8:1 THEY ask you regarding voluntary gifts. Say: “Voluntary gifts belong to Allāh and the Rasūl. So revere Allah and make peace among yourselves, and obey Allāh and His Rasūl if you be Believers.”
8:1 The word anfāl (pl.), derived from root word nafal, has multiple meanings, each bearing a sense of voluntary act not commanded, therefore, not binding, e.g. supererogatory performance (voluntary prayer or salāt al-Nafl), voluntary gifts or willful gifts, spoils or booty of wars. The meanings of two other words fai’ (59:6) and ghanimah (8:41; 48:15) bear close connection with the meaning of anfāl, in the sense that they have ‘war’ as common denominator. Fai’ denotes acquisition of leftover materials from fleeing enemy without one’s laboring for it, whereas ghanimah, as can be seen later in this sūrah, denotes acquisition of spoils after actually fighting a battle (v. 69). Therefore, the word anfāl, used with reference to the battle of Badr, construe its literal meaning of voluntary gifts or contribution obtained without pain. Such contribution belongs to Allāh and the Rasūl, the Messenger, who is the trustee for the cause of Allāh. The collection, therefore, was utilized for the benefit of common interest of the Muslims. No individual warrior had any legal claim on the booty obtained effortlessly without a war. The verse was revealed during the battle of Badr to distinguish the meaning anfāl with that of other loot obtained from actual battle. Although contemporary audience understood the meaning, it confused many commentators of the Qur’ān, when they believed the verse was abrogated by 8:41 revealed later. Far from being abrogated, 8:41 elaborates the distribution of ghanimah, which by definition is a different matter. Even if the ruling of 8:41 is lavishly interpreted to cover anfāl, it remains that such contributions belong to Allāh and the Rasūl, to be distributed as determined by them. The principle enunciated by this or any other verse was not limited for a short period in time, rather applied to all times and circumstances. Whether the Qur’ān has abrogated any of its verses is entirely different issue, discussed in notes to 2:106 and 16:10.