Surah al-Anfal: Chapter 8 (line 40-50) the Spoils

40. And if they turn away, know that God is your Protector. The Best Protector, and the Best Supporter.

41. And know that whatever spoils you gain, to God belongs its fifth, and to the Messenger, and the relatives, and the orphans, and the poor, and to the wayfarer, provided you believe in God and in what We revealed to Our servant on the Day of Distinction, the day when the two armies met. God is Capable of everything.

42. Recall when you were on the nearer bank, and they were on the further bank, and the caravan was below you. Had you planned for this meeting, you would have disagreed on the timing, but God was to carry out a predetermined matter, so that those who perish would perish by clear evidence, and those who survive would survive by clear evidence. God is Hearing and Knowing.

43. God made them appear in your dream as few. Had He made them appear as many, you would have lost heart, and disputed in the matter. But God saved the situation. He knows what the hearts contain.

44. When you met, He made them appear as few in your eyes, and made you appear fewer in their eyes, so that God may conclude a predetermined matter. To God all matters revert.

45. O you who believe! When you meet a force, stand firm, and remember God much, so that you may prevail.

46. And obey God and His Messenger, and do not dispute, lest you falter and lose your courage. And be steadfast. God is with the steadfast.

47. And do not be like those who left their homes boastfully, showing off before the people, and barring others from the path of God. God comprehends what they do.

48. Satan made their deeds appear good to them, and said, “You cannot be defeated by any people today, and I am at your side.” But when the two armies came in sight of one another, he turned on his heels, and said, “I am innocent of you; I see what you do not see; I fear God; God is severe in punishment.”

49. The hypocrites and those in whose hearts is sickness said, “Their religion has deluded these people.” But whoever puts his trust in God-God is Mighty and Wise.

50. If only you could see, as the angels take away those who disbelieve, striking their faces and their backs: “Taste the agony of the Burning.”


My interpretation: 

Muhammad is being told exactly what happened during the “spoils of war”, which is why this surah is named “the Spoils”. Spoils of war refer to the winnings of the defeated population in ancient times and this is when Muhammad triumphed over the pagans of Mecca, prescribed by God. These winnings are shared with those that need it most-the poor, needy, travelers, orphans, and relatives of the messenger.

God has allowed for the odds to be in Muhammad’s army favor. Those that survived in this battle survived for a reason that only God can know. Gabriel even suggests that God made the men appear less than they were to the army and Muhammad so that they would not lose their courage while in battle. Goes to show  how God is all encompassing and the story that unfolds from God’s Will is one that we are subject to in our roles as believers. Believers must always be brave in the face of evil.

The less arguing and boasting coming from a community of believers is best for people. Those who followed Satan into disbelief that drove them to do immoral things will be punished for their actions in this life and in death as the angels drag them away to the place where they belong for what they have done to others.

It is an interesting picture of Satan being painted in these lines. Satan knows and fears the power of God and runs away from the punishment he brings to his own  evil followers, but yet he always chooses to lead mankind astray because it is all he wills to do, as God’s oldest rebel without love in his entire being after jealousy for Adam took over him. In these lines we get to see how much of a coward the devil really is. We should never fear the devil, only God’s anger at us of what he allow ourselves to become.

Love for God drives us forward in positives ways pure fear never can.