Question: Give an explanation of the meaning behind the words of the Almighty Allah:
"O you who have believed, when you encounter a company [from the enemy forces], stand firm and remember Allah much that you may be successful. And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient".
(The Holy Quran, Chapter 8. "Spoils Of War", verses 45-46)
Reply: (Taken from the Tafseer of Sheikh Abu Abdullah Mustafa bin al-Adawi) Sheikh al-Adawi said:
"This is an appeal to those who hold tight to their faith in Allah, and an explanation as to what they should do when they meet His enemy.
Allah Almighty says:
"O you who have believed, when you encounter a company from the enemy forces (a military unit belonging to the unbelievers with whom you are at war), stand firm (standing in front of them, not showing cowardice and not running away) and remember Allah much that you may be successful (to have achieved that which you have desired; defeating your enemy and having victory over them). And obey Allah and His Messenger (as He has commanded you), and do not dispute and thus lose courage - (show cowardice when you meet your enemy) and then your strength would depart (you will lose strength and you will start to fragment); and be patient (when you meet the enemy). Indeed, Allah is with the patient (He supports them, gives them strength and assists them)".
Al-Tabari, may Allah have mercy on him, said:
"This explanation is from Allah, praise be to Him, sent to those who have faith, telling of how one should conduct themselves while in battle with their enemies from among the unbelievers, and what actions are needed to be taken in order to be victorious over them.
Almighty Allah, praise be to Him, said:
"O you who have believed " - truly believed in Allah and His Messenger, "when you encounter a company from the enemy forces" - a military unit belonging to the unbelievers with whom you are at war and in battle, stand firm and unwavering in battle with them, and do not show weakness (do not be defeatists) and do not turn away from them, turning your backs to them, unless it is a strategic maneuver (to retreat to a more comfortable position in order to launch another attack, etc.), or if you want to retreat, so you can link up with another squad of Muslims and launch another attack on the infidels, "and remember Allah much" - make prayer to Allah to help you and grant you victory over them... "
Hafiz Ibn Kathir, may Allah have mercy on him, said:
"Here, Allah teaches His believers about courage when they come face to face with the enemy, and He said: "O you who have believed, when you encounter a company from the enemy forces, be patient"."
And Allah commanded them to persevere and show patience while in battle, and not to run away and show cowardice, and at this time to remember Allah and not to forget Him, on the contrary, you should supplicate to Him for help and trust in Him, and pray for victory over His enemies, and obey Allah and His Messenger.
And they do what Allah commanded them to do and they stay away from what Allah has forbid. And let them not dispute with one another, for they will fragment, and this will cause them to abandon each other, breaking their cohesion. "...your strength would depart" i.e. your strength and zeal; your advance will come to a halt, "Indeed, Allah is with the patient".
And he had companions - who had the utmost courage, who followed the orders of Allah and His messenger, and adhered to what he had said to them - something that was not done by pervious communities or past generations, and nor will be done by those who come after them.
Verily, they followed their blessed Messenger, peace and blessing of Allah upon him, and obeyed his orders, they opened centers from the East to West in a short period of time. Their armies were small compared to the Romans, Persians, Turks, Habashis (Ethiopians), Sudanese tribes, the Copts and other groups from among the sons of Adam, all of them were conquered so the word of Allah could be raised most high and His religion was proclaimed to all of the rest and there was rapid growth in the number of Muslim believers from the East to the West, and all of this happened in a period of less than thirty years, may Allah be pleased with them and give all of them joy and raise us up in their company, for He is truly the Generous Giver.
Al-Qurtubi, may Allah have mercy on him, said:
"The words of Allah: "O you who have believed, when you encounter a company from the enemy forces, be patient" - the command is to be steadfast while in the battle with the nonbelievers, also, the previous verse says to never run away from them, so this is the command and the prohibition - remember this when you stand in front of the enemy, and be patient.
"O you who have believed, when you encounter a company from the enemy forces, be patient".