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

Tafsir Zone

Surah al-Anfal 8:62

Overview (Verses 62 - 63)

Uniting Believers’ Hearts

When God instructed His Messenger, the Prophet Muĥammad (peace be upon him), to accept the state of non-belligerency from any community which offered him it and to incline to peace whenever they so inclined, He also directed him to rely on Him and place his trust in Him. He further reassured him that He knows precisely what all people hide as guarded secrets: “If they incline to peace, then incline you to it as well, and place your trust in God. He alone hears all and knows all.” (Verse 61)

Furthermore, God assured him that they would not be able to deceive him, should they try to do so. If their peace offer was merely a cover- up for their real intentions of treachery, he could always rely on God who is sure to protect him. It was He who granted him victory in the Battle of Badr, when He strengthened him with His own help and with the believers. It was He who established their brotherhood based on faith and united their hearts which could not have been united by any other means: “Should they seek to deceive you, God is all-sufficient for you. He it is who has strengthened you with His help and rallied the believers round you, uniting their hearts. If you were to spend all that is on earth you could not have so united their hearts, but God has united them. He is Mighty and Wise.” (Verses 62-63)

The Prophet is here reassured that he would not need anything other than God’s help, for that is more than sufficient for protection from any treachery. It was He who gave strength and support to His Messenger in the first place, when he rallied the believers round him. They were true to their pledges. They came to be a united force, after they had had divergent loyalties. They were often in open hostility against one another and fought their tribal wars with determined ferocity. The reference here may be to the two tribes of Madinah, the Aws and the Khazraj, who constituted the Anşār. In pre-Islamic days, their enmity and protracted disputes were so fierce that there could not be any sort of peace between them, let alone a bond of brotherhood which Islam forged. However, this verse may also be intended as a reference to the Muhājirīn, who migrated with the Prophet from Makkah to Madinah. They also had the same sort of internal disputes and enmity as the Anşār. Or it may be that the verse means them all together. Indeed the whole of Arabia was alike in its internal hostilities.

It was a great miracle which could never have been accomplished by anyone other than God, through the faith He revealed. Hearts that had always been hostile, and natures that had been rebellious, were solidly united. Their hostility was replaced by love and unity of a standard that serves as a symbol for life in heaven: “We shall have removed from their hearts any lurking feelings of malice, [and they shall rest] as brothers, face to face, on raised couches.” (15: 47)

This faith is remarkable indeed. When it touches people’s hearts, it pours into them a mixture of love, familiarity and compassion that is certain to soften them and establish between them a firm and deeply- rooted bond. Words, looks, touches and heartbeats all become lyrics and odes expressing mutual love, compassion, loyalty, support and forbearance. What is the secret of such a profound transformation? The secret is known only to God. However, its effects are clear to the believers themselves. The faith of Islam makes its appeal to mankind on the basis of pure love that has its roots in faith in God and is nourished by dedication to His cause. When human beings make a favourable response to that appeal, the miracle that can only be worked out by God takes place in reality.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Some of God’s servants who are neither prophets nor martyrs shall have on the Day of Judgement a position so close to God that prophets and martyrs would love to have.” His Companions said: “Messenger of God, will you please tell us who these people are.” He said: “These are people who love one another for God’s sake only. They have no relation of kinship or business interests with one another. By God, their faces are radiant with light, and they have light. They shall experience no fear or sadness when other people are overtaken by fear and sadness.” [Related by Abū Dāwūd.]

The Prophet also said: “When a Muslim meets his Muslim brother and they shake hands, their sins shall fall off just like leaves fall off a dry tree on a windy day. Their sins shall be forgiven them, even though they appear to be as huge as sea foam.” [Related by al-Ţabarānī.]

God’s Messenger made several statements on this point. His actions confirm that such love, and unity constitutes an essential factor in his message. The community that he built on the basis of love provides the best proof that such love was not merely flowery words or idealistic actions by a few individuals. It was a firmly established reality that came into being by God’s will. It is only He who can bring about such a real unity of hearts.