Surah Al-Anfal, Ayah’s 20-28
20 O ye who believe! obey Allah and his apostle and turn not away from him when ye hear (him speak).
21 Nor be like those who say “we hear” but listen not:
22 For the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are the deaf and the dumb those who understand not.
23 If Allah had found in them any good He would indeed have made them listen; (as it is) if He had made them listen they would but have turned back and declined (faith).
24 O ye who believe! give your response to Allah and His apostle when He calleth you to that which will give you life; and know that Allah cometh in between a man and his heart and that it is He to whom Ye shall (all) be gathered.
25 And fear tumult or oppression which affecteth not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong and know that Allah is strict in punishment.
26 Call to mind when ye were a small (band) despised through the land and afraid that men might despoil and kidnap you; but He provided a safe asylum for you strengthened you with his aid and gave you good things for sustenance: that ye might be grateful.
27 O ye that believe! betray not the trust of Allah and the apostle nor misappropriate knowingly things entrusted to you.
28 And know ye that your possessions and your progeny are but a trial; and that it is Allah with whom lies your highest reward.
A.21 There are two points to note.
(1) Note that after Allah and His Messenger are mentioned, the pronoun and verb in the next clause are singular: everything that Allah’s Messenger put forward as an injunction came by inspiration from Allah: the Messenger made his will coincide completely with Allah’s will.
(2) We are asked actively to give our response in deed and life to the call of duty and conscience, for that call leads to real life, the life eternal, even though it may apparently mean in this world the loss of things that make life dear or the loss of life itself. If we refer this to Jihad, i.e., fighting in and for the Cause, both literally and metaphorically, the meaning becomes quite clear.
A.22 If the human heart is refractory and refuses to obey the call of Allah, that is not the end of the matter. Allah has to be reckoned with.
A.23 The refusal may be because there was some pet human scheme which the heart of man was not willing to give up for Allah’s Cause. Will that scheme come to fruition by refusing to serve the higher Cause?
By no means. Man proposes, but God disposes.
If the scheme or motive was perfectly secret from men, it was not secret from Allah. The heart is the innermost seat of man’s affections and desires: but Allah intervenes between man and his heart.
A.25 Fitna has many meanings:
(1) the root meaning is trial or temptation
(2) an analogous meaning is trial or punishment
(3) tumult or oppression
(4) the further shade of meaning suggested, discord, sedition, civil war.
This warning against internal discord or tumult was very necessary in the Civil Wars of early Islam, and was never more necessary than it is now. For it affects innocent and guilty alike.
A.26 On the immediate occasion the Muslims were reminded that they were a small band in Makkah despised and rejected; living in a state of insecurity for their persons, their lives, their property, and those of their dependents, persecuted and exiled and how by the grace of Allah they found a safe asylum in Madinah how they found friends and helpers, how their many needs were cared for, and how at length they gathered strength and numbers enough to defeat the forces of godlessness, injustice, and oppression.
A.27 Trusts may be of various kinds:
(1) property, goods, credit.
(2) plans, confidences, secrets.
(3) knowledge, talents, opportunities.
which we are expected to use for our fellowmen. Men may betray the trust of Allah and His Prophet by misusing property, or abusing the confidence reposed in them, or the knowledge or talents given to them.
On that special occasion, when the plans for the protection of Allah’s worshippers against annihilation were of special importance, the Prophet’s trust and confidence had to be guarded with special care.
Occasions for scrupulously respecting the trust and confidence of our fellow-men occur every day in our life, and few of us can claim perfection in this respect. Hence the special distinction of the Prophet of Allah, who earned the title of Al-Amin, the one who was true to every trust reposed in him.
A.28 A big family with many sons was considered a source of power and strength: iii. 10, 116. So in English, a man with many children is said to have his “quiver full”: Cf. Psalms, cxxvii. 4-5:
“As arrows are in the hands of a mighty man, so are the children of thy youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” So with property and possessions: they add to a man’s dignity, power, and influence.
Both possessions and a large family are a temptation and a trial. They may turn out to be a source of spiritual downfall, if they are mishandled, or if the love of them excludes the love of Allah.