سورة الأنفال   

Surah Name: Al-Anfaal Meaning: The Booty

  • Revealed at Madinah
  • • This is a Madni Surah. It is the sequel to Surah Al-A'raf, which highlighted the aftermath of infidelity and polytheism vis-à-vis faith and piety. Al-Anfal reveals the practical demonstration of these consequences. It portrays the way their pride and hostility of the infidels was reduced to ashes in the encounter with piety and faithfulness of the Companions-RAU, of the Holy Prophet-SW at Badr. Outwardly it was a struggle by a few hundred men, but in terms of its results the battle of Badr proved to be a turning point in the history of mankind. It altered the pace and changed the course of events. The Muslims seized booty after the victory at Badr and the question arose how should it be handled, because for all preceding nations booty was prohibited. They would pile it up in the field and a fire from the heavens would consume it as a sign of Divine Approval. If at times the booty was left intact, no one would touch it considering it to be inauspicious. It is amongst the blessings of the holy Prophet-SW that booty was made lawful. Anfal is the plural of Nafl which means bonus and that is why Salat or charity which is not obligatory is called Nafl. The booty seized in Jihad is also called Anfal because it is not the motive behind the struggle. The motive is to uphold the truth and the booty is only bonus for the participants and revenue for the State.

    This booty is of two categories: Faiy and Anfal. The former consists of what the enemy leaves behind when he surrenders voluntarily without fight, while the latter is won after fighting a battle. Since the Battle of Badr was the very first clash between the Muslims and the infidels and it was also the first to be determined who gets what. The Commentators explain that when the infidels deserted the battlefield at Badar, the Companions-RAU were regrouped into three contingents. One followed the fleeing; the second collected the booty while the third gathered around the Holy Prophet-SW for protection against an unexpected attack and also to act as an operational reserve for any emergency. All the three forces were important in their own way, so the matter of division of the booty amongst them was placed before the Holy Prophet-SW.

  • Total Number of Rukū / Sections 10
  • Total Number of Āyāt / Parts 75
  • Sūrah / Chapter number 8
  • Rukū / Section 7 contains Āyāt / Parts 10
  • Siparah/ Volume 9 & 10


إِذْ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ غَرَّ هَـؤُلاء دِينُهُمْ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللّهِ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

Ith yaqoolu almunafiqoona wa(a)llatheena fee quloobihim maradun gharra haolai deenuhum waman yatawakkal AAala Allahi fainna Allaha AAazeezun hakeem(un)

And recall when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts was a disease said: their religion has deluded them. And whoever relies on Allah-SWT, then verily Allaah-SWT is Mighty, Wise.


وَلَوْ تَرَى إِذْ يَتَوَفَّى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ الْمَلآئِكَةُ يَضْرِبُونَ وُجُوهَهُمْ وَأَدْبَارَهُمْ وَذُوقُواْ عَذَابَ الْحَرِيقِ

Walaw tara ith yatawaffa allatheena kafaroo almalaikatu yadriboona wujoohahum waadbarahum wathooqoo AAathaba alhareeq(i)

And could you see when the angels take away the life of those who disbelieve striking their faces and their backs: taste the torment of burning.


ذَلِكَ بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَأَنَّ اللّهَ لَيْسَ بِظَلاَّمٍ لِّلْعَبِيدِ

Thalika bima qaddamat aydeekum waanna Allaha laysa bithallamin lilAAabeed(i)

This, because of what your hands had forwarded and Allaah-SWT is never unjust to His-SWT creatures.


كَدَأْبِ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ كَفَرُواْ بِآيَاتِ اللّهِ فَأَخَذَهُمُ اللّهُ بِذُنُوبِهِمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ قَوِيٌّ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ

Kadabi ali firAAawna wa(a)llatheena min qablihim kafaroo biayati Allahi faakhathahumu Allahu bithunoobihim inna Allaha qawiyyun shadeedu alAAiqab(i)

Like the wont of the house of Fir'awn and those before them, they disbelieved in the Signs of Allah-SWT; so Allaah-SWT seized them for their sins. Verily Allaah-SWT is Strong, Severe in chastising.


ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللّهَ لَمْ يَكُ مُغَيِّرًا نِّعْمَةً أَنْعَمَهَا عَلَى قَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُواْ مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ وَأَنَّ اللّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

Thalika bianna Allaha lam yaku mughayyiran niAAmatan anAAamaha AAalaqawmin hatta yughayyiroo ma bianfusihim waanna Allaha sameeAAun AAaleem(un)

This, because Allaah-SWT is not one to change His-SWT favour once conferred on a people until they changed what was in themselves. Verily Allaah-SWT is Hearing, Knowing.


كَدَأْبِ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ كَذَّبُواْ بآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ فَأَهْلَكْنَاهُم بِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَأَغْرَقْنَا آلَ فِرْعَونَ وَكُلٌّ كَانُواْ ظَالِمِينَ

Kadabi ali firAAawna wa(a)llatheena min qablihim kaththaboo biayati rabbihim faahlaknahum bithunoobihim waaghraqna ala firAAawna wakullun kanoothalimeen(a)

Like the wont of the house of Fir’awn and those before them, they belied the Signs of their Rabb-SWT , so We-SWT destroyed them for their sins, and drowned the house of Fir’awn and all of them were wrong-doers.


إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابِّ عِندَ اللّهِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ فَهُمْ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ

Inna sharra a(l)ddawabbi AAinda Allahi allatheena kafaroo fahum la yuminoon(a)

Verily the vilest of moving creatures with Allaah-SWT are those who disbelieve-wherefore they shall not believe.


الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتَّ مِنْهُمْ ثُمَّ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَهُمْ فِي كُلِّ مَرَّةٍ وَهُمْ لاَ يَتَّقُونَ

Allatheena AAahadta minhum thumma yanqudoona AAahdahum fee kulli marratin wahum la yattaqoon(a)

They with whom you-SW covenanted, then they break their covenant every time, and they do not fear.


فَإِمَّا تَثْقَفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْحَرْبِ فَشَرِّدْ بِهِم مَّنْ خَلْفَهُمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ

Faimma tathqafannahum fee alharbi fasharrid bihim man khalfahum laAAallahum yaththakkaroon(a)

Wherefore if you come upon them in war, deal with them so as to scatter them, and then who are behind them haply they may be admonished.


وَإِمَّا تَخَافَنَّ مِن قَوْمٍ خِيَانَةً فَانبِذْ إِلَيْهِمْ عَلَى سَوَاء إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُحِبُّ الخَائِنِينَ

Waimma takhafanna min qawmin khiyanatan fa(i)nbith ilayhim AAala sawain inna Allaha la yuhibbu alkhaineen(a)

And should you fear treachery from any people cast then back to them their covenant to be equal. Verily Allaah-SWT does not approve the treacherous.


In The Name of Allah-SWT the Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

The hearts devoid of the light of faith failed to see beyond the material resources at Badr, because they did not believe in the Omnipotence of Allaah-SWT . Although they claimed to be Muslims, yet they had neither recognition of Allah-SWT's Powers, nor faith in Him-SWT . This was because their hearts were diseased.


Ailment of the Heart

When the hearts are not pure the declaration of faith stems merely out of worldly considerations. This condition is termed as hypocricy. Thus the reformation of the heart is a task of top priority. It is the foundation of faith; otherwise despite being called a Muslim, a person's mentality is no different from that of the infidels. For at Badr, the hypocrites and the infidels shared similar notions. They believed that the believers had become over-confident and over-optimistic because of their religion and were, therefore, daring to fight such a mighty army. In their view it meant nothing but destruction for the believers. The echoes of this intellectual opinion can be heard even today. However, the hypocrites and infidels were forgetting that whoever trusts Allah-SWT, the Omnipotent and Mighty, is blessed with supremacy in this world, too. He-SWT is the Wisest and even if a devotee is slain it is because His-SWT Wisdom plans to confer martyrdom on him; in other words, an outward loss carries countless blessings in disguise.


Death of the Infidels

Every living souls has to taste death. In case of the infidels, the angels descending to escort their Spirits strike them on their faces and backs, informing them of the fire that awaits them in Barzakh and of their eternal abode in Hell after the Day of Judgement. This exactly was the fate of the infidels at Badr. Those who were put to sword underwent the same horrific experience before they were piled up for burial in an abandoned well called Qaleeb-e-Badr.


With the battle won over, the Holy Prophet-SW stood beside this mass grave and enquired from each one of the dead by their names: "We have found the Divine Promise to be true, what about you?" Hadhrat 'Umar Faruq-RAU asked, “O’ Allah-SWT's Prophet-SW! Can they hear you while they lie dead?" The Holy Prophet-SW replied: "By Allah-SWT, the Supreme Ruler! You are hearing no better than them, it is only that they cannot reply back."


Hearing by the Dead

This implies that they cannot reply in the usual sense of the word. Just as the questions asked by the Holy Prophet-SW were audible to the Companions-RAU so were they being heard by the infidels lying dead. However, getting an answer through Kashf from the deceased is not being negated here. According to Kashf-al-Asrar, the dead can hear and recognise the living and is so well aware of his family affairs that he even knows whether his widow got remarried after him or not.


Anyway, the angels strike the disbelievers, which is just the beginning of their punishment. They have themselves earned it by their false beliefs and misdeeds, and now they have to endure it eternally. It is not befitting for the Mercy of Allaah-SWT to punish humble human beings without any reason. It is they who wrong themselves. All actions have been designed to yield a logical result. The Pharaoh and his nation or other infidels gone past were also blessed with power and wealth, yet when Divine Mercy was conferred upon them, they disdainfully rejected it. They were seized for their misconduct and had to bear the consequences of their doings. This is because Allaah-SWT is the Almighty Sovereign and His-SWT Punishments are indeed severe.


The Reason for Decline of a Blessing

It is purely by His-SWT Grace that unlimited blessings are conferred upon man, such as physical abilities, wealth, children and power etc. and His-SWT Favour is not conditional to whether the recipient deserves it or not. It is out of sheer generosity that He-SWT blesses everyone with these bounties for a limited period. Obviously, He-SWT does not grant blessings only to take them back one day thereby abasing a person. However, when people themselves change their attitudes to arrogance and ingratitude, they are punished by Allaah-SWT . For instance, the infidels of Arabia enjoyed all the mundane blessings even as non-believers, but when the Holy Prophet-SW conveyed to them the Divine Message, instead of readily accepting it they defied it and eventually perished. The Makkans ruled the entire Arabia but instead of believing in the Holy Prophet-SW they encountered and pestered him and were ruined as a result. This is because Allah-SWT is well Aware of the actions and intentions of people. Similarly the nation of the Pharaoh and the by-gone infidels also defied the Commandments of their Merciful Provider, Who was providing for them inspite of their infidelity. And He-SWT was considerate enough to send His-SWT Messengers-AS with miracles unto them. But these unfortunate people became heedless of their Sustainer and as a result met destruction. Thus, nations were wiped out with catastrophes sudden and wide spread. Some were punished with leashing flames from the heavens, while others with a hailstorm of stones, yet others sank in the earth, or were blown away by mighty winds. All this was because of their wickedness.


The Worst amongst Animals

The worst amongst the living creatures on earth is that person whose heart is devoid of the light of faith and who opts for such a path, which further impedes him from ever becoming a believer. Just as the Jews of Madinah, who backed out of their pledge to the Holy Prophet-SW after they had signed a Treaty for joint defence of the city in case of an external attack. There were other clauses too in the Treaty, but they failed to honour the very clause of joint defence.


On the contrary, they helped the Makkans at Badr. After the victory of the believers they apologized to the Holy Prophet-SW but broke their promise once again at Uhad. Thus the people who break their promises repeatedly do not fear Allah-SWT, because their hearts become too corrupted to maintain any ties with Him-SWT . The taking of Shahadah is but a promise to submit to the Will and Purpose of Allaah-SWT and if after making this covenant, one submits to his vain desires, paying only a lip service to His-SWT Allegiance, it is indeed a grave sin. Beware of this attitude and take pain to avoid it because Allaah-SWT Commands the believers to seize and punish such people and make them a token of admonition for others.


The Reason for Punishing

Once the infidels have earned their punishment no relaxation must be given. Any leniency may provoke others to engage in crime. And the punishments must be exemplary so that it would be an eye opener for others as well as a deterrent. That explains the wisdom of Hadud, (penal laws of Islam) which are designed as a deterrent against sin, and cannot be termed as cruel or barbaric. It is amazing that today people claim to be Muslims while indulging in blatant criticism of Allah-SWT's Penal Laws.


The Islamic Rules of Governing

If a treaty has been signed with a nation and the Muslims fear a breach it is not proper to punish or attack them until the pact is absolved. The Muslims must cancel the Treaty and make it clear to the other side that this action is taken because of their expected disloyalty. Now if they transgress they shall be severely dealt with. Islam does not allow dishonesty even towards the non believers, because Allaah-SWT does not approve of it. If this is not allowed even towards the non believers, pronounced as the lowest form of creation by Allah-SWT , then how can a claim of Allah-SWT's Greatness be accepted from some one associating his hopes with others? How can an acceptance of the Prophethood of Hadhrat Muhammad-SW be justified when one indulges in his disobedience? And on individual level take note that misappropriation and treachery in mutual dealings involving wealth, honour and life can only yield evil results, because Allaah-SWT does not like those who are dishonest and treacherous.