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“And when He made them appear as few in your eyes...” (Al-Anfāl 8:44)

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Sūratu’l-Anfāl (Gains of War)

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وَإِذْ يُرِيكُمُوهُمْ إِذِ الْتَقَيْتُمْ فِي أَعْيُنِكُمْ قَلِيلًا وَيُقَلِّلُكُمْ فِي أَعْيُنِهِمْ لِيَقْضِيَ اللَّهُ أَمْرًا كَانَ مَفْعُولًا
“And when He made them appear as few in your eyes when you met them in the battle just as He lessened you in their eyes, so that God might accomplish a thing that He had already decreed.” (Al-Anfāl 8:44)

The incident mentioned in the verse happened in the Battle of Badr as well. The great majority of those who fought in the lines of Muslims had not participated in a serious battle until that time. Moreover, we should not disregard the fact that when the Muslims left Madīnah, their intention was not fighting but pursuing the caravan which was full of their assets seized by the polytheist Makkans. If the Muslims had seen the other side with all their actual forces, instead of seeing them “as few,” they would have worried and panicked. However, when they came face to face with an unavoidable situation after the battle began, God showed the Muslims the actual conditions of unbelievers so that they might rely on God and take refuge in Him. If they had continued to see them as fewer than their actual numbers, they would have shown neglect and acted carelessly, without even considering that it is always God Who would bestow victory. For human beings tend to act obliviously of God’s grace and help at the time of ease and softness.

There is another point worth mentioning: the angels who were sent to help the Muslims in the Battle of Badr did not fight like the human fighters, nor did they use swords or kill any unbelievers. They came only to disappoint and frustrate the enemy side and to add to the spiritual power of Muslims. If the angels had fought in the battle, the veil of causality over events would have been rent to a certain extent, the Muslim warriors would not have gained the designation of ghāzī, or warrior in God’s cause, and everybody would have been in expectation of God’s help in any affairs whereas God’s help comes veiled or in an indistinct form in this world of testing and trial.

Indeed, it was the first grace and help of God in the Battle of Badr that He made the unbelievers appear as few in believers’ eyes. By doing so, God preserved some of the inexperienced believers from intimidation before the fighting began and encouraged them to fight. Another help of God to Muslims was that the enemy army saw the Muslims as fewer as well, which caused them to be disdainful of the force of the Muslims and act indifferently. As a result, God bestowed a decisive victory on the Muslims and also caused them to gain great reward. It was when the fighting began and the Muslims found themselves in the middle of fighting that the two sides saw the actual power of the other side. The Divine Will had put Its decree in force, and whatever God willed did occur. The Muslims were on their way to triumph through God’s help and grace along with their valor and heroic fighting under the eminent command of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, while the aggressive unbelievers and transgressors were brought to ruin, deprived of every sort of support and succor, falling down to the hollow of their inevitable end.