Tafsir Surah Al-Anfal Part 6 Ayat 64-75

{64. O Prophet! Allah is sufficient for you and for the believers who follow you.

65. O Prophet! Urge the believers to fight. If there are twenty steadfast persons among you, they will overcome two hundred, and if there be a hundred steadfast persons they will overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are people who do not understand.

66. Now Allah has lightened your (task), for He knows that there is weakness in you. So if there are of you a hundred steadfast persons, they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a thousand of you, they shall overcome two thousand by the leave of Allah. And Allah is with the patient.}

 

Encouraging Believers to fight in Jihad; the Good News that a Few Muslims can overcome a Superior Enemy Force

Allah encourages His Prophet and the believers to fight and struggle against the enemy, and wage war against their forces. Allah affirms that He will suffice, aid, support, and help the believers against their enemies, even if their enemies are numerous and have sufficient supplies, while the believers are few. Allah said, “O Prophet! Urge the believers to fight”, encouraged and called them to fight. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to encourage the Companions to fight when they faced the enemy. On the day of Badr when the idolators came with their forces and supplies, he said to his Companions,

“Get ready and march forth towards a Paradise as wide as the heavens and earth.”

Umayr bin Al-Humam said, “As wide as the heavens and earth?”

The Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Yes”

Umayr said, “Excellent, Excellent!” The Messenger of Allah peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said

“What makes you say, ‘Excellent! Excellent!’?”

He said, “The hope that I might be one of its dwellers.” The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“You are one of its people.”

Umayr went ahead, broke the scabbard of his sword, took some dates and started eating from them. He then threw the dates from his hand, saying, “Verily, if I lived until I finished eating these dates, then it is indeed a long life.” He went ahead, fought and was killed, may Allah be pleased with him. (Muslim 3:1511)

Allah said next, commanding the believers and conveying good news to them, “If there are twenty steadfast persons among you, they will overcome two hundred, and if there be a hundred steadfast persons, they will overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve.” The Ayah says, one Muslim should endure ten disbelievers. Allah abrogated this part later on, but the good news remained. Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak said that Jarir bin Hazim narrated to them that, Az-Zubayr bin Al-Khirrit narrated to him, from Ikrimah, from Ibn Abbas, “When this verse was revealed, “If there are twenty steadfast persons among you, they will overcome two hundred…” it became difficult for the Muslims, when Allah commanded that one Muslim is required to endure ten idolators. Soon after, this matter was made easy, “Now Allah has lightened your (task)”, until, “they shall overcome two hundred…”

Allah lowered the number [of adversaries that Muslims are required to endure], and thus, made the required patience less, compatible to the decrease in numbers.” (Abu Dawud 3:105) Al-Bukhari recorded a similar narration from Ibn Al-Mubarak. (Fath Al-Bari 8:163) Muhammad bin Ishaq recorded that Ibn Abbas said, “When this Ayah was revealed, it was difficult for the Muslims, for they thought it was burdensome since twenty should fight two hundred, and a hundred against a thousand. Allah made this ruling easy for them and abrogated this Ayah with another Ayah, “Now Allah has lightened your (task), for He knows that there is weakness in you…”

Thereafter, if Muslims were half as many as their enemy, they were not allowed to run away from them. If the Muslims were fewer than that, they were not obligated to fight the disbelievers and thus allowed to avoid hostilities.” (Al-Bukhari: 4652-4653)

{67. It is not (fitting) for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he has fought (his enemies thoroughly) in the land. You desire the goods of this world, but Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.

68. Were it not a previous ordainment from Allah, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took.

69. So enjoy what you have gotten of booty in war, lawful and good, and have Taqwa of Allah. Certainly, Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful.}

 

Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas said, “The Prophet asked the people for their opinion about the prisoners of war of Badr, saying, “Allah has made you prevail above them.” Umar bin Al-Khattab stood up and said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Cut off their necks,’ but the Prophet turned away from him. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, again asked,

“O people! Allah has made you prevail over them, and only yesterday, they were your brothers.”

Umar again stood up and said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Cut off their necks.’ The Prophet ignored him and asked the same question again and he repeated the same answer. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq stood up and said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! I think you should pardon them and set them free in return for ransom.’ Thereupon the grief on the face of Allah’s Messenger vanished. He pardoned them and accepted ransom for their release. Allah, the Exalted and Most Honored, revealed this verse, “Were it not a previous ordainment from Allah, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took.” (Ahmad 3:243)

Ali bin Abi Talhah narrated that Ibn Abbas said about Allah’s statement, “Were it not a previous ordainment from Allah…”, “In the Preserved Book, that war spoils and prisoners of war will be made allowed for you, “would have touched you for what you took”, because of the captives, “a severe torment” Allah, the Exalted said next, “So enjoy what you have gotten of booty in war, lawful and good.” Al-Awfi also reported this statement from Ibn Abbas. (At-Tabari 14:65) A similar statement was collected from Abu Hurayrah, Ibn Masud, Said bin Jubayr, Ata’, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Qatadah and Al-Amash. (At-Tabari 14:65-69) They all stated that, “Were it not a previous ordainment from Allah” refers to allowing the spoils of war for this Ummah.

Supporting this view is what the Two Sahihs recorded that Jabir bin Abdullah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“I have been given five things which were not given to any Prophet before me. (They are) Allah made me victorious by awe, (by His frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month’s journey. The earth has been made a place for praying and a purifyer for me. The booty has been made lawful for me, yet it was not lawful for anyone else before me. I have been given the right of intercession (on the Day of Resurrection). Every Prophet used to be sent to his people only, but I have been sent to all mankind.” (Fath Al-Bari 1:519) 

Al-Amash narrated that Abu Salih said that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

”War booty was never allowed for any among mankind except us.”

[Abu Hurayrah said] This is why Allah the Most High said, “So enjoy what you have gotten of booty in war, lawful and good.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 8:474)

The Muslims then took the ransom for their captives. In his Sunan, Imam Abu Dawud recorded that Ibn Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah fixed four hundred (Dirhams) in ransom from the people of Jahiliyyah in the aftermath of Badr. (Abu Dawud 3:139) The majority of the scholars say that the matter of prisoners of war is up to the Imam. If he decides, he can have them killed, such as in the case of Bani Qurayzah. If he decides, he can accept a ransom for them, as in the case of the prisoners of Badr, or exchange them for Muslim prisoners. The Messenger exchanged a woman and her daughter who were captured by Salamah bin Al-Akwa, for exchange of some Muslims who were captured by the idolators, or if he decides he can take the prisoner as a captives.

{70. O Prophet! Say to the captives that are in your hands: “If Allah knows any good in your hearts, He will give you something better than what has been taken from you, and He will forgive you, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

71. But if they intend to betray you, they indeed betrayed Allah before. So He gave (you) power over them. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.}

 

Pagan Prisoners at Badr were promised better than what They lost, if They become Righteous in the Future

Ibn Abbas said, “On the eve after Badr, the Messenger of Allah spent the first part of the night awake, while the prisoners were bound. His Companions said to him, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Why do you not sleep?’ Al-Abbas had been captured by a man from Al-Ansar, and the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said to them,

”I heard the cries of pain from my uncle Al-Abbas, because of his shackles, so untie him.”

When his uncle stopped crying from pain, Allah’s Messenger went to sleep.” (At-Tabaqat by Ibn Sad 4:13) In his Sahih, Al- Bukhari recorded a Hadith from Musa bin Uqbah who said that Ibn Shihab said that Anas bin Malik said that some men from Al-Ansar said to the Messenger of Allah , “O Allah’s Messenger! Give us permission and we will set free our maternal cousin Al-Abbas without taking ransom from him.” He said,

“No, by Allah! Do not leave any Dirham of it.” (Fath Al-Bari 7:373) 

And from Yunus Bikkir, from Muhammad bin Ishaq, from Yazid bin Ruwman, from Urwah, from Az-Zuhri that several people said to him, “The Quraysh sent to the Messenger of Allah concerning ransoming their prisoners, and each tribe paid what was required for their prisoners. Al-Abbas said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! I became a Muslim before.’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”Allah knows if you are Muslim! If what you are claiming is true, then Allah will compensate you. As for your outward appearance, it was against us. Therefore, ransom yourself, as well as, your nephews Nawfal bin Al-Harith bin Abdul-Muttalib and Aqil bin Abu Talib bin Abdul- Muttalib, and also your ally Utbah bin Amr, from Bani Al-Harith bin Fihr.”

Al-Abbas said, I do not have that (money), O Allah’s Messenger!’ The Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”What about the wealth that you and Umm Al-Fadl buried, and you said to her, ‘If I am killed in this battle, then this money that I buried is for my children Al-Fadl, Abdullah and Quthm?”

Al- Abbas said, ‘By Allah, O Allah’s Messenger! I know that you are Allah’s Messenger, for this is a thing that none except Umm Al-Fadl and I knew. However, O Allah’s Messenger! Could you count towards my ransom the twenty Uwqiyah (pertaining to a weight) that you took from me (in the battle)?’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”No, for that was money that Allah made as war spoils for us from you.”

So Al-Abbas ransomed himself, his two nephews and an ally, and Allah revealed this verse,

”O Prophet ! Say to the captives that are in your hands: “If Allah knows any good in your hearts, He will give you something better than what has been taken from you, and He will forgive you, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (8:70) Al-Abbas commented, “After I became Muslim, Allah gave me twenty servants in place of the twenty Uwqiyah I lost. And I hope for Allah’s forgiveness.” [Al-Qurtubi 8:52. This hadith is not authentic but some of the information is supported by a hadith recorded in At-Tabarani and others.]

Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bayhaqi recorded, that Anas bin Malik said, “The Prophet was brought some wealth from Bahrain and said;

“Distribute it in my Masjid”

and it was the biggest amount of goods Allah’s Messenger had ever received. He left for prayer and did not even look at the goods. After finishing the prayer, he sat by those goods and gave some of it to everybody he saw. Al-Abbas came to him and said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Give me (something) too, because I gave ransom for myself and Aqil. ‘ Allah’s Messenger told him to take. So he stuffed his garment with it and tried to carry it away but he failed to do so. He said, ‘Order someone to help me in lifting it.’ The Prophet refused. He then said to the Prophet , ‘Will you please help me to lift it?’ Allah’s Messenger refused. Then Al-Abbas dropped some of it and lifted it on his shoulders and went away. Allah’s Messenger kept on watching him till he disappeared from his sight and was astonished at his greediness. Allah’s Messenger did not get up until the last coin was distributed.” (Al-Bayhaqi 6:356)  Al-Bukhari also collected this Hadith in several places of his Sahih (Al-Bukhari: 421, 3049) with an abridged chain, in a manner indicating his approral of it.

Allah said, “But if they intend to betray you, they indeed betrayed Allah before” meaning, “But if they intend to betray you” in contradiction to what they declare to you by words. “they indeed betrayed Allah before”, the battle of Badr by committing disbelief in Him, “So He gave (you) power over them”, causing them to be captured in Badr, “And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.” He is Ever Aware of his actions and All-Wise in what He decides.

{72. Verily, those who believed, and emigrated and strove hard and fought with their property and their lives in the cause of Allah as well as those who gave (them) asylum and help, – these are (all) allies to one another. And as to those who believed but did not emigrate, you owe no duty of protection to them until they emigrate, but if they seek your help in religion, it is your duty to help them except against a people with whom you have a treaty of mutual alliance; and Allah is the All-Seer of what you do.}

 

The Muhajirin and Al-Ansar are the Supporters of One Another

Here Allah mentions the types of believers, dividing them into the Muhajirin, who left their homes and estates, emigrating to give support to Allah and His Messenger to establish His religion. They gave up their wealth and themselves in this cause. There are also the Ansar, the Muslims of Al-Madinah, who gave asylum to their Muhajirin brethren in their own homes and comforted them with their wealth. They also gave aid to Allah and His Messenger by fighting alongside the Muhajirun. Certainly they are, “allies to one another”, for each one of them has more right to the other than anyone else. This is why Allah’s Messenger forged ties of brotherhood between the Muhajirin and Ansar, as Al- Bukhari recorded from Ibn Abbas. (Fath Al-Bari 12:30) They used to inherit from each other, having more right to inheritance than the deceased man’s relatives, until Allah abrogated that practice with the fixed share for near relatives. Imam Ahmad recorded that Jarir bin Abdullah Al-Bajali said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said,

“The Muhajirun and Al-Ansar are the supporters of each other, while the Tulaqa’ of Quraysh (whom the Prophet set free after conquering Makkah) and Utaqa’ from Thaqif (whom the Prophet set free from captivity after the battle of Hunayn) are supporters of each other until the Day of Resurrection.”

Only Ahmad collected this Hadith. (Ahmad 4:363)

Allah praised the Muhajirin and the Ansar in several Ayat of His Book and His Messenger (also praised them too). Allah said, “And the foremost to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun and the Ansar and also those who followed them exactly. Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise).” (9:100)

“Allah has forgiven the Prophet, the Muhajirin and the Ansar who followed him in the time of distress.” (9:117), and,

“And there is also a share in this booty for the poor Muhajirin, who were expelled from their homes and their property, seeking bounties from Allah and (His) good pleasure, and helping Allah and His Messenger. Such are indeed the truthful. And those who, before them, had homes (in Al-Madinah) and adopted the faith, love those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given, and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves even though they were in need of that” (59:8-9).

The best comment on Allah’s statement, “…and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given” is that it means, they do not envy the Muhajirin for the rewards that Allah gave them for their emigration. These Ayat indicate that the Muhajirin are better in grade than the Ansar, and there is a consensus on this ruling among the scholars.

The Believers Who did not emigrate did not yet receive the Benefits of Wilayah

Allah said, “And as to those who believed but did not emigrate, you owe no duty of protection to them until they emigrate,” (8:72).

This is the third category of believers, those who believed, but did not perform Hijrah and instead remained in their areas. They do not have any share in the war booty or in the fifth [designated for Allah and His Messenger, the relatives of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, the orphans, the poor and the wayfarer], unless they attend battle.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Buraydah bin Al-Hasib Al-Aslami said, “When the Messenger of Allah would send a commander with an expedition force or an army, he would advise him to have Taqwa of Allah and be kind t o t he Muslims under his command. He used to say,

“Fight in the Name of Allah, in the cause of Allah. Fight those who disbelieve in Allah. When you meet your Mushrik enemy, then call them to one of three choices, and whichever they agree to, then accept it and turn away from them. Call them to embrace Islam, and if they agree, accept it from them and turn away from them. Then call them to leave their area and cometoareasinwhichtheMuhajirinreside. Makeknowntothemthat if theydothis, theywill have the rights, as well as, the duties of the Muhajirin. If they refuse and decide to remain in their area, make known to them that they will be just like Muslim bedouins, and that Allah’s law applies to them just as it does to all believers. However, they will not have a share in the war booty or Fai’ (booty without war), unless they perform Jihad along with Muslims. If they refuse all of this, then call them to pay the Jizyah, and if they accept, then take it from them and turn away from them. If they refuse all these ␣ three␣ options, then trust in Allah and fight them.” (Ahmad 5:352) 

Muslim collected this Hadith. (Muslim 3:1357)

Allah said next, “But if they seek your help in religion, it is your duty to help them.” Allah commands, if these bedouins, who did not perform Hijrah, ask you to aid them against their enemy, then aid them. It is incumbent on you to aid them in this case, because they are your brothers in Islam, unless they ask you to aid them against disbelievers with whom you have a fixed-term treaty of peace. In that case, do not betray your treaties or break your promises with those whom you have treaties of peace. This was reported from Ibn Abbas. (At-Tabari 14:83)

 

{73. And those who disbelieve are allies of one another, (and) if you (Muslims) do not do so (protect one another), there will be Fitnah on the earth, and great corruption.}

 

The Disbelievers are Allies of Each Other; the Muslims are not their Allies

After Allah mentioned that the believers are the supporters of one another, He severed all ties of support between them and the disbelievers. In his Mustadrak, Al-Hakim recorded        that Usamah said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“No followers of two religions inherit from each other. Therefore, neither a Muslim inherits from a disbeliever nor a disbeliever from a Muslim.”

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, recited this Ayah, “And those who disbelieve are supporters of one another, (and) if you (Muslims) do not do so (protect one another), there will be Fitnah on the earth, and great corruption.” Al-Hakim said, “Its chain is Sahih, and they did not record it.” (Al-Hakim 2:240) However, the following, from Usamah bin Zayd, is in the Two Sahihs; the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “Neither a Muslim inherits from a disbeliever nor a disbeliever inherits from a Muslim.” (Fath Al-Bari 12:51 and Muslim 3:1233)

Allah said next, “If you do not do so, there will be Fitnah and oppression on the earth, and a great corruption”, meaning, if you do not shun the idolators and offer your loyalty to the believers, Fitnah will overcome the people. Then confusion [polytheism and corruption] will be rampant, for the believers will be mixed with disbelievers, resulting in tremendous, widespread trials, [corruption and mischief] between people.

{74. And those who believed, and emigrated and strove hard in the cause of Allah (Al-Jihad), as well as those who gave (them) asylum and aid — these are the believers in truth, for them is forgiveness and a generous provision.

75. And those who believed afterwards, and emigrated and strove hard along with you, they are of you. But kindred by blood are nearer to one another (regarding inheritance) in the decree ordained by Allah. Verily, Allah is the All-Knower of everything.}

 

Believers in Truth

After Allah affirmed the ruling of loyalty and protection between the believers in this life, He then mentioned their destination in the Hereafter. Allah also affirmed the faith of the believers, just as mentioned in the beginning of this Surah, and that He will reward them with forgiveness and by erasing their sins, if they have any. He also promised them honorable provisions that are abundant, pure, everlasting and eternal; provisions that never end or run out, nor will they ever cause boredom, for they are delightful and come in great varieties. Allah then mentioned that those who follow the path of the believers in faith and performing good deeds, will be with them in the Hereafter. Just as Allah said, “And the foremost to embrace Islam…” (9:100), until the end of the Ayah. He also said, “And those who came after them…” (59:10).

A Hadith that is in the Two Sahihs, which is Mutawatir and has several authentic chains of narrations, mentions that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“One will be in the company of those whom he loves.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:573) 

Another Hadith states,

“He who loves a people is one of them”, and in another narration, he said,

“…will be gathered with them (on the Day of Resurrection).” (At-Tabarani 3:19)

Inheritance is for Designated Degrees of Relatives

Allah said, “But kindred by blood are nearer to one another (regarding inheritance) in the decree ordained by Allah”, meaning, in Allah’s decision. This Ayah encompasses all relatives, not only the degrees of relative who do not have a fixed, designated share in the inheritance, as some people claim and use this Ayah to argue. According to Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and several others (Abu Dawad 3:291), this Ayah abrogated inheriting from those with whom one had ties of treaties or brotherhood, as was the case in the beginning of Islam. So it applies to all relatives, and as for those who do not inherit, then this is supported by the Hadith,

“Indeed Allah had alloted every right to the one who deserves it, so there may be no will for an heir.” (Abu Dawud 3:291) 

Therefore, this Ayah also includes those who have a fixed share of inheritance. Allah knows best.

This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Anfal, all praise and thanks are for Allah, in Him we trust, and He is sufficient for us, what an excellent supporter He is.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 4 Pages 350-368

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