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Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
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The Koran Interpreted Translation by A.J. Arberry

8 THE SPOILS (1 – 29)

The Qurʾan Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

8. Battle Gains (1 – 25)

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

They will question thee concerning the spoils. Say: ‘The spoils belong to God and the Messenger; so fear you God, and set things right between you, and obey you God and His Messenger, if you are believers.’ Those only are believers who, when God is mentioned, their hearts quake, and when His signs are recited to them, it increases them in faith, and in their Lord they put their trust, those who perform the prayer, and expend of what We have provided them, those in truth are the believers; they have degrees with their Lord, and forgiveness, and generous provision.

5As thy Lord brought thee forth from thy house with the truth, and a part of the believers were averse to it, disputing with thee concerning the truth after it had become clear, as though they were being driven into death with their eyes wide open. And when God promised you one of the two parties should be yours, and you were wishing that the one not accoutred should be yours; but God was desiring to verify the truth by His words, and to cut off the unbelievers to the last remnant, and that He might verify the truth and prove untrue the untrue, though the sinners were averse to it. When you were calling upon your Lord for succour, and He answered you, ‘I shall reinforce you with a thousand angels riding behind you.’

10God wrought this not, save as good tidings and that your hearts thereby might be at rest; help comes only from God; surely God is All-mighty, All-wise. When He was causing slumber to overcome you as a security from Him, and sending down on you water from heaven, to purify you thereby, and to put away from you the defilement of Satan, and to strengthen your hearts, and to confirm your feet. When thy Lord was revealing to the angels, ‘I am with you; so confirm the believers. I shall cast into the unbelievers’ hearts terror; so smite above the necks, and smite every finger of them!’ That, because they had made a breach with God and with His Messenger; and whosoever makes a breach with God and with His Messenger, surely God is terrible in retribution. That for you; therefore taste it; and that the chastisement of the Fire is for the unbelievers.

15O believers, when you encounter the unbelievers marching to battle, turn not your backs to them. Whoso turns his back that day to them, unless withdrawing to fight again or removing to join another host, he is laden with the burden of God's anger, and his refuge is Gehenna— an evil homecoming!

You did not slay them, but God slew them; and when thou threwest, it was not thyself that threw, but God threw, and that He might confer on the believers a fair benefit; surely God is All-hearing, All-knowing. That for you; and that God weakens the unbelievers’ guile.

If victory you are seeking, victory has already come upon you; and if you give over, it is better for you. But if you return, We shall return, and your host will avail you nothing though it be numerous; and that God is with the believers.

20O believers, obey God and His Messenger, and do not turn away from Him, even as you are listening; and be not as those who say, ‘We hear,’ and they hear not. Surely the worst of beasts in God's sight are those that are deaf and dumb and do not understand. If God had known of any good in them He would have made them hear; and if He had made them hear, they would have turned away, swerving aside. O believers, respond to God and the Messenger when He calls you unto that which will give you life; and know that God stands between a man and his heart, and that to Him you shall be mustered. 25And fear a trial which shall surely not smite in particular the evildoers among you; and know that God is terrible in retribution. And remember when you were few and abased in the land, and were fearful that the people would snatch you away; but He gave you refuge, and confirmed you with His help, and provided you with the good things, that haply you might be thankful. O believers, betray not God and the Messenger, and betray not your trusts and that wittingly; and know that your wealth and your children are a trial, and that with God is a mighty wage. O believers, if you fear God, He will assign you a salvation, and acquit you of your evil deeds, and forgive you; and God is of bounty abounding.

The main part of this Medinan sura is a comment on the Battle of Badr (near Medina), the first fought between the Muslims and their Meccan opponents in the second year after the Migration. The Muslims, some of whom were at first reluctant to fight, won in spite of being vastly outnumbered, and began to question the distribution of the gains. The sura reminds them that it was God who brought about the victory. verse 41 shows how the gains were to be distributed. It advises Muslims and comments on the role of the hypocrites and on those who always break their treaties (verse 56), ending with a statement about loyalties and alliances.

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

1They ask you [Prophet] about [distributing] the battle gains. Say, ‘That is a matter for God and His Messenger, so be mindful of God and make things right between you. Obey God and His Messenger if you are true believers: 2true believers are those whose hearts tremble with awe when God is mentioned, whose faith increases when His revelations are recited to them, who put their trust in their Lord, 3who keep up the prayer and give to others out of what We provide for them. 4Those are the ones who truly believe. They have high standing with their Lord, forgiveness, and generous provision.’

5Fora This links to v. 1. it was your Lord who made you [Prophet] venture from your home for a true purpose—though a group of the believers disliked it 6and argued with you about the truth after it had been made clear, as if they were being driven towards a death they could see with their own eyes.7Remember how God promised you [believers] that one of the two enemy groupsb The Meccan trade caravan or their army. would fall to you: you wanted the unarmed group to be yours, but it was God's will to establish the truth according to His Word and to finish off the disbelievers—8to prove the Truth to be true, and the false to be false, much as the guilty might dislike it. 9When you begged your Lord for help, He answered you, ‘I will reinforce you with a thousand angels in succession.’ 10God made this a message of hope to reassure your hearts: help comes only from God, He is mighty and wise. 11Remember when He gave you sleepa On the night before the battle. as a reassurance from Him, and sent down water from the sky to cleanse you, to remove Satan's pollution from you, to make your hearts strong and your feet firm. 12Your Lord revealed to the angels: ‘I am with you: give the believers firmness; I shall put terror into the hearts of the disbelievers—strike above their necks and strike all their fingertips.’ 13That was because they opposed God and His Messenger, and if anyone opposes God and His Messenger, God punishes them severely—14’That is what you get! Taste that!’—and the torment of the Fire awaits the disbelievers.

15Believers, when you meet the disbelievers in battle, never turn your backs on them: 16if anyone does so on such a day—unless manœuvring to fight or to join a fighting group—he incurs the wrath of God, and Hell will be his home, a wretched destination! 17It was not you who killed them but God, and when you [Prophet] threw [sand at them]b Before the battle, the Prophet prayed and threw a handful of sand at the enemy as a symbol of their being defeated. it was not your throw [that defeated them] but God's, to do the believers a favour: God is all seeing and all knowing—18’That is what you get!’—and God will weaken the disbelievers’ designs. 19[Disbelievers], if you were seeking a decision, now you have witnessed one: if you stop here, it will be better for you. If you return, so shall We, and your forces, though greater in number, will be of no use to you. God is with the believers.

20Believers, obey God and His Messenger: do not turn away when you are listening to him; 21do not be like those who say, ‘We heard,’ though in fact they were not listening—22the worst creatures in God's eyes are those who are [wilfully] deaf and dumb, who do not reason. 23If God had known there was any good in them, He would have made them hear, but even if He had, they would still have turned away and taken no notice. 24Believers, respond to God and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. Know that God comes between a man and his heart,c There are various ways of interpreting this, including that, through death, God separates a man from his heart's desire, i.e. life. and that you will be gathered to Him. 25Beware of discord that harms not only the wrongdoers among you: know that God is severe in His punishment.

Notes:

a This links to v. 1.

b The Meccan trade caravan or their army.

a On the night before the battle.

b Before the battle, the Prophet prayed and threw a handful of sand at the enemy as a symbol of their being defeated.

c There are various ways of interpreting this, including that, through death, God separates a man from his heart's desire, i.e. life.

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