This is another excerpt from Bill Warner’s book Abridged Koran where the verses of Koran are arranged in their chronological order and provided with facts from prophet Muhammad’s life, giving context for them.
CHAPTER 15 JIHAD, THE JEWS SUBMIT
58:20 Those who oppose Allah and His Messenger will be laid low. Allah has declared, “Surely I will be victorious, along with My messengers.” Truly Allah is strong and mighty.
It had been four years since Mohammed came to Medina. Mohammed went to one of the two remaining Jewish tribes to ask for blood money for the two men his fighter had killed. At first they said yes, but as they talked about it they decided that this would be a good time to kill Mohammed. Here he was in their quarter of Medina sitting on a wall near a roof. Why not send a man up and drop a rock on this man who had been such a sorrow to them? Mohammed got word of the plot and left.
This was as good a reason as any to deal with the Jews. The same Jews who insisted that he was not the prophet. He raised his army and went off to put their fortresses under siege. These Jews were farmers and they grew the finest dates in all of Arabia. So Mohammed cut and burned their date palms as they watched. They called out, “You have prohibited wanton destruction and blamed those who do that. Now you do what you forbid.”
Now the other Jewish tribe had assured them that they would come to their defense. But no Jew would stand with another Jew against Islam. With no help from their brothers, the besieged Jews cut a deal with the apostle of Allah. Spare their lives and let them go with what they could carry on their camels, except for their armor.
When there was fighting in jihad, the fighter got four-fifths. But since there had been no fighting there was no reason to give four-fifths to the jihadists. All of the spoils went to Mohammed, not just one fifth.
There were some new problems created—the burning of the date palms and all the money going to Mohammed. The Koran had the answers. It was Allah who wreaked his vengeance upon the Jews and gave Mohammed power over them. It was even Allah who caused the Jews to tear down their own houses.
59:2 It was He who caused the People of the Book [the Jews] to leave their homes and go into the first exile. They did not think they would leave, and they thought that their fortresses could protect them from Allah. But Allah’s wrath reached them from where they did not expect it and cast terror into their hearts, so that they destroyed their homes with their own hands, as well as by the hands of the believers. Take warning from this example, you who have the eyes to see it!
And the Jews were very fortunate that Allah let them go with a few worldly possessions. They got out alive, Allah did not slay them, but they will burn in Hell since they resisted Mohammed. Resist Islam and Allah will punish you. As far as the wanton destruction of the palm trees, that cannot be laid to Mohammed, it was the Jew’s fault. They should have done what Allah wanted and then the Jews would not have suffered Allah’s vengeance.
59:3 And if Allah had not decreed their exile, surely He would have punished them in this world. And in the world to come they will receive the punishment of the Fire because they had disobeyed Allah and His Messenger. Whoever disobeys Allah, knows that Allah is truly severe in His punishment.
59:5 Allah gave you permission to cut down some palm trees and leave others intact so as to shame the wicked [the Jews]. After Allah gave the spoils to His Messenger, you made no move with horses or camels to capture them [the Jews], but Allah gives His messengers power over what He chooses. Allah is all-powerful.
As for all the spoils of war going to Mohammed, there was no actual fighting, hence no need to give spoils to fighters. Mohammed can do as he wishes.
59:7 The spoils of war taken from the people in the cities and given by Allah to His Messenger belong to Allah, to His Messenger and to his family, to the orphans, to the poor, and to the wayfaring traveler so that it will not stay among those of you who are wealthy. Take what the Messenger has offered you, and refuse what he has forbidden you. And fear Allah, for Allah is severe in His punishment.
59:8 A part of the spoils of war also belong to the poor refugees: the Immigrants driven from their homes and possessions who seek Allah’s grace and help Allah and His Messenger. These are the sincere believers.