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They ask thee concerning (things taken as) spoils of war. Say: “(such) spoils are at the disposal of Allah and the Messenger: So fear Allah, and keep straight the relations between yourselves: Obey Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe.”

According to Ali Unal,

The original word anfāl, translated as “war-gains,” is the plural form of nafl. This word
means extra, voluntary service when used in relation to a servant, and extra or additional
reward when used for God. It is a reasonable opinion, then, to infer that any worldly reward
which comes as the result of services rendered in God’s cause is included in this meaning.
The majority of scholars are in agreement that the reference here denotes the war-gains.
However, the word ghanā’im (plural of ghanīmah) is used for the war-gains in verse 41,
whereas anfāl has a more comprehensive meaning which also includes the idea of fay (wargains taken without fighting: 59: 6).
Believers aim only to obtain God’s approval and good pleasure in their services in His way.
They have no other expectations. Even when they have to fight against God’s enemies,
they only aim to obtain God’s good pleasure and uphold His Word, without expecting
anything worldly. No worldly aims, such as spoils, fame, or position, can have a place in the
believer’s heart. The war-gains are extra rewards that come as the result of fighting in His
way, so they belong to God and the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings who can
distribute them as they will, and the believers must accept their distribution. It is because
of this that the sūrah begins with orienting the believers’ hearts according to this general
principle. It stresses that a believer cannot fight for the war-gains, and it teaches that if a
believer has captured even a needle in war, he must hand it over to the commander or state
before what has been gained is distributed


Unal, Ali (2006). The Quran with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English. (surah 8 verse 1)

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