. In order to help them, it is essential that first this treaty be openly declared null and void.

[50].This is the reason why it is essential to help such people if they face persecution. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... It is stated that as far as enmity with Muslims and Islam is concerned, all disbelievers are united. It is a matter of reward for them to persecute and harass any person who accepts Islam. Matters have reached the state that the honour of their own brethren to save them from the clutches of the oppressor has dashed to ground. Their lives and wealth have now become legal for consumption. If in such a situation Muslims do not help these people, it will mean that in order to persecute people oppression and injustice will become rampant in the land. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 518)

[51].This is an exhortation to wage jihad in those circumstances. The Qur'an has made it clear that in this situation these two things have become the barometer of truth. It is essential for every person who lays claim to faith to migrate to Madinah and together with the Muhajirun and Ansar participate in the jihad against the disbelievers. A person will be regarded as true in faith if he either becomes a Muhajir or an Ansar. No other option is available in this regard. It is evident from this that in order to help religion, migration and jihad are two such requirements which are irreplacable when their time comes. On such occasions, these two become the first and last requirement from every Muslim.

[52].Ie., Muslims should not have a small heart for those who join them later. If today God has given them the urge and opportunity to accept His call, they must be grateful for this. He will give the same urge and opportunity to others in future. Muslims must not welcome these new entrants with a sense of superiority; in fact, they should welcome them with love and affection. Concealed in these words obviously is also the urge for the new comers to adhere to faith and undertake migration and jihad.

[53].This is a very apt reminder: the help and support mentioned above do not mean that God has changed the rights and obligations that emanate from blood relationships. This certainly is not the case; those rights and obligations are still intact. Blood relations and the right of inheritance and other related affairs on the basis of these relations are eternal parts of the law given by God. This support and help is not meant to change them. They have priority in all circumstances and shall be fulfilled before fulfilling any requirement of help and support on the basis of religion. This directive of God is based on His flawless knowledge. He has prescribed a situation and place for each thing. All rights and obligations must be fulfilled keeping in view this aspect.