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Monday, July 25, 2022

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Sura 8, 'The Spoils of War', an excerpt from 'The Critical Quran' by Robert Spencer.

The Koran is the problem.

by Ferdinand III


 

Sura 8 or ‘The Spoils of War’ is a chapter devoted to the Muslim Jihad, which is not a ‘spiritual’ struggle, but simply a campaign of endless war until the earth is subdued for the Al Lah idol of Mecca, and his only true spokesman, the illiterate Bedouin Arab Muhammad.  Muslimophiles will studiously avoid this chapter (and most of Chapters 2, 5, and 9), given the obvious declarations of intolerance, timeless war, and depredations against the non-Muslim Infidel.  This chapter dates from the second year of the ‘Medinan’ period (fleeing from Mecca) and the ‘second part’ of Muhammad’s career namely that as brigand, war-leader, exterminator.  This Sura was ‘revealed’ to Muhammad after the Battle of Badr, a Muslim victory over the Meccan forces and Muhammad’s own tribe the Quraysh, in 624 A.D.  If the Quraysh had defeated Muhammad’s small force (maybe some 300 men against 1000 or so of the Quraysh), then the cult of Muhammad would have died in its infancy. 

This Sura is translated into English here (Translated by Yusuf Ali, a fanatical Muslim apologist, so there is no ‘mistranslations’ which so bemuse Muslimophiles when discussing problematic texts).  The excerpts below are from Robert Spencer’s book with explanations on key verses provided by Spencer in italics.  The verses listed are not obviously comprehensive but selected for importance.  This link can be used to read the translation of all the verses in this chapter which are not copied out in their entirety. 

Verse 1: Muhammad and Al-Lah need the spoils of war as an obligation

They ask you about the spoils of war. Say, The spoils of war belong to Allah and the messenger, so keep your duty to Allah, and settle your differences, and obey Allah and his messenger, if you are believers. Islamic tradition holds that there was great booty for the victors at Badr, so much that it became a bone of contention among the Muslims. According to the story, Muhammad was receiving questions about the disposal of the booty, and Allah responds by telling them that its distribution is up to the messenger.

Verse 5: Jihad is an obligation

Allah refers to various incidents that took place before and during the battle, emphasizing that he commands warfare and protects the believers in it. The true believers were willing to go out of their homes to wage jihad warfare, but some disliked doing so and complained. This echoes 2:216.

Verse 9: Angels help Muslims in battle

When you asked for help from your Lord and he answered you, I will help you with a thousand angels, rank on rank. The thousand angels that joined the Muslims to smite the Quraysh are an indication that Allah fights alongside the righteous, and thus righteousness is a prerequisite for victory.

Verse 12: Al Lah will use terror against the enemies of Muhammadanism

When your Lord inspired the angels, I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then strike the necks and strike their fingertips.  This verse became one of the chief justifications for the Islamic practice of beheading hostages and war captives. Ibn Kathir explains that the angels are instruments of Allah’s wrath who are to “support the believers, strengthen their (battle) front against their enemies, thus, implementing My command to you. I will cast fear, disgrace and humiliation over those who defied My command and denied My Messenger.”

Verse 13: Al Lah punishes any who don’t follow Muhammad

That is because they opposed Allah and his messenger. Whoever opposes Allah and his messenger; indeed, Allah is severe in punishment.

Verse 14, 15: Unbelievers go to Hell, why Green is the colour of the Muslim flag

So taste that, and that for unbelievers is the torment of the fire. O you who believe, when you meet those who disbelieve in battle, do not turn your backs on them. The Muslims must always advance, never turning their backs on the enemy, unless they do so as a stratagem of war. This is why the colour green is featured on the flags of so many Islamic nations: Islam is and must be ever expanding, always experiencing a springtime, never losing ground or withering and dying.

Verse 16:  Jihad is an obligation, don’t turn back from conflict

Whoever turns his back on them on that day, unless he is manoeuvring for battle or intent on joining a company, he indeed has incurred wrath from Allah, and his dwelling place will be Gehenna, an evil destination. On Gehenna, see 2:206, as also for 8:36-7.

Verse 17:  It is Al Lah who is really doing the fighting

You did not kill them, but Allah killed them. And you did not throw when you threw, but Allah threw, so that he might test the believers with a fair test from him. Indeed, Allah is the hearer, the knower. Allah tells the messenger that the Muslims were merely passive instruments at Badr. At one point, according to Ibn Hisham, Muhammad threw pebbles toward the Quraysh, exclaiming: “Foul be those faces!” But it was Allah who killed the Quraysh and even Allah who threw the pebbles.

Verse 30: Al Lah’s ‘plan’ includes War against the Unbelievers

And when those who disbelieve plot against you, to wound you fatally, or to kill you or to drive you out, they scheme, but Allah schemes, and Allah is the best of schemers. Here again, the idea is reinforced that the battles of the Muslims are more than just earthly conflicts but elaborations of Allah’s plan. Allah is also depicted as a schemer or plotter at 3:54, 7:99, and 10:21.

Verse 39: Fight all Infidels until Muslims control the world

And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah. But if they stop, then indeed, Allah is the seer of what they do. According to numerous Islamic authorities, the statement that Muslims must fight until there is no more persecution (fitna) means that they must fight “so that there is no more Shirk.” For shirk, see 2:193, 4:31, and 6:21. The Tafsir al-Jalalayn explains that the fight must continue until “only He is worshipped.” The popular twentieth-century Saudi Tafsir as-Sadi states: “This is the goal of fighting and jihad against the enemies of the faith; it is to ward off their evil from the faith and to defend the religion of Allah, Who created people to follow this path, so that it will be supreme over all other religions.” This is thus an open-ended declaration of warfare against non-Muslims and assumes that non-Muslim religious observance in itself constitutes “persecution.” The idea that Islam will prevail over all other religions is additionally at 2:193, 9:33, and 61:9.

Verse 41: Spoils of war for Muhammad and the Al Lah

And know that whatever you take as spoils of war, indeed, a fifth of it is for Allah, and for the messenger and for the relatives and orphans and the needy and the traveller, if you believe in Allah and what we revealed to our slave on the day of furqan, the day when the two armies met. And Allah is able to do all things. An Islamic tradition amplifies this with an account of Muhammad’s generosity: After one battle, Muhammad prayed “facing a camel from the war booty,” and then, holding some of the camel’s hair between his fingers, said to his men: “This is also a part of the war booty you earned. Verily, I have no share in it, except my own share, the fifth designated to me. Even that fifth will be given to you.” Muhammad continued by exhorting the Muslims to turn over all the spoils of war to him for just distribution: “Therefore, surrender even the needle and the thread, and whatever is bigger or smaller than that (from the war spoils). Do not cheat with any of it, for stealing from the war booty before its distribution is Fire and a shame on its people in this life and the Hereafter. Perform Jihad against the people in Allah’s cause, whether they are near or far, and do not fear the blame of the blamers, as long as you are in Allah’s cause. Establish Allah’s rules while in your area and while traveling. Perform Jihad in Allah’s cause, for Jihad is a tremendous door….

Verse 50 and 51: Angels strike those who disbelieve

If you could see how the angels receive those who disbelieve, striking faces and their backs and, Taste the punishment of burning. 51 This is for what your own hands have sent before, and Allah is not a tyrant to his slaves,

Verse 55: Unbelievers are the worst of animals

Indeed, the worst of animals in Allah’s sight are the ungrateful who will not believe. This equation of unbelievers with animals is another indication that unbelievers are worthy of no respect or consideration. See also 98:6.

Verse 57 and 58: Unbelievers are treacherous

If you come upon them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, so that perhaps they may remember. 58 And if you fear treachery from any people, then throw it back to them fairly. Indeed, Allah does not love the treacherous. If the Muslims “fear treachery” from unbelievers with whom they have a treaty, they should simply break the treaty. Ibn Kathir says this means that Muslims should tell the unbelievers “that you are severing the treaty. This way, you will be on equal terms, in that, you and they will be aware that a state of war exists between you and that the bilateral peace treaty is null and void.”

Verse 60: Strike terror into non-Muslims

Make ready for them all that you can of force and of warhorses, so that by them you may strike terror in the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others beside them whom you do not know. Allah knows them. Whatever you spend in the way of Allah, it will be repaid to you in full, and you will not be wronged. This is the Qur’an’s third mention of the imperative to strike terror in the unbelievers. See 3:151 and 8:12.

Verse 65: Believers must fight even if the enemy is more numerous

O prophet, exhort the believers to fight. If there are just twenty of you who are steadfast, they will overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you, they will overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people without intelligence. Allah will give pious Muslims more victories, even if they face odds even more prohibitive than those they had overcome at Badr, although this promise is almost immediately backtracked: originally a hundred would defeat a thousand unbelievers, but this is then reduced to a hundred believers vanquishing two hundred unbelievers (8:66). These became recurring themes of jihad literature throughout the centuries, up to the present day: piety will bring military victory, and the Muslims will conquer even against overwhelming odds.

Verse 67:  Slaughter first, take captives and slaves later (in other words earn the right to own slaves)

It is not for any prophet to have captives until he has made slaughter in the land. You desire the lure of this world, and Allah desires the hereafter, and Allah is mighty, wise. According to the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, this verse was revealed “when ransom was accepted for the captives at Badr.” The Muslims had released some of the prisoners at Badr, but this was out of their base desire for material gain: the money they would receive in ransom. The tafsir continues: “You (believers) desire the goods of this world – the money you accepted as ransom – whereas Allah desires the reward of the Next World for you through fighting the unbelievers.”  The Muslims should therefore have given up the prospect of gaining worldly goods and simply killed their captives, which would have brought the Muslims the rewards of paradise.

Verse 72: Waging Jihad will grant you a reward

Indeed, those who believed and left their homes and waged jihad with their wealth and their lives for the sake of Allah, and those who took them in and helped them, these people are protecting friends one of another. And those who believed but did not leave their homes, you have no duty to protect them until they leave their homes, but if they seek help from you in the matter of religion, then it is your duty to help, except against a people between whom and you there is a treaty. Allah is the seer of what you do. On “jihad,” see 2:218, as also for 8:74.

These are only some verses advocating war against the ‘worst of animals’ the Unbelieving Kufar or Infidel.  Muhammad and his Al Lah want their share of the booty, after all it is the Al Lah and his angels which are guaranteeing victory for Muslims, with a thousand angels purportedly helping the Muslims at the Battle of Badr, allowing the small force of Muhammadans to defeat a larger enemy, and importantly, avail itself of much booty.  This would have caused debate within the Muslim ranks as to what to do with the plunder.  This chapter reveals the solution and distribution of goods and people, taken in battle.  It is clearly stated in this text that Jihad is a mandatory obligation; that Jihad to end ‘Shirk’ or disbelief is a commandment from the Al Lah, and that the terms of warfare are open-ended until all non-Muslims submit or convert.  Muslims who do not engage in Jihad, or at least support it, are impious and will be punished.  No wonder Muslimophiles avoid this chapter.


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