Tafsir Zone - Surah 8: al-Anfal (The Spoils Of War )

Tafsir Zone

Surah al-Anfal 8:25

Overview (Verses 25 - 26)

Victory Coming on the Heels of Hardship

They are then warned against adopting a negative attitude to jihād, or making a negative response to the call to life, or refraining from the fulfilment of their duty to change what is wrong, whatever form it may take: “Beware of temptation that does not lure only those among you who are wrongdoers. Know that God is severe in retribution.” (Verse 25) A community that allows a section of its members to be unjust will be guilty of injustice or wrongdoing. When a community does not stand up to wrongdoers, when it does not take any positive steps to punish transgressors, it deserves to share in the punishment of those wrongdoers and transgressors. It should be said that the worst type of wrongdoing is to abandon God’s law which He has laid down to be implemented in human life. As a system, Islam has a serious outlook based on mutual help and solidarity within the community. Islam does not allow its followers to sit idle when injustice, corruption and wrongdoing continue on the rampage, let alone sees God’s faith abandoned and His Godhead denied in order to be substituted by false claims. Such people cannot hope to be spared trial and temptation simply because they are good within themselves.
Since resistance to injustice and wrongdoing requires great sacrifices of lives and property, the Qur’ān reminds the first Muslim community of its own weakness, small numbers, the fear and persecution it endured. It also reminds those early Muslims of how God extended His shelter to them and granted them security and good provision. It must never, then, hesitate to respond to the type of life to which God’s Messenger calls it, or to meet the responsibilities of this life that ensures its dignity, freedom and independence: “Remember when you were few and helpless in the land, fearful lest people do away with you: how He sheltered you, strengthened you with His support and provided you with many good things so that you might be grateful.” (Verse 26)
You must remember this in order to be absolutely certain that God’s Messenger calls you to that which will give you life. Remember it so that you do not ever feel reluctant to resist injustice of any type or form. Remember the days when you were weak and afraid. These were the days before God instructed you to fight the unbelievers, and before His Messenger called on you to face the mighty host in spite of your reluctance. Reflect on your situation after you have responded to this call and how you are now enjoying victory, God’s reward, and the many good things He has provided for you. When you reflect on all this, you will then express your gratitude and gain further reward for that gratitude. The sūrah paints a very powerful image of their inferior numbers and strength, as well as their worry and fear: “fearful lest people do away with you.” (Verse 26) The Arabic expression emphasizes the connotations of worry, apprehension and fearful expectation that we can almost see their worried features, restless eyes and clear apprehension.
However, a transformation takes place and we have a scene of security, strength, victory and enjoyable provision, all granted by God who has extended His protection to them: “How He sheltered you, strengthened you with His support and provided you with many good things.” (Verse 26) Coupled with this is a directive to them to demonstrate their gratitude in order to earn more reward: “So that you might be grateful.” (Verse 26) Who can contemplate this great transformation and decline to respond to a call to a secure life that enjoys strength and affluence? This is the call of the noble Prophet who conveys God’s message. Who can enjoy such a transformation without showing his gratitude to God for all His grace, when both scenes of weakness and strength, worry and security are held up in front of his eyes?
Yet those people actually lived both situations. They are reminded of their past and present. Hence they appreciated fully what the Qur’ān said.
The Muslim community which strives today to re-establish this faith in human life may not have gone through both stages or experienced both states. The Qur’ān, nevertheless, describes this transformation to this and every Muslim community. If a Muslim community finds itself in the stage of weakness such as that described in the Qur’ān: “Remember when you were few and helpless in the land, fearful lest people do away with you,” then it will do well to respond to the call to life conveyed by God’s Messenger. It can await with certainty the fulfilment of God’s promise. He fulfilled it to the first Muslim community and He has promised to fulfil it to every community that follows the same course of action and makes the required sacrifices. It can then look forward to a situation to which the same description applies: “He sheltered you, strengthened you with His support and provided you with many good things so that you might be grateful.” (Verse 26) In all this, a Muslim community is actually dealing with God and His promise that will always come true. They need be in no doubt of that.