WAR BOOTY: The etiquette of distribution 8:41

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And know that whatever ye take as spoils of war, lo! A fifth thereof is for Allah, and for the messenger and for the kinsman (who hath need) and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if ye believe in Allah and that which We revealed unto Our slave on the Day of Discrimination, the day when the two armies met. And Allah is Able to do all things. (41)

۞ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّمَا غَنِمۡتُم مِّن شَىۡءٍ۬ فَأَنَّ لِلَّهِ خُمُسَهُ ۥ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِى ٱلۡقُرۡبَىٰ وَٱلۡيَتَـٰمَىٰ وَٱلۡمَسَـٰكِينِ وَٱبۡنِ ٱلسَّبِيلِ إِن كُنتُمۡ ءَامَنتُم بِٱللَّهِ وَمَآ أَنزَلۡنَا عَلَىٰ عَبۡدِنَا يَوۡمَ ٱلۡفُرۡقَانِ يَوۡمَ ٱلۡتَقَى ٱلۡجَمۡعَانِۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرٌ (٤١)

BACKGROUND
This Surah is about the Battle of Badr. The muslims were outnumbered heavily and yet they won.
Allah SWT in this surah delineates many of the etiquettes pertaining to war and Allah’s help in its outcome.

This ayah describes what is war booty (Maal e Ghanimat) and how is it to be distributed.

Tafseer by Farhat Hashmi:

LITERAL MEANING OF THE WORD:
Ghanam: Getting something without earning it, Free Booty, or Maal e Ghanimaat.

NOT THE AIM OF JIHAD
Allah SWT qualifies that Maal e Ghanimaat (War booty) is not the aim of Jihad; one does not fight for war booty.

In pre Islamic times the war booty was handled in a certain manner, which was not equitable for the society they lived in.
THE QUESTION IN THE SOLDIERS MIND:
The Muslim Arabs did not know how to handle the war booty in Badr, and this was a question in the minds of all.
HOW TO DIVIDE THE WAR BOOTY?
In this ayah Allah SWT says:
“what ever you gain in war/battle, bring it and put it in one place. Do not take it for personal use or use it before placing it in one general place. After all the war booty is collected in one place, it is to be divided into five parts:
I.    Four out of five parts will be given to the soldiers as follows: those who came on foot to fight get one part and those who brought their personal horses into battle get three, or a ratio of 1: 3 depending on if one came on foot to fight or brought their horse with them.
II. One out of five parts belongs to Allah and He gives it as follows:
One part: For RasoolAllah (PBUH), his expenses, expenses for his wives and children and to buy more horses armor etc.
One part: For the elatives of RasoolAllah (PBUH), especially Banu Hashim and Banu Mutallib
The rest of the three parts (one each): to orphans, poor/needy and travelers.”

A JUST DIVISION BENEFITING NOT ONLY THOSE WHO FOUGHT BUT ALSO THE SOCIETY AT LARGE
This division is just.  The war booty is not only being used by the soldiers as had been done in the past, but for improving society by helping the downtrodden and a smaller than usual part for the leader.
Previously the Arabs were allowed to loot every thing and the leader kept one fourth and the rest went to the soldiers.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RULES OF DISTRIBUTION OF WHAT IS GAINED IN WAR
Allah SWT attaches these commandment to emaan, thus the fair distribution of war booty becomes a part of the Muslim belief and emaan.

A REMINDER TO THOSE IN THE “HIGH” OF VICTORY
Allah SWT also underlines that ALL victory is because of Allah’s help.

THE DAY OF FURQAN
Allah SWT sent help to His messenger (Prophet Muhammad PBUH) in a battle (Badr) that demonstrated the criteria of the believers and differentiated it from the non-believers.

A BLESSING WHEN YOU GIVE……
Rasool Allah (PBUH) while giving any portion of war booty would say “this is what Allah SWT gives you in this dunya, but he has something much better waiting for you in the Hereafter”
This reminder decreases the greed in people as it reminds them that the best is yet to come.

My take:
THE ETIQUETTE OF WAR
There is etiquette for everything in the Quran even the use of what has been won in war.

THE CORE MESSAGE
The basic tenet of this ayah is that all wins and losses come from Allah SWT. We cannot win without his help and thus everything that we gain as a result of that win must be distributed according to what he has set down in the Quran.

A REMINDER
Even if Muslims have won and feel they deserve all the spoils of war Allah SWT wants to teach us:
1.    We cannot win by ourselves without His help
2.     The concept of sharing with its inherent though overtly unapparent advantages

THE LESSON:
” If we share the war booty with the less fortunate, the poor, the orphans and the needy then society becomes more equitable and a better place to live for ALL.

8 thoughts on “WAR BOOTY: The etiquette of distribution 8:41

    • Hi Deekram, men and women in those days became slaves of the conqueror. Women became chattels. Prophet Muhammad pbuh changed that status by on occasion marrying a slave, which of course was shocking to pre-islamic arabia but humanized the status of the prisoners.

  1. Dear Asqfish,
    I’ve seen religion [any] has always been misused by people and no religion could show its strength in preventing its misuse. There are very good hindus and there are equally bad Muslims and the reverse is also true. Like wise there are very good and very bad christians. Those who want to be good are good irrespective of any religion they belong to. I’ve seen people belonging to a certain religion always try to inculcate the same kind of respect in the minds of other people for their religion as they have in their minds.You too are a victim to that human weakness
    If I am not a muslim and have no faith in the basic dcoctrine of the religion, does it mean I’m not a good man????
    I don’t think you have any answer for the question: Why are large number of Hindus and Christian good and full of devotion for humanity and human values and why are all muslims not good at the same time.
    You believe a muslim religion misuser will get his due at ‘Qayamat’ but will it be the real justice to the innocent person who had a desire to live happily but had to lose his life and belongings prematurely due to the sinner.
    I don’t think it’s only Quran which can make people good. There are great altruists and philnthropes quite large in number in the world, who are non-muslims. How could this be possile for them without having read quraan? What made them good after all????
    No one chooses his religion before birth. If you belive Allah sends only the pious souls to take birth in Muslim families then who are the ones cooling their heels in multitudes in the Jails of Pakistan and other Islamic countries? Are they all NON MUSLIMS??????
    Try to understand, you like quran and the islamic traditions because you are born and brought up in that tradition. It is more of an adeptation and habit. Religion is a game of faith for no reason and rationale. It is emotional weakness that develops out of the process of our up-bringing wherein we are taught to believe things without questioning and reasoning, and we do that for not incurring the divine wrath due to disbelief. Have you seen anybody enjoying the luxuries of Jannat or enduring the pain in dozakh?? Quran ensures all gooddies to the BELIEVERS ONLY. I’ve gone through its various translations and still read carefully the urdu version by ‘Maulana Fateh Khan sahab Jalandhari’ which is very popular in India and Pakistan.
    But I must tell you one thing. I love muslims, I love Urdu. Many of them are my vey close friends. People with healthy minds will have LOVE ONLY for everyone irrespective of any religion they belong to.
    I wish there should be peace among people, there should be no fanatics only the broad minded people all around INSHA-ALLAH
    Say ‘Amin’

  2. Hello RS,
    There are great details elsewhere in the Quran of the fair and honorable treatment of the vanquished humans after war.
    Each war fought by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had a valid reason, the most important being the teaching of the etiquette to the soldiers.
    Prophet Muhammad pbuh did change the hearts and minds of people with the Message of God and continues to do so, because as is said in the Quran, he was not only sent for the arabs but as a Mercy to Mankind. The Quran is the guidebook and he (pbuh) is the teacher.

    I agree with you The term ‘Booty’may mislead negative people who exploit religion for wrongful gains”

    However negative people who exploit the words of Allah for wordly gain, will have to answer on the Day of Judgement just like the rest of us.
    The fact that everyone is accountable for his or her deeds and will get the reward or Punishment for it in accordance to the depth of his misdeed or good deed is the promise of Allah.
    Everything that we want is not attainable in this world, and we have to earn the future in the Hereafter for the best.
    We are only responsible for our own behavior and answerable for it on the Final Day.
    I am just a humble student.
    Allah knows best.

  3. The provision of going of a part of the war booty to the Prophet and his relatives gives the idea as if the religion was under a proprietorship in those days.
    God would have given him easy victory by changing the minds of the contenders without raising the condition of battle or war, since he was His messenger. Any war always causes many innocent people to suffer. The term ‘Booty’may mislead negative people who exploit religion for wrongful gains.

  4. hey i asked for ur email :/,is there any way i can contact you? will u add me? i want solution to my problems in light of quran/islam,its something personal so i feel uncomfortable here.

    thanks.

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