Sura al-Anfal

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This article is an introduction to the Sura al-Anfal; to read its text see text:Sura al-Anfal.
Sura al-Anfal
Sura Number8
Juz'9 and 10
Revelation Number88
Verse Count75
Word Count1244
Letter Count5388\

Sūra al-Anfāl (Arabic: سورة الأنفال) the eighth Quranic sura and one of the Medinan suras, located in the ninth and tenth juz' of the Qur'an. The sura was named so because of the use of the word "anfal" in its first verse.

Sura al-Anfal explains the rulings related to the spoils of war, common wealth, khums, jihad, the duties of the soldiers, right behavior towards the captives, the necessity of military preparedness, and the signs of believers.

The Peace Verse and the Divine Help Verse are counted among the well-known verses of Sura al-Anfal. Moreover, the Anfal Verse, the Khums Verse, and Ulu l-arham Verse (the verse regarding close kin) are among the verses of rulings of this sura.

On the merits of Sura Anfal, it is reported that the heart of the person who recites this sura will be immune to hypocrisy.


  • Naming

This sura is called al-Anfal, because the word "anfal" (spoils of war/public wealth) is used twice in its first verse.[1] The sura is also called Badr, because it was revealed on the occasion of the battle of Badr[2] when, according to some commentators, some disagreement appeared among the Muslims over the distribution of the spoils of the battle.[3] It is also called Sura al-Jihad, because after its revelation, the Prophet (s) would order the soldiers to recite it in battles.[4]

  • Order and Place of Revelation

Sura al-Anfal is among the Medinan suras and is believed to have been the eighty eighth sura revealed to the Prophet (s). In the current order of the Qur'an, it is the eighth sura and placed in the ninth and tenth juz' of the Qur'an.[5]

Sura al-Anfal was revealed after Qur'an 2 and before Qur'an 3.[6]

  • Number of Verses and Other Characteristics

Sura al-Anfal has seventy five verses, 1244 words, and 5388 letters. Size-wise, it is one of the Mathani Suras, approximately occupying one-half of a juz'.[7]

The fact that there is no bismillah between Sura al-Anfal and Qur'an 9 has led some scholars to regard the two suras as one sura[8] and call them Qarinatayn (the two comrades).[9]


The main purpose of Sura al-Anfal is explaining the conditions with which the believers would receive divine help.[10]

According to Tafsir-i Nimuna, the summary of the contents of the sura is as follows:

  • Financial matters, including the spoils of war
  • The battle of Badr and its lessons
  • The characteristics of the believers
  • The rulings of jihad and the duties of the Muslims toward the enemy
  • The Prophet's migration to Medina and laylat al-mabit
  • The state of the polytheists and their superstitions before Islam
  • The rulings of khums and how it has to be distributed
  • The necessity of military, social, and political preparedness for jihad in every time and place
  • The superiority of the Muslims over the enemy despite the former's lower number
  • The rulings regarding the captives and the right behavior toward them
  • Making a pact with the polytheists and fulfilling it
  • Fighting with the hypocrites and how to recognize them[11]
Content of Sura al-Anfal[12]
Duties of believers in the battle against the enemy
First duty: verses 1-14
Readiness to fight against the enemy
Second duty: verses 15-19
Remaining in the battleground
Third duty: verses 20-26
Fully obeying the commands of the Prophet (s)
Fourth duty: verses 27-28
Not disclosing classified military information
Fifth duty: verses 29-44
Trust in God's support for the righteous
Sixth duty: verses 45-54
Remembering God and refraining from selfishness
Seventh duty: verses 55-64
Being alert to those who violate their pacts
Eighth duty: verses 65-71
Refraining from captivating anyone during the battle
ninth duty: verses 72-75
Responsibility towards other believers
First issue: verses 1-4
Reluctance of some believers to accept the ruling of the spoils of the battle
First issue: verses 15-16
Never leave the battleground except to find a better location to fight
First issue: verses 20-23
Obeying the Prophet (s) is a sign of faith
First issue: verse 27
Betraying the Prophet (s) is betraying oneself
First issue: verse 29
God's care for the righteous
First issue: verses 45-46
Calling the believer to God-centeredness
First issue: verses 55-56
Those who violate their pacts are the worst people
First issue: verses 65-66
The role of faith in increasing military power
First issue: verses 72-73
The responsibility of believers towards each other
Second issue: verses 5-14
Reluctance of some believers to participate in the battle of Badr
Second issue: verses 17-18
God's support for the believers in the battleground
Second issue: verses 24-25
Obeying the Prophet (s) is a cause of life
Second issue: verse 28
Do not betray the Prophet (s) to protect your wealth or family
Second issue: verses 30-37
The failure of the unbelievers’ conspiracies by the help of God
Second issue: verses 47-49
The believer's duty to refrain from following the unbelievers and hypocrites
Second issue: verse 57
Ordering the Prophet (s) to punish the violators of the pacts
Second issue: verses 67-69
Refraining from captivating anyone during the battle for worldly purposes
Second issue: verses 74-75
Caring for the new Muslims
Third issue: verse 19
God's asserting His power to the polytheists
Third issue: verse 26
The power of the believers is in following God’s religion
Third issue: verses 38-41
The believer’s duty to earn God’s support
Third issue: verses 50-54
The fate of hostility towards God’s religion
Third issue: verses 58-59
Ordering the Prophet (s) to end his pact with the violators
Third issue: verses 70-71
Inviting the captives to Islam
Fourth issue: verses 42-44
Three examples of God's support for the believers
Fourth issue: verse 60
The instruction to increase Muslim military power
Fifth issue: verses 61-64
The instruction to accept peace proposals

Historical Context

Sura al-Anfal was revealed in 2 AH after the victory of the Muslims in the battle of Badr. This is why several verses in this sura point to the supernatural helps of God and the events that led to victory in this battle.[13]

Occasion of Revelation of Some Verses

Solving the problems related to the actual incidents that happened in the battle of Badr led to the revelation of some verses of Sura al-Anfal.

Distribution of the Spoils of the Battle

Ibn Abbas is reported to have said that in the battle of Badr the Prophet (s) assigned each person to a particular task and vehemently warned against disobedience. During the battle, the youth went forth and the elderly remained under the flags. When the enemy was defeated, the youth said "The spoils belong to us, because we defeated the enemy." In contrast, the elderly said, "We protected the Prophet (s), and we would have protected you if you had been defeated, so we have our share in the spoils." It was in this context that the first verse of Sura al-Anfal was revealed: "They ask you concerning the anfal. Say, ‘The anfal belong to Allah and the Apostle,’"[14] which gave the control of the spoils of the battle to the Prophet (s), and he distributed them equally.[15]

The Miraculous Defeat of the Polytheists

According to a report, right before the battle of Badr, Gabriel told the Prophet (s) to take a handful of soil and throw it towards the polytheists. When the two armies faced each other, the Prophet (s) did so and while throwing the soil, said, "Let these faces be ugly and deformed!" It is reported that the soil hit the eyes and mouth of the enemy, and the Muslims attacked and defeated them. When the polytheists were defeated, verse seventeen of Sura al-Anfal was revealed: "[Y]ou did not throw when you threw, rather it was Allah who threw,"[16] pointing to the throwing of soil by the Prophet (s) towards the enemy.[17]

Betraying God and the Prophet (s)

Jabir b. Abd Allah al-Ansari is reported to have said that verse twenty seven of Sura al-Anfal: "O you who have faith! Do not betray Allah and the Apostle, and do not betray your trusts knowingly"[18] was revealed regarding the hypocrites who informed Abu Sufyan of the intention of the Prophet (s) and caused the former to flee with his caravan.[19]

According to some scholars, this verse was revealed regarding Abu Lubaba al-Ansari, who, in the confrontation between the Muslims and the Jews of Banu Qurayza, informed the latter of the intention of the Prophet (s) to act upon the judgment of Sa'd b. Mu'adh.[20]

Ransoming the Captives of Badr

According to Ibn Abbas, verse seventy of Sura al-Anfal was revealed with regard to him, Aqil, and Nawfal b. Harth when they were captivated in the battle of Badr. Ibn Abbas had brought 150 mithqal of gold for the expenses of the Polytheists' army, and the whole amount was taken by the Muslims among the spoils of the battle. Ibn Abbas says, I told the apostle of God to accept the gold as my ransom, but the Prophet (s) said, "That is what you brought for the [expenses] of the battle. You have to pay Aqil's and your ransom [from a different source]." I told him, "If I do that, I will become a beggar for the rest of my life." But the Prophet (s) said, "Before the battle you left some gold with Umm Fadl, so you will not become a beggar." When the Prophet (s) said that, something no one knew about, I realized that he was a prophet and truthful, so I converted to Islam, and later God gave me immense wealth in return for that amount of Gold, and I seek my Lord's forgiveness.[21]

Well-Known Verses

Some of the verses of this sura, such as Peace Verse and Divine Help Verse, are among the well-known verses of the Qur'an.

Verse 2

The second verse of this sura, together with the third verse, mentions five virtues of believers, having which is considered to be a sign of having true faith and all virtues.[22]

The First three characteristics have to do with one's internal and spiritual state, and the two others have to do with one's relationship with God and His creation.[24]

Verse 24

This verse calls the believers to respond to God and His apostle when he calls them to that which brings them life.[25] Al-Tabrisi has mentioned four possibilities for the meaning:

  • Responding to God is by jihad, and life means martyrdom, because martyrs are living near their Lord.
  • What is meant is responding by accepting the call to faith, because faith is the life of the heart and unbelief is its death.
  • It is the Qur'an and religious knowledge that gives life. The Qur'an provides the means to achieve true life and salvation.
  • The verse is inviting people to Paradise, where they can have eternal life.[26]

Verse 61

Verse sixty one of Sura al-Anfal is known as the Peace Verse.[27] In this verse, God commanded the Prophet (s) to accept peace proposals even from those who had violated their treaties, such as Banu Qurayza and Banu al-Nadir.[28] This verse shows that Islam is in principle a religion of peace.[29]

Verse 62

In this verse, which is called the Divine Help Verse,[30] God tells the Prophet (s) not to be worried, because He will suffice him with His help and the help of the believers.[31] In a hadith reported in Sunni sources, Abu Hurayra says, "It is written on the Throne, ‘There is no god but Allah alone, who has no partners. Muhammad is my servant and apostle, and I supported him with Ali son of Abu Talib.’[32]

Verses of the Rulings

Jurists have inferred some rulings from Sura al-Anfal, such as the rulings of the spoils of war from verse 1, the ritual purification capability of water from verse 11, rulings of jihad from verses 15, 57, 60, 66, and 67, and rulings of khums from verse 41. In the below table, the legal verses of Sura al-Anfal are mentioned:

Number Verse Chapter Subject
1 They ask you concerning the anfaal. Say, ‘The anfaal belong to Allah and the Apostle.’ ... Khums Those who are entitled to the spoils of war
11 ... and He sent down water from the sky to purify you with it,... Tahara The purification capability of water
15-16 O you who have faith! When you encounter the faithless advancing [for battle], do not turn your backs [to flee] from them.... Jihad Military preparedness
27 O you who have faith! Do not betray Allah and the Apostle, and do not betray your trusts... Trust Preserving the trusts
38 Say to the faithless, if they cease [their belligerence against the Muslims], what is already past shall be forgiven them. But if they resume [their hostilities], then the precedent of the predecessors has already come to pass. Worships The infidels are obliged to do divine duties
41 Know that whatever thing you may come by, a fifth of it is for Allah and the Apostle, for the relatives and the orphans, for the needy... Khums Khums and where it needs to be spent
57 So if you confront them in battle, treat them [in such a wise] as to disperse those who are behind them, so that they may take admonition... Jihad How to deal with the unbelievers
60 Prepare against them whatever you can of [military] power and war-horses, awing thereby the enemy of Allah, and your enemy,... Jihad Military preparedness
66 Now Allah has lightened your burden, knowing that there is weakness in you... Jihad Escaping from the battle
67 A prophet may not take captives until he has thoroughly decimated [the enemy] in the land... Jihad The rulings of the captives
69 Avail yourselves of the spoils you have taken as lawful and good,... Jihad The fact that all combatants have a share in the spoils
72 Indeed those who have believed and migrated and waged jihad with their possessions and persons in the way of Allah, and those who gave [them] shelter and help... Jihad Other rulings of jihad
75 ...but the blood relatives are more entitled to inherit from one another in the Book of Allah... Inheritance Some rulings of inheritance

Merits and Benefits

It is reported that the Prophet (s) said, "I shall intercede on the Day of Judgment for him who recites Sura al-Anfal and Qur'an 9 (Sura al-Tawba). He will be far from hypocrisy, and for each male and female hypocrite in this world ten righteous deeds will be written for him, ten of his sins will be forgiven, he will be promoted ten degrees, and the Throne and its bearers will salute him as long as he lives in this world."[33]

Imam al-Sadiq (a) is also reported to have said, "He who recites Sura al-Anfal and Sura al-Tawba hypocrisy will never find a way to his heart, and he will be among the true Shi'a of Amir al-Mu'minin (a)."[34]

In Tafsir al-Burhan, it is reported that reciting Sura al-Anfal results in victory over enemies and paying the debts. [35]Monthly recitation of this sura is also considered to be emphatically recommended.[36]


  1. Ṣafawī, Sūra Anfāl, p. 697
  2. Siyūṭī, Al-Itqān, vol. 1, p. 197.
  3. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 2, p. 795.
  4. Ṭabarī, Tārikh Ṭabarī, vol. 3, p. 199.
  5. Maʿrifat, Āmūzish-i ʿulūm-i Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 166.
  6. Ḥusaynīzāda wa Khāmagar, Sūra Anfāl, p. 24
  7. Khurramshāhī, Sūra Anfāl, p. 1238.
  8. Ālūsī, Rawḥ al-ma'ānī, vol. 10, p. 230.
  9. Siyūṭī, Al-Dur al-manthūr, vol. 4, p. 120.
  10. Ḥusaynīzāda wa Khāmagar, Sūra Anfāl, p. 26
  11. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 77-78.
  12. Khamagar, Muhammad, Sakhtar-i suraha-yi Qur'an-i karim, Mu'assisa-yi Farhangi-yi Qur'an wa 'Itrat-i Nur al-Thaqalayn, Qom: Nashra, ed.1, 1392 Sh.
  13. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 9, p. 5.
  14. Sura al-Anfal, verse 1
  15. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 4, p. 796. Wāḥidī, Asbāb nuzūl al-Qurān, p. 235. Muḥaqiq, Nimuna-yi bayyināt dar sha'n-i nuzūl-i ayāt, p. 365.
  16. Sura al-Anfal, verse 17
  17. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 4, p. 814.
  18. Sura al-Anfal, verse 27
  19. Ṭūsī, al-Tibyān, vol. 5, p. 106.
  20. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 4, p. 823; Wāḥidī, Asbāb nuzūl al-Qurān, p. 238.
  21. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 4, p. 860; Wāḥidī, Asbāb nuzūl al-Qurān, p. 245.
  22. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 9, p. 11.
  23. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 9, p. 11.
  24. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 86.
  25. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 127.
  26. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 4, p. 820
  27. Maʿrifat, al-Tamhīd, vol. 2, p. 355.
  28. Abu l-Futūḥ Rāzī,Rawḍ al-jinān, vol. 9, p. 143; Ṣadiqī Tehranī, al-Furqān, vol. 12, p. 278.
  29. Qurashī Banā'yī, Aḥsan al-Ḥadīth, vol. 4, p. 160.
  30. 'Allāma al-Ḥillī, Nahj al-ḥaq, p. 185.
  31. Khurāsānī, Ayāt-i nāmdār, p. 405.
  32. Muttaqī Hindī, Kanz al-'ummāl, vol. 11, p. 624.
  33. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 5, p. 6.
  34. Ṣadūq, Thawāb al-aʿmāl, p. 106 and 237.
  35. Baḥrānī, al-Burhān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 639.
  36. Kāshif al-Ghitā', Kashf al-ghitā', vol. 3, p. 471.


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