Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Muhammad and Plundering

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Booty has been made legal for Muhammad

They ask thee (O Muhammad) of the spoils of war. Say: The spoils of war belong to Allah and the messenger, so keep your duty to Allah, and adjust the matter of your difference, and obey Allah and His messenger, if ye are (true) believers.
And know that whatever ye take as spoils of war, lo! a fifth thereof is for Allah, and for the messenger and for the kinsman (who hath need) and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if ye believe in Allah and that which We revealed unto Our slave on the Day of Discrimination, the day when the two armies met. And Allah is Able to do all things.
What Allah has bestowed on His Messenger (and taken away) from them [the Jews] - for this ye made no expedition with either cavalry or camelry: but Allah gives power to His messengers over any He pleases: and Allah has power over all things.

Had it not been for a previous ordainment from Allah, a severe penalty would have reached you for the (ransom) that ye took.

But (now) enjoy what ye took in war, lawful and good: but fear Allah: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby, and pray for them; surely your prayer is a relief to them; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.
Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah: Allah's Apostle said, "Booty has been made legal for me."
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "A prophet amongst the prophets carried out a holy military expedition, so he said to his followers, 'Anyone who has married a woman and wants to consummate the marriage, and has not done so yet, should not accompany me; nor should a man who has built a house but has not completed its roof; nor a man who has sheep or shecamels and is waiting for the birth of their young ones.' So, the prophet carried out the expedition and when he reached that town at the time or nearly at the time of the 'Asr prayer, he said to the sun, 'O sun! You are under Allah's Order and I am under Allah's Order O Allah! Stop it (i.e. the sun) from setting.' It was stopped till Allah made him victorious.

Then he collected the booty and the fire came to burn it, but it did not burn it. He said (to his men), 'Some of you have stolen something from the booty. So one man from every tribe should give me a pledge of allegiance by shaking hands with me.' (They did so and) the hand of a man got stuck over the hand of their prophet. Then that prophet said (to the man), 'The theft has been committed by your people. So all the persons of your tribe should give me the pledge of allegiance by shaking hands with me.' The hands of two or three men got stuck over the hand of their prophet and he said, "You have committed the theft.' Then they brought a head of gold like the head of a cow and put it there, and the fire came and consumed the booty. The Prophet added: Then Allah saw our weakness and disability, so he made booty legal for us."
"Allah made booty lawful and good. He used it to incite the Muslims to unity of purpose. So enjoy what you have captured.
Allah saw what was in their hearts [what they coveted] so he rewarded them with victory and with as much spoil as they could take. Allah promised that they would soon capture a great deal of booty.
We ask Thee for the booty of this town and its people. Forward in the name of Allah.' He used to say this of every town he raided.
When cities were conquered Muslims used to say, ‘Conquer for yourselves whatever seems good to you because all treasures were given to Muhammad.'

Dividing the Plunder

How the Plunder was Divided

Narrated Qais: The Badr warriors were given five thousand (Dirhams) each, yearly. 'Umar said, "I will surely give them more than what I will give to others."
Narrated 'Amr bin Taghlib: Allah's Apostle gave (gifts) to some people to the exclusion of some others. The latter seemed to be displeased by that. The Prophet said, "I give to some people, lest they should deviate from True Faith or lose patience, while I refer other people to the goodness and contentment which Allah has put in their hearts, and 'Amr bin Taghlib is amongst them." 'Amr bin Taghlib said, "The statement of Allah's Apostle is dearer to me than red camels."

Narrated Al-Hasan: 'Amr bin Taghlib told us that Allah's Apostle got some property or some war prisoners and he distributed them in the above way (i.e. giving to some people to the exclusion of others) .
Narrated Ibn 'Umar: On the day of Khaibar, Allah's Apostle divided (the war booty of Khaibar) with the ratio of two shares for the horse and one-share for the foot soldier. (The sub-narrator, Nafi' explained this, saying, "If a man had a horse, he was given three shares and if he had no horse, then he was given one share.")
Narrated 'Umar bin Al-Khattab: By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, were I not afraid that the other Muslims might be left in poverty, I would divide (the land of) whatever village I may conquer (among the fighters), as the Prophet divided the land of Khaibar. But I prefer to leave it as a (source of) a common treasury for them to distribute it revenue amongst themselves.
The ‘Spoils of War' Surah came down from Allah to His Prophet concerning the distribution of the booty when the Muslims showed their evil nature. Allah took it out of their hands and gave it to the Apostle.
The Spoils of War surah was handed down because we quarreled about the booty. So Allah took it away from us and gave it to His Apostle. When He did, we learned to fear Allah and obey his Messenger.... For in truth, our army had gone out with the Prophet seeking the caravan because we wanted its booty.
Allah taught them how to divide the spoil. He made it lawful and said, ‘A fifth of the booty belongs to the Apostle.'
When their wrists were bound with cords, the Apostle was a sea of generosity to us. Allah's Messenger took his fifth of the booty. He made known on that day the extra shares for horses and their riders —giving the horse two shares and the rider one. A Muslim without a horse got one share of the spoil. It was the first booty in which lots were cast.
When Dihyah protested, wanting to keep Safiyah for himself, the Apostle traded for Safiyah by giving Dihyah her two cousins. The women of Khaybar were distributed among the Muslims.
Khaybar was apportioned among the men of Hudaybiyah without regard to whether they were present at Khaybar or not. The spoil was divided into 1,800 shares.
When the spoil of Khaybar was apportioned, the settlements of Shaqq and Nata were given to the Muslims while Katiba was divided into five sections: Allah's fifth [which Muhammad was custodian]; the Prophet's fifth; the share to the kindred [Muhammad's kin]; maintenance of the Prophet's wives; and payment to the men who acted as intermediaries in the peace negotiation with Fadak.
Then the Apostle distributed the booty between his relatives, his wives, and to other men and women. He gave his daughter Fatima 200 shares, Ali 100, Usama 250, Aisha 200, Bakr 100…. In the name of Allah—this is a memorandum of what Muhammad the Apostle gave his wives from the dates and wheat: 180 loads.
I went up to a man and struck off his hand. He fell and I killed him while he was down. But I was too occupied with fighting to pay any more attention to him. So one of the Meccan Muslims passed by and stripped him. Then when the fighting was over and we had finished with the enemy, the Apostle said that anyone who had killed a foe could have his spoil. I told the Apostle that I had killed a man who was worth stripping but had been too busy killing others at the time to notice who had spoiled him. Abu Bakr said, "To Allah's lions who fight for His religion go the spoils that come from their prey. Return the booty to the man who killed him.' The Apostle confirmed Abu Bakr's words. So I was given the property of the man whom I had killed. I sold it and bought a small palm grove with the money. It was the first property I ever owned.
The Messenger of Allah gave orders concerning the contents of the camp which the people had collected, and it was all brought together. Among the Muslims, however, there was a difference of opinion concerning it. Those who had collected it said, ‘It is ours. Muhammad promised every man that he could keep the booty he took.' Those who were fighting said, ‘If it had not been for us, you would not have taken it. We distracted the enemy from you so that you could take what you took.' Those who were guarding the Prophet for fear the enemy would attack him said, ‘By Allah, you have no better right to it than we have. We wanted to kill the enemy when Allah gave us the opportunity and made them turn their backs, and we wanted to take property when there was no one to protect it; but we were afraid that the Meccans might attack the Prophet. We protected him so you have no better right to it than we have.' When we quarreled about the booty we became very bad tempered. So Allah removed it from us and handed it over to His Messenger.
Al-Tabari, Vol. 7, p. 64, See Also Ishaq:307
The Messenger divided the wealth, wives, and children of the Banu Qurayza Jews among the Muslims.
Khaybar was divided among the people who had been at Hudaybiyah.
The Prophet conquered Khaybar by force after fighting. Khaybar was something that Allah gave as booty to His Messenger. He took one-fifth of it and divided the remainder among the Muslims.
Abu Talhah alone took the spoils of twenty men whom he had killed.
‘Muhammad, divide the spoil and booty of camels and cattle among us.' They forced the Prophet up against a tree, and his robe was torn from him. Muhammad cried, ‘Give me back my robe. If there had been more sheep I would have given you some. You have not found me to be niggardly, cowardly or false.
Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 31, See Also Ishaq:594
‘You have not found me miserly, cowardly, or a liar.' Then he walked over to his camel and took a hair from its hump. Holding it aloft in his fingers he said, ‘Men, I do not have anything of your booty, not even as much as this hair. Just filth. And that filth is what is being given to you. So, bring back my cloak.'
Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 31, See Also Ishaq:594
Indeed, Allah has guided you with His guidance. If you wish to do well [capture booty], obey Allah and His Messenger. You must perform the prayers, pay the zakat tax, and give a fifth share of Allah's booty to His Messenger. The required zakat is: from the land one tenth of that watered by springs and rain, and one twentieth of that watered by the leathern bucket. From camels, a milch camel for every forty camels, and a young male camel for every thirty camels. From sheep, one for every five camels; and from cows, one from every fourth… If anyone pays more, it is to his credit. He who professes this, bears witness to his Islam and helps the faithful [fight] against the polytheists, he has the protection of Allah and His Messenger.
The Muslims were concerned. They did not want to give up their share. So Muhammad said, ‘He who holds a share of these captives shall get six camels for every slave from the next booty we take.' So the Muslims returned the women and children captives.

Plunder was Guaranteed to Muslim Fighters

O ye who believe! When ye go forth (to fight) in the way of Allah, be careful to discriminate, and say not unto one who offereth you peace: "Thou art not a believer," seeking the chance profits of this life (so that ye may despoil him). With Allah are plenteous spoils. Even thus (as he now is) were ye before; but Allah hath since then been gracious unto you. Therefore take care to discriminate. Allah is ever Informed of what ye do.

And much booty that they will capture. Allah is ever Mighty, Wise.

Allah promiseth you much booty that ye will capture, and hath given you this in advance, and hath withheld men's hands from you, that it may be a token for the believers, and that He may guide you on a right path.
Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "The example of a Mujahid in Allah's Cause-- and Allah knows better who really strives in His Cause----is like a person who fasts and prays continuously. Allah guarantees that He will admit the Mujahid in His Cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty."


Instances of Swindling

Narrated Ibn Shihab: These were the battles of Allah's Apostle (which he fought), and while mentioning (the Badr battle) he said, "While the corpses of the pagans were being thrown into the well, Allah's Apostle said (to them), 'Have you found what your Lord promised true?" 'Abdullah said, "Some of the Prophet's companions said, "O Allah's Apostle! You are addressing dead people.' Allah's Apostle replied, 'You do not hear what I am saying, better than they.' The total number of Muslim fighters from Quraish who fought in the battle of Badr and were given their share of the booty, were 81 men." Az-Zubair said, "When their shares were distributed, their number was 101 men. But Allah knows it better."

Preventing and Punishing Swindling

Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab: Salih ibn Muhammad ibn Za'idah (AbuDawud said: This Salih is AbuWaqid) said: We entered the Byzantine territory with Maslamah. A man who had been dishonest about booty was brought.
He (Maslamah) asked Salim about him. He said: I heard my father narrating from Umar ibn al-Khattab from the Prophet (peace be upon him). He said: When you find a man who has been dishonest about booty, burn his property, and beat him. He beat him. He said: We found in his property a copy of the Qur'an. He again asked Salim about it. He said: Sell it and give its price in charity.

Goods Plundered

Narrated Abu Huraira: When we conquered Khaibar, we gained neither gold nor silver as booty, but we gained cows, camels, goods and gardens. Then we departed with Allah's Apostle to the valley of Al-Qira, and at that time Allah's Apostle had a slave called Mid'am who had been presented to him by one of Banu Ad-Dibbab. While the slave was dismounting the saddle of Allah's Apostle an arrow the thrower of which was unknown, came and hit him. The people said, "Congratulations to him for the martyrdom." Allah's Apostle said, "No, by Him in Whose Hand my soul is, the sheet (of cloth) which he had taken (illegally) on the day of Khaibar from the booty before the distribution of the booty, has become a flame of Fire burning him." On hearing that, a man brought one or two leather straps of shoes to the Prophet and said, "These are things I took (illegally)." On that Allah's Apostle said, "This is a strap, or these are two straps of Fire."
Narrated Al-Bara bin Azib: The Prophet appointed 'Abdullah bin Jubair as the commander of the infantry men (archers) who were fifty on the day (of the battle) of Uhud. He instructed them, "Stick to your place, and don't leave it even if you see birds snatching us, till I send for you; and if you see that we have defeated the infidels and made them flee, even then you should not leave your place till I send for you." Then the infidels were defeated. By Allah, I saw the women fleeing lifting up their clothes revealing their leg-bangles and their legs. So, the companions of 'Abdullah bin Jubair said, "The booty! O people, the booty ! Your companions have become victorious, what are you waiting for now?" 'Abdullah bin Jubair said, "Have you forgotten what Allah's Apostle said to you?" They replied, "By Allah! We will go to the people (i.e. the enemy) and collect our share from the war booty." But when they went to them, they were forced to turn back defeated. At that time Allah's Apostle in their rear was calling them back. Only twelve men remained with the Prophet and the infidels martyred seventy men from us.

On the day (of the battle) of Badr, the Prophet and his companions had caused the 'Pagans to lose 140 men, seventy of whom were captured and seventy were killed. Then Abu Sufyan asked thrice, "Is Muhammad present amongst these people?" The Prophet ordered his companions not to answer him. Then he asked thrice, "Is the son of Abu Quhafa present amongst these people?" He asked again thrice, "Is the son of Al-Khattab present amongst these people?" He then returned to his companions and said, "As for these (men), they have been killed." 'Umar could not control himself and said (to Abu Sufyan), "You told a lie, by Allah! O enemy of Allah! All those you have mentioned are alive, and the thing which will make you unhappy is still there." Abu Sufyan said, "Our victory today is a counterbalance to yours in the battle of Badr, and in war (the victory) is always undecided and is shared in turns by the belligerents, and you will find some of your (killed) men mutilated, but I did not urge my men to do so, yet I do not feel sorry for their deed" After that he started reciting cheerfully, "O Hubal, be high! (1) On that the Prophet said (to his companions), "Why don't you answer him back?" They said, "O Allah's Apostle What shall we say?" He said, "Say, Allah is Higher and more Sublime." (Then) Abu Sufyan said, "We have the (idol) Al Uzza, and you have no Uzza." The Prophet said (to his companions), "Why don't you answer him back?" They asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What shall we say?" He said, "Says Allah is our Helper and you have no helper."
‘Bind Abu Aziz tight for his mother is rich and she may ransom him for a great deal of money.
The Prophet said, ‘Abbas, you must ransom yourself, your two nephews, Aqil and Nawfal, and your confederate, Utbah, for you are a wealthy man.' ‘Muhammad,' Abbas said, ‘I was a Muslim, but the people compelled me to fight against my will.' Allah knows best concerning your Islam,' Muhammad said. ‘As for your outward appearance, you have been against us, so pay to ransom yourself.' The Messenger had previously taken twenty ounces of gold from him following the battle. So Abbas said, ‘Credit me with this amount towards my ransom.' ‘No,' Muhammad replied. ‘That money Allah has already taken from you and given to us.'
The Muslims told Abu Sufyan to pay them a ransom to free his son, Amr. He replied, ‘Am I to suffer the double loss of my blood and my money? After you have killed my son Hanzala, you want me to pay you a ransom to save Amr?'
On the Badr expedition, the Messenger took the sword of Dhu al-Faqar as booty. It had belonged to Munabbih. On that day he also took Abu Jahl's camel as booty. It was a Mahri dromedary on which he used to go on raids. It is said that he wrote ‘Ma'aqil' [Blood-Money] on his sword
Allah's Apostle besieged the final [Jewish] community of Khaybar until they could hold out no longer. Finally, when they were certain that they would perish, they asked Muhammad to banish them and spare their lives, which he did. The Prophet took possession of all their property.
Abu Jandal, Suhayl's son, escaped and joined Abu Basir. Nearly seventy Muslim men gathered around them and they harassed the Quraysh. Whenever they heard of a Meccan caravan setting out for Syria, they intercepted it, and killed everyone they could get a hold of. They tore every caravan to pieces and took the goods.
Ishaq:508, See Also Al-Tabari, Vol. 8, p. 91
The Apostle held a large number of captives. There were 6,000 women and children prisoners. He had captured so many sheep and camels they could not be counted.
Allah's Messenger came back to Medina, bringing with him the booty which had been taken from the polytheists.... There were forty-four captives in the Messenger of Allah's possession. There was a similar number of dead.
According to Waqidi, in this month, the Messenger sent out Ukkashah with forty men to raid Ghamr. He traveled quickly, but the enemy became aware and fled. He sent out scouts and they captured a spy who guided them to some of their cattle. They took two hundred head back to Medina.
So Muhammad began seizing their herds and their property bit by bit. He conquered home by home. The Messenger took some of its people captive, including Safiyah and her two cousins. The Prophet chose Safiyah for himself.
Al-Tabari, Vol. 8, p. 116, See Also Ishaq:511
The Banu Sahm of Aslam came to the Messenger and complained, ‘Muhammad, we have been hurt by drought and possess nothing.' Although they had fought for the Prophet they found he had nothing [he was willing] to give them. The Apostle said, ‘O Allah, You know their condition—I have no strength and nothing [I want] to give them. So conquer for them the wealthiest of the Khaybar homes, the ones with the most food and fat meat.'
Since the Hawazin and Thaqif had marched with their women, children, and flocks, Allah granted them as booty to His Messenger, who divided the spoils among those Quraysh who had recently embraced Islam.
Among the captives was Abu Wada. Muhammad said, ‘He has a son who is a shrewd merchant with much money." [The son] "slipped away at night, went to Medina, ransomed his father for 4,000 dirhams.
Then the Messenger of Allah sent Sa'd bin Zayd with some of the Qurayza captives to Najd, and in exchange for them he purchased horses and arms.

Muhammad Takes his own People Captive

When the events of Badr were over, Allah revealed the 8th surah, ‘The Spoils of War,' in its entirety. The two armies met and Allah defeated the Meccans. Seventy of them were killed, and seventy were taken captive. Abu Bakr said, ‘O Prophet of Allah, these are your people, your family; they are your cousins, fellow clansmen, and nephews. I think that you should accept ransoms for them so that what we take from them will strengthen us.'
‘What do you think Khattab?' Muhammad asked. ‘I say you should hand them over to me so that I can cut off their heads. Thus Allah will know that there is no leniency in our hearts toward the unbelievers.' The Messenger liked what Bakr said and did not like what I said, and accepted ransoms for the captives.

Islam and Muhammad's Plundering

The Muslims stole our goods and divided them. Their spears pierced us not once but twice. Their squadrons came at us like a swarm of locusts. Were it not for the religion of Muhammad's people, their cavalry would never have attacked us.

Muhammad's Sources of Income

Note that the following Hadith has been removed from the Internet and that it may be found at the indicated reference.

Narrated Ibn 'Umar that the Prophet (SA) said, "My livelihood is under the shade of my spear,(1) and he who disobeys my orders will be humiliated by paying Jizya"[1]
Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, p. 104

Also note the accompanying footnote:

Footnote: (1) "Under the shade of my spear" means "from war booty".

See Also


  1. The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari, Arabic-English, Vol.IV (page 104) by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Islamic University—Al-Medina Al-Munauwara