And know that out of all the booty that ye may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to Allah,- and to the Messenger, and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer,- if ye do believe in Allah and in the revelation We sent down to Our servant on the Day of Testing,- the Day of the meeting of the two forces. For Allah hath power over all things.
Ali Unal writes,
This sūrah began by emphasizing the basic principle that the gains of war belong to
God and His Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and it has prepared the hearts
of the believers to willingly accept the distribution that God will make. This verse describes
how the war-gains will be distributed and assigns one-fifth to God first, that is, to public
services; it then mentions the people who represent these services: the Messenger, upon
him be peace and blessings, his near kinsfolk, orphans, the destitute, and the wayfarer who
does not have sufficient means to complete the journey. The remainder is to be distributed
among the warriors.
The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, devoted all his life to communicating
Islam to others and to the service of the people. He was not in a position to provide for the
poor among his kinsfolk. In addition, there were many other places or items of expenditure
for which the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, had to pay as both the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and the head of the state. The share assigned to
him may, in some respects, be likened to the funds assigned for the special expenditures of
heads of state.
It is a historical fact that the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, spent his first wife Khadījah’s wealth on the cause of calling to Islam, while he, his family and his kinsfolk lived as the poorest of all Muslims. They also spent all the shares of the war-gains that were assigned to them on Islamic services and the needy.
Yahiya Emerick writes,
The immediate reference is to the clans of Banu Hashim and Banu al-Muttalib, the Prophet’s extended relatives, who suffered at every stage from Meccan persecution on account of Muhammad being a member of those two groups. So the Prophet used to distribute charity to them after the migration to relieve their poverty and reward them for their perseverance. The Prophet said, “When a Muslim spends on his family expecting only God’s reward, then it will be recorded as charity on his part.” (Ahmad) Surprisingly enough, when his own daughter Fatimah asked for a servant to help her with the household chores, he pointed out to her that the poor people living in the mosque were more in need of help than she. (Bukhari, Muslim)
Emerick, Yahiya. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an in Today’s English (p. 829). Unknown. Kindle Edition.
Unal, Ali (2006). The Quran with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English. (surah 8 verse 41) http://www.islamicweblibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/The-quran-with-annotated-interpretation-.pdf.