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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

8. Battle Gains (1 – 25)

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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