Ayah

Word by Word
فَإِذَا
So when
لَقِيتُمُ
you meet
ٱلَّذِينَ
those who
كَفَرُواْ
disbelieve
فَضَرۡبَ
then strike
ٱلرِّقَابِ
the necks
حَتَّىٰٓ
until
إِذَآ
when
أَثۡخَنتُمُوهُمۡ
you have subdued them
فَشُدُّواْ
then bind firmly
ٱلۡوَثَاقَ
the bond
فَإِمَّا
then either
مَنَّۢا
a favor
بَعۡدُ
afterwards
وَإِمَّا
or
فِدَآءً
ransom
حَتَّىٰ
until
تَضَعَ
lays down
ٱلۡحَرۡبُ
the war
أَوۡزَارَهَاۚ
its burdens
ذَٰلِكَۖ
That
وَلَوۡ
And if
يَشَآءُ
Allah had willed
ٱللَّهُ
Allah had willed
لَٱنتَصَرَ
surely, He could have taken retribution
مِنۡهُمۡ
from them
وَلَٰكِن
but
لِّيَبۡلُوَاْ
to test
بَعۡضَكُم
some of you
بِبَعۡضٖۗ
with others
وَٱلَّذِينَ
And those who
قُتِلُواْ
are killed
فِي
in
سَبِيلِ
(the) way of Allah
ٱللَّهِ
(the) way of Allah
فَلَن
then never
يُضِلَّ
He will cause to be lost
أَعۡمَٰلَهُمۡ
their deeds
فَإِذَا
So when
لَقِيتُمُ
you meet
ٱلَّذِينَ
those who
كَفَرُواْ
disbelieve
فَضَرۡبَ
then strike
ٱلرِّقَابِ
the necks
حَتَّىٰٓ
until
إِذَآ
when
أَثۡخَنتُمُوهُمۡ
you have subdued them
فَشُدُّواْ
then bind firmly
ٱلۡوَثَاقَ
the bond
فَإِمَّا
then either
مَنَّۢا
a favor
بَعۡدُ
afterwards
وَإِمَّا
or
فِدَآءً
ransom
حَتَّىٰ
until
تَضَعَ
lays down
ٱلۡحَرۡبُ
the war
أَوۡزَارَهَاۚ
its burdens
ذَٰلِكَۖ
That
وَلَوۡ
And if
يَشَآءُ
Allah had willed
ٱللَّهُ
Allah had willed
لَٱنتَصَرَ
surely, He could have taken retribution
مِنۡهُمۡ
from them
وَلَٰكِن
but
لِّيَبۡلُوَاْ
to test
بَعۡضَكُم
some of you
بِبَعۡضٖۗ
with others
وَٱلَّذِينَ
And those who
قُتِلُواْ
are killed
فِي
in
سَبِيلِ
(the) way of Allah
ٱللَّهِ
(the) way of Allah
فَلَن
then never
يُضِلَّ
He will cause to be lost
أَعۡمَٰلَهُمۡ
their deeds

Translation

Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.

Tafsir

So when you encounter [in battle] those who disbelieve, then [attack them with] a striking of the necks (fadarba'l- riqaabi is a verbal noun in place of the [full] verbal construction, that is to say, fa'driboo riqaabahum, 'then strike their necks'), in other words, slay them - reference is made to the 'striking of the necks' because the predominant cause of being slayed is to be struck in the neck. Then, when you have made thoroughly decimated them, bind, spare them, take them captive and bind firmly, the bonds (al-wathaaq is what is used to bind [yoothaqu] a captive). Thereafter either [set them free] by grace (mannan is a verbal noun in place of the [full] verbal construction), that is to say, either show them grace by setting them free unconditionally; or by ransom, ransoming them with payment or with Muslim captives, until the war, that is to say, its participants, lay down its burdens, its heavy loads of weaponry and other things, so that either the disbelievers surrender or enter into a treaty. This [last clause] constitutes the 'purpose' of [enjoining the Muslims to] slaying and taking captive. So [shall it be] (dhaalika is the predicate of an implied subject, [such as] al-amr, 'the ordinance', in other words, 'the ordinance [of God] regarding them is as mentioned'). And had God willed, He could have [Himself] taken vengeance on them, without any fighting, but, He has commanded you to [do] it, that He may test some of you by means of others, from among them, by way of battle, so that the slain among you will end up in the Paradise, while those [slain] among them [will end up] in the Hellfire. And those who are slain (qutiloo: a variant reading has qaataloo, 'those who fight') - this verse was revealed on the day of [the battle of] Uhud, after the dead and the wounded had become numerous among the Muslims - in the way of God, He will not let their works go to waste, He will [not] render [them] void.

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