Quran 8:61 – 75 Battle Of Badr

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Background

These verses refer to the battle of Badr (624 AD) and those who migrated to Madinah, fleeing persecution.

Analysing Verses

8:61 And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.

8:65 O Prophet, urge the believers to battle. If there are among you twenty [who are] steadfast, they will overcome two hundred. And if there are among you one hundred [who are] steadfast, they will overcome a thousand of those who have disbelieved because they are a people who do not understand.

8:66 Now, Allah has lightened [the hardship] for you, and He knows that among you is weakness. So if there are from you one hundred [who are] steadfast, they will overcome two hundred. And if there are among you a thousand, they will overcome two thousand by permission of Allah. And Allah is with the steadfast.

8:67 It is not for a prophet to have captives [of war] until he inflicts a massacre [upon Allah’s enemies] in the land. Some Muslims desire the commodities of this world, but Allah desires [for you] the Hereafter. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.

8:68 If not for a decree from Allah that preceded, you would have been touched for what you took by a great punishment.

8:69 So consume what you have taken of war booty [as being] lawful and good, and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

8:70 O Prophet, say to whoever is in your hands of the captives, “If Allah knows [any] good in your hearts, He will give you [something] better than what was taken from you, and He will forgive you; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

8:71 But if they intend to betray you – then they have already betrayed Allah before, and He empowered [you] over them. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.

8:72 Indeed, those who have believed and emigrated and fought with their wealth and lives in the cause of Allah and those who gave shelter and aided – they are allies of one another. But those who believed and did not emigrate – for you there is no guardianship of them until they emigrate. And if they seek help of you for the religion, then you must help, except against a people between yourselves and whom is a treaty. And Allah is Seeing of what you do.

8:73 And those who disbelieved are allies of one another. If you do not do so, there will be oppression on earth and great corruption.

8:74 But those who have believed and emigrated and fought in the cause of Allah and those who gave shelter and aided – it is they who are the believers, truly. For them is forgiveness and noble provision.

8:75 And those who believed after [the initial emigration] and emigrated and fought with you – they are of you. But those of [blood] relationship are more entitled [to inheritance] in the decree of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of all things.

8:61 – If the enemy stops hostilities and offers peace, then the Muslims have to offer peace to them as well.

8:65 – The Muslims were commanded to get ready to defend the community from the Quraish (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas). The verse eludes to the battle of Badr (624 AD). Here we are the believers are told that if they are ‘twenty’ they could defeat two hundred of them. And if they are ‘hundred’ of them, the believers could defeat a thousand of the enemy soldiers.

8:67 – This verse refers just after the battle of Badr (624 AD). The injunction in this verse states that no one could be made prisoner unless there was war. So when one becomes the victor, this is the only time Muslims were allowed to take soldiers captive. The Prophet (p), throughout Islamic scripture never beheaded any prisoner. In fact, he released most of them (Asad, Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas, Tafsir Ibn Kathir [1], and Maulana Muhammed Ali).

8:69 – God tells the Muslims at the aftermath of the battle of Badr, that they should go and enjoy what they gained, spoils of war (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas). When one sides loses and there remains there stuff behind, the victors take that home to either share it among themselves or the poor, needy and orphans.

8:70 – God here tells the Prophet (p) to say those who were captured in the battle of Badr (624 AD), that if they have any good in their hearts that they will be forgiven for their past hostilities against the Muslims (further details on this verse, who it referred to, read the commentary by Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi).

8:71 – The verse is directed at those captives at the battle of Badr, who were captured. The verse doesn’t tell us specifically if they were released straight away or voluntarily converted to Islam, and then released. The words used here does infer that they were released, and hence shows some may intend on betraying the Muslims, by waging war against the Muslims (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas).

8:72 – “Those who have believed and emigrated and fought with their wealth”, refers to those who believed in the religion of Islam and emigrated to Madinah, and fought to defend the community with their wealth, are true believers (Further details on the verse, read the Quran commentary by Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas).

8:74 – The verse emphasizes on those Muslims that emigrated to Madinah, fought alongside other believers in protecting the persecuted community, and gave shelter, that they are the true believers in the sight of God Almighty. They will be rewarded (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas).

8:75 – Here again, as explained previously it mentions the believers who migrated, believed in Islam and fought against the Quraysh,

“And those who afterwards) after the first Emigrants (believed) in Muhammad (pbuh) and in the Qur’an (and left their homes) and migrated from Mecca to Medina (and strove along with you) against the enemy, (they are of you) they are with you in secret and openly; (and those who are akin) those who are related by their lineage, the closer then the one who comes next, etc., (are nearer one to another) in relation to the division of estates (in the ordinance of Allah) in the Guarded Tablet.” – (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas Online source)

Commentaries

Malik Ghulam Farid:

“1140. The verse, besides embodying an important principle about making of peace-treaties, throws interesting light on the character of the wars undertaken by Islam. Muslims did not resort to war to force men to embrace Islam but to establish and maintain peace. If any people after having made war upon Muslims sued for peace the latter were enjoined not to reject the offer, even if the enemy might be suing for peace only to deceive them and gain time. This shows to what lengths Islam goes to establish peace among nations.
1141. The verse seems to give 20 as the minimum number that makes a fighting party.
1142. Because they are mercenaries, and do not realize the righteousness of the cause they fight for, they feel no real interest for it. Or the meaning may be that they have no higher ideals which they seek to pursue and serve.
1143. The verse should not be understood to abrogate the preceding one. The two verses refer to two different states of the Muslim community. In the beginning they were weak, ill-equipped and ill-trained in the art of war. In that state of weakness they could successfully fight against only their double number.
But as with the passage of time their all-round condition, fighting experience and military resources had very much improved they could defeat an enemy ten times their number. In the battles of Badr, Uhud, and of the Trench, the disparity between the number of forces of both sides progressively increased, yet the Muslims quite successfully held their own, till at the Battle of Yarmouk, mere 60.000 Muslims defeated an army of more than a million strong.
1144. The verse lays down the general rule that captives should not be taken unless there is regular fighting and the enemy is completely overpowered. It cuts at the root of slavery. Only those, who take part in war in order to destroy Islam and are defeated, can be made prisoner. See also 2739
1145. The words refer to the Divine promise of help (8:8-10).
1145A. Ransoming of captives was already in vogue. What is emphasised here is that prisoners could only be taken in regular fighting in the course of war.
1146. Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle was taken prisoner at Badr. When subsequently he embraced Islam and came over to the Holy Prophet, he requested, on the authority of the verse under comment, that as God had promised to give the prisoners more than was taken from them as ransom, the promise may be fulfilled in his case. The Holy Prophet granted his request (Jarir, x. 31).

1149. As all Muslims are declared to be brothers, one to another, in verse 73 and the Holy Prophet had established at Medina a sort of brotherhood between the Refugees and the helpers, the misunderstanding might have arisen that they could inherit one another’s property; so it is enjoined here that blood relations alone are entitled to inheritance and other Muslims are only brothers in faith and not heirs.” [2]

Maulana Muhammad Ali:

“65a. It should be noted that the war to which the Muslims were to be urged was the defensive war which the Muslims had to fight to save themselves and to protect the religion of Islam. The sword had been taken up against them; see 2:190, 2:217, 22:39, etc.
65b. The Muslims were very few as compared with their enemies, and there was not even one Muslim to ten disbelievers. Thus there is a clear prophecy here that, notwithstanding their fewer numbers, the Muslims shall be victorious. After the battle of Badr came the battle of U√ud, in which the Muslims were less than 1 to 4 against the enemy; this was followed by the battle of the A√zåb, in which they were 1 to 10, yet the enemy was routed.
66a. This verse is supposed by some to abrogate the previous verse, where it is stated that twenty patient Muslims shall overcome two hundred disbelievers. This is not a correct view. Firstly, because only an injunction could be said to be abrogated, and not a statement. Secondly, because the two statements relate to two different states of the Muslims. At the time of the battle of Badr there was no Muslim army in existence. Every man available, young or old, sick or healthy, had to fight to save the life of the community. They had very few arms, and they had never been trained. This is referred to in the words; He knows that there is weakness in you. So the Muslim forces as then constituted could at most be a match for double their numbers. But a time did come when they were a match for ten times their numbers. So both the statements in the Qur’an proved true. But even if the words may be taken as an injunction to the Muslims to overcome twice and afterwards ten times their numbers, there is no question of abrogation. There are two commandments, one in accordance with the circumstances of the Muslim society as it was then, another in accordance with a future state when they would be well-armed. 67a. There exists some misunderstanding as to the meaning of yuthkhina used here. Thakhuna means he or it became thick, and athkhana means ghalaba, he overcame (LA). The same word is again used in the Holy Qur’an exactly in the same sense: “then, when you have overcome them, make them prisoners” (47:4). On the authority of certain reports, the commentators are of opinion that this verse and the next refer to releasing the prisoners of war taken at Badr after taking ransom from them, which act, it is said, is here disapproved. But various considerations show that these verses refer to some other incidents. Firstly, the condition laid down here for taking prisoners is that the Prophet should fight against the enemy, and that had actually been done at Badr. Secondly, the taking of prisoners and their release on this very occasion is justified in clear words only two verses further on, “O Prophet, say to those of the captives who are in your hands: If Allah knows anything good in your hearts, He will give you better than that which has been taken from you” (v. 70). This shows that these verses were revealed when the prisoners were still in the hands of the Muslims and that which has been taken is clearly the ransom, which must have taken many days to reach Madinah. If the verse had conveyed a Divine commandment to slay the prisoners and not to release them, that step could still have been taken. But the very fact that no such step was taken shows clearly that the verse conveyed no such Divine commandment. The legality of the Holy Prophet’s procedure on this occasion is clearly borne out by an earlier revelation: “So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, smite the necks; then, when you have overcome them, make them prisoners, and afterwards set them free as a favour or for ransom” (47:4). The Prophet never slew a single prisoner of war, even after the battle of Badr, though thousands of prisoners were taken in some of these battles. On the other hand, the prisoners were almost always set free as a favour, and ransom was taken only from the Badr prisoners. The question is, what is then hinted at in this verse and in the one that follows? To me it seems quite clear that the reference is to the desire (mark the word desire used in the verse) — not to an action already completed — of a party of the Muslims referred to in v. 7, and you loved that the one not armed should be yours. Some Muslims desired to
68a, 68b, see next page. Attack and capture the unarmed caravan, but depredations like these, though committed by disbelievers upon the Muslims, were not fit for a prophet. He must fight a hard fight in his defence first and then, if he overcomes the enemy, he may take prisoners. Thus this injunction also declares slavery to be illegal, and allows only the retaining of those who are taken prisoners in war. The frail goods of this world appropriately refer to the caravan and its merchandise, while the addition of the concluding words in v. 69, eat then of the lawful and good things which you have acquired in war, shows that the ransom received on account of the prisoners is among the lawful and good things.
68a. That ordinance from Allah is referred to in several places in this chapter; it was to bring about an encounter with the main army of the Quraish at Badr: “And when Allah promised you one of the two parties that it should be yours … and Allah desired to establish the Truth” (v. 7); and again: “In order that Allah might bring about a matter which had to be done” (v. 42).
68b. You say akhadha fi kadha meaning he took to a thing, or set about or commenced doing it (LL). 72a. The friendship alluded to in this verse has been a matter of much discussion among the commentators. The meaning seems to be clear. Those who believed, and, having been persecuted, fled from their homes, formed a community at Madinah along with those who gave them shelter and helped them, i.e., the Ansar. But there were those who chose to remain in their homes. The Muslim community at Madinah could not undertake to guard the interests of such persons, and this is what is meant by saying, you are not responsible for their protection. But if they seek help in the matter of religion, it is incumbent on the Muslim community to give them help, unless there exists a treaty of alliance with the people against whom such help is sought.
73a. If you do not help your brethren in the matter of religion, the disbelievers will become more daring in their persecutions and in causing mischief and disorder in the land.
75a. When even strangers who have accepted Islam and fled from their homes become “of you”, those who have in addition ties of relationship, possess every title to have their interests guarded by the Muslim community.” [3]

Muhammad Asad:

“69 For an explanation of the phrase harrid al-mu’minin, see surah 4, note 102. Consistently with my interpretation, the words ‘ala ‘l-qital can be rendered here in either of two ways: “[with a view] to fighting” or “when fighting”. On the basis of the conventional interpretation of the verb harrid as “urge” or “rouse”, the phrase could be translated as “urge the believers to fight”: but this, as I have pointed out in the earlier note referred to above, does not convey the true sense of this injunction.
70 Some of the commentators see in this verse a divine prediction, thus: “If there be twenty of you …. they shall overcome two hundred …”, etc. Since, however, history shows that the believers, even at the time of the Prophet, were not always victorious against such odds, the above view is not tenable. In order to understand this passage correctly, we must read it in close conjunction with the opening sentence, “Inspire the believers to conquer all fear of death”, whereupon we arrive at the meaning given in my rendering: namely, an exhortation to the believers to conquer all fear of death and to be so patient in adversity that they might be able to overcome an enemy many times their number (Razi: see also Manar X, 87). The concluding words of this verse –because they are people who cannot grasp it [i.e.. the truth]” – can be understood in either of two ways: (a) as giving an additional reason of the true believers’ superiority over “those who are bent on denying the truth” (alladhina kafaru), inasmuch as the latter, not believing in the eternal verities and in life after death. Cannot rise to that enthusiasm and readiness for self-sacrifice which distinguishes the true believers: or (b) as explaining that “those who are bent on denying the truth” deny it simply because their spiritual deafness and blindness prevents them from grasping it. To my mind, the second of these two interpretations is preferable, and particularly so in view of the fact that the Qur’an often explains in these terms the attitude of “those who deny the truth” (e.g., in 6:25, 7:179, 9:87, etc.).
71 This relates to the time at which the above verse was revealed, namely, immediately after the battle of Badr (2 H.), when the Muslims were extremely weak both in numbers and in equipment, and their community had not yet attained to any significant degree of political organization. Under those circumstances, the Qur’an says, they could not – nor could any Muslim community of later times, in similar circumstances – be expected to bring forth the effort and the efficiency required of a fully developed community of believers; but even so they should be able to stand up to an enemy twice their number. (The proportions one to two, or – as in the preceding verse, one to ten – are not, of course, to be taken literally; as a matter of fact, the Muslims defeated at Badr a much better armed army more than thrice their own number.) The reference to God’s having “lightened the burden” imposed on the believers in this respect makes it clear that both this and the preceding verse imply a divine command couched in terms of exhortation, and not a prediction of events to come (Razi). 72 I.e., as an aftermath of a war in a just cause. As almost always in the Qur’an, an injunction addressed to the Prophet is, by implication, binding on his followers as well. Consequently, the above verse lays down that no person may be taken, or for any time retained, in captivity unless he was taken prisoner in a jihad – that is, a holy war in defence of the Faith or of freedom (regarding which see surah 2, note 167) – and that, therefore, the acquisition of a slave by “peaceful” means, and the keeping of a slave thus acquired, is entirely prohibited: which, to all practical purposes, amounts to a prohibition of slavery as a “social institution”. But even with regard to captives taken in war, the Qur’an ordains (in 47:4) that they should be freed after the war is over.
73 This is apparently a reference to the captives taken by the Muslims at Badr, and the discussions among the Prophet’s followers as to what should be done with them. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab was of the opinion that they should be killed in revenge for their past misdeeds, and in particular for their persecution of the Muslims before the latters’ exodus to Medina; Abu Bakr, on the other hand, pleaded for forgiveness and a release of the prisoners against ransom, supporting his plea with the argument that such an act of mercy might induce some of them to realize the truth of Islam. The Prophet adopted the course of action advocated by Abu Bakr, and released the captives. (The relevant Traditions are quoted by most of the commentators, and especially – with full indication of the sources – by Tabari and Ibn Kathir.) The reference in the above verse to the “tremendous chastisement” that might have befallen the Muslims “but for a decree (kitab) from God that had already gone forth” – i.e., a course of action fore-ordained in God’s knowledge makes it clear that the killing of the captives would have been an awesome sin.
74 I.e., “If God finds in your hearts a disposition to realize the truth of His message, He will bestow on you faith and, thus, the good of the life to come: and this will outweigh by far your defeat in war and the loss of so many of your friends and companions.” Although these words relate primarily to the pagan Quraysh taken prisoner in the battle of Badr, they circumscribe the Islamic attitude towards all unbelieving enemies who might fall into the believers’ hands in the course of war. For a further discussion of the problem of prisoners of war, see 47:4. 75 I.e., by falsely pretending to a change of heart and an acceptance of Islam in order to be freed from the obligation of paying ransom.
76 Sc., “and He can, if He so wills, do it again”. Thus, the Muslims are enjoined, by implication, to accept the declarations of the captives at their face value, and not to be swayed by mere suspicion of their motives. The possibility of treachery on the part of those captives, and even a later discovery that some of them had indeed played false, should not induce the Muslims to deviate from the course ordained by God.
77 See surah 2, note 203. Historically, this expression relates to the Meccan Muslims who migrated with the Prophet to Medina; but the sequence makes it clear that the definitions and injunctions provided by this verse are in the nature of a general law, valid for all times. With all this, it should be noted that the hijrah referred to here has a preponderantly physical connotation, implying an emigration from a non-Muslim country to a country ruled by the Law of Islam.
78 This refers, in the first instance, to the ansar at Medina – that is, to the newly-converted Muslims of that town, who gave shelter and whole-hearted aid to the muhajirin (“emigrants”) from Mecca before and after the Prophet’s own migration thither: but, similar to the spiritual meaning attaching to the terms hijrah and muhajir, the expression and transcends its purely historical connotation and applies to all believers who aid and give comfort to “those who flee from evil unto God”.
79 I.e., those Muslims who, for some reason or other, remain outside the political jurisdiction of the Muslim state. Since not every non-Muslim country is necessarily a “domain of evil”, I am rendering the phrase wa-lam yuhajiru as “without having migrated [to your country]”.
80 Lit., “to succour them in religion”: implying that they are exposed to persecution on account of their religious beliefs.
81 I.e., a treaty of alliance or of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. Since in such cases an armed intervention of the Islamic state in behalf of the Muslim citizens of a non-Muslim state would constitute a breach of treaty obligations, the Islamic state is not allowed to seek redress by force. A solution of the problem could conceivably be brought about by negotiations between the two states or, alternatively, by an emigration of the persecuted Muslims.
82 The fact of their being bent on denying the truth of the divine message constitutes, as it were, a common denominator between them, and precludes the possibility of their ever being real friends to the believers. This refers; of course, to relations between communities, and not necessarily between individuals: hence my rendering of the term awliya’, in this context, as “allies”.
83 See note 5 on verse 4 of this surah.
84 Although the expression alladhina amanu (lit., “those who have come to believe”) is in the past tense, the words min ba’d (“afterwards” or “henceforth”) indicate a future time in relation to the time at which this verse was revealed: hence, the whole sentence beginning with alladhina amanu must be understood as referring to the future (Manor X, 134 f.; see also Razi’s commentary on this verse).
85 I.e., they, too, shall belong to the brotherhood of Islam, in which the faith held in common supplies the decisive bond between believer and believer.
86 The classical commentators are of the opinion that this last clause refers to actual family relations, as distinct from the spiritual brotherhood based on a community of faith. According to these commentators, the above sentence abolished the custom which was prevalent among the early Muslims, whereby the ansar (“the helpers” – i.e., the newly-converted Muslims of Medina) concluded, individually, symbolic ties of brotherhood with the muhajirin (“the emigrants” from Mecca), who, almost without exception, arrived at Medina in a state of complete destitution: ties of brotherhood, that is, which entitled every muhajir to a share in the property of his “brother” from among the ansar, and, in the event of the tatter’s death, to a share in the inheritance left by him. The above verse is said to have prohibited such arrangements by stipulating that only actual close relations should henceforth have a claim to inheritance. To my mind, however, this interpretation is not convincing. Although the expression ulu ‘l-arham is derived from the noun rahm (also spelt rihm and rahim), which literally signifies “womb”, one should not forget that it is tropically used in the sense of “kinship”, “relationship” or “close relationship” in general (i.e., not merely blood-relationship). Thus, “in the classical language, ulu ‘l-arham means any relations: and in law, any relations that have no portion [of the inheritances termed fara’id]” (Lane III, 1056, citing, among other authorities, the Taj al-‘Arus). In the present instance, the reference to “close relations” comes at the end of a passage which centres on the injunction that the believers must be “the friends and protectors (awliya’) of one another”, and that all later believers shall, similarly, be regarded as members of the Islamic brotherhood. If the reference to “close relations” were meant to be taken in its literal sense and conceived as alluding to laws of inheritance, it would be quite out of tune with the rest of the passage, which stresses the bonds of faith among true believers, as well as the moral obligations arising from these bonds. In my opinion, therefore, the above verse has no bearing on laws of inheritance, but is meant to summarize, as it were, the lesson of the preceding verses: All true believers, of all times, form one single community in the deepest sense of this word; and all who are thus closely related in spirit have the highest claim on one another in accordance with God’s decree that “all believers are brethren” (49:10).” [4]

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References:

[1] Tafsir Ibn Kathir reports: “…(O people! Allah has made you prevail over them, and only yesterday, they were your brothers.) `Umar again stood up and said, `O Allah’s Messenger! Cut off their necks.’ The Prophet ignored him and asked the same question again and he repeated the same answer. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq stood up and said, `O Allah’s Messenger! I think you should pardon them and set them free in return for ransom.’ Thereupon the grief on the face of Allah’s Messenger vanished. He pardoned them and accepted ransom for their release.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, commentary on 8:67) http://www.alim.org/library/quran/AlQuran-tafsir/TIK/8/67
[2] The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Text With English Translation & Short Commentary By Malik Ghulam Farid, page 371 – 375
[3] The Holy Quran Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction [Year 2002 Edition] by Maulana Muhammad Ali, page 392 – 394
[4] The Message of The Quran translated and explained by Muhammad Asad, page 360 – 366
http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/private/cmje/religious_text/The_Message_of_The_Quran__by_Muhammad_Asad.pdf

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