the spoils - The immediate conditions that led to Muhammad...

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The immediate conditions that led to Muhammad speaking the words recorded in surah 8 were that Muhammad's followers had defeated an army from Medina. The victory was so complete that the men from Medina had fled, leaving much of their shelter, supplies, and equipment behind. Muhammad's followers began to discuss how the things they had acquired as a result of their victory - the spoils of war - should be divided. One should realize that the spoils being discussed are actually the symbol of all of the things that an individual might acquire in this world, and so God's teaching in surah 8 reveals the principles upon which the riches of this world (and the next) are divided. This was an important point for the Muslims of the time. The family or clan, rather than the individual, was the traditional owner of wealth in Arab society. The land on which they pastured their flocks and the wells at which they watered them were not the possession of a person, but of a group of people related by blood. Their chief led them in defending these possessions and regulated their use. The traditional families and clans of Arab society had disintegrated in the course of the spread of Islam. Some members of families had accepted Islam while others had refused to do so. It is important to remember that the battle that had just been fought had been between blood relatives and that, in "The Spoils", the booty with which the Muslim victors was the possessions of families, clans, and tribes of which some of them had been members before they had been expelled. How could a member of the Quraysh family allow a member of the Hammadi clan to claim possession of goods that belonged to the Quraysh? One element of surah 8 is the principle that unbelievers -- people who
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the spoils - The immediate conditions that led to Muhammad...

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