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 9 contains Āyāt / Parts 5
  • Siparah/ Volume 9 & 10


يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ حَرِّضِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَى الْقِتَالِ إِن يَكُن مِّنكُمْ عِشْرُونَ صَابِرُونَ يَغْلِبُواْ مِئَتَيْنِ وَإِن يَكُن مِّنكُم مِّئَةٌ يَغْلِبُواْ أَلْفًا مِّنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لاَّ يَفْقَهُونَ

Ya ayyuha a(l)nnabiyyu harridi almumineena AAala alqitali in yakun minkum AAishroona sabiroona yaghliboo miatayni wain yakun minkum miatun yaghliboo alfan mina allatheena kafaroo biannahum qawmun la yafqahoon(a)

O’ Prophet-SW! Urge the believers unto fighting. If there be twenty of you steadfast, they will overcome two hundred and if there be of you a hundred, they will overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, for they are a people who do not understand.


الآنَ خَفَّفَ اللّهُ عَنكُمْ وَعَلِمَ أَنَّ فِيكُمْ ضَعْفًا فَإِن يَكُن مِّنكُم مِّئَةٌ صَابِرَةٌ يَغْلِبُواْ مِئَتَيْنِ وَإِن يَكُن مِّنكُمْ أَلْفٌ يَغْلِبُواْ أَلْفَيْنِ بِإِذْنِ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ

Alana khaffafa Allahu AAankum waAAalima anna feekum daAAfan fain yakun minkum miatun sabiratun yaghliboo miatayni wain yakun minkum alfun yaghliboo alfayni biithni Allahi wa(A)llahu maAAa a(l)ssabireen(a)

Now Allaah-SWT has lightened your burden, and He-SWT Knows that there is in you a weakness. So if there be a hundred of you steadfast, they will overcome two hundred, and if there be a thousand of you they will overcome two thousand by the Will of Allah-SWT; and Allaah-SWT is with the steadfast.


مَا كَانَ لِنَبِيٍّ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ أَسْرَى حَتَّى يُثْخِنَ فِي الأَرْضِ تُرِيدُونَ عَرَضَ الدُّنْيَا وَاللّهُ يُرِيدُ الآخِرَةَ وَاللّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

Ma kana linabiyyin an yakoona lahu asra hatta yuthkhina fee alardi tureedoona AAarada a(l)ddunya wa(A)llahu yureedu alakhirata wa(A)llahu AAazeezun hakeem(un)

It does not behove a Prophet-SW that he-SW should have captives until he has greatly slaughtered in the land. You seek the gains of this world, while Allaah-SWT seeks the Hereafter; and Allaah-SWT is Mighty, Wise.


لَّوْلاَ كِتَابٌ مِّنَ اللّهِ سَبَقَ لَمَسَّكُمْ فِيمَا أَخَذْتُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ

Lawla kitabun mina Allahi sabaqa lamassakum feema akhathtum AAathabun AAatheem(un)

Were it not that a writ had already gone forth from Allaah-SWT that would surely have touched you a mighty torment for what you took.


فَكُلُواْ مِمَّا غَنِمْتُمْ حَلاَلاً طَيِّبًا وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ إِنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Fakuloo mimma ghanimtum halalan tayyiban wa(i)ttaqoo Allaha inna Allaha ghafoorun raheem(un)

Enjoy you then of what you have obtained of booty, lawful and clean, and fear Allaah-SWT . Verily Allaah-SWT is Forgiving, Merciful.


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

The Holy Prophet-SW is being instructed to urge upon the believers to undertake Jihad and to explain the blessings and the benefits associated with it. Islam fundamentally is a promoter of peace not only in this world but also in the Hereafter. However, all the negative forces which pose a threat to peace and which not only disrupt the harmony of a society but also try to deprive it of eternal bliss must be dealt with an iron hand.


Jihad is the only deterrent which guarantees peace for mankind. And it is such a noble deed that whenever the Muslims enter the arena for this purpose, Allaah-SWT will make them overpower an enemy ten times their number. This means that twenty believers fighting in the Cause of Allah-SWT will overcome two hundred non believers and a hundred will be able to repulse the attack of a thousand. This is because the non believers are oblivious of Allah-SWT's Greatness and have no sense of His-SWT Cognition. So the question of Allaah-SWT helping them does not arise, while the believers enter the battlefield without any personal interests only to obey Allah-SWT . Hence they will be blessed with Divine Succour.


The Basis of Trust in Allah-SWT

The Ayah being discussed makes it as if mandatory for every believer to fight against at least ten non believers. But this inner strength will not be the same always, because Trust in Allah-SWT is directly based on one's level of Allah-SWT's Cognition. It is directly proportionate to the spiritual status in terms of Cognition and Nearness to Allaah-SWT and attracts the Divine Succour correspondingly. Since with the passage of time, the spiritual level would not be the same as was in the Holy Prophet-SW era, Allah-SWT has lightened the burden of the believers. As time passes by the level of courage will decline too. Therefore, Allah-SWT lowers the high standards of one believer against ten infidels to one against two, a hundred against two hundred, and a thousand against two thousand infidels, provided the believers stand fast and persevere.


In daily life, abstaining from the forbidden and adhering to what is permitted by Allah-SWT is also perseverance. Whereas bearing the hardships of war on the battlefield and standing fast against all odds is the highest degree of perseverance. This decree is now universal that the believers will overcome an enemy twice their size because of the exclusive Divine Succour they are promised. In fact perseverance is a quality, which leads to Allah-SWT's Company, and whoever is blessed with it cannot be harmed by any number of enemies.


In this context, the proposal put forward by the Companions-RAU to expiate the captives of Badr was not appropriate because majority of them were the chieftains of Makkah. Seventy of the infidels had already been killed; had these seventy prisoners been put to sword too the polytheists of Makkah would have lost all their leadership and so this mischief would have been eradicated forever.


The Leadership of a Nation is its Destiny

It is also a strange fact that the leadership of a nation is a reflection of its destiny. I was wondering as I stood by the Parliament House in London, how Britain being a small island once ruled the entire world. At that time it was inhabited by few hundred thousand people but it conquered and ruled so many. In this Parliament house was decided the destiny of so many nations. Whereas today they have progressed in terms of technology as well as manpower, the perimeters of their rule have shrunk to this island once again. After all there has to be a reason for this. A friend of mine standing close by said that the people are still the same, the difference is in the leadership. And he was absolutely right. I have never been an admirer of the British leadership because they have always manipulated the facts. Their history is marked with wickedness and treachery but it has to be admitted that they proved their supremacy over the other nations of the world in contrast to the failures of the present leadership, who cannot control the Northern frontier of their own country.


This is also true of the Arab countries. I always felt the anguish for the Arabs who have been so weakened that a few hundred thousand Jews are driving them mad. But the Jihad of Afghanistan recorded such deeds of valour by the Arab warriors, who have revived the heroic memories of the Companions-RAU, proving beyond doubt that it is not the Arabs who have changed, but it is their leadership, which has degenerated. The same conditions prevail in our country where the ineptitude of the leadership becomes apparent by having a close look at the contradictions in the society.


The Holy Prophet-SW is being directed to cripple the might of disbelief, and the prisoners who are mischief mongers with no hope of reformation, should be put to the sword. This execution of a few will ensure the safety of thousands, because if they are spared they will certainly be the cause of more battles and mischief. Although human beings are myopic in their approach, the Almighty Allaah-SWT decrees what is eternally beneficial for the mankind because He-SWT is the All Knowing, the Prudent.


Since the booty had been permitted to the believers already, the Fidyah received from the captives will also fall in the same category. Had it not been permitted, the believers would have been taken to task for releasing the prisoners in return for Fidyah. Badr was the very first formal battle when the rules of war were revealed for all times to come. When the Holy Prophet-SW sought advice of his-SW Companions-RAU about the prisoners of war, Hadhrat Umar-RAU and S'ad ibn M’az-RAU suggested that they should be executed by their own relatives amongst the believers.


All the other Companions-RAU suggested that they should be released on payment of Fidyah as it will provide finances to the Muslims, while the possibility of their embracing Islam could not be ruled out. The Holy Prophet-SW accepted the latter advice. Those incapable of making the payment were to teach the believers children how to read and write. This decision was followed by a Divine Revelation that it does not befit a Prophet-AS to spare the person who is the root cause of evil and mischief. Rather it is most appropriate to eradicate this evil. But since booty had already been made permissible, and letting the captives go did involve some monetary benefit for the believers, the Companions-RAU who had proposed this were also forgiven. Now what has been acquired may be enjoyed by the believers as booty is permissible as well as pure. And the Muslims must constantly fear Allaah-SWT and seek His-SWT Pleasure for He-SWT is the Most Merciful and Forgiving.