Quran 48:15 – 26 Battle Of Khaybar
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
These verses were revealed in Madinah:
“Traditions concur that it was sent down in Dhil-Qadah, A. H. 6, at a time when the Holy Prophet was on his return journey to Madinah after concluding the Truce of Hudaibiyah with the disbelievers of Makkah.” (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an – Online source)
These following verses are related to the incident of Khaybar. We have written on Khaybar conflict with the Muslims, here: “The Battle Of Khaybar“.
48:15 Those who remained behind will say when you set out toward the war booty to take it, “Let us follow you.” They wish to change the words of Allah. Say, “Never will you follow us. Thus did Allah say before.” So they will say, “Rather, you envy us.” But [in fact] they were not understanding except a little.
48:16 Say to those who remained behind of the Bedouins, “You will be called to [face] a people of great military might; you may fight them, or they will submit. So if you obey, Allah will give you a good reward; but if you turn away as you turned away before, He will punish you with a painful punishment.”
48:17 There is not upon the blind any guilt or upon the lame any guilt or upon the ill any guilt [for remaining behind]. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger – He will admit him to gardens beneath which rivers flow; but whoever turns away – He will punish him with a painful punishment.
48: 18 Certainly was Allah pleased with the believers when they pledged allegiance to you, [O Muhammad], under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquillity upon them and rewarded them with an imminent conquest
48:19 And much war booty which they will take. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.
48:20 Allah has promised you much booty that you will take [in the future] and has hastened for you this [victory] and withheld the hands of people from you – that it may be a sign for the believers and [that] He may guide you to a straight path.
48:21 And [He promises] other [victories] that you were [so far] unable to [realize] which Allah has already encompassed. And ever is Allah , over all things, competent.
48:22 And if those [Makkans] who disbelieve had fought you, they would have turned their backs [in flight]. Then they would not find a protector or a helper.
48:23 [This is] the established way of Allah which has occurred before. And never will you find in the way of Allah any change.
48:24 And it is He who withheld their hands from you and your hands from them within [the area of] Makkah after He caused you to overcome them. And ever is Allah of what you do, Seeing.
48:25 They are the ones who disbelieved and obstructed you from al-Masjid al-Haram while the offering was prevented from reaching its place of sacrifice. And if not for believing men and believing women whom you did not know – that you might trample them and there would befall you because of them dishonor without [your] knowledge – [you would have been permitted to enter Makkah]. [This was so] that Allah might admit to His mercy whom He willed. If they had been apart [from them], We would have punished those who disbelieved among them with painful punishment
48:26 When those who disbelieved had put into their hearts chauvinism – the chauvinism of the time of ignorance. But Allah sent down His tranquillity upon His Messenger and upon the believers and imposed upon them the word of righteousness, and they were more deserving of it and worthy of it. And ever is Allah , of all things, Knowing.
Malik Ghulam Farid:
“2772. … Shortly after his return from Hudaibiyah, the Holy Prophet marched against the Jews of Khaibar to punish them for their repeated acts of treachery. Those Bedouin tribes, who had contrived to remain behind when the Holy Prophet went Mecca for the Lesser Pilgrimage,
finding that his cause had prospered and that they would have a good share of the booty if they joined the expedition to Khaibar, requested him to allow them to accompany the Muslim army. They were told that they could do so as the promise of booty was made only to those sincere Muslims who were with the Holy Prophet at Hudaibiyah.
2773. the words, ‘a people of mighty valour,’ may refer to the mighty forces of the Byzantine and Iranian Empires which were far superior in material means and numbers than any other enemy, the Muslims had met so far. The verse constituted a warning that the Muslims would come into conflict those mighty foes and would have to wage prolonged wars with them till the latter would be completely defeated and brought to their knees.
The laggards are here told that though they cannot be allowed to march against the Jews of Khaibar and partake of the booty, yet in the near future they would be called upon to fight against a much more powerful enemy and that, if they then responded to the call, they would receive a good reward. The verse also signifies that wars with the Byzantine and Iranian Empires would be fierce and long.
2774. The swearing of allegiance took place at Hudaibiyah under an acacia tree after a report had reached the Holy Prophet that in breach of ambassadorial usage and etiquette his envoy. UTHMAN, HAD BEEN ASSASSINATED BY THE MECCANS.
It was, perhaps, not so much the reported murder of Uthman as the violation of a sacred and time-honoured usage that exhausted the Holy Prophet’s patience. The oath came to be known as Bai’at al-Ridwan, which signified that those lucky people who had taken the oath had obtained God’s pleasure.
2775. What greater proof could there be that God sent down tranquillity on Muslims than that, being only about 1500 in number and being far away from home and being friendless and surrounded by hostile tribes and faced by a powerful enemy who was entrenched in his citadel, they were prepared to fight rather than agree to the proposed terms of the Treaty.
2776. The words ‘victory at hand’ refer to the victory at Khaibar. On his return from Hudaibiyah the Holy Prophet led an expedition against the Jews of Khaibar (a great hotbed of Jewish intrigue and conspiracy) with those Muslims who were with him at Hudaibiyah.
2777. ‘Great spoils’ may refer to the great gains which the Muslims got as a result of the ‘near victory’ promised in the preceding verse.
2778. ‘Great spoils’ mentioned in this verse may refer to the great booty which fell into the hands of Muslims in the conquests, which followed the victory at Khaibar in the rest of Arabia and the neighbouring countries, but the words, ‘He has given you this in advance,’ evidently refer to the spoils gained at Khaibar.
The words, ‘had restrained the hands of men from you,’ mean that the Treaty of Hudaibiyah had ushered in a period of peace for Muslims.
2779. The verse embodies a prophecy that Muslims will achieve other great victories after the victory at Khaibar.
2780. In view of the circumstances in which the Muslims were then placed and of the far-reaching results it produced, the Treaty of Hudaibiyah was, indeed, a great victory.
The words may also refer to the victories that God had granted to Muslims before they came to Hudaibiyah – the victory at Badr, the safe return from UHUD to Medina of Muslims and the Holy Prophet, after they had been placed in a very dangerous and delicate situation,
And the complete frustration of the Meccans in their evil designs to destroy Islam in the Battle of the Trench when they were repulsed with severe loss, etc. In a sense these were all victories of believers over disbelievers.
2781. There was a nucleus of Muslims in Mecca and if the fight had taken place, Muslim army would have unknowingly killed their own brethren in Faith, thereby causing great injury to their own cause, and earning oblquy and opprobrium in addition.” 
Maulana Muhammad Ali:
“15a. The reference here is not to 9:83, which is a much later revelation. It appears that an order similar to that contained in 9:83 was given by the Holy Prophet to the laggards on the occasion of Hudaibiyah.
16a. The power of the Makkan enemy was now broken, as was proved by the advance on Makkah two years later. Hence, the defaulters are told that they would be called on to join the forces of Islam against another powerful enemy. This appears to be a reference to the wars against the Roman and Persian empires in the time of the early Caliphs, again referred to in v. 21.
18a. It should be noted that the 1,500 men who swore allegiance at Hudaibiyah are here declared to be those with whom Allah is well pleased. These words should set at rest the doubts of the adherents of a great schism in Islam as to the sincerity of the companions of the Holy Prophet. The Prophet was sitting under a tree when allegiance was sworn to him at Hudaibiyah (B. 65: xlviii, 5).
18b. The near victory prophesied here was obtained at Khaibar, soon after the return from Hudaibiyah. 19a. These many gains predict the later conquests of the Muslims, beginning with the conquest of Makkah which made the Muslims masters of Arabia, and then extending to other countries, both in the East and the West.
20a. What was hastened on was the Hudaibiyah truce, which is called “a clear victory” in the very first verse of this chapter. By this truce the hands of men were held back from the Muslims, i.e., the Muslims were not persecuted any more. So persecution having ceased, people began to enter Islam in large numbers.
This was moreover an indication that the promised conquests of Islam were not only conquests of countries but also conquests of hearts.
21a. This reference is to the great Muslim conquests under the successors of the Holy Prophet. The vanquishment of the enemy is plainly spoken of in the next verse.
24a. This is again a reference to the Hudaibiyah truce. Thrice already had the disbelievers attacked Madinah with very strong forces to crush Islam, and the Muslims had repulsed them every time, inflicting severe loss on them. This is referred to in the words, after He had given you victory over them.
Yet they offered terms which were humiliating to the Muslims and the Prophet accepted them to avoid bloodshed, so deeply did he love peace. Thus the hands of both sides were held back. Authentic reports state clearly that ‘Umar openly gave vent to his injured feelings (B. 54:15).
The chief terms of the agreement were:
(1) That the Muslims should return without performing a pilgrimage.
(2) That they should be allowed to perform a pilgrimage next year, but should not stay for more than three days.
(3) That if a disbeliever, being converted, went over to the Muslims, he should be returned, but if a Muslim went over to the disbelievers he should not be given back to the Muslims (B. 54:15).
The last term of the agreement was specially dissatisfying to the Muslims; but it shows the strong conviction which the Holy Prophet had in the truth of Islam, for he was confident that none of his companions would go over to disbelief and join the Quraish; and also that those who became converts to Islam would not desert it on account of persecution.
Thus it happened that the converts to Islam from among the Makkans, not being allowed to settle at Madinah, formed an independent colony of their own (B. 54:15), proving thereby the genuineness of their convictions and the strength of their faith.
25a. One of the reasons given here for the truce is that the welfare of the Muslims demanded it, inasmuch as there were Muslims at Makkah who were unknown even to their brethren at Madinah, and that, if a battle had taken place, they would have suffered along with the enemy. This shows how Islam was making silent progress at Makkah itself, even without the guidance of a preacher, and in spite of persecution.” 
“14 Lit., “set forth to take booty”: i.e., any expedition other than against the Quraysh of Mecca, with whom the Prophet had just concluded a truce. This is generally taken as an allusion to the forthcoming war against the Jews of Khaybar (in the year 7 H.), but the meaning may well be more general.
15 Evidently a reference to 8:1 – “All spoils of war belong to God and the Apostle” – which, as pointed out in note 1 on that verse, implies that no individual warrior can have any claim to the booty obtained in war. Moreover, fighting for the sake of booty contravenes the very principle of a “war in God’s cause”,
which may be waged only in defence of faith or liberty (cf. surah 2, note 167), “until there is no more oppression and all worship is devoted to God alone” (see 2:193 and the corresponding note 170). It is to these principles, too, that the Prophet’s anticipated answer, mentioned in the sequence, refers.
16 I.e., in the first verse of Al-Anfal, which was revealed in the year 2 H. (see preceding note).
17 This is evidently a prophecy relating to the future wars against Byzantium and Persia.
18 Lit., “before”, i.e., at the time of the expedition which resulted in the Truce Of Hudaybiyyah.
19 These three categories circumscribe metonymically all kinds of infirmities or disabilities which may prevent a person from actively participating in a war in God’s cause.
20 This latter applies, by obvious implication, to such as are unable to participate in the fighting physically, but are in their hearts with those who fight.
21 I.e., at Hudaybiyyah (see introductory note).
22 Most of the commentators assume that this relates to the conquest of Khaybar, which took place a few months after the Truce of Hudaybiyyah. It is probable, however, that the implication is much wider than that – namely, a prophecy of the almost bloodless conquest of Mecca in the year 8 H., the victorious establishment of Islam in all of Arabia and, finally, the tremendous expansion of the Islamic Commonwealth under the Prophet’s immediate successors.
23 Sc., “of what is to come to you in the hereafter”.
24 Thus Razi.
25 I.e., the achievement of final bliss in the life to come.
26 This divine promise was fulfilled in the unbroken sequence of Muslim victories after the Truce of Hudaybiyyah, ultimately leading to the establishment of an empire which extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the confines of China. – For the conditional nature of the above promise, see note 82 on 3:111.
27 This reference to “God’s way” (sunnat Allah) is twofold: on the one hand, “you are bound to rise high if you are [truly] believers” (3:139), and, on the other, “God does not change men’s condition unless they change their inner selves” (13:11), in both the positive and negative connotations of the concept of “change”.
28 Shortly before the ‘Truce of Hudaybiyyah was concluded, a detachment of Quraysh warriors – variously estimated at between thirty and eighty men – attacked the Prophet’s camp, but his practically unarmed followers overcame them and took them prisoner; after the signing of the treaty the Prophet released them unharmed (Muslim; Nasa’i, Tabari).
29 This interpolation is based on Razi’s explanation of the connection between this and the preceding verse.
30 I.e., the Ka’bah, which, until the year 7 H., the Muslims were not allowed to approach.
31 See surah 2, note 175.
32 I.e., killed. After the Prophet’s and his followers’ exodus to Medina, a number of Meccans – both men and women – had embraced Islam, but had been prevented by the pagan Quraysh from emigrating (Tabari, Zamakhshari). Their identities were not generally known to the Muslims of Medina.
33 Thus Zamakhshari, supported by Razi, Ibn Kathir, and other commentators.
34 I.e., so that the believers might be spared, and that in time many a pagan Meccan might embrace Islam, as actually happened.
35 Lit., “had they been separated from one another”: i.e., the believers and the pagans among the Meccans. In its wider sense, the above implies that man never really knows whether another human being deserves God’s grace or condemnation.
36 Although this reference to the “stubborn disdain” (hamiyyah) on the part of the pagan Quraysh may have been characteristic of their over-all attitude towards the Prophet and his mission, it is probable – as Zamakhshari points out – that its special mention here relates to an incident which occurred at Hudaybiyyah during the truce negotiations between the Prophet and the emissary of the Meccans, Suhayl ibn ‘Amr. The Prophet began to dictate to ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib the text of the proposed agreement:
“Write down, ‘In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Dispenser of Grace’”; but Suhayl interrupted him and said: “We have never heard of [the expression] ‘the Most Gracious’; write down only what we know.” Whereupon the Prophet said to ‘Ali:
“Write, then, ‘In Thy name, O God’. ‘Ali wrote as he was told; and the Prophet continued: “This is what has been agreed upon between Muhammad, God’s Apostle, and the people of Mecca…”. But Suhayl interrupted again: “If thou wert [really] an apostle of God, [this would be an admission on our part that] we have been doing wrong to thee; write, therefore, as we understand it.”
And so the Prophet dictated to ‘Ali: “Write thus: ‘This is what has been agreed upon between Muhammad, the son of ‘Abd Allah, son of ‘Abd al-Muttalib, and the people of Mecca…” (This story is recorded in many versions, among others by Nasa’i, Ibn Hanbal and Tabari.)” 
 The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Text With English Translation & Short Commentary By Malik Ghulam Farid, Page 1032 – 1035
 The Holy Quran Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Page 989 1001
 The Message of The Quran translated and explained by Muhammad Asad, page 1079 – 1082