Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER VIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL ANFÁL (THE SPOILS). Revealed at Madína. - The Quran, vol. 2
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CHAPTER VIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL ANFÁL (THE SPOILS). Revealed at Madína. - Mohammed, The Quran, vol. 2 
A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran: Comprising Sale’s Translation and preliminary Discourse, with Additional Notes and Emendations (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co., 1896). 4 vols.
Part of: The Quran, 4 vols.
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ENTITLED SURAT AL ANFÁL (THE SPOILS).
The title of this Sura was taken from the question of the first verse concerning spoils. The chapter, however, has but little to do with this subject, almost the whole of it being taken up with a description of the miraculous character of the battle of Badr, with allusions to events immediately preceding or following it, by which the faithful are confirmed in their confidence in God and Muhammad. Islám is declared to have now received the seal of God to its truth, and consequently all who hereafter may oppose it will merit shame and destruction both in this world and in the world to come.
The confident and often defiant tone, perceptible in this chapter, may be accounted for by the circumstances under which it was written. Muhammad had been successful beyond expectation, and the sometimes despondent Muslims were now exulting over those from whom they had so lately fled in fear. Muhammad, ever ready to use his opportunities, declares this victory to be decisive proof of the divine favour. God had brought it all about that he “might accomplish the thing which was decreed to be done; that he who perisheth hereafter may perish after demonstrative evidence, and that he who liveth may live by the same evidence.”
Accordingly the infidels are denounced in no measured terms. Even the proud Quraish are addressed in a patronising manner, and are offered an amnesty on condition of their ceasing to oppose. The hypocrites and hitherto disaffected inhabitants of Madína are reproved and warned, while the duplicity of the Jews is threatened.
There is, however, the anticipation of future trouble. It required no more than the sagacity of a politician to foretell it. The Muslims are therefore urged to prepare for the holy war, and to fight with that assurance which enables one man to face ten of his adversaries. God would be on their side, and the infidels would only rush on to certain destruction.
Nothing could be in stronger contrast than the spirit of this chapter compared with the latter part of chapter iii., written just after the Muslim defeat at Ohod. Such a comparison should make it clear to Muslims that the revelation of the Qurán, instead of being copied from the Preserved Table under the throne of God, was copied from the heart-table of Muhammad himself.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
It is certain that the greater part of this chapter was written immediately after the battle of Badr in a.h. 2. Indeed there is no part of it which may not be referred to this period excepting vers. 73-75, which must be assigned to the earlier months of a.h. 1. Sale mentions the fact that some authorities would place vers. 30-36 among the Makkan revelations, but the evidence seems to me to be against them. This passage might, however, belong to an earlier period than a.h. 2, inasmuch as it relates to the flight from Makkah. Yet the victory of Badr would naturally recall to Muhammad’s mind the circumstances of his flight, and thus lead to their mention here.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1)They will ask thee concerning the spoils: Answer, The division of the spoils belongeth unto God and the Apostle. Therefore fear God, and compose the matter amicably among you: and obey God and his Apostle, if ye are true believers. (2) Verily the true believers are those whose hearts fear when God is mentioned, and whose faith increaseth when his signs are rehearsed unto them, and who trust in their Lord;(3) who observe the stated times of prayer, and give alms out of that which we have bestowed on them. (4) These are really believers: they shall have superior degrees of felicity with their Lord, and forgiveness, and an honourable provision. (5) As thy Lord brought thee forth from thy house with truth, and part of the believers were averse to thy directions:(6) they disputed with thee concerning the truth, after it had been made known unto them; no otherwise than as if they had been led forth to death, and had seen it with their eyes.(7) And call to mind when God promised you one of the two parties, that it should be delivered unto you, and ye desired that the party which was not furnished with arms should be delivered unto you: but God purposed to make known the truth in his words, and to cut off the uttermost part of the unbelievers; (8) that he might verify the truth, and destroy falsehood, although the wicked were averse thereto.(9) When ye asked assistance of your Lord, and he answered you, Verily I will assist you with a thousand angels, following one another in order.(10) And this God designed only as good tidings for you, and that your hearts might thereby rest secure: for victory is from God alone; and God is mighty and wise.
∥ (11) When a sleep fell on you as a security from him, and he sent down upon you water from heaven, that he might thereby purify you, and take from you the abomination of Satan, and that he might confirm your hearts, and establish your feet thereby. (12)Also when thy Lord spake unto the angels, saying, Verily I am with you; wherefore confirm those who believe. I will cast a dread into the hearts of the unbelievers. Therefore strike off their heads, and strike off all the ends of their fingers.(13) This shall they suffer, because they have resisted God and his Apostle: and whosoever shall oppose God and his Apostle, verily Godwill be severe in punishing him.(14) This shall be your punishment; taste it therefore: and the infidels shall also suffer the torment of hell-fire. (15) O true believers, when ye meet the unbelievers marching in great numbers against you, turn not your backs unto them: (16) for whoso shall turn his back unto them in that day, unless he turneth aside to fight, or retreateth to another party of the faithful, shall draw on himself the indignation of God, and his abode shall be in hell; an ill journey shall it be thither!(17) And ye slew not those who were slain at Badr yourselves, but God slew them. Neither didst thou, O Muhammad, cast the gravel into their eyes, when thou didst seem to cast it; but God cast it, that he might prove the true believers by a gracious trial from himself, for God heareth and knoweth. (18) This was done that God might also weaken the crafty devices of the unbelievers. (19) If ye desire a decision of the matter between us, now hath a decision come unto you: and if ye desist from opposing the Apostle, it will be better for you. But if ye return to attack him, we will also return to his assistance; and your forces shall not be of advantage unto you at all, although they be numerous: for God is with the faithful.
∥ (20) O true believers, obey God and his Apostle, and turn not back from him, since ye hear the admonitions ofthe Qurán. (21) And be not as those who say, We hear, when they do not hear. (22) Verily the worst sort of beasts in the sight of God are the deaf and the dumb, who understand not. (23) If God had known any good in them, he would certainly have caused them to hear: and if he had caused them to hear, they would surely have turned back and have retired afar off. (24) O true believers, answer God and his Apostle when he inviteth you unto that which giveth you life; and know that God goeth between a man and his heart, and that before him ye shall be assembled. (25) Beware of sedition; it will not affect those who are ungodly among you particularly, but all of you in general; and know that God is severe in punishing. (26) And remember when ye were few and reputed weak in the land, ye feared lest men should snatch you away; but God provided you a place of refuge, and he strengthened you with his assistance, and bestowed on you good things, that ye might give thanks. (27) O true believers, deceive not God and his apostle; neither violate your faith against your own knowledge. (28) And know that your wealth and your children are a temptation unto you; and that with God is a great reward.
∥ (29) O true believers, if ye fear God, he will grant you a distinction, and will expiate your sins from you, and will forgive you; for God is endued with great liberality. (30) And call to mind when the unbelievers plotted against thee, that they might either detain thee in bonds, or put to death, or expel thee the city; and they plotted against thee: but God laid a plot against them; and God is the best layer of plots. (31) And when our signs are repeated unto them, they say, We have heard; if we pleased we could certainly pronounce a composition like unto this: this is nothing but fables of the ancients. (32) And when they said, O God, if this be the truth from thee, rain down stones upon us from heaven, or inflict on us some other grievous punishment. (33) But God was not disposed to punish them, while thou wast with them; nor was Goddisposed to punish them when they asked pardon. (34) But they have nothing to offer in excuse why God should not punish them, since they hindered the believers from visiting the holy temple, although they are not the guardians thereof. The guardians thereof are those only who fear God; but the greater part of them know it not. (35) And their prayer at the house of God is no other than whistling and clapping of the hands. Taste therefore the punishment, for that ye have been unbelievers. (36) They who believe not expend their wealth to obstruct the way of God: they shall expend it, but afterwards it shall become matter of sighing and regret unto them, and at length they shall be overcome; (37) and the unbelievers shall be gathered together into hell; (38) that God may distinguish the wicked from the good, and may throw the wicked one upon the other, and may gather them all in a heap, and cast them into hell. These are they who shall perish.
∥ (39) Say unto the unbelievers, that if they desist from opposing thee, what is already past shall be forgiven them; but if they return to attack thee, the exemplary punishment of the former opposers of the prophets is already past, and the like shall be inflicted on them.(40) Therefore fight against them until there be no opposition in favour of idolatry, and the religion be wholly God’s. If they desist, verily God seeth that which they do; (41) but if they turn back, know that God is your patron; he is the best patron, and the best helper.
∥ (42) And know that whenever ye gain any spoils, a fifth part thereof belongeth unto God, and to the Apostle, and his kindred, and the orphans, and the poor, and the traveller; if ye believe in God, and that which we have sent down unto our servant on the day of distinction, on the day whereon the two armies met: and God is almighty. (43) When ye were encamped on the hithermost side of the valley, and they were encamped on the farther side, and the caravan was below you; and if ye had mutually appointed to come to a battle, ye would certainly have declined the appointment; but ye were brought to an engagement without any previous appointment, that God might accomplish the thing which was decreed to be done; (44) that he who perisheth hereafter may perish after demonstrative evidence, and that he who liveth may live by the same evidence; Godboth heareth and knoweth. (45) When thy Lord caused the enemy to appear unto thee in thy sleep few in number; and if he had caused them to appear numerous unto thee, ye would have been disheartened, and would have disputed concerning the matter: but God preserved you from this; for he knoweth the innermost parts of the breasts of men.(46) And when he caused them to appear unto you when ye met to be few in your eyes, and diminished your numbers in their eyes; that God might accomplish the thing which was decreed to be done; and unto God shall all things return.
∥ (47) O true believers, when ye meet a party of the infidels, stand firm, and remember God frequently, that ye may prosper: (48) and obey God and his Apostle, and be not refractory, lest ye be discouraged, and your success depart from you; but persevere with patience, for Godis with those who persevere. (49) And be not as those who went out of their houses in an insolent manner, and to appear with ostentation unto men, and turned aside from the way of God; for God comprehendeth that which they do. (50) And remember when Satan prepared their works for them, and said, No man shall prevail against you today; and I will surely be near to assist you. But when the two armies appeared in sight of each other, he turned back on his heels, and said, Verily I am clear of you: I certainly see that which ye see not; I fear God, for God is severe in punishing.
∥ (51) When the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts there was an infirmity, said, Their religion hath deceived these men: but whosoever confideth in Godcannot be deceived; for Godis mighty and wise. (52) And if thou didst behold when the angels caused the unbelievers to die: they strike their faces and their backs, and say untothem, Taste ye the pain of burning: (53) this shall ye suffer for that which your hands have set before you, and because God is not unjust towards his servants. (54)These have acted according to the wont of the people of Pharaoh, and of those before them, who disbelieved in the signs of God: therefore God took them away in their iniquity; for Godis mighty and severe in punishing. (55) This hath come to pass because God changeth not his grace, wherewith he hath favoured any people, until they change that which is in their souls; and for that Godboth heareth and seeth. (56) According to the wont of the people of Pharaoh, and of those before them, who charged the signs of their Lord with imposture, have they acted: wherefore we destroyed them in their sins, and we drowned the people of Pharaoh; for they were all unjust persons. (57) Verily the worst cattle in the sight of God are those who are obstinate infidels, and will not believe. (58) As to those who enter into a league with thee, and afterwards violate their league at every convenient opportunity, and fear not God;(59) if thou take them in war, disperse, by making them an example, those who shall come after them, that they may be warned; (60) or if thou apprehend treachery from any people, throw back their league unto them with like treatment; for God loveth not the treacherous.
(61) And think not that the unbelievers have escaped God’s vengeance, for they shall not weaken the power of God.(62) Therefore prepare against them what force ye are able, and troops of horse, whereby ye may strike a terror into the enemy of God, and your enemy, and into other infidels besides them, whom ye know not, butGod knoweth them. And whatsoever ye shall expend in the defence of the religion of God, it shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly. (63) And if they incline unto peace, do thou also incline thereto; and put thy confidence in God, for it is he who heareth and knoweth. (64) But if they seek to deceive thee, verily Godwill be thy support. It is he who hath strengthened thee with his help, and with that of the faithful, and hath united their hearts. If thou hadst expended whatever riches are in the earth, thou couldst not have united their hearts, but God united them; for he is mighty and wise.
∥ (65) O Prophet, God is thy support, and such of the true believers who followeth thee. (66) O Prophet, stir up the faithful to war: if twenty of you persevere with constancy, they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be one hundred of you, they shall overcome a thousand of those who believe not; because they are a people which do not understand. (67) Now hath God eased you, for he knew that ye were weak. If there be an hundred of you who persevere with constancy, they shall overcome two hundred; and if there be a thousand of you, they shall overcome two thousand, by the permission of God; for God is with those who persevere. (68) It hath not been granted unto any prophet that he should possess captives, until he hath made a great slaughter of the infidels in the earth. Ye seek the accidental goods of this world, but God regardeth the life to come; and Godis mighty and wise. (69) Unless a revelation had been previously delivered from God, verily a severe punishment had been inflicted on you for the ransom which ye took from the captives at Badr.(70) Eat therefore of what ye have acquired, that which is lawful and good; for Godis gracious and merciful.
∥ (71) O Prophet, say unto the captives who are in your hands, If God shall know any good to be in your hearts, he will give you better than what hath been taken from you; and he will forgive you, for Godis gracious and merciful. (72) But if they seek to deceive thee, verily they have deceived God; wherefore he hath given thee power over them: and Godis knowing and wise. (73) Moreover, they who have believed, and have fled their country, and employed their substance and their persons in fighting for the religion of God, and they who have given the Prophet a refuge among them, and have assisted him, these shall be deemed the one nearest of kin to the other. But they who have believed, but have not fled their country, shall have no right of kindred at all with you, until they also fly. Yet if they ask assistance of you on account of religion, it belongeth unto you to give them assistance; except against a people between whom and yourselves there shall be a league subsisting: and God seeth that which ye do. (74) And as to the infidels, let them be deemed of kin the one to the other. Unless ye do this, there will be a sedition in the earth, and grievous corruption. (75) But as for them who have believed, and left their country, and have fought for God’s true religion, and who have allowed the Prophet a retreat among them, and have assisted him, these are really believers; they shall receive mercy and an honourable provision. (76) And they who have believed since, and have fled their country, and have fought with you, these also are of you. And those who are related by consanguinity shall be deemed the nearest of kin to each other preferably to strangers according to the book of God: God knoweth all things.
[(1) ]The spods, taken at the battle of Badr. “It consisted of 115 camels, 14 horses, a large store of leather (beds and rugs), and much equipage and armour.”—Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 111.
[(2-4) ]See notes on chap. ii. 3-5.
[(5) ]As thy Lord, &c., i.e., from Madína. “The particle as having nothing in the following words to answer it, al Baidháwi supposes the connection to be, that the division of the spoils belonged to the Prophet, notwithstanding his followers were averse to it, as they had been averse to the expedition itself.”—Sale.
[(6) ]After it had been made known. Muhammad pretended to have received a promise from Gabriel that he should have either the caravan or victory over the succours. Victory was therefore assumed beforehand, but the smallness of their number made them afraid.
[(7) ]One of the two parties. “That is, either the caravan or the succours from Makkah. Father Marracci, mistaking al ’aír and al nafír, which are appellatives, and signify the caravan and the troop or body of succours, for proper names, has thence coined two families of the Quraish never heard of before, which he calls Airenses and Naphirenses (Marracci in Alc., p. 297).”—Sale.
[(8) ]That he might verify the truth. The victory of the Muslims is here declared to be evident proof of the divine mission of Muhammad and the truth of his religion. This claim gave ground to much doubt among the faithful and to scoffs and jeers among unbelievers after the defeat at Ohod. See notes on chap. iii. 121, and verses following.
[(9) ]Assistance from your Lord. “When Muhammad’s men saw they could not avoid fighting, they recommended themselves to God’s protection; and their Prophet prayed with great earnestness, crying out, ‘O God, fulfil that which thou hast promised me: O God, if this party be cut off, thou wilt be no more worshipped on earth.’ And he continued to repeat these words till his cloak fell from off his back.”—Sale, and the Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(10) ]See notes on chap. iii. 126.
[(11) ]Water from heaven. The following is Baidháwi’s comment as given by Sale:—
[(12) ]Thy Lord spake. According to Rodwell, the address to the angels ends at “unbelievers,” making the following words, “therefore strike,” &c., an exhortation to the Muslims. The Tafsír-i-Raufi and Abdul Qádir understand these words also to have been addressed to the angels. “The angels did not know,” says the Tafsír-i-Raufi, “where to strike a fatal blow;” hence the words, “strike off their heads”—literally smite their necks—and the allusion to the ends of their fingers is understood to include all the members of the body.
[(13) ]God will be severe. The punishment will be severe if taken prisoner in the world, and afterwards in the final destruction of the soul.—Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(14, 15) ]The revelation is here plainly made Muhammad’s vehicle for a military harangue. Was Muhammad sincere in uttering such exhortations as the very words of God? Muslims claim complete inspiration for them, and accept Muhammad’s claim to have been simply the mouthpiece of Divinity. Are the apologists for Islám ready to do the same? If not, the only fair inference they can draw is that he was an impostor. Self-deception cannot be pleaded here. There is every sign of intelligent, deliberate policy. He desires to incite his followers to bold, desperate warfare. They have come to believe him to be inspired, and he never scruples to impose on their credulity for the accomplishment of his ambitious purposes.
[(17) ]God slew them. See note on chap. iii. 13.
[(19) ]Now hath a decision come. The word translated decision (al fatah) means also victory. The Quraish had prayed for victory. Taking hold of the curtains of the Kaabah, they said, “O God, grant the victory to the superior army, the party that is most rightly directed, and the most honourable.” Muhammad derisively plays on the word rendered victory in their prayer, and says, “Now hath a decision come unto you,” &c. See Baidháwi in Sale’s note here.
[(20) ]God and his Apostle. This joining of God and his Apostle, so prevalent in this chapter, savours strongly of blasphemy. True, the union intended is not organic or vital, but official, Muhammad being, as he here pretends, the deputy of God. Nevertheless, the union is of such a character, that in the succeeding clause, in the exhortation “turn not back from him,” the pronoun may apply to either God or Muhammad, and, to bring all the circumstances of the dispute about spoils into consideration, I think it must be applied to the latter. The assumption of Muslims that God is the speaker does not seem to me to apply here, for, in the first place, the sin of identifying God with a sinful man (shirk) would in that case be removed from the Apostle only to be fastened on God; and, secondly, if God were the speaker, why invariably speak of himself in the third person? and finally, the reason given for obedience is “since ye hear,” i.e., since ye are obedient unto God, being Muslims or submitters of yourselves to God. Surely such an exhortation predicates the Apostle as the exhorter. The commentators say that the expression signifies that obedience to the Prophet is obedience to God, and vice versa. Certainly this is what Muhammad intended when he thus associated his name with that of God.
[(22) ]Abdul Qádir says this verse means that men who hearken not to God are worse than beasts.
[(23) ]Caused them to hear. “That is, to hearken to the remonstrances of the Qurán. Some say that the infidels demanded of Muhammad that he should raise Kusai, one of his ancestors, to life, to bear witness to the truth of his mission, saying he was a man of honour and veracity, and they would believe his testimony: but they are here told that it would have been in vain.”—Sale.
[(24) ]That which giveth life, i.e., “The knowledge of religion or orthodox doctrine, or crusade, or the declaration of faith in God and his Prophet, or the Qurán—all of which have life-giving power to Muslims.”—Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(25) ]Sedition. “The original word signifies any epidemical crime, which involves a number of people in its guilt; and the commentators are divided as to its particular meaning in this place.”—Sale.
[(26) ]This verse is addressed to the Muhájjarín, or those who fled with Muhammad from Makkah to Madína.
[(27) ]Deceive not God. “Al Baidháwi mentions an instance of such treacherous dealing in Abu Lubába, who was sent by Muhammad to the tribe of the Quraidha, then besieged by that prophet, for having broken their league with him, and perfidiously gone over to the enemies at the war of the ditch, to persuade them to surrender at the discretion of Saad Ibn Muádh, prince of the tribe of Aus, their confederates, which proposal they had refused. But Abu Lubába’s family and effects being in the hands of those of Quraidha, he acted directly contrary to his commission, and instead of persuading them to accept Saad as their judge, when they asked his advice about it, drew his hand across his throat, signifying that he would put them all to death. However, he had no sooner done this than he was sensible of his crime, and going into a mosque tied himself to a pillar, and remained there seven days without meat or drink, till Muhammad forgave him.”—Sale.
[(28) ]Abdul Qádir says the allusion here is to the children of the refugees, still in Makkah, and to the wealth acquired by warring against the unbelievers. The former tempted them to lukewarmness in the struggle with the Makkans, and the latter tempted them to concealment and falsehood in reporting the spoil taken by them.
[(29) ]A distinction, i.e., “A direction that you may distinguish between truth and falsehood, or success in battle to distinguish the believers from the infidels, or the like.”—Sale.
[(30) ]“When the Makkans heard of the league entered into by Muhammad with those of Madína, being apprehensive of the consequence, they held a council, whereat they say the devil assisted in the likeness of an old man of Najd. The point under consideration being what they should do with Muhammad, Abu’l Baḳhtári was of opinion that he should be imprisoned, and the room walled up, except a little hole, through which he should have necessaries given him till he died. This the devil opposed, saying that he might probably be released by some of his own party. Hásham Ibn Ámru was for banishing him, but his advice also the devil rejected, insisting that Muhammad might engage some other tribes in his interest, and make war on them. At length Abu Jahl gave his opinion for putting him to death, and proposed the manner, which was unanimously approved.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(31) ]If we pleased, we could, &c. This verse proves very clearly that Muhammad’s contemporaries were not convinced of the miraculous character of the Qurán, as claimed by Muhammad. See chaps. ii. 23 and xvii. 90, and notes there. Arnold in his Islám and Christianity, pp. 324-328, shows very conclusively that the style of the Qurán was not admitted to be of superior excellence by many competent judges in the early days of Islám. The policy of Muhammad’s claim, and therefore of the only miracle or sign he could ever point to as testimony to his claim to be a prophet, was exposed a thousand years ago by al Kindí, an Arab Christian scholar in the service of the Khalífah al Mámún, whose work has lately been discovered. He declares it “to be destitute of order, style, elegance, or accuracy of composition or diction,” and claims that the poetical works of al Qáis and other contemporaries of Muhammad were superior in every aspect to the Qurán. Having read the Qurán of Musailama the false prophet, he declared it to be superior in style to the work of Muhammad. See also chap. vi. 94, and note there.
[(32) ]Rain down stones. Baidháwi ascribes this speech to al Nudhár Ibn al Háríth. Abdul Qádir says it was Abu Láhab.
[(33) ]While thou wast with them. The commentators here annotate as follows: “Judgment receded before the footsteps of Muhammad while at Makkah, but now had judgment overtaken them (the Makkans). In like manner, while the sinner remains contrite and repents, he escapes the punishment of his sin, be it ever so great. The prophet said, ‘Sinners have refuge in two things: in my person and in repentance.’ ”—Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(34) ]They hindered, &c. As at Hudaibaya, see Prelim. Disc., p. 89. The guardians . . . are those . . . who fear God. This was said to justify the claim that the Quraish were not the guardians of the Kaabah. They had the hereditary right to the guardianship of the temple, that right having been conceded to the great progenitor of Muhammad himself, Kusai, nearly two centuries before. See Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. i. p. ccii. Muhammad’s claim must have been grounded on this rejection on account of idolatry, and therefore could only apply to those of his fellow-tribesmen who still persisted in their adherence to the old idolatry. For we find this same tribe confirmed in the guardianship of the Kaabah after the conquest of Makkah. See note on chap. iv. 56. Even the Quraish might not guard the temple unless they had within them the fear of God.
[(35) ]Whistling and clapping. “It is said that they used to dig round the Kaabah naked (See notes on chap. vii. 28-34), both men and women, whistling at the same time through their fingers and clapping their hands. Or, as others say, they made this noise on purpose to disturb Muhammad when at his prayers, pretending to be at prayers also themselves.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(36) ]“The persons particularly meant in this passage were twelve of the Quraish, who gave each of them ten camels every day to be killed for provisions for their army in the expedition of Badr; or, according to others, the owners of the effects brought by the caravan, who gave great part of them to the support of the succours from Makkah. It is also said that Abu Sufián, in the expedition of Ohod, hired two thousand Arabs, who cost him a considerable sum, besides the auxiliaries which he had obtained gratis.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(39) ]If they return. This probably refers to the declaration of the Quraish that they would return to avenge the defeat of Badr.
[(40) ]Fight against them. See notes on chap. ii. 190-193. Mr. Bosworth Smith (Mohammed and Mohammedanism, 2d ed. p. 201) thinks that Muhammad was constrained to draw the sword by force of circumstances and the hatred of his enemies. The “perfect model of the saintly virtues” found in the Makkan prophet is thus suddenly and “by accident” converted into a general, and so we have “the mixed and sullied character of the prophet-soldier Muhammad.” It is certain that all the exhortations of the later chapters of the Qurán, like that of the text, are entirely inconsistent with the spirit of the teaching of the earlier chapters. They are not, however, inconsistent with the spirit of the Arabian Prophet. His savage cruelty and cold-hearted revenge, exhibited in the very beginning of his soldier career, are in too strong contrast with saintly virtues to permit us to believe in the reality of the saint. It was policy rather than saintliness which withheld the command to fight, and when the time came to fight, we find Muhammad leading the fray—not carried along with it by force. See on this point Prelim. Disc., p. 83.
[(42) ]A fifth part. “According to this law, a fifth part of the spoils is appropriated to the particular uses here mentioned, and the other four-fifths are to be equally divided among those who were present at the action; but in what manner or to whom the first fifth is to be distributed, the Muhammadan doctors differ, as we have elsewhere observed (Prelim. Disc., pp. 224-226). Though it be the general opinion that this verse was revealed at Badr, yet there are some who suppose it was revealed in the expedition against the Jewish tribe of Qainuqáa, which happened a little above a month after.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(43) ]The caravan was below you, i.e., “by the sea-side, making the best of their way to Makkah.”—Sale.
[(45, 46) ]On the question of discrepancy between this passage and chap. iii. 13, Sale, on the authority of Baidháwi, Jaláluddín, and Yahva, says—
[(47) ]Here begins a military harangue, characteristic of the prophet-soldier of Madína. Obedience to “God and his Apostle” is urged by every motive of piety and self-interest.
[(48) ]Lest . . . your success depart. The quarrel over the distribution of the booty might well awaken fears for the future success of his warfare. Hence the wisdom of his determination to divide the spoils himself as the agent of God to whom they belonged (ver. 1). Whilst admiting the wisdom of the general, will any one believe in the sincerity of the prophet?
[(49) ]Those who went out, &c. “These were the Makkans, who, marching to the assistance of the caravan, and being come as far as Juhfa, were there met by a messenger from Abu Sufián, to acquaint them that he thought himself out of danger, and therefore they might return home; upon which Abu Jahl, to give the greater opinion of the courage of himself and his comrades, and of their readiness to assist their friends, swore that they would not return till they had been at Badr, and had there drunk wine and entertained those who should be present and diverted themselves with singing-women. The event of which bravado was very fatal, several of the principal Quraish, and Abu Jahl in particular, losing their lives in the expedition.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(50) ]Remember when Satan, &c. “Some understand this passage figuratively of the private instigation of the devil, and of the defeating of his designs, and the hopes with which he had inspired the idolaters. But others take the whole literally, and tell us that when the Quraish on their march bethought themselves of the enmity between them and the tribe of Kanána, who were masters of the country about Badr, that consideration would have prevailed on them to return, had not the devil appeared in the likeness of Suráqah Ibn Málik, a principal person of that tribe, and promised them that they should not be molested, and that himself would go with them. But when they came to join battle, and the devil saw the angels descending to the assistance of the Muslims, he retired; and al Hárith Ibn Hásham, who had him then by the hand, asking him whither he was going, and if he intended to betray them at such a juncture, he answered in the words of this passage, ‘I am clear of you all, for I see that which ye see not;’ meaning the celestial succours. They say further, that when the Quraish, on their return, laid the blame of their overthrow on Suráqah, he swore that he did not so much as know of their march till he heard they were routed: and afterwards, when they embraced Muhammadanism, they were satisfied it was the devil.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(51) ]Their religion hath deceived these men This saying is ascribed by some to the Madína hypocrites, who, seeing the fewness of the Muslims, thought their purpose to attack so large an army a piece of folly, attributable only to the madness of fanaticism. But the fact that the Muslims went forth from Madína to plunder a comparatively defenceless caravan, and not to attack the army of the Quraish, is against this interpretation. Others therefore explain that there were among the Quraish certain persons who were partially persuaded of the truth of Islám, but declined to flee to Madína with other refugees. These went along with the Quraish, intending to go over to the Muslims provided they should be more in number than they, but seeing the Muslims to be few in number, they said their religion hath deceived them. See the Tafsír-i-Raufi in loco.
[(52) ]When the angels, &c. “This passage is generally understood of the angels who slew the infidels at Badr, and who fought (as the commentators pretend) with iron maces, which shot forth flames of fire at every stroke (Baidháwi, Jaláluddín). Some, however, imagine that the words hint, at least, at the examination of the sepulchre, which the Muhammadans believe every man must undergo after death, and will be very terrible to the unbelievers” (Prelim. Disc., p. 127). Sale.
[(53) ]Which your hands, &c. See note on chap. ii. 94.
[(54-56) ]See notes on chap. vii. 128-137.
[(57) ]See note on ver. 22. The allusion here is probably to the Jews, either the Bani Qainuqáa or the Bani Quraidha. See Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 135.
[(58) ]Afterwards violate their league, “as did the tribe of Quraidha.”—Sale. So too the Tafsír-i-Raufi. See the story of the treachery of this tribe in Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. chap. xvii.
[(59) ]Making them an example, i.e., by slaying them. How well this command was performed let the 800 gory heads of the Bani Quraidha tell.—Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 278.
[(60) ]If thou apprehend treachery. The road to covenant-breaking is here made easy. A suspicion of the Prophet or of his successors that the Jews or Christians with whom covenant had been made were treacherous is made a sufficient ground for breaking that covenant. As an illustration of this principle, see Muhammad’s conduct toward the Bani Nadhír, described in Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 209.
[(61) ]Think not. Sale says, “Some copies read it in the third person, Let not the unbelievers think,” &c.
[(62) ]Prepare . . . what force ye are able. Prepare for the holy war against the infidels. Primarily the allusion was to the Quraish and the treacherous Jews, but now it has a general application. See Abdul Qádir and Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(64) ]Hath united their hearts. The Tafsír-i-Raufi thinks the allusion here is to the union of the tribes of Aus and Khazraj, who had been deadly enemies for more than a century before. It might, however, refer to union between other tribes as well.
[(65) ]“This passage, as some say, was revealed in a plain called al Baida, between Makkah and Madína, during the expedition of Badr; and, as others, in the sixth year of the Prophet’s mission, on the occasion of Omar’s embracing Muhammadanism.”—Sale.
[(66, 67) ]These verses were revealed at different times, but belonging to the same subject, have been grouped together by the compilers. Compare with Lev. xxvi. 8 and Josh. xxiii. 10. The Tafsír-i-Raufi says both verses were intended to arouse a spirit of fortitude in battle. As a result of the first injunction, that one Muslim should stand against ten infidels, one of the faithful was slain; whereupon that command was abrogated, and the more moderate one given in its place, which is introduced by the words Now hath God eased you (from the rigour of the first command), for he knew that ye were weak.
[(68) ]Any prophet. This verse was given to justify the cruelty of Muhammad towards the captives taken at Badr, many of whom were put to death in cold blood. But for the merciful pleading of Abu Baqr, all would have met a similar fate. The apology for this cruelty here given is that all warrior-prophets had been obliged to make “a great slaughter of the infidels” before they could succeed. Those who would paint the character of Muhammad in soft colours are guilty of deliberate misrepresentation. See on this subject Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. pp. 113-118.
[(69) ]Unless a revelation, &c. Lit. a writing—kitáb. Abdul Qádir translates thus: “Had this not been written in God’s decrees,” viz., that many of the captives would be converted to Islám. Muir says, “It may simply mean, ‘Had there not been a previous decree to the contrary, a grievous punishment had overtaken you.”’—Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 118, note.
[(70) ]Eat therefore, i.e., “Of the ransom which ye have received of your prisoners. For it seems, on this rebuke, they had some scruple of conscience whether they might convert it to their own use or not.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(71) ]Say unto the captives. This was said in the hope that the captive Quraish might yet be induced to profess Islám, and this hope was in some measure realised.
[(72) ]If they seek to deceive thee. Of this passage Muir says:—“This is explained to mean ‘deceit in not paying the ransom agreed upon; but it seems an unlikely interpretation, as the ransom was ordinarily paid down on the spot. It may be a significant intimation that those who came over to Islám would be released without ransom;—the deceit contemplated being a treacherous confession of faith followed by desertion to Makkah.”—Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 119, note.
[(73) ]Who . . . have fled, &c. The Muhájjirín, or refugees, a term at first applicable only to those who fled from Makkah, but afterwards to all who fled to the Prophet’s standard.
[(74) ]This verse illustrates the political sagacity of Muhammad. He divides all Arabs into two classes, and unites all his following, from whatever quarter they might come, against the fragmentary elements of the opposition.
[(75) ]This verse corresponds with ver. 73, except in so far as the change of law required a change in the language. I think it very probable that this verse gives the revised reading of ver. 73, and was intended to take its place in the Qurán.
[(76) ]See notes on ver. 73, also notes on chap. iv. 6-13.